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

   
Author Topic: Halfplanes
ChrisOwens
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------------------------------------------------------------------
Previously confusing first 13 deleted.
Tweaked again.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Ham's new partner, Lazlo, took his eyes from driving long enough to give him a smirk. The rookie Neutral was the kind of guy who would've sent Ham's ex-wife oozing through the floorboard, with his olive skin and a sleek, bare scalp that Ham wished he could get away with. Well, good looks might lure the womenfolk, but they didn't do any good against the filth that intruded from the halfplanes, those sandcastle realms between realities. For that, you needed grit. And a little ugliness couldn't hurt either.

"So you used to be a what--a security consultant, right?" Lazlo readjusted the rearview mirror. "It pay any good?"

Ham shuddered, trying to ignore the existence of the mirror. A strange notion bubbled from the subconscious depths,

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited February 16, 2007).]


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wbriggs
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Pretty confusing.

This would work better for me:

Ham steered his [moped? auto? aircar?] over a [such-and-such] highway. The [whatever it was he saw] passed by, occluded by a [drug-induced] fog that left him woozy and blotted his memories. He didn't dare drive sober. The continuum, a field of mental energy emitted by the minds all over this world, would use any opening to cram his head with a cloud even worse than the one he had, and this would be bad [for such-and-such reason].

What I'm suggesting here is
* Let us know what he's riding
* Let us know what he's seeing
* Let us know why he's in a mental fog. Drugs? Hypnosis? Injury?
* Clarify what "consensus of sentience" means


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Survivor
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Very confusing. Some syntax issues.

I note that wbriggs assumed Ham is the driver, which I doubt to be the case. Maybe you can introduce a bit of his external reaction through his awareness of its probable effect on the driver? That would also help to establish the situation a little better. For instance, if the driver would probably just think Ham's having a psychotic break, that gives us a different situation from if the driver understands the problem.

I think I kinda like where you're going, but this opening isn't very clear.


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ChrisOwens
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Thanks. I think I might be starting this in the wrong place, two paragraphs too early. The added pressure to define genre in the first few lines is killing me.

It's one of those deals where the paragraph is real clear to me, since I know what I meant, but obviously, it's too puzzling.

Sometimes I wonder how Gibson got away with Neuromancer, it puzzles me to pieces, especially the opening page. I'm still in Chapter 6 and I still don't understand some of his terminology. He does paint a vivid word picture, though...

I am curious if this explains it any better: The continuum, that is, the sum of all sentience, from human to photon, would use any opening to cram his head with a cloud worse than he had.

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited February 15, 2007).]


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RMatthewWare
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All I can say is, huh?

I'm thrown into something with so many concepts that it's hard to keep straight. I don't know what's going on. The only familiar concept is that we're in a car. We are in a car, right?

I remember reading "Wild Seed" by Octavia Butler. She started the story with the concept of a 'seed village'. I didn't know what that was, but the rest of the concepts were familiar. I was able to put 'seed village' in the back of my mind so I knew to watch for it when she explained what it was. There should really only be one or two unknown concepts up front. Ease the information into the story. You really don't need a lot in your first thirteen lines. Just basic information. Give us one thing that can hook us.

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved with anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense."

That's just the first four lines of the first Harry Potter book. In that I don't have anything about Harry (the Potter son isn't even mentioned until the third paragraph, and only briefly), the main POV isn't there. But I do know that Mr. and Mrs. Dursley are stuck up and bland, that they didn't care for the strange or mysterious, and that simple to mention that I know that the book is going to deal with strange and mysterious things.

Matt


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ChrisOwens
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Thanks. I trimmed the first 2 paragraphs off, moving some of the info until later. My only concern is that I only give one clue that this is genre and I'm not sure its enough. The WOTF firstreader has explicitly said, "whatever makes this a genre story on the first page".
----------------------------------------------------
Tweaked story deleted, since it's posted above...

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited February 16, 2007).]


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RMatthewWare
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This is better. I can follow the fact that there's two people in a car talking to each other. Sometimes simple works.

I wish I knew what a Neutral was first off. It kind of throws me off.

The first paragraph tells me that Ham admires Lazlo. The third paragraph makes it seem like he is incredibly annoying. Perhaps you can put in the first paragraph a statement like: Lazlo was a good looking guy, but he was annoying as hell. He kept messing with the rear view mirror. If he touched it one more time Ham would explode.

But your second effort is a million times better than the first. Good job.

Matt


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hoptoad
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So the partnership used to be Ham & Ched? There is not going to be some pun about a sandwich somewhere in here is there?

The only thing that got tripped me was the word partner. Until I was oriented in the story I thought you meant spouse or boyfriend, then we moved on to how dreamy the new guy was. Then the 'lightheaded' thing happened. It was only brief but tripped me up.

Perhaps try, 'Ham's new rookie.'

Edit: Revised post after realising last one made no sense.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited February 15, 2007).]


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wbriggs
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I agree: improved, much. There are things I don't understand that could easily be fixed (below). For example, you could tell us why Ham cares if Lazlo messes with the mirror.

It would also be helpful to me if we knew what they're partners *in*.

Ham's new partner, Lazlo, took his eyes from driving long enough to give him a raised eyebrow. LAZLO WAS A rookie Neutral WHO [why make us figure out who this rookie neutral is?] had olive skin and a sleek, bare scalp that Ham wished he could get away with, BUT COULDN'T BECAUSE OF SUCH-AND-SUCH. He was the kind of man who would've sent Ham's ex-wife oozing through the floorboard.

Lazlo readjusted the rearview mirror. "So you used to be a what--a security consultant?"

Ham nodded while trying to ignore the mirror's existence BECAUSE OF SUCH-AND-SUCH. But Lazlo fiddled with it again. And again. For goodness sake, the man couldn't leave the mirror alone. Each time, Ham grew a grade more lightheaded BECAUSE OF SUCH-AND-SUCH. If this was how it was going to be, he wanted Ched back, no matter how uppity or loudmouthed his former partner had been.


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hoptoad
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These are minor notes I'm suggesting.
Not important at all really.
Just something to think on.
I think it is reading much better now than it did.

I just want the story to grab me, that's all.

quote:

If this was how it was going to be, he wanted Ched back, no matter how uppity or loudmouthed his former partner had been.

I think we can afford more direct reference to Ham's real thoughts here.

For instance:
Ham gripped the wheel a little tighter. If this was how it's going to be, I want Ched back. He's a loudmouth, but at least he's no pretty-boy like this hotshot.

Obviously that was not ideal but I think there is a great chance to increase the characterisation by using some distinct internal dialogue . A chance worth thinking about at least.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited February 15, 2007).]


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ChrisOwens
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Thanks! Like ripped muscle fibers, this opening has grown the stronger by the workout. At least, I hope so...

Sorry for any imposition...


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