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

   
Author Topic: Rewrite WIP
Kent_A_Jones
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SF story that didn't have much appeal originally. Thank you in advance for feedback.

L’uss rhythm dropped when they crashed. A skip-step and unison downbeat from every plant and animal in the forest drew out in a wave across the world. Milla and I moved with it, our songs enmeshed with the songs of lives around us. But we were aware that our sympathetic motion was not one of wind or quake. Something large and far away had fallen to the world, and as a drop to water, it had set the world a-ripple.

A large zebon flashed huge, crimson wings and faded in the darkness. The compression wave buckled through swarming twinkle flies as they winked yellow-green the way drifting fish scales caught sun after a feeding frenzy. Fire dill lit in waves, lines of dull orange spreading away from the impact center.

Milla focused her high right shoulder-eye on me. I directed a

[ August 26, 2014, 03:19 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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extrinsic
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I took awhile realizing this opening describes a crash of a significant mass into a planet? The "they" of the first sentence I feel needs development immediately or, more realistically, left until later. The overt narrator, not per se the first-person viewpoint agonist, knows beforehand that a massive impact happened, that visitors are aboard the impact object, though the viewpoint agonist probably, likely cannot know visitors are involved--could be an earthquake, if it's Earth, maybe a ground shake seismic event, a L'uss-quake? To me, that quake is the antagonizing and causal influence event of the opening and probably the whole narrative. Hence, timely developing that motif for its clear and strong dramatic complication import is paramount.

The "they" and "something large and far away" is a pronoun antecedent subject fault and pronoun case fault. If "they" were it instead, that would be less confusing. Or if the opening sentence were placed before the last sentence, first paragraph, the paragraph would be clearer and stronger. The sentence could be left out altogether, for that matter. Later, the viewpoint agonist could, likely, probably should, discover a "they" is involved. I understand the intent is to name the world. That name could be substituted for any instance of "world" in the paragraph, the last one most effectively.

Because the viewpoint agonist cannot know at the moment that the impact involves visitors, the first sentence is clearly narrator perspective and voice. Later sentences shift into closer, close narrative distance--viewpoint agonist perspective and voice. Hence, the narrative voice is unsettled and awkward. Viewpoint agonist voice forefront, covert narrator, is far more appealing than overt narrator voice, especially for short works that ideally maintain and remain in one viewpoint, an internal one of a viewpoint agonist apropos of a first-person narrative.

The "But" of the fourth sentence is unnecessary; left in or left out it doesn't change the meaning. Use of a contrast conjunction signals emphasis the sentence idea and contexture doesn't justify and makes for a speed bump too soon, too jumpy for an opening, before the contrast fully develops such that the emphasis has value. Contrast conjunctions signal emphasis in a dependent status to a main idea. Starting a sentence with one signals a connection to an antecedent subject and idea, yes. However, when a sentence is dependent on a main idea in that light, a standalone contrast conjunction use signals connections to an overall subject and idea.

Punctuation fault: "Something large and far away had fallen to the world, and as a drop to water, it had set the world a-ripple." --"world, and as"--A dependent correlative conjunction phrase is preceded by a comma, not follows the coordination conjunction "and," //Something large and far away had fallen to the world and, as a drop to water, it had set the world a-ripple.// Though dashes would serve more effectively: //Something large and far away had fallen to the world and--as a drop to water--it had set the world a-ripple.//

This sentence doesn't fit: "A large zebon flashed huge, crimson wings and faded in the darkness." I understand the zebon might have been startled by the quake. Its reaction contextural connections are undeveloped.

This start fragment portrays a curiosity evoking and antagonizing event, the planetary impact event, which is effective craft and an ample dramatic complication introduction; however, a bit underdeveloped content and awkward organization. The viewpoint agonist declares right off up front an idea he or she cannot possibly know at the moment, that the impact is visitors. The impact happened far away.

The impact is a problem event that wants satisfaction; that's curiosity evoking and raises a smidgeon of emotional interest: How will the impact influence later events? The viewpoint agonist emotionally? How at the moment the event influences the viewpoint agonist is generic, bland, nonreactive, though. Strong potentials therein and throughout. For a raw draft, a strong though unclear composition beginning. Appeal from the pivotal event worthy of an opening, in other words. Yes, antagonizng events are stronger appeals than per se settings or characters. That is well-done.

[ August 27, 2014, 07:42 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kent_A_Jones
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Thank you, extrinsic. Very helpful critique.
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babooher
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The introduction lacked any urgency for me. Extrinisc called it nonreactive, I'd call it lethargic. The protagonist already seems to know the cause of the ripple so the mystery is gone and yet, there seems to be no threat from the planetary disturbance. Since there is no immediate threat or challenge, it feels like the wrong place to start because now you must bridge the gap from passive observation to a call to action. For a short story, I'd suggest starting closer to the call to action and further from passive observation.
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Kent_A_Jones
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babooher,
I felt that aliens on an alien world needed description that would be most easily provided by a motivated observer. I believe I need to choose another character for POV. Thank you for the feedback.

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besimirch
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Hi Kent,

Pretty much everything has been covered already, but I just wanted to point out that opening sentence.

quote:
L’uss rhythm dropped when they crashed.
I'm a big believer in luring the reader into the story nice and easily. This to me makes the reader work too hard. Who or what is a L'uss? And what rhythm? Should it be L'uss's or L'usses? And who is the "they"? Is that the L'uss? And how does the rhythm drop? They're just some of the questions I thought on the initial read. Perhaps it wouldn't be so difficult if at least some of the questions were answered immediately, but they're not and as a reader I feel like I'm being made to work too hard to get into the story.

I think you need to work on getting the reader hooked into the story before you make them work, that way they're more settled and open to the new ideas of this new world they're enjoying so much.

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Kent_A_Jones
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Well said besimirch,
I hadn't thought of it in terms of mental exercise. Thank you.

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