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Author Topic: Opening
gooeypenguin
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At the quick turn of the Lylla, she fell. Her body collapsed into the ocean, and the waves enveloped her.

"I said to stay seated." The captain reset the wheel, his countenance impassive. Nonchalantly, he puffed from his pipe a donut. "Four more hours, so don't be scramblin' round just yet."

My fists clenched neighboring handlebars for dear life. Across from me, a woman tightened her babyís embrace. It cooed.

Suddenly, the clouds descended and the sky tinted purple. The baby choked on its coo, and its voice deepened. Within the lapse of an hour, his feet surpassed his motherís knee; he no longer stood but sat.


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InarticulateBabbler
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My take:

quote:

At the quick turn of the Lylla[What's this?], she fell. Her body collapsed into the ocean, and the waves enveloped her.[Who? What's happening?]
"I said to stay seated." The captain reset the wheel, his countenance impassive. Nonchalantly, he puffed from his pipe a donut. "Four more hours, so don't be scramblin' round just yet." [Did the captain of a boat just knock a passenger into the ocean? Doesn't he care?]

My fists clenched neighboring handlebars for dear life. [I'm TOTALLY confused at this point. My mind is drifting. What handlebars? Where did handlebars come from?] Across from me[In the ocean??], a woman tightened her babyís embrace.[What? What are you talking about?] It cooed.

Suddenly, the clouds descended and the sky tinted purple.[Just when I thought that I couldn't possibly get more confused...] The baby choked on its coo[...you give me this...], and its voice deepened.[...and this...] Within the lapse of an hour, his feet surpassed his motherís knee; he no longer stood but sat.[...and this, without any form of explanation. The only thing I know from the story is that I'm supposed to entirely suspend my belief--and apparantly my reason.]



[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited April 05, 2007).]


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KayTi
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I really can't tell what's going on either. If the captain just knocked a passenger off the ship into the ocean and the best the POV character can do is grip the handlbars (?) more? Stretches credulity a bit.

Being a mom (and a breastfeeding counselor so I've seen a lot of babies) I can't say I've ever heard a baby choke on it's coo. If it's part of the story, so be it. But you should probably explain that. And the baby's legs? Surpassing the knees? Weird. I'm at this point thinking the baby is turning into some sort of superhero...or...an Evil Robot Monkey!! Oh no! The horrors!

I hope it's helpful to see that as a reader I'm confused. I can see you've got an interesting concept in mind, but as a reader, it's just not making it all the way to me yet.


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Radone
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We certainly are thrown into the action. It's more confusing that it needs to be, however.

At the quick turn of the Lylla, she fell. Her body collapsed who fell and is she dead - that is what I read by collapsed into the ocean, and the waves enveloped her.
"I said to stay seated." The captain reset the wheel. his countenance impassive. Nonchalantly, I think you could do away with the italicized words and make for a stronger and clearer statement.
He puffed from his pipe a donut. "Four more hours, so don't be scramblin' round just yet."

My fists clenched neighboring handlebars for dear life.it sounds like the MC 'fists' are acting on their own accord. What is a handlebar on a ship BTW. It could be re-stated as I clenced the rigging for dear life. Please God(s) let me live.
Across from me, a woman tightened her babyís embrace. It cooed. the phrasing of the woman tightening her baby's embrace is unnecessarily vague.

Suddenly, the clouds descended and the sky tinted purple. tinted doesn't seem a strong enough verb when juxtaposed with suddenly The baby choked I'm not sure what this means. Choking like can't breath or simply stopped cooing on its coo, and its voice deepened. Within the lapse of an hour, his feet surpassed his motherís knee; he no longer stood but sat.

[This message has been edited by Radone (edited April 05, 2007).]


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DebbieKW
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I found this confusing.

quote:
At the quick turn of the Lylla, she fell. Her body collapsed into the ocean, and the waves enveloped her.

Is Lylla the name of the ship/tram/thing she's on? In my first read-through, I though that it was the name of the place that the sharp turn happened (like a street name), but the sentence structure doesn't support that. I think it was using the first 'the' instead of 'a quick turn' that threw me. I was reading it as 'the quick turn at the Lylla.'

Also, I thought that the 'she' that was falling was our POV/MC. Why not just say, "At a quick turn of the ship, Lylla, a woman fell over the side"?

As it reads now, it sounds like the woman falls down and the ocean is right below her (i.e. she's standing on/above the ocean instead of a deck or whatever).

