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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » ok, how's the bait on this one? - revised

   
Author Topic: ok, how's the bait on this one? - revised
rcmann
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This one has the monster as protagonist, but I am trying to reveal who/what he is in increments.

OK, Babooher, here's the original. Posted at the bottom.

----------------

Night smothered the barred faces of the buildings. Greasy pavement offered smeared ghosts of the few street lamps. The sky was an empty dome, bereft of moon or star.

A moving incarnation of the darkness crept forward, as silent as any other shadow. He stood in the mouth of a garbage-filled alley and tasted the poisoned wind, pausing occasionally to gag. Nostrils flared as he turned his head back and forth, finally stopping to face northeast.

Trash cans rattled. He spun and growled. A raccoon stared, paralyzed. Then the small creature dove under a rusty dumpster and scrambled for its life. The hunter watched for a few breaths before turning back to his work. He slipped painfully around the corner, limping unheard and unseen along the sidewalk.

--------------

He had followed the car's track until his footpads were sore, lashed by hatred and grief. Finally the trail merged into the tangle of this place and dissipated. He stood in the alley mouth and tasted the night. Metal, grease, and smoke rasped his throat but he forced himself to ignore it.

He drew in the deeper scents, opening his mouth to gag frequently. Fumes from trash cans behind him. Oily foulness in the street and other alleys. Death. A cat lay smashed on the road. Blood. A bird in the gutter. None of this interested him.

A rattle. He spun and growled. A raccoon froze. Then the small creature dove under the nearest dumpster and scrambled for its life. He licked his teeth thoughtfully. He was not hungry yet. Perhaps tomorrow.

[ May 24, 2012, 12:07 PM: Message edited by: rcmann ]

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genevive42
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The idea is interesting, but again, I feel the language is stilted. The opening description especially so.

Also, you have 'A moving incarnation of the darkness', and you have him/it gag. That doesn't seem like a natural reaction for a being that dwells in the dark. However, that may depend on what 'darkness' you're referring to, be it sensory or metaphorical.

Then you bring in the hunter and I'm not sure if this is a separate character or if the 'incarnation of darkness' is the hunter, or if he's hunting the creature or something else.

Personally, I usually prefer a tighter pov. This narrative style is rather distant and bounces around and it's hard to follow what's going on. If I had to say anything, I think you need to slow down and give the scene more detail and weight.

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rcmann
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Thanks. Too sparse then?
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genevive42
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You could say too sparse, but that's not really pinpointing it. If the monster is your protag, you can lead with that instead of the random scenery descriptions. Show the scene through the monster's eyes, from his pov. Does the trash that would smell bad to humans seem like perfume to him? Does he see the raccoon as a snack or a nighttime friend? And try to get a sense of his purpose, or at least that he has one.

And I'd recommend trying to get your prose to flow a little more. The first three sentences are like a checklist of having to describe the scene.

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rcmann
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*sigh*

What you are describing is the way I originally wrote it, more or less. It got kicked back saying I couldn't hold the editor's attention.

Screw it. I will put it back to its original form and toss it on the "to be self published later" pile.

Thanks.

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babooher
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rcmann, has only 1 editor seen the original? If so, you might want to shop it around before putting it away. My first tiny sale was a story that Editor A had rejected because she thought it would have been better off written in 3rd person instead of 1st. I later sold two other stories to Editor A, so I can't claim that she had no taste or wouldn't know a good story if Shakespeare rose from the dead and submitted one.

I can't say I was too intrigued on your current version. To me, everything is too hazy and nondescript. genevive42's advice looks sound, and you're saying that you initially had something like that. So your first attempt might have been the right one, but you had the wrong editor. Could you post the first 13 from that one on here?

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genevive42
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In the revision, first sentence, what was 'lashed by hatred and grief'? I don't know what you're referring to. The rest is just the description of an alley. There's no sense of story here.

You've given the pov character footpads and a strong sense of smell. Obvious set-up is werewolf. If this is the case, fine, if not, consider the problems of leading someone down the wrong path because sometimes once a reader gets a picture in their head it's hard to get it out.

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babooher
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Sorry, rcmann, I didn't realize the thread had been updated until I saw genevive42 post (I was only looking at the thread list and not actually click into the thread).

I think hiding who the main character is tends to be a bad strategy. As a reader, I don't have anyone to cling to. The only character's appearance, motivation, personality is obscured behind details that even the protagonist doesn't care about and the details aren't really adding much to the setting. Out of all of the juicy morsels you've posted recently, this one just seems to be the weakest, and I think it's because the protagonist is being too coy.

Of the two, I prefer the newer version (older post at the top). It has a better atmosphere. I'm not one to insist on conflict in the first 13, but I don't think it is bad to have either. Intrigue works just as well, but having to wonder where, when, and what I'm reading is overdoing it.

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Notwald
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I like what you call "the original" (though posted here second) version much better. In the first one you posted, the descriptions felt a little forced.

The problem with the second one, as others have noted, is that I don't feel much of a story yet to draw me in. The only hint is that he has been following a car. I need something to make me ask more questions.

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