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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » To the Moon!

   
Author Topic: To the Moon!
NinjaBirdman
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This is pretty much my first attempt at fiction ever. It's a novel, and "To the Moon" is the title of the first chapter. I don't have a title for the novel yet.

So here's my first 13 ever. Be gentle.


"Run! We don't have much time!"
"Just where exactly is your ship, Tim? My legs are getting tired."
"It's at the Old Spaceport Number Nine! Not far now."
Not far? She hoped not! How much further could it possibly be? How much further could she run? It felt like they’d been running for hours. She couldn’t take much more.
But it was a matter of life or death. That giant cloud of radiation slowly creeping its way across the rest of the earth wasn’t far from Australia. It had to be only a few hundred miles off at most. There was no time to waste, so she figured she'd keep up as best she could.
How long had it been since the bombs started flying, giving life to that hideous cloud of death? It seemed like so long ago, and now the Earth was doomed and Australia was the only continent not yet covered in radiation. It was as if On the Beach was a book of prophecies, only they didn’t have spaceports back then.


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77chevy
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If I were you (which I'm not) I would rewrite almost this entire passage as dialogue. There's nothing you can't convey with these character's yelling to each other as they run from the cloud. Here's how you might do this:

"Not far? I hope to God it's not! How much further can it possibly be?" She didn't know how much further she could run. It felt like they’d been running for hours.
"Just keep moving."
"I can’t take much more of this, Tim, I swear I can't."
"You'd rather die?"
NAME didn't reply. That giant cloud of radiation slowly creeping its way across the rest of the earth wasn’t far from Australia. It had to be only a few hundred miles off at most. There was no time to waste, so she figured she'd keep up as best she could.
"How long has it been?" she asked.
"Since what?"
"Since the bombs started flying. Since that hideous cloud of death...."

That's just off the top of my head, just to illustrate quickly how you might make this more active.


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theokaluza
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quote:
"Run! We don't have much time!"
"Just where exactly is your ship, Tim? My legs are getting tired."
"It's at the Old Spaceport Number Nine! Not far now."

I very rarely like openings that begin with a line of dialogue. You have three. I've got no idea who's talking, or where they are, or what's going on at all. Well, I know that there are at least two characters, possibly three, and they're running towards a spaceship. So I don't know nothing, but I don't feel that I know enough. The third line of dialogue is unwieldly.
quote:
Not far? She hoped not! How much further could it possibly be? How much further could she run? It felt like they’d been running for hours. She couldn’t take much more.
For somebody who must be so completely out of breath from running so much, she sure can string together long sentences... without pauses or gasps for breath.
quote:
How long had it been since the bombs started flying, giving life to that hideous cloud of death? It seemed like so long ago, and now the Earth was doomed and Australia was the only continent not yet covered in radiation.
Is this going through your POV character's head? Or is it you narrating the story?
quote:
It was as if On the Beach was a book of prophecies, only they didn’t have spaceports back then.
On The Beach? Am I supposed to know what that is?

I don't mean to sound harsh. Honestly, I don't. You've got some good ideas in there, but they're kind of muddled in a confusing narrative. Tighten in up.

[This message has been edited by theokaluza (edited February 28, 2005).]


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NinjaBirdman
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I rewrote the opening after what chevy said, and it became clearer. Then I decided to start the story earlier, before the run to the ship.

So here's the new opening. Hopefully at least a little better than the old one. Thanks for the comments so far.


Jule sat beside the phone in her hotel room waiting to hear from her father. She was nervous. Last she heard he was in America, but now America was covered in a cloud of radiation. Then again the whole world was, except Australia. The war hadn't left many places untouched.

It’s only a matter of time before the death cloud reaches out and engulfs me, thought Jule. It won’t be long. I need to get off of this planet, and start a life on one of the colonies. For that I need a ship.

The spaceports had been packed since the bombs started to fly. Everyone was trying to get off Earth. All of the commercial ships were gone now. The only way off planet was on private ships, and the only person Jule knew that owned one was her father. So she sat on her couch and hoped to hear from him, or she would probably die waiting.

The phone rang. She answered, “Father?”

“Jule?”

Jule didn’t recognize the voice. “Who is this?” she asked.

“A friend of your father. My name’s Tim. I’m gonna get you off this rock.”

“Great!” the stranger said just what she wanted to hear.

“Meet me down in the lobby asap. We leave today."

[This message has been edited by NinjaBirdman (edited February 28, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by NinjaBirdman (edited February 28, 2005).]


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wbriggs
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I preferred the original. I don't have a problem with the dialog starting it. I'd rather see people doing something than sitting and waiting by the phone.

I'd cut a lot of it, as in

"It's at the Old Spaceport Number Nine! Not far now." -> "Not far now."

I don't get why they're running to a spaceport on legs. Wouldn't a car work better?

More on the sensations. Is it raining or sunny? Are they in the desert? City? Are others zooming pas them? Her legs are tired; what about her lungs? Just some hints.

Be aware many people won't know what _On the Beach_ is.


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NewsBys
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Are you sure you want to choose nuclear war as your reason for your characters escape from earth?
If so, then you need to make the effects of the war more credible by doing some research on nuclear war and the aftermath.

Instead of "radiation cloud", people will probably refer to it as fallout, fallout cloud, fallout path, or fallout track. Radiation does not float around like a cloud, but radioactively charged particles do, sort of. They are called fallout. Fallout is just "earth" and other stuff that has been ejected into the atmosphere by a ground level or near ground level nuclear blast. It is heavier than air and will precipitate. It is similar to ash from volcano eruptions, but will probably be on a bigger scale. Of course heavier particles will be "dropped" closer to the blast site and lighter particles will be carried farther. That will depend on weather.
Also, radioactivity degrades over time to survivalable levels. If Australia was not directly attacked, then by the time a fallout cloud made its way to them (across oceans mind you) then it would probably be at a survivable level.
So it might not be the danger you are describing here.

You will also need to address these possibilities:
Were there EMP effects to consider? Will their rocket even work?
Why wouldn't the spaceports be prime targets?
Is martial law in effect? They might be confined to their homes or neighborhoods. Will they be able to get clearance to launch? I'm thinking that right after a nuclear attack, any rockets spotted in the air would be destroyed because they could be missiles cleverly disguised.

Here is a link that was helpful to me.
http://www.surviveanuclearattack.com
Its links are pretty much U.S. specific so you might want to look for Australian civil defense materials on the web.

Sorry, I can't find my other link with old army manuals and fallout shelter plans, but if I find it I'll post it.

Also, we have some military guys around Hatrack that can give you more info. The stuff I know is from reading books, army manuals and doing Internet research. And some of the info contradicts other sources.

For more info on On the Beach and other apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic books check out:
http://www.scififan.com

[This message has been edited by NewsBys (edited February 28, 2005).]


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