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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » It's a Strange Universe After All (WIP)

   
Author Topic: It's a Strange Universe After All (WIP)
LlessurNire
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I've gotten bogged down in my current WIP, so I wrote a completely different starting point focused on getting to the core action of the story quickly. Looking for comments only on the first 13 at this time.

quote:

Safe aboard his escaping life pod, Morales wondered why the pirates had attacked and what he was going to do next.

His family’s trading ship, the only home he had ever known, shrunk rapidly in the view port as the pod hurtled away. The pirate attack ship was still visible, clinging to the ship’s underbelly like a gorging parasite. He hesitated. What if his mother, his sisters, his father, what if they could still be saved? No. Father had been specific in his instructions, and Morales had seen the blood, the bodies. He finished keying in the kill sequence and watched as the ship exploded in a fiery ball and sent angry flames chasing after his pod.

“Sorry, Father.” Morales said. Father’s eyes had glazed empty with death, right after he handed Morales the package.



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arriki
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Good try but --

The opening line, while exciting, doesn’t really fit – in my opinion.

Why? Everything he’s ever known is being destroyed. I think he’d be evidencing emotion right here. Hatred? Fear? Gut wrenching anxiety because he’s going to blow the two ships up? You just have him “wondering why” which isn’t even really cold, but empty.

Some stoic, hardened characters could probably achieve that state, but a young boy in this situation?
I think, cut that line and drop to the next paragraph. [Also put in some attitude from Morales in form of adjectives maybe. It's not a pirate ship but a xxxxxxx pirate ship]

His family’s trading ship[name it in full here], the only home Morales had ever known, shrunk rapidly in the view port as the cramped escape pod hurtled away. The dxmned pirate ship still clung to the (shortened name of ship)’s underbelly like a gorging parasite.

Morales hesitated. What if his mother, his sisters, his father[reading on further Father IS dead and son knows it so why wonder here if Father could be saved?], what if they could still be saved? No. He had seen their bloody bodies. With a shaking hand he keyed in the kill sequence and watched both ships explode in a fiery ball (and sent angry flames chasing after his pod. – would flames really do that in space? Besides, his pod has gone quite a distance already?)

You say - Father’s eyes had glazed empty with death, right after he handed Morales the package.

A bit dramatic for my taste. You are saying Father handed over the package and died immediately. My mind is wondering how everyone else got slaughtered, Father’s dying, and here is son Morales unscathed and able to get to the escape pod with pirates aboard? Or was the ship shot up and everyone got hurt before the pirates boarded? But then how was it shot up so there was no need for bulky spacesuits these last moments?

You don’t need a full info dump, but cook up some telling details as you spin this out to answer questions like these.

Just suggestions.

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited November 30, 2009).]


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Bent Tree
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I mostly disagree with Arriki on this one. It is fiction afteral and nothing here seemed terribly flawed. I do agree that the ship should be named and you may show one example of his anxiety perhaps (his hand trembling as he tries to key in the sequence) just to let us know he is human. But I really liked this one. It really grabbed my and I usually don't like spaceship action. I am not certain but I am preety sure that there would be no flames chasing the ship. in an explosion in vacuum I believe there would just be alot of shratnel. The hole lack of oxygen tends to ward off flame.

Good luck with this one. I think it is really good.


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adamatom
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It's too early in the story to say what Morales should have said or felt. We don't know enough about him, his past, his relationship with his father, or the package to claim he should have reacted different than the writer depicts. We'd have to read the whole story to say if the depiction of Morales is believable or consistent.

I think you picked a terrific point in the story for an intro.
Because that package sounds really important, I'd read on.


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Foste
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While this really boils down to preference, I like the opening sentences snappy and concise but nothing is wrong with it, as it is right now.

The story starts at a crucial point, action is present but the text isn't cluttered with it. For the first 13 lines I must say, I got fairly engaged with the story.

Now a bit more information on what actually happened might not be bad. No lengthy descriptions, just a bit foreshadowing maybe?

Just a friendly suggestion.


