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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Ghostwriter

   
Author Topic: Ghostwriter
History
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The spell was easy. That should have been the first clue.
But I wanted to be a writer.
Bubbe always said I was sensitive. I could taste the colors in birdsong and feel the the old oaks mumble to each other behind her cottage. Bubbe was a bit meshuggah, but I loved her anyway. My pre-school finger-paintings and crayon sketches she framed and hung proudly on the walls of her cottage as if they were Picasso’s or Renoir’s, though used coffee filters had more character. She kept every misspelled grade school poem in a book on her coffee table and would show every visitor what a talent was her grandson Milton. She even arranged recitals and have me come read. We had less visitors as the years passed. Bubbe’s eyesight dimmed in her final years, but she never saw me as any less brilliant. Lord, I miss her.

[This message has been edited by History (edited November 22, 2010).]


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Bent Tree
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I thought the opening three lines were great teetering on brilliant. Joining these introductory ideas to something tangible will really make this shine. It felt a bit disjointed from the body of this intro. I craved affirmation. I wanted to see the spell recited, see how it embodies the character being submerged into this story.

Overall the prose was pretty good... A little flare and logical progression will this shine.


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NoTimeToThink
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Interesting start and voice.
Only nit: "She even arranged recitals and have me come read" - should be "had me come read"
I want to know where spells come into this, and what kind of writing you mean. I would read further.

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sojoyful
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Like Bent Tree, I love the first three sentences. They definitely hook.

I don't have a problem with the ensuing paragraph not following up immediately on the opening. I know you will deliver on the hook's promise, and I think it's totally fine that you ease us into the story. That said, I think the paragraph goes on too long. It is, essentially, backstory. I want to get to the forward momentum, even if it doesn't relate (yet) to the hook. You might consider cutting from "We had less visitors..." and making "Lord, I miss her." its own paragraph for more punch.

quote:
she never saw me as any less brilliant
This line stuck out to me. It feels like either a minor violation of point of view, or hubris on the narrator's part.

In fact, the whole paragraph comes across as the narrator blowing his own horn, because at no point does he suggest modesty, shyness, or embarressment in the face of all this grandmotherly pride. (Or maybe that's what meshuggah is. I don't know what the word means, and I couldn't tell from the context, so my brain just ignored that sentence completely. Lost real estate.) I was led to wonder if he misses her because he misses all that fawning attention.

"though used coffee filters had more character." I like this.

Nit: Less is for things that can't be quantified, like brilliance. Fewer is for things that *can* be quantified, like visitors. The sentence should read, "We had fewer visitors as the years passed." NoTimeToThink already mentioned my other nit.

Overall, I would probably keep reading because the first three sentences were intriguing, but you're already losing me fast. There isn't anything particularly interesting about the memory of a doting grandmother by a narrator promoting his own brilliance. Since there's no forward motion yet (only backstory) I have nothing to latch onto after the opening sentences, which is unfortunate because the initial hook is strong.

Hope this helps!

[This message has been edited by sojoyful (edited November 23, 2010).]


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snapper
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I have a bit of a different take on your opening.

The first three sentence almost come out as encrypted to me, especially with the third added in. What would him wanting to be a writer have to do with a spell in the context of a mystery? That line alone made the protagonist sound narcistic in a small way. Could be me, but it made me pause.

The second paragraph is nothing less than genius. Especially...

quote:
My pre-school finger-paintings and crayon sketches she framed and hung proudly on the walls of her cottage as if they were Picasso’s or Renoir’s, though used coffee filters had more character.

An excellent example on expostion and characterization. That sentence, as well as the rest of the paragraph, says an awful lot about Bubble and what your protag thought of her. Fine work.

I have one small nit...

quote:
She even arranged recitals and have me come read

'had' sounds better than 'have' in my ears.

Judging by your challenge submission, and this small example, you have talent, Doc. Nice work.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited November 23, 2010).]


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History
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Thank you for your responses.

FYI:
Bubbe = Grandmother (Yiddish)

The 13 lines challenge I find has only one purpose: to set a hook (catch the readers' interest), introduce a character and conflict, and (hopefully) demonstrate the author can write somewhat intelligbly (..."somewhat", sorry for the "have/had" mix-up). >smile<

The 13 lines do not allow summation of the story. And shouldn't, I believe; but draw you on to discover it.

But as we are a Writer Support Group, here's a forschbise (appetizer):

Milton wants to be a professional writer but his talent, if he has any, has been stifled by the perpetual uncritical praise of his aged grandmother, Bubbe. Bubbe's grandmother in "the Old Country" was a Jewish Baba Yagga, and Milton inherits her moldering book of recipes, pressed plants, and spells, including one that raises the spirits of the dead. In despair following the death of Bubbe and his failure to be a published author (and deep into his cups as well), Milton inadvertantly raises the spirit of an author for help (I'm not telling you who >smile< ). And Milton finally gets published!

But then the spirit won't leave.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob


[This message has been edited by History (edited November 23, 2010).]


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WouldBe
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I like it. Even though Bubbe has passed, I assume she's important to the story as well as to the MC. If so, perhaps you can wedge in one hint about her importance to the story.

Lord, I miss her. At least I have her spells.

No doubt, the raised author is (the original) Abigail Van Buren.

Good luck.


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