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Author Topic: Valley of suffocation
SolomonSpecies
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I was eight the first time I left Earth. My family seemed relaxed during this process. This is how I knew something was wrong, but what, I could not place at the time. My dad was surrounded with an unnatural calmness as he gazed out of the window with a glass of water in hand instead of his ritual ingestion of vanilla coffee. My mom was asking me to get ready to leave in a soft, almost angelic voice, rather than rushing and bossing me around. Bastien, my 11 month old brother, was still asleep. He was the only normal one, and that was due to his adolescent slumber through the entire episode. Even I was out of whack. Usually, I insist on pursuing my parents with questions that have no real purpose, like ‘when will we fly past the sun,’ but little did I know of how soon that would take place.

This is a rough draft to an idea I wanted to write about. I haven't been working on it long at all and any criticism would be super!
Thanks
Stevie


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DerekBalsam
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Hi Solomon/Stevie,

Your first sentence is great, in my opinion. Solidly establishes the speculative element, tells us something about the narrator, establishes the narrator as the POV character and main character (I hope!), and raises questions (Why did you leave Earth? Why so young? Why multiple times?). Nice.

The rest is good. I would remove things like "seemed to be" relaxed in favor of "was" relaxed. I even think you could lose the whole sentence "This is how I knew something was wrong, but what, I could not place at the time" and instead of telling, showing the audience in what way you knew something was wrong. Instead of telling us what your character usually does, show us what he's doing different this time. But the descriptions of what your family were doing was good.

"Little did I know" is somewhat of a cliche in my mind.

Finally, I don't think 11-month-olds are adolescent, as such. Infantile maybe?

Great start
-db


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LDWriter2
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quote:

I was eight the first time I left Earth. My family seemed relaxed during this process. This is how I knew something was wrong, but what, I could not place at the time. My dad was surrounded with an unnatural calmness as he gazed out of the window with a glass of water in hand instead of his ritual ingestion of vanilla coffee. My mom was asking me to get ready to leave in a soft, almost angelic voice, rather than rushing and bossing me around. Bastien, my 11 month old brother, was still asleep. He was the only normal one, and that was due to his adolescent slumber through the entire episode. Even I was out of whack. Usually, I insist on pursuing my parents with questions that have no real purpose, like ‘when will we fly past the sun,’ but little did I know of how soon that would take place.

I think most of what of what I would say has been stated already. I would shorten the tow sentences about his dad and mother. Usually shorter is better. And I've been told by more than one pro writer that most new writers use too many words. Evidently I still do.

That's better much all I have.


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SolomonSpecies
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ThanksThanksThanks! I have been told many times that shorter is better. For some reason I tend to forget when writing. Now lets see if I can bring it into action
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Osiris
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Hello Stevie,

Not bad, its a rough draft so it needs some tightening up, but with refinement it will be good.

quote:
I was eight the first time I left Earth.

I think if you can establish place, time, action and character in a first line, it works well. Here you touch upon all four in some way, if tangentially. It works.

quote:
My family seemed relaxed during this process. This is how I knew something was wrong, but what, I could not place at the time.

I think you can write this part more efficiently. Also, it is telling not showing, so it sort of deflates the first line. In fact, after reading the next line, this one should be cut completely.

quote:

My dad was surrounded with an unnatural calmness as he gazed out of the window with a glass of water in hand instead of his ritual ingestion of vanilla coffee.

This does better what your second sentence did not do very well. Basically all you would have to do now is add the part about the narrator feeling something was amiss.


quote:
Bastien, my 11 month old brother, was still asleep. He was the only normal one, and that was due to his adolescent slumber through the entire episode.

This also communicates the unhurriedness by showing, which is good.


I'd also rephrase 'out of whack', it doesn't fit with the voice. And don't use 'little did I know', its cliche.


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SolomonSpecies
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I have revised this draft with a lot of the changes mentioned. The new edition seems much better. If any interested let me know. I didn't think of how helpful this site would actually be, but after using it for only one day I can see its advantages.
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LDWriter2
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quote:
\I have been told many times that shorter is better. For some reason I tend to forget when writing. Now lets see if I can bring it into action


That's easy to do, we all have done it, in one form or another.


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MrsBrown
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quote:
I have revised this draft with a lot of the changes mentioned. The new edition seems much better. If any interested let me know.

I would like to see your revision. Just post it here, by editing your first entry and making them Version 1 and Version 2. You're more likely to get additional feedback by tossing it up here, rather than asking if anyone wants it emailed. (Sorry, I can't do more than 1st 13.)

I'll add: ingestion threw me a bit. Wouldn't mug or cup do?

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited September 28, 2010).]


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SolomonSpecies
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I was eight the first time I left Earth, let alone the few times I left New Orleans. It was mid October, cold and wet, nearly raining every day alongside ferocious winds-The year was-2043, and I remembered waking up with two chartreuse hummingbirds floating outside my window in a hurried manor. I rubbed my eyes awake and saw the birds twirl upward in midair several times then fly away. Curiosity caught me. I walked over to the dewy window facing the sun like a melted smile, and smeared the damp droplets off with my right hand in a downward counter clockwise motion. What struck me next was the sunrise. The off hue I noticed in the light that morning. No illuminating smile, just an estranged vermilion-rustic sunrise that layered the horizon with a thin dust fog that enveloped

SS

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited September 30, 2010).]


