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 » Ravenous -- Urban Fantasy/Horror, ~5100 words (Page 1)

  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: Ravenous -- Urban Fantasy/Horror, ~5100 words
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've been submitting this story places, and it wasn't getting anything other than form rejections. I eventually realized that the entire first scene, while very prettily written, would work much better as a novel opening than a short story opening because it does very little for the story as a whole. Essentially, I had to kill my darling.

So I did.

I don't need feedback on the story as a whole at this point, but I do need feedback on the first thirteen lines, because they were never initially intended to be the first thirteen and I'm worried they might need a little more punch.

Take 7:

I awaken to the smell of blood. It's dried, faded, mixed in with the salty-sweet remnants of sex and sweat, but there nonetheless. A low groan escapes my lips as I roll over in what I assume to be my bed. Instead I fall from my couch to the floor. My eyes jolt open as I lurch upward and hit my head on the corner of the coffee table. I slump back down with a muffled curse.
Rumination leads me to discover that a good portion of the previous night's memories are muddied and indecipherable. The alcohol must have hit me harder than expected; I've not lost time like that in decades. And the blood... where did that come from?
Who did that come from?

______________________________________________________________

Previous Versions

Take 1:

I'm after a sultry young thing, a harsh-cut blonde with eyes like emeralds. She's built like a rail but has enough sass to make up for the skinny, with jeans she poured herself into and layered-on shirts that are just as tight. When I sat down at the bar she smiled at me and it was so bright I damn near burst into flames. I smiled back, rattled off a witticism that made her laugh, and bought her a round.
Three stiff drinks later, we're fooling around in the alley behind the bar. The Austin heat has soaked into the brick and pavement throughout the day. It lingers unevaporated two hours after sunset. My girl's skin tingles with sweat which teases at the nectars hidden beneath her skin.

Take 2:

I'm a creature of appetite; everyone is in degrees. Mine has come into fashion over the last century or so, romanticized in film and fiction. Children dress up in fangs and capes for Halloween. Teenagers long for that eternal lover who will sweep them away from petty mortal squabbles.
It's nothing like that, of course. There might be a few of my kind who have managed to stockpile fortunes and make the masses dance to the tune of their puppet strings, but I've never met one. For most of us the lifestyle involves long bouts of boredom interspersed with spates of frantic, gnawing hunger that burns stronger than any natural need. It takes decades to master control over such animalistic instincts, and most don't make it past their first year.

Take 3

I'm a creature of appetite. Every man is by degrees, but tonight mine threatens to rule me. This blonde with a pixie cut just walked into my bar of choice. It's not the first time I've seen her, but it is the first time I've set eyes on her while hungry. She's got eyes like emeralds and a smile like daylight. If she were a sunbeam I'd burst into flames.
She takes a seat beside me at the bar. I run a hand through my hair to give it that boyish tousle everyone seems to love these days. "What are you drinking, lass?" A rakish grin sprawls across my face.
“Nothing yet.”
“I can fix that. Pick your poison.”
She smirks and turns her attention to the bartender. “Rum and

Take 4
A blonde with a pixie cut sits beside me at the bar. It's not the first time I've seen her, but it is the first time I've laid eyes on her while hungry. She's more hard edges than curves, but her low-cut top offers a delicious panorama from neck to cleavage. The flush to her skin threatens to wake the beast that sleeps inside me.
I run a hand through my hair to give it that boyish tousle everyone seems to love these days, then spin my stool around so I can face her. A rakish grin sprawls across my face as I lean back against the bar. "What are you drinking, lass?"
“Nothing yet.” When she smiles back at me it's bright as daylight; if she were a sunbeam I'd burst into flames.
“I can fix that. First drink's on me.”

Take 5:

My fingers tap out a staccato beat on the restaurant table as I anticipate Sadie's arrival. I kept my last meal lean so I could properly enjoy tonight's festivities--perhaps too lean. The pulses of the other patrons crash like ocean waves in my ears. Without Sadie's presence to distract me, my appetite waxes unchecked.
I recognize Sadie's approach even with my back to the door by the smell of her perfume and her adrenaline-accelerated heartbeat. She slides into the booth across from me, all smiles and flushed cheeks. “Sorry I'm late, I got caught up at work.”
“No worries, love. You're worth the wait.”
My words send her into a full-body blush. Her amber-red hair curls down around her shoulders, which are delectably exposed

Take 6:

Dirty Sixth calls to me, a raucous blaze of neon lights and auditory overload. Fifty disparate bars and clubs sprawl along the street's litter-strewn confines, which are saturated with judgment-impaired college students and habitual drunks. This is my consummate feeding ground.
I've visited every establishment from Midnight Cowboy to Coyote Ugly, but B.D. Riley's Irish Pub feels like a second home. A blonde with a pixie cut catches my eye as I walk through the door. She's a flavor I've not found here before. She wears the brightly-colored attire of a raver. She's more hard edges than curves, but the confidence in her posture appeals to me. Her low-cut top offers a delectable panorama from neck to cleavage.
A rakish grin spreads across my face as I claim the seat next to

[ November 24, 2015, 09:57 AM: Message edited by: Disgruntled Peony ]

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
WB
Member
Member # 10414

 - posted      Profile for WB           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I knew at the second word that I didn't know what was happening... and didn't find out till line 26 or so (Kathleen will be trimming your entry soon).

First paragraph is free. You can tell us what the narrator is, and we don't have to stumble and struggle to find out what's going on.

[ June 14, 2015, 05:18 PM: Message edited by: WB ]

Posts: 28 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wetwilly
Member
Member # 1818

 - posted      Profile for wetwilly   Email wetwilly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I read this before you trimmed it, so the initial longer excerpt informs my feedback.

I like this opening. I actually didn't find it confusing. Sure, there is a little mystery about what/who this guy is, but there's nothing wrong with a little mystery. No need to put all your cards on the table right away; let me have some fun discovering it as I go.

I think the description of the girl reads smoothly. It also provides a lot of characterization by showing us how this guy views people (at least the young, female ones). I'd read on. In fact, I'll be happy to read the rest for you.

Two nits:

"I smiled back, rattled off a witticism that made her laugh." I think you're cheating. You tell me he says something witty, but don't write a witty line for him? Feels like you're trying to make him wittier than you have the ability to write. (Not saying you don't have the ability to write a witty line, just that it comes across that way). I say take the time to write something witty for him to say.

"My girl's skin tingles" This feels like a POV switch to me. I was just settling into his head, and now I'm getting a sensation from her head (she's the one experiencing the tingling sensation), but through his head. Unless he can read minds or something.

I think your writing style has some poetry in it, and is engaging. I'm usually a bit turned off by vampire stories, but I'll gladly read this one.

Posts: 1474 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by WB:
I knew at the second word that I didn't know what was happening... and didn't find out till line 26 or so (Kathleen will be trimming your entry soon).

First paragraph is free. You can tell us what the narrator is, and we don't have to stumble and struggle to find out what's going on.

I apologize for the confusion. That wasn't my intention. It's not that I'm trying to be vague; it's that, thinking on the character's viewpoint, he wouldn't be focused on what he is. He'd be focused on what he's interested in. His condition is old news to him; the girl, on the other hand, is interesting.

quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
I read this before you trimmed it, so the initial longer excerpt informs my feedback.

