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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Re-posted Re-Edited 13 lines

   
Author Topic: Re-posted Re-Edited 13 lines
theokaluza
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Hey everybody.

I posted the first version of this about a week ago, and I got some really great comments. I've made some changes. What do you all think?

It's a little more than 13 lines. Probably closer to 26.

By the way, the genre is science fiction.

quote:
1

Marcus Greene slipped on his eyegear and tried to escape the human rumble of the Procurement and Procreation Department. It had been three hours, and he was still patiently awaiting his call. He had an appointment, but the government had always been lacking in punctuality.

Someone tapped him on the shoulder, startling him out of a momentary trance.

“Got a smoke?” came the scratchy, bubbly voice of somebody in the more advanced stages of generalized bronchial deterioration disease.

“No,” said Marcus without turning around, “I don’t smoke.” But the truth was, he did. Everybody did. It was the smog. It had been bad for the last couple of days. Yellow and orange all the way up. Outside, it was thick enough to sting your eyes and make them water. In here, everybody freshly in off the street looked like they had been crying just a few moments before. Except for the ones who were smart enough to wear protective gear, which Marcus always carried, or who had cybernetic eyeware, which Marcus always wanted.

An advertisement played on his gear. It was a dramatic number with what Marcus thought of as war-drums in the background, narrated by a tenor-voiced announcer who made everything sound significant. He turned the volume down to zero and watched the pictures go by. This one was some kind of recruitment video for an off-world expedition leaving in a couple years. The fluorescent lights above gave the image an odd, streaked and ghostly green hue. It reminded him of grass stains on blue jeans. He only remembered grass stains now. He hadn’t seen any in real life for nearly a decade. Such is modern life in the city. Hate was a strong word, but Marcus felt it applied.


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


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77chevy
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Pretty catchy. I like the hook and the tone. I’m only commenting on the first 13 lines - I didn’t even read further.

“but the government had always been lacking in punctuality.”

This phrase doesn’t really fit well with me. You might try wording it another way.

“In here, everybody freshly in off the street looked like they had been crying just a few moments before.”

“in here” followed quickly by “in off” doesn’t read well.

Other than that, it sounds nice. Remember to keep it to 13 lines. The whole point is that you have to hook people on the first half page. No cheating!


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wbriggs
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I still don't know why he's at this department, and it's what I'm really interested in. Why not tell?
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theokaluza
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Hehe. Why he's there is literally in the next paragraph. I left it off of the first page because I feel that it gives the reader something to look forward to... even if it's fairly small.

I agree with the assertion that the line about the government is awkward. It was written a different way before, but now I'll probably just remove it completely. It doesn't add anything to the story, really.

Thanks for the comments. Anybody else?


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Jaina
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Well, if it's literally the next paragraph, I'll forgive it.

I agree with the government bit, too--something about it just struck me wrong. If you don't need it, then, by all means, cut it.

quote:
“Got a smoke?” came the scratchy, bubbly voice of somebody in the more advanced stages of generalized bronchial deterioration disease.

This really rubbed me the wrong way. I think it's because I read "generalized bronchial deterioration disease" and blinked at it for a moment. I understand what it is, but the technical terms were a turn-off. Unless this disease is something crucial to the story--and we have to know it by this name--could you come up with something less technical?


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Survivor
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In simple terms, I think that it is better. The scene is a bit smoother, the exposition is more natural.

It's better crafted, but overall I'm just not being drawn in any more than before. I know that I'm supposed to be interested in why Marcus is there. The most logical thing I can think of is that he's there to have his fertility or genetic profile checked prior to being assigned a mate for purposes of reproduction. But it isn't really grabbing me.


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Shendülféa
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quote:
“Got a smoke?” came the scratchy, bubbly voice of somebody in the more advanced stages of generalized bronchial deterioration disease.

