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Author Topic: Fantasy short.
mommiller
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Start of a fantasy short. Like to know everyone's thoughts on it. Hooked enough to want to read more?

He was young, barely out of boyhood. His limp up the path caused more from worn boots than injury. Susannah opened the door and paused on the threshold. The lad stopped well before the wooden steps as politeness dictated. Worn, thin, and dirty, he didn't seem capable of cold blooded murder, at least not then.

"Can I help you?" Susannah called down from the entry. The shotgun rested behind the open door, one round jacked and waiting in the chamber.

He stood there, blinking in the sunlight. A dingy yellow band circled his collar and matched the stripe going down his filthy trousers. He must've barely been out of childhood when he signed on with Rebels.


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

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


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wbriggs
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I would keep reading.

Here are the reasons for my suggestions:

* No need to say "he" when we can say what he was.
* Establish POV in first sentence, I think.
* Susannah doesn't know why he's limping, so I add "probably."
* We're swapping topics (who the soldier is, what Susannah did, what the soldier did), so it makes sense to change paragraphs.
* I had to work to figure out what the dingy yellow band was; not sure I got it right; so you can tell us.

[quote]THE SOLDIER was young, barely out of boyhood, SUSANNAH THOUGHT. His limp up the path WAS PROBABLY caused BY worn boots.

Susannah opened the door and paused on the threshold.

The lad stopped well before the wooden steps as politeness dictated. Worn, thin, and dirty, he didn't seem capable of cold blooded murder, at least not then.

"Can I help you?" Susannah called down from the entry. The shotgun rested behind the open door, one round jacked and waiting in the chamber.

He stood there, blinking in the sunlight. A dingy yellow band REPRESENTING HIS UNIT circled his collar and matched the stripe going down his filthy trousers. He must've barely been out of childhood when he signed on with Rebels.


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ChrisOwens
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At first, I was a bit peaved at the viewpoint character for her prejudice. Here was clearly a person in need and she's thinking of shooting him? Then, later we learn he is one of the rebels.

I think I would like too know much sooner, maybe in the first lines, the danger he could represent as a rebel and why I should side against him, before I learn of his pitiful condition. As of now, I've too much sympathy for the young man. I'm more on his side than on your protagonist's.

Even if it turns out that Sue is wrong about him, I need to believe up front that she is justified for thinking and feeling the way she does, even if she isn't justified at all.


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Survivor
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Establish POV and milieu earlier. Introduce "him" as "the boyish lad in wearing dingy Rebel colors" or some such descriptive phrase.

I'd probably keep reading, though.


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mommiller
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Thanks all.

Wbriggs

Once again you've made sense of my gibberish. This story is almost complete, I'm gonna send you an e-mail offline on the details.

Chris,

Peeved? She's a woman alone on the frontier. She ain't drawing a bead on this poor guy thought the lace curtains, but she is keeping her bit of safety handy, behind the open door where he can't see it.

For clarity's sake, in what way can you draw, from the above original thirteen, that she wishes this sorry individual any ill will at all? I ask this, since it is not my intention that the reader come away with this impression, and I'd like to correct it.

Survivor,

Thanks for the compliment, yeah the POV is a bit muddled in its current rendition. Glad you saw enough in the first thirteen to snag your intention further.

Thanks.

[This message has been edited by mommiller (edited February 17, 2007).]


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ChrisOwens
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Hi,

You know on rereading that, I clearly overreacted. I'm sorry. I don't know what was going on in my head the other day, but evidently nothing was going on at all.


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Omakase
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It's already been noted, but cleaning up the POV in the first few sentences will help immensely.
I had to fill in some blanks on the opening scene. Since she doesn't open the door right away she must see him through a window, right?
The second sentence is off POV (and could use an active verb)

As wbriggs noted, it would be better to start without using a pronoun that is unreferenced.

All in all though I'd probably read on - at least looking for the fantasy element since it isn't up front.


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pixydust
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Basically the only BIG thing I can say is the same as everyone else: POV in first sentance.

Oh, but also, this sentance reads odd: "His limp up the path caused more from worn boots than injury" Feels like it's missing some words. Maybe, "His limp as he walked up the path..."

And I you have two very similar descriptions: "He was young, barely out of boyhood." and "He must've barely been out of childhood when he signed on with Rebels." Might want to just reword things a bit...

Hope this helps a little more.


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SharonID
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It's my first, so be gentle with me....

This is just my opinion. YMMV, take what you need and leave the rest, etc.

I might well keep reading, because it sounds like it has some good ideas and might be a type of story I might enjoy, but your first thirteen could be a lot stronger, so you could start your interesting-sounding story with more punch. Everyone is right about the POV thing (though I thought just maybe the thing about the limp was kind of a hint at it being his POV, but the wording was a bit awdward, so I wasn't sure).

