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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Elvin Tears, (I'm re-doing the beginning)

   
Author Topic: Elvin Tears, (I'm re-doing the beginning)
Darth Petra
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It's about evil elves. Here's the first thirteen:

"What did you get me, Daddy?” The little girl looked pleadingly up at her father, Bram.
“Was I supposed to get you something?” her father feigned surprise and confusion. Upon seeing his daughter’s forlorn face, he produced a hand-carved wooden sword.
“Happy Birthday, Katya,”
“Thank you!” the girl shrieked happily. She kissed her father’s cheek, and began to hack around wildly with the sword, slaying imaginary monsters. The little girl swung the sword so violently that she toppled to the ground. In a moment, she was up again, shouting and thrusting. Bram watched his daughter in amusement. His wife, Lucinda came out of the house and stood next to him.


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AllenMackley
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Darth Petra,

Bravo! I enjoyed this. It starts out very well with the girl and her dad on her birthday. The girl falling over while playing with the sword painted a vivid picture in my mind. You did that well in that you didn't attempt to tell me details, but instead you showed me actions, implying the details with the actions. It introduced a bit of humor as well - I can see her as this cute little girl falling over and her dad standing back, chuckling.

I only have one comment, below:

quote:

Upon seeing his daughter’s forlorn face, he produced a hand-carved wooden sword. How did he produce it? Did he pull it out from a hiding place or did he create it with magic?

Edit: Another thing I should mention is that I imagined them as being inside of a cottage until you say that the father's wife came outside to stand next to him. Perhaps you could add something closer to the very beginning to let the reader know they are outside. Some ideas: birds chirping; a butterfly lands on the girl's nose; she falls among flowers, that sort of a thing...

[This message has been edited by AllenMackley (edited February 11, 2008).]


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AllenMackley
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By the way, I would definitely turn the page after reading this, no question about it...
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InarticulateBabbler
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My take:

quote:

"What did you get me, Daddy?” The little girl[Why not name her?] looked pleadingly up at her father, [Bram.<--Eragon, Wheel of Time, etc? Or short for Abraham, Like Bram Stoker?]
“Was I supposed to get you something?” [her father<--If it's from her PoV, it'd just be Father.] feigned [surprise and confusion<--Maybe simplfy to ignorance]. Upon seeing his daughter’s forlorn[ed<--Tense issue.] face, he produced a hand-carved wooden sword.
“Happy Birthday, Katya,”
“Thank you!” the girl [shrieked happily<--A bit of a Said-Book-ism.]. She kissed [her father’s<--[Again, I'd just put "Father".] cheek, and began to [hack around wildly with the sword,<--PoV? Is she swinging wildly, or :] slaying imaginary monsters. The little girl swung the sword so violently that she toppled to the ground. In a moment, she was up again, shouting [At Whom? What?] and thrusting[Thrusting what? It sounds like she's having a seizure, or a Tourettes attack.]. Bram watched his daughter in amusement.[PoV?] His wife, Lucinda came out of the house and stood next to him.

PoV? I feel you are wishy-washy on it.

I agree with AllenMackley on the "producing the sword" issue. In fact, for me this is possibly what keeps the beggining from being mundane. Is it magic? If so, that's enough to be a hook in her PoV. In his, it might need some depth.

What time period is this?

Nothing says either Evil, Elves, or even fantasy to me about the beginning. (In fact, my daughter plays with wooden swords.)

Hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited February 11, 2008).]


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AllenMackley
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That's where the name Bram is from -- Eragon! Yeah, you might want to alter that name to make it unique.

My guess is that the evil elves come later and that they are going to threaten this family?

[This message has been edited by AllenMackley (edited February 11, 2008).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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Actually, I think it was Brom in Eragon. That still leaves Robert Jordan's character from The Wheel of Time. He's an important figure in Eye of the World, being that he's the Two Rivers's mayor, only hotel owner, and Egwene's dad.

and, as for:

quote:

My guess is that the evil elves come later and that they are going to threaten this family?

Yeah, that's your guess. Based on the title, I wouldn't think evil elves; based on the thirteen, I wouldn't even think elves. Of course cover art and the hook on the back of the book will make a significant difference as to what my understanding will be, if it gets past an editor.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited February 11, 2008).]


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AllenMackley
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Yeah, that's my guess. I don't think it's a problem if the evil elves aren't in the first 13. But, you do have a point in that if these characters at the beginning are, in fact, elves (but not necessarily the evil ones) we should be tipped off to that fact. Do they have pointy ears?

Like you said, maybe the cover art will tip the reader off to the fact that there are evil elves in the book. For all we know they could show up by line 15.

I'm two chapters into Eragon. Other than that I've only seen the movie. My brother tells me the book is 10 times better, as the movie wasn't all that great in my opinion.

[This message has been edited by AllenMackley (edited February 11, 2008).]