I like this opening. I actually didn't find it confusing. Sure, there is a little mystery about what/who this guy is, but there's nothing wrong with a little mystery. No need to put all your cards on the table right away; let me have some fun discovering it as I go.

I think the description of the girl reads smoothly. It also provides a lot of characterization by showing us how this guy views people (at least the young, female ones). I'd read on. In fact, I'll be happy to read the rest for you.

Two nits:

"I smiled back, rattled off a witticism that made her laugh." I think you're cheating. You tell me he says something witty, but don't write a witty line for him? Feels like you're trying to make him wittier than you have the ability to write. (Not saying you don't have the ability to write a witty line, just that it comes across that way). I say take the time to write something witty for him to say.

"My girl's skin tingles" This feels like a POV switch to me. I was just settling into his head, and now I'm getting a sensation from her head (she's the one experiencing the tingling sensation), but through his head. Unless he can read minds or something.

I think your writing style has some poetry in it, and is engaging. I'm usually a bit turned off by vampire stories, but I'll gladly read this one.

You're probably right about the witticism line. It's seen some editing, but this is still close to my first draft. I was going to wait to post the lines, but then I realized it might be better to get feedback before I do more editing because then I have other perspectives on what needs to be worked on.

The tingling line definitely needs to get tweaked. That wasn't meant to be a POV switch; it was a poor choice of words on my part.

Thanks for the offer to read! I'll send it your way shortly.

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JSchuler
Member
Member # 8970

 - posted      Profile for JSchuler   Email JSchuler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I like the style. My only complaint is that I'd like something a tad more specific than "a witticism," but otherwise the voice works.

As a short story I'd like more of a hook in the opening. The only thing I can pick up is a subtle hint that the MC is a vampire in the last line. Unfortunately, that's not enough to interest me in the story as there is no evidence of a unique take on it. However, the strength of the writing would get me to turn the page.

Posts: 388 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
WB
Member
Member # 10414

 - posted      Profile for WB           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Good plan, sticking to MC's POV. After the first paragraph. "The first paragraph is free." http://www.francisbruno.com/first-paragraphs/

You can use the first paragraph to resolve all the questions the reader might have in the first scene, or anything you don't want coming through the MC's POV. In your case, since you're in 1st person, I suppose he'd still narrate, but it wouldn't be in the moment (as the rest of your text should be and is):

> I'm a vampire. I'm also quite the charmer. People don't fear me, until it's too late.

It's a little different because you're in first person. In 3rd, it could be like this:

> After the crash of '09 that destroyed the world economy and reduced the world population from 10 billion to 500 million, it was increasingly hard to find good domestic help.

> Roger looked at the smug face of his butler...

This free paragraph enables you to unconfuse the reader and then get into the POV you want and stick with it rigorously.

I hope this helps!

Posts: 28 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A predatory individual stalks and seduces an emo girl.

The voice is artfully close narrative distance, though several diction and syntax considerations bump the fiction dream the close distance develops.

The haircut description revised from its original is more or less about as vague as at first. The use of feminine sex-specific "blonde" is a clear and strong strategy, says she's a she in an economy of words: one; "harsh-cut" is not as clear or strong, is too vague. She can't be a skinhead -- no way to be sure she's blonde then. "Brush-cut" is a descriptive term for a high-and-tight or whitewall military-style haircut. Perhaps also with a Baby Gerber flourish topside. Either case, a visible tattoo is also warranted for tribal totemism, maybe a tramp stamp or another motif apropos of a newly emerged emo girl, of an unconventionalist, congruent, if contrary or comparable, to the haircut and apparel.

The artful sex detail for the girl raises an unanswered and essential consideration of what's the narrator-agonist's sexual orientation. Missing necessary content.

"witticisms" is on the too-sophisticated side for the social circumstances and a summary explanation that best practice is directly received, reflected dialogue instead. The dialogue is essential sensation received reflection and best advised shown not told -- a method for evaluation of whether to tell or show. Sensation is best advised shown for most cases. A direct speech sensation and circumstances segment is warranted that both characters react to and develops their character, the setting, the event, and the complication.

"unevaporated" is an unconventional prefix use, a mite too sophisticated for the situation as well, Also, for a term to describe lingered heat, a metalepsis figure of speech in this case, the term is too awkwardly allusive for estranging metaphor use. The word is narrator description. Estranging metaphors, metalepses, estrange narrator voice in favor of character voice, the latter being received reflections, the former being summary tell. The intuition to use metalepsis is artful, insightful, and promising, though too clumsy and sophisticated I feel and, therefore, forced, likewise, disturbs the fiction dream.

Consider that heat diffuses, yes, slower from brick than air, and that metalepsis' strength is emotionally charged expression. Another word to artfully express both is warranted. The use of a sensation motif can and should be either emblematic or symbolic, and emotionally charged.

How could all the motif's essential narrative needs be met? The narrator-agonist is in a state of heat, rut lust for sex if not blood. The brick pavement heat's telling detail is wrapped up in that context and texture of unrequited hot lust.

Note also tense lapses, one artfully transitioned, fluent flow, from present to past for the description of the girl's apparel, though unnecessary for the remainder of the paragraph. Likewise, an abrupt return to present, though present-progressive for the second paragraph's first sentence and a confused flow present perfect for the next sentence, then simple present again. None of the tense shifts are necessary or artful and, as they are, disturb maximum fluent flow, disturb the fiction dream.

Likewise, syntax this time, the transition from the first paragraph to the second is unnecessarily abrupt, skips an opportunity for scene, event, setting, and character development, especially for complication and conflict developments.

Abrupt transitions are a convention of episodic narratives. One type is the modular narrative, Modular narratives are customarily non-linear timelines rearranged for best dramatic flow effect. For example, an introductory modular segment could reveal a doctor appointment when bad news is given. A next non-flashback prior-time segment would detail a lead-up of symptoms that warrant a doctor visit, next, an earlier feel-good well-being segment, then modular returns to a present time, or future projection time, and back and forth modularly, and so on.

Another episodic type is the picaresque narrative: linear timeline, usually, episodic adventures of a roguish protagonist in social settings that expose the follies and vices of the social settings: satire -- exposes human vice and folly, usually ironically. William Faulkner and early Cormac McCarthy narratives are picaresques. This fragment feels somewhat picaresque though lacks development of the social setting commentary convention.

"My girl's skin tingles with sweat which teases at the nectars hidden beneath her skin."

Comma warranted after "sweat," though confused syntax and diction leave open the comma necessity. The "which" is objective case; conventionally, a comma precedes a subjective case "which." Because the "which" is objective case, a comma is optional; however, objective case use of "which" is a grammatical error. That is indicated instead. Then, though, either term is unnecessarily sophisticated use for, one, the stream-of-consciousness methods of first person; two, is a formal composition conjunction use best advised to avoid for fiction, disturbs the fiction dream.

The preposition "at" use is also a grammar error: diction, and a slang use inconsistent with an amply sophisticated diction and syntax otherwise. From is a suitable preposition for the context, or of for suitably awkward stream of consciousness, though none are warranted. "At" the consideration is the preposition's function is directional movement and a particle word for two-word verbs and adverbial phrases, threw at, ran at, came at, etc. Likewise, the awkward slang use disturbs the fiction dream.

