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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Scotsman's Daughter new first 13

   
Author Topic: Scotsman's Daughter new first 13
PatEsden
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I'm only looking for comments on the first 13. I know some of you have read the previous version and I thank you for your comments.What do you expect the story to be about.
Historic fantasy novelette.

Port of Leith Scotland: 18 April 1842
#
Estelle stood on the slipway, the wind pushing her bonnet back, the scent of the sea filling her head with daydreams as she stared at the bow of the Bonny Lass.
What would it be like to sail the seas, to hear the clap and crack of the sails, to face the teeth of the wind like her grandfather did?
Her fingers tightened around the neck of the whiskey bottle in her hand. She averted her eyes and swung: the clatter of glass, the scent of whiskey, and a cheer rose from the crowd behind her.
“Well done, my lassie.” Her grandfather hugged her, the silver buttons of his frockcoat hard against her cheek.
Then other captains and their wives, the master-builders and merchantmen, pressed in, shaking Grandfather’s hand, congratulating Estelle.


[This message has been edited by PatEsden (edited July 15, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by PatEsden (edited July 15, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by First Assistant (edited July 15, 2006).]


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wbriggs
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I was cool with the first two paragraphs. Then, when all those people were behind her -- didn't she know they were there? Why are they cheering her? And how is it possible that she cares so little about all this that the thought of this ceremony or event doesn't even cross her mind, as she stands in front of them daydreaming?

Oh. On rereading I get that they're christening a ship with whiskey (although they don't give it a name). I'm still confused as to why they're congratulating her -- and how she could be so indifferent to their presence.


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Aust Alien
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Bonny Lass is the name.

I did like the way I thought she was a drunk for a moment then realised it was a boat christening, but I also got a little disoriented by the cheering - but only for a moment.

If the story has something centring on her not being meant to sail because she's female, then this set up well. My opinion. I recommend dropping "Then" from the start of the last sentence.


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MaryRobinette
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Like Will, I wanted some hint that she's at the boat christening. The whiskey bottle came out of nowhere for me and I initially thought she had paused for a moment of revery in a brawl. Sorry! I figured it out the moment the crowd cheered, but I was definitely thrown out of the story.

I'm expecting her to go to sea. I'm also expecting some relationship with her grandfather to be central. Silver buttons on the frockcoat and the bonnet make me think that this is mid-eighteen hundreds.


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PatEsden
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Thanks guys, your thoughts really helped. I think I may have been thinking too hard and starting a moment too soon. Is this more interesting? If not, I may have to have her take a slug of whiskey and start swinging.


Estelle learned the perils of euphoria the summer her mother’s paintings were of waves and seashells. She was fourteen and with her bonnet in her hand, she slipped away from the house, crisscrossed Edinburgh and made her way to docks at Leith.
The waves slapped against the cobbled piers, fishermen hurried past. She wandered to where the wharfs gave way to sand, the hem of her dress growing damp as she walked the water’s edge, searching something to inspire Mother.
At the end of the sand, where the sea collided with an eroding bank, she poked at a mat of washed-up seaweed and studied the trinkets hiding in its depths: snails, broken shells, feathers, and under that a small stone spiral: a fossil.
Grandfather had warned not to touch such things, bones or fossils, anything long-dead. But why shouldn’t she? Everyone

[This message has been edited by PatEsden (edited July 16, 2006).]


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Survivor
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This is a more interesting beginning, at least to me.
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The Beast
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I was disappointed that you'changed it so much at first but it won me over. However, the second paragraph suggests, unless I'm being too picky, that Estelle's mother could be fourteen. Of course she isn't, but for a split second it bothered me.
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The Beast
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I meant "second sentence" not "paragraph"!
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Kickle
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Great point beast and her mother being 14 is entirely possible, but not what I intended.
I changed this beginning not only because the previous scene was unclear, but also (thanks to the comments) I realized that I once again had focused the beginning on Estelle and her grandfather, when her mother need to be center stage. How can something so obvious be impossible for me to see?

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PatEsden
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sorry Beast for any confusion--for some reason the above post is in my old username--Kickle or Pat were one in the same.
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hoptoad
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Hey


It was a fine opening. More solidly placed (imo) in the setting than the first.

The first line implies that something bad is about to happen. You are setting-up an expectation of peril as a result of her euphoria and her actions on the beach.The last line implies that Grandpa is superstitious and that in the MCs mind there is the possibility that any negative event may be related to violating some superstitious pronouncement of her grandfather.

