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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Curl of the Night Fern

   
Author Topic: Curl of the Night Fern
Owasm
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This story has just been completed. It ended up being 6700 words and it looks pretty much like a YA Fantasy.

I'm looking for some readers to see if I've got the genre right.


Current beginning:

Bortax sought the spell that would free him from Gelgemo’s service. His taloned fingers made opening the master’s puny little books and scrolls difficult. He could not actually touch the tomes for very long, for his body heat would begin to scorch the pages. Master would certainly notice burnt parchment-- it was sheepskin after all. Sheepskin… Bortax’s muzzle began to smoke from thoughts of his favorite food, broiled lamb. This was going nowhere fast. The demon had to find an insignificant one to help. He had no idea when the master would return.
#
Mellon looked down the long narrow valley. Crags reached high into the air on either side. They were so high only snow and cracked shale crowned the ragged peaks.

Fantasy short in process.

Bortax sought the spell that would free him from Gelgemo's service. His clawed fingers made opening the master’s puny little books and scrolls difficult. He could not actually touch the tomes for very long, as his body heat would begin to blacken the pages. The master would certainly notice burnt parchment-- it was sheepskin after all. Sheepskin, Bortax’s muzzle began to smoke from thoughts of his favorite food, broiled lamb. This was going nowhere fast. The demon had to find an insignificant one to help. He had no idea when the master would return.


[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited April 10, 2009).]

Note: Since it is obvious that dragons mentioned in a stories are now vomit-inducing, Bortax has miraculously been turned into a demon. I have made a few other tweaks, as well.

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited April 10, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited April 16, 2009).]


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pixydust
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"Bortax sought the key" This sounds like a broader statement than infering he was scrounging for it or something more to that effect.

"His clawed fingers" You could just say, claws. It's tough to picture clawed fingers.

"The dragon had to find an insignificant one to help. He was down to the last six years before the master said he would return." I'm not too sure what this part means. "Insignificant one?" Six years to look for this key? He seems in an awful hurry.

All in all it's interesting. I like the dragon. I'm just not sure that I'm hooked.


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tchernabyelo
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Dragon protag and wizard antag is a hard sell for me right off the bat.

The opening sentence feels very bald and before we get any context almost comes over as a plot summary. Give us Bortax's frustration at trying to open the books (puny, incidentally, to me implies weak and feeble, not small, and seems entirely the wrong adjective), let us sink in to his urgency, then give us an idea of why.

I found the sentence rhythm a little staccato. Read it aloud and you'll probably see what I mean - the fact that there's only one comma in the entire opening is a bit of a clue...


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Owasm
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Need to freshen up this thread as I troll for some readers of a YA Fantasy.

I WOULD LIKE SOME READERS... Please??

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited April 16, 2009).]


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Feathersnow
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I don't know... an insignificant one. Odd choice of words for someone he needs. Otherwise I like it, it moves the story forward quickly.
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Nick T
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Hi Owasm,

Send it through. Bit tied up with the RFMC at the moment, but I'll do my best.

Nick


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annepin
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Owasm, I'll read. I was drawn in by the title, actually.
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tchernabyelo
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"Note: Since it is obvious that dragons mentioned in a stories are now vomit-inducing, Bortax has miraculously been turned into a demon. I have made a few other tweaks, as well."

Out of interest, where did that become obvious? One erson explicitly said "I like the dragon", one person (me) said it was "a hard sell for me".


Do I assume you got a lot of other feedback from elsewhere?


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Owasm
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Yes. I found dragon-phobia on some other places on the internet, but not specifically with my piece. As it turned out, the demon really was far better for the story.

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited April 17, 2009).]


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Dame
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Hi,

I like the opening image but could do with just a detail or two to set him in the library or wherever.

I have a few suggestions to smooth it out a bit. Ignore stuff that isn't useful.

"Bortax sought the spell that would free him from Gelgemo's service" (oddly I suggest joining this sentence on with a but!)

"service, but his..." It might make it seem more from inside his head. Adding "either," to "He could not actually touch the tomes for very long (EITHER) as his body heat..." would keep the flow going.

Things like "would begin to" are a bit wordy for the first 13. His body heat could "scorch" the pages, or "crisp" them, perhaps.

I wouldn't use a comma after sheepskin. You could start a new paragraph with just that one word. If you want to join it, use a colon maybe, but I would put a period there.

His muzzle "begins to smoke." Could it "seep" smoke or "drool" it? "Bortax's muzzle seeped smoke at the thought of broiled lamb." You don't need to say it's his favourite, if he reacts so strongly to the thought of it.

I would start another new paragraph to highlight the decision to find an insignificant one. We don't know what an insignificant one is so to me it niggles. If it was in speech marks, I wouldn't mind so much. But is there any way for him to say straight out what one is and then show his feelings later by calling them insignificant ones?

The main thing for me is separating the thoughts out into clear chunks and using that to give impact to each point. It's a great image, the demon trying to open teeny books with great horny thumbs.

I would scour it for things "beginning" to happen and just make them happen straight out.

Hope some of this is useful.

D

[This message has been edited by Dame (edited April 19, 2009).]


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