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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » The Necrologist's Daughter / fantasy / short story / first 13 lines

   
Author Topic: The Necrologist's Daughter / fantasy / short story / first 13 lines
honu
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ver 1
quote:
The corpse lay in the middle of the road. Nancy was sure she had gotten too close before she saw it. She turned to leave before it animated, then changed her mind. They always found her anyway, so she waited for him to come back to life.
He gasped, letting forth the stench of rot, then moaned.
“What happened?” he wheezed.
“I don't know, but I'm guessing bandits found you.”
“Bandits. Yes, now I remember. I refused to give them my purse. One of them drew a bow.” The corpse looked down at his chest to where the arrow still protruded, centered right over his heart.
“What kind of a healer are you? I still feel poorly.”
“I'm not exactly a healer. I have what some would call a gift. To me it's a curse!”* * *

ver 2
quote:
Nancy was enjoying a walk from her village to the neighboring village of Hawthorne up to the point when she walked around a blind corner and stumbled over a corpse. Drat, not again!
Now he would come to life as her involuntary gift manifested.
The dead man gasped, then moaned, and Nancy felt the funny tingle she got when her gift had raised someone or something dead.
“What happened?” he wheezed.
“I don't know, but I'm guessing bandits found you.”
“Bandits. Yes, now I remember. I refused to give them my
purse. One of them drew a bow.” The corpse looked down at his chest to where the arrow still protruded, centered right over his heart.

ver 3
quote:
The corpse lay in the middle of the road. Nancy stumbled upon him after rounding a blind corner in the road on her walk to Hawthorne.
She hesitated, turned to go, then felt the tingle telling her that her gift had manifested.Ah drat! Another one.
He gasped, letting forth the stench of rot, then moaned.
“What happened?” he wheezed.
“I don't know, but I'm guessing bandits found you.”
“Bandits. Yes, yes, now I remember. I refused to give them my purse. One of them drew a bow.” He looked down at his chest to where the arrow still protruded, centered right over his heart.
“What kind of a healer are you? I still feel poorly,” he said as he tugged on the arrow shaft experimentally.
“I'm not a healer. I have what some would call a gift. To me



[This message has been edited by honu (edited January 06, 2009).]


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C L Lynn
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If this "corpse" just recently died, then why would he already stink of rot?

IMO, the concept in the second sentence needs to be spiffed up, reworded, something. The wording is vague, I think.

I like the short sentences, though. They move quickly. Though when Nancy speaks, I'd like to be learning more about her, emotions, mood, attitude, internal conflict, whatever. The first paragraph and last sentence touch on these things, but for me to care about this POV character, I'd like to know her through more specific details up front.

The idea of a guy coming back to life in this opening is intriguing, though the half-comic tone of the first thirteen is a bit of a turn-off for me, personally (I tend to read overly serious pieces). At least, I hope you mean for this opening to be a little humorous?


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honu
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thanks CL LYNN//yes it is somewhat intended comedic story///MC raises the dead ///it's an involuntary gift she has////corpse was there for a bit///so yep it stinketh
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C L Lynn
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This version certainly makes the comedic tone more apparent. And I prefer the info about Nancy given in version 2. If this kind of story were my cup of tea, I'd like to know how she handles this involuntary gift and read further.

This time, the main issue I have is the first sentence. Is it necessary at this point for me to know that she "was enjoying a walk from her village to the neighboring village of Hawthorne" ? I mean, this seems a bit wordy, like stage direction or something. Maybe just tell me where she's going? Of course, that she was enjoying this walk is important to point out since the walk is ruined, but this opening sentence could be tightened, IMO.


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Yufae
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I like this idea. I like version 1 better, except that I think you should decide whether you're going to refer to the corpse as "it" or "he." Maybe "it" while it's a corpse, then "he" when he comes back to life? Also, your grammar geek friends howl in agony when people use an exclamation point after anything but a command. Just a warning. I love the title.
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C L Lynn
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A silly little nit, but I have to disagree with Yufae about her comment regarding the exclamation point. I understand that she's an English teacher and all that, but I consulted my "Bedford Handbook for Writers" just to make sure. I am a grammar-punctuation nazi, after all. And the handbook says "Use an exclamation point after a word or group of words that expresses exceptional feeling or deserves special emphasis." E.g. "The medic shook me and kept yelling, 'He's dead! He's dead! Can't you see that?'" (Fourth edition, p. 399) So, honu, I'd say that your use of the exclamation point, especially in version 2, is right on. Though I did question it's use in version 1.

Have a nice day!

[This message has been edited by C L Lynn (edited January 06, 2009).]


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honu
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LOL I always seem to stir up controversy and I'm not even an energy troll (that I know of ) anyway thank you to both of you///I love getting crits and giving my own poor versions back...this is a fun story to write I got the ending in mind but the adventure is in figuring out how to get there LOL thanks again Yufae and C L Lynn
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Nick T
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Hi Honu,

I think something between the two versions will hit the mark...(helpful, I know). I think the prose style fits the story and you've probably hit upon the right starting point (impossible to know without reading the whole thing, but it does introduce the character really well).

