This story is hot off the press, I wrote the whole thing today. There is no language, but I'm giving it at least a PG-13, and possibly an R rating because of the horror content. So please be aware of that if you choose to read the story.
I'm looking for readers for the whole thing but as always, comments on the first 13 are appreciated.
quote:As I entered the lofty and spacious home of Nicklaus Darby, one of the wealthiest Raindrop merchants on the planet Killane, I drew in a long breath. So much room! Being spacer-bred myself, I never got over the shock of seeing the large, airy dwellings so many surface-dwellers took for granted. I was very glad that I’d decided to wear a skirt instead of slacks as I looked at the grand architecture around me.
“Welcome, Miss Avalon. Sorry that we have to meet under such unpleasant circumstances.” My host bowed in formal greeting. “I am Mick Gentry, Mr. Darby’s business manager. As you can imagine, his disappearance has been cause for considerable alarm amongst those of us who know him well. Please, make yourself comfortable."
Oh, and if you are willing to give it a read, I really need comments back by the end of the weekend, because my deadline for this story is Feb 1 and I need at least a day to make changes. Thanks in advance!
[This message has been edited by autumnmuse (edited January 27, 2006).]
I think some of your sentences need to be reworded a little so they are clear.
"Being spacer-bred" do you mean "space-bred?"
"I never got over the shock of seeing the large, airy dwellings so many surface-dwellers took for granted." I would take out the "so" here otherwise I stumble over this sentence when I read it.
"I was very glad that I’d decided to wear a skirt instead of slacks as I looked at the grand architecture around me." What does a dress have to do with the grand architecture? Dresses don't necessarily mean more formal in today's world. I think you need to make your thoughts in this sentence clearer.
"has been cause for considerable alarm" I found this section of the sentence awkward to read.
This is all my opinion only as one reader. I know someone has disappeared, but I'm drawn into stories that start off right away with action. These introductions just don't interest me enough to keep reading even though someone is missing.
This works. I got why MC was glad she wore a dress, and I'd read on. A disappearance is good enough as a hook for me (but I'm a mystery kind of gal).
Sadly, I'm so behind on crits that I'm not going to be able to manage the crit by your deadline (not to mention horror is not really my cup of tea, so I'm not sure what use I could have been). But good luck with it !
I would have liked to know at least the gender of the MC earlier, even if I don't know the name. I thought it was a guy and then all of a sudden he's wearing a skirt! It just threw me a bit.
The line where Mick says "as you can imagine..." seems to be something that the character already knew. If she could have imagined it, and if she knew him well (which is what it implies) then they both know Darby is missing and it probably wouldn't be said in a real conversation. It's like going to a funeral and having the door man tell you "As you can guess, we're all sad in here". To tell the reader the info, she could say it in her head or reflect on how alarming Darby's disappearance was to her.
Well I've gotten two positive reviews of the entire story (thanks Will and Becky!).
I'm pretty sure that if an editor gets into the story, they will be well hooked all the way to the end. The problem is that first section. Some of you have said it isn't your cup of tea. Question for you: if you knew the story was about aliens with very odd life cycles and a missing persons investigation involving the aliens, is it the type of thing in general you would read, or not?
I ask because I'm trying to figure out if the entire story isn't resonating, or just my hook. If you don't like alien horror anyway, nothing I can do will hook you. But if you enjoy that type of thing but wouldn't have read beyond the first 13, I'd like to know. Thanks!
I don't really follow horror at all, but your idea does sound interesting. Normally, when I pick up a book I often just check what's summed up on the back cover. Probably not the best thing to do, but that's where my first interest really comes from. The cool thing about alien stories is that mostly EVERYTHING they do is odd, and how humans deal with that is something I like to read. Exclude 'Star Trek' and you'd have one interested reader. And if it's not as bland and flat a 'mystery' as 'I, Robot' was to me, then yes, I'd be interested in picking it up and reading. Keep up the work. :-)
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As regards the 'spacer-bred' comments: what sounds bad about that? She grew up on a spaceship, called a spacer in the slang parlance of the time. She wasn't 'space-bred' because that would imply she was born in the void itself.
Anyway, just not sure what is wrong with 'spacer-bred'.
One difficulty with the hook may be the language, in that there is no indication that this is an SF horror story. In fact, Miss Avalon's reactions and Mick Gentry's manner of speech actually give the false impression that this may turn out to be a light comedic piece.