More accurately, it indicates, to me, that the MC has a healthy curiosity about the validity of the attitudes, superstitions, beliefs and practices of her forebears and is willing to test them for herself. What may be interesting is for her to test them and find that there really is some truth to them — but still defies them anyway.

So perhaps the story may be about this girl's adventures. If she succeeds she defies the established notions of who she is, if she fails she confirms those notions.

So that, to me, is the promise you are making here.

PS: Who is First Assistant anyway?

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited July 16, 2006).]


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PatEsden
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Hoptoad, I'm not sure about the first assistant,as I said I seem to be a wee bit slow today--are you referring to my double personality or your skill at the first 13?
Your comments were exactly what I needed: you get the OCS shiny star award in my book. No matter what other issues I have with this opening you read my promises exactly right and yes she test them and finds out in about a paragraph. In fact you convinced me I have the right ending as well.
And in case you are wondering, Estelle also loves haggis and whiskey and running about in her cutty stark.

[This message has been edited by PatEsden (edited July 16, 2006).]


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Survivor
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First Assistant is a temp mod position filled by a trusted member to assist KDW in moderating the forum.
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Silver3
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Patty, my thoughts on the matter haven't changed.
Your second new beginning, on the beach, is way better than the other.

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PatEsden
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Silver, once the comments showed me what I had done AGAIN in the first first 13 I post, I expected you to scream at me. Your advice is always solid.
Thanks Survivor, I recall the term now. It has been a long time since KDW has had to call in her troops.

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Novice
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You say, "Estelle learned the perils of euphoria..." But you haven't gone back to euphoria, yet, and haven't started to explain the statement. It's a little heavy-handed, as far as foretelling, and needs to be followed up quickly. I'm already impatient, by the end of this 13, and starting to scan for a repeat of the word. As there is no further reference, no continued presence of euphoria, I'm starting to feel let down--to wonder if it was included purely as a device to keep me reading, and not because it was an integral part of the story. Now, I know this is limited because of the 13 line cut-off. I'm not sure other readers would share my impatience. And, the impatience is not so pronounced as to make me quit reading.

I like the rest of this fragment. I like the imagery, the way you bring me into a time frame with such a simple reference ("bonnet"), and mostly I like the way you use verbs. The only one that seems at all indecisive is "...where the wharfs gave way to sand...", that's the only place where you haven't given a solid image, as "gave way" can mean so many different things. It doesn't describe the transition so I can picture exactly what the change from wharf to sand looks like.

So, I re-read the fragment, looking to see if I missed another reference to "euphoria", and decided I'd definitely keep reading, anyway, because your prose entertains me no matter what the story is about. If that makes any sense.


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Silver3
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quote:
I expected you to scream at me

I never scream.
I smile with all my fangs (er, my teeth) out.

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PatEsden
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Silver does that explain what I saw one night at boot camp--the flash of white in the darkness followed by the flap of wings?

Great observation about the euphoria, Novice. I got it covered. But if I hadn't that would have been excellent advice and it is exactly the kind of slips I keep making.


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Silver3
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Patty--damn. I'm unmasked. *evil laughter* well, you won't boast of it for long...
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First Assistant
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And sometimes "First Assistant" is I (Kathleen). I use it and "Second Assistant" to keep them active and so you all will get used to them showing up on occasion.

Hope that makes sense.


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Second Assistant
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And having more than one assistant makes it possible for me (Kathleen) to express the times when my personality feels a little split.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Sorry for the off-topic comments.

Please resume the regularly scheduled topic.


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PatEsden
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Oh my, first Silver is unmasked as a creature of the night and now Kathleen turns out to have clones. Makes my little historical fantasy seem mighty bland.
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hoptoad
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Hey Pat, if you ever want readers I'd be interested.
Oh and by the way I know a couple of secrets about First Assistant. Like, did you know...

[This message has been edited by First Assistant (edited July 18, 2006).]


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Survivor
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Good one
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Louiseoneal
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I like the imagery, quick nit: "and under that" broke the flow a little bit.


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mommiller
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I like the second opening much better than the first. Placing this scene here at the beginning prevents it from being a later info dump.

Why I didn't think of that earlier?

One of these days I'll get the hang of this writing thing...

Any future plans for this story?

[This message has been edited by mommiller (edited July 18, 2006).]


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