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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Fail Safe

   
Author Topic: Fail Safe
easterabbit
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Zack shielded his eyes from the sun and glanced back along the beach to his parents three hundred yards away. How boring they were just lying there, reading dumb books, when there was treasure to be found...
He shook his head in disgust and turned back to examine the wet sand ahead. A few yards further on he stopped and poked a promising-looking shell with his stick, but it was just another shell fragment. He sighed as he straightened, but just then a small, glassy blue sphere--perhaps an inch in diameter--rolled out of the waves. It climbed up the wet sand and stopped close to his feet with a rhythmic, malignant hum that made his eyes water. Another ball, a green one, glided out of the surf, followed by a glistening black sphere.

[ June 22, 2013, 09:36 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Melanie Vera
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I like the way you introduce the main character. When your young, you do feel like your parents can being boring at times. Great way to leave things on to want to read more.
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babooher
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I thought you could cut a bunch of this in order to cram more in (but to be fair, I'm a cutter.) For example, I understand that the mention of Zack's parents implies an age range, but I thought devoting two sentences to them was too much. I think you could edit the first three sentences into one. Then you'd be able to get more exposition for your balls. Perhaps I cringe at the word "perhaps." Why hedge your description when you're the authority?
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axeminister
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I'm not a fan of the first few sentences either. Especially because you've used the words boring and dumb. I see what you're doing to intro the character, and that works, but the mood ends up taking a false turn because of those words. And they're describing passive characters that are off stage.

Could Zack wander off instead? That could be a good mood setter, creepy, and kind of frightening when a kid strays from his parents further down the beach, out of ear-shot.

Anyway, enough about that. I do like the intro of the mysterious balls and can really see them in my mind.

And as always, I want to know more about them so, yes, I'd keep reading.

Axe

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Denevius
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It feels like the beginning of a scene that I've seen before. This isn't enough to make me stop reading, though if something more intriguing doesn't happen in the next paragraph or so, I would think I may be discouraged to read further. And I guess like the others, I'm not the biggest fan of the wording of the first lines. It's strange he knows *exactly* how far his parents are away. 'Boring' doesn't give me an image, and there's something a bit cliche about 'dumb books'. The ellipses can probably just be a period, and you use 'shell' twice in sentence four. And the voice overall is a bit inconsistent. It oscillates between a young person thinking, and an adult. It's weirdly specific, from the 300 meters I mentioned, to the exact diameter of the sphere, one inch. And would sound make one's eyes water?
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easterabbit
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Thanks for reading and for your comments.
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mayflower988
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quote:
Originally posted by easterabbit:
a rhythmic, malignant hum that made his eyes water.

This intro does make me want to read more. For one thing, I don't think I've ever heard "malignant" used to describe humming; for another, the fact that the hum made his eyes water is interesting. It makes me wonder if the humming sound was really high-pitched or dissonant, or if Zach's eyes are watering with tears because the hum is making him sad. These are just a couple of examples of what caught my interest. Also, I liked that this initial disturbance is something seemingly normal - a ball - but then you go on to describe the ball as being something that is definitely abnormal. I think I prefer this over something that is obviously abnormal. What I mean is, this is more interesting than if it had been, say, an alien coming out of the water.
Do you need critique on the whole story or just the first 13?

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Bent Tree
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I really enjoyed the depth of POV and voice. I felt connection to the character.

Introduction to the speculative element felt a bit abbreviated and rushed. Considering the introduction scene is a bit unremarkable or common, I would really recommend sharpening the contrast from the EDL beach scene to the amazing, incredible, unusual discovery of something alien or magic.

Also the depth of POV seems to diminish as the discovery is made. Especially after feeling the disdain for his parents and the mundane, I really wanted to see his excitement at the discovery.

Good work.

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