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

   
Author Topic: Rusty
HenryMcF
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The story is SF about 6800 words. I would appreciate having people read and comment on the complete work. Here are the first 13 lines.

I was still a puppy, about a year old, when I first saw him. He came down to the kennel and looked around with a sneer. Then he started yelling at Alicia.
“None of your God damn dogs can fight for ****! What the hell kind of genes did you give them?”
“Troy, I’ve told you, I won’t mix a dog’s genes for fighting any more—they get hurt if they fight.”
“Yeah, but fighting’s where the money is. Let me tell you, Sis, it takes a lot of money to keep you in lab supplies and your little pets in chow.” He glanced over to where Prince lay sleeping. “I don’t know why we’re still feeding that one. He can’t run, never mind fight. Figures you’d make a dog that was born crippled—like you. No, a little better than you, he can walk.”

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Denevius
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Well, I admit the opening catches my attention. I'm not sure if you abridged this opening to fit the 13 line rule, but I think more thoughts from the POV, who I guess is the puppy, would be warranted, He basically disappears after the first two lines,

A dog that understands human speech is weird, though it has been done before. Though I didn't enjoy it, I did read, "The Art of Racing the Rain", by Garth Stein, and I remember it basically going the same way with the dog understanding humans (and at times passing moral judgement on its owner, which is one of several reasons why I didn't like the book, as why would a dog judge humans by human standards, especially when it comes to sex).

With the gene aspect, you could be going for a "Rats of Nimh" type narrative, or I guess the more current "Planet of the Apes", where science endows animals with human intelligence.

We do get more of a motivation for Troy, however, as we clearly know what he wants: to make money. And we get the sister's motivation, which is not to have the dogs fight anymore. But because the POVs thoughts aren't present in the beginning, we have no idea what he wants. We get no fear, or hope, or joy. He's just a casual observer relaying information to the readers.

Anyway, I'm game to swap pieces with you of similar length. Just shoot me an email if interested.

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extrinsic
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The setup implies Rusty might become a fighting or other working dog. Rusty is set up as the protagonist, but its viewpoint drops out of the opening. The opening is neutral except for Rusty noting the man looks around with a sneer. Keeping in touch with Rusty would portray his attitudes and emotions toward the dialogue and the speakers.

I'm not familiar with a sneer used to look around, eyeglasses I am. Got a laugh out of imagining seeing using a sneer, some kind of device? Some special colored glasses or magnifier? Some kind of companion or interested person or other animal? To illustrate, looked around with a microscope, or looked around with a trammel, or looked around with a cat.

"God damn" is a single word and lower case: goddamn.

"Any more" is an adjective phrase meaning more or numerically additional. Are any more beagles left? Anymore is an adverb meaning further or any longer. He's not gone beat the dog anymore. The context calls for the adverb-use single word, which modifies verb "mix."

The story type for the opening appears to be one of an observer observing other agonists: the man berates his sister. A specimen type according to Jerome Stern, writer of Making Shapely Fiction, the core of which is portraying another and through that portrayal portraying the observer, his, her, or its viewpoint and attitude, which characterizes viewpoint agonist at least as much as the specimen observed.

Another feature of the specimen type is the viewpoint agonist's standing to the complication and its outcome: interested in the complication action, influenced by the complication action, influences the complication action, or any or all of the three. Not a neutral bystander. This opening suggests Rusty is aligned with Sister in those regards though not clearly as might be ideal. This is an opportunity to exploit attitude and emotion. Mean old man abusing Sister needs a corrective bite to his backside.

Keep in touch with the viewpoint agonist by portraying attitude and emotional reaction to event stimuli, one of the harder appeals to manage; becomes sublime.

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Kent_A_Jones
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Hi HenryMcF,
A despot is a good antagonist. Thank you for letting his dialog indicate his nature. I want a better description of him from the puppy and its acute senses of hearing and smell.

I think Alicia needs clarity, too. Troy's allusion to her handicap seems forced to me.

I would like more setting than "down to the kennel" gives me. Since it is a significant place for your POV character, I believe I should be able to visualize it better. Small descriptions might do, but I think I need something.

The major hitch I have is Troy's motivation for continuing to fund his sister's gene splicing when she has enumerated her pacifist views. Supposedly, Troy is gracing Alicia with this visit after having taken a non-fighting dog/s off to its/their demise. If he had made money before, I would think he'd be either pleading or more directly threatening her. This is why his last sentences of dialog fail to ring true for me.

I believe you have a good idea. Plot and Characterization are accomplished with economy. Theme and Conflict are obvious; very nice. For me, it needs solid visuals and a bit of a fix in logical progression.

Good luck,
Kent

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HenryMcF
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Thanks to all those who commented. I am using your observations in my rewrite.
Henry

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