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

   
Author Topic: Vision
oliverhouse
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I have most of a first draft of a new short story, working title "Vision", SF, will probably end up being 4000 or so words. I'm writing some and editing a lot. Interested in feedback on the first 13, and a few questions follow. Too early for readers.

-----

Newer eyes might help, Tom thought. He blinked and looked down, immediately cursing his vanity. He had been among the first people ever to get replacements, with their hard-looking ceramic whites tinted a faint blue and traced with tiny lines of red; deep blue irises streaked with brown; and jet-black pupils.

Still, the latest models looked better: softer, more natural, like white flesh instead of bone china. And that mattered sometimes. It mattered with Andrey, his brother-in-law. His eyes freaked Andrey out. He had told him so.

Doesn't matter, Tom thought. I have to look him in the eye, or I look like a coward. They chew up and spit out cowards. He raised his head.

Andrey still glared at him. "It's the family business," he

-----

The obvious questions: good hook? Would you turn the page?

Also: Could you immediately tell that Tom is married to Larisa, and Andrey is Larisa's brother? That Andrey is a criminal, and that Tom has been involved with Andrey?

How do you feel about Tom so far? What kind of guy is he?

"He had told him so." Sounds ambiguous, or obvious enough?

I don't know why I'm insecure about this particular opener -- maybe because I've reworked it too much already.

Thanks,
Oliver

[This message has been edited by Second Assistant (edited June 03, 2006).]


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Neoindra
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I was interested in finding out what was about to go down. It sounded very mafia-ish. The family relationship was easy to follow. Tom came off to me as a coward who cared too much about other people's opinion of him. It was obvious that he wasn’t interested in the family business anymore, but didn’t have the chutzpah to walk away. The “He had told him so” told me that his family in law didn’t have much respect for him. To look at someone and just say your eyes freak me out would make them feel pretty low in the pecking order, although in Andrey’s defense they did sound pretty freaky. I would turn the page. I think the eye bit was somewhat confusing, but a little work on the syntax would fix that.

[This message has been edited by Neoindra (edited June 02, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by Neoindra (edited June 02, 2006).]


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HSO
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I'm a little confused. What will newer eyes help Tom with precisely? My best guess is dealing with Andrey, but that's only a supposition. A little context would help, perhaps by developing the scene and establishing setting more fully before Tom's introspection. Also, Andrey's introduction into the scene could be stronger. We learn that Andrey "still glared," but we didn't previously know Andrey was glaring or actually in the scene until that moment. We knew that Tom was thinking about Andrey, though, and it may not be enough establishment. I think we need some description that these two men are having a conversation as soon as possible.

Hook potential is there in the following dialogue: "You can't get out." If this could come before Tom's eye stuff, it might draw a reader in more quickly. It's a strong statement all by itself. It may be related to the plot, the universe and everything. Albeit, Tom's eyes probably are as well, but that bit of dialogue was the first thing that intrigued me, because it provokes an automatic emotional response and sympathy for Tom. It's a great line. Unfortunately, Tom's reply mentions an unknown woman, Larisa, again without context, which gives us one more new character to think about in an opening that hasn't quite established the other two characters.

In sum, we don't know these characters or this world yet. A sentence or two to establish the scene will go a long way for readers. Something to consider.

Good luck.


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Ray
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I'm almost hooked. Tom's a pretty good character, and the situation is interesting with his eyes. But I'm a little confused about the rest, mostly because I'm not sure what the business is or where Tom fits into it. It feels like the mob, but then again, it could also be a high-profile corporate business, which can also be ruthless and unforgiving to its associates. A little clarity on that point, and I think I'd be good.
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wbriggs
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Looks like I'm not the only one confused. I don't *like* having to decode what the author's saying. This OSC article seems relevant: http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/lessons/1998-10-29.shtml

In regards to specifics: no, I didn't pick up who was married to whom. (Why be subtle? You can just mention "Larisa, Tom's wife," and you're done.) A cheap fix to "He had told him so" -- which I stumbled over -- could be "Andrey had told him so."


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oliverhouse
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Thanks for reading.

I think the impressions people got were pretty much what I wanted, but as always, others see things that I don't. I got what I needed -- and one thing I didn't realize that I needed:

quote:
We learn that Andrey "still glared," but we didn't previously know Andrey was glaring or actually in the scene until that moment.

The scene's clear in _my_ head. It wasn't until I read this comment from HSO that I realized that I had left this bit out in the last rewrite. Thanks for that.

Will said:

> This OSC article seems relevant: http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/lessons/1998-10-29.shtml

I've read that article, and I've actually thought about it in relation to the "first 13" rule. Take a look at Card's first 13 for his last version:

quote:
Poke kept her eyes open all the time. The younger children were supposed to be on watch, too, and sometimes they could be quite observant, but they just didn't notice all the things they needed to notice, and that meant that Poke could only depend on herself to see danger.

There was plenty of danger to watch for. The cops, for instance. They didn't show up often, but when they did, they seemed especially bent on clearing the streets of children. They would flail about them with their magnetic whips, landing cruel stinging blows on even the smallest children, haranguing them as vermin, thieves, pestilence, a plague on the fair city of


Maybe I know too much about this story, but you really _don't_ know much about Poke by the time you get through this, and he certainly didn't worry about quickly getting out the fact that Poke lived in Rotterdam, or how old she is (only that some children were "younger"), or what Poke's relationship to anyone is. What you're really left with is a vivid impression of fear, hunger, and pain -- possibly mitigated by a sense of organization -- and an attitude of watchfulness. And as a by-the-way, this is Earth, specifically Rotterdam, and if you know about modern-day Rotterdam then you know that it isn't like this.

To be sure, he was writing a novel, and I was writing a short story; and I sure don't want to withhold information, which I know I have a tendency to do. But I need to chew on the information-to-impression ratio for the first 13 anyway.

Something to mull over, but beyond the scope of this exercise. Thanks, folks!

Regards,
Oliver

[This message has been edited by Second Assistant (edited June 03, 2006).]


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HSO
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Ah, but we know enough about Poke to be intrigued from only the part you posted.

We learn she is a child with a bizarre name, that she's on watch for the cops, that she thinks or knows she does better than other kids while on watch, that she only trusts herself to keep herself alive, that she doesn't trust cops because of how they treat children, that we're in Rotterdam, that kids are viewed as vermin and other things. We know a lot in that opening.

We don't know everything, but we don't have to just yet. This is a character introduction opening, by the way. It has just enough setting and a promise of action, with just enough character detail to get the reader to turn the page.

We're pretty sure something is going to happen, because Poke is keeping her eyes open, expecting something to happen, because it's fairly clear that bad stuff happens a lot in Poke's Rotterdam, especially when the police come. We expect that there will be other children nearby that Poke cares about, for why else would Poke be on watch?



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Survivor
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Plausibility issue kills it for me. Glass eyes are already good enough that the only real cue is the lack of motion (that's a pretty serious cue, given what you actually see when you look at an eye, but still).

With that big of an issue...the story just doesn't stand a chance.


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Sara Genge
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I stumbled on the eye-description: it's in the first three lines so it should be ultra-clear. Why not chose a detail that is important and stick to it instead of trying to describe everything about the eyes in detail? Or start somewhere else and then go back to Tom's eyes, then you can describe with some detail once the reader knows what's going on.
I didn't get the whole mafia thing, but I tend to catch on later in stories, kindda slow (sigh)

[This message has been edited by Sara Genge (edited June 07, 2006).]


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