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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Lucinda's Curse

   
Author Topic: Lucinda's Curse
jeduthun
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Hi,

Guess I'll just dive right in. Any comments on this opening? It's the beginning of a five-page short story that I've rewritten twice so far. Would love any feedback you'd like to give. And let me know if you'd like to read the whole thing and do a serious work-over. Thanks!!!

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Anna floated through the second floor, looking for the book on Curses, so her sister would find it when she next came in. Anna flew through the psychology stacks to the paranormal section, and started to scan the witchcraft area. There was that woman again, the thin woman with the long black hair, sitting on a tiny wooden stool between the stacks. She looked young, but Anna sensed something ancient about her. The woman looked up, as if startled, and for a moment seemed to be looking directly at Anna, through the books. But no, the woman must have had one of those thoughts people often have when reading a book, something that makes them look up for a moment and ponder, because she went right back to reading. Anna moved closer, through the stacks, around the woman and behind her so she could look over the woman’s shoulder. The woman stood up and turned around, this time staring directly through Anna with fierce eyes.
Her cold thought penetrated Anna’s mind: [i]Get away from me.[/]

---


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wbriggs
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My thoughts:
* I kept getting confused on things that might be metaphorical or might be magical.
* I'm not hooked. Anna's not struggling, and the fact of being in a magic library wasn't enough to interest me (until something else happens). Neither was the hostile old woman. What's this story about? Start there. If it's the hostile old woman, fine -- and maybe let Anna wonder at her hostility.
* I usually put [deletions] in brackets and ADDITIONS in upper case, but you don't seem to have much problem with rambling, so it's all just comments below
--

Anna floated through the second floor, looking for the book on Curses [LOWER CASE, UNLESS "CURSES" IS A PROPER NAME, LIKE A COMPUTER LANGUAGE], so her sister would find it when she next came in. [HOW WILL LOOKING FOR IT NOW HELP HER SISTER FIND IT?] Anna flew through the psychology stacks to the paranormal section, [MY FIRST REACTION WAS, OH, THE AUTHOR MEANS ANNA SCANNED IT REALLY QUICKLY. BUT I SEE ANNA'S FLOATING. HOW ABOUT "FLEW UP TO" OR "FLEW AROUND" TO AVOID THE "FLEW THROUGH" METAPHOR FOR SPEED?] and started to scan the witchcraft area. [PARAGRAPH]
[MAYBE THIS IS WHERE TO START -- OR EVEN LATER. BUT THE FACT THAT ANNA'S LOOKING FOR A BOOK PROBABLY ISN'T RELEVANT, SO WE COULD SKIP IT. SHE'S IN A LIBRARY; WE CAN ASSUME IT WAS SOMETHING LIKE THAT!]
There was that woman again, the thin woman with the long black hair, sitting on a tiny wooden stool between the stacks. She looked young, but Anna sensed something ancient about her. [IF ANNA IS USING MAGIC, DROP US A HINT] The woman looked up, as if startled, and for a moment seemed to be looking directly at Anna, through the books. But no, the woman must have had one of those thoughts people often have when reading a book, something that makes them look up for a moment and ponder, because she went right back to reading. [OR MAYBE SHE'S TELEPATHIC] Anna moved closer, through the stacks, around the woman and behind her so she could look over the woman’s shoulder. The woman stood up and turned around, this time staring directly through Anna with fierce eyes.
Her cold thought penetrated Anna’s mind: [i]Get away from me.[/]

---


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jeduthun
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Thanks, W

I'm wondering if I'm even hooked on this story...I guess I'd been thinking of it as a "writing" exercise. Maybe if I thought of my work as "storytelling" and ask myself more "What story do I want/need to tell" I will have more powerful work...

Thanks again for taking the time.


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NewsBys
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Yes, I felt the way wbriggs described. I pictured her actually floating and flying, then about halfway through it I thought, "Hold on, maybe she is just using float for walking lightly or something." At that point I became confused.
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Survivor
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I started with "floated" meaning that she was drifting artlessly/silently through the room, then "Curses" gave me a hint that she might have been floating through the actual floor itself.

You comment about "storytelling" vs "writing" is very telling. Our culture tends (for various reasons) to make an distinction between the "arts" and practical communication skills.

But really, clarity is everything in writing. If you have a dual meaning, then you should mean both meanings. If a line has no sensible meaning, then it has no meaning at all.

So, treating this as a "storytelling" exercise, ask yourself what you need to do to make the meaning of this passage a bit more clear.


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