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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » The End of Him

   
Author Topic: The End of Him
Rilnian
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Hello, and thank you in advance for helping me. I have only been a member here for and hour or less....and I have had this idea in my head for no more than a week. I have told the idea to family and friends, and they seemed interrested so I would like to hear your feedback. This is the first time, and first draft of putting this idea to paper. Read on? Did you like it? Short or Novel?

Mud from the fall clung stubbornly to his night suit. The sound of sirens reverberated around him. William stumbled upwards and worked to retrace his steps. As he awkwardly crossed the open courtyard, he looked back. It could not be made certain what his eyes had locked on to, but his reaction could not be mistaken. He wore a look of understanding and anger, of pain and guilt.

The video stopped.

“These are the beginning moments of your death. Watch carefully, for it is your only hope of avoiding it.”


Please be vicious, I need help. I am only 18, and wish to dabble in writing. Thank you all.


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HSO
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It's a bit confusing at first. We assume by default that we are reading "live action" and then there is a jarring "The video stopped." Oh? Perhaps consider beginning with the dialogue in the end of the fragment, for it has wonderful hook potential.

There are some lingering questions, though. What fall was there? And where is the courtyard? Does the MC, main character (presumably Wiliam), recognize the surroundings in the video? Is the MC watching himself on video? If these things can be clearer, then I feel it could work.

Good luck.


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wbriggs
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Good hook.

It was hard for me to figure out what was going on in paragraph 1. Mud from the fall -- what fall? Night suit -- what's that? Why are there sirens? Please see under FAQ's and general discussions, threads worth keeping or some such title, "Just tell me." Now, if the POV character doesn't know these things, that's OK, but you can *tell* us s/he doesn't know.

There's a POV issue. We clearly aren't in the POV of the William with mud on him, since he's just something on a video. But we seem to be in sentence 3, when Wm worked to retrace his steps. If we aren't in his POV, we won't know that he's working toward that. We could know that he went back the way he came, or that he seemed to be trying to retrace his steps.

Finally, there's the gimmick, intentional or not: you put us in one scene (the one with sirens), and then show us we aren't really there at all, it's just a video. I personally don't like being messed with like this. THat might be just me.


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kings_falcon
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I don't think anyone here would be intentionally vicious.

In any event, I think you might want to start with the last line, which is your hook, before the video starts. A lot of readers get very annoyed at the "oh no, JR wasn't dead it was a dream" scam - Oh wait, you are too young for that. - Sigh (feeling old). If you are going to flashback, forward, be in a dream or other stages of "not now" try to give the reader a hint.

It might work better if you start here:

“These are the beginning moments of your death. Watch carefully, for it is your only hope of avoiding it.”

And then give us a few POV and setting impressions.

Then you can go to something like: The room darkened and (holograms? images?)appeared on the wall.

If WM is in an "fantasy" or "futuristic" setting, you might want to consider the word "video," which smacks of VCR tapes or actual film.

If you've already set the hook, as it were, you can then describe the images in more detail and delve into Wm's POV. If the currently diembodied voice needs to say something right as soon as the images start, you can keep his/her/its second sentance where it was.

Just my thoughts. You can use them for whatever they are worth.



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LMermaid
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I was intrigued by this opening, so I would keep reading.

I was a little bothered by this sentence: "It could not be made certain what his eyes had locked on to, but his reaction could not be mistaken." The phrasing is awkward, and the passive voice seems out of place compared to the action of the rest of the paragraph. I think it would be better to omit this sentence and just show William's reaction to whatever he sees.


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Rilnian
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WOW! I have to say, this is an amazing place. I put this up last night, and already so much help. Thank you all, I can already notice all those things which bothered you. Ill work to correct them. Is there such a thing on here as putting up an edited version, after taking into account the help I've been given?
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HSO
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quote:
Is there such a thing on here as putting up an edited version, after taking into account the help I've been given?

Yes, it happens frequently. I would caution you to get as much feedback as possible before editing your story, waiting some indetermninate amount of time [whatever feels right, I suppose], and then reposting in a brand new topic--that's my preference. If you do repost, you might also consider editing your first post in this topic to redirect readers to the latest and greatest. Nevertheless, you can also repost in this topic if it suits you, and be aware that some readers may not notice the revisions you've made further on down the thread, which means you'll get comments on the old version. Again, edit the first post to redirect to a later post. Or you can safely ignore all of the above and do whatever you like -- we're generally easy-going, for the most part... most of us, perhaps...