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LlessurNire
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Thanks all of you for your suggestions, really helpful! I have reworked it a little bit, trying to keep the original feel but (hopefully) fixing the flaws.

arriki - your advice is helpful, I hadn't even noticed how passive the original 'wondering why' was. I had thought I was being clever and hooky. I considered the rest of your comments and applied most of them.

I am encouraged by everyone else's comments that this is at least a good place to start. I am going to rework what I have written already, to make this my new start, I'll work in some of the backstory with little comments here and there as the action progresses, and I am going to chop up a lot of what I had previously written to make it work.

Here is revised version:

quote:

Safe aboard his escaping life pod, Morales grieved. He stared out the view port in shocked disbelief. Why had the pirates attacked, and what was he going to do now?

His family’s trading ship, Heart’s Home, shrunk rapidly as his pod hurtled away. The malevolent pirate ship still clung to the ship’s underbelly like a gorged parasite. He hesitated. What if his mother and sisters could still be saved? No. Father had been specific in his instructions, and Morales had seen the blood, the bodies. His hands shook as he keyed in the kill sequence. Instantly both ships exploded in brief flame as their oxygen supplies ignited and spewed angry shrapnel.

“Sorry, Father.” Morales said. Father’s eyes had glazed empty with death after he told Morales about the package. It


[This message has been edited by LlessurNire (edited December 01, 2009).]


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adamatom
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I think you've got it with the second version.
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arriki
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I’m still not happy with that opening paragraph.

You say “he grieved” and then you say he stared “in shocked disbelief.” The next sentence has two topics – why had the pirates attacked and what was he going to do now.

Reading down we learn exactly what he’s going to do now. So, pretending he hasn’t a clue is cheating the reader.

First, the grieving. We don’t see it. You tell us he feels that and then move on to his shocked disbelief.

Opinion here. I doubt the shocked disbelief. He’s had time to get over that. He’s not disbelieving. The pirate ship did not just suddenly appear. It takes time to approach a ship, to overtake a moving ship. Unless it came out of hyperspace right on the spot, the Heart’s Home has had an hour, a day – time to prepare. Was there no negotiation going on about let us have what we want and you’ll reach port? And, the good guys, do they always have their ship rigged to explode? It’s not something juryrigged during that anxious time between when they see the problem and the nasties make it “the only solution”? I’m kind of suspicious about mom and all siblings being killed before any of them reach the pod. That would seem to mean the pirates fired on the Home and did damage from a distance. A lucky shot. It hit the living quarters but seals fell into place preserving the area where Morales and Father were. Unless there was a window, then, how did he SEE the blood and death? Father was badly injured by that shot, too. That leaves Morales to receive the mysterious package and head for the pod.

Now why would the pirate ship fail to notice the pod leaving and not react to that? Stupidity? Even if they popped fortunately close to the Home from a hyperspace exit, wouldn’t they be scanning their prey like crazy for just such desperate actions?

This isn’t necessarily scenes you have to show, but starting out this way, you should be aware of these questions and answer them in little details.

What is he feeling as he stares out at the expletive expletive pirate ship?

Personal opinion – I doubt he’s deep into grief yet. He has hours and days ahead for that as his pod goes where ever. He’s probably scared the pirates will see the pod. He’s furious they killed his family. Maybe feeling a bit angry at his father for taking the commission to deliver the mysterious package and getting everyone killed. I bet he’s crying. Snot running down his face. He has to wipe it on his sleeve before he grabs the kill switch. Does he bare his teeth as he presses the button and shout expletives as he watches those sons of b’ bastxxxx get torn apart? Both ships explode in silence. A few seconds later he hears the pings of pieces of his home and shrapnel from the pirates hit his fragile pod. Then he really starts crying. He’ll do his wondering after he’s worked through the first paroxysm of his grief. As I said, as the pod journeys on he’ll have lots of time to ponder all sorts of stuff.

Anyway, I got a little carried away thinking about what might have happened.


[This message has been edited by arriki (edited December 01, 2009).]


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Foste
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I agree with arikki.

Disbelief and shock are reasonable emotions in such a situation.
When a person (in most cases) experiences something horrible, their mind just tries to shove everything away. It is something of a self-defense mechanism.

Grief could be well-incorporated into later parts.

