I have my next story ready to submit to the WotF. Just want someone to give the whole story a final look over. I've been working on this story for some time and have posted the first 13 before but here it is:
Blue Smoke’s irritation swamped Julie when the saddle hit the krega’s back too hard. “Sorry,” she said and snugged the cinch against his belly.
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 it’s time for me to become chief. And that means getting rid of anyone in my way.”
That “anyone” was Toka who would be chief after his father.
And her future mate, if Degan didn’t kill him first.
Julie always tried to be 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. ****************************************************************
It's around 7500 to 8000 words. And don't worry about me entering it in this quarter. I probably won't enter until October.
"Blue Smoke's irritation swamped Julie" was very hard to wrap my head around and still doesn't make much sense to me. I assume "Blue Smoke" is the name of the "krega" which is a beast that Julie is riding?
The saddle is irritating it and that fact "swamps" Julie? not sure what that means.
I now realize Degan isn't actually there, she is just remembering a situation with him, but what I first thought was "Is he sitting on the saddle also, facing Julie? Why can she "still" see him? was something happening that might cause her to not be able to see him anymore? I thought he was right in front of her face poking her chest?" This might be worded differently to make it obvious that this is a memory being played out in her head, not actually happening.
“Don’t even think about trying anything when it’s time for me to become chief. And that means getting rid of anyone in my way.” That seems like he's saying "don't even think of trying to get rid of anyone in my way."
Noramian? Earther? What is that? little too early to mention all these new terms when I don't know the definition yet.
"hardball" is a little cliche and it's in a rhetorical question which I'm not so sure is good for an intro either.
Under all this I can sense an interesting story. A girl riding a fantastical beast is visually interesting to anyone (at least all guys) but what is the significance? Having just been threatened by someone who doesn't want her to get in the way of his plan for becoming chief sets up the plot well but it might be better to write that actual scene instead of having her "remember" it.
I agree with most of what RyanRussellLunde said - and you might also want to get rid of "play hardball" because it's an American-ism. These don't sound like people who play baseball (and have women play softball, thereby making hardball the "man's sport" that you play if you're tough enough).
[This message has been edited by micmcd (edited September 28, 2011).]
It'd be nice if you read that first sentence in its entirity to get the meaning. The saddle hit Smoke's (the krega's) back to hard. Then Julie is tightening the cinch. She's saddling him up, not riding him. Why Smoke's frustration swamps Julie is to hint at an empathic link between Julie and her krega, which becomes an important part of the story.
I can see the confusion with how "She could still see..." might be misleading, but that clears up fairly well when reading the paragraph as a whole. You obviously caught it since you say so.
It's not too early to mention Earthers and Noramians at this point. The first 13 is to make the reader want to read more. When questions arise as to what an Earther or a Noramian is, the reader should want to read on to find out. You are obviously curious or you wouldn't be asking.
The term "hardball" is to clinch that Julie is from modern day Earth. I also do not connect "hardball" with playing baseball, though I understand that this is where the term came from. I associate "hardball" with being forceful or wanting to even a score. In this case, "hardball" fits Julie's persona very well.
And if you think "Earther" and "Noramian" is hard to wrap your mind around, you'd be completely confused with me juggling six characters in the first 13 lines of this story. I tried that, It didn't work, and hence how I started my story.
You are interested in the story. You have questions about what's going on. This is what the first 13 lines should do--entice the reader to read on and see what everything is about. From what you've said, I'd say I've done my job very well.
So are you interested in reading the whole thing? I need readers more than nit-pick crits. I want to make sure I haven't left some gaping hole or something unexplained that might lose the reader. Any takers before I submit this to the WotF?
[This message has been edited by Crystal Stevens (edited September 29, 2011).]
Hi Crystal--sounds like you've got a really interesting world over there. I'm with Russell in seconding the fantasy/magical beast situation, which is always a plus (and I'm a girl).
I also like how you jump right in and let us see Julie's motivation; clearly there's politics and violence looming ahead, which adds an effective sense of drama to the beginning. And I like "hardball."