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Louiseoneal
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I would definately keep reading. And sometimes I keep reading to find out what 'night suits' 'gibberwidgets' and 'clunkadoos' are, too.

But when you start out with so much action anyway, unless the suit has a characteristic that might keep him alive or kill him, it's not needed. But hey, maybe it does have a purpose. If so, you might give it a quick characteristic, something he notices about it? Something he remembers as he's mulling over the video in a following paragraph, perhaps? Something about the way the fabric feels against his skin or the way the light catches it, something that hints at what it does?


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Survivor
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Interesting concept, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. POV, mostly.
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spcpthook
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Mud from the fall clung stubbornly to his<I would try identifying him here with the first instance of his since you do go on to give his name in two more sentences.>

The sound of sirens reverberated <not sure I agree with the use of the word reverberate. I could certainly be wrong, (it wouldn't even be the first time *grin*)but tio me reverberate is more something you feel than that you would see in a video>around him.

William stumbled upwards<how do you stumble upwards? especially when he seems to be crossing a courtyard which in my mind says, flat> and worked to retrace his steps.

As he awkwardly crossed the open courtyard, he looked back. It could not be made certain <b> Truth be told though, in this piece this is the only line I had a major problem with. Perhaps "It was difficult to tell...">what his eyes had locked on to, but his reaction could not be mistaken. He wore a look of understanding and anger, of pain and guilt.

“These are the beginning moments of your death. Watch carefully, for it is your only hope of avoiding it.” <from this I get the feeling that William is the one watching the tape...If this is the case then I'm not sure if the pronoun usage is acurate above. I'd need to see more to get into your POV to be certain though...>

Feels like the beginning of a good idea that may want to be a novel. Good luck with this.


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Sara Genge
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I wouldn't try for a novel right away. I'd start writing looots of shorts first to get the feeling down.
You really need to tell the reader it's a video at the beginning.
Otherwise, I liked it. Keep it up.
PS: you'll never get viciousness in this forum, I think, although I haven't been around for a long time so I don't know for sure.

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Verdant
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This is a fun concept but the way you execute it seems choppy to me. The first two sentences break up the flow. If the sirens are adding detail to the scene, use a semi-colon and keep them in the sentence. I don't mind the falling down, mud covered begining at all but afterward is he climbing back up? The stumbling upward implies that but I don't know what causes him to stumble up - especially if he is then crossing an open field.

The hook is nice - the viewing of your own death, but I didn't have enough to get me there. I also got hung up on the passive phrase "It could not be made certain what his eyes had locked on to, but his reaction could not be mistaken". So his eyes are locking onto something but TO WHOM cannot it not be certain? This is the trouble with passive voice, the subject gets lost. You might try bringing up the fact that William is watching something instead of actually experiencing it at this point.

I do like the concept, but the mechanics need work


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Novice
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It took me a while to figure out why this seemed...well, "stilted" is the best word I can think of. It's your sentence length. Other than the long, awkward one and the single short paragraph, all of your sentences are roughly the same word count. After just a few lines, that gives your writing a disruptive rhythm. You might try joining some of your sentences. (i.e. "The sirens reverberated around him as he stumbled [back to his feet] and worked to retrace his steps.")

The one long, awkward sentence could just be cut entirely. It muddies the POV and doesn't add anything to the story or character. (I'll bet you struggled in writing that particular sentence. You have that undefined "It" hanging in the front because there's no clear reference to say who is observing William's expression.)

I really like the earlier suggestion to invert the paragraph sequence.

This is pretty good, really. The action is carried by good word choices (for the most part) and the premise is interesting. I'd keep reading, especially once the minor rhythm and wording problems are corrected.


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Pyre Dynasty
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You want vicious? You look fat in that dress. (sorry. Ask for truth, nothing more.)

But yeah this works for me, keep working and the mechanics will follow. To me 'he wore' sounds like he is faking his reaction. (We only wear masks.) As for point of view think about who is telling the story.


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Rilnian
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As HSO suggested, I've taken a bit of time, and reworked the first 13 lines. I have posted them on the new thread "Caught by death"

I like it alot better, having used your advice, please help me out once more.

Thank you all.

Edited to change new thread name.

[This message has been edited by Rilnian (edited June 22, 2006).]


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