Since the lady is dead before she even hits the ocean ('her body' instead of 'she fell into the ocean'), I'm left wondering what killed her.


quote:
Across from me, a woman tightened her babyís embrace. It cooed.

So the woman somehow convinces the baby to hold on to her more tightly? Or did you mean that 'a woman tightened her embrace around her baby"? I don't have much experience with babies, so I'm probably the last one to accurately know, but I'd expect the baby to cry rather than coo (a happy sound) at being gripped tightly, being jounced around by the ride, and being surrounded by tense people.

quote:
Suddenly, the clouds descended and the sky tinted purple. The baby choked on its coo, and its voice deepened. Within the lapse of an hour, his feet surpassed his motherís knee; he no longer stood but sat.

While I've had vehicles ascend me quickly into the clouds, I've never seen cloud descend suddenly. I'm also wondering what happened to tint the sky purple.

If your MC knows what's going on, now's the time to tell us. If she has no idea, maybe let us know that she's confused by what's happening.

At this point, I'm guessing that they're in a time dilation device of some sort--like on a space ship headed far our--and that the baby is growing up and the earlier woman died of old age (though the captain's yell for people to stay seated seems to negate that and anyone too old probably wouldn't be allowed on). But clouds, sky, and ocean suggest they are on a planet and they seem to be on a vehicle taking them someplace. So time dialation doesn't apply. So I'm just confused by what's happening.

So clarifying in the first 13 what they are on, where they are going, and what is happening would be a must for me before I'd bother to read on. Good luck on revisions.


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gooeypenguin
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Thanks for the feedback. I guess as the writer, it doesn't sound confusing, but now that I think about it more, you all are right ;-) I revised it a little, here it is:

----------

She leisured at the rails of The Lylla's starboard, and when the boat jerked a narrow left, she fell. Her body crashed into the ocean's surface, and the waves enveloped her.

"I said to stay seated." The captain reset the wheel, his countenance unremorseful. With stern eyes fixed ahead, he puffed from his pipe a snake. "Four more hours, so don't be scramblin' round just yet."

Panic released from my dropped jaw and sweaty brow. My fists clenched neighboring handlebars for dear life. Across from my seat, a baby obliviously tiptoed on its mother's lap. Trembling, the mother embraced the baby with gentle security. It cooed.

Then, at the turn of the wind, the clouds descended and the sky screamed purple. The baby choked on its coo, and its voice

[This message has been edited by gooeypenguin (edited April 06, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited April 06, 2007).]


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Hunter
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This is still very confusing but better than previous. I take it someone dies in the first paragraph? Why should I care? It just confuses me. You may want to establish the first person POV in the first paragraph. It's confusing to realize it's first person in the 3rd paragraph.
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Jesse D
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This is a novel, correct? I think you can take more time with it. I think you have too much going on in 13 lines. For one thing, you mention the woman falling overboard, but I can find nothing to which to attach the significance of that event. Is it simply to state that it's a perilous journey? If so, then focus on the perils, and not on this morphing baby.

Or, conversely, focus on the morphing baby, and leave the fallen woman alone. Doing both, right within the first thirteen, seems too busy.

[This message has been edited by Jesse D (edited April 06, 2007).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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quote:

She leisured at the rails of The Lylla's starboard, and when the boat jerked a narrow left, she fell. Her body crashed into the ocean's surface, and the waves enveloped her.

"I said to stay seated." The captain reset the wheel, his countenance unremorseful.



The language is very formal and stiff - but better.

quote:

With stern eyes fixed ahead, he puffed from his pipe a snake. "Four more hours, so don't be scramblin' round just yet."


He puffed from his pipe a snake. Is troubling me. Is sounds like he inhaled a snake, although I think you mean: He created the illusion of a snake from his pipe smoke. And, I think this should be separated from: His stern eyes were fixed ahead. Four more hours for what?

quote:

Panic released from my dropped jaw and sweaty brow. My fists clenched neighboring handlebars for dear life. Across from my seat, a baby obliviously tiptoed on its mother's lap.


Did you mean to change the PoV to FirstPerson? Panic released from my dropped jaw <--what is this? And the handlebars still suddenly appear.


quote:

Then, at the turn of the wind, the clouds descended and the sky screamed purple. The baby choked on its coo, and its voice deepened.