Just my opinion of course, hope it helps


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g33ky monk3y
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I’m a sucker for space themed action and liked your opening. There are a few hiccups though. The line about the pirates attacking. Why did they attack? They’re pirates!

The emotional detachment at the moment is fine, because of the traumatic experience of loosing everything. Even though, it seems there should be more feeling going on.

It feels odd that he is referred to as Morales (usually a last name) in the same sentences as his family. Kind of impersonal.

The fiery explosion in space, although cool and cinematic, not very realistic. So, if you’re going for space opera ala Star Wars, explosions are fine. However, the silent action depicted in Serenity/Firefly (my favorite) is more accurate to the real world.

I’d still like to read more.


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skadder
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Safe aboard his escaping life pod, Morales grieved. He stared out the view port in shocked disbelief. Why had the pirates attacked, and what was he going to do now?

His family’s trading ship, Heart’s Home, shrunk rapidly as his pod hurtled away. The malevolent pirate ship still clung to the ship’s underbelly like a gorged parasite. He hesitated. What if his mother and sisters could still be saved? No. Father had been specific in his instructions, and Morales had seen the blood, the bodies. His hands shook as he keyed in the kill sequence. Instantly both ships exploded in brief flame as their oxygen supplies ignited and spewed angry shrapnel.

“Sorry, Father.” Morales said. Father’s eyes had glazed empty with death after he told Morales about the package. It


I think this has some fundamental flaws.

The first line feels like telling...

I would suggest putting yourself in the escape pod and imagining how you would be reacting to the situation. I don't think I would feel safe in a small escape pod after living in a big ship--I would feel exposed and vulnerable--trapped--a target; neither would I be grieving--the pirates are close by and could presumably still blow me up with well aimed shot/laser. I think my mind would be reeling with the images I'd seen and my face would be pressed against the viewport looking for any twitches in the pirate vessel that may suggest they would be targeting or coming after me.

I would hope to survive, but where would I go? I would feel guilt I survived, remembering the bodies of my parents/family. But most I guess I would be wondering if I had survived.

I guess what I am saying is I don't feel you have immersed yourself in his point of view and I think you should. It will feel more visceral if you do..


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arriki
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He's NOT safe in that pod, not if he knows he's going to blow the ships. The debris field is spherical. There is a good possibility some chunk(s) could hit his pod, damage it or even blow it up. Cause it to leak air? The danger's not past till the debris field has passed him by.
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skadder
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My WOTF story has a guy escaping an exploding ship and his escape pod IS hit by debris--so it does happen.
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adamatom
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Sorry, didn't see your note about my email address until I went back and tracked down Gold or Bonds to reissue my offer to read it. Haven't figured out how to put my email address in my profile. Assumed it was already there. moreheadalumni @ yahoo.com. I'd be glad to read this one too. I'm backlogged, so it might take me a while.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Haven't figured out how to put my email address in my profile.

Your email address is in your profile, so you don't need to put it there.

What you need to do is go to your profile and scroll to the bottom of the page. There is an option that says

quote:
Keep your email address viewable to other users when you post notes?
next to a yes "radio button" and a no "radio button."

On your profile, the no "radio button" is selected, which is why your email address isn't available with your posts.

All you need to do is select the yes "radio button."


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LlessurNire
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thanks arriki, all of your comments are helpful and I love how much you got carried away with all the possibilities, you have given me a lot to think about!

Thanks skadder, your comments are also helpful. I will work on my POV immersion, as I am striving for a deep Third person POV with this story...I was not aware you had also written an escape pod story and in no way am I trying to imitate you (although a WOTF win would be nice )

thanks Foste, g33ky monk3y, and adamatom for your comments as well.

This story is still a WIP, so nothing more is available at this time for reading, I will post when it is done, I am working like mad.


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arriki
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I was just contemplating the pod. Unless it is supposed to get a spurt of power to carry it a ways away and then drift at that constant velocity, isn't it going to be traveling so fast he isn't going to have more than maybe a minute before the Home AND the pirate ship are too small to see with the naked eye?

If he wants to see them blow, it's going to be done quickly? No time for contemplating?


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