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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » A Noisless Patient Spider

   
Author Topic: A Noisless Patient Spider
Ennis
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This is the beginning of a vampire short story (at about 3,000 words right now). The title, just a working title, is taken from a Walt Whitman poem. I wrote it for fun, to take a break from my sci-fi novel that I am working on. Hope you enjoy it!


I crouched on the ledge of the building, the tips of my black boots jutting out over the blur of headlights and people far below. A finger of wind curled up around my neck and I closed my eyes and tilted my head towards the sky. I could smell the storm in the distance. The storm was why I had come to this height. I would immerse myself in it, feel the rain envelop me, its icy pellets stinging my cold skin senseless, ripping away all scent except for that of the elements -- water and air singed by lightening. I often scaled the buildings of my city during a storm, most often to find, amid the wind that whipped my hair around my face, a moment of escape, a moment to forget. And today, of all the days in the past thirty years that I had wanted to forget, today, I desperately needed to forget.

[This message has been edited by Ennis (edited April 08, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Ennis (edited April 08, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Ennis (edited April 08, 2009).]


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Dogmatic
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Hi Ennis,
Great job I really enjoyed it. Good hook and setup. You created the mood nicely. My only one comment was on the word "senseless" in "my cold skin senseless" I understand what you're saying there but it made me pause for a moment when i was reading it. It make's sense and I can't tell you why it bothered me. Maybe it just interrupted the poetic flow of the piece. But really just a minor note.

Thanks for sharing!
Steve


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bluephoenix
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Oh that is soul destroying. I wrote out a big long comment and then accidentally clicked on a link and lost the whole thing.

Anyway, hey .

I liked your opening line, but there are things in the rest of it that I think could do with another look.

* 'A finger of wind curled up around my neck' - I really didn't like this image. I don't see how a finger can properly personify (or anthropomorphise, I suppose) the wind, and I can't see what the point in it is either. Are you trying to create the idea of brushing the neck? Or is it to justify the 'curled around' part? If anything at all, I suppose you could say things like 'a tendril of wind', but a finger is too small, too solid and too stable to do the job, in my opinion.
* 'and I closed my eyes and tilted my head towards the sky' - I think you could put a very brief action on the end of this as a precursor to the smelling of the storm (e.g. 'and tilted my head towards the sky, breathing deeply'). I think it would add to the effect, giving us more sensory detail.
* 'I could smell the storm in the distance. The storm was why I had come to this height.' - I'd suggest getting rid of the second 'the storm' and putting an 'it' instead, and possibly joining the two sentences together (e.g. 'smell the storm in the distance - it was why I had come'). I know this gives you two 'it's close together, but I think 'it it' sticks out less than 'the storm the storm'.
* 'I would immerse myself in it, feel the rain envelop me, its icy pellets stinging my cold skin senseless' - the immersing bit is fine, but I find it hard to imagine rain enveloping something, and I too had a problem with 'stinging my cold skin senseless.' Actually, I wasn't too keen on 'icy pellets', either (specifically 'pellets') - it's rain, not hail. Anyway, it just sounds odd, somehow. I think 'to sting something senseless' seems contradictory (a sensation causing a lack of sensation). I suggest rewording it, using a word like 'numb' (just something simple, e.g. 'its icy pellets numbing my cold skin'. There are lots of ways you could do it).
* 'ripping away all scent' - I stopped at 'ripping away'. I could imagine the rain 'blocking out' all other scents, for example, but I'm not sure how it would rip them away.
* 'water and air singed by lightening' - I have no idea why this sticks out at me but I don't like the word 'singed' there. Maybe it's something to do with 'singed water', I don't know.
* Your last two sentences are really clunky. Frankly, I would cut bits, restructure others, and split the whole lot into three sentences. I put this example together in about 10 seconds, so it's not brilliant, but hopefully you see what I'm getting at: 'I often scaled the buildings of my city during a storm. Amid the wind that whipped my hair around my face, I looked mostly for a moment of escape, a moment to forget. Of all the days in the past thirty years that I had wanted to forget, today, I desperately needed to forget.' It is not astonishingly good, but it is far, far easier to read, and I've not written anything new - I've just reorganised your prose, and cut a few things. I'd definitely keep 'I often scaled the buildings of my city during a storm' as a single sentence, at any rate.
* I'm being very petty now, but you misspelt 'noiseless' in your title.

I think you have the makings of a good opening, here. All I think it really needs is an overhaul, and then I would definitely read on. Really, despite how nit-picky I got, it's just those last two clunky sentences that put me off.

Hope this helped,
Daniel.

[This message has been edited by bluephoenix (edited April 09, 2009).]


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pixydust
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Good visuals, but I'm wondering if it's a bit too wordy and thick.

Here's line, by line:

I crouched on the ledge of the building, the tips of my black boots jutting out over the blur of headlights and people far below. [I like this, but I worry that it's a cliche vamp image--made me think of Underworld] A finger of wind curled up around my neck and I closed my eyes and tilted my head towards the sky. [I like this visual, but I would cut it, cause the next sentance is stronger] I could smell the storm in the distance. The storm [It] was why I had come to this height. [seems clunky, maybe: "up here."] I would [needed to] immerse myself in it, [Cut: I like the rest better. Too much can take away from the power of the words] feel the rain envelop me, its icy pellets stinging my cold skin senseless, ripping away all scent except for that of the elements [Not sure what this is trying to show me. It and the next bit after seem overdone cause I'm unsure what he/she's getting at. Is the MC trying to wash the blood off? What? I wouldn't get that because at this point I'm unaware that he/she's a vamp] -- water and air singed by lightening. [like I said, not sure what this is trying to show me] I often scaled the buildings of my city during a storm, most often [you say, "often" twice] to find, amid the wind that whipped my hair around my face, a moment of escape, a moment to forget. And today, of all the days in the past thirty years that I had wanted to forget [Clunky], today, I desperately needed to forget. [To me this is your hook and it gets a bit lost. I would have this be the second or third line.]

I think the biggest thing I see here is that the visual/sensory gets a bit muddled, like bluephoenix said. And your hook is a burried under it. Plus, I think I'd like to know more about the mc than the storm. I like the idea of what you're doing here, though. Be sure to post again with the revamp.

Hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by pixydust (edited April 09, 2009).]


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tchernabyelo
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There's nothing particularly wrong with the description... but it's all description. There isn't character and there isn't a story (and the final line, the closest thing to hook, implies that in fact the story is going to be largely flashback anyway).

You're settling yourself into the scene, preparing yourself mentally to tell a story. That's fine, but once you've done that, cut it. Start the actual story.


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