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Author Topic: Teleport This
KayTi
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Edited first 13 down about 10 posts. Thanks for any input!
==

Sci-Fi (or is it urban fantasy?), short story, incomplete but aiming for 8k. Looking for input on whether these work as a hook, if not - what might be done to punch them up. "nap gods" is just a joke. Teleportation is the only magic/sci-fi element.

===
The first time Annie teleported the mini-van, it almost escaped her notice. Her head screamed with the song of the pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before.

She was on an uncharacteristic second cup of coffee that morning, driving carpool to Saint Mary's. Her temple throbbed in time to the music from the latest Disney special, the only way she could convince 7 year old Ella to get in the car that morning.

She blinked with the wipers, wiling herself to stay awake long enough to get the kids to school and baby Jimmy down for his morning nap, during which time she planned to pound a cup of Alka-Seltzer and crash on the couch for as long as the nap gods would oblige her.

[This message has been edited by KayTi (edited March 18, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by KayTi (edited March 23, 2008).]


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rickfisher
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Title is great. First paragraph is great. The rest is rather so-so (though I liked "nap-gods"), but I would certainly turn the page.

I think you'd be better served by going forward, rather than doing a flashback. Use the details of her hangover to intensify her confusion over having teleported, (such as it might be, when it almost escapes her notice) rather than giving them to us as a prelude to the incident.


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ArachneWeave
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I agree you may want to change the digressive nature of it being a "flashback" and make it straight-forward narrative. It's a hook, though, for sure!
Sounds fun.

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KayTi
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Hmm, I get what you're saying, but I'm struggling with this. I want to introduce the speculative element RIGHT AWAY. As you can tell from the first 13, the part where she actually teleports is a few lines away yet (about line 20...) I'm telling the story from her POV so for the first 1200 words she doesn't even know she teleported (though she does it twice - once to school and on the way home as well.) When she does learn, she doesn't believe it for a while.

So...that first line was my attempt to make it clear that she teleported right up front. Any suggestions for how to accomplish this in a way that doesn't seem flashbacky? That line is the only flashback line - I tell the story straight from that point without moving forward and back in time. This is teleportation, not time travel.

Any suggestions or thoughts would be appreciated. I don't want to lead in with a cliche, but my goal was to introduce the concept behind the story right away and then describe what actually happens when you discover you can teleport your minivan (and the costs and perils therein...)


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ArachneWeave
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PS
This sounds like urban fantasy to me. There's a lot of books in that field with "paranormal" elements of one kind or another complicating a normal woman's life. I want to read some of the soccer-with-superpowers/demon-slaying-talents/whatever books I've heard about.

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TheHaldurian
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The first sentence I think is a good hook. I would integrate the second sentence into the second paragraph (it feels a little out of place where it is), and leave the first sentence alone as its own paragraph.

I disagree about the flashback being a problem. It seems to me that if it is just the one sentence as the first paragraph, and then the actual teleportation event, it would be fine.

But perhaps you should defer to the opinions of more experienced critics.

[This message has been edited by TheHaldurian (edited March 18, 2008).]


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ArachneWeave
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I'm definitely not advocating you drop that first line.

It may just be you need to prune the following down a bit. As long as you get to the actual event by the next page, though, that should be fine.

I guess I feel a bit suspended; I don't know where the heroine is, since the event in question is in the past; maybe a hint of where it's headed? I'm not sure.


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KayTi
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Ah, thehald - what you said helped unstick me on a point, moving that margarita line later makes a LOT more sense, although I think I'm still trying to do too much with these first few lines. There's something bothering me about them - temple throbbed, head screamed, blinked with the wipers. It's setting a mood, which I'm doing on purpose, but I don't want to look like I'm trying too hard. Any input on that, or have I stared at these lines too long?

Here's a very-slightly-changed version:
==
The first time Annie teleported the mini-van, it almost escaped her notice.

She was on an uncharacteristic second cup of coffee that morning, driving carpool to Saint Mary's. Her temple throbbed in time to the music from the latest Disney special, the only way she could convince 7 year old Ella to get in the car.

Her head screamed with the song of the pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before. She blinked with the wipers, wiling herself to stay awake long enough to get the kids to school and baby Jimmy down for his morning nap, during which time she planned to pound a cup of Alka-Seltzer and crash on the couch for as long as the nap gods would oblige her.


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TheHaldurian
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quote:
The first time Annie teleported the mini-van, it almost escaped her notice.

She was on an uncharacteristic second cup of coffee that morning, driving carpool to Saint Mary's. Her temple throbbed in time to the music from the latest Disney special, the only way she could convince 7 year old Ella to get in the car.

Her head screamed with the song of the pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before. She blinked with the wipers, wiling herself to stay awake long enough to get the kids to school and baby Jimmy down for his morning nap, during which time she planned to pound a cup of Alka-Seltzer and crash on the couch for as long as the nap gods would oblige her.


