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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » New story: hook check

   
Author Topic: New story: hook check
Charles P. Shingledecker
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Okay, I've been revising a new story and am trying to figure out what to put into the first 13 lines. I'm not confident about what I need and what I don't need.

I've removed scenes and am removing an entire character because she serves little purpose to the story. However I'm wondering something about the way I have this written. In particular, if I should introduce Rachel in the first 13 lines, or if I should hold off.

Any thoughts?

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


Jess's finger squeaked across the table as she turned the page of her e-magazine. Shaking my head, I strolled over to the table, sat down across from her, and grabbed a cinnamon roll from the platter. "Still not talking, huh Jess?" We got along so much better before she turned thirteen.

Her eyes locked onto me; she flipped her long, brown, ponytail from one shoulder to the other. "Daddy, I still don't see why I have to go to school today. I've already had the 'the talk," so what's the point?"

Running shoes scuffing across the floor alerted me to Rachel's entrance. "Because," Rachel said, "Election Day is the holiest day of the year, that's why."

Jess stomped her foot. "But mom --"

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genevive42
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Honestly, these things all seem rather disjointed and I have no hint which ones may be important. Try focusing the opening more.
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extrinsic
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Jess is a disaffected teenager. Daddy and Mom Rachel want her to be prepared for Election Day at school. Some portent of a choice Jess has to make but she'd rather not. Interesting, potentially curiosty invoking.

Curiously, the antithesis of Pinnochio, who was in a rush to enjoy the privileges of adulthood but indifferent to the obligations. Don Mclean's "American Pie," where there was resistance to growing up in order to avoid adult obligations. The former, young adult; the latter, early adult.

"Jess's finger squeaked across the table as she turned the page of her e-magazine."

Watch out for "as" conjunctions. They often signal run-on sentences. How does Jess squeak her finger across the table and turn the page of the e-magazine at the same time? Same finger? One dragging across the table; one pressing a button on the device? Two hands in action? Are the actions actually concurrent? Or as is more logical, separate actions? Thus for a best practice, consider separating them into their own sentences.

Also, consider how they are causal. Dragging a finger across the table, getting it to squeak might be an occasional absentminded Jess idiosyncracy for getting attention. She's obviously bored with the e-zine, not interesting enough to distract her, perhaps dreading having to make a choice, and looking to her parents for their approval to skip making the choice. The choice seems to me a more obvious problem wanting satisfaction than a bored, disaffected youth, though they are potentially credibly, causally related. One a disguise, the other the real crux of the matter.

Anyway, fairly strong Jess character development.

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rcmann
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What kind of a story is this? Sci-fi?
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babooher
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I wondered about the finger thing as well. I wondered if the e-zine was in/on the table. Such things can be done now, let alone if this is sci-fi.

This introduction seems to present a problem that the problem wanting satisfaction (PWS) that extrinsic highlighted. The PWS is centered on a non-POV character and that character will most likely make that decision when the POV character is not around. Because even if Jess heads off to take the test, the POV character would only know she left. Even if the POV character takes the child to school, we still don't know if she'll actually go to the right room (I was driven to school by a parent once and just had my girlfriend pick me up). I don't know if my parent-cap just picked up on this, but a serious source of tension for most parents is knowing that your brood (with all their glorious faults and strengths) have to eventually make the right call or fail. So I don't see extrinsic's PWS being the main concern. Instead, I see an issue of trust between parent and child, and this has little to do with Election Day being the holiest day of the year. Also, maybe my writer's instincts are off, but it seems that the information about Election Day is the main idea you want to convey in this scene other than who the players are, but I don't see a connection between any PWS and Election Day's level of holiness.

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Charles P. Shingledecker
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Thanks everyone. It is SF. I would not post something that wasn't a part of the speculative fiction genre.

Back to the drawing board. Thanks

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Eliza C
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As Dad is introduced at the start of the story as the POV character, I assume he is the main character, though this intro seems to be more about Jess. Not sure if that's a problem or not with only the first lines to go on.
I wasn't clear on the reading an e-mag by dragging her finger across the table. I pictured this as futuristic and the reader is embedded in the table, however, even if I was correct, I think it needs clarification.
The line about election day being the holiest of days was a good hook.
Hope this helps.

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Charles P. Shingledecker
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Here's another try -- actually, just lines from a few pages into the story. Does this convey things a bit better?

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


"Dad," Jess said, tapping on the bedroom door open, "can we talk?" Not this again. I was already late for work.
"Jess, you're going to school and that's it. It's Election Day and --"
"I don't want anything to do with Election Day!" she said. "I hate it. I hate staying up all night for the returns, and I hate . . . ."
"Jessica!" I said. She fell silent. Unlike her mom, I never used her full name. "Jess, no one hates Election Day. It's part of our American faith."
Jess's eyes were downcast. "What if I told you, that I didn't have faith?" What did she mean she didn't have faith? Everyone had faith. Oh God, what would Rachel think?

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