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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » The Third Queen

   
Author Topic: The Third Queen
Daniel Thurot
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All right, this'll be my second post on this page (Thanks to those who helped me finish up "The Invisible Picture Book" -- it's getting published soon, looks like). This story is in a very rough stage, but I promise that it won't be intolerable to read. I'll post the first bit, and anyone who wants to read the rest, just post here or email me (danielthurot@hotmail.com).

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Rhythmic screeching filled the air, children flying back and forth, their faces lit with delight at their game. Behind them, the sun was barely beginning to reach the base of the horizon, nearing the time when it would slip away, depriving the world of golden warmth. In just under an hour, an oily blackness would seep across the park, and the children at their swings would be gone, disappearing into homes where they would be snuggled softly into sleep.
John watched the children, their movements becoming more difficult to see through the mist that was beginning to settle over the park. He could hear the chains rattling, the children laughing, the rustling of wind through the autumn trees. It occurred to John as he listened to the children play that they seemed suspended by the chains, only able to move to places that the swingset would allow them.
He was seated at a park bench, a black-and-white wooden chessboard prepared before him. Its pieces soared over the surface like the spires of a great city, majestic and imposing. John waited, hoping that she would come soon so that he could reclaim his honor before the sun finally dipped beneath the distant mountains. Today he would defeat the only person alive to beat him at his game.

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Thanks.

[This message has been edited by Daniel Thurot (edited March 24, 2005).]


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Daniel Thurot
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I forgot to include specs!

The story is no longer than 2,500 words. That's four pages of 12-point type, single spaced.

Thanks again.


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wbriggs
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I put my comments, and additions, in ALL CAPS, and things you might delete in []. My thoughts: Some of this wording confused me, especially the first sentence.

There's lots of description, but it's not telling me what I want to know, which is what John's feeling (watching the children), why he's so interested in this chess match. The imagery is vivid and I think would work very well in poetry.

--

Rhythmic screeching filled the air, THIS WAS HARD TO IMAGINE HEARING children flying back and forth, OK SO IT'S EXTREME VIOLENCE, BODIES FLYING their faces lit with delight at their game. OK, THEY'RE *LITERALLY* FLYING -- LIKE MUTANTS IN X-MEN. EACH CLAUSE IN THIS SENTENCE GAVE ME A DIFFERENT IDEA OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING Behind them, the sun was barely beginning to reach the base of the horizon[, nearing the time when it would slip away, depriving the world of golden warmth.] In just under an hour[, an oily blackness would seep across the park, and] the children at the[ir] swings would be gone[, disappearing into homes where they would be snuggled softly into sleep.] OH -- THEY'RE NOT FLYING; THEY'RE SWINGING. THEY WOULDN'T BE SCREECHING IN RHYTHM, I THINK.
John watched the children, their movements becoming HARDER [more difficult] to see through the TWILIGHT [mist that was beginning to settle over the park]. He could hear the chains rattling, THIS MAKES ME THINK OF GHOSTS the children laughing, the rustling of wind through the autumn trees. It occurred to John as he listened to the children play that they seemed suspended by the chains, BRIEFLY GRUESOME IMAGE -- I THOUGHT OF THEM BEING HANGED only able to move to places that the swingset would allow them. WHICH I SUPPOSE THEY ARE, LITERALLY!
...I THOUGHT THEY WERE PLAYING A GAME (FROM PARAGRAPH 1). BUT NOW IT SEEMS THEY'RE JUST SWINGING.

He was seated at a park bench, a black-and-white wooden chessboard prepared before him. Its pieces soared over the surface "SOARED" SOUNDS LIKE THEY MUST BE VERY TALL, OR ELSE FLYING like the spires of a great city, majestic and imposing. John waited, hoping that she would come soon so that he could reclaim his honor before the sun finally dipped beneath the distant mountains. Today he would defeat the only person alive to beat him at his game.


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onepktjoe
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Hi Daniel,

I found your opening evocative, though I think wbriggs' comments about your first sentence have some merit. I also wanted to echo the comment about rattling chains; I think it disturbed the ambience you are creating, though I'm willing to accept there may be reasons for that. It was a bit wordy in parts, but there seemed to be sound technical reasons(the example that comes to mind is ... mist that was beginning to settle... as opposed to ...mist settling... because of the repetetive -ing consntructions in the next sentence), and I felt enough trust for the voice you're using to read on. As for explanation, you're last sentence seems to suggest that is coming next. As a reader I would expect it.

I'd be happy to read and comment on the rest if you'd care to send it.

Joe


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HSO
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Tense. The first sentence needs the tense adjusted. You've got "filled" and "flying", two separate tenses in the same sentence. Easily fixed by changing one of them. Tho' I'd suggest changing as follows: "children flew"

Right. Other than that, I'm not particularly engaged. I enjoyed the setup of the scene, but I don't feel moved to read on past this fragment. And I like chess, too.

The best two sentences (hooks) are:

quote:
John waited, hoping that she would come soon so that he could reclaim his honor before the sun finally dipped beneath the distant mountains. Today he would defeat the only person alive to beat him at his game.

So, you might consider moving these up a bit... just to draw us in a little sooner. Then, you can expand on the setting a bit more or choose to expand on the impending match. But if there's more to the match than just playing the game, you would do well to hint at it or allude to it in some way in these first 13 lines.

Good luck.


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Jaina
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I agree with HSO. You could potentially move those lines up to the very first two, and then go into the description of the park.

If you were going for a ghostly feel with the children playing in the park (which is what it sounded like to me), you did it well. It seemed to me that they were more ghosts of memory--probably John's--than real children. If that wasn't what you were going for, you'll want to change those terms.

However, I didn't like that bit about the children being suspended and trapped by the swingset. It seemed like a little tangent before you got to what you really wanted to say.


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Rocklover
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Hi Dan,
I don't like oily. Okay, oil is indeed black, but otherwise it doesn't fit the carefree children-at-a-park image you're painting.
Also the sun doesn't "reach" for the horizon, it "drops" to the horizon. Reach implies an upward motion. Unless you intended a kind of paradox here, reach is not your word.
The children are weird. Otherworldly.
I get the feeling there is more to this chess game than just a chess game. Am I right? Does the outcome of the game affect reality? Are these children somehow illusional, trapped, as you hint, by some supernatural effect of the game?
I gathered that this game will be played in the dark. That also infers there is something ominous about it.
This paragraph is either carelessly written with ill chosen images and words OR it is a fantastic crafting of just-a-little-off things like oil and shrieks and impending darkness...that set up a Stephen King surreality.
Which is it, I wonder?
Judith

[This message has been edited by Rocklover (edited March 28, 2005).]


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Wenderella
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"In just under an hour, an oily blackness would seep across the park..."

I agree with Rocklover about the oil reference. While reading this, I had the feeling that something horrific was going to happen of which only John was aware.


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Rocklover
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Dan I realized in rereading my post I sounded rather harsh. I'm sorry. I didn't mean your whole piece was poorly written, just that some of the word choices seemed out of place. Then again, as I said, this is the very thing about it that intrigues me. I, for one, will be very interested to know more about your idea of what you intend to do with this.
Onward... Judith

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