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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Dreamers revised

   
Author Topic: Dreamers revised
Woodie
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I posted this about a month ago, and it really hasn't changed all that much. Any crits are alway appreciated, but I am also looking for a few readers for the first chapter which is almost 1700 words. This is a CHILDREN'S novel--for the 11 to 14 age group. It is contemporary-fantasy. Thanks.

The lights were all off. Clare tiptoed across Grandmother's marble floor. Her ears were still ringing from the music, and the beat was still pulsing through her veins. She wished every night was high school night at the club.
A light flicked on in the sitting room. Grandmother was sitting in one of the antique chairs, a thin-lipped smile across her face. Clare glanced over at the clock. It wasn't that late. The old woman had never waited up for her before.
Grandmother must have something important to tell her. Instinctively, Clare braced herself for bad news. A sinking feeling in her stomach made it hard to breath. If


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HSO
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I admit that I'm not up to speed with writing for the 11-14 market, but even so, nearly every sentence in the posted fragment begins similarly with a definite article (the), an indefinite article (a), or a proper noun (Clare, Grandmother). This makes for stilted reading, in my opinion. Consider mixing up the sentences a bit -- I think the kiddies can handle a prepositional phrase or two, if only to keep things lively.

That's all I wanted to say. Feel free to disregard my comments if the general advice for writing for children that age is to only use simple sentence constructions. Honestly, I cannot imagine this being the case.


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Survivor
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Hmmm...that might be all that it is. I'm puzzled by how difficult it is for me to follow this opening. I mean, I already know the answers to all the clarity issues that arise, but I'm confused anyway. I'm just going to try the first chapter, these rewrites of the opening don't seem to be going in the right direction.
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Novice
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I was thrown by the contradiction between Grandmother's "thin-lipped smile" and Clare's immediate assumption of pending bad news. I think this is because you have set up a very nebulous connection between Grandmother and Clare. IMO, it would be more effective to reveal their emotional relationship more fully. Are they close, or distant? Are they combative?

I guess I'm saying that you've left Grandmother's role too ambiguous, and I'd be more interested if I knew her as "good" or "evil" straight off. This would also help add tension to your scene, as the reader would better understand Clare's reasons for tiptoe-ing. Is she trying not to wake her Grandmother, who she loves and respects and wouldn't want to disturb? Or is she trying not to get caught, rebelling against Grandmother's authority and fearing the consequences?

HSO pointed out the rhythmic nature of your sentence construction, and I agree that some variety would improve the fragment.

I like Clare. The part about her still feeling the club music is a good bit of characterization, and I think I'd like to find out more about her in this first few lines. In this case, I think some mention of her mode of dress might be in order. You could tell us a lot about her attitude and her role at school with just a quick note about her clothes. (I know, "description is bad." But in this case, I believe such description would contribute to the character and plot. Others might not agree.)


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Neoindra
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I like the general feel of the paragraph and I love the description of how she feels as she comes home from a club, but I do agree that the mechanics need a bit of fine tuning. It is a very interesting start though and I would be happy to read the chapter if you would like.

[This message has been edited by Neoindra (edited June 01, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by Neoindra (edited June 01, 2006).]


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PennyLane
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I agree with Novice that the thin-lipped smile and the anticipation of bad news confused me. If her grandmother is smiling, even slightly, unless she's a character who enjoys negative situations, then shouldn't Clare feel a little more at ease? I also was intrigued by the opening. I love the discription of the pulse and ringing of the music, and I like the details you use to strongly introduce Clare. You should do the same for her grandmother because at this point all her grandmother is is a thin lipped question mark. Overall, I'd really like to know what's about to happen to Clare, so keep it up, and don't leave me in the dark.

[This message has been edited by PennyLane (edited June 01, 2006).]


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sholar
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The thin smile on the grandma followed by the girl's fear made me think, ooh evil grandma. I didn't feel confused, I thought it characterized her relationship with the grandmother rather well. Of course, this assumes that the grandma is evil and Clare and her don't get along.
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Woodie
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Thanks everybody. You've given me some good things to work on. I sent chapter one off to Neoindra and Survivor.
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wbriggs
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This would have been improved for me if I knew why Clare was coming back late, whether Grandma would be upset with her, whether Clare was sneaking in, whether she's afraid of Grandma. Easy enough fixed: "Clare knew she'd be in big trouble if Grandma knew she was coming back from the party at three a.m. Fortunately, Granmda was in bed by nine, and never disputed when Clare said she was in by midnight.

The lights were all off. Clare tiptoed ..."

Or whatever's appropriate.


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Sara Genge
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Thin-lipped smile and bad news confused me but it is such a small fragment: I'd be willing to read on and find out!
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Woodie
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Thanks for the crits.
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Silver3
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I don't have any trouble following why Clare is late, or the implication that her grandmother is up when she shouldn't be.

I agree with the others that you've got yourself a beat problem. Read aloud, this sounds really choppy, and it makes for a much more awkward read than this deserves. Maybe varying your sentence structure?

Story-wise, it's a good hook. It's the style that's got me a little worried, but you can catch that easily.


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