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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Roanoke (Fantasy Novel)

   
Author Topic: Roanoke (Fantasy Novel)
Stormshine
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Here's my first thirteen lines. Any sort of suggestions are appreciated. I'm looking for both technical and style critiques.

When Riley was first awakened by distant shouts coming from outside her cell, she didn't think much of it. She curled up in the corner of her cell and prayed that it was another inmate going crazy on the guards and not the other way around. She knew all too well that the worst threat at Galkava was not the prisoners, but guards with too much alcohol and not enough to do. She felt her jaw where it was still bruised from her first experience with them just two days ago and tried to pull even farther back into the shadows.
A nearby gunshot made her jump and a short shriek escaped her throat before she managed to contain herself. There was more incoherent yelling following the shot, but then the source of the voices drew closer and she was able to make out what they were saying.


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nitewriter
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Too journalistic. You tell us what is happening and what has happened, but do not really let us into it. Why not start with one of these incidents, expand it with dialogue and actions, get us right in there so that we are more than detached observers.

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Chaldea
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This has a lot of potential. But i agree, put us in the action right away. Watch the wordiness. It slows the pace when you are trying to hook your reader. Wordiness must be accompanied by an exceptional literary style; a profound view, exceptional command of language, and/or a unique voice. Since your protagonist is sitting in a jail cell, I'm thinking you don't wan t a literary style. You want action. This is not one of those novels. So you will have to figure out how to put us in the action and keep it punchy for pacing.

For example: In the first line, you say she is in her cell. In the next line you say she curled up in the corner of her cell. All you need to say in the second line is that she curled up in the corner. Don't use twenty words when ten will do.

Also, don't say she started to do something; just say she did it. This is simple past tense. For instance; "She started to step out onto the ice." Correction: "She stepped out onto the ice." If you need to point out that your character is timid, then you say something like "She gingerly pressed one toe out onto the thin ice."

I'd be interested to see a revised version as I think you're really close. In fact, if you make he action "right now," you will have your incident the above poster spoke of.

Good luck!


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Chaldea
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Sorry, i didn't get the line exactly right. '... she tried to pull even farther back into the shadows.'

'she pulled further back into the shadows,' would be it.

' . . . but guards with too much alcohol and not enough to do. She felt her jaw where it was still bruised from her first experience with them just two days ago and tried to pull even farther back into the shadows.'

How about this for punch and flow?

She felt her jaw. It was bruised just two days ago by guards with too much alcohol and nothing to do. She pulled further back into the shadows.? Some

You see? Something like that.



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wbriggs
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I don't agree: I *do* want to know what Riley knows about the prison, and how she feels about it; if I don't, I won't be able to understand the significance of the action.

I would keep reading.

I have a few suggestions, put here into the text.

When Riley was first awakened by distant shouts coming from outside her cell, she curled up in the corner of her cell and prayed that it was another inmate going crazy on the guards -- and not the other way around.

["didn't think much of it": actually, she did -- she was afraid enough to curl up in a corner. And that's good for your craft. An event that MC doesn't think much of won't interest us either.

Adding the --: I had to reread a little without it to get what you meant.]

She knew all too well that the worst threat at Galkava was not the prisoners, but guards with too much alcohol and not enough to do. She felt her jaw where it was still bruised from her first experience with them just two days ago and tried to pull even farther back into the shadows.

[Paragraph]

A nearby gunshot made her jump and a short shriek escaped her throat before she managed to contain herself. There was more incoherent yelling following the shot, but then the voices drew closer and she was able to make out what they were saying.

["The source of the voices": that would only work if the voices had one source, as with a ventriloquist or impersonator. "Voices" would work.]

I think you've got it pretty close. You give us enough detail to understand what's happening, and it's obvious that something awful is happening, and we're about to find out what. You do it by showing the thoughts and feelings of MC, so we're firmly grounded in her POV and care what's happening to her. Good job! I do have this misgiving: I know very little about her, and I want some reassurance that she's the hapless victim ("random arrest by gov't goons," not "they found out I was a revolutionary") that she seems to be.


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Survivor
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You can punch up the immediacy a bit by dropping "When"...and "she didn't think much of it."

The thing is, she immediately starts thinking quite a bit about it. She's jumpy, and for her there is a real and immediate difference between the danger posed by another inmate going bonkers and danger of some guards deciding that it's time to play with the prisoners. She's not feeling detached or lethargic, and it isn't like she's been up for a while now listening to the shouts. So don't say things that you don't mean.

Other than that, this has legs. Sure, I think it could be punched up, but you don't really need to punch it up. We get that she's afraid and that she has some pretty good reasons for feeling that way. I'm interested in finding out what's causing the commotion, and anticipating that it will be something she hasn't thought of just yet.


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Zero
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This won't be particularly helpful, but I kind of liked it.
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Stormshine
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Thank you so much everyone for your feedback. Here's my updated 13 lines. What I had is now less than 13 lines, so I had to add a few more. Please let me know if there's anything else you see that can be improved.

Riley awoke to distant shouts coming from outside her cell. She curled up in the corner and prayed that it was another inmate going crazy on the guards--and not the other way around. She felt her jaw where it was still bruised from her most recent experience with a guard who had too much alcohol and not enough to do.
A nearby gunshot made her jump and a short shriek escaped her throat before she managed to contain herself. There was more incoherent yelling following the shot, but then the voices drew closer and she was able to make out what they were saying.
"All clear here, sir!"
"Good. Get me a status report from the West entrance."
"Yes sir."


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DeepDreamer
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Oooh... Awesome! You've definitely snagged my attention with this last revision. I would pay good money to find out what happens after those last lines.
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Survivor
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I'll give it more reserved praise...it's a good opening, and seems likely to progress in one of several intersting directions. The dialog snippet effectively introduces an as yet unexplored third possibility, which does increase the level of interest.

Of course, you can go on reworking an opening (or any given passage) forever, but I think that you're in a good position to work on the rest of the story.


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Zero
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I automatically assume they are breaking the prisoners free and that this is where our hero is allowed to "escape" her very limited prison story. But those are just my guesses.
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