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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Cold and Dark in the Heart of Star

   
Author Topic: Cold and Dark in the Heart of Star
skadder
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The ship was a sleek, quarter-klick long, shard of black metal bristling with deep-space antennae. I walked along the gantry beside it, my fingertips barely touching the pitted, fractured hull--hard to imagine it hurtling through cold vacuum at point eight of light.
Footsteps rattled the metal walkway behind me. "Can I help you, Miss?" a deep voice asked. There was the high-frequency whine of a weapon arming.
I didn't turn, but continued to walk; he had a new finnish accent, a young man's voice. His step was light and athletic, but he favoured his left leg. I sniffed the air--the hint of a neural stim spray preceded the man.
"Are you sure you want to point that weapon at me?" I asked.


Version 2:

The ship was a quarter-klick long shard of black metal, bristling with deep-space antennae. I walked along the gantry beside the sleek craft, my fingertips barely touching the pitted, fractured hull--hard to imagine it hurtling through cold vacuum at point eight of light.
Footsteps rattled the metal walkway behind me. "Can I help you, Miss?" a deep voice asked. There was the high-frequency whine of a weapon arming.
I didn't turn, but continued to walk; he had a new finnish accent, a young man's voice. His step was light and athletic, but he favoured his left leg. I sniffed the air--the hint of a neural stim spray preceded the man.
"Are you sure you want to point that weapon at me?" I smiled.

[ July 19, 2012, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: skadder ]

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alliedfive
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Pretty smooth. I'd read on.

That said, I'm not a huge fan of the structure of your opening sentence. The early comma stopped me. I don't think you have anything to lose by making it

"The ship was a quarter-klick long shard of sleek black metal bristling with deep-space antennae."

or something.

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Nick T
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Hey Skadder,

Same problem as alliedfive with the opening sentence; it just doesn't sound right. Otherwise it's pretty smooth and interesting. There's some intrigue in how perceptive the protagonist is (favouring the left leg, a hint of stim spray), but it felt a little remote to me for some reason...maybe it's the protagonist's cool response to the threat that's diluting tension?

Nick

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skadder
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Yeah, it bugged me too. Version two is up.
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alliedfive
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v2 solved it for me.

In reading it again, there is a small repetition between "a deep voice asked" and "a young man's voice"

You could probably combine them into the latter one. Not a big deal for me.

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JoBird
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quote:
Originally posted by skadder:
Version 2:

The ship was a quarter-klick long shard of black metal, bristling with deep-space antennae. I walked along the gantry beside the sleek craft, my fingertips barely touching the pitted, fractured hull--hard to imagine it hurtling through cold vacuum at point eight of light.

I'm not a fan of your tense usage here. I think it would be better if it were all in past tense:

The ship was a quarter-klick long shard of black metal; [it] bristled with deep-space antennae. I walked along the gantry beside the sleek craft, my fingertips barely touched the pitted, fractured hull -- [it was] hard to imagine it hurtling through cold vacuum at point eight of light.

Otherwise, there's a confusing sense of time. The ship was blah, bristling with blah. I walked blah, touching blah. I imagine blah.

I don't think the progressive tense is getting you anywhere in this scene. If there's a reason to use it here, I fail to see.

quote:
Footsteps rattled the metal walkway behind me. "Can I help you, Miss?" a deep voice asked. There was the high-frequency whine of a weapon arming.
Very small things:

1. The deep voice is off when compared to the description in the next paragraph. Young men can certainly have deep voices, but it doesn't convey the same feeling.
2. I assume the sound of the weapon charging/arming is coming from the person asking the question, but I'm not sure. It could be coming from the narrator. Maybe you don't want me to be sure, but I'd prefer to be this early on. Some sense of where the sound is coming from would be appreciated. Although, the rearranged example below would address that nicely.
3. If the weapon charging is coming from the deep voice then I don't particularly like the dialogue coming before the sound of the weapon charging, and without a descriptive tag. I'm trying to picture someone aiming a gun me, cocking the trigger, and then asking if they can help me. There is a tone that goes with that. A tag would help out a lot there, for me. Something like, "a deep voice challenged." Plus, consider putting the sound of the weapon charging before the dialogue, in which case the reader is already reading the tone into it a little more intuitively. In my humble opinion it flows better.

Example:
Footsteps rattled the metal walkway behind me. There was the high-frequency whine of a weapon arming. "Can I help you, Miss?" a deep voice challenged.

quote:
I didn't turn, but continued to walk; he had a new finnish accent, a young man's voice. His step was light and athletic, but he favoured his left leg. I sniffed the air--the hint of a neural stim spray preceded the man.
"Are you sure you want to point that weapon at me?" I smiled.

Because the narrator didn't turn I'm assuming that means that the narrator can't see the fellow. This is further reinforced by the senses used to observe him -- hearing and smelling.

Except I'm not sure how the narrator could know that he favored his left leg. To begin, it's hard for me to assume that narrator could hear a light, athletic step that favored one leg. But I'll suspend disbelief there. It's a much larger stretch for me to swallow that the narrator knows which leg is being favored by ear alone. I'm left wondering. So maybe the narrator does see the person, but that doesn't jive with the rest of the information presented.

The dialogue ending this reinforces that the deep voice fellow was the one charging the weapon. I'd still prefer that I had been sure of that earlier.

I don't like the "I smiled" tag. "I said" would work better in my opinion. Or "I said with a light smile" or whatever. Something that can put that smile into context for me. Is the narrator crazy? Is the narrator trying to be disarming? Is the narrator just that confident?

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skadder
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Thanks for reading.
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rcmann
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A nicely subtle touch. The rapier rather than the battle ax. I like it. But what is "new finnish"? You mean a place called New Finland? Or does he have a brand new set of flippers? Or are custom voices being manufactured in Scandanavia?
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Tiergan
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Really dont have much too add. Pretty well done. I fear my only nit is personal choice or style. I think I would rather see the first two sentenes swtiched in a slight variation and I really couldnt give you a good reason.

Other than that, you do a great job setting the scene, the characters, and conflict without sounding forced.

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skadder
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Yes...new finnish accent or an accent from New Finland? Possibly the latter is better. Not sure.
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skadder
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Flippers?!!!

Edited to add (I must be slow...)

Fins--I get it

[ July 20, 2012, 02:55 PM: Message edited by: skadder ]

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BoldWriter
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quote:
The ship was a sleek, quarter-klick long, shard of black metal bristling with deep-space antennae. I walked along the gantry beside it, my fingertips barely touching the pitted, fractured hull--hard to imagine it hurtling through cold vacuum at point eight of light.
I'm not feeling the jargon here. I can understand it intellectually, and I know that a klick is a military unit of measurement, but I don't actually know how far that is. While reading it, I just replaced 'klick' with 'mile' in my head.

Similarly, I knew that you were talking about light speed in the second part, so I expected the word 'speed' there. When I didn't see it, I stopped abruptly and re-read to make sure I understood.

Personally, I'm most interested in the spacecraft. After that first sentence, I wanted to know more about it right away. Why is the metal black, and what kind of metal is it? What do deep-space antenne look like and why are they covering the ship? That would keep me reading. I'm not sure there's much space for that kind of detail in the first 13, but I hope there's more later.

If you're looking for readers, I'd be interested.

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skadder
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Thank you for your insights.

Edited to add: A klick is a kilometre.

[ August 04, 2012, 12:57 PM: Message edited by: skadder ]

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hoptoad
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I liked this a great deal. Especially the first line. I was drawn in immediately.
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