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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Fantasy Novel 13

   
Author Topic: Fantasy Novel 13
Spartan
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This is a rewrite of the beginning to my novel. I think I was starting at the wrong place before, and I hope this beginning is clearer.

I ran like a hunted animal, praying to every god I could think of. Make my legs long, so I can outrun them. Make my face dark, so I can meld with the street children. Cover me in shadow, so that my father will never find me.
The empty street burgeoned into a marketplace, and I almost cried out with relief. A sea of vibrant colors, shifting hypnotically in the sunlight. The clamour of a million voices shouting, laughing, clapping, braying, stomping, clanging. Here, even I could disappear amongst the crowd.I hunched over behind a merchant stall, panting, fighting the urge to vomit.
A cruel hand gripped my throat.

[This message has been edited by Spartan (edited January 15, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by Spartan (edited January 15, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by Spartan (edited January 15, 2007).]


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Slartibartfast
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This is great!
'Zillion' feels like a silly word here, I think million would work just fine.
Oh and I'm not sure about the tense...you use a lot of um, present tense when it's supposed to be past. Is the sea of vibrant colors shifting, or did it shift? (shifted)

[This message has been edited by Slartibartfast (edited January 15, 2007).]


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wbriggs
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I agree: this is good stuff.

Nits:
I don't think "burgeon" is the word you want.
"A sea of vibrant colors": I had to reread this to get what you meant, and I'm still not sure. Maybe "The vendors' stalls were a sea of vibrant colors." I doubt it's hypnotic. This child is too scared to find something hypnotic.


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Spartan
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I ran like a hunted animal, praying to every god I could think of. make my legs long, so I can outrun them. Make my face dark, so I can meld with the street children. Cover me in shadow, so that my father will never find me.
The empty street ended and became a marketplace, and I almost cried out with relief. The vendor's stalls were a sea of vibrant colors;the customers hopped from stall to stall, carefully avoiding the vendors who desperately shoved merchandise in the their faces.The clamour of a million voices shouting, laughing, clapping, braying, stomping, clanging. Here, even I could disappear amongst the crowd. I hunched over behind a merchant stall, panting, fighting the urge to vomit.
A cruel hand gripped my throat.

[This message has been edited by Spartan (edited January 16, 2007).]


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eclectic skeptic
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This is pretty good... I have no criticism other than I don't like first person usually. But hey, thats your choice, and this is written well enough that I didn't care. I would keep reading. At least long enough to find out who gripped his throat.

Good Job


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Survivor
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I have the same criticism, but not the same reaction. If something's in first person, it needs to be convincing, and this isn't.
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Spartan
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Thanks for the help, guys. Survivor, could you specifiy please?

I was also about to ask which gender you thought this person was. Does it matter to you guys this early in the story?


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wrenbird
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I really liked this.
I agree that it could be interesting to read it in third person. But, I am not a fan of first person as a general rule.
I thought the MC was a girl, but only because the character is escaping the father which for some reason made me see a girl. Really though, I would not be thrown off to read two sentences later that it is a boy. Either would work.

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Chaldea
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You use a lot of colorful, poetic language and that's great. I would probably read more if a few things were cleaned up a bit.

>>I ran like a hunted animal, praying to every god I could think of.<<

That was past tense.

>> make my legs long, so I can outrun them. Make my face dark, so I can meld with the street children. Cover me in shadow, so that my father will never find me.<<

That was present tense.

The empty street ended and became a marketplace, and I almost cried out with relief. The vendor's stalls were a sea of vibrant colors;the customers . . . >>

That was in past tense.

There are a couple things you can do to fix this, even though I see you are trying to set apart the prayer:
1) You can make the first sentence in present tense to match the prayer that comes next.
2) You can also italicize both the first sentence and the prayer to show MC's thoughts right now, present tense. THEN you can get away with slipping into simple past tense 'the empty street ended . . .' etc. Then you will have to continue in past tense.

Or do you want first person, present tense? You will have to choose and write it one way or the other, throughout.

So the first sentence would read 'I run like a hunted animal, praying to every god I can think of.' Unless you want the whole thing in past tense.

Also, if you want to be descriptive, the word "marketplace" doesn't tell me what it looks like. 'sea of vibrant colors' doesn't give me a picture of colors. 'Vendors umbrellas of green, yellow and blue, maybe. And if you play around with the picture of the marketplace you can combine a couple sentences.

The last phrase sounds like writing. 'A cruel hand' is trite.

But I ran out of breath along with your MC and I wondered who was following her(?). Was it her father or thugs sent by her father? I wanted to find out. You are a story teller!