However, I also want to second some of Russell's other comments; it's a lot of names, vocabulary, and ideas to figure out all at once. I'm sure you do explain these things later on, but I too find the opening (and that's what we've got to go on) confusing. I would ask many of the same questions he did, but not in a curious/enticed way so much as a "heeeeeeeeeeeeelp! I'm lost!" way. For example, I had to read the first sentence a few times to sort out whether Blue Smoke IS the krega or if that's someone else. Yes, I sort of figured it out eventually, but if I had to work that hard at just the first 13 lines, I'd be a little worried about how lost I'm going to be in the rest of it.
You might think about altering or slowing down the introduction of so many names/details--this can be done while still keeping that striking, ominous tone. Just an idea. <-- smiley so you know I'm trying to be helpful, not mean like that unicorn everybody keeps talking about.
--Let me also add I do like how the krega's pain/annoyance is echoed a moment later by Julie's own thoughts/feelings; it's a great pairing between the physical and emotional tensions. Nice.
I would definitely like to read more. Would you like to trade 1000 words or so at a time? Don't be offended when I get nit-picky because I will...extremely. I do so for my own education and end up learning much more myself than I'm sure anyone else does from my critiques. I sensed that you were a bit grumpy from your response. That was not my intention, in no way do I mean to "attack" someones writing, but the better I pick apart a story, the better I will be able to pick apart my own.
You could ask me to just give a simple review on your story and not to be so nit-picky, but I think, even if more than half of what I say is B.S., you will still gain at least a little more insight into your own writing than if I just made a simple critique. Asking for "readers" instead of "nit-pick critiques" seems like a safe way to keep from being too offended. I want readers to tear apart my story word for word. Even if I just put it all back together the same way (which never happens) I would gain some insight.
I'm sorry too, Ryan. But you must understand that this is my third attempt to write this particular story from the ground up. The first two versions bombed big time. So this story has been around the block a few times, and I'm getting anxious to get it finished.
The second version started with the dinner party where Degan lets his feelings about Julie mating with his cousin, Toka, be known. He blasts away at her like she isn't even there, and she's doing everything possible not to take a poke at him. The problem was keeping all the dinner party participants in line. Those that read that particular version said I needed to trim down the number of characters for such a short story that really involves just three players: Julie, Toka, and Degan. But I still needed to set up what was going on before plunging into the meat of the story.
I understand about you wanting to learn. You can't find a better place than Hatrack. I can't believe how much these incredible people have done to turn my own writing around. I feel like I'm finally developing a writing style that's distinctively mine, but I still have tons to learn myself.
The problem is I've gone over this story so much, I want to move on to something else. It's time to submit this puppy and be done with it. Things smooth out in the first page or two and it gets easier to understand what's going on. But it's hard to set a hook, the mood, and what kind of story your writing all in that first 13 to get the ball rolling. Trust me. It's a good story. I'm just way way ready to call it done and move on.
I completely understand. They say a story never really is finished, it is only abandoned. (I believe that goes for the quality of its composition, not just the end of the plot)
I just left a comment on your other story saying that I would only critique its plot and leave the nit-picking for this one :P But, if you send me this one I will do a full critique and divide it into two parts, one just for the plot, the other half for the composition, so you can read the plot critique that you want first and then the critique of its composition if you can live through another one. I know it's tough but every time I read a critique, no matter how many, it always helps me make the story a little better.
Guess I owe everyone an apology. A Hatracker whom I highly repect said my beginning on this story is jumbled, too. Looks like I better take another look at it. And he is going to crit it for me.
Thanks for the offer, Ryan. I'll see if I can send it your way soon.
i enjoyed the first line. quite interesting. also, i got a strong sense from the main character. if you're interested, i'll read the whole thing.
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Your first sentence might sit better if it were turned around to have the action (saddle hitting) precede the reaction (irritation) and its consequence (swamped). Swamped misled me when I first read it (thought of a boat turning over). (Overpowered, overrode, interfered with) Julie's (attention, thoughts, concentration) maybe? On the second reading, I figured it out, but that's too late.
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Thanks for the offers, but since I started this thread, I've completed the story after an excellent crit by a knowledgeable Hatracker. I started another thread about the beginning of this story where I completely rewrote it with reader responses much more positive.
It's in rest mode now and has been for about two or three weeks. I'm planning to give it one more read sometime next week and then submit it.
Thanks again for the offer to read. Maybe my next story .
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