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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Untitled Modern Fantasy

   
Author Topic: Untitled Modern Fantasy
Bumbus_McGee
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Just wrote this yesterday and today. I know it needs a lot of work, but I wanted to go ahead and get some feedback.

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Martin drummed his thumbs on the steering wheel of his 1976 mustard yellow pinto. He was subtly bobbing his head and mouthing to some ????? song blaring from the radio. The light turned green. He lifted his foot from the brake, and just as he pressed it to the accelerator, the passenger door flung open. The freezing wind from outside rushed into the vehicle and a tall albino man leaped into the car screaming. "Drive! Drive!". He was carrying an empty grocery bag bundled up in the same hand as a small handgun.

Martin hesitated. The pinto was drifting into the intersection. The albino man pressed the icy barrel to Martin's temple and leaned in close. "I said it to drive, beast!" he said through his clenched yellow teeth, pressing the gun harder to Martin's head.

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Grumpy old guy
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Interesting. Personally, I'd loose most of the description at the beginning. Normally I would urge some 'particularity' on writers, but not in the opening first words.

I'd keep the 'drumming his thumbs' bit. Then segue straight into 'The light turned green'

That way, you get right into some 'action' and, more importantly, the reader is immediately asking the question: What's going on?

Phil.

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Bumbus_McGee
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Thanks, Phil. I appreciate the feedback. I'll see how it reads with less description in the beginning.

Anyone else?

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GhostWriter
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Hello Bumbus! Thanks for posting and letting us critique! Now down to business.

I will have to agree with that grumpy old guy there and say that you could lose the description in the front. The goal of the first two sentences is to hook the reader into reading the rest (description loses most readers if they don’t have action to keep them there), afterwards it is good to describe more, progress plot, show details, etc... but not in the beginning.

"The freezing wind from outside rushed into the vehicle and a tall albino man leaped into the car screaming. "Drive! Drive!"." - Shorter sentences lead to a feeling of action, while longer and compound sentences lead to a more relaxed feel. If you want, rephrase using shorter sentences. E.X. "The freezing wind blew through the car. A tall albino man leaped into the car screaming "Drive! Drive!"" All in all though great action! Makes me want to hear what happens next!

How was he holding the grocery bag in the same hand as the gun? It seems that it would be difficult at best and unwise. (Unless this is what you were going for.)

"Martin hesitated. The pinto was drifting into the intersection." - After the hesitation, I wanted to hear why he was hesitating. Here you could put in more character development instead of scene development.

I really like the part where he is drumming his thumbs on the wheel. See if you can squeeze it in somewhere in the rewrite [Wink] .

"I said it to drive, beast!" - doesn't make much sense. I usually use beast to compliment someone [Wink]

All in all good. Leaves me with questions. Just remember that characters make the story and you will be all set! Thanks for sharing fellow hatrackian and may your pages be ever full!

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extrinsic
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This story opening is a routine interrupted type, or a "Bear at the Door" from Jerome Sterne's Making Shapely Fiction vernacular. As a problem wanting satisfaction that's a solid opening gambit.

Whether the descriptive opening setup establishes the routine beforehand and leads into the interruption I don't think quite rises to the occasion. A solution might include a stepped transition from the routine to the interruption.

Ominous door rattling signals the bear is at the door. Before the bear bursts in, discovery of the rattling noises' source are indicated, some trepidation and emotional reaction too, so that readers are set up knowing the bear is at the door before the bear as a problem becomes a full-blown crisis.

This is tension's empathy and suspense development. Fear and pity for the victim of the door-crashing bear build empathy for the victim's plight and evoke suspense's curiosity from how the victim will react and perhaps initially make the problem worse before satisfying the problem of the bear.

I think the descriptive opening would benefit from a bit more craft development.

After projecting context and texture for the descriptive opening and a stepped transition from the routine to the interruption, my empathy and curiosity are barrelling along wondering what will happen to Martin. He does have to try something; that's the nature of bear at the door shapes' pattern and sequence—plot. I'm curious and care what he will do and what the outcome will be.

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