I think you should probably eliminate either the sentence beginning "Her temple throbbed" or the sentence beginning "Her head screamed." Or maybe combine them in some way. Having both does seem a little redundant.

Also, I feel that the second two paragraphs can be combined. They seem to both be describing the same stuff.


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rickfisher
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There isn't anything wrong with the following paragraphs, except that there's too much. You're oversetting the mood. Or, in other words, "Yeah, I get it already, let's move on." (No, I didn't think those words while reading--but if you did this a LOT, I'd start to.) Actually, I'd suggest dropping almost the entire third paragraph.

How early does she arrive at the school? Early enough that there's a noticeably smaller number of kids running around, or cars lined up? Or the kids in the car could say, "Huh? Already?" Well, I'm getting ahead of things--that's in the part you haven't posted. But I think you want to get the actual teleportation onto the first page, even if the reader doesn't necessarily realize it's happened any more than Annie does.

[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited March 20, 2008).]


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DebbieKW
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Just my 2 cents.

I like having the first sentence set off by itself better than the way it was before.

I agree that "Her temple throbbed in time to the music" and "Her head screamed with the song" seems repetitious. I'd suggest at least cutting the second sentence down to "Her head screamed from the pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before." Actually, I'd suggest cutting the sentence and working the "why her head hurts" sentence in elsewhere or in a different way. If it doesn't matter why she has a headache, you can probably just cut that information all together.

Hope this helped.


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KayTi
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Here's another version. I still feel like I'm trying too hard to paint the picture. The hangover is plot-essential, so I need to convey that. I debated switching around the order of that sentence to make the pitcher the actor ("The pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before echoed in her head... or made her head hurt...or whatever") but wasn't sure that was any better. Thoughts?

==
The first time Annie teleported the mini-van, it almost escaped her notice.

She was on an uncharacteristic second cup of coffee that morning, driving carpool to Saint Mary's. Her temple throbbed in time to the music from the latest Disney special, the only way she could convince seven-year old Ella to get in the van.

Her head screamed from the pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before. She blinked with the wipers and forced herself to stay awake long enough to get the kids to school and baby Jimmy down for his morning nap. Then she planned to down a cup of Alka-Seltzer and crash on the couch for as long as the nap gods would oblige her.

[This message has been edited by KayTi (edited March 23, 2008).]


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ArachneWeave
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If you're still trying to tone it down, here's my suggestions:

"The first time Annie teleported the mini-van, it almost escaped her notice.

She was on an uncharacteristic second cup of coffee that morning, driving carpool to Saint Mary's. [I've moved the same idea to the background here:] Music from the latest Disney special throbbed, the only way she could convince seven-year old Ella to get in the van.

Her head screamed from the pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before. [Or what about rearranging this so it doesn't sound so similar: The pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before was making her head scream. ] She blinked with the wipers and forced herself to stay awake long enough to get the kids to school and baby Jimmy down for his morning nap. Then she planned to down a cup of Alka-Seltzer and crash on the couch for as long as the nap gods would oblige her."

I think it's fine, we don't need to nitpick this too much but you're instinct about overwriting should be respected! This is a fun beginning. Once you get the wording right it will leap off the page in your favor, and demand to be read.


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Jeff M
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A bit late to the game, but it sounds like you were still tripping over the hangover points. How about combining both points into the same sentence?

Last night's pitcher of margaritas from El Taco made her head scream and her temples throb in time to the music from the latest Disney special blaring from the back seat.

That seems to get away from the feeling of too much repetition.

Alas, I think the bit about Ella is now too much information to put into this sentence. You could add it back as a separate sentence, but I don't think it's necessary for this particular scene at this time.


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NoTimeToThink
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Nice description, but none of it is answering the questions that pop into my mind with "teleported the mini-van" - where, how, what changed? I would have liked to have seen the teleportation myself rather than being told that it happened but she almost didn't notice it.
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annepin
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Cute opening. I would turn the page. The wording seems to work harder that it should have to, partly because of the repeated mention of a headache, each of which is trying to out do the other. Are her temples throbbing or is her head screaming? The latter eclipses the former by a long shot.

Also, I almost don't care about what she plans to do when she gets home. I'd rather have the set up and then blam! Have the teleport happen.


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KoDe Nichols
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The hangover may be plot essential, but it doesn't mean you should base 12 of the thirteen lines on describing it. Not to
say that you can't take more literary license with it later, but the manuscript is supposed to make you want to read the
story, and so far the story seems to be more about the hangover and the kids than the primary focus of the story, which is the
teleporting. I'm also unsure of starting the story in a past-tense form unless you really really know what you're doing. I
think you should try to start it in a present-tense writing style. Don't say that something amazing happened, write about
something amazing happening. If you are dead set on starting it as a flashback then write the action in present-tense, then transition to past-tense with something. They could be re-living it in a dream, wake up, and then reflect on some of the
events that lead up to it. It could be a first person account of it to someone else, or a number of other things.
Action is usually a better way to grab attention then reflection. Thats my two cents for now.

