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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Passed Life (revised)

   
Author Topic: Passed Life (revised)
NoTimeToThink
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***4/27 - reworked first 13 is about 6 posts down****

Looking for comments on first thirteen, readers for 8100 words:
Rain pelted the colonial merchant as he huddled over the newspaper machine, water pouring from his tricorn.
1976 - the wrong century. Ed’s destination had been Philadelphia, but 1774, not just a year before his own birth. He needed to get back. He pulled out the palmed-sized thought amplifier, focused on 2008, switched it on...and was startled by the girl's shriek as a young couple struggling to stay under their umbrella jostled him. The amp flew from his hand onto the rain-slicked street.
No! Ed darted forward, but a blaring horn brought him up short as a car sailed past him. He slipped and hit his head on the curb, then struggled to his feet and saw the crushed bits of plastic and circuitry. He looked to his left this time

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


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Wildstar
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“Rain pelted the colonial merchant as he huddled over the newspaper machine, water pouring from his tricorn.”

I would use “a” instead of “the” I thought you were referring to a merchant ship until “he”. Is he the one and only colonial merchant?

1976 - the wrong century. Ed’s destination had been Philadelphia, but 1774, not just a year before his own birth.

Was he born in 1977 or 1775. This confused me. If he was born in 1977 then it might read clearer if you tied “not just a yer before to that date. Maybe, “ 1976, the year before he was born, this was the wrong century. Ed’s destination had been Philadelphia, but 1774.”

“He needed to get back.”

Did he travel here from 1774? It read to me that he was time traveling and trying to get to 1774, not that he was already there and accidentally jumped away.

“He pulled out the palmed-sized thought amplifier, focused on 2008, switched it on...and was startled by the girl's shriek as a young couple struggling to stay under their umbrella jostled him.”

Now I am even more confused. Did he come from 2008 and that is where he needed to get back to? Then why was he aiming for 1774?

“The amp flew from his hand onto the rain-slicked street.
No! Ed darted forward, but a blaring horn brought him up short as a car sailed past him. He slipped and hit his head on the curb, then struggled to his feet and saw the crushed bits of plastic and circuitry. He looked to his left this time”

I am lost and confused at this point. I understand what is happening to him physically but not mentally.

Just my thoughts. I do like time travel stories though and would be interest in reading a reworked version of this.

DC


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nitewriter
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I'm a bit confused by this beginning...leaves me with questions.
Is there a reason or significant that he huddles over a newspaper machine? Is he trying to find out from a newspaper what year he landed in? If so wouldn't his own machine tell him this?

"He needed to get back." This could be much more enticing if we knew why he had to get back. Just telling us he needed to get back does not create much tension or interest.

"He pulled out the palm-sized..." This sentence seems too long. It slows down and dulls the tension this scene could have.

No! Is he yelling this or thinking it?

"As a young couple struggling to stay under their umbrella jostled him." This was hard for me to imagine. If they are struggiling to stay under an umbrella, how could he be jostled unless he was also under the umbrella? Then from being jostled, the amp "flew" from his hand into the street. I had a hard time with this also. Maybe he dropped it, but flew into the street from being merely jostled?

I assume, though it is not made clear, the tricom is to communicate with those in the time he came from. If this is so, the problem would be solved by having them send back another amp wouldn't it?

The series of events feels a bit contrived. He pulls out an amp, so that he is jostled, so the amp is knocked into the street, so that he goes after it, so a car can go by and crush it. Why not just have him hit by a car and while not seriousl injured his amp is ruined?

The scene has the potential to be very active and tense, but is written in a fairly passive manner that does not convey the tension.

[This message has been edited by nitewriter (edited March 30, 2008).]


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Wildstar
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On first read I too thought the "tricom" was his communication device but then second guessed that as "waterpouring from it" didn't seem to work with an electical, I assume, device. It also seemed like he then had two different devices; the tricom and the amp, I would just consolidate that into one device.

