Hatrack River Writers Workshop   
my profile login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Beginning Needs a Tweak

   
Author Topic: Beginning Needs a Tweak
DeepShadow
Member
Member # 2182

 - posted      Profile for DeepShadow   Email DeepShadow         Edit/Delete Post 
Untitled for now
Word count: ~5500
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Looking for: A way to shorten this beginning. I've tightened lots of stuff past this, but this part is just shy of the really good stuff.
-----------------------

Looking back, I guess it was no surprise that I thought I'd fallen off the wagon. I mean, the fire in my gut was easy to mistake for munchies, and I've been in NA too long to be hide the fact that I've woken up with strange wounds and no memory of what happened the night before.

Neck wounds were a new one, though; I was so mortified that I'd got high while I was supposed to be manning the help line, and I started cleaning up the blood and other mess more to preserve the reputation of the Den than out of any shame for myself--I was planning to tell my sponsor everything. It was only after I puked up every bran bar and bag of cookies I could find that I realized I hadn't taken anything normal, and I started wracking my brains trying to remember who had come by and plied me with what.


Posts: 38 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Alye
Member
Member # 5017

 - posted      Profile for Alye   Email Alye         Edit/Delete Post 
I would follow up that long sentence with a short one. Builds up some emotion and then gives us a break before the next series of long ones. Like this:

quote:
Looking back, I guess it was no surprise that I thought I'd fallen off the wagon. I mean, the fire in my gut was easy to mistake for munchies, and I've been in NA too long to be hide the fact that I've woken up with strange wounds and no memory of what happened the night before.

Neck wounds were a new one, though?

I was so mortified that I'd got high while I was supposed to be manning the help line. . .



Brings out the neck wounds, and lets us question what is happening. There could be some more commas through out but, sometimes lack of punctuation is a good way to build urgency.

The em dash, I would make the preceding sentence shorter. Itís very long and the em dash doesnít give enough break, to me it throws off the rhythm.

Whatís the Den? Why is its reputation important? Why is it bloody? I have the feeling this is a vampire-type story but, I think the line about the Den is misplaced

I liked it though. I would read more if you want to email it to me.

[This message has been edited by Alye (edited March 25, 2007).]


Posts: 126 | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DeepShadow
Member
Member # 2182

 - posted      Profile for DeepShadow   Email DeepShadow         Edit/Delete Post 
Wow, that was fast!

Your hints broke the thousand-yard stare that was keeping me from seeing problems. I've revised it, but I'll wait a bit and get more advice before posting the new version.

Thanks for the offer of reading. I'll keep it in mind.


Posts: 38 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wbriggs
Member
Member # 2267

 - posted      Profile for wbriggs   Email wbriggs         Edit/Delete Post 
Looking back, I guess it was no surprise that I thought [ON SECOND READING: YOU *THOUGHT* YOU'D FALLEN OFF? CONFUSING TO ME. FIX: TELL US WHAT MC THINKS AT THE TIME, NOT WHAT HE THOUGHT LATER. THIS ALSO HELPS US GET CLOSER TO MC IN THE MOMENT.] I'd fallen off the wagon. I mean, the fire in my gut was easy to mistake for munchies, [SO WHAT IS IT INSTEAD?] and I've been in NA too long to be hide the fact [FROM WHOM? I DON'T THINK YOU MEAN "HIDE THE FACT"] that I've woken up with strange wounds and no memory of what happened the night before.

[OK. A little reordering would help me.

ALTHOUGH I HAD no memory of what happened the night before, IT WAS OBVIOUS I'd fallen off the wagon AGAIN. I mean, I've been in NA too long NOT TO KNOW WHAT IT MEANT WHEN I woke up with strange wounds, and a BAD CASE OF munchies.

If you did this, you keep us aware of what MC's thinking (no "huh?" moments), and we see things *only* from his POV. In the next paragraph, we'll start to wonder if his guess is correct.]

Neck wounds were a new one, though. [Maybe a little description. He's probably interested in them, and so am I. Naturally I want to know if he's been bitten by a vampire.]

[New paragraph, because this is a new topic (separate from neck wounds.] I was [so] mortified that I'd got high while I was supposed to be manning the help line, and I started cleaning up the blood and other mess [WHERE IS HE?] more to preserve the reputation of the Den [HUH?] than out of any shame for myself--I was planning to tell my sponsor everything. It was only after I puked up every bran bar and bag of cookies I could find that I realized I hadn't taken anything normal, [TAKEN ANYTHING NORMAL? HUH? OH! YOU MEAN, INGESTED A DRUG HE'S FAMILIAR WITH. I HAD TO THINK] and I started wracking my brains trying to remember who had come by and plied me with what.


Posts: 2830 | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
InarticulateBabbler
Member
Member # 4849

 - posted      Profile for InarticulateBabbler   Email InarticulateBabbler         Edit/Delete Post 
Okay. I think you should clarify a little, before worrying about length. My take:

I woke up in a bathroom stall with no memory of the previous night. My stomach burned and my neck throbbed. I touched it and felt two lumps. I ran to the mirror to investigate and found a couple of small punctures.

Oh, no, I thought. I immediately suspected what my NA sponsor would: I'd fallen off the wagon. The more I thought about it, the more paranoid I became. Ultimately, I found myself at my old dealer's apartment.

That night, while I was supposed to be mannning the helpline, I shot up. Must've been some bad sutff, though, because I only ended up tossing my cookies all night.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited March 26, 2007).]


