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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Untitled 8,000 word Soft Science Fiction

   
Author Topic: Untitled 8,000 word Soft Science Fiction
Crystal Stevens
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This will be my next WotF entry once it's finished. I'm somewhat concerned about the triple swear word but don't want to drop it. I think it works quite well to get the seriousness of the story across... though I could be wrong.

This is my 2nd draft, and I'd really like some readers for the whole thing. Any kind of crit will be appreciated:

****************************************************************
Frustration swamped Julie when the saddle hit Blue Smoke’s back too hard. “Sorry,” she said and snugged the girth against the krega’s belly. Damn, damn, damn. How could Toka be so... Go ahead and say it. The word’s stupid, and it’s not the first time. No, it’s just the first time it could cost Toka his life.

Degan’s words rang in her head along with the mental picture of his face inches from hers and his index finger jabbed between her breasts. “Don’t even think about trying anything when the time comes for me to take my rightful place as chief. And that means getting rid of anyone in my way.”

He might not have come right out and said it, but his meaning was clear. Toka would be chief after his father. If anything happened to Toka, Degan would take Toka’s place.
****************************************************************


Revised Version:


Frustration swamped Julie when the saddle hit Blue Smoke’s back too hard. “Sorry,” she said and snugged the cinch against the krega’s belly. Damn, damn, damn. How could Toka be so... Go ahead and say it. The word’s stupid, and it’s not the first time. No, it’s just the first time it could cost Toka his life.

She could still see Degan’s face inches from hers with his index finger poking between her breasts. “Don’t even think about trying anything when the time comes for me to take my rightful place as chief. And that means getting rid of anyone in my way.” That anyone was Toka who would be chief after his father.

Julie always tried to act Noramian when visiting the village, but not this time. Degan wanted to play hardball? Fine. She would educate him in just what that meant. Earther style.

[This message has been edited by Crystal Stevens (edited July 18, 2011).]


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pidream
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Frustration swamped Julie when the saddle hit Blue Smoke’s back too hard.
1.Right away tension, but the words swamped and hit don’t flow for me, and is it important later in the story that we know the krega’s name? Maybe shorten it to Smoke, it distracts me a little.

“Sorry,” she said and snugged the girth against the krega’s belly.
2. Girth strap or cinch would be clearer?

Damn, damn, damn.
3.Damn it all! Damn him! Damn... damn it! Maybe or maybe not?

How could Toka be so... Go ahead and say it. The word’s stupid, and it’s not the first time.
4.I would drop- Go ahead and say it. The word’s- For me it robs the sentence of the impact I think you’re trying to get across.

No, it’s just the first time it could cost Toka his life.
5. Good- I want to know more.

Degan’s words rang in her head along with the mental picture of his face inches from hers and his index finger jabbed between her breasts.
6.Wordy. I think you could take out half the words here and say the same thing just as effectively. I like how you are identifying who the threat is right away.

“Don’t even think about trying anything when the time comes for me to take my rightful place as chief. And that means getting rid of anyone in my way.”
7.Clear, direct- good.

He might not have come right out and said it, but his meaning was clear.
8.We got it he is serious- for me I would drop this line.

Toka would be chief after his father. If anything happened to Toka, Degan would take Toka’s place.
9.These two sentences could be a little clear. I think Degan is implying a coup or did I miss something.

I am interested the story and would want to read on but with a few subtle changes. Good luck and thanks for letting me have a look.


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LDWriter2
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****************************************************************
Frustration swamped Julie when the saddle hit Blue Smoke’s back too hard. “Sorry,” she said and snugged the girth against the krega’s belly. Damn, damn, damn. How could Toka be so... Go ahead and say it. The word’s stupid, and it’s not the first time. No, it’s just the first time it could cost Toka his life.

Degan’s words rang in her head along with the mental picture of his face inches from hers and his index finger jabbed between her breasts. “Don’t even think about trying anything when the time comes for me to take my rightful place as chief. And that means getting rid of anyone in my way.”

He might not have come right out and said it, but his meaning was clear. Toka would be chief after his father. If anything happened to Toka, Degan would take Toka’s place.
****************************************************************

Hmmm, I believe I recall the fist version. Can't remember enough to compare it to this one even though the basic idea was the same.

Wonder what everyone's relationship is and their ages but you don't have space to put all that in the opening so hopefully some of that will be answered soon.

Horses and chiefs, and the ride's name make me think of American Natives but a krega’s makes it sound alien in one form or another.

I'm not sure about that last sentence it almost sounds like a repeat of what she remembers Degan said. Seems like there is a shorter and better way of saying what you want there. The "Degan's words" sentence could be tightened. To me the length messes with the flow.

That's all I have; over all it's not bad and others may disagree- we shall see as you get more comments- but I think it just a needs a wee bit of tweaking.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited July 17, 2011).]


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Crystal Stevens
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Since both of you didn't like the first sentence of the 2nd paragraph, I changed it and posted a revised version in my first post in this thread.

Anymore takers for reading the whole thing?


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LDWriter2
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I think the new one is the best so far; clear, good flow and it gives two hints that we are dealing with something alien.

Two things though. I'm not sure if swamped is the right word there. I can see why you used it I don't think it quite fits the scene. See what anyone else says about it.

And something I thought of last time but didn't say. The stupid line is cliche-ish but you probably know that and in this case it could work since it gets the point across.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited July 18, 2011).]


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pidream
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Sure I would like to read it. Your revision is clearer and I like that touch you added about being an earther.
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Crystal Stevens
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Thank you everyone for your insight. It's greatly appreciated.

pidream; I'll try to send you my story soon, and thank you for the complement about the "Earther" line. It was already in this draft, but because the revision used less words, I was able to add a couple more lines to my 1st 13 that were originally on page 2 .