[This message has been edited by KoDe Nichols (edited March 29, 2008).]


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Wildstar
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I’m real late to this but here are some thoughts anyway.
I like the idea of a normal mom being teleported in her mini-van and would be interested in seeing where it goes but it doesn’t read smoothly to me.
The first time Annie teleported the mini-van, it almost escaped her notice.
If she teleported it then how would it escape her notice, she actively teleported it. Unless you meant it like: “It almost escaped Annie’s notice the first time her mini-van teleported. “
She was on an uncharacteristic second cup of coffee that morning, driving carpool to Saint Mary's. Her temple throbbed in time to the music from the latest Disney special, the only way she could convince seven-year old Ella to get in the van. Her head screamed from the pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before.

Her head is doing two different things here. It might be easier if they were tied together. Maybe like this, “Her temple throbbed in time to the music from the latest Disney special, the only way she could convince seven-year old Ella to get in the van. The pitcher of margaritas from last night wasn’t helping.”

She blinked with the wipers and forced herself to stay awake long enough to get the kids to school and baby Jimmy down for his morning nap. Then she planned to down a cup of Alka-Seltzer and crash on the couch for as long as the nap gods would oblige her.

She has a lot going on: Her temples throb to music, Her eyes blink to the windshield wipers, is she patting her tummy and rubbing her head. Other questions I have but would probably find out in the next lines are: How many kids are in the van? Is Ella her kid or one she picked up and had to put the music on for her. I am also not sure if “oblige” is the right word, maybe, “grant” or “bestow”. Oblige seems to me that they owe it to her.

Well those are my thoughts for what it is worth.

DC


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wbriggs
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quote:
The first time Annie teleported the mini-van, it almost escaped her notice.

She was on an uncharacteristic second cup of coffee that morning, driving carpool to Saint Mary's. Her temple throbbed in time to the music from the latest Disney special, the only way she could convince seven-year old Ella to get in the van.

Her head screamed from the pitcher of margaritas from El Taco the night before. She blinked with the wipers and forced herself to stay awake long enough to get the kids to school and baby Jimmy down for his morning nap. Then she planned to down a cup of Alka-Seltzer and crash on the couch for as long as the nap gods would oblige her.



The first time Anna teleported the van, *what* almost escaped her notice? If it's "teleporting the van," you could say something like, "The first time Anna teleported the van, she almost didn't realize it."

Her head screamed...this took a little longer to decode than it might. How about "Her head still hurt."

I find it hard to believe she blinked in time with the wipers.

These nits aside, I would definitely keep reading. I very much like this.

The "flashback" issue: "the first paragraph is free." I think it's OK to display your hook, and then start your story with her hangover.

Do you want readers?


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TheOnceandFutureMe
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I want to read about teleporting. By the time I finished reading about Annie's life, I had forgotten about the teleporting. Let me know she's hung over and trying to get home and sleep in one or two sentences, then get on with the story.
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KayTi
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Wow, thanks everyone - I didn't realize there was more input, I was away for the weekend and am leaving again on Friday and just haven't gotten back here.

wbriggs - I will be looking for readers but not yet. I got stalled on the story, have a non-fiction project deadline Ap 7 and this just didn't get done in time for WOTF (the intended market.) However, I like the story and need to finish it. It's in queue as soon as my non-fic is done. So...yes, later in April?

And meanwhile, Wildstar, I hope you don't mind, but this completely cracked me up:

quote:
I am also not sure if “oblige” is the right word, maybe, “grant” or “bestow”. Oblige seems to me that they owe it to her.

Clearly you aren't a mom of small children. If you were, you'd know that the nap gods OWE you - BIG TIME. For all the times the doorbell/dog/someone sneezing 2 states over woke that sleeping angel just as you slid into the water for the first shower in...you honestly lost track. It's probably been four days. They OWE us!

However, some excellent points here - the hangover is definitely trying too hard, LOL. The teleporting should be a bit more apparent, though for those who are suggesting that the teleporting be a BAM kind of moment, part of the point is she doesn't realize she did it until later. She spends time convinced she's an alcoholic and had a blackout. But the way the first line is worded it's not clear. I do like the wording, but borrowing a line from King's On Writing, "Murder your darlings." I've already had to murder a few from this opening, sigh.

ANYWAY - thanks much! I totally motivated by the critiques, makes me want to get this darn thing DONE!

[This message has been edited by KayTi (edited April 02, 2008).]


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Wildstar
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Good point and I like your idea of having her second guess the teleport due to her perceived drunken state. Already I like it more. You might want to figure out how to get that in the first 13 but that would probably be to difficult. I’m interested in reading if you want, whenever you’re ready.

DC


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MrsBrown
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Jumper (the book) starts very much the same, with the "free" first line. It says something like, "The first time was like this" and then it goes on to explain an ordinary boy who is quite surprised when he teleports himself. With the recent release of the movie there may be a lot of teleport stories submitted, and it might not be wise to start (apparantly) the same way. But it does work very well! (Loved the book.)
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