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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Working title: The Cellist, SF

   
Author Topic: Working title: The Cellist, SF
annepin
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I'm being very bad. Here I am writing a new piece when I should be revising revising revising. Alas.

Anyway, I've been kicking this around for a bit. Not ready for readers yet, but I'm curious about reactions to the first 13.

Thanks!

quote:

The most vivid memory I have of Claudia is from her debut performance, the night I first saw her, bowed over her cello. Everyone in the Eden Tech concert hall must have fallen in love with her. She was an angel, they said.

I admit it was convincing, the way her thin body shuddered and arched, the way she keened into the notes. Doctor Palangan had exceeded himself—his craftsmanship bordered the divine. He’d gotten it all right, even the strands of hair falling artlessly across her face. He could have made her voluptuous, but no, that would have been too crass, too… obvious. What he’d created here was much more subtle. You could almost believe she was a real, live virtuosa.

Almost.



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Bent Tree
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I am a sucker for this type of story, so I may be a little biased, but while subtle, this intro lured me in.

I could almost hear the formally dressed audience applaud this AI. Even without the speculative element toward the end, the prose would stand on its own.

Now it is time for your bow. I applaud you. I'd love to read this when you finish.


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skadder
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Nothing quite as thrilling as a little illicit prose on the side...

About said bit on the side. I do like this. The one (nit-picking, I know.) sentence I am not certain about, and it is purely about taste--it's not wrong--is '...She was an angel, they said...' It just feels a little weak. I won't suggest an alternative, I just think it is an opportunity to say something new rather than repeating essentially what was said in the sentence before, but in a different way.

Not sure about your use of 'keen' as a verb. It makes a kind of sense to me. The only time I have heard keen used as a verb is when it describes the action of whining made by a dog.

The rest is superb. Have you got complete idea for this, or is it just an intro and you aren't sure where it will go?


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snapper
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I agree with the other two, a nice opening.
As far as that one line...
May I suggest you pull it out of the paragraph and enclose it in quotes. Something like

"She's an angel," they said.

minor, I know but I think it helps.


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NoTimeToThink
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Reads very nicely - although I am not sure yet whether you are talking AI, painting, sculpture, genetic engineering or just performance art. I would read on just to find out that much.

Not as a criticism, but consider something about the word bowed. It is probably just me, but my inner reader tripped over that word. I think it is because it has 2 pronunciations depending on usage -
like "boughed" - if you mean she is bent over
like "bode" - if you are referring to the bow she is pulling across the strings.
I know you meant the first, but I still struggled with it, probably because in this particular story, either usage could easily have shown up and been used (see my thread on http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum1/HTML/004664.html - it might make more sense...or maybe not).

[This message has been edited by NoTimeToThink (edited March 27, 2008).]


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Cheyne
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Hi Anne, This reads very well. I am not too grabbed by your hook but your prose is nice.
Keen is a fine verb as used here, but has a negative connotation like cats or some other animals' noises. Maybe not what you were going for in amusical piece, but I'd leave it.
Bowed didn't jar me in this sentence.
I guess that my main nit would be your use of the ellipses before obvious. Is it to show that the narrator had to search for the word?
And one other nit. The strands may have "appeared" artless but if they were created they were then artful.

Hope this helps (probably not but I'll still submit)


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wbriggs
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I would definitely keep reading. You have me hooked.

A couple of nits (and they are nits -- this is excellent):

He’d gotten it all right: I initially read this has that the way he'd gotten it was "all right," as in, "OK." It would read smoother as "He'd gotten it right, all of it," or "He'd gotten it completely right."

I would also cut the last 2 sentences. By this point we know she isn't real but is a magnificent facsimile.


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smncameron
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quote:

The most vivid memory I have of Claudia is from her debut performance, the night I first saw her, bowed over her cello.

Only one nitpick, so small it seems terribly pretentious of me to bring it up, but as Twain (I believe) said "the difference between the right word and the second best is enormous" (I'm paraphrasing). Even here, I'm not even sure that I am correct.

Edit: Although not as pretentious as semi-quoting Twain, and describing it as terrribly pretentious

The word? From. I believe it should either be replaced with of or eliminated all together. Using from seems, to me, to imply that the memory is only a tiny fraction of the performance, while 'of' recalls its entirety.

Other then that the passage was very easy flowing, intriguing without being confrontational ("her usb port flashed in the light of the chandaleer").

[This message has been edited by smncameron (edited March 27, 2008).]


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annepin
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Thanks, guys, you've made my day! I appreciate the nitpicks--I'm that kind of a gal.

I have a pretty good idea for where this is going, but I have to make some critical choices. And, as usual, I'm procrastinating on those choices.


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Toby Western
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quote:

bowed over her cello

the way her thin body shuddered and arched, the way she keened into the notes


Talk about words that resonate!

I don't have a whole lot to add over what has been said before (though the suggestion that the last two lines could be trimmed bears repeating). The "angel", "divine" theme might be overplayed, unless you're going for the Frankenstein angle, and even then...

I'd love to see where you take this though, when you're ready.


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Wildstar
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I'm hooked and would like to read on when you are ready to show.

David


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TaleSpinner
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I enjoyed this a lot, Anne, not least because I enjoy SF that features music and there's very little of it.

I too stumbled over 'bowed' because as you know, you use a bow to make the cello make a noise, so it seemed like a mistake.

Also, I thought smncameron's catch of the 'from' was a good one.

Aside from that, great style and an interesting hook. I'd love to read it.

Cheers,
Pat


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WouldBe
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Now I'm jealous. I've always loved cello music, and listen to the tragic Jacqueline DuPre frequently. But I never thought of writing a story about a cellist. Dang. But I also like...never mind.

I liked the opening and have no new nits.


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InarticulateBabbler
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I wasn't bothered at all by the "She was an angel" sentence. It was the first one that felt a tad clunky to me.

quote:

The most vivid memory I have of Claudia is from her debut performance, [the night I first saw her<--This is the part the bugs me. It seems redundant after the three words that precede it., bowed over her cello.

And I concur with wbriggs on the last two sentences.

IMHO, other than those nits, it's good.


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rickfisher
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I'm too late to say anything new, so I'll just register my opinions on some of the other comments.

"from" --> "of": right

"the first night I saw her" --> not necessarily redundant, since he could easily have seen her before her debut performance (as far as the reader knows at this point, he could be married to her or something), but since it can seem redundant, I'd probably still let it go unless it's important for some reason.

"bowed" --> I'm ambivalent here. I tripped over it, sensing both meanings, and to some extent I thought, "Ah, clever, using that word here." But since it can only mean the one thing, and it did take me out of the story for a moment, I'd say it's better changed.

"keened" --> fine with me.

"artlessly" --> also fine with me, unless those strands of hair were fixed there to seem as if they had fallen. If they were simply made so that they could fall, and in this case had (which is how I read it), it works fine.

The last two sentences --> not redundant to me. What I get from them is not further emphasis that she wasn't real, but the only suggestion in this opening that she is NOT perfect. I want to know what the flaw is. (If it's just that the audience already knows she's not real, then cut them.)


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