The fragment's action could easily be interpreted to be the perspective of Edward Cullen from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight fame and glory. Vampire genre has to date progressed from monster villain to sympathetic and more sympathetic monstrosity: Anne Rice and Meyer further the sympathetic characteristic from Bram Stoker's pivotal introduction. In their own way, each has shown vampires as socially elite monsters, as well as have numerous following imitators and diluters: Stoker idle aristocracy; Rice, idle wealth; Meyer, idle urbanity. Meyer adds athletically elite werewolves to the mix. Elitism is a customary convention of vampire genre overall, either as sympathetic monstrosity or outright monstrosity.

The fragment projects or I project elitism is a matter of the narrative; however, that pivotal feature is a substantive matter for introductions and warrants clear and strong development soonest, so as readers, I at least, know what the story tangibly and intangibly is about.

If this is vampire genre, the action as is is superficial; the tangible portion of a narrative is always superficial. An intangible portion is what makes a narrative fresh if not original and appeals most to readers, though they be less than fully, consciously aware of intangibility's appeals. A writer is best advised, though, to be aware of intangible features because of originality's appeals, and as much if not more so because of a narrative's necessary depths of what by artful misdirection a narrative is "really" about: the moral human condition of substance for a whole.

In the case of vampire genre, that intangible moral condition feature is social elitism, sympathetic or otherwise. Of course, a parody or lampoon of vampire genre could artfully deviate from custom or a narrative could introduce a further progression or a new vampire paradigm, something about social elitism regardless.

I don't know this narrative's direction in those regards and cannot project either. The opportunity of those features is an opening, not sooner or later -- now. The position of introductions, first and foremost exposition in the sense of the outset of meaning or theme of a writing is at the start of an expression. That opportunity is the first scene segment, in scene mode, not summary tell mode, the stalk, meet and greet, and seduction by the narrator of the young woman.

In other words, this start to me is rushed.

A strength, though, that stands out for me, is the vivid, lively, surprising, emotionally charged, and artful description of the woman's appearance. Lust for a moral human condition is fully set up by those exquisite telling details.

However, the rushed expression misses opportunities to develop anticipation and the exposition functions. Even if lust plays as commentary about immediate, effortless self-gratification vice (to me a meaning I'd really enjoy for its parallels to and differences from previous sympathetic vampire genre's social elitism and gratifications thereof), some anticipation development is warranted for stronger and clearer dramatic fluency's flow, for meaning development, for tension development at least. Make the narrator-agonist work for her or his lust conquest and dinner gratification a degree and meanwhile develop exposition meanings.

I could read on, though, ambivalently curious about other later techniques the fragment implies could be artful strengths of what works for me, conflicted, however, by shortfalls of what doesn't work for me.

[ June 15, 2015, 12:59 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 4370 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by JSchuler:
I like the style. My only complaint is that I'd like something a tad more specific than "a witticism," but otherwise the voice works.

As a short story I'd like more of a hook in the opening. The only thing I can pick up is a subtle hint that the MC is a vampire in the last line. Unfortunately, that's not enough to interest me in the story as there is no evidence of a unique take on it. However, the strength of the writing would get me to turn the page.

After talking things over with wetwilly, I ended up adding a scene and am probably going to cut the first scene (and therefore the current set of opening lines) out of the second draft completely. Once I've got new lines ready I'll re-post. I need to take at least a week to get more distance from the story before I start a full-fledged second draft, though. Makes killing my darlings a smidge easier.

Does that last sentence mean you would be amenable to my sending the story your way?

quote:
Originally posted by WB:
You can use the first paragraph to resolve all the questions the reader might have in the first scene, or anything you don't want coming through the MC's POV. In your case, since you're in 1st person, I suppose he'd still narrate, but it wouldn't be in the moment (as the rest of your text should be and is):

> I'm a vampire. I'm also quite the charmer. People don't fear me, until it's too late.

I appreciate the link and I get what you're saying, but having the character essentially yell "I'm a vampire!" in the first paragraph literally ruins the story for me. It's not that I want to surprise the reader with some big vampire plot twist. It's that I actually tend to harbor a strong dislike for the majority of vampire fiction (largely because of a strong distaste for the way the topic of 'vampire' is handled these days). I made an active effort to avoid use of the word 'vampire' for the entirety of the narrative--it doesn't appear once. I'm fine with the reader knowing what the viewpoint character is, and I'll try to make it clear more quickly in the second draft, but he refuses to use the V-word. Not even once.

quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
The longest commentary on thirteen lines I have witnessed since joining this forum.

Holy crap. O_o

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system...

I actually meant harsh-cut to be a description of the blonde as a whole as opposed to simply her haircut. I see her as very angular, but still in an attractive way. If I end up keeping this scene, I'll see what I can do about expanding on that description so it's more clear.

I'm going to make it a point to weed out awkward metaphors in my second draft. I generally tend to feel that one of my weaknesses is description, and re-reading my first draft has led me to realize that I overcompensated in some places. I'm also going to make an active effort to keep everything in present tense. The fact that I slipped in paragraph two and didn't consciously notice it despite multiple re-reads is actually rather frustrating. (I do believe that's the only place I did it, but that doesn't make it any better.)

The comparison to Twilight made me sad. (Twilight generally makes me sad, but that's neither here nor there.) Vampiric "elitism" was far from my mind when I wrote this story, although these opening paragraphs really don't do a whole lot to show what the story is actually about. Definitely going to take a different approach in the second draft.

I honestly hope the story as a whole would disappoint less than my opening paragraphs, and am honestly interested in your opinion of the story as a whole if you're willing to give it.

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  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 
Instead of harsh-cut, perhaps something along the lines of this:

She was all planes and sharp corners, but just as desirable as a diamond.

Just my $0.02 worth.

Phil.

Posts: 1284 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I pass at this time reading further. I don't say that lightly. To me, the short story's opening fragment is ripe for the kinds of comments offered so far; that is, dramatic package realization, what the story is really about, for example.

Oftentimes, works offered for comment in workshops are rawer drafts than a writer realizes, largely shortfalls of full realization. The fragment here demonstrates a greater weight of strengths for discrete features than shortfalls, like the description of the girl and the emotional disequilibrium inherent to hot lust eagerness.

The middle phase of drafting that involves rewriting and revision for best dramatic reader effect, though, is a solitary effort, if expended at all. The solitary efforts are necessitated by realizing a writer's creative vision without undue prescriptive or proscriptive influences -- impositions -- of other writer-readers' creative visions.

That full realization intuitively and intellectually discovers a true meaning that energizes and unifies a whole. Sometimes the inspiration for what a story is really about entails external commentary from workshoppers, sometimes a writer independently realizes the inspiration, invariably, though, the full realization is a writer's creative vision expression on the page independent of impositions.

Often, a writer's response to comments entails total rewrites and major excisions or substantive additions, like a different start, different opening scene, different event, setting's time, place, and situation, and characters, and sometimes warranted, though plagued by doubt and confusion. I don't feel that degree of rewrite is warranted for this start, only a full, vivid, and lively realization of the stalk, meet and greet, and satisfaction outcome occasion of the scene. Plus, as noted above, incorporation of what the story is really about.

Four different what-a-story-is-really-about potentials exist for any narrative of any genre of any length: a moral law asserted, a moral truth discovered, both proportioned, or a moral vice justified by virtue.

