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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Leaves on the Wind (Fantasy)

   
Author Topic: Leaves on the Wind (Fantasy)
aspirit
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This is a fantasy of about 2,000 words. I'd like crits on the entire story, as well as the first 13 lines. Crit whatever and however you prefer.

-----

The oak branch rolled in tempestuous winds, sending subtle vibrations colliding against each other within the tree.

Oana grasped her twig more tightly with lithe arms and legs, allowing her outer wings freedom to snap and bounce like the leaves around her. The lobed outer wings mottled green and crimson for the season jutted from a thin, russet body, while her inner wings, translucent and most vital for flying, were tucked away in hiding. According to the glance of any but another fairy, she was two more leaves on a tree.

She turned her face to the pale sunlight gleaming around iron-edged clouds and smiled. Vibration of wind and branch charged her. Yet, serenity filled the internal places still untouched by restless energy. She loved days like this, when


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Troy
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I'll take a look. In your first thirteen, it feels to me as though your sentences are... I want to say too complicated. I'm reading them twice, or three times, and having trouble parsing. Shorter sentences might be the ticket.

Be aware of ing words. Sending, colliding, allowing. I think they're interrupting the flow.

/two cents


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monstewer
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I'll take a look if you like.
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Meredith
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I'll read it, if you want.
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aspirit
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Sent to Troy, monstewer, and Meredith. Thanks, you three!
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Owasm
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I'd be happy to take a look at it.
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dee_boncci
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I had a little confusion with the first sentence, hard to picture vibrations crashing into each other, no sure if the vibrating brances were colliding maybe.

I'll read if your still looking for volunteers.


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bluephoenix
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Heya, here's what I thought.

Few prose comments:

'The oak branch rolled in tempestuous winds, sending subtle vibrations colliding against each other within the tree' - a subtle vibration in a tempestuous wind seems contradictory. A temptest is a violent, loud thing, not in the least bit subtle. Not sure about 'rolled'. Trees tend to rock and sway in gales, and the lesser branches flail or snap about, but I can't picture a rolling branch. I did wonder if you meant 'roiled', but I decided I think that's worse. Something is annoying me about 'vibrations colliding against each other'. I think it might well be the repeated 'ing' sounds of 'sending' and 'colliding' so close together.

"The lobed outer wings mottled green and crimson for the season jutted from a thin, russet body, while her inner wings, translucent and most vital..." - I think you need some sort of parenthesis around 'mottled green and crimson for the season'. Otherwise, mottled sounds like a verb not an adjective, which makes no sense ('The lobed outer wings mottled green and crimson.' Pardon?). I'd suggest a comma after 'wings' and after 'season' to make a subordinate clause, though I realise your sentence would be getting a bit comma-heavy at that point.

"According to the glance of any but another fairy, she was two more leaves on a tree." - I think 'anyone' or even 'anything' would work better than just 'any'. 'Any' seemed a bit abrupt.

That all said, I do like what you've got here. The prose is dense and interesting, and you paint a vivid picture in my head. I can imagine what it's like, clinging to that branch, and almost feel the wind and the swaying of the boughs. I would read on, simply for the immersive quality of the description, and so I'd like to read the rest of it if you're still sending it out .

Hope this helps,
Daniel.


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AmieeRock
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I actually don't think your sentences are too complicated or long. I actually really like long complicated sentences (nobody who has critiqued one of my posts is at all surprised by that). I also think commas are under used. So feel free to adorn those lovely long sentences!

I agree that the word 'any' is a bit abrupt, though. I agree with bluephoenix that 'anyone' or 'anything' would flow better. great start, I love it.


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aspirit
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Sent to Owasm, dee_bonci, and bluephoenix. Thank you to everyone who's replied.
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tchernabyelo
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There's nothing here that's a hook beyond the fact that the MC is a fairy. Everything is description; there's a hint of character in the last line ("She loved days like this") but there is no hint of event, of plot.

Start your story when something happens. All this description is you, getting the images in your head ready, but it isn't story.


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Dogmatic
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Hi tchernabyelo,
I beg to differ, description is story, you're just using words to create images to create story. I think aspirit accomplishes this. However we may just be talking semantics which might be interesting in another forum.

It's like the old movie comparison:
A french film will open on a cloudy sky, a feather drifts into the picture as the camera follows it slowly to earth before it comes to rest gently in a field of sunflowers.

The American version:
Will open on a cloudy sky, a feather drifts into the picture then a plane tears past the camera and we follow it down until it crashes onto a battle field.

Both work, one just eases into things a little slower. (Of course, I agree a lot of publishers will prefer the plane crash one)



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aspirit
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tchernabyelo, I got the images in my head by researching red oaks, phasmids and other insects, and insectivores living in Oregon (the unnamed location of the story); drew pictures; and experimented with my senses. The beginning was carefully designed, though I knew some readers wouldn't like it.

The description is essential, as it's meant to indicate you're dealing with a perceptive creature of nature rather than the conceited creature of magic so common in stories about fairies. I call this story a fantasy because that's where people expect to find a fairy.

I would rather trunk this story (which I'm unwilling to do before sending it around) than change the beginning. As long as someone understands it, even intuitively, then it's accomplishing what I'd wanted.


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pixydust
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I do have to second tchernabyelo. The trouble with starting a story with a description like this is that I have no root in anything. I can't connect to the MC, and there's really no hint of plot yet (which is fine as long as I can connect to the MC). And really nothing huge has to happen, something just has to be happening.

Pip hugged the branch and shook a few leaves loose. She loved days like this, the bowers turning golden and bronze, releasing their crop to feed the earth.

I write about faeries a lot and I know it's tough, you want to tell the reader what they look like and show how pretty and unique they are. But really it's not important to the story. Even if the faerie isn't magic. The reader wants character first (internal/connection). And you can show me what she looks like through action and thought. This moves the story forward. If we sit in one spot for too long we tend to get board, even if the writing is good.


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aspirit
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Is the phrase, "She loved days like this," a cliché? Or does is show character? I'd like to know more about published fairy stories.

On a sidetrack, I think where I tried to show confidence in my previous post I came across as rude. If that's the case, then I'm sorry.


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WBSchmidt
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quote:
On a sidetrack, I think where I tried to show confidence in my previous post I came across as rude. If that's the case, then I'm sorry.

I didn't feel that you were being rude at all. At least I didn't take it that way.

I see what tchernabyelo means when he says, "There's nothing here that's a hook beyond the fact that the MC is a fairy." However, tchernabyelo's definition of "hook" may be more action-based. Dogmatic, on the other hand, may have a more imagery-based (or mood-based) definition.

What we are all doing with our "first 13" is find ways of drawing an editor in enough to get past these "first 13" lines. This can be done with a "typical" hook that is action-based, which encourages the reader to start asking questions. It can also be done with vivid imagery and well-written prose. aspirit's "first 13" here does the latter in my opinion.

If I had found this book on a bookshelf at my Favorite Local Book Store (FLBS) I would likely continue reading because, personally, I like the imagery and the prose. On the other hand, would an editor continue past the "first 13" because there is no action-based hook? None of us will know because that would be a matter of taste for that particular editor. As the opinions differ here on this topic so would it with agents and editors.

I would think that well-written prose that does a good job establishing a mood (as I feel this piece does) could move a work into the "maybe" pile rather than a "rejection" pile. Several fantasy novels with vivid opening imagery have been published without having a "hook."

-- William

EDIT: Minor edits only.

[This message has been edited by WBSchmidt (edited April 11, 2009).]


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