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Author Topic: The Backpack - Fantasy - unfinished
alliedfive
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Hello, Hatrack. It's been awhile.


1st thirteen (version 1):

The skin on Zebís forehead tightened under the ruthless afternoon sun. The heavy contents of his backpack tried to wrestle him down by his sweaty shoulders as he walked.

He shouldnít be out here. It was three oíclock on a Thursday, or maybe a Friday.

Across the street, alternating stripes of a disapproving Mr. Raymond disappeared suddenly behind flashing white mini-blinds.

Zeb saluted militarily at the blind front window of Mr. Raymondís house. He didnít exactly know if Mr. Raymond was a veteran, but at his age he could have been in a war, so there was no particular reason not to salute.

To the hazy blacktop ahead, Zeb said, ďI keep my promises, dad. I always have.Ē He intentionally didnít say it to the

1st thirteen (version 2):

Zeb felt the skin on his forehead tighten under the ruthless afternoon sun. It was three oíclock on a Thursday, or maybe a Friday, and it felt like the heavy contents of his backpack were trying to wrestle him down by his sweaty shoulders. He walked on.

Across the street, alternating stripes of a disapproving Mr. Raymond disappeared suddenly behind flashing white mini-blinds.

Zeb smiled and saluted to the blind front window of Mr. Raymondís house as he passed. He didnít know if Mr. Raymond was a veteran, but he was old enough to have been in one of the wars, so there was no particular reason not to salute.

Zeb said, ďI keep my promises, dad. I always have.Ē He deliberately didnít say it to the backpack because he knew that his father wasnít in there, not really.

[This message has been edited by alliedfive (edited July 11, 2011).]


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LDWriter2
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quote:

The skin on Zebís forehead tightened under the ruthless afternoon sun. The heavy contents of his backpack tried to wrestle him down by his sweaty shoulders as he walked.

He shouldnít be out here. It was three oíclock on a Thursday, or maybe a Friday.

Across the street, alternating stripes of a disapproving Mr. Raymond disappeared suddenly behind flashing white mini-blinds.

Zeb saluted militarily at the blind front window of Mr. Raymondís house. He didnít exactly know if Mr. Raymond was a veteran, but at his age he could have been in a war, so there was no particular reason not to salute.

To the hazy blacktop ahead, Zeb said, ďI keep my promises, dad. I always have.Ē He intentionally didnít say it to the


Hmm, a different beginning... at least for around here. I think that second sentence is a bit overly complicated even though I understand why you say that way. The
"He didn't exactly know" sentence also seems a a bit too complicated or long. Probably cut out the exactly and see if you can condense the second phrase.

I think I would keep reading even if there is not immediate action. I'm curious as to why he is out there, how old he is and where he is going. Oh try to condense the "Across the street" sentence also and try "flashes of" instead if flashing


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pidream
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I am not sure the way it is written I would read on, but I am a little interested as to why Zeb is a marching down Maple Street with no hat in the summer heat carrying a pack full rocks (my guess).

Sentence one: The skin of- instead of the skin on- flows better to me.
Sentence two: Try dropping- tried to and just say- wrestled.
Sentence three: Ok- has me asking why?
Sentence four: I think youíre trying to show us that he is confused (right?), but it needs a little more convey that. I think.
Sentence five: I love the imagery here, but it lacks impact, the word choice is odd and a bit wordy. Instead of- alternating stripes- maybe- the disapproving zebra faced- drop suddenly because disappeared says it all.
Sentence six: Iím not sure why he is saluting when Mr. Raymond who has just closed his blinds, but Iíd like know why. Try replacing militarily with- sharply because a salute implies it is of a military nature.
Sentence seven: Unless thereís some importance to this later in the story I think you could drop it altogether. For me, it lessens the impact of the previous sentence. Itís also overly long and needs to be tightened up.
Sentence eight: It gets my attention and causes me to want to read on.

I hoped this helped and I wasnít overly anal- good luck.


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Tryndakai
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Hello, Allied. Welcome back, I'm sure.

I love the "alternating stripes . . . flashing white mini-blinds" line. It's such a unique yet perfectly relate-able way of presenting that image, and totally evokes Mr. Nosy Neighbor.

Overall, I like your voice. It's a bit slow and meandering, but that works for the current scene. Plus, there's enough character to it to keep me reading even without any clear "conflict" going on. I am curious to know why he shouldn't be there, and why he isn't sure of the day, and what promise he's keeping . . . so all good mini-hooks, there. Though I do kind of think the "he shouldn't be out here" question should get a more instant answer, partially because the answer could address one or two more questions/details, too. Is it still school hours, as late as 3? Is he *in* school? What grade/how old? Stuff like that, slipped right in there.

Much luck with your story.


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tchernabyelo
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I think it's a positive opening but I would be a touch concerned about the qualifications that go on - first you tell us, after the saulte, that he doesn't actually know if the guy is a vet; then you start to clarify that Zeb isn't talking TO the blacktop. I'm not sure these diversions are necessary - they can work fine in first person where they display character, but in third person they come across more as the author trying to assure us about things that may not actually be important.

The hook is mild, but the fact that the MC does not seem to be entirely sure what day it is touches a note of intrigue, and I'd read on for a while at least.


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InarticulateBabbler
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Does he have his father bunched up in his backpack?

If so, I'm in. He's a nutball, and everything else is his world. If not, I still want to know what is wrestling him from his backpack. THIS to me, is what's interesting. AND the fact he doesn't know what day it is.

Everything else: meh.

I cannot get a bearing on his age or the time period (though I know it is at least the forties), time of year whether this is a rural, suburban or metropolitan setting.

The first sentence stopped me as I wondered whose PoV we were in. He can't see his forehead tightening, or were you telling us he felt it tighten?

Hope this helps. And...welcome back. I haven't been here in a while, either.


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alliedfive
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Thanks, everyone. Great comments. I posted an updated version, that I think flows better. Your thoughts?
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Tryndakai
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Ooh, with this new version allowing that one extra sentence, I am infinitely more intrigued by what could possibly be going on. His father isn't *really* in the backpack? What an odd thing to say. So either something magical is happening, or kid's bringing his dad's urn home in his backpack. Chills. Or something else. I'm quite curious.

Also, ditching the line about what day does nullify that problem, which I think was a good choice, for the time being.

I do prefer "the skin tightened" over "he felt the skin tighten," though--it may be just a personal preference, but I think the second version draws just a bit too much attention to that minor, scene-setting detail, and has me imagining exactly what the sensation might feel like, rather than getting on with the story. Dunno.

But yeah, fun stuff.


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