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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » 13 lines

   
Author Topic: 13 lines
Daniel_W
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Hey there everyone [Smile] .

Just the first 13 of something I've been tinkering with - all comments welcomed.

*

Cully yelped as her hand slipped, and brushed the dusty white cap of a skull. Scrunch-eyed, she stifled a string of curses.
“I'm sorry, I'm sorry,” she whispered, and snatched back her hand, kicking herself for carelessness. Nervously, she peered down at her offending limb, turning it over in the greyish light, then breathed a grateful sigh: no welts, no pustules, no vengeful necrosis or alarming, exposed metacarpals. To catch a nasty case of “undeath” wasn't beyond the realms of possibility in the catacombs. Down here, the magic was old and crotchety.
Maybe it hadn't noticed her.
Cully peered into the darkness around her, eyes swivelling, and felt her heartbeat soften.

*

Thanks for reading!
Daniel.

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Denevius
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the first line was a bit confusing. it reads as if she yelps, *then* brushes the dusty white cap of a skull; when instead she's yelping *because* she brushed the dusty white cap of a skull by accident. not so sure of the decription "Scrunch-eyed", either. however, from the third line on, the writing gets stronger.

if you're looking for readers, and it's not too long, i'm game.

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Brendan
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Cully yelped as her hand slipped off what? I'm kinda lost at this point in how to imagine this, as there are so many ways a hand can slip, and brushed the dusty white cap of a skull. Scrunch-eyed, this phrase doesn't quite modify the following phrase - rather it perhaps could be a separate action she stifled a string of curses.
“I'm sorry, I'm sorry,” she whispered, and snatched back her hand, kicking herself for carelessness. I'm getting a little impatient, now. I don't know where I am, except that there is a skull. Who is she apologising to? Nervously, she peered down at her offending limb, turning it over in the greyish light, then breathed a grateful sigh: no welts, no pustules, no vengeful necrosis or alarming, exposed metacarpals.I like that sentence. It's creating some context and dilemma simultaneously To catch a nasty case of “undeath” wasn't beyond the realms of possibility in the catacombs. finally, something to tell me where I am. The catacombs reference should be in the first sentence, as it is pivitol to understanding the entire story Down here, the magic was old and crotchety.
Maybe it hadn't noticed her.Nice hook
Cully peered into the darkness around her, eyes swivelling, slightly ambiguous, is the darkness swivelling? also are her eyes swivelling in circles or just from side to side? This is spec fic, it could be either. and felt her heartbeat soften.

I'd read on, the hook is strong enough, but I am wary of the potential of getting confused by the information release. I just needed a bit of grounding in the opening sentence to belay that fear.

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Daniel_W
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Thanks for the comments, Denevius and Brendan. Guess it's just the first couple of lines that need tweaking, with a bit more info to set the scene? Also, thanks to Denevius for the offer to read, but I'm just looking for opinions on the opening at the moment.
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Nick T
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Daniel_W,

This has all the elements of a good start, but I think it needs to be restructured slightly.

IMO, you should give us the person, then place, then the stimulus/reaction and finally the hook/problem.

i.e. the first line should let us know the POV is Cully and let us know she's in the catacombs.

Then you need to have her stumble across the body. IMO, the reason for the confusion is that you've put the (unclear) stimulus before the reaction. It makes it much clearer if you can accurately describe from within Cully's perspective what it is she is reacting to (presumably the body), how it makes her feel from a physical perspective (i.e. describe the bodily sensations of panic) and finally describe her reaction. If we have the stimulus first, then the whole passage becomes much, much clearer.

Once you've set up the scene, then you can start giving us the initiating story problem.

Nick

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Daniel_W
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Hey Nick T, thanks for the helpful comments. From what you and others have said, looks like I've gotten a little ahead of myself, and need to spend a bit more time setting things up first.
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