The moral human condition feature of narrative is a nondiscretionary matter, to a degree. Cheap commercial fiction is ephemeral and often daydream junk, lacks a moral struggle feature, is suitable for filling self-publication shelves and vanity press backlists and airport gift shop racks. The only incentive is of monetary gain.

On the other hand, meaningful, timeless, and relevant prose entails a moral struggle, personal and intimate, and discovery of moral truth similar to one's social values and of the audience's or at odds with a social value convention and meaningfully adjusted to a discovered moral truth. Here, the incentive is artistic expression intended for a social conversation that entails self-esteem glory and satisfaction, that one gloriously belongs and contributes to the social conversation that is the meaning of life.

In other words, enduring and successful prose is meaningful as pertains to personal moral struggle satisfaction. The financial incentives notwithstood. To belong and contribute and participate socially responsibly is what a story's real meaning discovers. Otherwise, a narrative imposes a moral truth or promotes and glorifies social dysfunction and is junk propoganda for either or junk on its own for lack of full realization of a meaningful moral truth.

Some heavy composition "philosophy" for certain, though essential considerations for a writer who would be glorious and successful. Otherwise, and this is appreciable, a moral-motif inconsiderate writer dilutes meaning and expression, diminishes composition arts, and dully repeats otherwise superficial action that is as common and cheap as dirt.

[ June 16, 2015, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 4370 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the suggestion, Phil! I'll keep it in mind.

No worries, extrinsic; I just wanted to double check because you said you could read on, and I wasn't sure what that meant. At this point it sounds like you'd prefer I refine the story before you consider taking a gander, which makes sense.

I've given it some more thought and I'm going to play around with this scene, see if I can't make the hook more prominent. If I can't, I'll still expand on it, but I'll move it further into the story. It is, essentially, a question of how best to introduce the conflict. This is the first scene I ever wrote for the story, and at that point I hadn't fully realized the theme.

I'm definitely still open to feedback, but I think I'm going to let this thread slide at this point until I get (at least) my second draft done. I got a little overexcited because this is the first story, short or otherwise, that I've managed to complete a draft on in years. Next time I'll wait until at least the second draft before throwing lines up. That said, thank you everyone! This has all been helpful and I've learned a lot, which was the goal.

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Disgruntled Peony, one of the reasons for posting the first 13 lines in the Fragments and Feedback areas is to find out if readers would be willing to keep reading. That's basically what extrinsic was indicating to you.

A common practice among publishers is to only ask editos or first readers to read just the first page of a manuscript (13 lines).

If those 13 lines are compellinng enough to make the editor or first reader want to keep reading, then the manuscript won't go into the automatic reject pile, but may actually get a more complete reading (at least until the editors or readers get to a place where they don't feel compelled to keep reading).

The final goal is to get them to publish the story, but a penultimate goal is to get them to finish reading it, and the preliminary goal is to get them to turn that first page.

Posts: 8266 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've started playing with my second draft, and have a new tentative set of 13 lines listed in this thread's opening post. I'm not sure how I feel about it; I'm worried it's too much exposition and too little action. Thoughts?
Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wetwilly
Member
Member # 1818

 - posted      Profile for wetwilly   Email wetwilly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My opinion: your gut is right. I thought the action opening worked better. Pulled me in a lot better. This one just tells me, "I'm a vampire, but we're not like Dracula vampires," which doesn't really grab my interest because I've definitely read that story before.

Watching the vampire in action was way more interesting as an opening to me.

Posts: 1474 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wcoditwgth
Member
Member # 10431

 - posted      Profile for wcoditwgth   Email wcoditwgth         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Not particularly sure how the story is going to flow, but on comparing between the two openings, I'd agree with wetwilly: the action in take 1 is what draws me in. The exposition in take 2 might be something to put in later for characterization (since take 2 makes him seem like an ancient being that has plenty of experience), but it seems a bit dry (though perhaps that is the point. It makes him seem more like an aristocrat.)
Posts: 30 | Registered: Jun 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scot
Member
Member # 10427

 - posted      Profile for Scot   Email Scot         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I want to see extrinsic's analysis narrated and accompanied by Robert Downey Jr in slow-motion, slicing a bulky text down to size. [Smile] I love how much there is to learn here.
Posts: 56 | Registered: Jun 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scot
Member
Member # 10427

 - posted      Profile for Scot   Email Scot         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sorry for the double-post. I'm not sure of the best/most polite way to send this.

Extrinsic, could you point me to some more reading about the moral aspects of story that you mentioned:

quote:
Four different what-a-story-is-really-about potentials exist for any narrative of any genre of any length: a moral law asserted, a moral truth discovered, both proportioned, or a moral vice justified by virtue.

Posts: 56 | Registered: Jun 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Moral features are first posited by numerous old Greeks. The Poetics of Aristotle scratches at the edges of moral influences for drama. More recently and more comprehensively, Wayne Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction, and John Gardner, The Art of Fiction examine moral features in quite deep waters.

A moral component is a proportioned aspect that the literary school of thought New Criticism also examines, that and New Criticisms' central departure from other schools of thought: an at times scientific analysis of method, form, and structure and their influences on narratives' intents and meanings and narrative and dramatic theories.

Posts: 4370 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Okay! I figured out what I liked from the first opening, analyzed what little I liked from the second opening, and mish-mashed them into... this crazy thing. I've still got the rest of the story to edit (and a lot to expand on with this scene in particular), but I think this is an improvement on both of the previous openings. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scot
Member
Member # 10427

 - posted      Profile for Scot   Email Scot         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree that version 2.5 is improved. But I have a hard time picturing an immortal predator talking about his life/prey this way.

Did he get turned during the roaring 20's? Did his personality freeze there? Wouldn't his character continue to develop until the time period where people where tight jeans? Is he just such a fan of Dashiell Hammett that he keeps up this kind of ham-fisted homage?

Unfortunately these questions represent why I wouldn't keep reading, rather than prompts for me to find out more. Sorry.

Posts: 56 | Registered: Jun 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wetwilly
Member
Member # 1818

 - posted      Profile for wetwilly   Email wetwilly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree it's got a Dashiell Hammett, hard-boiled vibe, but for me, that's a plus. The voice pulls me in here. I like 2.5 and would keep reading.
Posts: 1474 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Scot:
I agree that version 2.5 is improved. But I have a hard time picturing an immortal predator talking about his life/prey this way.

Did he get turned during the roaring 20's? Did his personality freeze there? Wouldn't his character continue to develop until the time period where people where tight jeans? Is he just such a fan of Dashiell Hammett that he keeps up this kind of ham-fisted homage?

Unfortunately these questions represent why I wouldn't keep reading, rather than prompts for me to find out more. Sorry.

The reason this narrative style/viewpoint combination came into being is more to represent the way the viewpoint character experiences the world than to literally represent the way he thinks. I hadn't thought of the noir comparison until you brought it up, but it does seem fairly appropriate in the context of the story as a whole.

If this story isn't your cup of tea that's just fine. I still very much appreciate the feedback. You actually helped me reaffirm what I want to do with the story, in a weird sort of way.