This particular sentence came off as being a bit wordy to me. If we do indeed need to know this character has this disease, then maybe you could either put it somewhere else or split this sentence into two. Also, I don't know if I like the word "bubbly" being used here to describe his voice. I don't know about anyone else, but that word to me has a cheerful, childlike connotation. When I read it, it ruined the tone of the story. I think a better word would be something like "gurgling" or something to that effect.

quote:
He had an appointment, but the government had always been lacking in punctuality.

I agree with 77chevy on this one. It is a bit awkward.

Overall, though, I'd say this is a great first few paragraphs. You have a good hook and interesting tone and mood. And sorry if I'm a bit nitpicky. It's a habit I have. :/


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theokaluza
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quote:
"gurgling" or something to that effect.
Oh. My. God. I spent a good ten minutes trying to think of that word when I wrote "bubbly" -- and it didn't come to mind. You know, like when there's a word on the tip of your tongue and you just can't quite figure out what you're trying to say?

Thanks.

Even though now that I think about it, "gurgling" may be too severe. Hrm.

Also, Survivor, thanks for your comments. It was mostly what you said originally that made me re-think a lot of what was there, and I'm systematically going through the rest of my story and trying to do the same thing.

In fact, thanks to everybody for the comments. This is, by far, the best online writers group I've ever seen.

[This message has been edited by theokaluza (edited March 03, 2005).]


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Shendülféa
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Hehe. I know what you mean. I'll be writing something and it'll be flowing pretty smoothly and then all of the sudden, I have to stop because I can't think of the right word. For instance, I have this one scene in my book where two of my characters are having a rather heated argument and originally it read something like: "We shall discuss it and then I will make my decision. Perhaps then you shall be assuaged, thou irksome nyran." For the longest time, I couldn't think of a better word for "irksome." Then finally in English Lit. one day, we were going over definitions and when we got to "belligerent" I thought to myself, "That's it! That's the word that I needed!" So now the sentences read: "We shall discuss it and then I will make my decision and perhaps then you shall be assuaged, thou belligerent nyran." I still have problems coming up with the right words, though. Like while I was typing this post. *shrugs*
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ScottMiller
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I don't think it's a bad beginning, maybe a little rough in spots, but still a decent way to set the scene. The tone reminds me of Raymond Chandler--world-weary, cynical, distrustful--and oddly enough, so does the rhythm of the fourth paragraph ("But the truth was, he did. Everybody did. It was the smog"). You might want to read the first chapter of "The Big Sleep" if you're not familiar with Chandler--it's a good lesson in precise scene-setting--unless you've read it already. (Then re-read it.)

The only bit nobody's mentioned that jumped out at me as being a bit awkward is this:

quote:
Except for the ones who were smart enough to wear protective gear, which Marcus always carried, or who had cybernetic eyeware, which Marcus always wanted.

I realize you have to work the info in somewhere, so I won't fault that, but it's a bit long and ungainly. I think I know what you were after between "always carried" and "always wanted" but it might work better split into two sentences that echoed each other:

"Except for the ones who were smart enough to wear protective gear. Marcus always made sure to carry his, just in case. But he'd always wanted the cybernetics. No muss, no fuss."

OK, that's more than two sentences, LOL. One of my major flaws in action--rambling. But maybe it might give you some ideas.

It also takes out the word "eyeware," which you might want--is this a deliberate play on "hardware" and "eyewear," or a slip? If it's wordplay, you might want to establish somewhere that this is a standard way of designating all cybernetic accessories (for lack of a better word), so people don't assume it's a slip.

I think you're on to something here. Keep going.


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theokaluza
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Thanks for the comments.

In Marcus' world, there's two kinds of wearable technology: gear and ware. Gear is removable. Ware isn't.

I'd rather work it in the way that I've got it now. But thanks, though. I'll still try to clear up the meaning a bit.

It's used through-out the story.


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ScottMiller
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theokaluza: That's all I wanted to know, so by all means stick with "ware." It's more accurate anyway.

(Speaking as someone whose main source of scientifc knowledge is reading "Scientific American" every month... oh well.)


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