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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Damsel In Distress-Contemporary Fantasy-4,700 words

   
Author Topic: Damsel In Distress-Contemporary Fantasy-4,700 words
Merlion-Emrys
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I just started a re-write on what I think was probably the first piece I ever posted here on Hatrack. I guess you'd call it modern fantasy. It has a heavy anime influence with some mystery/noir elements as well. Thoughts on the begining are fine, I'll post a wordcount once I'm finished and see if anyone wants to give the whole thing a read (feel free to volunteer early though.)
Edit: The dashes in the name are because Hatrack edits it. Its H-a-s-h-i-t-o but if I just type it it gets edited...

The scent of chlorine was sharp in Hash-ito’s nostrils as he stood over the pool. The sun beat down, making every-shifting serpents of light on the waters surface that in turn jabbed their glimmering fangs into his eyes.
“Aww, I think its kinda cute, in a weird blobby way.” Tommy was bent over with his hands on his knees, shaggy yellow hair hanging across his face, gazing through the water at the large, squat brown shape that rested on the pool’s pale concrete bottom.
“Careful, Tommy, we don’t need you falling in and waking it up just yet. Maybe you can solidify the water around it and then—“
Hash-ito stopped short. Two huge but disturbingly human-like


Version two


The scent of chlorine was sharp in Hash-ito’s nostrils. The sun beat down, making every-shifting serpents of light on the waters surface that then jabbed their glimmering fangs into his eyes.
Tommy bent over with his hands on his knees, shaggy yellow hair hanging across his face, gazing through the water at the large, squat brown shape that rested on the pool’s pale concrete bottom. “Aww, I think it’s kinda cute, in a weird blobby way.”
“Careful, Tommy, we don’t need you falling in and waking it up just yet. Maybe you can solidify the water around it and then—“
Hash-ito stopped short. Two huge but disturbingly human-like eyes popped open at the center of the bloated shape beneath the

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited July 05, 2009).]


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Nicole
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I'd read on only because you gave me two nice images and one strong smell (which is hard to do in writing).

However, a few things made me frown.

1. The sun beat down, making every-shifting serpents of light on the waters surface that in turn jabbed their glimmering fangs into his eyes.

The "that in turn" part was confusing to me. Maybe because it's an expression I'm not familiar with. It reads a bit clunky to me. If more people have problems with it, you might considering rewriting it.

I'm not fan of the second part of the sentence, but that's purely my taste, it seems to me it stretches the description too far and wastes words on a mere detail that is not consequential, or doesn't seem to be. It's not bad, the fangs as all, but maybe it's too good an image, a bit distracting.

Anyway, maybe I shouldn't have even said this. I'm still pondering what should I say or not when critting 1st 13s, I still have in mind zerostone's thread.

2. Tommy was bent over with his hands on his knees...

"Was bent" seems to me like could be "bent". The "was" takes the immediacy from the action.

3. ...pool’s pale concrete bottom...

Hmmm...I was left wondering because pool's bottoms -the ones I know- aren't made from concrete, they have concrete underneath but they're all tiled. Since you say "pale concrete" maybe you were thinking about the tiles?

Or they're made from that hard plastic I don't know how it's called. Usually pale blue.

I'd read on because of the possibility of solidifying the water, the object and the human-like somethings.

Edited to add: I'd read on because of the title too.

[This message has been edited by Nicole (edited July 05, 2009).]


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snapper
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quote:
The scent of chlorine was sharp in Hash-ito’s nostrils as he stood over the pool.

Hmmm, I think you could cut as he stood over the pool. The scent of chlorine probably is enough to know where he is standing. The following sentences removes all doubt.

quote:
The sun beat down,

Do suns beat up?

quote:
making every-shifting serpents of light on the waters surface that in turn jabbed their glimmering fangs into his eyes.

Don’t need the trailing ‘s’ on serpents. I agree with Nicole on ‘that in turn’. ‘glimmering fangs’ fit for the image that you are creating but looks wrong. Consider another possibility.

quote:
“Aww, I think its kinda cute, in a weird blobby way.” Tommy was bent over with his hands on his knees, shaggy yellow hair hanging across his face, gazing through the water at the large, squat brown shape that rested on the pool’s pale concrete bottom.

Flip the two sentences. BTW I have seen pools with pale concrete bottoms. They are hard on the feet though.


quote:
Anyway, maybe I shouldn't have even said this. I'm still pondering what should I say or not when critting 1st 13s, I still have in mind zerostone's thread.

Is this what you really wanted Merlion? Was making a point worth having critiquers that are gun shy?


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Nicole
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quote:
Is this what you really wanted Merlion? Was making a point worth having critiquers that are gun shy?

Um, snapper, I think maybe, just maybe, you understood me wrong.

Merlion has nothing to do with me wondering what helps (what I should say) the writer or doesn't help (I shouldn't say) the writer when critting the 1st 13.

