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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » SF short story

   
Author Topic: SF short story
Crank
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As always, any comments are welcome. Thanx in advance!

S!
S!

--------------------------

Stranded remains of alien combat vessels dangled in the blackness. Extinguished of life nearly fifty years ago. The Trorgan Space Military made sure of it.
And yet Command Lord Teln Rarka saw something within that ship graveyard move towards her.
An anxious huff escaped her muzzle. She rapidly wiped away the moisture from her office window with the wiry brown hair of her forearm, and peered intently back into the debris.
Nothing. She took a clumsy step back. This site was unsettling her more than she imagined it would.
Even though she didn't understand why. Her people always celebrated this region. The TSM clinched its first win in a string of decisive victories against the Syrrytnyns and the former


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Brendan
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After the first paragraph I really wanted to read more. The style and information promised a potential action oriented thriller-mystery. By the end, however, I thought that it had become a bit too infodumpy, and had some inconsistencies that needed fixing. Here's the detail.

quote:

Stranded remains of alien combat vessels dangled in the blackness. Extinguished of life nearly fifty years ago. The Trorgan Space Military made sure of it.

Good opening paragraph. It sets the scene well, and it did make me think that it was in space. I like the short sentences, it says that this story promises action.

And yet Command Lord Teln Rarka saw something within that ship graveyard move towards her. Hmm. Firstly, using a double-word rank and then their full name sent out warning signs - "telescoping some information here". You'd get away with a single word for both (perhaps). See what the others think on this. Secondly, something unknown moving towards him needs immediate attention. What follows is a bit too distant and scene setting, losing a sense of action.

An anxious huff escaped her muzzle. She rapidly wiped away the moisture from her office window with the wiry brown hair of her forearm, and peered intently back into the debris. She wouldn't notice the hair was brown or wiry in those circumstances, so clearly this is a distant POV. That seems a waste of potential tension (an omni POV would know what was moving, so that tends to reduce the tension or make the reader feel details are being left out). Also, office window? Suddenly I don't really know where she is.

Nothing. Implied near POV. This is a shift. She took a clumsy step back. Wait a minute, isn't she in space? Wouldn't she be floating? How can she step then? This site was unsettling her more than she imagined it would. Assessment (unless it is her own) is a distant POV, so this sentence may be a POV shift. Definitely by the next sentence it has shifted.
Even though she didn't understand why. Her people always celebrated this region. The TSM clinched its first win in a string of decisive victories against the Syrrytnyns and the former Backstory. Fine, of itself, but backstory is a risk in the first thirteen.


[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited August 27, 2010).]


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NoTimeToThink
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I think the phrasing is bothering me. Everything feels clipped. Short sentences. Like a telegram. Would prefer it to flow. Commas instead of periods.
Otherwise, I like the picture you're painting. The gradually emerging description of the Trorgans (huff, muzzle, wiry brown hair of her forearm) is intriguing.

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Osiris
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I agree regarding the prose, it feels a bit stilted. Derelict spaceships are always a draw for me,though.

My only concern, and this is just a personal preference, is the description of the alien MC reminds me of a dog, owing to the use of words like muzzle and huff. I guess its okay if intended, but I always try to describe my aliens in terms that aren't associated with other creatures as much as possible so they don't feel like a transplant from an Earthly organism.

[This message has been edited by Osiris (edited August 27, 2010).]


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genevive42
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I agree that it feels very choppy. The description could be more interesting as well, but you do give a succinct picture.

Also, There's only a hint of the story here, a 'something's not right'. Why is it unsettling her?

Also, is the character an anthropomorphic dog, or other critter? The muzzle and wiry brown hair leads me there.

The names are tough on pronunciation, though not impossible. It might be a stumbling block.

It's a decent start but I think it could be stronger.


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thomaskcarpenter
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The 13 lines has some promise, but I would agree with the others. Choppy and I can't quite tell what's going on.

And also like the others "muzzle" and "short brown hair" throws me as to the race of the protag. Might consider in the sentence:

"Her people always celebrated this region" to actually tell us who "her people" are.

Good luck.


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babooher
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I saw a couple things I'd work on.

#1. CL Teln isn't doing anything but observing. Yeah, she wipes the window, but honestly this is pretty low action. I'm not saying you have to be in the middle battle with a giant space mushroom, but it is nice if Teln is doing...something. Maybe she's taking a break from doing a holo-recording offering condolences to the progenitors of Corporal Serf Resol who died in a freak chili accident. Maybe she has just discovered that the last of the pork tartar is gone and she can't get anymore until they dock at Port Infodump. Whatever it is, have your POV doing something.

#2. Stranded remains of alien combat vessels doesn't seem that descriptive. It's generic. I don't know what the vessels look like. I don't know what makes them alien. I don't even know if they're wrecks or just adrift.

#3. "Extinguished of life nearly fifty years ago. The Trorgan Space Military made sure of it." These two sentences have several issues. The first is a fragment and it is missing the subject. The creates a problem because I don't know if you mean this region of space has had all life extinguished or if you mean all the ships are devoid of life. The second sentence implies that the TSM make sure the area stays dead (which I thought space did reasonably well on its own).

#4 There is a shift in POV as you introduce CL Teln. I like starting off with a OmniPOV and then bringing in the focus to a limited POV (like using a wide angle shot before zomming in), but I think the transition should be smoother.

#5 I tend to abhor backstory. On this, you might want to get some sodium pills (because a grain of salt might not be enough), but I try not to explain much of anything related to backstory. If I have a limited POV and the main pov character knows what a Gnarlknack is, I don't go into the general history or cultural differences. If those things matter, I should be able to show without an infodump (if at all possible).


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Apemantus
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Nice work, I would say. I felt tension (which is a good thing). If I didn't continue reading, it would be because I tend not to read many of these kinds of stories, not because of the writing.
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PB&Jenny
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I like your concept, Crank. I must agree with previous points that your story is missing a bit of action.
I would like to see a 'clincher' for the opening. The 'hook'. Most of the backstory can be filled in at later points if need be, but the first 13 should keep the reader from punching the remote for another channel. Wait, that's the wrong metaphor but you know what I mean.

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satate
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I liked it until the last few senteces, and the amount of sentence fragments was distracting. I never mind a few to add emphasis but I saw three in just a quick look. I liked the tension in the opening lines.
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Crank
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Thanx to everyone who has contributed their time and effort for the benefit of my story. I'll sit down in depth with these crits later this week, but I would like to mention ahead of time two recurring observations:

For those who commented that my 'backstory' content was introduced a bit too early...I agree. Originally, it was intentionally not apart of the first 13. Except, just before I posted, I took out an entire paragraph of unnecessary babble, which moved Teln's thoughts about her military's past battle into first 13 territory. I do plan to bump her thoughts back out of the first 13; how will be the challenge.

In describing Teln's species, I agree that the use of the word 'muzzle' can lead a reader into picturing a bipedal dog...which is unfortunate because that's not really what Trorgans look like in my mind. A change of description won't be all that hard, and, at one point, I thought about the word 'snout,' but that could be interpreted by some people to mean nothing more than a human's nose. Rest assured, I will be giving this description some deeper thought; I use the Trorgan species quite often in my 'world.'

Thanx again!

S!
S!


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