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scot
Member
Member # 10427

 - posted      Profile for Scot   Email Scot         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[Smile]
Posts: 56 | Registered: Jun 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Brian Carlson
New Member
Member # 10433

 - posted      Profile for Brian Carlson   Email Brian Carlson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Disgruntled Peony:
[QB
Take 2.5

I'm a creature of appetite. Everyone is by degrees, but tonight mine threatens to rule me. This blonde with a pixie cut just walked into my bar of choice. She's got eyes like emeralds and a smile like daylight. It's not the first time I've seen her, but it is the first time I've set eyes on her while hungry. This time I take that second look.
She's wearing jeans she poured herself into and layered-on shirts that are just as tight. She's all planes and edges, built like a rail, but has enough sass to make up for the skinny. She's exuberant and energetic. If she were a sunbeam I'd burst into flames.
She takes a seat beside me at the bar. This is my chance. "What are you drinking, lass?" I give her a rakish grin. [/QB]

I don't know if its just me but do you think theres a need for a small detail that says whether our vampire friend is male.

I like it and would like to read further.

I'll probably learn more as I read but I also feel like I'd like to know pretty quickly whether the MC is just taking a small break from feeding or a reluctant predator trying to stay clean.

Posts: 8 | Registered: Jun 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Brian Carlson:
I don't know if its just me but do you think theres a need for a small detail that says whether our vampire friend is male.

I like it and would like to read further.

I'll probably learn more as I read but I also feel like I'd like to know pretty quickly whether the MC is just taking a small break from feeding or a reluctant predator trying to stay clean.

The answer to your first question is answered within the first page; it just doesn't crop up in the first 13 lines. The answer to the second question is actually intrinsic to the theme of the story. When I have a workable second draft I'll send it your way (probably by the end of tomorrow, if I have the time to work on it that I expect to). Thanks for the offer to read!
Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  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 think everything about the fragment's been said. I'm late to the party but I'd like to offer a critique of the whole story if you'd like, Disgruntled Peony.
Posts: 93 | Registered: Dec 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Captain of my Sheep:
I think everything about the fragment's been said. I'm late to the party but I'd like to offer a critique of the whole story if you'd like, Disgruntled Peony.

Much thanks for the offer! I'll send it your way once the second draft is set. I've been beset upon by a steady workload and a large amount of things to do at home, so I haven't gotten as far as I'd like. I have a lot of time off this weekend, though, so I hope to finish it up by Sunday night.
Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wetwilly
Member
Member # 1818

 - posted      Profile for wetwilly   Email wetwilly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Let me know when you're ready to trade 2nd drafts. I've got mine ready to go
Posts: 1474 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Okay, draft two is ready to go. I updated the 13 lines to reflect the current edits.
Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The third fragment is smoother than its antecedents, except for the word "lass." That word seems out of time and place compared to more or less contemporary urban language of the rest.

This fragment, though to me, is the same as the others, a few diction and syntax changes and rearrangements; otherwise, no substantive differences, not much improved.

The voice of the fragment is overall static: stasis state of being declarations. To be verbs are by default static voice: "am," "was," "is," etc. They express or declare a nonfinite state of being time span.

For example: "I am a creature of appetite." Static voice allows little or no forward energy because the action is static. Static voice expressions serve transitional and emphasis functions as summary or explanation; in other words, they are narrator lecture -- tell. That sentence opening the story is at least out of position. The customary sequence is a stimuli, cause, or action, etc., segment first then a response, effect, or reaction. This sequence is causal-logical and generates the all-important forward event profluence -- fluent forward flow.

Another understanding approach is scene then summary -- or, segment then summary. Summary concludes a segment for setup transition to a next segment sequence and, for strongest effect, accentuates and emphasizes what came before. Not summarizes what will then follow. The sentence for strongest effect could follow at the end of the first paragraph instead of at the start.

Formal composition thesis statements declare a summary of what will follow, generally do start a paragraph; that's formal composition methods, though, not best practice prose composition.

Likewise, many of the sentence verbs are static of the to be variety.

Also, for that first sentence, reads trite and outworn to me, all but cliché. A useful metric for gauging triteness anymore is how frequently an expression is used by mass culture. "creature of appetite" is about as common and thus outworn on the Internet as "creature of habit."

The words themselves are less problematic than their lack of clarity and strength somewhat. Strength to mean attitude commentary -- emotionally charged expression. An emotionally charged adverb is warranted to modify "appetite," the very function of adverbs and adjectives and other modifiers.

What kind of appetite? The title "Ravenous" implies insatiable. Potentials of the root word raven offer additional insights -- an ominous, omnivorous bird. Perhaps a //wicked appetite,// for the duality of meaning, perhaps evil, selfishness in any case, and the use of "wicked" to mean powerful or awesome. Or similar. Artfully ambiguous regardless, that develops mystique.

For the whole, the fragment anyway, consider that enhancement of strong and clear emotional charge and less, if any, to be verbs, for dynamic voice, except for transition, emphasis, and segment summary.

By the way, to have and to get verbs also at times are state of being verbs: static, nonfinite time span. Likewise, present participle and sensory verbs that summarize an action rather than show a sensation; they are nonfinite time span verbs in each case; they slow, stall, or cease forward fluent movement. They are best practice used sparingly, timely, and judiciously, as is the case for any emphasis type -- when warranted.

If the whole story is now complete, the revision phase best practice at this time could focus on developing verb dynamism and fluent forward flow.

[ July 06, 2015, 01:05 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 4370 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
The third fragment is smoother than its antecedents, except for the word "lass." That word seems out of time and place compared to more or less contemporary urban language of the rest.
Honestly, I feel like it's a hint (however subtle) that the character himself is from an older time and place. The word shows up more than once in his spoken dialogue.

Also, just as a general note: I know some of the fragments are very similar, and it's largely because I updated the opening here every time I changed it even a little bit. Probably not a best practice going forward, but it helped me work through things in this case.

quote:
The voice of the fragment is overall static: stasis state of being declarations. To be verbs are by default static voice: "am," "was," "is," etc. They express or declare a nonfinite state of being time span.
That's quite distressing, honestly. I didn't realize I was doing that until you pointed it out.

quote:
Formal composition thesis statements declare a summary of what will follow, generally do start a paragraph; that's formal composition methods, though, not best practice prose composition.
I wrote a fair amount of essays during my college years, so I get where you're coming from. A strong thesis statement is the backbone of a good essay.

My first first draft (we'll call it draft zero) opened up with a narrative paragraph that was, essentially, the thesis statement of the story. It's actually what inspired me to write the entire piece. I ended up cutting it because it seemed like opening up a story with action was far and away preferred to opening it with internal musings.

In case you're curious, the original opening 'thesis paragraph' read like this:

Given enough time, you can get used to anything. Whatever it may be—hunger, pain, violence, death, even murder—the extraordinary loses the extra, however fine or foul you found it at first. You've got to forget to find it fresh again, and some things just keep getting old by necessity. Everyone needs to eat, after all, and I've always been one to play with my food.

quote:
Also, for that first sentence, reads trite and outworn to me, all but cliché. A useful metric for gauging triteness anymore is how frequently an expression is used by mass culture. "creature of appetite" is about as common and thus outworn on the Internet as "creature of habit."
I genuinely did not know that was such a common term of phrase. I tend to avoid social media (and therefore a large portion of the internet as a whole) due to some old issues with a pseudo-stalker. I've had a lot of people tell me they like the opening sentence, but I also see where you're coming from. Definitely food for thought.

quote:
If the whole story is now complete, the revision phase best practice at this time could focus on developing verb dynamism and fluent forward flow.
That's the plan! Always was. I've got the basic building blocks of the story where I need them this time around, so now it's time to edit until I'm satisfied. Maybe I'm weird, but I prefer editing to the initial drafting of a story. It's because I have something pre-existing to ground me rather than the feeling that I'm trying to pull words out of thin air.
Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I collected a few digital malefactors until I stopped using my statutory name and using user names across sites. No social media membership for me either. I read and follow though do not post on plain social media. Two concerns drive my earnest anonymity, a malefactor intending bodily harm showed up from hundreds of miles away at my door, for no good reason except my asserting the behaviors of the individual were socially irresponsible and earned the shunning that ensued.

