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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Aboard the Silver Airship (13 lines)

Author Topic: Aboard the Silver Airship (13 lines)
Member # 10041

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One must have an invitation to board the silver airship.

This is the only thing people know for sure about the vessel, aside from what it looks like. The silver airship stretches half as long as a normal aeroplane and dons a bloated whale body with wings that fan out like those of a flying fish. On clear days when the wind lashes over the earth in silk ribbons, children might catch a glimpse of this airship as it weaves its way through billowing clouds, and at the sight of it tug excitedly at a parent’s shirt sleeve and point up at the sky. Indeed, the airship was a rare and magnificent sight to behold, being the only one of its kind.

The fame of the airship, however, comes neither from its rarity nor its clever design, but rather from a peculiar claim of all...


I wasn't going to post anything yet, but reading through forum posts has gotten me intrigued about openings. This is the opening I'm currently using for my short story WIP, but I haven't introduced any characters and there's nothing exciting going on. If anything, I'm trying to establish an emotion, a feeling to hinge the rest of the story on.

I'm wondering if you all think this works. If you think this doesn't work, please say a little about why so I can gain perspective. Also, feel free to point out how I can improve certain nuances in my grammar; a couple of places feel awkward to me. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

[ March 05, 2013, 12:03 AM: Message edited by: tesknota ]

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The first line introduces a dramatic complication; something's afoot when one must have an invitation to board the silver airship. I'm also seeing possible metaphorical allusion to every cloud has a silver lining, and vice versa. Exquisite.

Establishing a single emotion for a short work takes a bit of art. This opening mostly accomplishes that; the awe and wonder attraction of the airship is clearly established. However, for me awe and wonder are pretty-pretties that lure a fly into a spider's lair. In order to take a work into tangible emotional appeals and move a plot forward on wants and problems opposing satisfaction of those wants and, consequently, portray a change of circumstances through the ending, every silver airship, even a unique one, must have a cloud.

I might consider changing "people" in the second line to a more specific identity, say the story's protagonist or the people the protagonist belongs to.

The third sentence feels a little run-on to me. Though a description of the airship, the ideas aren't quite as coordinated as a stream-of-consciousness loose sentence might ask for. "Dons" is on the awkward diction side. However, the fourth sentence manages an artful stream-of-conscious loose sentence. The fifth sentence lapses into a repetitous summary and explanation of the prior sentences, a tell.

I don't have enough information to connect the third paragraph to the preceding two.

I am intrigued by the requirement to have an invitation to board the airship, speaks of exclusivity of a nefarious kind. Since merit deserving recognition isn't indicated, an invitation might be for a deserving victim. That need for an invitation to me is enough of a "hook," an either/or, to incite my curiosity and perhaps empathy for those who want to ride the airship, enough for the first few lines.

[ March 05, 2013, 01:03 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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Remember, this is my own silly personal opinion. I like the opening sentence, as extrinsic says, it hints at something awry. I'd cut the second sentence.

I think the third sentence could use some specificity - what sort of airplane, tiger moth, Cessna or 747? Also, the word dons is awkward and sounds archaic in this context.

The third sentence has this phrase: "when the wind lashes over the earth in silk ribbons." At first I thought it was a typo and you meant clouds. It seems a strange metaphor to use; lashing with silk ribbons.

The fifth sentence seems like a clumsy way to say there's only one of them, but the last sentence holds the greatest intrigue that the words following it must live up to.

For me, it doesn't work. It intrigues, but the metaphor I pointed out ruined the flow and the sentence that contains it 'feels' too long. I didn't find it to be a run on, just overly long.

Hope this helps.


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I thank you both for your input, extrinsic and Phil! You both pointed out something that I hadn't even considered - that the invitation might be nefarious. The new story concept I have now is much better than the original.

As far as the opening is concerned, I'll revise it according to suggestions and see how it turns out. "Dons" also felt strange to me, but I was trying to replace a "has", and I couldn't think of anything better. I'll post a revision soon.

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