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PB&Jenny
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You've got me scratching my head on this one. You write that it's mid October, raining, with ferocious winds. Okay, but then you have hummingbirds flying outside your window? I'm pretty sure those tiny things would not be out in that month (unless you're in a tropical zone) or in that weather. No hummingbird flies in high winds much less ferocious winds. They're cute and all, but tone down the weather if you want to use them in the story. Or put in that this day was calm and quiet. Then I could believe the hummingbirds would be there.
Great visual of them, though. I hope you keep them in.

Okay, does it matter that your MC wipes the window with his right hand in a downward counter clockwise motion? IMO just saying he wiped down the window would be just fine.

You have good descriptive powers but a little wordy here and there. This is all just my opinion so take what makes sense to you and leave the rest.

Good luck with it.


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Reddog
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Hi Stevie
I thought you had made a pretty good start the first time around and then somehow got detoured by wanting to make your writing more descriptive and detailed. Would it be helpful to just go back to the first draft of your first lines? The first sentence was great and made me want to read more. I thought the family setting was very interesting--would like to know more about those relationships. [a little quibble--if the baby brother is 11 months old, he wouldn't be having an adolescent slumber yet, maybe an infantile one.]

Maybe you should establish the when and where right away. At first I thought it was taking place on the space vehicle. Was it at home, the morning of? Is the character going with his family or alone? How old is he?

I hope you keep working on this. I'd like to find out what happens and where he/they are going.

Red


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Antisuji
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I completely agree with Reddog on the first vs. second revisions: I thought the opening sentence in the first draft was just right, and I wanted to hear more about how the family members interact, especially with the implied contrast you set up between their normal behavior and how they act on this particular day. The second revision just lost me.

I think the term "adolescent" is ok here. True, 11 is perhaps a little on the young side to be called adolescent (though it fits some definitions), but "infantile" has all the wrong connotations. Perhaps "preadolescent" would fit?

Edited to add: and of course I completely misread 11 months as 11 years. Silly me.

[This message has been edited by Antisuji (edited October 02, 2010).]


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pdblake
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Looking at the first post here:

I like this. It gives a good sense of setting and character straight away.

The only criticism I can give is that I would like to see know why they are leaving in such a hurry, though I suspect that might be just be few lines further down

The second post has lost character and conflict and seems more of a descriptive info dump. Personally I thought you were doing alright the first time around.

[This message has been edited by pdblake (edited October 02, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by pdblake (edited October 02, 2010).]


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SolomonSpecies
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I was eight the first time I left Earth, let alone the few times I left New Orleans. The year was 2039; my family was relaxed during this event. My parents were gazing through the kitchen window, almost motionless. Dad was surrounded with an unnatural calmness as he stood there with a glass of ice water in his hand instead of his ritual mug of vanilla coffee. He only drinks water in the morning when he’s nervous. Mom was quiet, just looking. Bastien, my 11 month old brother, was still asleep. He was the only normal one, and that was due to his infantile slumber throughout the morning. Even I felt out of place; more so when I looked out of my window and saw the sunrise. The vermillion sun deviled its way across the sky and layered the horizon with a bloody grin, heavy and hateful.


Another revision- took comments into consideration and tried steering back to original version. Still feel like something's missing...hmmm? Maybe a transition? =) [Thanks to all]

SS


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LDWriter2
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quote:

I was eight the first time I left Earth, let alone the few times I left New Orleans. The year was 2039; my family was relaxed during this event. My parents were gazing through the kitchen window, almost motionless. Dad was surrounded with an unnatural calmness as he stood there with a glass of ice water in his hand instead of his ritual mug of vanilla coffee. He only drinks water in the morning when he’s nervous. Mom was quiet, just looking. Bastien, my 11 month old brother, was still asleep. He was the only normal one, and that was due to his infantile slumber throughout the morning. Even I felt out of place; more so when I looked out of my window and saw the sunrise. The vermillion sun deviled its way across the sky and layered the horizon with a bloody grin, heavy and hateful.

Another revision- took comments into consideration and tried steering back to original version. Still feel like something's missing...hmmm? Maybe a transition? =) [Thanks to all]



Not bad, but I think you have included things that may not be needed in the opening. Like the family being relaxed line. It doesn't seem to fit just by itself. And I think you can condense some of those lines; about what the father is drinking and the brother.

And it could be just me but I was surprised that they were already on the other planet. I got the impression that the story was about them leaving. Or I assume that all of the description of the sun showed it was an alien sun. With just 13 lines I could be wrong about that.

Over all it gets the point across as well as the emotions of the family but a little tweaking would make it better.



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PB&Jenny
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I wasn't too sure about this line. The word 'event' seemed too tame.
quote:
The year was 2039; my family was relaxed during this event.

I'm thinking you can put more emphasis on this by changing it to something like, 'exodus'.
quote:
The year was 2039; my family was relaxed during this exodus.

Just my two cents.

[This message has been edited by PB&Jenny (edited October 06, 2010).]


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SolomonSpecies
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Wow- PB&Jenny, I didn't like 'event' 'process' either, I've changed that word twice, but 'exodus' seems perfect! Thanks

LDWriter2- It was actually a journey off Earth, but I can see how ambiguous it seems to read. Story tweeking I must do!

SS


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