Just wondering if this is a decent beginning. Does it lure a person into continuing? Short story in progress. Might go to novelette size, but probably not.
Actually first 12. But the partial sentence for the next paragraph wouldn't make sense if I included it.
----- Jess was torn. It wasn't her job to babysit fools that wandered into the forest and got lost. But the day was aging fast, and if someone didn't take the guy in hand he would never make it. He had circled the same area four times since Jess first noticed him, without being aware of it. Or being aware that Jess, three deer, and a curious fox were watching him.
She stepped out of the bushes, waiting beside a bent maple in plain view. The crunching and crackling of his stumbling feet soon announced his approach. She closed her eyes in pain. Were all townsfolk deaf?
The young man emerged at the far end of the clearing and stopped cold. “Who are you?” He stared at Jess with hanging jaw.
----revised version below----------
Jess was torn. It wasn't her job to babysit fools who wandered into the forest and got lost. But the day was aging fast, and the moon would be up soon. If she didn't take him in hand he would be something's dinner within an hour of sunset. One look at the guy told her that he was a townsman. He had circled the same area four times since Jess first noticed him, without being aware of it. Or being aware that Jess, three deer, and a curious fox were watching him. She stepped out of the bushes, waiting beside a bent maple in plain view. The crunching and crackling of his stumbling feet announced his approach. She listened to the racket and closed her eyes in pain. Were all townsfolk deaf?
I wouldn't say this hook is all that hookish. Some people on here prefer that, so take it as a simple observation.
The part that would worry me is that there is little to indicate what kind of story this is.
I also think I'd lead with the last sentence first.
I would bet that some might say you need to tell us more about Jess, and I would agree, but I trust that you'll do that soon. You've created enough clues to imply that there is something special about Jess. For some, the intrigue might not be enough to want to move forward. Some might think you're withholding info. I think you're introducing someone carefully.
So I think you have more intrigue than conflict here. I see nothing wrong about that, but others' tastes might not like it.
Posts: 633 | Registered: May 2009
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Two craft aspects work most artfully in the excerpt: establishing empathy from Jess' noble, selfless act and curiosity about what will happen to Jess and the man due to it. Those two go toward building tension.
On the not working as well side, much of the excerpt is in summary recital, a common raw draft artifact.
The voice, narrative distance in particular, is fairly close though, going to the artful features. This line from being a litotes (a type of irony) closes into Jess' voice artully: "It wasn't her job to babysit fools that wandered into the forest and got lost."
Setting and character physicalilty and thus development of the scene are on the limited side. The man's physical appearance for one. The standout details are Jess' thinking of "the day aging fast" and the "bent maple" tree. Sharp, artful idiosyncracies from Jess' perspective and voice that serve partially to authenticate the narrative.
Accessibility is fair from being able to comprehend what's going on, but not ideal from few features that authenticate the narrative and a few aspects that, like limited physicality, challenge willing suspension of disbelief.
Craft is a little shy from posing only a partial, minor dramatic complication of routine interrupted. But the complication does engage and potentially bridge into a major complication.
The first sentence, "Jess was torn." tells the complication's effect in summary recital, before its cause, rather than showing what causes the complication and then showing that Jess was torn by the complication.
This line worked least for me: "She closed her eyes in pain." I comprehend what it means but I stumbled over the visual image of eyes closed inside a bolus of pain, as if pain is a tangible object. Also, that line feels like narrator voice, opening narrative distance less artfully than I think a transition setup from Jess' close thoughts to her observations of the external setting calls for. It says in other words Jess winced from frustration, which she can't possibly see or react to. It puts a stop to causation. Narrator voice pushing me out of the scene that I'd felt beforehand I was inside.
Mechanical style is first rate; however, more artful, elegant composition would vary the sentence structure and syntax more. Except two short sentences back-to-back, "She closed her eyes in pain. Were all townsfolk deaf?" the sentences are roughly identical lengths and syntax. Again, perhaps a raw draft artifact.
The story's shape starts as a routine interrupted sort. That's great, upsetting emotional equilibrium from the beginning, which is what a "hook" should do.
Posts: 2252 | Registered: Jun 2008
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I thought it was fine except for the fact that there's is a lot of cliches in it. Sometimes that can work fine but for me that last line was cliche enough to be jarring.
The basic idea isn't bad and you do get the point across. Nice word usage with the word village. It gives more of an idea of when and where. During the first few sentences I wondered if she was a ranger in a modern forest.
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For me the language is rather stilted and I think could be improved overall. I'd like to get a little more attitude from Jess, be deeper in her head. Also, I am completely lost on the, 'She closed her eyes in pain,' line.
Overall this is rather vague and if you don't give the character more attitude, or do something more distinct, it won't stand apart.
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