The reason I liked the first version better is that her actions (almost turning away and then changing her mind) very effectively illustrate her attitude towards her “gift” without hitting us over the head with it. You could even pull back the POV a little bit further and just show her dithering and then sighing, though that mightn’t get the point across.

I like the “tingle” in the second version as it very efficiently lets us know that it’s Nancy who’s raised him (and I’d leave out the preceding line, we’ll figure out Nancy’s gift pretty quickly).

Where the first version falls apart for me is the last two lines of dialogue, i.e.

quote:
What kind of a healer are you? I still feel poorly.”
“I'm not exactly a healer. I have what some would call a gift. To me it's a curse!”* * *

This feels like dialogue written for the benefit of info-dumping which you can do without…you can show Nancy’s attitude towards her “gift” without this (and, as I’ve said, I think you’ve done a good job in the first version).

I felt the use of the exclamation mark was valid, though I personally try and use them as little as possible.

Nick


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Gan
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First I want to say that I really enjoy the concept of this story, and the uniqueness and conflict between her gift makes me want to read more. I'll give a few thoughts as to what I think, but take it with a grain of salt, as I'm still a novice myself.

quote:
Nancy was enjoying a walk from her village to the neighboring village of Hawthorne up to the point when she walked around a blind corner and stumbled over a corpse.

This sentence gave me a bit of trouble, and I had to re-read it. One of my problems was the use of "was" in the first sentence, and the telling, rather than showing. You tell us she was enjoying her walk, and simultaneously tell us something is going to ruin her walk. Perhaps, you could show us that she is enjoying it, and show us how it is ruined. For example: "Nancy breathed in the fresh air, and smiled at the delight of her walk. She turned the corner..." This is of course, just a quick example.

quote:
Drat, not again!
Now he would come to life as her involuntary gift manifested.


This sentence is somewhat similar to the last one. The zombie "would" come to life. Perhaps instead you could use a more immediate approach. "The corpse began to twitch, coming to life under the power of her involuntary gift."

Again, this is only an example.

quote:
The dead man gasped, then moaned, and Nancy felt the funny tingle she got when her gift had raised someone or something dead.

I like this sentence, my only complaint is that you add "had". I feel the sentence works perfectly well as "The dead man gasped, then moaned, and Nancy felt the funny tingle she got when her gift raised someone or something dead." You could even remove the dead off the end and see if you like how it sounds, as we've just witnessed what has happened, and don't really need the clarification on the dead part.

quote:
“What happened?” he wheezed.
“I don't know, but I'm guessing bandits found you.”
“Bandits. Yes, now I remember. I refused to give them my
purse. One of them drew a bow.” The corpse looked down at his chest to where the arrow still protruded, centered right over his heart.

This here, I believe, is the best portion. The dialogue is good, my only complaint is when the zombie replies "Yes, now I remember." It sounds a little bit too robot-like. Aside from that, the end portion, to me, was very well done.

Again, take my criticism lightly, as I'm a novice myself. I really enjoyed the concept, and it was fun to read. Definitely keep working on it.

[This message has been edited by Gan (edited January 06, 2009).]


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Gan
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quote:
This version certainly makes the comedic tone more apparent. And I prefer the info about Nancy given in version 2. If this kind of story were my cup of tea, I'd like to know how she handles this involuntary gift and read further.

This time, the main issue I have is the first sentence. Is it necessary at this point for me to know that she "was enjoying a walk from her village to the neighboring village of Hawthorne" ? I mean, this seems a bit wordy, like stage direction or something. Maybe just tell me where she's going? Of course, that she was enjoying this walk is important to point out since the walk is ruined, but this opening sentence could be tightened, IMO.


I agree with C L Lynn here. However, like Yufae said, be careful with the use of Exclamation points. I feel it is fine in this context, but in many contexts it just doesn't work.


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honu
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Thanks Nick T and Gan...really great comments... I will post a 3rd version but haven't really made up my mind yet on which I like best....as far as the robotic thing and the weird tone of Jeneer (the dead guy) his brain has been rotting for a few hours and he is a little out of it (to say the least) thanks so much for everyone's comments !! I also have it as a a 4300 word first draft for a read if anyone wants to see what happens hint teaser....

[This message has been edited by honu (edited January 06, 2009).]


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Gan
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Excellent revisions. I prefer the third version to the first two. I really see only one thing you could change with it.

quote:
The corpse lay in the middle of the road. Nancy stumbled upon him after rounding a blind corner in the road on her walk to Hawthorne.

Here, you probably don't need to add the bolded, as in the previous sentence we're already told of the road.

Again, I am a novice, so do not take my words as the be all end all. I hope my comments have helped. I would love to read the full version at some point, but for the next few days I'll be too busy to do large critiques. Feel free to send it to me, though, and I'll comment on what I can

[This message has been edited by Gan (edited January 06, 2009).]


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honu
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Gan, I have to say do not sell yourself short...your comments have been very astute and helpful as always I appreciate everyone that takes the time to offer a crit
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Gan
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Oh no worries, I'm not selling myself short. I just wanted to be clear that while my comments pertain true to me, they may not be that way for someone of more experience. I couldn't say. I just feel the need to be clear that I'm by no means an editor . I'm glad I've been of help!
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