LD; Would you like to give my story a whirl?


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LDWriter2
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I would not mind giving it a whirl I love new rides at the fair. Or I used to anyway even though one made me so dizzy I had to sit for over fifteen minutes to recover and that was back when I was a teen.


Anyway, But only if you can wait a week or two. I'm in the middle of doing some crits for the WotF group. And there's another non-wotf story ahead of you. So if you're not in a hurry wait a week and send it. If that's too long a wait I understand.


And in case you missed it the earther comment was the second hint I referenced.


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Crystal Stevens
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Okay pidream. It's been sent.

And no problem LDWriter. I'll try to remember to send it to you sometime next week.


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Tryndakai
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Hiya, I think I can see an interesting story hiding in there somewhere, but in my opinion it's a bit bogged down by lengthy, sometimes awkward phrasing that slows me down a touch. For instance:

quote:
Frustration swamped Julie when the saddle hit Blue Smoke’s back too hard.
The "when" makes me think she's frustrated about the saddle, rather than her rough handling of the saddle being a symptom of her frustration. Also, it's a bit tell over show. You could probably get away with cutting the word "frustration" entirely, and work around it . . . Also, I would mention "Krega" first and "Blue Smoke" after, so I immediately start wondering what the creature is, rather than forming a horse in my mind first, then having to remedy the image. Leaving you with:
quote:
The saddle hit the krega's back too hard, and Julie winced. "Sorry, Blue," she said, and snugged the girth against the krega’s belly. Damn, damn, damn. How could Toka be so . . . (etc.)
And the "just say it--stupid" bit seems melodramatic. Is "stupid" such a taboo word that she has to work up the courage to even think it? Eh.

quote:
“Don’t even think about trying anything when the time comes for me to take my rightful place as chief. And that means getting rid of anyone in my way.” That anyone was Toka who would be chief after his father.
This all seems long and overly spelled out. It seems unnatural that Degan should use such lengthy, comprehensive sentences when he's angry, threatening, and speaking of something they both already know about. Not sure how well I can explain what I mean, here . . . I think writing more from Degan's actual feelings/opinions/rage, rather than a fairly cliche rundown of his plans, might ring more true . . . Sorry, not sure I can think of a better explanation than that without thoroughly rewriting your words for you, which I'll try to avoid.

I'm unclear what "Noramian" might mean in this context. Does is somehow mean "peaceful," which is why she'll not be acting that way this time, playing hardball? Is it a clan or people name? In which case, is she of that clan or does she "act" that way because, "when in Rome . . ."? Obviously not something you can explain fully in the first 13, but the ambiguity of the foreign word right there is problematic. I'd either improve the context clues a bit, or nix the word for now and get to it later, when it's not causing the wrong kind of questions. (meaning just confusing, rather than intriguing.)

And finally--"Earther style."--This bit definitely re-caught my attention. Makes me think of Air Benders and their ilk . . . And it's got attitude, which is always fun. Overall, I'd certainly read on a bit more, if only to get a glimpse of your world, which you've hinted at with strange vocabulary but not really shown me anything of, yet. You could maybe bring that forward, too, if you thought you could fit it in comfortably . . . just a hint of what a Krega looks like, maybe? Does it snort like a horse, or hiss or whine or give her a doleful stare out of three eyes when she thumps it with the saddle? Something small, yet fascinating.

Keep going, I think you're getting there.


Oh, yeah--the swear words. I'm not a swearer, myself, but your "triple swear words" didn't bother me at all. Definitely got the frustration across (which is another reason why you really don't need to tell us about it, ) and it helps bring attitude and personality to your MC right away. Keep it.

[This message has been edited by Tryndakai (edited July 23, 2011).]


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LDWriter2
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I realized I never said anything about the cuss words. To me they were minor cuss words. I was thinking you meant something along the lines of the f- word. I don't know how KD would feel about them but I have seen damn published in stories meant for YA audiences.
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Crystal Stevens
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Tryndakai;
I said frustration because Julie was hit hard by this emotion sent to her from Smoke, her krega, that serves the same purpose as a horse but something much more than that. And a Noramian is the people she is among at the moment. Right now, she's the only Earther among them... but that all comes out in the story.

I've had at least two Hatrackers tell me to change "swamped", and I'm trying to come up with something better. Just haven't gotten there yet.

Please note that this story is in the middle of a revision at the moment, but should be ready for another round of crits in another day or two if anyone is still interested in reading.

Thanks to all who have responded. Very much appreciated.


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InarticulateBabbler
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I'm reading this right now.
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Tryndakai
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Ah, so the frustration swamping her is actually the reaction from the Krega, communicated empathically or some such, then? That changes things a great deal--in that case, I'd suggest you spend another sentence or so explaining that in better detail. So it's clear that's what's going on, and to world-build a bit.

Have fun with the revisions. Much luck.


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Crystal Stevens
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I'll post my first 13 revision in time, but here's how I've re-written the first sentence:


Blue Smoke’s irritation swamped Julie when the saddle hit the krega’s back too hard.

Better?


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InarticulateBabbler
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Read, commented and set back.

Big flaw in the opening line, which isn't revealed 'til later: Smoke has a body of blue fur. With a furry body, the saddle would be cushioned a little. Also, you might want to mention that Julie is feeling Smoke's irritation through an empathic link.

Oh, and when you say: "Julie always tried to act Noramian when visiting the village..." it gave me the impression that this was a fantasy, and a fantasy village. This is an alternate planet, and she know it, so you might want to rephrase it as her trying to acclimatize or conform to this primitive, alien society.


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LDWriter2
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I missed that the frustration came from Blue Smoke. I thought she was feeling mega frustrated. But in that case it would seem like it should be irritation or something similar.

I hate to say it but swamped might be okay after all.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited July 24, 2011).]


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