Or maybe Merlion *has* something to do with it, but only in making me analyze if what I thought was helpful actually was. I'm very thankful for that to *everyone* who participated in that thread.

So, in light of zerostone's thread, I decided to review how I critted things and I discovered things I didn't want to do anymore and things I wanted to try.

It as a passing comment, my intent was not to start a discussion. Thinking about it, I think I wanted to know if what I said was helpful or not.

I expressed myself wrong, I should've add a smiley, those things take the seriousness out of everything.

Snapper, if I appeared like I was hiding behind a couch while writing my crit I apologize. I wasn't.

[This message has been edited by Nicole because after 10 years of spelling the word "writing" correctly she decided she would spell writing with a double "t"(edited July 05, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Nicole (edited July 05, 2009).]


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snapper
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Oh I should be apoligizing to you, Nicole.

You are correct. It is comments like that, that do get misinterpeted, that de-evolve into some harshness. I am sorry to take your comment out of context.

I do worry that anything I post will get treated with kid gloves. I want people to read my stuff and give me an honest assessment on how they feel about. I don't want people to withhold comments for a fear of hurting feelings or starting trouble. An editor will not let me know why he/she will reject my work. I am relying on you guys for that.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 05, 2009).]


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Nicole
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No problem, snapper, misunderstandings happen, they happen a lot online.

I wouldn't want to see people here censoring themselves because they might "hurt my feelings" either. Honesty is enough.

And with this, I go back to Merlion and his or her story. I forgot to say, I'd read when it's as close to done as possible. Warnings: I'm slow and I'm new.

[This message has been edited by Nicole (edited July 05, 2009).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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Thanks for your thoughts, Nicole and your read offer. I understood you perfectly. zerostone's threads were very much in my mind as I wrote this. Trying to achieve a sense of greater depth and including small, seemingly unimportant details is, I think, a good thing. And to some extent more in line with my natural style.

However elements of action and more, shall we say, active interest are good also, so I tried to incorporate some of both.

also, good idea, snapper, about that sentence inversion, it probably is better that way


Oh and about the "in turn"...I was trying to do, or original thinking of a sort of continuance thing...the sun shines into the water and makes the snakes which in turn (being that they are the same light) stab his eyes. But it didn't come out quite like I wanted and probably needs a slight tweak.

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited July 05, 2009).]


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Jennywinnie
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The scent of chlorine was sharp in Hash-ito’s nostrils as he stood over the pool. The sun beat down,

(try to describe the heat in a less cliche kind of way)

making every-shifting

do you mean "ever-shifting"

serpents of light on the waters (water's)surface

I loved the image!

that in turn jabbed their glimmering fangs into his (whose eyes?)eyes.

I would make this a seperate sentence as you've already done alot, and it kind of looses my attention to put too many ideas into one sentence.

“Aww, I think its kinda cute, in a weird blobby way.” Tommy was bent over with his hands on his knees, shaggy yellow hair hanging across his face, gazing through the water at the large, squat brown shape that rested on the pool’s pale concrete bottom.

I think you might mention this creature earlier because when he said this I thought he was talking about the glimmering snakes. If there really is a strange animal/creature in the pool. I think the MC would be focusing on it, and not the reflections the light makes on water, beautiful as it is. That's just my take. Maybe you could describe the look of the water around the creature, and how the creature moves in rythm to the currents or something like that, so that you don't have to loose all of that imagery. That way we don't waste anytime knowing what the main point of the story is, or what this scene is really about. Also 'Blobby' may be this guy's take on it, but that is not a very specific discription. Don't leave it up to him to paint a true picture. All I'm seeing right now is some kind of fat, brown, wide eyed sea creature...not very appealing.

“Careful, Tommy, we don’t need you falling in and waking it up
just yet. Maybe you can solidify the water around it and then—“
Hash-ito stopped short. Two huge but disturbingly human-like

to me solidified water implies future technology? Is this set in the future? If so, we might need an idication earlier, if not explain more about this. Are they using a technology they aren't completely confortable with? You can indicate this in the way they talk about it.

Anyhow, it's a good start. All in all, the imagery is great, but for some reason the characters arn't really alive to me yet. Some of the dialogue hints at personality which is good, but I guess I don't really get the sense of fear, or couriosity that in my mind should accompany the capture of an unknown creature. If they know little about it, shouldn't they feel afraid for their safety? Do they feel delighted at being the first to see one this close? If not, maybe explain, or show us why that is.

Keep in mind the the priority is not to describe people and places, but to tell the story. This moment you've chosen holds a certain amount of emotional tension. That should be the focus. Nice descriptions of things not immediately important can come later. I guess that's how I normally do things any how.

[This message has been edited by Jennywinnie (edited July 06, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Jennywinnie (edited July 06, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by Jennywinnie (edited July 06, 2009).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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Thanks for taking the time to comment so extensively, I appreciate it.


quote:
to me solidified water implies future technology? Is this set in the future? If so, we might need an idication earlier, if not explain more about this. Are they using a technology they aren't completely confortable with? You can indicate this in the way they talk about it.

