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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Death Comes but Twice - 1st 13

   
Author Topic: Death Comes but Twice - 1st 13
MaryRobinette
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Fantasy, 1600 words. I'd like comments on this section and, potentially, readers for the whole. Thanks!

---

My dearest Lily,

Forgive me. I shall likely be dead before I finish writing this. I tell you this now, so that when my words stop, you will know that my last thought was of you.

As you remember, Dr. V-- came to see me yesterday afternoon. He brought with him the bottle of strychnine that is sitting on the table next to this piece of paper. When you find it, you will note that it is empty, but that is not my death. Although, I suppose the state of my corpse will make that apparent.

Dr. V-- was in high spirits, because the addition of faerie herbs to his alchemical experiment had been a success, and brought the strychnine with him in order to demonstrate the efficacy of his treatment.


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jeduthun
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so that when my words stop
Not sure what that adds to the story: we already know he'll be dead.

you will note that it is empty
Brain Lurch while I figured out it was the bottle you were talking about, and not the piece of paper.

This the kind of feedback you're looking for? I'll read your 1600...


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Beth
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The "as you remember" is a red flag and makes me fear that you're going into an awkward "as you know, bob" exposition passage - luckily you didn't. I'd try to avoid the red flag.

The last sentence in the 2nd paragraph sounds a little clunky to me - my first impulse was to suggest just joining it to the previous sentence with a comma, but then that makes a long tangled sentence. a triviality.

I'm not in love with the Dr. V- style of names but it sounds as if you're aiming at a sort of Victorian feel so maybe it works.

And, I'm very curious about what happened with Dr. V and the strychnine, and I'm curious about how your protagonist dies. I'm pretty well hooked.

I'll read if you want, either this version or the next, wherever you think i'll be more useful.


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Kickle
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I'd love to read it and I even have a bit of experience with strychnine.
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Void
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I'd like to read it, too, please.
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Minister
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If wishes were fishes... I wish I could volunteer to read this and get it back to you promptly with meaningful feedback -- but I can't. Maybe if you're looking for readers for the next draft? Sometime later next week, maybe? Because this does have me hooked, and I'd love to read it. So please do check back with me if you do another draft.
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GZ
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Another period piece. Delightful!
I'm hooked and will be happy to read the whole thing.

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Silver3
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Be delighted to read it if you send it fast (have a big thing coming on Tuesday and I still need time to read)
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MaryRobinette
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Thanks all! I've made a few changes to the beginning based on responses, but otherwise feel fairly comfortable sending it out to you.

Wait--Kickle, you've had experience with strychnine? Personally? Oh, that doesn't sound good at all...

Minister, I'm sure these fine folks won't let me off the hook. I'll send you the second round.

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited May 21, 2005).]


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wbriggs
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I'll read. No particular comments so far. I don't know what's going on, but I do get a sense that I'm about to find out.
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Survivor
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I'd like to read it.

I do wonder whether you're going for Victorian or perhaps your setting is going to be more Elizabethan. I suppose I'll find out.


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onepktjoe
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I'm interested. Send it on over if you still need another reader.
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GeorgeCousineau
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An interesting start. You write, "I will be dead before I finish this" (forgive me if I paraphrase): this is certainly an enthralling hook, but be wary; you must deliver on such melodramatic promises! Apart from this potential (only potential for inexperienced writers) let-down, this is a very well-written opening. A first-person narrative can lead to great things - but remember, it must be biased in some way! Good Luck!
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MaryRobinette
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Slightly revised opening, due to considered and thoughtful critiques

---

My dearest Lily,

Forgive me. I would be with you now, rather than closeted in my study, but do not wish you or our children to witness my demise. I love you. I tell you now, so that when my words stop, you will know that my last thought was of you.

When Dr. V-- came to see me yesterday afternoon, he brought with him the bottle of strychnine that now sits empty upon my desk. He was in high spirits, because the addition of faerie herbs to his alchemical experiment had been a success. He brought the strychnine in order to demonstrate the efficacy of his elixir.

In truth, his very presence could be considered proof, since he had been dead yesterday morning, but as I had not witnessed his revival, he wished me to see the results first hand.

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited May 22, 2005).]


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GZ
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I like the change to the first paragraph -- putting his message of love to Lily right at the front, but with this version, I find the jump to Dr. V-- in the next paragraph a bit of a jar. There is no tie to the earlier bit, as there was before discussing the poison and his death. For me, that transition flowed better in the first version.
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Lanius
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The transition to the second paragraph may need some smoothing, as stated above.

One little change, in the second sentence of the second paragraph, might be to have the husband write that Dr. V--'s elixir "has" been a success, not "had." Using "has" provides a connotation that the couple has prior experience and familiarity with Dr. V-- and his work. If they don't, please disregard suggestion.

I really like what you have so far, and would be happy to read further, should you need readers.


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Survivor
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I like the additional tension added by the information in the last paragraph...but some of that is from my awareness of the first text, where you refer to "the state of my corpse". I suppose I'll just have to read the whole thing.
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Eddy Gemmell
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I'm a little late but..great stuff.

I liked the first draft best. The first paragraph may have benefitted from the re-draft but I found it a little too sentimental for my tastes. The original was just right for me.

If you're still looking for readers I'll happily take a look.

[This message has been edited by Eddy Gemmell (edited May 23, 2005).]


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Minister
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Does this mean that there's another draft out there? If so, it is now later this week, so I could probably read. And I'd be delighted to do so. If you're still working on it and want to hold off on sending it out, that's fine too.
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MaryRobinette
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Ding! Sent to the lucky man with time on his hands.
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benskia
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Hi Mary.
I'd love to take a look at this if your still looking for readers.
You've hooked me with all this talk of deadly poisons.

Thankyou.


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Lord Darkstorm
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I'll give it a go if you still need some more eyes.
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NewsBys
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I like the voice. If you need another reader, I'll read it.
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Gingivere
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I'm new at critiquing, but I'd like to read if you don't mind sending it along.
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MaryRobinette
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Hm...I might be interested in having one more read on this, although I think it's pretty close to being ready to go. I'm out of town right now, so don't have the computer with me that the story is on, would next week be okay?
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NewsBys
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Fine with me.
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Gingivere
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If you don't mind, it's fine by me.
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