It didn't bother me that I didn't know everything right off the bat.

Keep going... good luck.


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Survivor
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Why is the narrator telling the story? Not your reason for having the narrator tell the story, the narrator's reason for telling the story.
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tchernabyelo
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I have to disagree with some of Chaldea's comments. It seemed abundntly obvious to me that the "present tense" lines in the first paragraph were his thoughts, and the use of the present actually epmhasised that. If they'd been speech, even in the middle of past tense narrative, they'd have been present tense, so I think you handle that perfectly well.

I also doon't, yet, see a problem with this being in first person. There are a lot of possible styles of 1P narration, not all of which are the character-when-older-telling-a-story-to-their-kids or whatever. I don't feel a first person narrative necessarily needs to have an audience, though having an external meta-structure/framing sequence/whatever can add certain emotional depth and resonance, but then you get a lot of tense problems and a dilemma in dealing with the "what I know now but didn't know then" issue. A simple, immediate, first-person "as it happens" narration isn't a problem for me, and doesnt seem to be for a lot of publishers, though I will accept there are many people who clearly don't like it and that's fine - not everyone is going to like the same thing, otherwise there'd only be one book .


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Survivor
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I just don't see the point of dealing with first person when you don't use any of the advantages that make it a valid means of telling a story.
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xardoz
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I rather liked this. Like others, I'm not a big fan of first person, but I do like what you have here. The tense changes don't throw me - I immediately grasped that the present tense items were the MC's prayers.
POV and tense questions aside, my only nit worth noting would be who is the MC running from? On the one hand, you say "them", but then you specify the father.

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Spartan
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Is this better? Btw xardoz, the part about "them" and the father is explained within the next few paragraphs.

Bryce ran like a hunted animal, praying to every god he could think of. _Make my legs long, so I can outrun them. Make my face dark, so I can meld with the street children. Cover me in shadow, so that my father will never find me._
The empty street ended and became a marketplace, and Bryce almost cried out with relief. The vendor's stalls were a sea of colors--violet, crimson, green, ebony, blue. Customers hopped from stall to stall carefully avoiding the vendors who desperately shoved merchandise in their faces. The clamour of a million voices shouting, laughing, clapping, braying, stomping, clanging.Here, even I could disappear amongst the crowd.
A hand gripped my throat.


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Chaldea
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I did not have a problem with it being in first person. I merely meant that if you are going to use the prayer in present tense, set it apart with italics. I see you've made a mark for it at either end. It's easier to read that way and is immediately clear w/o reader thought or double take. I don't think there is a right or wrong way to present this. The whole thing could be in simple past tense, as well. I have no problem with MC telling his/her own story. I love the second version. I'm in... I'd turn the page.
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DeepDreamer
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I like the first person, and also had no difficulty seeing that the present tense parts are thoughts. I like where this story is going so far. Sure, I have a lot of questions for your narrator (who are you, who are you running from, why...) but I'm sure you'll answer all that and more when I find out who's grabbing his throat.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Now this observation may irk some people... I'm sure I'll get disagreed with, but whatever.
In young adult fiction, first person is a common (well, not rare) choice, and often goes over well with the target age group. It's not so much important that the narrator have a reason for telling the story as that s/he has a good story to tell. First person adds a sense of intimacy and immediacy. Plus, to expound on what tchern mentioned, as-it-happens past tense is also a common choice in YA.

The true difficulty in writing 1st person as-it-happens past tense is to make it believable. Some may disagree, but I think you've accomplished that in the second version. Perhaps a lot of us adults* on this forum may not like it, but I think you'd have hooked a great many kids/young teens with this.

* "us?" Should I really count myself as an adult here?


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erpagris
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I would definitely read on.

Perhaps just a few more details:

Bryce ran. Ran like a hunted animal, praying to every god he could think of,

"Xardoz, God of Growing, make my legs long, so I can outrun them."

"Phileas, God of the Bright Sun, make my face dark, so I can meld with the street children. "

"Elsira, Goddes of Night, cover me in shadow, so that my father will never find me."

Makes it more exotic, maybe?

[This message has been edited by erpagris (edited January 19, 2007).]


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Survivor
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Hmm...it's a little distressing how easily that converted into third person, actually.

Though you still use "my" for the POV's possessive. On a different note, it's easier to see now that the text doesn't really describe the POV very well. We aren't getting information about what the market looks like to a child running desperately to evade capture. We see it from above, high enough above the crowd to appreciate it's full extent.


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