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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Autism (not-working title) re-revised

   
Author Topic: Autism (not-working title) re-revised
onepktjoe
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Hello Everyone,

Once again, I'm looking for a fresh set of eyes for this: just over 7,000 words (even just a crit on the first half would be immeasurably appreciated, as that's where I've revised the most), SF with a meta-physical slant (and a touch of horror); some strong language and mildly graphic imagery. Comments about this new opening would be great, too.

Survivor and Phantos: sorry I didn't respond to your last posts in the previous Autism thread. Thank you both BTW, your posts were tremendously helpful.

Autism

The Voidship resembled a vast egg skewered lengthwise, and he, Darwin Miles, felt like its delicate yolk.

He lay in the turning wheel-walk at the egg's widest point, huddled like a cold wilted comma. Vulnerably naked, as this particular ritual of defiance required, he was trying to convince himself that he was alone. His mind--that rational clockwork place where all problems could have solutions--had been telling him so for fifty-one days now. But in his heart, that private space where secret things moved, Darwin had begun to believe otherwise.

Up ahead the distance was burgeoning with terrible potential, and ticking with almost subaudible sounds. Behind him in the ever-turning corridor, long-waiting horrors were closing the gap.

And out there, just beyond the bulkhead where the cold and infinite emptiness began, something out in the dark was whispering. Shhh, it was saying, be still. There is understanding in the stillness.

Darwin was beginning to believe this, too.


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Beth
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I kind of had a hard time with the opening images - the skewered egg - I had to stop and try to visualize it. And you completely lost me on "cold wilted comma" - I have no idea what that means. Is the comma cold? Has the comma been wilted by the cold - if that's the case you need a hypen, so "cold-wilted comma" but I'm mostly stuck on commas wilting. They're sturdy punctuation in my world, unaffected by temperature; maybe not as robust as a semicolon, but they hold their own and are not given to girlish wilting.

I liked most of the second paragraph. I'd put "that private space where secret things moved" in dashes, to emphasize the parallel with the previous sentence. I really the "private spaces" line.

You lost me again on the 3rd paragraph - I don't understand what you mean about the distance burgeoning with potential or ticking with subaudible sounds. And then you throw in the long-waiting horrors, which I don't follow at all.

Then you had me again with the last few sentences.

So I don't know - I'm confused by way too many things in the opening lines to take on 7k. But I really liked the parts that didn't confuse me.


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Survivor
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This is pretty good. It seems more aligned on point than the previous version. I'll try critting it, or most of it, though I probably won't get to it during the weekend.
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wbriggs
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What Beth said, plus:

>Vulnerably naked, as this particular ritual of defiance required
What ritual is that? I don't know.

>he was trying to convince himself that he
he tried

>And out there, just beyond the bulkhead where the cold and infinite emptiness began, something out in the dark was whispering. Shhh, it was saying, be still. There is understanding in the stillness.

I can't tell if this is metaphor, or if Darwin's crazy.


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Jeraliey
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I always get hung up on this:

"The Voidship resembled a vast egg skewered lengthwise, and he, Darwin Miles, felt like its delicate yolk."

Why can't it just be "The Voidship resembled a vast egg skewered lengthwise, and Darwin Miles felt like its delicate yolk."?


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onepktjoe
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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all the comments.

Beth: I'll have you know, my commas are not girly! Wilted, yes. But in a steely-eyed, Charles Bronson kind of way!

But yeah, I know, my imagery gets a little odd sometimes. Would ...cold, wilted comma... work any better, or is that just one more needless little sissy hanging around?

Survivor: Oh, Lord. My first Survivor crit. I'm practising deep relaxation techniques as we speak.

Much appreciated, it's on the way. Whenever you get to it is fine.

wbriggs: those questions actually clear up pretty quickly, but I'm still fumbling with the opening. There's a lot of exposition that needs to get off pretty early, and right now I'm just trying to balance it all out. Still working...still working.... And thanks for the heads up on the tense issue.

Jeraliey: The rythm of that worked better with the first draft of the opening. I suppose I've always been trying to keep that original cadence, but I agree it doesn't work as well here. I'll have to take a look at that.

Thanks again, All.

Joe

[This message has been edited by onepktjoe (edited May 14, 2005).]


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wbriggs
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My suggestion is to not raise a question that Darwin knows the answer to, unless you also give the answer right then. I love being kept in suspense about things the POV character doesn't know; I feel cheated if he keeps secrets from me.
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Beth
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ok, "cold wilted comma" is grammatically ambiguous. "cold-wilted comma" means the cold wilted the comma. "cold, wilted comma" means the comma is both cold and wilted. whether you use the second or third is up to you. but of course it is the wilting comma that I don't get. Can you tell me what that looks like? I mean if you said "cold-wilted lettuce" or even "cold, wilted Charles Bronson" I'd know what you meant.

uh, not that I'm getting hung up on it or anything.


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jeduthun
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Commas aside, are you going for Serious or Parody here? The wispy language makes me hear a pipe organ and far-off screams - hard to take it seriously.

Maybe that's just me.

Particularly wispy are the following:

-Vulnerably naked (redundant)
-that rational clockwork place (again, redundant)
-that private space where secret things moved (very redundant)
-the distance was burgeoning (didn't know distance could do that!)
-almost subaudible sounds (aagh!)

Sorry, I don't know what 'wispy' really means in this context; it just seemed like the right word. Cheers!


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MaryRobinette
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I think I'd have to disagree with jeduthun--although its dificult since I don't know what wispy means in this context either--about the redundencies. In particular I think there is a very big difference between "vulnerably naked" and just plain "naked".

In the previous draft I think the "cold wilted comma" line was one that I balked on, but couldn't explain why so I may not have tagged it. Beth's explanation makes it very clear for me, and I think is spot on.

I hesitate to offer this, but since the "comma" portion seems like it is intended to represent the physical shape he is lying it, and since there is another, more graphic, description that might fit nicely with the whole yolk thing, may I remind you of the term "fetal position?" You might be able to find something more evocative with related terms.

Enjoy the Survivor crit. He puts you through the wringer, but he's very good at spotting the story that you want to tell. Or at least, that's what he does for my stories.


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