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Author Topic: after life
arriki
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OK, it's now March 8th. I need readers for this now. Anybody feel like volunteering?

short story about 6,000 words. I'm trying to cut it down at least by a thousand to tighten it up, so it's not ready for readers yet. But, would anybody read on from this opening?


When he smelled the scent of his own kind on the breeze, Cam didnít turn his head to glance back. He didnít stop to consider whom he smelled or how many they might be. No need. Whoever was out prowling the nearby grain fields for lost tools or adjusting the irrigation gates would kill him on sight.

He gripped the smooth round shaft of his spear tighter and, after a momentís hesitation, plunged both feet through the scummy surface of the bayou he had been following. He grimaced at the slimy feel of last yearís leaves covering the bottom. Rocks poked the soles of feet so callused from going barefoot that he couldnít extrude the claw in the little toe on his left foot. His other toeclaws were sharp only where they had broken. Another sign of how far he had fallen.

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited March 08, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited March 08, 2007).]


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Max Masterson
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For me each sentence is too heavy. Too much description.
example: "Whoever was out prowling the nearby grain fields for lost tools or adjusting the irrigation gates would kill him on sight."
could be: anybody who was out and saw him would kill him on sight.
"He gripped the smooth round shaft of his spear tighter"
could be: He gripped his spear tighter.

I'm not saying that mine are better. I'm simply saying that when I read it I found the sentences very full. It made it harder for me to grasp what was going on...which seemed to be not much.

"Rocks poked the soles of feet so callused from going barefoot that he couldnít extrude the claw in the little toe on his left foot"
It does evoke an image but is a very complicated sentence and I am more interested at this stage as to what he's doing.

Is he going towards a goal, running from pursuit? Or simply going from A to B? Until I know what he's doing I can't feel any tension.
As it is I'd be unlikely to read on. But I do like the idea of a intelligent being that has animilistic features such as claws. I'm sure if you changed the beginning to get the reader more involved you will be able to get me hooked.


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pixydust
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Yah, I think to be hooked I need to know more of what's going on. It's kind of too vague. And I agree about the heavy sentances. Too much to take in so quick, maybe.
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wbriggs
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I was *sure* I had posted here already! Anyway, I like knowing that MC is alien (I'll be disappointed if he thinks just like a human but has toeclaws), and that's a hook for me. I agree that danger is a good hook, but for me, it's knowing about his race that's the draw.
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oliverhouse
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I'd definitely keep reading.

From the first sentence it's clear that he's not ordinary, and that he's not just a strange human: he has "his own kind", so he's not unique; no human I know would be able to "smell the scent of his own kind"; and no human I know would think of humans as "his own kind". I thought this characterization was very well done, clear without bashing me over the head with "THE SAPIENT CREATURE HAD A DOG-LIKE SENSE OF SMELL."

Nice use of short and long sentences. It might help to slightly restructure some of the longer sentences to achieve better clarity, as Max pointed out.

I'll disagree with Max on one point: I liked "smooth round shaft of his spear". The first paragraph dealt with smell (less strong of a sense, no pun intended) and abstractions, and the "smooth round shaft of his spear" transitioned me nicely to the sense of touch, to which the second paragraph is almost exclusively dedicated. (I don't know if that was intentional or not, but it works for me.) I also think this is a good example of the sound of the words working well: the phrase itself uses smooth "round" sounds, and has three heavy beats (any poets remember the right word? Foot?) that require a slightly slower pace, so it evokes a little of the hesitation Cam feels. A clipped phrase wouldn't work as well there. Call me crazy and overly analytical if you like, but that's what I get out of it.

Regards,
Oliver

Edited for clarity. I hope.

[This message has been edited by oliverhouse (edited February 26, 2007).]


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DebbieKW
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My two cents on "He gripped the smooth round shaft of his spear tighter..." Spear shafts are usually round, so you can drop the 'round' because it's redundant. Can you find a verb to replace "gripped...tighter"? Like "clenched" or "clutched"? So "He clutched the smooth shaft of his spear and..." is a stronger sentence, in my opinion.
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Max Masterson
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Just wanted to say that I did mention my versions of his sentences weren't meant to be ideal. I was simply showing that the same information could be shown very simply. I was leaving it to him to decide just how much to cut in each sentence.
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oliverhouse
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I didn't mean to imply otherwise, Max. Your comments were fine.
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kings_falcon
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I really like the characterization. I'd read on just for that. While I might like to know why he's in exile, I can wait a bit longer.

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RMatthewWare
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I was hooked when I read that he smelled the scent of his own kind. But I was quickly lost again.

There's a comment about "Whoever is out there". Don't we know who is out there? It's his own kind.

The sentences are pretty heavy. Detail is good, too much detail and I'm spending all my time on imagination and none on actually figuring out what is going on.

I'd like more focus on "his own kind". Who is he, who is his kind? And why would they kill him?

Matt


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arriki
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I'm now looking for readers for this story.

It's around 5400 words.

Any takers?

arriki


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InarticulateBabbler
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First, my two main problems:
  • One:
    quote:
    Whoever was out prowling the nearby grain fields for lost tools or adjusting the irrigation gates would kill him on sight.

    It's too long and clumsy. Just: Any strangers would shoot him on sight. would do.

  • Two:
    quote:
    He grimaced at the slimy feel of last yearís leaves covering the bottom.

    quote:
    Rocks poked the soles of his feet so callused from going barefoot...

    If he's a shapeshifter; has been/or commonly goes barefoot in the bayou... Would he really grimace at the feel of soggy leaves?

    And I would throw a comma in, between feet and so callused.

    However, I'm hooked enough to read on. Feel free to E-mail me with the story.

    [This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited March 08, 2007).]


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  • rickfisher
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    I'm willing to look at this story (and I owe you one, anyway), but I'm really backed up right now. It might be as much as a month before I could get back to you on it. Is that hopeless? If not, send me a copy.
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    djvdakota
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    I'll read.

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    arriki
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    Okay. I'm behind. I just had an operation on my foot -- been dreading it forever -- and am slow about getting the story moved from my computer (which never touches anything that has ever touched the internet and thus has no virus or spam or anything on it) to our single source computer for the internet. It's a complicated process and I'm being lazy lying in the recliner, drinking iced tea and reading murder mysteries. Sorry, 'bout that. I'll get it loaded this weekend.

    Thanks for the offers.


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    arriki
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    Thank you inarticulate babbler, rickfisher, and djvdakota.

    I'm attempting to email the story right now.

    ANy other takers?


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    gooeypenguin
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    Yeah, I agree with the others who said it could be shortened a little. Some parts seem repetitious.

    For example:
    When he smelled the scent of his own kind on the breeze, Cam didnít turn his head to glance back.

    Could be changed to:
    When he smelled the scent of his own kind on the breeze, Cam didn't glance back.

    But overall, I like it. You've got a nice hook there. :-)


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    arriki
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    Thanks, gooeypenguin. I thought this topic was dead after no comments for so long and slipping off the first page. Glad you read it. Want to read more, hint, hint?
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    gooeypenguin
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    arriki, sure, i'd love to read more. :-)
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    arriki
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    my email is thearriki@yahoo.com

    Could you email yours so I can send you the latest version (latest thanks to my other volunteers)?


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    arriki
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    my mistake

    [This message has been edited by arriki (edited April 07, 2007).]


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