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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Origin, A fantasy novel

   
Author Topic: Origin, A fantasy novel
wrenbird
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Well, after six or seven timid months of just giving feedback, I finally decided to buckle down and submit something of my own. I'm not ready for readers just yet, but I am curious on how well these first lines hook. Thanks.

Let the darkness fill me.
Come fatal storm. Cover the earth.

The figure of a man emerged from the brush and, trembling with fear, crept toward the woman on the cliff’s edge. She faced the violent tempest beyond, standing next to a great stone pillar that jutted from the cliff’s bare rock toward the sky. A flash of lightning illuminated the sky, and the man’s presence was sensed. The woman did not turn when she addressed him.
“You bring news.”
“Forgive me, my lady. I . . . I’ve received word from Asterria. Coren’s death is imminent. Irick awaits your signal.”

[This message has been edited by wrenbird (edited July 28, 2006).]


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mommiller
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Sorry, edited for a cross posting. My first.

The figure of a man emerged from the brush and, trembling with fear, {Why do you call it "a figure of a man,"? Is he or isn't he human?]

crept toward the woman on the cliff’s edge. She faced the violent tempest {Violent and tempest mean pretty much the same thing, so you could delete one}

beyond, standing next to a great stone pillar that jutted from the cliff’s bare rock toward the sky. A flash of lightning illuminated the sky, and the man’s presence was sensed. The woman did not turn when she addressed him.
“You bring news.”
“Forgive me, my lady. I . . . I’ve received word from Asterria. Coren’s death is
imminent. Irick awaits your signal.”


I like it, I wonder who this noble lady is as well as Coren, and why his death is important.

Not bad in my opinion.

Is this going to be a short story or a longer one?

[This message has been edited by mommiller (edited July 28, 2006).]


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Verdant
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I like this but have a quick question about the first two lines. I do not see how they relate to the rest of your submission. I know that 13 lines isn't enough to really explain it all and if the tie-in comes shortly, I'm fine with that. I just do not see the relation at the moment. Does the man want death or the woman?

A lot of folks will say, give me a name of who is speaking or acting or POV or whatever, but I think the lack of a name here is part of the pull. I would not wait much longer, though. Give me either her name or his so I know who I should care about.

Your tone seems slightly mixed also. "Let the darkness fill me.
Come fatal storm. Cover the earth" is lyrical and sets the tone for me but then you switch to narrative with "The figure of a man..." It just seems clunky to me especially when you use passive voice "the man's presence was sensed" The main problem I have with the figure emerging is that the figure really doesn't do the emerging, the man does. He emerged from the brush, trembling.

Since you are dealing with only one man and one woman (you repeatedly say "the man" and "the woman" you could use pronouns more to make it flow - just a thought.

Take these suggestions as only my opinion, though, the writing is yours and you know what you want. I am intrigued and would read on, however.


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Grijalva
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Personally I like it. You need to fix some minor things, but your style carries nice imagery.

I like the first two lines. I was thinking maybe put a name after those lines to make it a historical quote or something.

The rest, like everyone I feel you need to direct your POV. Insted of using the figure of a man, name him. This allows the reader to understand and feel for the character sooner.


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TMan1969
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I like the tone of the story, from what I grasp there is something in the works...something that will change the world forever. Sometimes I read the story out loud and listen to it - then I ask myself if this is something I could read/understand. But congrats on finishing it - something I have yet to do..
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Corin224
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Could go either way IMHO. It screams "stereotypical fantasy" to me, which is not a plus for me, but it's got a strangely smooth style to it, which would keep me reading for a little while at least.

I'd need more than 13 lines to give any kind of constructive feedback, and right now I'm on the fence regarding whether I like it or not.

Although I can give you one small critique by saying that "the man's presence was sensed" is bad form. It's passive. I know this 'cause I've been dinged for it repeatedly in my writing. If you're trying to go for a vagueness about who did the sensing try using the man's POV to mask that.

"Though the woman stared straight ahead, unmoving, the man shuddered, somehow certain his presence was no longer a secret. The woman did not move even when she addressed him."

Or something like that.

But . . . if you're interested in getting readers, feel free to shoot a copy my way and I'll give you some feedback.

-Falken224 (posing as Corin)


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Louiseoneal
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I can't add much, I think everyone has it covered. I do like the imagery (always a big draw for me). I did have to read, "standing next to a great stone pillar that jutted from the cliff’s bare rock toward the sky." twice, maybe it's the adjectives. Probably you could get rid of 'great' and keep the imagery.
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Novice
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Your middle paragraph starts with a man, moves to describe what the woman is looking at, then moves to sky, back to man, then back to the woman again. It's almost cinematic in the way it "pans". I came away from that paragraph feeling as if the woman should be my focus. If that's how you meant it to work, you should make each sentence about her...or about parts of the scene that affect her. Maybe go back to that old premise about setting up a topic with the first sentence of a paragraph, and use the rest of the sentences to address that topic. I know fiction doesn't have to stay within that "mold", but I think the mold might work quite well for this scene. That's just how I'd approach it, and I'm sure there's a lot of other ways to tighten it up.

I like the first two lines, but it's not clear what those lines represent. Are they the woman's internal dialogue? Are they a kind of prophecy? Is it an incantation, a spell?

I think you have the groundwork for a good hook here, but it isn't quite solid. I'm a little at a loss, though, regarding advice. I'm just not sure if the hook is your first two lines, the solitary woman, or the storm. (I'm pretty sure it's not the man.) I'd lean toward the true hook being this woman's relationship to the storm...at least, that's the aspect I found most intriguing.


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MaryRobinette
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The only thing I'd like to add is that you hit me with three unusual names in one line. "...I’ve received word from Asterria. Coren’s death is imminent. Irick awaits your signal."

Now, Asterria could be a person or a place. Coren seems clearly to be a person. Irick could be a person or a class of people, but probably a person. When you return to these names, I'm going to have a hard time remembering who was who because they were all introduced at the same time without context, know what I mean?


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Verdant
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Mary makes a good point about the names. I didn't have too much trouble with the names because I found Coren to be normal enough that it broke up the other two. I presumed Austerria was a place.

Mary's point, however, is important because if you introduce any other "foreign" names in close proximity, there will be simple recall issues. I am used to reading odd names but I start to 'bleep' over them if too many are in close proximity.

You may be pushing the edge here, but I do not think you've crossed it.


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wrenbird
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Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your advice.
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wbriggs
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I think what you have here (except the first 2 lines, which I don't get at all) is a script. You describe what the reader would see or hear, but not anyone's thoughts. This is "cinematic" POV. Cinema does a much better job of this than we can. OSC suggests picking a POV and staying in it; I'd agree.

If you do that, you'll need to name the characters. (After all, they know each other.) There won't be a need for the reader to wonder what they're talking about or why they're out in the storm; the POV character knows. If it's her POV, you can tell us why she doesn't turn to face him. If it's his POV, you can tell us why he's afraid. (Come to think of it, she probably knows this too.)

Nit: "the man's presence was sensed." There's just no need for passive here. "Jane sensed the man's presence" would do nicely.


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