Version 1: Woori leaned back in her chair, finger circling her coffee mug, leg dangling over the armrest, while her three classmates droned on about the crucial midterm interview exam Friday morning. She sighed. What a way to begin the weekend, she thought, and yawned, head thrown back, mouth opened wide as if she’d gobble down the world around her in one bite. “Since Woori didn’t write down a practice conversation,” her South African teammate, who’d chosen the Korean name Ga-Yeong, but whose real name was Bee, said, “we should really spend the rest of the evening memorizing what the three of us did.” Woori turned to the other team members, two guys from Japan, but they avoided her gaze. She’d seen them staring at her when they thought she wasn’t paying attention, guessed the thoughts playing
Version 2: Woori leaned back in the café chair and stroked the handle of the Bodyguard through the denim of her jean shorts. In the tables spread out to her right on the 2nd floor of the Tom n’ Toms, university students hunched over textbooks, their eyes dull as they gazed at tiny print marching along flat pages. To her left below the café balcony where she sat overlooking Shin Chon park, drunks in slacks and shirts, their ties loosened around their collars, reclined on benches amongst the pigeons and sipped from green bottles of soju. Woori didn’t know what scene turned her stomach more, and her hand itched to slip the knife out of her pocket and run the blade across the throats of the living dead surrounding her. The image of blood draining from their throats as life fled their pale faces sent tingles
Definitely an interesting first thirteen. I was caught by the teammate thing and how everyone's from a different nationality; I'm intrigued to see if we get to learn anything about other cultures, and why/how these teammates got together.
You do have a sort of strange rhythm going on though, between the commas, and I found it kinda distracting. For instance:
"...leaned back in her chair, finger circling her coffee mug, leg dangling over the armrest, while her three classmates droned" <--- One-two-three-four-five beat here. I imagine a tiny ellipsis in the commas, so it's like a thumping sub woofer in my head.
"What a way to begin the weekend, she thought, and yawned, head thrown back, mouth opened wide" <-- Another five-beat
"South African teammate, who’d chosen the Korean name Ga-Yeong, but whose real name was Bee, said" <--- A four-beat here.
"...turned to the other team members, two guys from Japan, but they avoided her gaze" <--- Three-beat.
The issue for me with these sentences is that the beats are all similar--and there are a lot of them--and they're all structured the same, so there's no variety in sentence structure. Also, it feels like a lot of introductory/visual information is just being rammed into my head, and it doesn't feel very "natural." Just a little bit too much too soon, I suppose?
I would read on however, to see what these teammates are doing.
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Though many of the lackluster Korean culture artifacts are absent now, I don't see otherwise a substantial adjustment to the fragment's dramatic appeals.
One feature regardless of narrative type a start best practice entails is emotional charge; that is, an emotional transformation from a ground state to an excited state.
Who's the strongest emotional attitude holder for this segment? Woori is poised for that role. She's bored, she starts bored, she ends bored by the fragment's end. No emotional movement. Even slow starts best practice emotionally move.
For this fragment -- rushed and forced, by the way, that doesn't substitute for emotional movement -- Woori's emotional attitude is essential for movement start. Bored? Okay enough. A second emotional feature is indicated, for example, perhaps anger toward her companions for their disregard of her feelings. Bored and angry? Pitiable and fearable in anticipation of how Woori will manage her reaction to her companions' reactions to her obvious apathy and pendent antipathy.
They clash already; move the clash more toward the foreground. Emotional movement then begins from a word-one preparation setup, and due to emotional movement starts movement overall, and appeals, character movement starts, plot movement starts, story movement starts. That is the art of the "bait and hook."
If Woori is meant to be a victimized target, complicated for it, so be it. An added dimension, though, develops if she implies or expresses a personal complication, want and problem proactive satisfaction efforts, introduced at least. Like what would Woori rather be doing at this immediate now moment?
How to include all the above in so short a line and word count? Use the event, setting, and character features at hand to imply the emotional charge and complication. To wit, Woori is bored and angry and wants to be elsewhere. Even if explained and summarized through narrator tell, that develops movement. Show, of course, though, appeals more dynamically.
This told: Bored, wants to be elsewhere, ergo, Woori is angry.
That's the gist of the fragment (fragment versions) I project. It's not implied or expressed, or an otherwise destabilized emotional charge state, by the fragment, though.
This is like velcro, full of tiny hooks. I'm not sure that's enough for readers to stick to the story. Parts are missing that could build a stronger hook. For example, the only bit of setting provided is a chair. Where are they? We're told that the four people are teammates, but did they choose to be? Woori seems both trusting and wary of the other three.
Woori's personality wants to come through, and more care with descriptions might help solidify it. She's not just bored, she's almost flamboyantly in her unconcern for the conversation. However, in the first three sentences, parts of Woori are leaning, fingering, dangling, sighing, thinking, yawning, lifting, and opening. That's a confusing amount of physical movement for the first lines. Focusing on only one or two actions at time might show her feelings better.
I think the introduction for her teammates could be smoother, too. Getting a nationality and two names in a dialogue tag is a bit overwhelming.
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Initial impressions: I thought Woori was some kind of spy or assassin based on how she was surveying her environment, noting a lot of detail about the people and what they were doing. Woori seemed distant from her surroundings or purposely distanced herself from her surroundings. She is not a part of normal society. Spy/assassin assumption rendered incorrect (nice surprise) early on. Gruesome imagery, Woori likes/enjoys death.
Didn't know what a Bodyguard was but guessed it was a weapon of some kind.
Woori sounds like she would be the antagonist in a story.
I really like your writing style - crisp with good description.
Gee, maybe this isn't much of a review because I actually don't see much wrong with version 2! I would keep going!
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