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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Secret Lives of Katz (working title/WIP)

   
Author Topic: Secret Lives of Katz (working title/WIP)
Bent Tree
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This is a bit of an adventure in a new style of writing...taking votes on how it presents itself as an intro...

Even their name seems so odd, so simple, yet so hard to enunciate, like the child's tongue.I almost have to bite my tongue to slow its vibrato to pronounce the word. I am told it is an ancient word, originating on Earth. And although they are more akin to me, evolved from H. sapiens, they seem more alien than the most alien beings here among us. Perhaps it is the duality of their being, that they live two lives. Equally comfortable among the light and the darkness…

Nothingness, this is where they fulfill their contracts. Not where the vibrance of all advanced design thrive, but in the vast void of nothingness, when all else sleeps, sustained within the veils, cocoons and enrobed in exo-armor, when the coldness comes, when all is silent. We can hear them out their outside the constructs

[ October 17, 2013, 10:01 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Denevius
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This will sound more harsh than it's meant to be, but these are a lot of words that don't add to much. It's very abstract, very vague. I feel like one or two concrete sentences would do so much better to inspire the type of mystery and otherworldliness that I think this intro is going for.
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extrinsic
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A strongly poetic voice. Like dramatic fiction though, appealing poetry nonetheless has a distinguishable organizing structure. The dramatic turns of poetry that give poetry its structure are as infinite as those of prose.

One type of poetic turn is a change in voice, a caesura, a change in sound, usually a break in flow signaling a subtle kind of emphasis. The line space in this opening's middle is a kind of break, though with no noticeable change in the sound or flow of the fluent, almost mellifluous language. Dare I say purple prose? No. The language is pretty but I feel it's not overwrought so much as short on context and texture: who, when, where; what, why, and how.

Prosody is a poetry of prose, the versification, meter, rhythm, and intonation of language, or the studies thereof. Prosody strongly appeals to me, but a disembodied voice speaking from a black nothingness gives no anchor, a literal iron anchor and chain attached to my neck holding my attention in place, upon which to base my grounding in the fictional reality of an invented setting and milieu.

Physical setting and milieu features develop a narrative's authenticity, or authenticate a narrative. This phrase is solid to a degree: "sustained within the veils, cocoons and enrobed in exo-armor," though a bit more development I think is called for. My imagination projects dark silk curtains, dark pupae husks, and dark, iridescent chromed steel. Other readers might project widely different perceptions. One or two more descriptive terms would solidify the visual sensations, lending authenticty to the invented construct.

Also, stronger physical sensations in the opening parargraph would set up an anchor for the strongly self-reflexive voice of the whole. Interleaving physical description of this place's meaning space, the place where this performance space is, as abstract as it may be, equally poetic though, still prosody with caesura and dramatic poetic turns, to begin with, would provide that grounding.

"We can hear them out their" is "their" perhaps a typo? There?

[ October 17, 2013, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Merlion-Emrys
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Quite intriguing and nicely put together. A bit vague, perhaps yes, but not in a bad way in my opinion.

Is "design" meant to be "designs?"

It really depends on how you want to go. For me, its quite good as is, but many will find it too vague, so you could choose to try and concretize it a bit.
I probably wouldn't if it was me though.

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babooher
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Your use of antithesis coupled with the abstract quality of the passage confused me. Are you being metaphorical when you say they live two lives? What do you actually mean by nothingness? Is their name (which is not stated) hard to enunciate like the child's tongue or is the name like the child's language (which might well be hard to enunciate but not necessarily and why would the child's language be hard to speak?)? The more I look at the structure and phrasing, at the implied links, the more confused I get.

If you're going for an alien perspective, kudos to you, but I'd challenge you to make it clearer, and yes, being less abstract could help with that.

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pidream
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1.I think it should be ‘their names’- plural. Consider dropping- ‘so simple, yet’, as it reads better to me. Saying, ‘the child’s tongue’, seems to imply that is a language. I think you meant ‘a child’s tongue or a child talking or speaking’, right?

