Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Vital Signs Sci-fi around 8,300 words

   
Author Topic: Vital Signs Sci-fi around 8,300 words
babooher
Member
Member # 8617

 - posted      Profile for babooher   Email babooher         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Been awhile since I've posted. As always, any and all thoughts would be appreciated.

Macha dangled upside down, suspended in the translucent, white webbing. Behind her the engine of her Stingray hoverbike ground on while something else whirred just beyond the fifteen-year-old’s field of vision. The bitterness of burnt plastic assaulted her nose. Her helmet retracted from her face and she had just enough room to see how badly she was stuck and that the decaying buildings from which the web was strung all appeared empty. “That could have been better,” she said, but no one was around to hear her, not even the man she had so desperately avoided.
Macha tried to move her legs, but they were firmly adhered to the webbing. She reached for her whipblade hanging from her waist, but her fingers just grazed the tip.

Posts: 788 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Would I turn the page? Probably.

Now, on with my evaluation. While I like the opening tone of the first sentence I have two issues with it. First, Macha, how do I pronounce that? It's a serious question because I had to pause, check, think, read the next word and then went back to Macha and wondered that exact thing, how do I pronounce that? Second, from a technical POV I think I would enjoy a slightly quirkier opening--something like this:

Macha dangled upside down while behind her the engine of her Stingray hoverbike ground on and something whirred.

My reason is simple: The phrase suspended in the translucent, white webbing. breaks up the moment for me. And, what works for me is opening a story with someone dangling upside down,

Another issue that pulled me up was: The bitterness of burnt plastic assaulted her nose. Bitterness is a taste, not a smell; I'd use acrid scent instead.

This one caused me to search for the word tried: . . . not even the man she had so desperately avoided.

And finally, in the last sentence I'd change the first her to the, otherwise you have too many her(s).

Hope this is of some assistance.

Phil.

Posts: 1284 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's a bit dense, but overall, well written. I don't like that I had to re-read it several times before I more clearly understood what had happened to Macha, though. I think that's the result of simply too many words crowding the opening, plus the fact that these are science fictiony type descriptions of stuff that don't really exist.

Are you looking for readers?

Posts: 1101 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
babooher
Member
Member # 8617

 - posted      Profile for babooher   Email babooher         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yes, I'm looking for readers, but it's long.
Posts: 788 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Longer than 8300? If it's less than 10,000, send it along. I'm game.
Posts: 1101 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
babooher
Member
Member # 8617

 - posted      Profile for babooher   Email babooher         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Phil, your comments are helpful, thank you.

Denevius, I originally typed the story on Google Docs. To send it, I downloaded it as a doc. The word processor software I have (Kingsoft Office), says there are about 1000 more words (for a grand total of 9305) in the file than the reported 8343 from Google Docs. I've never seen that big of a difference in word counting before. I've send the doc file over. If it's too long, I'll understand.

Posts: 788 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
HenryMcF
Member
Member # 10246

 - posted      Profile for HenryMcF   Email HenryMcF         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I’d keep reading. I have a few suggestions that might help it move faster.
I had the same problem as a previous poster with translucent white webbing. I think it’s too many modifiers. Maybe end the first sentence with “suspended in a web.”
The reference to her age seemed forced and also a break in point of view.
I’d take out “how badly she was stuck and”. You already say that she is dangling upside down and will say her legs can’t move, so you don’t need that too.
Also I’d change “she had so desperately avoided” to “she feared.” That eliminates the problem that she is looking for someone she knows she avoided.
I hoe those suggestions help.
Henry

Posts: 18 | Registered: Apr 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Gossamer webs caught Macha and her ride.

As starts go, this has a dramatic problem and its inherent dramatic want complication. A strong enough start for a fragment. The complication is a bridging one though, a bridge toward a main dramatic complication.

Why does Macha travel through a manmade canyon where traps lurk? A detail or two about her self-motivation would create a stronger reader anchor and set up for the main dramatic complication to come: note, in some way an antagonal, causal moral complication crisis. Macha goes through the canyon to find, what, riches (greed)? Sanctuary from the man she avoids because why? She cost him something? She has something he must have? Whatever. That then establishes a cause looking for a crisis. The web trap crisis an effect of the cause.

