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Author Topic: God Keep - Sci-Fi/Myth
Member # 8425

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Hi all, I'm looking for readers and/or input on the opening. This is a Sci-Fi/Mythic short about 5300 words.
Many thanks in advance.

It was on the third day of prayer and fast that they came. There were no warnings. There were no explosions, or blasts or echoes of destruction to mark their passing. They came in silence. Aloquan sat motionless as the white pierced the darkness of the tent. It was the flood of sunlight that sent him to the ground, temporarily blinded as the tent disintegrated around him; an overloading of the senses as he covered his face with one hand, the other groping in the brightness of confusion. It was smell that came back to him first. The acrid scent of burning earth and flesh that sucked deep into his lungs as he tried to catch his breath. The taste of sweat and dirt began to fill the dry cracked edges of his mouth. He tried to spit. Then it was the sound; the screams

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited June 04, 2009).]

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Member # 8501

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I'll read.
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Member # 5682

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Good title, and I like the premise quite a bit. I think knowing what they were praying for would give the opening more zing, though.

I frequently hear warnings about beginning with "It was" and similar passive wording. (You just can't help but think of 'It was a dark and stormy night'.) Perhaps cut to the chase with: On the third day of prayer and and fasting.... It sounds very OT that way. Here are your words with less punctuation and fill words:

On the third day of prayer and fasting they came, with no warnings. No explosions or blasts or echoes of destruction marked their passing.

I think similar reduction of stuff that slows down the reading would help the rest, as well as more active phrasing. It seems like a long opening paragraph. Perhaps you can find a natural break point. One other thing that might bolster anticipation would be to give a hint about whether the MC was shocked at or expecting this punishment. (The purpose of the prayer, mentioned before, might serve this purpose: forgive us our trespasses, even though we smashed all your idols to bits in a drunken rage. Sorry.

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Member # 5883

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I'm not as against "it was" as some, but I can't see what benefit you get here by using that rather than just "They came on..."

I think I'd like a new paragraph after "The came in silence." I think it would somehow add more gravitas to those opening sentences.

The first thing that really stopped me was "the white pierced the darkness" What is the reader supposed to be picturing here? The white what? After that I got a little lost--"sent" is more often than not a very weak word to use; in what way does the sunlight send him to the ground? And how?

"overloading of the senses as he covered his face with one hand" Sounds a little strange to me, almost as though there is a tense shift there. Also, his "senses" are overloaded and yet they came in silence? And you haven't mentioned any smell, so really is it just his sight that is overloaded rather than all his senses?

groping in the brightness of confusion A bit nitpicky, but if a tent had just disintegrated about me, I wouldn't be sticking my hand out there. What is he groping for? I think I'd just curl into a ball or something.

and cries of his people, calling out, not sure you need that comma after "people".

Excellent last sentence

I must admit I wasn't hooked until that last sentence--it just seemed a little rushed and distant, nothing to really connect to, and I was unsure how he had lost all his senses. I think the loss of his sight worked very well, losing the other senses didn't seem to add to the story anything other than confusion.

If you don't mind waiting possibly over a week for the crit, feel free to send it over.

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