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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Another untitled fantasy story...

   
Author Topic: Another untitled fantasy story...
AWSullivan
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This is the beginning of a short I started today. It's a bit of a cerebral fantasy but the opening hasn't a hint of that. the fantastic element is on the next page. Would this opening keep you reading?

First Version:

quote:
Seven year old Jake stared in wonder at the pitched battle playing out before him. The battalion of little green army men offered suppressing fire for the lumbering patchwork giant that spelled certain doom for the evil robot army.

Jake smiled wide as he marched his rag doll across the makeshift ottoman battlefield, kicking toy robots left and right, saving the day for his plastic army. He took one of the men, the General, and stood it on the arm chair. An almost imperceptible cheer escaped Jake’s mouth.

A flying shoe hit Jake hard in the side of the head. Hard enough to knock most kids his age out. But he was tough, and more importantly, used to Father’s outbursts.

“Shut the [bleep] up. I’m watching TV.”


Second Version:

quote:
Lt. Cmdr Jake Beckman ducked behind a charred humvee husk. Explosions rocked the ground beneath him. Laser fire filled the air. His battalion had the robotic invaders pinned down with their back against a bottomless chasm. Now was the time to send in their secret weapon and finish this war, once and for all. He made the call.

A shrill roar brought the battlefield to a halt. From behind a nearby hill a ten story patchwork giant lumbered with fiery red hair and flames spouting from its eyes. The enormous head swiveled as it surveyed the carnage. Finally the monstrosity located the enemy robots. With another bestial roar the behemoth charged.

Just before his secret weapon vanquished the enemy, a flying shoe knocked seven year old Jacob Beckman to the floor.


Third Version (slightly tweaked):

quote:
Lt. Cmdr Jake Beckman ducked behind a charred humvee husk. Explosions rocked the ground beneath him. Laser fire filled the air. His battalion had the robotic invaders pinned down with their back against a bottomless chasm. Now was the time to send in their secret weapon and finish this war, once and for all. He made the call.

A shrill roar brought the battlefield to a halt. From behind a nearby hill a ten story patchwork giant lumbered, fiery red hair whipping, flames spouting from its eyes. The enormous head swiveled as it surveyed the carnage. Finally the monstrosity located the enemy robots. With another bestial roar it charged.

Just before his secret weapon vanquished the enemy, something hit Jacob hard enough to knock him to the cold tile floor.


Might want some readers for the complete draft in a few days. I have a feeling this one will come quick.

~Anthony

[This message has been edited by AWSullivan (edited October 08, 2009).]


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genevive42
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I like this. Nothing has jumped out at me that I would worry about. Some of your sentences are long but the language is plain so that doesn't bother me.

I would certainly read on and will be happy to give it a read when you're finished.


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Dropbear
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Some musings:

I'm wondering if the use of the term "suppressing fire" fits a 7yo POV.

Jake makes an almost imperceptible cheer, but its loud enough to interfere with his father's TV watching. Presumably the sound is turned to an appropriate viewing level. Not sure it quite gels with me.

The last paragraph seems to be sentence fragments, rather than sentences, maybe ...

"A shoe, thrown hard enough to knock most seven year olds out, hit Jake on the side of his head ..."

[This message has been edited by Dropbear (edited October 01, 2009).]


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alliedfive
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Seven year old This felt clunky. I think the fact that he's playing with army men gives some idea how old he is. Unless the exact age is crucial to the plot, I'd start your story with "Jake stared"

Jake stared in wonder at the [pitched]-I see words like this and it confuses the POV for me battle playing out before him. The battalion of little green army men offered suppressing fire for the lumbering patchwork giant that spelled certain doom for the evil robot army.

Jake smiled wide as he marched his rag doll across the makeshift ottoman battlefield, kicking toy robots left and right, saving the day for his plastic army. He took one of the men, the General, and stood it on the arm chair. [An almost imperceptible cheer escaped Jake’s mouth.]-This "feels" like an Omni (or other than Jake) POV now.

A flying shoe hit Jake hard in the side of the head. Hard enough to knock most kids his age out. But he was tough, and more importantly, used to Father’s outbursts.This paragraph starts out omni (or other than Jake, because he knows immediately that it's a shoe), but uses "Father" to refer to "his father", which would indicate it's in Jake's POV.