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annepin
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I like the premise--there's this guy woefully misplaced in time, a time jump gone terribly wrong. I think it would work better if we had a sense of what's at stake before his device gets destroyed. Right now I have no idea why he's here, what he intends to do, so when his device gets broken I think, oh, that's too bad, but not much else. Also, it would help open up the stories potential. Right now, I'm getting flashbacks of "Back to the Future", esp since he's stranded just a year before his birth.

quote:

Rain pelted the colonial merchant as he huddled over the newspaper machine, water pouring from his tricorn.This is a weird way to start. If the colonial merchant is Ed, I suggest just saying that. If you mention the tricorn you still point out the anachronism. "Newspaper machine" sounds a little too advanced for 1976--I assume you want "newspaper stand". Also, this feels a little fake. 1976 is a loooong way from 1774--he'd be able to tell at a glance at his surroundings he's no where near the target date. So why bother looking at a newspaper for a date at all?
1976 - the wrong century. Ed’s destination had been Philadelphia, but 1774, not just a year before his own birth. He needed to get back. He pulled out the palmed-sized thought amplifier, focused on 2008,I think I need to know why he needs to go to 2008 instead of resetting his device for 1774 and proceeding as planned. switched it on...and was startled by the "a", since it's not a specific girl girl's shriek as a young couple struggling to stay under their umbrella jostled him. The amp flew from his hand onto the rain-slicked street.Awkwardly written. It took me two reads to figure out what was happening. Also, it caused me to rearrange my understanding of his surroundings. Surely they couldn't just sneak up on him from nowhere. He must be more aware of his surroundings and would have seen them coming.
No! Ed darted forward, but a blaring horn brought him up short as a car sailed past him. He slipped and hit his head on the curb, then struggled to his feet and saw the crushed bits of plastic and circuitry. He looked to his left this time


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Oblomova
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I agree with previous posters about the contrived feel of the beginning, but I'm still intrigued. If you still need readers, send it my way. I probably won't be able to answer until Thursday night, though, so don't send it if you're in a hurry.
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NoTimeToThink
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Here is the reworked first 13 - again, looking for comments and readers for the completed 8100 word story (which I will send out this time):
*************************************************
Rain poured from Ed’s tricorn hat as he huddled in front of a newspaper vending box. The Daily News - Philadelphia, at least, but 1976, just before his own birth. If he was going to make it to his 1774 target, he would have to return to 2008 so Steve could try sending him again. He pulled out the palmed-sized thought amplifier to reconnect with the ETL back in 2008, concentrated, switched it on...and stumbled as a young couple, struggling to get out of the rain, bumped into him. The amp was knocked from his hand onto the rain-slicked street.
“No!” Ed darted forward, but a blaring horn brought him up short as a car sailed across his path. He slipped and hit his head on the curb, then saw the crushed bits of plastic and circuitry as he struggled to his feet. He looked to his left
**************************************
PS - Just to clarify something I found amusing in a couple of comments: the word is TRICORN, not TRICOM; it is a hat, not a device. Apparently the appearance of the lower case 2 letters ( rn ) was easily mistaken for the single character ( m ). It is a word that I pretty much grew up with, so I erroneously assumed that others would recognize it easily. I've added "hat" to make it less work for the reader, and maybe make things a little less confusing overall.

[This message has been edited by NoTimeToThink (edited May 02, 2008).]


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Wildstar
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To me this is much clearer and thanks for the info on the hat. The only part that bumped me was:

quote:
...and stumbled as a young couple, struggling to get out of the rain, bumped into him. The amp was knocked from his hand onto the rain-slicked street.

This just feels clunky. I hate rewriting others work so sorry for this, but I think this would read better like: “as a young couple struggling to get out of the rain bumped him, sending the amp from his hand and crashing onto the rain slicked street.”

I’m back in town now so I can take a look but it won’t be until Wednesday as I have a few things to wrap up at work. Thanks for keeping me up to date.


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