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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » "Chance"--Fantasy

   
Author Topic: "Chance"--Fantasy
Thengel
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This is high fantasy with its own distinct world, but not medieval. It's set in more of a modern setting, but the world is magical. I've completed the story, submitted it to a few places, but it didn't go any farther than that. I'd love to hear what people think of it.


As he entered the ring, Chance ignored the cheers of the audience. It was hard to do. He closed his eyes and focused instead on his bodyís strength. The bondpower washed over him like icy water. He swallowed when he felt the venom blaze at the back of his throat.

Laul chuckled behind him. Chance turned to see the stringy sinews protrude from Laulís aging neck. ďIn the year Iíve managed your fights, Chance, Iíve noticed each crowd loves you more than the last. Youíve got the gift.Ē

Chance sucked in a lungful of air, held it, and exhaled slowly. He jerked his shoulders, letting his robe fall off. The audience roared. Aim for one goal--victory!

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extrinsic
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The contest, so to speak, here is so far between Chance and the audience. Chance tries to ignore the audience's approval. Laul directly says, reminds Chance the audience loves him. Chance displays for the audience.

A greater contest in the offing is implied yet not what the context of being a dramatic complication is. I'm left wondering if Chance even has a problem defeating the competition. He obviously has a want to win without any great difficulty, but I don't feel the want is developed either.

This opening for me is what Damon Knight describes in Creating Short Fiction as a daydream, signaling an early stage of creative writing development. Motifs that support that conclusion are on the writer surrogacy side from depicting Chance's awesomeness and none of his weaknesses, except perhaps hints of his self-involved personality. Self-involvment, self-efficacy, and self-idealization are hallmarks of writer surrogacy.

Chance can be awesome in every way imaginable, but without Achille's heels, he is omnipotent. There is no contest, no drama, no struggle, no plot. Actually, an opening that depicts an awesome protagonist implies the protagonist will suffer great loss as an outcome. Chance will have to go from good fortune to bad fortune over the course of the narrative in order for plot movement to proceed.

On the plus side, two motifs work for me: "The bondpower washed over him like icy water. He swallowed when he felt the venom blaze at the back of his throat." Though the simile I think could be more artfully deployed as a metaphor instead. Also, reordering the second sentence's sequence of ideas into a linear flow would strengthen and clarify its impact. "When" conjunctions signal contemporaneous events. I think swallowing would follow feeling the venom. And separate sentences would more strongly and clearly express the two distinct ideas.

For that matter, the first sentence of the opening similarly uses a conjunction word, "as," to signal two contemporaneous events. They credibly are contemporaneous events; however, an opening word that's a conjunction is problematic from joining what is essentially two distinct ideas and an overlooked opportunity to describe the setting from Chance's perceptual observations.

Frankly, I was done reading by that first word due it its being an awkwardly positioned conjunction. I think a description of the ring if not the audience after Chance tries to ignore the crowd, as I expect he would priorly for each time he enters a ring, would read smoother, clearer, and stronger. Taking the opportunity to describe the setting and its influences on Chance.

I think the point of Chance's reaction to the crowd is due to him wanting not to be distracted, unsettled, overconfident, built up by the audience's energy. I don't think, if that is the intent, that it comes through at the moment of reading.

I feel that the pending gladitorial competition kernel of this opening holds promise, but that the flow and language don't clarify the action so much as cloud it.

[ November 22, 2013, 02:44 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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pidream
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Welcome Thengel,

As he entered the ring, Chance ignored the cheers of the audience. It was hard to do. He closed his eyes and focused instead on his bodyís strength.
1. For me these three sentences are bit awkward. I was dinged recently, for rearranging another writerís work here, but I think with a slight rearrangement this would be less awkward and much clearer.

The bondpower washed over him like icy water. He swallowed when he felt the venom blaze at the back of his throat.
2. The idea of swallowing venom seems improbable to me. Or perhaps, this bondpower is a bonding with a venomous snake; which might explain what is happening, but still it's counterintuitive to me.

Laul chuckled behind him. Chance turned to see the stringy sinews protrude from Laulís aging neck. ďIn the year Iíve managed your fights, Chance, Iíve noticed each crowd loves you more than the last. Youíve got the gift.Ē
3. Again these sentences seems awkward and a bit wordy to me. The idea that Laulís aging neck is the first thing to draw Chanceís eyes when he looks at him sounds and feels odd. The dialog feels somewhat stilted and not natural to my ear, when I speak it aloud.

Chance sucked in a lungful of air, held it, and exhaled slowly. He jerked his shoulders, letting his robe fall off. The audience roared. Aim for one goal--victory!
4. I think you mean he swiveled or flexed his shoulder (or a word like that). I think jerking means to pull, yank or twist something.

I have to agree with extrinsic, the tension seems to be between Chance and the crowd here. When, IMHO, it should be between Chance and some inner struggle harnessing the bondpower for the upcoming event. I am not sure for the above mentioned reasons I would read on, but that having been said, I would swap stories with you if you care to.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by pidream:

1. For me these three sentences are bit awkward. I was dinged recently, for rearranging another writerís work here, but I think with a slight rearrangement this would be less awkward and much clearer.

So, Thengel, if you can't see how rearranging those sentences would help, please feel free to ask pidream to show you.
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Thengel
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Thank you both for looking at my story! It's very much appreciated. You're right. There is no apparent conflict in those opening lines. I'm a little embarrassed I didn't see it, but I'm thankful you both pointed it out. I think you're right too, extrinsic, about the crowd cheering Chance. Not a lot to feel uneasy about. Thanks again for pointing these things out.

pidream, I don't mind if you rewrite those lines. I'd be interested to see how you'd fix it and why.

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pidream
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As he entered the ring, Chance ignored the cheers of the audience.
1. Consider- As Chance entered the ring, the cheers of the crowd were deafening.
It was hard to do. He closed his eyes and focused instead on his bodyís strength.
2. Consider- He tried hard to ignore it, closing his eyes, and focusing his energies inward.
The bondpower washed over him like icy water.
He swallowed when he felt the venom blaze at the back of his throat.
3. Consider- He swallowed as he felt the heat of the venom blaze at the back of his throat.
Laul chuckled behind him.
4. Consider- From behind him, Laul chuckled.
Chance turned to see the stringy sinews protrude from Laulís aging neck.
5. Consider- Chance turned to see the grinning face of his aging manager.
ďIn the year Iíve managed your fights, Chance, Iíve noticed each crowd loves you more than the last. Youíve got the gift.Ē
6. Consider- ďChance, the crowd loves you more with each win. Youíve got the gift.Ē
Chance sucked in a lungful of air, held it, and exhaled slowly.
7. Consider- Chance sucked in a lungful of air, held it, and exhaled slowly focusing the energies of the bondpower.
He jerked his shoulders, letting his robe fall off. The audience roared. Aim for one goal--victory!
8. Consider- He shrugged his shoulders, letting his robe fall. The crowd roared as one. ďAim for one goal--victory!Ē

My goal was to rearrange things in a manner that was clearer to me, by adding or deleting a word here and there. The tension before appeared to be between Chance and the crowd. For me, the interesting part of the story was the tension created by Chanceís attempt to harness the energies of the bondpower. I know, I donít know the full story- so with that in mind forgive any presumptiveness on my part.

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