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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » The Last One-sf

   
Author Topic: The Last One-sf
Matt.Simpson01
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Being the last of a species is not necessarily a bad thing. You can get away with a lot of things that you would have never been able to before, like telling everybody you ever knew what you really thought about them. Not that it would really matter, since nobody you once knew would be around to tell you what an ass you are for saying those things. I digress, but these days, I have quite a lot of time for such things.

You see, we humans had been a long lived and quite successful species compared to others. We were around for more than a million Earth years. Some like to think that the minor changes that


This is the beginning of my first completed short story. I may rewrite the first two paragraphs, but if you would like to read it anyways shoot me an email

[This message has been edited by Matt.Simpson01 (edited December 31, 2009).]


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pdh
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That is a lot of "things" in the first couple of lines. A little redundant and confusing.

Interesting premise.

pdh


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billawaboy
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This read a bit like a voice-over in a movie script (or documentary); which is not bad, but I think we (the readers) don't have the visuals that goes along with it so we get a bit lost.

We are relying entirely on the first lines to carry us to the setup of story. To make it work in writing, I think the character needs to comment on it's immediate surroundings. That way the reader simultaneously gets your mental picture of the opening as well as a 'feel' for the narrator/MC's attitude.

For an example, look at the opening lines for Hugh Laurie's The Gun Seller. I think it works because the narrator/MC comments real time - and they are very intresting humerous and unexpected - which makes it a fun read while we are waiting for opening setup. Only several paragraphs later do we get the whole opening setup from Laurie.

Right now, the opening scene isn't very compelling, but it is interesting. The 3rd and 4th lines, unfortunately, aren't very humorous (to me, at least). I think studying Laurie's opening lines will help out.

The real meat of the story begins, I think, with your second paragraph. But I get the feeling the narrator may keep getting in the way of telling the story.

I have this problem some times. I try reading it aloud to see if it sounds good. Or reading it with fresh eyes after a week.

Hope that helps.


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D2
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I don't like the I digress -- I think people normally say that when they've gone far off the trail of their conversation; in this case, the narrator hasn't hit that point yet. Without it, the paragraph flows a lot better.

I agree with billawaboy here, but I think if I had more of the second paragraph, it might get better. Unless you're building up to a specific point in your narrative, you want to get to the setting fairly quick. I can get through the first paragraph because it sets us up for the main character being the last of his species, and the second paragraph hooks me with things like compared to others and Earth years which, unless accidental, imply experience with other worlds. But the feeling fades fast.

I guess what I'm getting at is that this has potential, but as it stands, these being the only words I've read, it falls a little short. "Last man on earth" isn't enough of a hook for me to keep reading; maybe whatever's beyond minor changes that will do the trick.

I think it'd be much improved if you would take this narrative as it stands and place it inside a setting. Have it take place while the character's kicking stones around in a decrepit New York City or walking on an asteroid or something, you know?

[This message has been edited by D2 (edited January 01, 2010).]


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Matt.Simpson01
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I'm thinking about rewriting the first couple of paragraphs. Since i've gone back and read it a couple of times since i posted this, the intro is a little off from the rest of the story. I don't want to change it too much, but a little restructuring should help things out a bit.
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Matt.Simpson01
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Being the last of a species is not necessarily a bad affair, just lonely. You can get away with a lot of juvenile acts that you would have never been able to before, like telling everybody you ever knew what you really thought about them. Not that it would really matter, since nobody you once knew would be around to tell you what an ass you are for saying those things. These days, I have quite a lot of time for such things.

You see, we humans had been a long lived and quite successful species compared to others. We were around for more than a million Earth years. Some like to think that the minor changes that


here's a simple restructuring i did, hope it makes a little more sense than the first time round


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billawaboy
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You've definitely tightened it up. It reads more smoothly.

There are still a couple of very specific things that niggle at me. I'll deconstruct the lines a bit and give my thoughts...it may be a little boring:

1) Read this paraphrased version of the 1st two lines:
"Being the last of a species...you can get away with a lot...like telling everybody you ever knew what you really thought about them."
This is obviously a logical absurdity and is meant to be humourous - but I don't think it works. To me, it's not humourous precisely because it *is* an absurdity. Other readers may feel different. I just wanted you to be aware that it did cause me pause...and when a reader pays more attention to the sentence than the story, it's time to analyze why. But it might be just my quirky reading personality. I tend to analyze.

2) The real doozy - and I'll be brutally honest - is the 3rd line. It treats the reader like an idiot by explaining the obvious. The reader already knows nobody would be around when you said "last of my species."

3)"long-lived" can have two interpretations: 1) species with long lives, 2) species with long existance.

4)"Earth-years" has become a sort of cliche in Sci-fi. I don't know your story fully, so I don't know if using "Earth-years" is neccessary. If the narrator is speaking to an alien it makes sense; to humans, it doesn't. Personally I've never liked it - you know the reader is just going to think normal "years." "Earth" is redundant. But...*you* know your story, you have to decide it's necessity.

Everything else is fine. Here's the "sense" of the story I get from the First-13: I get a sense of a narrator who is young, a little sarcastic, humorous, and reflective on meaning of existence as the last of one's kind. It reads like a futuristic story of someone who recently became the last human (he did know other humans once), who uses humor to talk about painful subjects like lonliness.

This is just a rough impression I got. If you're interested in similar 'last-of-species' type of stories for reference - Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is one. I only know one tv show similar: Red Dwarf.

Hope that helps.

[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited January 02, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited January 02, 2010).]


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genevive42
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Send it through. I'll give it a read.
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stutson
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I like the concept. I'll give a read and reactions.
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