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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Borrowed Anger - F13

   
Author Topic: Borrowed Anger - F13
Treamayne
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Here are the first 13 lines of a story I'm working on. Sean is an empath (not the Star Trek, "I sense anger, Captain" kind) that feels the emotions of people around him as if those emotions were his own. It's a character story about how he tries to learn to deal with this ability. So far I'm mostly looking for if this would hook a reader, but if you notice any glaring problems/errors, that would help too.

**Note: Mild Profanity








The fury ripped through Sean’s veins like a tsunami. Before he consciously recognized the shift, he’d already narrowed the gap with the car in front of him to a mere six inches.

How dare this bastard go the speed limit in the left lane? If he wanted to crawl to work, why doesn’t he move the hell over?

Swerving his Focus right into a gap much smaller than safety dictated, Sean sped past the offensive driver to a squeal of brakes behind him. Slowly he became aware of the surrounding drivers again.

Where did that come from? Ah, I see. Back two cars behind where I was. That guy looks murderous.


PS: Why does the editor delete the paragraph indentations?

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axeminister
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Treamayne,
I believe the text box is just a text box and recognizes keyboard commands like tab, but when posting, changes everything to HTML and thus doesn't recognize tabs or even spaces.


The 13:
I like the idea of being in someone's head. I find it fun to know what people are thinking, and even more fun to know what other people are thinking. So, my biased opinion is I would really dig this story.

For me, I found two issues of style I didn't care for.
Remember - 1. style. 2. I personally didn't care for.
Keeping those two things in mind, my opinion matters squat unless you agree.

1. too intense. We're "jumping into a chase scene." Starting a story with action can be OK, as long as we're in the character's shoes and can identify/sympathize with them immediately.
Here we have a tsunami and Sean's veins and I am like whoa, whoa, whoa, nice shootin Tex.

2. Adjective and verb heavy. There's a lot more going on with the words than the actual action and since I don't know what's going on yet I feel word weary.

That said, I think this same 13 would fit really well a page or a few pages in, once I get to know Sean and his situation. However, starting a story half way down the roller coaster gives me a bit of an unpleasant mental lurch.

Axe

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Daniel_W
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Hey there [Smile] .

I came to roughly the same conclusion as Axe, though my reasons were a bit different.

I too felt a little word-weary. 'Tsunami' stuck out awkwardly at me. It feels like an over-used word these days anyway (remember how every little wave was a 'tsunami' in the tabloids after 2004? Annoys me even today). Also, a tsunami is a giant wall of water that can't be stopped or confined, so it doesn't sound right when you channel it through Sean's veins.

I'm not sure about your use of 'dictated' (it means 'commanded', and you've used it to mean 'would allow').

As far as voice goes, the line 'How dare this bastard go the speed limit in the left lane?' caught me. It didn't feel like a 'real' thought. It's an odd mix of the polite 'how dare' and the profane 'this bastard', and you've clearly constructed it to explain what's going on. When I'm on the road, angry at somebody who's crawling along in the fast lane while I'm late for work, I don't stop to clarify the situation to myself with 'why on earth is that person driving so slowly in that lane'. I'm already angry, so my response before I overtake him, if anything, is 'bloody idiot.'

The last thing I'd say is that the shift from angry to calm needs to be made clearer. It took me a moment to catch on when I got to 'Where did that come from?' If I hadn't read your info at the top of the page, I'm not sure I would have understood what was happening.

Still, I do like the premise, and I think opening with a little flash of road rage could definitely work if handled correctly.

Hope this helps,
Daniel.

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CGreen
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I love the idea of him struggling with this ability.

But, if I hadn't known your idea then the 13 lines would have be very confusing.

I suggest starting a few moments before the anger. Let us see him as he is so when the change comes we know it's a change.

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Treamayne
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. Since the bulk of the story is about emotion and dealing with it, I wanted to start heavy, but I guess I went a bit too overboard.

I guess I never realized "tsunami" was overused (I was living in Japan in 2004 and was flying releif missions when the disaster hit Inonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Phillipines. But that was exactly the effect I was looking for (" that can't be stopped or confined") since sometimes these emotions he receives hit him like that - can't be stopped or controlled.

The interior monolog is how I think to myself in heavy traffic - I guess everyone is different.

Thanks though - I may keep parts of this, but I don't plan to open with it anymore.

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rcmann
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I really like the premise. Especially when he is able to localize the source.
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Robert Briggs
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Hi, this is my first crit here but I wanted to weigh in. To me the word tsunami was great. It explained the overwelhming surge of emotion that was felt causing him to forget about everything else around him and just react to the situation at hand. The story line was gripping with no major flaws I could see. Although I am the worst when it comes to punctuation so if there were any error's there I'm not usually going to catch them.

Hope this helps.

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Daniel_W
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Just to clarify, it wasn't the word tsunami itself that I was questioning. The idea of being overwhelmed by emotion is pretty clear. It was that the tsunami was happening inside his veins that I wasn't sure about. I don't think you can take the image of a big wave of emotion, something that defies control and overwhelms everything in its path, and then shrink it, and filter it through a network of tiny pathways inside the body. You have twice confined the unconfinable - first inside a body, and then inside a blood vessel.

Still, I seem to be alone on this one, so maybe it's just a personal preference [Smile] .

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piratequeen65
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Hey there,
I think you could start with these sentences, with just small revisions. I really like these beginnings that pull the reader right into a situation. I understand why others found tsunami awkward--it made me pause as well, and that is not what you want your reader to do-but I think you could still use it, maybe further along. Tsunami describes something very powerful/overwhelming and that is how Sean is experiencing it.
This is silly but 'Focus' threw me (I was thinking focus the verb not the car name...) maybe a Honda or something without another useage. I don't object the change in viewpoint from third to first myself but I think it might be difficult for readers in the long run. All in all though I think you have something good--don't throw it away.

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