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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Untitled Science Fiction; Approx. 4500 Words

   
Author Topic: Untitled Science Fiction; Approx. 4500 Words
Crystal Stevens
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This is another Toka & Julie story about how they met each other for the first time. The one thing I'm concerned about in the first 13 is there might be some confusion on who (what) Splendor is. Does it come across clear enough or not at all? If the latter, I'm open for suggestions.

The ending of this story is bugging me too. It just doesn't sound right. I know I can't post the ending here, but once I have this story ready for readers, I'm sure I could use some help with that too.

This is just a rough to first draft, but here's the first 13. Feel free to crit any part of it you wish:

*****************************************************************

The dela herd arrived just after sunrise, attracted to the sweet grass that grew thick in the forest clearing. Toka studied the area. Nothing could be seen of the other warriors and their kregas hidden in loosened bushes and all lying on their bellies just like Toka with Splendor.

They waited downwind from the small deer-like delas and hoped the herd’s sentry wouldn’t detect them. Otherwise the whole herd would be gone in an eyewink, along with the warriors’ objective.

Toka checked a bush farther down the trail that led to the clearing. An open hand appeared for maybe a second. Toka searched but saw no sign of the hunting party Cheemo’s signal said was coming. Splendor’s saddle creaked, and Toka curbed his

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Okay, let's see what you think of this version:

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The dela herd arrived at sunrise, attracted to the sweet grass that grew thick in the forest clearing. Perfect bait to trap a prince.

Toka lay hidden beside Splendor in loosened brush just like the other warriors with their kregas and hoped their vigilance would end soon. One wrong move and the herd would bolt, along with the warriors’ objective.

Toka checked a bush farther down the trail that led to the clearing. An open hand appeared for maybe a second, but Toka saw no sign of the hunting party Cheemo’s signal said was coming. Splendor picked up on Toka’s anticipation and moved enough to creak the saddle. The herd sentry’s head swung about and then relaxed. Toka relaxed too and stroked Splendor’s lean muscular
*****************************************************************

[ May 30, 2012, 11:05 AM: Message edited by: Crystal Stevens ]

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axeminister
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Hi Crystal,
This is familiar to me. I think I've seen it before. [Smile]

If Splendor isn't the name of Toka's horse, then no, I don't know what it is.

Your sentence introducing the dela herd is great. I imagine gazelles.

Toka studied the area. Nothing could be seen...
Any way to combine these into one sentence but give me how Toka feels about it? Assuming he's the head honcho. Unless he feels irrelevant, of course. "Toka noted with satisfaction..."

The next paragraph you state information twice. (just like I did in my opening paragraph on this post.)
You might raise the tension if Toka observes (or lack of observes) the other warriors with apprehension. Then when you say they waited downwind, which I understand, and hoped the sentry wouldn't hear, which I also understand, I'd totally know WHY they're hiding, and you don't need to say the herd would be gone, etc.
i.e. give me the warrior's objective, if not a simple hunt for food.

Last paragraph is the start of the action, so that's cool.

Hope this helps.

Axe

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Notwald
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I like it and I would read more.

I agree that the sentence with Splendor is somewhat confusing--I might eliminate the mention of Splendor here and bring it in later. It distracted me (though that might be because you mentioned it as problematic in your intro...)

I'm not sure I need the description "small deer-like" for the delas yet. It kind of breaks up the sentence, feels a little awkward. And I agree with Axeminister that it is already clear why they don't want to be detected.

But, as I said, you've painted a clear picture and created some questions in my mind. I would keep reading (and would be happy to read more, if you are looking for readers.)

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Crystal Stevens
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It would seem that I need to rewrite my opening. You see, the dela herd is just bait to trap bigger "prey". That's why I mentioned the arrival of a hunting party at the end of the first 13. The warriors are not after the dela herd.

Axe; I think you're right. It's been so long since I posted this before that I'd forgotten I did. A lot's happened in my life since I made that first post on this story.

Anyway, I'll see what I can do to bring out the warrior's true objective in the first 13, so my readers understand they are not hunting delas... though this does all come out right after the first 13.

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babooher
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The reference to a hunting party confused me because I had thought they were hunting. I had been trying to figure out if they were hunting in enemy territory, the king's lands, or something else entirely. So, as you mentioned, if the dela herd isn't the objective then clarification of what the objective is would be useful.

Perhaps simply moving the story up a few minutes would reveal what the objective is more clearly. You could create more tension by putting us closer to the moment when we find out if the hunting party is or is not going to take the bait.

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Crystal Stevens
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Okay, I've added a different version to my original post and the beginning of this thread. See what you think.
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babooher
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I like the second offering better, but you've lost the description of what a dela is and I think you've made what Splendor is even more confusing.

Couldn't this be fixed by adding "deer-like" before the first mention of "dela" and then saying that "Toka lay hidden next to his krega Splendor..."?

Other than that, I think you've established a new place and a conflict. I don't think you've established this as sci-fi as of yet (as so far this reads just as much or more as fantasy) but you're at least in the right neighborhood.

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extrinsic
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First sentence could be Toka's perception. I think it's the strongest sentence because it portrays a visual sensation that's causal, though it's a summary recital. Showing what the dela look like from Toka's perspective, what they mean to him, would strengthen the opening. Are the dela graceful, brown, lithe, social animals? Do they cluster? Are they alert and skittish? Do they smell?

Does Toka's strongest memory association of dela recollect a meal of dela haunch? Does his mouth water at the sight of them? The main causal sensations are sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Touch isn't necessarily hands on in the moment, it's the tactile sensation, say of seeing long hair, short fur, smooth or coarse skin or gritty dust the dela might bathe in to control insects. What size are the individuals and the herd?

The setting is also portrayed somewhat abruptly. Sweet grass in a forest clearing. The passage does patently represent an ambush scene. Maybe describing the size of the herd would show the size of the clearing. These are all talking points, not that they all need to be covered or covered right away, just giving a stronger sense of the setting establishes its physicality for readers' imaginations to fill in the gaps.

Second sentence seems to come from nowhere or narrator. If given after Toka is introduced it would seem to come from his thoughts. Being an exclamation sentence it is ideal for closing into Toka's thoughts. The sentence does artfully relate a strong want, half of a dramatic complication. The other half would be the opposition, thus a dramatic complication, preventing achieving the want. Opposition doesn't need to be given immediately, but soon so that the outcome of the ambush remains in doubt until it's final.

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Corky
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How about something that says "when the dela herd entered the clearing, Toka knew the prince and his hunting companions would be close behind"? Then talk about how they are hiding, and the reader will know that this is an ambush.
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Crystal Stevens
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Thank you all for your inciteful suggestions. I have a feeling I'll be rewriting this with a brand new perspective. I think the key is to not get into any big rush so as to make things clearer to my readers.

Thanks, again.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Crystal Stevens:
I think the key is to not get into any big rush so as to make things clearer to my readers.

One of the more insightful writing advices I've received is slow down, flesh out the bones of a narrative. It was good advice that took me time, study, and implementation effort to appreciate. First was becoming able to judge when to add and when to subtract context, more than ample content at first, then revising, what to keep and what to jetison. What I found for me is less is more when given from a character voice with a unique--idiosyncratic and idiomatic--perspective for the sake of developing character identity. A character's observations doing triple duty as plot development and setting or other character development and viewpoint character development.
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