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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » First 13 of Aunt Tilly

   
Author Topic: First 13 of Aunt Tilly
Lloyd Tackitt
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Looking forward to your comments!

Aunt Tilly died a year ago, but she still baked biscuits every morning. It came as something of a surprise the first time she dug her way out of the grave. After the third time we gave up on her staying buried, and accepted the fact that she wasn't going to just leave the way normal corpses do. Her biscuits were not as good as they had been before her death either, but we still ate them. We didn’t know what she might do if we turned them down, and we didn't want to hurt her feelings.

There are eleven of us “boys” as Aunt Tilly used to call us before she sort of passed on. We are grown men though, and because of our hard labor in the saw mill - large healthy and strong men. We are two sets of brothers, five on one side and six on the other. Our father and uncle started the sawmill

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Denevius
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it's an interesting beginning. how long is the entire piece? if it's not too long, i'm willing to read more.
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anarresti
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Good enough to keep me reading. Since you've taken up precious 13-line space to mention the number of boys and that they are the sons of brothers, I assume that's important.
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Lloyd Tackitt
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Sorry I forgot to mention it. Total is 1,836 words. Just a quick short story. If Anyone is interested in reading the whole piece I would love to get feedback on it.

I wouldn't say the number of brothers is all that important, I just copied the first 13 lines of the story.

I will be happy to read and comment on your story in return.

Thanks!

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annepin
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I really liked the first line. By the second paragraph I wanted something of a hint of what the story is. You have so far just a description of a situation.
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axeminister
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I'm going to nitpick some things:

2nd sentence starts with "it". What does it refer to? Who was surprised? This feels like first person, but not a single "I". Good. This feels like a tale being told, as if around a camp fire. That being the case, instead of "it" could you say, "imagine our surprise" instead?

After the third time. For a short piece that has a story to tell, I'll let this slide, but really - there's a whole story in them burying her multiple times.

The fact that. EEK! I won't debate these three words - just point them out and my reaction to them. Probably nothing a non-fellow writer would notice.

wasn't going to just leave - huh? This was confusing. Leave what, where?

Drop the word "either".

We don't know what she might do. - change "might" to "would". Makes it more concrete - as if saying she would totally do something, we don't know what - and we don't want to find out.

Early flashback or backstory. Not really interested who started the sawmill. (yet)

Things I liked:

The first sentence is great.
The first time she dug her way out of the grave. - I can totally picture this.
but we still ate them. - great character.
before she sort of passed on. - I see what you did ther.

Axe

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Brendan
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One of the more important issues that editors say they look for is an interesting and consistent voice. The opening paragraph was certainly in an interesting voice - it presenting old zombie ideas by a narrator with an overdeveloped sense of politeness. Interesting - this characterisation brings a kind of freshness to the subgenre. This was the hook to me.

But the second paragraph changed voice. Gone was the interesting potential of restrictions imposed by politeness. In its place was a passive feeling voice, that just gave facts. As such, this feels in danger that it wont be true to the very thing that hooked me. Still, I'd read on a little further, which is the purpose of the first 13, even if to see whether the second paragraph is the anomaly.

[ December 27, 2011, 05:58 PM: Message edited by: Brendan ]

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Lloyd Tackitt
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Thank you, Thank you! Would anyone like to read the whole thing? It's quite short.
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LDWriter2
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I'm late to this party but I'm done with a couple of projects and already ready(Surprise!) for the critiquing to start with the next Writer's of the Future contest.

Anyway, I can crit again.

If you still need critiquers how long is the story I might read it.

And I pretty much agree with Brendan except I didn't notice the change of voice. I've seen it done this way before so it could be okay even though many times editors don't like switches like that. Notice I said many times not every time. It is an info dump but I think it fits into the story line if it doesn't go on too long.

And I'm not sure if corpses is the correct word there. Leaving, in that context, usually means the person not the body. Or it might be leaving that is the wrong word. Your first paragraph is good not only for the voice but because you get everything that needs to be said in relatively short and concise sentences. A good hook.

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Lloyd Tackitt
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LdWriter2 - Hi and Thanks! The story is a bit over 1800 words. The quickest way to read it would be on my website lloydtackitt.com - it is posted there along with several other stories.

Thank You!

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Ethereon
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You post your stories on your website, Lloyd? You're not interested in submitting them to markets?
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Lloyd Tackitt
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I do want to publish all of them some day. I have had three stories published so far.

My plan is to spend the next 7 years (I retire in 7 years) building an audience. I started writing about two years ago, and set up a website last year. I don't want to be one of those people that retire and just sit on the sofa watching TV - my second career starts then, as an author.

I am in the final stages of rewrite/edit a novel that I intend to self epublish and sell for 99 cents. When I upload that book I may upload the short stories also, but they will be free.

By the end of 7 years I hope to have a fairly decent stable of books (two per year) in self publishing and enough market presence to sell the books.

Or, that's the plan...

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Christian T. Golden
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This has a great sort of cult-horror-comedy feel to it. I could picture it as clear as a short film from Tales from the Darkside and the like. I hope you take that as a positive comment! It's great! I would even be interested in reading a collection of such stories, loosely related in the way of "Martian Chronicles."
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Ben Brooks
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I'm in love with the opening paragraph here, but I feel like a lot of that mysterious humor vanishes in what you've posted of the second. To me, the voice changes and we're getting an infodump.

I'll try to go read the full thing when I get time and see what else I can offer up.

Thanks for sharing!

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Lloyd Tackitt
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Thank you Christian!

I have plans (book no. four I think it will be) to turn that into the opening of a quest story. The protagonist will go seeking a cure for the immortality and get involved with dead vikings and their wars in the afterlife, sort of thing...

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Lloyd Tackitt
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Thank you Ben! Your right in that it does transition to an info dump - but I need that info in there for the rest of the story and I am not sure what else to do with it.

Any and all suggestions are gratefully received!

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Ethereon
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The reason I asked, Lloyd, is because posting more than a fragment of your story on a non-password-protected website constitutes first publication. (You will see this defined in the submission guidelines/contracts of pro-paying markets). This is why Hatrack only allows you to post the first 13 lines of your work. If a story is or has ever been posted online you can only sell it as a reprint. There are a lot fewer markets that accept reprints, and the pay is lower of course.

It sounds like you are mainly interested in self-publishing, in which case this is not an issue. I just thought I'd mention these things on the off chance that you weren't aware, and just in case you ever wished to pursue publication in the traditional sense (magazines, Writers of the Future, etc).

[ January 06, 2012, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: Ethereon ]

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Lloyd Tackitt
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Thank you Ethereon - I did not know that. Or at least not that clearly. But, as you say, not too much of a problem as I intend to self publish.

It looks to me that self publishing is one of those rare ground floor opportunities that come along once or twice in a life-time. It is still quite new, the rules are still being written, and it is taking off like a rocket on fire.

I have this feeling that typical publishing is in the same boat that slide-rule manufacturers were in when the first pocket calculators hit the market. For writers, this should be an extremely exciting time.

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CGreen
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Love the first line - that's a HOOK!

I might suggest moving from that line into a scene instead of narrative. Just a suggestion

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Lloyd Tackitt
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Thanks CGreen - It's a really short story so there isn't much room to move it. A longer story could be made of it though.
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