“Shut the [bleep] up. I’m watching TV.” Effective line for its brutality. I would read on despite the mild POV confusion.

[This message has been edited by alliedfive (edited October 01, 2009).]


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extrinsic
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I've been meditating on why that opening didn't draw me in. Dropbear tagged it before I opted to share my observations. Is this a story about Jake from a narrator's point of view or Jake's story as a viewpoint character? In the former style, what works for me is when an observant narrator interprets subjectively what's going on emotionally and meaningfully. The latter, a viewpoint character's sensations and thoughts objectively depict what's unfolding as it unfolds through the character's perspective.

The tenth-grade-level diction and syntax jars me out of alignment with young Jake, though the perspective seems to be from Jake, and a narrator doesn't by default take up the tone slack that supports such elevated diction. The passage seemed to want to steady on Jake, but then almost sentence by sentence back and forth between narrator perspective and Jake perspective. I experienced a conflicted perspective that I couldn't immerse into.

I want the story's Diane's Secret to be from Jake's perspective, not about Jake through a narrator's perspective.

Diane's Secret, a mnemonic for the fiction-writing modes.
Description
Introspection
Action
Narration
Emotion
Sensation
Summarization
Exposition
Conversation (dialogue)
Recollection
Explanation
Transition

"Seven year old" is a coordinate adjective clause. Typically, coordinate adjective clauses are joined with hyphens. //Seven-year-old//.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited October 02, 2009).]


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snapper
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May I suggest you remove the first sentence and rework the rest. Give your opening a mini twist. Write it as if we are viewing a real battle between green army men and evil robots then reveal that it is childs game a paragraph or two in.
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AWSullivan
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Wow! Great stuff guys. You nailed it on the POV shift. I'm notorious for posting these things without giving them a solid read. My appologies.

Great idea Snapper! I like it and might even run with it.

~Anthony


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AWSullivan
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New Version!

quote:
Lt. Cmdr Jake Beckman ducked behind a charred humvee husk. Explosions rocked the ground beneath him. Laser fire filled the air. His battalion had the robotic invaders pinned down with their back against a bottomless chasm. Now was the time to send in their secret weapon and finish this war, once and for all. He made the call.

A shrill roar brought the battlefield to a halt. From behind a nearby hill a ten story patchwork giant lumbered with fiery red hair and flames spouting from its eyes. The enormous head swiveled as it surveyed the carnage. Finally the monstrosity located the enemy robots. With another bestial roar the behemoth charged.

Just before his secret weapon vanquished the enemy, a flying shoe knocked seven year old Jacob Beckman to the floor.


Thanks for reading.

~Anthony


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alliedfive
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The new open is superior in just about every way. Losing the father's brutality is the one downside.

One nit"

"patchwork giant lumbered with fiery red hair and flames spouting from its eyes"

Sounds like the hair is sprouting from its eyes also. Maybe just add some commas for something like this: "patchwork giant lumbered, fiery red hair whipping in the wind and flames sprouting from its eyes." You get the idea.


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AWSullivan
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Thanks A5. I like this opening much better too. You guys made it so. Good catch on the confusing line. The father's brutality comes in shortly after the opening so it still hits hard.

~Anthony


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AWSullivan
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I still think there is a weird PoV issue with the last line so I changed it to this...

quote:
Lt. Cmdr Jake Beckman ducked behind a charred humvee husk. Explosions rocked the ground beneath him. Laser fire filled the air. His battalion had the robotic invaders pinned down with their back against a bottomless chasm. Now was the time to send in their secret weapon and finish this war, once and for all. He made the call.

A shrill roar brought the battlefield to a halt. From behind a nearby hill a ten story patchwork giant lumbered, fiery red hair whipping, flames spouting from its eyes. The enormous head swiveled as it surveyed the carnage. Finally the monstrosity located the enemy robots. With another bestial roar it charged.

Just before his secret weapon vanquished the enemy, something hit Jacob hard enough to knock him to the cold tile floor.


Thanks!


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