This has the same problem with it: clouds descending... the sky screamed purple... The baby choked on its own coo, and its voice deepened. I think you mean to say is: The child changed. His coos changed to words. He grew. Within an hour he sprouted teeth and locks of gold. As for the sky and clouds, maybe you should let us know this is a magical journey from the outset. The sky screamed, "Purple!"

quote:

Its thin hair sprouted into locks of gold. Within the lapse of an hour, its feet surpassed its motherís knee; it no longer stood but sat. By the time we reached the Dark Lands, it matured into an eight year-old boy. His mother called him Milo.


This is the cleanest part.

However, If the baby is a boy, don't call him it more often.

You must decide, from the beginning, who the narrarator is. Maybe it would be cleaner to start with something like: The captain puffed on his pipe and exhaled smoke that formed a snake. He had his stern gaze fixed ahead. In the waters around the Dark Lands, strange happenings were normal.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited April 07, 2007).]


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sleepn247
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To be honest, when I read this, I laughed. The effect is comical, which is strange, because a. somebody just died b. the boat (?) is possibly the scariest thing ever and c. the baby is morphing, which sounds important and freaky at the same time.
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wbriggs
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Who is "she"?

What's up with nobody trying to save her?

In paragraph 3, we get a narrator. Why isn't he/she concerned about the woman? What *is* going on in the narrator's head, other than panic -- that would apparently stamp out his/her curiosity or concern about the events around?

There are some odd turns of phrase that make the story harder to follow:
* "Leisure" isn't a verb. "Linger"?
* Panic released from my jaw: I don't think panic can release from something. I'm not sure what this means
* My fists clutched neighboring handlebars: how about, "I clutched the rails."
* A baby obliviously tiptoed on its mother's lap: I can't see this happening without it falling. "Obliviously" here reads as "obviously" the first time; you might have the baby tiptoe, oblivious.
* Mother embraced the baby with security: sounds like security is like an arm
* The sky screamed purple
* The baby choked on its coo

Some of these difficult turns of phrase would work in poetry, I think, but here it makes the reading an act of deciphering, and I'd rather just get to the story.


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kings_falcon
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I'm still confused.

What happens to the woman in the first sentance? If she falls over and drowns you have to deal with it and not gloss it over. What does the POV think about it? How does the POV react to the Captain's callous statement? Why doesn't anyone try to help the woman? I'm so busy obsessing about these questions that the rest becomes nearly surreal for me.

Language is also a problem.

quote:
She leisured at the rails of The Lylla's starboard, and when the boat jerked a narrow left, she fell.

IMHO, you are cramming to much into this sentance. "Leisured" isn't a verb so already I'm wondering what's going on. I'm still wondering what The Lylla is and what starboard thing the woman is standing near. Is the POV a sailor? If not, he/she probably won't think of the sides as port and starport but left and right. Does it matter if the woman is on the left or right side?

What's a "narrow left?" Did it jerk into a narrows on the left?
"She fell" doesn't necessarily suggest overboard. Given the next line, you might want to make it more clear.

Something like = The red haired girl stood at boat's the rails watching the keel slice through the rough waters. The boat lurched over another wave. She lost her balance and fell overboard.

Tells me something about the woman, what she's doing and where I am.

The hook so far, for me, is: "what happened to the woman?" If that's not what you wanted, you might need to edit. What's going on with the others is secondary to the moment of someone apparently drowning to death and no one caring. If the woman is dead and can't be saved, I need to know that as the reader otherwise I'm going to dislike the MC who did nothing as much as I dislike the Captain.


Back to language:

The captain reset the wheel, his countenance unremorseful. With stern eyes fixed ahead, he puffed from his pipe a snake. "Four more hours, so don't be scramblin' round just yet."


Hu? How do you reset a wheel? Is it on automatic? If so, give me some hint of this.

"countanance unremorseful." What does this mean? I'm not sure if you can tell if a countanance is remorseful or not. Even if you could, his words are unremorseful so you don't need to tell me again.

same problem for me with the "stern eyes."

"puffed from his pipe a snake." Because you are in sci fi/ fantasy this can be literal. You need to clarify if it's a real snake he's creating or a cloud of smoke shaped like one or something completely different.


You seem to be trying too hard. Trust the reader to get that the Captain isn't sympathetic and the baby is too young to understand.

Slow down.

Focus on one action happening. The woman going overboard or the rapidly growing baby. BTW - I had to read everyone else's comments to figure out the baby was changing. That's how much I was obsessing about the woman.


It seems like an interesting concept. Even with the confusion, I am somewhat interested in more.

Pick one of your two incidents to deal with in the first 13 and make it 100% clear what is happening. Do that and you've got me hooked.


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