Anyhow, it's a good start. All in all, the imagery is great, but for some reason the characters arn't really alive to me yet. Some of the dialogue hints at personality which is good, but I guess I don't really get the sense of fear, or couriosity that in my mind should accompany the capture of an unknown creature. If they know little about it, shouldn't they feel afraid for their safety? Do they feel delighted at being the first to see one this close? If not, maybe explain, or show us why that is.


Tommy has the ability to manipulate the 4 elements, hence the water thing...and they are really kind of used to this sort of thing so it isn't really all that emotional for them. Now of course I realize a random reader doesn't know this, but they find out pretty quick. It would be out of character for them to be terribly emotional about the situation because they are well used to that kind of thing.

quote:
Keep in mind the the priority is not to describe people and places, but to tell the story. This moment you've chosen holds a certain amount of emotional tension. That should be the focus. Nice descriptions of things not immediately important can come later. I guess that's how I normally do things any how.


Well like I say above, recent discussions have led me to be inclined to focus a little more on things that arent or don't seem to be immediately important. I think it helps root a reader in the place/time/characters etc.


You may be right about seperating that one sentence though I'll have to think on that. Thanks again.


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AWSullivan
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Good start Merlion. I think I've said before that the whole anime thing doesn't really grab me but I like the imagery here. A couple of nits.

quote:
The scent of chlorine was sharp in Hash-ito’s nostrils.

This is passive. I think it would be stronger if you described what the scent of chlorine did to his nostrils rather than what is was.

quote:
The sun beat down, making every-shifting serpents of light on the waters surface that then jabbed their glimmering fangs into his eyes.

There is some great imagery here but I agree with earlier posts that it goes beyond to an awkward place. I think I would cut it off after the word surface. Also I think you meant 'ever-shifting'.

The next sentence, preceding the first dialog seemed a little run-on'ish. I don't think it is technically incorrect but I had to read it twice because I wasn't prepared to read that far without a break for comprehension.

I think you have a good start and i would certainly read on. The creepy peepers on the lump in the pool were enough for that.

~Anthony


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
Good start Merlion. I think I've said before that the whole anime thing doesn't really grab me but I like the imagery here


Not to get off topic, but truly I almost don't like to say "anime" influence, only because some have an...incomplete picture of the term. Since anything animated from Japan (or really broadly, Asia) can be called "anime" the term encompasses a LOT of stuff. Some times I think people here "anime" and think Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon. A great deal of japanese/asian animation is a GREAT deal more sophisticated than that (often more so than Western cinema in general)

It might be better to say "asian" influence, since my Hash-ito/Tommy stories are influence both by Anime and various aspects of Japanese folklore and religion.

quote:
There is some great imagery here but I agree with earlier posts that it goes beyond to an awkward place. I think I would cut it off after the word surface. Also I think you meant 'ever-shifting'.


The part I don't like is the word "jabbed." I think it breaks the feel, but I'm having trouble coming up with a good alternative...


quote:
This is passive. I think it would be stronger if you described what the scent of chlorine did to his nostrils rather than what is was.


A state of being can be active. KDW posted a link to some threads on passive/active voice in Junes RFM thread that explained it pretty well. People generally think "was" and "to be" are passive but thats not always the case (putting aside the fact that I don't consider passive voice automatically a bad thing.) Those threads really clear up a lot of the very easy to experience confusion about it. lets see...http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum3/HTML/000016.html. Good stuff (just sharing info here)

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited July 06, 2009).]


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AWSullivan
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Thanks for the link Merlion.

Passive voice is unavoidable and a part of the common vernacular so I'm not saying it should never be used. I use it plenty in my own prose. I will say that I try not to open with it.

I'll read on about what KDW says is and isn't passive but all that aside, the opening sentence reads weak to me.

Let me know when it's done, I'd like to read it.

~Anthony


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MrsBrown
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Can we see a re-write of the first 13?
("ever-shifting" not every-shifting)

I really like version 2!

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited July 08, 2009).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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I will probably have the whole thing finished in the next couple of days. Aside from fixing the typo and maybe finding a different word for "jabbing" I'm not really planning on changing much as far as the begining at this stage. I'll get the thread updated once I've got the story done. Do you want me to send it to you Mrs. Brown?
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MAP
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Like everyone else, I like the imagery of the serpants and light, but I thought at first that the water actually contained light serpants. I think being taken literaly can sometimes be a problem with using metaphors in speculative fiction. If you changed it to a simile you wouldn't have that problem.

Perhaps "the light shimmered on the water surface like a serpant....."

Otherwise looks good, I would read on.


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Merlion-Emrys
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I'm done! Could I please get "-Contemporary Fantasy-4,700 words" added?

Sending along to those that requested it.


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Merlion-Emrys
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Nicole, you'll have to email me if you still want to read it. Your email isn't in your profile.
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