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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Planet's End

   
Author Topic: Planet's End
easterabbit
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Thousands of corpses littered the ground from the high dunes to the sea shore. Black flies swirled above the dead in great black clouds, but then a gust of wind parted them and I saw a figure. He sat cross-legged on the wet sand half a mile distant—the only person upright.
I readjusted the linen covering my nose and mouth and trudged onwards, to the sea, to him. I looked where I trod, seeking the firm sand between the tangle of cold, twisted limbs and bloated bodies.
“You are the last person alive on this planet.”
It wasn't a shout carried on the salt winds from where he'd sat on the shore, but a whisper close to my ear. I spun round, my heart suddenly pounding.
He stood behind me--his long hair hung in wet, heavy knots, and


Version 2:

Thousands of corpses littered the ground from the high dunes to the seashore. Clouds of black flies swirled above the dead, but through them, in the distance, sat a lone figure. Cross-legged on the wet sand, the man was the only figure upright.
I waved away the flies on my face, re-adjusted the linen covering my nose and mouth and trudged onwards, down the dunes, to him. I looked where I trod, seeking the firm sand between the tangles of cold, twisted limbs and bloated bodies.
“You are the last. I am so nearly done.”
It wasn't a shout carried on the salt winds from where I'd seen him on the shore, but a whisper as though next to my ear. I spun round as though electrocuted--my heart pounding.
He stood behind me--his hair hung in wet, heavy knots, and his

[ June 10, 2013, 07:06 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Denevius
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There's a couple of cliches here. The dust parting to reveal an individual is an overused image, and the "You are the last person alive..." is kind of melodramatic. As well as a voice in someone's ear standing right behind them when they turn around.

This, to me, felt like the beginning of a B movie scifi flick.

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axeminister
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I got more of a "300" feel than a B movie feel.

I always appreciate your character introductions and the images created with them. I always feel a sense of urgency during and after the 13 lines. Like, the story is already in 4th gear.

I would take Denevius' crit to heart, but at the same time, emotionally, I'm hooked. I mean, WTF happened?! And who is this guy? (Both, actually, since "you are the last person--" only covers one of the two...

Axe

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extrinsic
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A somewhat vivid scene portrait, introducing an implied dramatic complication--corpses by the thousands raising a want to know why--and a narrative voice introduction, first person, and focal character introduction.

The viewpoint is wide angle, cinematic at first, then the focus zooms in (closes narrative distance) into the narrator and on a seemingly living person. I think some lingering in the scene, on the corpses and the beach strand and dune field is called for to clarify the situation and its in-the-moment meaning to the narrator, like discarded weapons, a close-up of a corpse portraying wounds maybe, and perhaps contrasting setting details that symbolize the struggle that took place beforehand.

Lingering, a writing principle that develops dramatic scenes, using antagonism, causation, and tension features.

"Sea shore," noun, is a compound word: seashore. A speed bump that stalled me to check for a rhetorical purpose of the nonstandard form. Finding none, my editor cap replaced my reader cap.

This line: "I re-adjusted the linen covering my nose and mouth and trudged onwards, to the sea, to him." Similarly, "readjusted" is the standard form. What causes this action? The seeming reaction feels like an abrupt transition from the previous parargraph. I think a cause transition setup is called for. Also, openings with jumpy prose keep readers unsettled. The two appositive phrases "to the sea, to him" feel to me like they force emotional texture.

Overall, the scene feels jumpy to me.

Developing the opening and its essential introductions to the artful degree I feel called for would strengthen clarity and meaning and may run over thirteen lines. But this is a strong draft start from portraying the situation's mystery and mystique.

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easterabbit
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Thanks for the crits.

I have posted a revised version above based on the comments received.

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axeminister
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I like the first one much better. (Sorry.)

Axe

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wetwilly
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I actually liked the first one. I thought the images were vivid and interesting. I really like the guy sitting calmly on the beach with all the bodies. I also liked the mysterious "you're the last one alive." I would definitely read on. I think it's a strong opening.
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