As I'm in the UK I'm 7 hours ahead of Colorado's MST so if you'd like me to give the whole manuscript a read through then I could have it back to you no later than midnight tonight, GMT, which would be 5 in the evening your time.
[This message has been edited by Paul-girtbooks (edited January 29, 2006).]
I had no problem with the spacer or the dress, in fact the dress comment was part of the hook for me. But I do agree with Paul-G the first 13 led me to think this was an alien/mystery. If it doesn't matter whether the reader knows that this is a horror story, then it works as far as I am concerned. If it does matter, then you may want to elude to the horror with a darker tone. You have set up the contrast between the surface-dwellers and the others very well.
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Hi Paul! I've dropped out of the picture for a couple months, sorry, but it's good to talk to you again.
I have revised the first draft a bit, and yes, I would be very happy if you both would give it a read for me. I appreciate you taking the time. I'll send it right away.
Kickle, in my second draft I've moved the dress comment a little further in. But you hit the nail on the head with the fact that the reader won't know what type of story this is. I don't know if that is good or bad; I think horror that creeps slowly up on you until it delivers the sucker punch can be the best type, but maybe some people would feel upset by being taken unawares. Hmm. That's why I'm so uncertain of the beginning; I know my way once the story gets going. But unfortunately I can't even cut what I have; all the details are relevant later in the story. Every bit of this particular story has relevance within itself. I think I have to leave it relatively as is, and hope for the best. But I am a little concerned.
Silver, maybe you and Paul can read it with an eye to how well the beginning hooks, and what promises it makes to the reader, then how well the story itself works as a contrast. Thanks guys!
I've reworked the premise a bit. I've cut Mr. Darby's character entirely, and Miss Avalon is no longer an investigator. Hopefully that fixes the plausibility issues that were raised.
Here are the new first 13:
quote:As I entered the lofty and spacious home of Dr. Mick Gentry, one of the wealthiest Raindrop merchants on the planet Killane, I drew in a long breath. So much room! Being spacer-bred myself, I hadn’t yet overcome the shock of seeing the large, airy buildings so many surface-dwellers took for granted. I’d been employed as his under-secretary for the past six months, but only in an office setting, and now he’d invited me to his home to discuss a promotion. My nerves were shot. I’m never good at interviews, and I was terribly afraid of acting like a bumbling idiot, as usual. I’d worn a skirt and high heels, evidence of my desperation. My bones and muscles were weak from years of low grav, and I usually avoided footwear that could spell a broken ankle. But I really wanted to make a good impression to Dr. Gentry. A part of me wondered why he’d asked me to his home for the interview. Was that normal?
“Welcome, Miss Avalon. Delighted you could make it. I’ve been looking forward to our afternoon together.” He bowed low over my hand, making me flush red with embarrassment. “Please, make yourself comfortable. Why don’t you join me for a light luncheon before we begin?”
If anyone who hasn't read it yet wants to give this story a look, or if you read an early version and want to see the changes, let me know.
quote:the reader won't know what type of story this is.
I'm not so sure you need to bludgeon the reader with the genre within the first 13. Certainly the type of magazine the story appears in, and/or the bookstore shelf the book is filed on, give the reader a little clue.
As a reader, I mostly want to be reassured that I'm not going to run into material I find objectionable, which is graphic violence and gore. I can handle suspense, but the other turns my stomach. As long as the writer doesn't tease me into thinking it's a suspense thriller then toss Freddy Krueger with a chainsaw my way, I would have the patience to let the suspense build.
So far you have a good hook. I'd be interested in reading. You can send it my way: email@example.com
quote:But I really wanted to make a good impression to Dr. Gentry.
Nit-pick: "... wanted to give a good impression to Dr. Gentry."
"... want to make a good impression on Dr. Gentry."
Like I said, it's just a nit-pick; probably fine the way it is.
One concern which just occurred to me: is the story in danger of losing momentum by removing the drama which was originally there when you had a missing persons case? Hope I haven't thrown a cat amoung the pigeons!
And for the sake of experimentation, I've done yet another draft. This one puts the missing person investigation back, but instead of the owner being missing, Dr. Gentry is the owner and Mr. Darby is merely an employee working the orchards. Hopefully that makes the junior investigator on routine interview bit more plausible. And I said her partner called in sick and she decided to do the work anyway.
Eventually I'll decide on one of these, I promise! I guess I treat my writing like my acting: play each scene a variety of ways until one clicks.