In other words, this start opens late and then somewhat doubles back. A cause for Macha going into the canyon is warranted first. In yet other words, the organization is chaotic. Why does Macha flee the man? That is a suitable first cause.

Posts: 4370 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Will Blathe
Member
Member # 10300

 - posted      Profile for Will Blathe           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I enjoyed the fragment. I think others have covered the work more clearly than I can, so I'll just ask about one detail:

quote:
something else whirred
I reread it a couple of times to satisfy myself that she doesn't know what that something else is.

Are you making mention of it just to plant a little unease in our minds? To add depth to the description?

It would make the fragment smoother (for me (I may be in the minority here)) if it was moved to a separate sentence.

Well, I want to read more, so you've done your job [Smile]

[ January 05, 2015, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: Will Blathe ]

Posts: 24 | Registered: Sep 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Captain of my Sheep
Member
Member # 10362

 - posted      Profile for Captain of my Sheep   Email Captain of my Sheep         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I would read on. You gave me a character, setting and a problem. That's about all I need in this case. This is a great opening for me.

However, the beginning felt clunky and full of speedbumps --places where reading is made difficult by sentence structure, word order, word choice, etc..

Here's an example:

quote:
Her helmet retracted from her face and she had just enough room to see how badly she was stuck and that the decaying buildings from which the web was strung all appeared empty.
I will not rewrite this since I don't like to do rewrites. But I will tell you that this could be described a bit clearer. I had this feeling with a couple of your sentences.

Regardless of what I've just said, I would read on. But if these "speedbumps" keep happening or get worse, they will get in the way of my enjoyment of the story and my ability to live through it.

I'm quite interested in the story. I can't offer a detailed critique but I can read it and give you my reactions to it.

I'm new and you have no idea how I write or my level or proficiency at it so I can only offer the beginning of my second draft as a sample. You can see if my style is appealing to you which will help contextualize my reader impressions a bit more.

It's a second draft, though. If you're interested I can give you my email and let you know the type of reader I am, how long I've been writing and what stories I like to write.

Posts: 93 | Registered: Dec 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bent Tree
Member
Member # 7777

 - posted      Profile for Bent Tree   Email Bent Tree         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I can't help but ask if you feel the moment of incitement is right? My brain won't let go of how she got there. Just a thought...

I'll give it a go if you want to send it.

Posts: 1860 | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lamberguesa
Member
Member # 10320

 - posted      Profile for Lamberguesa   Email Lamberguesa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think the prose is good and I like the name Macha. I am a little confused about the man. Was she fleeing from him and ran into the web or was she swerving not to hit him and ran into the web? If the later, where is he? I would like to know a little more about how she got there or where she was going, but otherwise I like it.

A.L.

Posts: 80 | Registered: Sep 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
babooher
Member
Member # 8617

 - posted      Profile for babooher   Email babooher         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Extrinsic or Henry McF, if the word "avoided" in the third to last line had been "dodged," would that change anything for you?

Bent Tree, I've sent it.

Captain of My Sheep, isn't your email in your profile here?

Posts: 788 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"Dodged" or similar instead of "avoided" is a stronger verb, more finite time span, more immediate now-moment action, less static voice. The dodge action a direct cause of becoming trapped by the web.

The dodged avoidance still is a previous action, though, the first event in sequence, as it were, anachronic story time order, given late and a circle back in the chronological narrative time where the event occurs in relation to the fragment organization.

If the dodged action were first, that would be more immediate, stronger and clearer scene development.

Dodged is still somewhat unclear, though, nor are available synonyms generally or suitably strong and clear. The avoidance scene development could be more robustly portrayed through a stretched though dynamic depiction of movement between the buildings, the buildings' described symbolically, up through to the situation that causes the avoidance.

The setting description prior to the maneuver could be breezy fast, though dynamic, and the meeting situation stretched out in narrative time, like a pendent crash avoidance in real-world encounters feels to a driver. Time slows, stalls, or stops. That takes some development and word count.

Posts: 4370 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Captain of my Sheep
Member
Member # 10362

 - posted      Profile for Captain of my Sheep   Email Captain of my Sheep         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
babooher: Yes, yes it is.

Hehe. Sorry, I thought the email was hidden by default. [Confused]

Posts: 93 | Registered: Dec 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2