Hello all. Im still practicing my craft, and decided to write short stories, not for publication though, but for the purposes of training. This is an untitled incomplete story that I just thought of today, but one that I would like to write. Thanks for reading, here is the first 13.
The Wodaabe wanted me to be beautiful, like a woman. But I'm a man, unfortunately they don't care. All they care for is that I get a wife, or many spears will be in my body. They call me Bororo as it is, the One of Taboo because of my origins. I must be beautiful, for a woman does not see a man for his inner beauty. Only Lisa does, and she has a Dancer. My feet tripped over each other, and I was not allowed to use my Charm. Not that I use it anyway, but Lisa didn't want me using it. It was cheating, but cheating could save my life! "How can you live if you cannot even Dance right? If you don't learn this in the limited time you have, you will..." She trailed of into a lecture. For hours I've been like this, and my legs were begging for rest.
Do I have you, the reader, grounded? Please...be as criticizing as you can!
Okay this is my first attempt at critiquing so bear with me!
I am a bit puzzled by the first 13 lines. The Wodaabe want him to look like a woman but he's a man but they don't care that he's a man all that matters is that he gets a wife. At first I thought that it didn't matter whether he was a man or woman as long as he gets a wife.
But he's not beautiful so how will he get a wife? Is the plot about him trying to become beautiful? Does he do that by dancing? It is not clear to me.
There seem to be a lot of things going on and I can't really get a handle on any of them. I think it would be a good idea to scale back and really focus on establishing why he needs to be beautiful and get married.
Hope that Helps
[This message has been edited by juliap211 (edited April 09, 2010).]
I agree with Juliap21. I'm not grounded as a reader because I'm not 100% clear what the inciting problem is in the 1st 13. I think the lack of focus comes from not trusting the reader. You're trying to deliver all of the information up front, but I think you can strip this opening down to its essential elements; the protagonist needs to learn how to dance or the Wodaabe will kill him. Everything else can come out in bits and pieces along the way.
It's an amibitious piece and promises to address very complex idea, and that's why it needs to starts off as clear as possible.
I'm with Julia and NickT. There is probably a healthy dose of 'too much, too soon' (i.e. our narrator/MC talks to us as if we know his world.) We have no idea if anything he says is a metaphor or something real. Typically we need the commentary of someone new (or young) to a new foreign world or culture so we can see it through their eyes as they learn about their society. Even LOTR starts off with a prologue concerning the lives and culture of Middle earth before we get into the real story.
But there is also a drastic change in style: The first 4 lines sound completely different from the last six. It might be the name Lisa is too familiar to us. Also the word 'lecture' doesn't seem to belong to a culture that uses spears. Word choice plays a heavy role here.
[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited April 10, 2010).]
Welcome, BrandonM! I agree with the others - you are trying to fit too much in all at once, and it's too confusing (it is actually a harder thing to get right in short form because your time is limited). Decide what the most important info is, and start with that. Also, you should read your work out loud so you can hear how it flows. That first sentence was hard to say in my mind, and it added to my difficulties as your reader. Interesting idea, but confusing presentation.
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Hi-- I'm new here. thought I'd give it a go.
>The Wodaabe wanted me to be beautiful, like a woman. But I'm a man, unfortunately they don't care.
I rather liked the the first two lines. Had my mind going every which way thinking of why the Wodaabe would want a man to look beautiful, and that they don't care that he's man... hmmm, he had to get wife, I'm still intriqued, then it fell apart for me. He's dancing, and there's a woman named Lisa... but I wanted to know more about this fellow's problem. I know it's a bad one, because he's about to get stuck with spears if he doesn't get hitched. So, I agree that you're trying to do too much in your opening, but I'm still intriqued on why this man has to get a wife.
I think you're trying to do too much, too quickly. I get the feeling that you have an intensely clear vision of what is happening, but it's not coming across well. Step back, look at just the words on the page as dispassionately as you can, and try and see it from a reder's perspective. The reader may well know nothing of the Wodaabe and their cultural peculiarities. The reader certainly doesn't know who the narrator is, why he is there, who Lisa is, what Charm is...
You don't have to explain everything, but you need to let some unfamiliar concepts settle in before you leap on to the next.