Posts: 3687 | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DeepShadow
Member
Member # 2182

 - posted      Profile for DeepShadow   Email DeepShadow         Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks, everyone! Here's the rewrite:

At first I thought I'd fallen off the wagon again. The fire in my gut was easy to mistake for munchies, and after all the stories in NA, I knew what it meant to wake up with strange wounds and no memory of the night before.

Such wounds were new to me, though. Knife to the neck, and it couldn't be as deep as it looked, or I wouldn't be walking...or breathing.

I started cleaning up the blood and other mess more to preserve the NarrowGate center's reputation than out of any shame for myself. I was mortified at getting high while manning the addict's help line, but I'd spill everything tonight at the meeting and move on. I could hear them now: "Six years clean, and this is how you decide to go back?" I guess so.


Posts: 38 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
lehollis
Member
Member # 2883

 - posted      Profile for lehollis   Email lehollis         Edit/Delete Post 
Personally, I still think the immediacy is missing, which makes it harder to care about the story. I think the "first sentence is free" rule applies here, so that you could do it there, but honestly, I would keep it immediate, myself.

quote:
I'd fallen off the wagon again. I had the munchies....

The reader will not be looking for the truth, which is otherwise easy to spot when neck wounds appear. If they know what he's feeling isn't true, I doubt they'll be interested in it.

The reader knows this isn't the truth, so when neck wounds are mentioned the obvious (in a non-fantasy setting) comes to mind. If you remove the flag that this isn't what he thinks it is, then the reader can go through the discovery with the character more easily.


Posts: 696 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
nitewriter
Member
Member # 3214

 - posted      Profile for nitewriter   Email nitewriter         Edit/Delete Post 

I do agree with Lehollis on this one - the immediacy is the problem. We have an addict who has been stabbed, blood and loss of memory....told in first person. However it is being told with indifference, even a hint of joviality, as though the information is being conveyed by an indifferent reporter. Where is the immediacy? Tension? Suspense? The storyline has those qualities, but the writing itself does not. Result is I can't take this story seriously.


Posts: 409 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
gooeypenguin
Member
Member # 2706

 - posted      Profile for gooeypenguin           Edit/Delete Post 
My advice is to tell your story as fast as possible. It also helps if you read it aloud. Here's my stab at it:


I thought I'd fallen off the wagon again. The fire in my gut: my mistake for the munchies. I woke up with strange wounds and no memory of the night before.

They were new wounds. Knife to the neck, no deeper than it looked, or I wouldn't be walking...or breathing.

I started to clean up the blood and mess. I had to preserve the NarrowGate center's rep; who cares about the shame for myself. I was mortified at getting high while manning the addict's help line. But I'd spill everything tonight at the meeting and moved on. I could hear them now: "Six years clean, and this is how you decide to go back?"

I guess so.


Posts: 23 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kings_falcon
Member
Member # 3261

 - posted      Profile for kings_falcon   Email kings_falcon         Edit/Delete Post 
IMHO, too much telling.

The first paragraph is telling me that he's fallen off the wagon.

The second paragraph is too distant and clinical for discovering a neck wound.

The third still has a clincial detactment. You tell me he's mortified when his actions show it.

He's just discovered a neck wound and apparently has no memory of getting it. He's going to focus on that and what it means. The story glosses over it. Get into his head. Get into his emotions. IMHO. don't tell me that he's mortified - show me. Show me that he's concerend he got high for the first time in six years and what that means to him. The hook is that he's been wounded.


Posts: 1210 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jesse D
Member
Member # 3241

 - posted      Profile for Jesse D   Email Jesse D         Edit/Delete Post 
I like this second beginning much better, excepting this one sentence:

"I started cleaning up the blood and other mess more to preserve the NarrowGate center's reputation than out of any shame for myself."

I guess I don't understand a) what blood he's cleaning up, since there's been no mention of blood until here, and b) why it's important that he's doing it to protect NarrowGate Center (should be capitalized) rather than himself.

Maybe another way to word it would be: "I started cleaning up the blood. I didn't want to hurt NarrowGate's reputation; they shouldn't have to deal with an ex-junkie's lapses." Or something along those lines. The old show-don't-tell principle.

Great beginning, though. I'm intriqued.


Posts: 77 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
asarii
New Member
Member # 5388

 - posted      Profile for asarii           Edit/Delete Post 
Looking back, I guess it was no surprise that I thought I'd fallen off the wagon.(cliche - think up somethign original) I mean, the fire in my gut was easy to mistake for munchies, and I've been in NA too long to be hide the fact that I've woken up with strange wounds and no memory of what happened the night before.

Neck wounds were a new one, though; I was so mortified that I'd got high while I was supposed to be manning the help line, and I started cleaning up the blood and other mess more to preserve the reputation of the Den than out of any shame for myself--I was planning to tell my sponsor everything. It was only after I puked up every bran bar and bag of cookies I could find that I realized I hadn't taken anything normal, and I started wracking my brains trying to remember who had come by and plied me with what.

(do need to shorten some sentences and give it some urgency. it reads like the clean up after a car wreck, but we want to see the wreck. that would pull us into the action. you dont have to show us what has happened to the guy, that would spoil your suspense, but make it sizzle and smoke like after a car wreck, make us feel what he is feeling. something like - 'Not again, Oh God, please not again. My burning stomach was not a lust for chocolate. And though this was not the first time since i joined NA to wake after a bender with unexplained wounds, these were too weird. In my neck? How? Why? I hope I didn't puke on anybody important. I've got to remember what happened, I've got to! But, I know I won't. I never do. Poor saps calling my help line for aid. They won't get anythign but a busy signal." somethign like that. i know you could spice it up better. it's your baby!)


Posts: 6 | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2