The other is a matter of privacy protection. Others of my family members and irresponsible Internet habits overall are indiscrete. With only a few clues to go by, anyone with the ability could track down in a few minutes about any private information they want to for whatever purpose. Birthday and birthplace, mother's maiden name, address, telephone numbers, workplace, parents names and identification, children, school place, even Social Security number. I have found others' private information in a matter of only a few minutes. Municipal government sites are especially indiscrete, not to mention social medias' generally oblivious indiscretions.

On the other hand, my "voice" is distinct enough, my diction and syntax, rhythm, etc., that my separate user names may be discovered as one and the same person. Fortunately, that degree of insight accompanies otherwise intelligent and responsible individuals.

Posts: 4370 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I know, I know. You guys are probably getting sick of all these edits. I want to get this right, though. XP

I've already started the heavy editing for draft three because I got antsy and I knew what I wanted to do with the story. I've still got some tweaks to make, but I've mostly got the story where I want it. I know some of the lines are still similar/the same, but I'm making an active effort to cut out passive phrasing. Thoughts?

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  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 
Walk away for a week or two and have a break. Then come back and re-write the opening without reading anything you've written previously.

You're overcooking in my small, insignificant opinion.

Phil.

Posts: 1284 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"Overcooking" I second on one side. Another side -- strike while passion moves the writing. Sometimes, too, circumstances necessitate no fermentation, like deadlines.

Odd though, to me, that the number of to be and analog static verbs increased for the fifth version. They're subtler at least.

Use of the term "passive" may cause confusion when discussing writing. Passive voice is a specific syntax of a sentence subject and object inversion: the verb's acted upon object is in sentence subject position and the subject doer of the verb's action is in object position or absent.

Passive voice: He got a beating from the neighbor.
Active voice: The neighbor beat him.

Note that to get is used above for a to be analog verb. The passive voice example also has a preposition "from" linking the sentence object (real subject) to the verb. A to be or analog verb, inverted verb doer and done to, and a preposition of the object phrase (real subject), those are the hallmarks of passive voice.

Passive voice or active voice is a grammar concept. Likewise, static voice or dynamic voice is a grammar concept, though far less known and only sketched briefly in grammar handbooks. I developed the term static voice as a result of commenting about a writing here at Hatrack long ago. Ms. Dalton Woodbury advised that use of "passive" was a problem when a sentence or other expression wasn't passive voice, for the same reason given above.

I proposed "static" at the time for an excess of to be verbs. Ms. Dalton Woodbury agreed that "static" is a suitable description of writing that entails excess and unnecessary state of being expression: stasis statements -- static voice. Dynamic voice expresses, as finite a time sense as practical, process statements. Now years later, after exhaustive scientific investigation, I've fully developed the static-dynamic voice concept.

Let's investigate the first sentence of the fifth version for passive or static voice status.

"A blonde with a pixie cut sits beside me at the bar."

The blonde sits; therefore, not passive voice. However, "beside" is a preposition. The verb to sit in that case, though, is an intransitive case, meaning does not necessarily take an object. Transitive verbs take an object. "beside" is the preposition of the conjoined object phrase "beside me" and "at the bar." Also to sit, in either transitive or intransitive case, takes a particle -- to sit is a two-word verb, takes a particle adverb, usually, or in some cases a preposition. The preposition case is, though, oftentimes a grammatical error due to nonfinite time sense. An adverb, stronger and clearer, expresses a finite time sense. Sits down, up, back, etc. The directional adverb that establishes a finite time sense is missing. Not passive voice, though static voice.

"A blonde with a pixie cut sits [down] beside me at the bar."

Likewise, the sentence has two object phrases: "beside me" and "at the bar." "at" is also a preposition. One or the other phrase could be removed for a stronger and clearer sentence. Stronger -- more dynamic, thus clearer finite time sense. Excess prepositions and any linking words are a signal of run-on sentences, too many ideas in one sentence.

//A blonde with a pixie cut sits down at the bar// is the main idea. Note that "with" is also a preposition and "a pixie cut" an object in subject complement position. Three prepositional phrases in the sentence is a signal of a train wreck run-on sentence.

The "beside me" intends to locate the relative positions of the two individuals and introduce the narrative point of view; that is, first-person narration. The two object phrases, clutter and confuse the sentence idea. Another sentence is warranted for the "beside me" phrase and probably recast for the "with a pixie cut" phrase too, to emphasize the sensory perception.

The sentence turns from a sensation description into a summary action description; the narrator, even though first person, directly addresses readers in what is tantamount to a summary aside. Narrator voice, in other words. And static voice from the nonfinite verb concern and the open distance of narrator summary address to readers. The sensation is the stronger idea of the sentence and needs no stage direction summary. A next sentence is suitable for the directional orientation of "beside me."

The next sentence is also problematic. First, a pronoun expletive "It's." A pronoun expletive, without a clear subject antecedent, takes the place of a noun sentence subject and is mere placeholder until the real subject emerges later, usually after a verb, the to be "is" or was part of the contraction "It's," if at all. In this case a noun-adverbial phrase in object position, "the first time she's sat there." Both noun and verbal phrase combined is unconventional grammar, at least.

Pronouns other than he or she, for example, or it, when used to reference a clear and closely proximate antecedent subject are best advised to avoid. They slow, stall, or stop reading when their subject is not clear and strong.

Parse the remainder of the fragment and the story for similar clunky grammar, syntax especially. Choose the strongest and clearest order for subject, verb, and, if warranted, object. Strong and clear grammar is nearly invisible to readers and by itself produces a fluent flow. Weak and cloudy grammar is unduly visible, and bumpy flow, especially to screening readers who look for any reason to reject a typescript.

Of course, on the other hand, an argument could be construed this is first-person narration and the clunky grammar signals stream-of-consciousness thoughts of the narrator. Okay!? though like anything narrative, timely and judicious, sparing unconventional grammar uses are a best advised practice. Unconventional? Slang grammar is unconventional. Expletives are unconventional grammar that are anymore part of everyday conversation slang. "Everyday" is not a best advised practice for a narrative opening, nor much elsewhere. Sparing use, though, serves the function of imitating real life -- stream-of-consciousness thoughts, for example.

This degree of scrutiny may seem untoward, for writer as well as commentator. The advanced grammar skills of effective expression are hard to develop to a suitable degree for prose and in general, especially when drafting. However, the effort becomes second nature sooner than later. The career will benefit.

[ July 09, 2015, 09:37 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 4370 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My best guess is that when I started the latest round of edits my brain either misinterpreted what you'd meant by 'passive' or I confused things in some other way. I think I have a better idea of what you meant now. It's been a long while since my last English class. Maybe it's time to break out the old college textbook and have a read.