Instead of bite consider swallow, as the term- to bite my tongue, is usually associated with not saying something offensive. The rest of the sentence is wordy for me. Consider deleting- ‘slow its vibrato to’.

Are you specifically talking about a single ‘word’, or a language? If it’s a language, say that.

The sentence starting with ‘And although’, is very wordy. Consider something like- Although, we are both evolved from H. sapiens, it seems, I have more in common with the aliens living among us, than with them.

I would consider deleting- ‘that they live two lives.’, because you repeat the same thought in the next sentence .and it feels wordy, to me. Consider connecting the two clauses by, and they are. Consider, just “dark”, instead of ‘darkness’, as it flows better for me.

Even their names seems so odd, so hard to enunciate, like the child's tongue (talking).I almost have to bite (swallow) my tongue to pronounce the word(s). I am told it is an ancient word (language), originating on Earth. And although they are more akin to me, evolved from H. sapiens, they seem more alien than the most alien beings here among us. Perhaps it is the duality of their being, (delete-that they live two lives.), (add- and they are) Equally comfortable among the light and the darkness…

2.The second sentence is much too long, for me. Please consider breaking it up. Maybe ‘vibrancy’, in place of vibrance; ‘thrives’, instead of ‘thrive’; While instead of ‘When’; delete when and lead with ‘the’. Did you mean to say 'we hear them outside the construct'?

Nothingness, this is where they fulfill their contracts. Not where the vibrance of all advanced design thrive, but in the vast void of nothingness(.) When (While) all else sleeps, sustained within the veils, cocooned (,) and enrobed in exo-armor, (delete- when) the coldness comes (.) (When) all is silent (,) we can hear them out their outside the constructs

Sorry this did not work for me. It feels too heavy, too much like you’re trying to impress, rather than tell me a story. The last graph completely lost me, as to where the speaker was going. Remember, nothing said was meant to offend, but only my reaction to what I read.
Good luck,
Stephen

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Bent Tree
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New Version:

How does this read?


I sensed it on the ground at the base of my trunk during the time of darkness. Even beneath my exo-armor, I felt its warmth, its beating heart.

It was there when the first star lit the sky. I withdrew my cocoon and unfolded delicate umbrels to catch the dim stars energy. The Kat rested beneath and seemed grateful for the shade I provided. They seem so alien, although they are more closely related to my kind than any other being upon this planet.

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Denevius
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Well, it's definitely clearer. I actually get images and a sense of what you're talking about.

There's some language that can still probably go, though, or just be tweaked. 'during the time of darkness' is really awkward to read. 'exo-armor' caught my attention, but then 'felt' weakens the sentence as it creates a distance between what's going on in the story and the reader.

'It was there' feels like more unnecessary wording, but that next sentence is clean. Every word there feels like it's needed to convey the thought on the page.

I guess this is an alien voice you're going for, but the vague and wordy prose for me just isn't working. I bet these lines would work so much better if you cut out all but two of them.

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extrinsic
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The language to me is more engaging than in the previous version. I'm still feeling a little remote from the action, though, and a bit alienated by the first-person narrator's overly self-involved mediation.

The opening lines, for example: "I sensed it on the ground at the base of my trunk during the time of darkness. Even beneath my exo-armor, I felt its warmth, its beating heart."

What senses? What is "it"? "Trunk" without context at least implies and I infer a tree. "Exo-armor" and "coccon" confound that implication and inference. Is this a chrysalis molting on a tree?

This is largely summary and explanation lecture: telling. Showing would baldly portray the "it" and where it lies beneath the trunk, their context. Does the Kat purr? Is it striped green and fuzzy? Does the base of the trunk root into the ground or stand on legs? And so on. Baldly portraying the context and texture of the existents: the objects, characters, and setting details, though in a poetic language, would work magic for me.

I feel, as this opening is, the language calls undue attention to it, feeling forced and unnatural, as though the first-person narrator waxes poetic in a stuck-in-the-bathtub self-reflexive navel contemplation.

Yet, the language is for me the strongest appeal. Conundrum!?

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