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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Spirit of the Lion--approx 1k words

   
Author Topic: Spirit of the Lion--approx 1k words
Meredith
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Since I don't seem to be able to write a short story from scratch, yet, this is an attempt to take a couple of scenes from my novel and recast them as a short story. I tried to make it a flash--might as well go all the way. I'm hoping if I can figure out what works this way, then eventually I'll actually be able to write a short story from scratch. Might as well dream big. So far I haven't written anything coherent from scratch in less than 30k words.

Here are the first 13:

Vatar pulled his horse to a stop, motioning Fenar to do the same.
“What is it?” Fenar asked.
“There, by that rock. Look close,” Vatar whispered.
“What is it?”
“Three lions. A male and two females.”
Fenar looked where his older brother pointed. First he made out the darker mane of the male, then its huge body. He was large and majestic. Then he could see the two females lying in the grass behind the male. All three were lying at ease, watching the two boys with mild interest.
“What do we do?” Fenar asked. Plains lions could be dangerous.

Any comments? Anybody want to read the whole thing?

Lousy first thirteen. Here's another try. Hopefully better.

Vatar pulled his horse to a stop, motioning Fenar to do the same.
“There, by that rock. Look close,” Vatar whispered.
Fenar looked where his older brother pointed. First he made out the darker mane of the male lion, then its huge body. Then he could see the two females lying in the grass behind the male. All three were lying at ease, watching the two boys with mild interest.
“What do we do?” Fenar asked.
“Nothing. They’ve eaten recently. They only want to be left alone. We just ride on.”
“How do you know that?”
Vatar smiled. “I can feel it. . . .

Still too bland? Does this work better?

Fenar looked where his older brother pointed. First he made out the darker mane of the male lion, then its huge body. Two females lay nearby. They matched the color of the dry grass so well they were almost invisible. The lions watched the two boys with mild interest.
“What do we do?” Fenar asked, a little nervous.
“Nothing. They’ve eaten recently. They only want to be left alone. We just ride on.”
“How can you know that?”
Vatar smiled. “I can feel it. Since I got my Clan Mark,” Vatar said, putting his hand over the paw print tattoo on his left breast. “Once you’re part of the Spirit of the Lion, there’s a . . . connection. You’ll feel it,

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited April 07, 2009).]


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bluephoenix
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Heya .

Oh blimey, you added a new 13 while I was writing this, lol. This is what I thought of the original, give me a sec to read the new one:

Only one prose nit - I found 'behind the male' a little clunky. Personally, I'd just use an adjective or a preposition ('nearby' or something). Other than that? I dunno. I'm not feeling much emotion here. I mean, a lion can outrun a horse prety easily, and there are three big lions watching them. Why aren't they afraid? Are they hunters, or used to dealing with lions? I sort of want to know why they're there, but they don't seem too interested - why should I be?

There's nothing wrong with the prose, but the content is a little bland for me at the moment. I'd probably read on for a few more lines, but something would have to happen to catch my interest. Daft thing is, you've got a potential instant hook - two people stumble across some lions. Theoretically, that's an interesting situation.

I'll edit this entry with my thoughts on the new version in a sec .

EDIT That's a bit better (the second version). One thing, I'd put '“What is it?” Fenar asked' back in for the sake of pace (after the first line, obviously).

The 'Vatar smiled' bit is your hook here, and it's enough to get me to read on for a little bit, but really the problem is the same. You've caught my attention now, but now you need to reel me in. If they just ride on home, end of incident, I don't know how long I'm going to be sticking with it.

I think with more subtle hooks like this one, you need lots of other things to back it up - 'lots of little hooklets that add up into a big one,' as someone on here once put it.

Anyway, it's definitely an improvement, but still a touch bland. I'd read on for a bit, though.

Hope this helped,
Daniel.

[This message has been edited by bluephoenix (edited April 06, 2009).]


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mommiller
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Okay, here is where my problem lies. Nothing seems definite. Such as...

quote:
almost invisible.

quote:
mild interest.

quote:
a little nervous

This series coming successively at the end of your sentences is putting a great big hole in what ever tension you are trying to create in your opening lines.

My red pen is poised, if you'd like to send it along, I'll give the rest a read.


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mommiller
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Heh, I see a third version is now out there, in the time it took me to eat my lunch no less...

However, my comment and the request to read is still holding true.


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Jeff M
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I like version 2 the best. V3 starts off with a couple of lines of fairly matter-of-fact description, while V2 puts us right alongside the characters from the beginning. And the hook is still there ("I can feel it"). Presumably you'd get to the bit about the Clan mark in line 14, which is fine.

Send it to me and I'll have a read.


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bluephoenix
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Third version:

From '“What do we do?” Fenar asked, a little nervous.' downwards, I like it. You've made some small but effective changes ('how can you know' instead of 'how do you'; the addition of 'a little nervous' to 'Fenar asked'; the line about 'matched the colour of the dry grass'). Also, the clan mark thing ties in with it all to make a proper hook.

That said, I think Jeff M is right - version two's first lines are better (less factual; more to do with characters). Thus, I would merge the two, and shorten the bit about the male lion to hopefully bring the clan mark up into the first 13 - something like this:

Vatar pulled his horse to a stop, motioning Fenar to do the same.
“There, by that rock. Look close,” Vatar whispered.
Fenar looked where his older brother pointed. There, the dark mane of a male lion, and two females nearby. They matched the color of the dry grass so well they were almost invisible. The lions watched them with mild interest.
“What do we do?” Fenar asked, a little nervous.
“Nothing. They’ve eaten recently. They only want to be left alone. We just ride on.”
“How can you know that?”
Vatar smiled. “I can feel it. Since I got my Clan Mark,” Vatar said, putting his hand over the paw print tattoo on his left breast. “Once you’re part of the Spirit of the Lion, there’s a . . . connection. You’ll feel it,

Just an example, there are lots of ways you could do it. I'd be tempted to add a little reaction from Fenar when he first sees the lions, too ('Fenar looked where his older brother pointed, and jumped / stiffened / breathed in sharply / blanched / gasped,' etc - something like that).

Anyway, I think merging them is the answer. Hope this helped, and I'd like to see the rest of it if you want my thoughts .
Daniel.

[This message has been edited by bluephoenix (edited April 07, 2009).]


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pixydust
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Hmmm...

Well, the first two had me confused about POV for a second, starting with Vatar.

I liked the content. For some reason the idea of lions had me hooked--guess I didn't expect it.

I do think you need to add more internal stuff. That's just a personal thing, though. I like feeling connected to the MC right away. Like when he asks, "How can you know that?" I want some inside info. I can get little tidbits about the world faster if he shows them to me: how he feels about his brother, about the lions, etc. Observation along with the dialogue.


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JCarroll
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A little late but I'll read the whole thing.
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