As for overcooking, I suppose that is a valid concern. I've trimmed a lot of unnecessary words/phrases from the document as a whole to tighten up the prose, so I feel okay now to take a break and come back later for round two.

I am curious what the benefit is of writing the beginning over from scratch as opposed to working with what I've already got. I don't want to cling to parts of the story that don't work, but this opening scene is necessary to set up later conflicts. I thought about dropping it entirely at one point, but realized that if I skip to the next scene there's considerably less empathy to be had for the protagonist and the overarching conflict of the story as a whole.

This scene is essentially my 'act one', the establishment of normalcy that gets tipped on its head by the complications of acts two and three. No matter how I change the prose, the basic necessities of the scene as it pertains to the plot remain the same. My struggle, I suppose, is to hint at or state the overarching complication of the story without bogging the reader down in unnecessary detail or boring him/her.

No matter what I do, I'm not going to please everyone. I know that. The problem is, my silly little brain still wants to try.

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  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 
You'd be surprised what a break does to the thought processes. And, so often, I see the same recycled words and phrases used as writers re-write their opening scene. Why? (Rhetorical question)

The opening scene is a guy seeing a girl in a bar and then 'hitting' on her. For what purpose? Does he actually want to "Dvink her blud" or is there something else going on? (Added after a further read: you say this scene is meant to be the establishment of normalcy, but his reactions to this woman are not what normally happens to him from what you've written. This demonstrates to me you still haven't nailed down exactly what you want the opening to do.)

And why start here and in that way? A break will let you reconsider these sorts of questions when you least expect it and, as you sit down to write it afresh, you will be 'reaching' and 'searching' for better words to say what needs to be said instead of recycling overused words and phrases.

Just my observation on what works for me. The break breaks the mindset that, "The scene is right, I just can't get the proper words." and gives you the opportunity to say, "You know, that's not quite the right way (place) to start the story."

Phil.

Posts: 1284 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So, essentially what you're saying is that my story might actually flow better if it begins differently and I'm too close to the story right now to consider that. Duly noted! I'll give myself some time off from the story to let things percolate and see what happens. I do have other projects I can poke at in the meantime.

(I have this weird fear that I might stop writing again, which I really don't want to do. This is something I've wanted to do since I was young and I let that desire slide in favor of other things for a very long time. I'd like this to be my job someday instead of poking away in retail hell.)

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The fragments each evince pendent energy. I have few doubts about the intent and meaning -- the fragments are "good enough" for government work and of a middling publication-worthy quality. For career success, though, the writing -- grammar is to casual and too forced. The openings each do what an opening should: a want with attendant problem is foreground, emotional disequilibrium is strong and clear, a pendent routine interruption is laid out, and a self-involved moral tableau is cued up.

My concern is the flow of each is bumpy and rushed from language that is too much everyday slang at odds with too sophisticated dialect and feels forced, unnatural, inauthentic, and, at the same time, under and overwrought for the scene situation.

The segment is a bar pickup scene, mostly an everyday scenario, one that wants everyday slang for dialogue and stream of consciousness though a seemingly less sophisticated dialect, and no less sophisticated, smoother, less bumpy for narration discourse.

A touch of uniqueness, a hint of idiosyncrasy for liveliness I feel is wanted for firm grounding in the scene. The narrator's sensation descriptions, of the bar setting, and the patrons, certainly the blonde, are a possible access point for that uniqueness.

A word I recently read about a similar setting to describe a hairdo illustrates: "fauxhawk," a false mohawk. Exquisite word that firmly establishes a setting mythology, one word as a telling detail, that foreshadowed the events to come, developed setting time, place, and situation, and developed characters -- the first person narrator and the love interest. The word, though unconventional, engaged my intellect and thus emotion and imagination. I felt smart from immediately understanding the word; I fully understood the intent.

The blonde is an objectified thing, naturally, a pickup is an object of desire; the narrator's gaze objectifies her. Readers, though, are best appealed to from seeing her as a human being, bright, lively, and lovely -- in other words, as a fully rounded empathy-worthy individual who is in jeopardy. Though the narrator consciously knows not that he? objectifies the woman yet readers do. An awesome challenge.

The fauxhawk description above, for example, says the character is naive, uncommitted, a poser, and what kind of bar in which the pickup scene takes place. Vanity is cued up, a human moral failing of pride, yet the love interest character is bold and unaware of the overt to readers unintended signals the fauxhawk expresses and represents. Readers are, though. That's the kind of idiosyncrasy I mean, that could smooth and enliven the disparate everyday slang and sophisticated language.

[ July 10, 2015, 10:37 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 4370 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Disgruntled Peony:
I am curious what the benefit is of writing the beginning over from scratch as opposed to working with what I've already got.

The idea behind writing something over again from scratch is that it might help you to produce "fresh" prose instead of overworking prose that you may have edited to death. It also allows you to bring what you've learned so far about the story into a "fresh" attempt without holding you to the way you've written it before.

quote:

(I have this weird fear that I might stop writing again, which I really don't want to do. This is something I've wanted to do since I was young and I let that desire slide in favor of other things for a very long time. I'd like this to be my job someday instead of poking away in retail hell.)

One thing that can help with that is to allow yourself to work on something else during the break. Don't let your "muse" think that you are married to this particular story and therefore unable to work on other stories.

Another thing that can help is to remember that just as movie scenes are not necessarily filmed in the order in which they are viewed, story scenes do not need to be written in the order in which they will be read. So you can take a break from the opening and work on other scenes in the story.

Posts: 8266 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
My concern is the flow of each is bumpy and rushed from language that is too much everyday slang at odds with too sophisticated dialect and feels forced, unnatural, inauthentic, and, at the same time, under and overwrought for the scene situation.

That's fair. The narrative voice for this story isn't quite my usual style, so that may be some of where the awkwardness comes from. Some of that may just be the way the character thinks, because he's got some eccentricity to him (his original incarnation was as an Irish/English bastard who got forced into piracy). Either way, there's definitely opportunity for refinement.

I think what I need to do is read the story all the way through start to finish for consistency's sake. This, of course, is after the break and the potential of starting fresh on the attempt at an opening scene. Phil's comments made me realize I never actually considered why the protagonist is so hungry at the start of the story. That's probably worth exploring. (Even if it only ends up being tangential, I ought to understand it.)

quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
quote:
Originally posted by Disgruntled Peony:
(I have this weird fear that I might stop writing again, which I really don't want to do. This is something I've wanted to do since I was young and I let that desire slide in favor of other things for a very long time. I'd like this to be my job someday instead of poking away in retail hell.)

One thing that can help with that is to allow yourself to work on something else during the break. Don't let your "muse" think that you are married to this particular story and therefore unable to work on other stories.
I'm steering toward that now. I just have to figure out what to work on. Theoretically, I have about seven different novel ideas I could poke at, but I'm still at the brainstorming phase for all but one of them. I need to do more brainstorming for that one, too, but I've got about 10k words written from my last attempt at it. I don't think I'm ready to pick it up just yet, but I at least want to figure out what to do with it for later.

I'm probably going to end up trying for another short story or two. I've got plenty of ideas there, too. It's just a matter of picking something and seeing it through to the end of draft one.

quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
Another thing that can help is to remember that just as movie scenes are not necessarily filmed in the order in which they are viewed, story scenes do not need to be written in the order in which they will be read. So you can take a break from the opening and work on other scenes in the story.