Any little tweaks or rearrangements I might suggest when you've already gotten so much good advice would likely be redundant, or changed or made unecessary by by whatever you do to sharpen the POV in the opener and act on other suggestions you've already gotten. If you want to let me know when/if you do a new version of this opener, I'd be happy to take a look at it.

Regards,

SharonID


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mommiller
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Welcom Sharon!

I need to pop back up to the top and greet some of the newcomer's properly.

Due to excessive snow days, and other family needs, I am still, (stiillll) working on the rough draft.

With luck and dedication, I should have the rough completed, with a somewhat presentable draft ready later in the week.

I'll let you know the word count when completed and then you can decide if this is a project you'd like to see more of. Okay?

Thanks, for your interest.


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mommiller
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Third time's a charm right? Anyway here is a second attempt at the same beginning. Yes, I changed the name of the female lead to protect the innocent.

Would you read more? The rough is almost complete. Then I'll be polishing and looking for another reader or two.

Sutler Drummond was young, not much more than a boy, and not capable of cold-blooded murder. That’s what Claire thought when she first saw him.
She watched him pause on the steps leading up to the porch of the ranch house and remove his battered cap. His Rebel uniform was worn and filthy, wrists stuck out far past the sleeves of the jacket.
Claire touched the tiny silver ward inlaid into the wood of the door. It countered any magical ill will the lad might be carrying. A loaded shotgun, cartridge jacked and waiting in the chamber was insurance against the more mundane.


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oliverhouse
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Mommiller, I read your earlier attempts before and didn't comment because most of what I would say had already been said. I like this version a lot (the previous versions weren't bad), and would keep reading. You get a foretaste of murder, magic, and (maybe) war in the first thirteen. Characterization is done nicely through POV character's observations. There's nothing here not to like.

I'd offer to read, but I probably won't have time for a few weeks at least. If you're still looking at that time, add me to your list.

Regards,
Oliver


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SharonID
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Just my opinion, YMMV, take what you need and leave the rest.

Nice job. I think this is a lot better than the first version and shows even more promise. I also think there are little touches that might make it even more affective. It's something to be sparing with, but you might try going ahead and giving the first sentence a real thought attribution, with a comma after "murder" and just drop that "That's what". Then you might let the next sentence be part of that same opening paragraph.

In the last part, try closing up the two sentences about the ward in the doorframe, taking out the period and using "that" instead of "It", with commas before "inlaid" and after "doorframe". Also, I'm not sure "was insurance against the more mundane" helps a lot. You might consider going with something a little simpler like "was added insurance" or "was extra insurance", though if you're going that route, "provided" might be even better than "was".

Just a few suggestions, but they might give it a bit more punch. It's a pretty good opener though. I might well give the rest of it a go. Keep me posted when you've got something polished enough to want a crit and maybe I can give it a go.

Regards,

SharonID... LOL... edited for another dumb typo because I keep forgetting that I know a new trick now to make the print in these little posting boxes larger.....

[This message has been edited by SharonID (edited February 27, 2007).]


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mommiller
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Thanks for the votes of confidence Oliver and Sharon.

As you can probobly guess, I am a slow writer, and it takes me a number of revisions before I am thrilled enough to post something.

When it is done, I'll be sure to be in touch.

Thanks again.


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RMatthewWare
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I seem to remember an earlier version of this short. As I remember I didn't like it that much, the way it was laid out. This version works much better. It's clear, the language flows, and it got my attention.

Matt


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mommiller
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Hey Matt,

Unless someone else posted something similar, the earliest version I have of this story is what you see posted at the top.

I might have posted the start of a short story called, "Penelope," sometime last fall, and yeah, I've learned a ton on how to start a story since then...


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RMatthewWare
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I think I must have read it when you first posted it (I just noticed it was posted Feb 16). I must have read it and not commented. I must not have disliked it or I would have commented. Weird.

Matt


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mommiller
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That's okay, I was just curious if you had perhaps seen something very similar recently.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, I really appreciate it.


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Lynda
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Hi, Mom! I like the second version better - and knowing your other writing, I knew who Suzannah was at once. Is Claire going to be a regular in your universe?

I have a quibble I haven't seen anyone else here raise. You call him a "Rebel" - that makes Claire a Yankee (and my dady would allow me to call her a "damnyankee" without scolding me for using a bad word, LOL!) To clarify the time of your story, call him a Confederate soldier, not a "rebel" - he could be in the Star Wars universe as a "rebel" soldier, after all. And calling him a Confedereate soldier locks in both the time, place and atmosphere of the situation. Now, we don't know for sure if Claire's a damnyankee or not, so her reaction even in these first 13 lines could solidify if she sees him as an enemy or "one of our poor boys" who needs help. That could be a LOT of information packed in those 13 lines.

I like what you've done here, though. You've sent up an interesting conflict and established the fantasy element all very quickly. Good work!

Lynda


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