I'm fairly comfortable with jumping around from scene to scene for both writing and editing, and have been for awhile. My biggest problems come from procrastination and distraction. I'm trying to re-form good writing habits. It's an ongoing process, but I do believe progress is being made. If I can't focus on writing while on the computer, I'll either take a walk to jump-start my brain or grab a notebook and take it upstairs for some privacy.
Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scot
Member
Member # 10427

 - posted      Profile for Scot   Email Scot         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
My biggest problems come from procrastination and distraction. I'm trying to re-form good writing habits. It's an ongoing process, but I do believe progress is being made. If I can't focus on writing while on the computer, I'll either take a walk to jump-start my brain or grab a notebook and take it upstairs for some privacy.
I wish I had an answer for that one. But at least I can commiserate. Excelsior, no?
Posts: 56 | Registered: Jun 2015  |  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 
Sorry to hear you feel anxious about loosing your desire to write. However, if it is a true one, fear not, you'll never loose it. Although, at times you may wish you had.

There is only one remedy in my opinion for not writing, whether you want to call it procrastination, doubt, confusion, an inability to focus on the main game, or a whole heap of other euphemisms for sitting in the dark and staring into space--set up a routine and stick to it.

Pick a place that's yours and designate it your writer's desk/room/nook/chair/garage/shed.

Decorate you space, no matter how small, with writerly stuff--dictionaries, thesauri(?),books on writing, how to's and how not to's, a pad, a pencil, a notebook (paper or electronic), and a computer if there's space.

Set aside at least one hour every day, at the same time of day, for writing--whether you do or not. At that time, go to your writer's space, eliminate all distractions and start writing--or thinking about writing, or studying writing, or anything else you think might be related to writing. Eventually it will happen.

But don't expect inspiration to strike you only in that place--it will strike whenever it bloody-well wants to, so carry a notebook at all times.

Hope this helps a little bit.

Phil.

Posts: 1284 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
Sorry to hear you feel anxious about loosing your desire to write. However, if it is a true one, fear not, you'll never loose it. Although, at times you may wish you had.

There is only one remedy in my opinion for not writing, whether you want to call it procrastination, doubt, confusion, an inability to focus on the main game, or a whole heap of other euphemisms for sitting in the dark and staring into space--set up a routine and stick to it.

Pick a place that's yours and designate it your writer's desk/room/nook/chair/garage/shed.

Decorate you space, no matter how small, with writerly stuff--dictionaries, thesauri(?),books on writing, how to's and how not to's, a pad, a pencil, a notebook (paper or electronic), and a computer if there's space.

Set aside at least one hour every day, at the same time of day, for writing--whether you do or not. At that time, go to your writer's space, eliminate all distractions and start writing--or thinking about writing, or studying writing, or anything else you think might be related to writing. Eventually it will happen.

But don't expect inspiration to strike you only in that place--it will strike whenever it bloody-well wants to, so carry a notebook at all times.

Hope this helps a little bit.

Phil.

I honestly don't think I'm going to lose the drive to write any time soon. It just scares me that it happened in the past, and therefore could theoretically happen again. On the upside, because it has happened to me before, I'll know what the warning signs are and may be able to circumvent it.

My work schedule is too random for me to set aside a specific hour every day, but I do have a generalized timeframe: the hour after work, because it helps me wind down.

I may well redecorate my computer desk to be more writer-ish. I've already started inadvertently acquiring lots of the things you mentioned in that general area simply because of how much more often I've been gravitating to the computer since I started writing more regularly.

Also, if inspiration strikes me randomly, I have a notebook app on my phone and I'm not afraid to use it. XD I just don't like actually writing on my phone. I'll get three paragraphs into something and then get frustrated by how long it takes to get anything down.

Thanks for the advice! [Smile]

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  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 
Right after work may be the wrong time to try and write; too caught up in the days events. Perhaps 'winding down' and then [Smile] writing might work better.

Phil.

Posts: 1284 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I ended up having a revelation about the story that led to a new opening scene. The first thirteen lines are at the top of the thread, but I'll post them here too so that people don't have to scroll up.

Take 5:

My fingers tap out a staccato beat on the restaurant table as I anticipate Sadie's arrival. I kept my last meal lean so I could properly enjoy tonight's festivities--perhaps too lean. The pulses of the other patrons crash like ocean waves in my ears. Without Sadie's presence to distract me, my appetite waxes unchecked.
I recognize Sadie's approach even with my back to the door by the smell of her perfume and her adrenaline-accelerated heartbeat. She slides into the booth across from me, all smiles and flushed cheeks. “Sorry I'm late, I got caught up at work.”
“No worries, love. You're worth the wait.”
My words send her into a full-body blush. Her amber-red hair curls down around her shoulders, which are delectably exposed

[ July 20, 2015, 11:14 PM: Message edited by: Disgruntled Peony ]

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wetwilly
Member
Member # 1818

 - posted      Profile for wetwilly   Email wetwilly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I like v5.
Posts: 1474 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
I like v5.

After ten days of agonizing debate, I've decided that I actually do not, in fact, like v5. Not even a little bit. The scene that follows those initial lines is flat and dry. Nothing I've tried livens it up. I'm scrapping the scene so I don't scrap the whole bloody story. If I'm not enjoying the story, there's no point in writing it, and I really did enjoy it prior to this attempt.
Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  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 
quote:
Originally posted by D.P:
If I'm not enjoying the story, there's no point in writing it, and I really did enjoy it prior to this attempt.

I prefer version 4, it's more immediate and seems to make me a part of the conversation. However, if the scene has lost the delight you found in it in your first imaginings, I'd suggest you go back to first principles: What is the purpose of the scene, introduction of character, action, want, etc? Second, what does it have to do? Third, what's the best way to show it?

Phil.

Posts: 1284 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
quote:
Originally posted by D.P:
If I'm not enjoying the story, there's no point in writing it, and I really did enjoy it prior to this attempt.

I prefer version 4, it's more immediate and seems to make me a part of the conversation. However, if the scene has lost the delight you found in it in your first imaginings, I'd suggest you go back to first principles: What is the purpose of the scene, introduction of character, action, want, etc? Second, what does it have to do? Third, what's the best way to show it?

Phil.

v5 was a completely different scene, slated before the original first scene of the story. I've decided to go back to v4, albeit with some setting introduction in the first two paragraphs. Perhaps something like this:

quote:
Dirty Sixth calls to me, a raucous blaze of neon lights and auditory overload. The street plays host to no less than fifty different bars and clubs, which makes it my personal heaven. I'm welcome in every establishment from Midnight Cowboy to Coyote Ugly, and the area is perpetually awash with judgment-impaired college students and habitual drunks. It's the perfect feeding ground.
I'm in the mood for a slice of home, so I make my way to B.D. Riley's Irish Pub. A blonde with a pixie cut is seated at the bar. She's not the usual flavor I find here: no older than twenty-five, dressed more like a clubber than a pub girl. She's more hard edges than curves, but her low-cut top offers a delicious panorama from neck to cleavage.
I run a hand through my hair to give it that boyish tousle

...And so on and so forth.

[ August 01, 2015, 12:37 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

Posts: 346 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

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