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Cheyne
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DP- I too, liked the visuals. Having a little girl at home, I was able to "see" the actions of Katya very well.


on the negative side, I agree with IB that you need to clarify POV. Choose which character is the VP and stick with it. Perhaps you could add a line before the dialogue that would establish more quickly which of these two is the VP. If it is the father it could be something like: Bram watched as Katya came running to him in the yard...
Or if it is Katya: Katya spied her father returning from work...
neither of these are good examples but you can get the idea.

I also would like to see less of 'his daughter' and 'her father'. I would suggest using the names right away. -another anti-Bram vote I'm afraid. It just sounds used.

Most of the niggling nits have been picked but don't worry about 'forlorn' it is an adjective and has no tense issues


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AllenMackley
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I agree, the point of view should be clarified. Being a guy, I slipped into the father's PoV.
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Darth Petra
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Bram, as in Bram Stoker. I came up with the name long before I read (and disliked) Eragon, but now that you mention it....
Crap. I really like the name, though.
I'll work on the POV thing. And the elves show up in line 30, ruin the party, kill people, and start the story. The elves ARE the bad guys.

And the producing-the-sword thing? Not magic. Sorry, magic comes in later, with the elves.


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InarticulateBabbler
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Have you signed up for Dave Farland's "Daily Kick in the Pants"? He mentions an option of describing things that resonate with a foreshadowing effect. Maybe you could foreshadow a little by having Katya, instead of hacking at imaginary monsters, hack at imaginary Dark Elves. Kind of set the tone subconsciously.

Just random thoughts. Hope they are of some use.


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Darth Petra
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Sweet. I can't belive I didn't think of that. Thanks, that'll totally work.
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Bent Tree
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Terrific. I would continue reading. I think the Ideas mentioned above would polish it to a fine jewel. You might consider changing Daddy to Pappa. Daddy seems dated and American. Great Intro. Let me know if you ever need a reader.
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rickfisher
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I think the POV issues arise from starting with Katya. There's always an implicit assumption that the first character is the POV character, even when (as in this case) there's a clear indication that she's not ("she looked pleadingly"--definitely an "outside" viewpoint). But it's really easy to read that as a mistake, and still assume it's from her POV.

The fix is to change: "The little girl looked pleadingly up at her father, Bram" to: "Bram's daughter looked pleadingly up at him." I should say, that's the least intrusive fix. There are other things you could do that would probably be better. You should use her name as much as possible, unless he actually thinks of her as "his daughter" instead of as "Katya" (unlikely). It would also be better if you got us into his POV before she says anything.

Of course, after that, you have to be consistent. "her father" has got to go--that's a clear reference from HER viewpoint (except that if it really were, it would be "Daddy" or something). All such instances of that should change to "him" (or "his") or to "Bram" (or whatever you decide to call him). But, while you should use HER name as much as possible (cause that's how he thinks of her) you should avoid using his name just as much (cause that's not how he thinks of himself).


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Darth Petra
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Thanks, dudes (and dudettes). Finally, some read critique. This is great.
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Darth Petra
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Bram was sitting in his garden, carving a piece of wood into a sword. He could feel the cold eyes of the elf that guarded his house watching him, but he didn’t look up. He pretended to be completely absorbed in the carving, even though his heart was as dark and troubled as the brooding clouds in the sky. The back door of his house flew open, and he barely had time to hide the wooden sword before his four-year-old daughter, Katya came into the garden.
“What did you get me, Daddy?” Katya looked pleadingly up at Bram.
“Was I supposed to get you something?” He feigned surprise and confusion. Upon seeing his Katya’s forlorn face, he reached under his chair, and drew out a hand-carved wooden sword.

I redid it. Is this any better?


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InarticulateBabbler
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My double-take:

quote:

Bram was sitting in his garden, carving a piece of wood into a sword.<--[I suggest making this part of the next sentence, to keep the same tone: As Bram sat fashioning a wooden sword, h]e could feel the cold eyes of the elf that guarded his house watching him[, but he didn’t look up<--Don't need this because of the next sentence:]. He pretended to be completely absorbed in the carving, even though his heart was as dark and troubled as the brooding clouds in the sky. [Why? I'm hooked with the mention of the elf, but I want to know more. Save Katya's interruption for a little further in, IMHO.] The back door of his house flew open, and he barely had time to hide the wooden sword before [his four-year-old daughter,<--sounds a bit strained. In her spoken words, we learn she is his daughter, and the four-year-old is in the voice, and expressions.] Katya came into the garden.
“What did you get me, Daddy?” Katya looked pleadingly up at Bram.
“Was I supposed to get you something?” He feigned surprise and confusion. [Upon seeing his Katya’s forlorn face<--If you separate this, it could be a good way to show her age: Katya's eyes went wide and pooled with tears. Her little lips pouted until the bottom one started trembling. Bram could no longer keep up the charade], he reached under his chair[,<--Don't need the comma] and drew out a hand-carved wooden sword. [She didn't see it under his chair?]

I like this much better. The PoV is clear and there are dark and fantasy elements.

My unmentioned problems:
1) What kind of house? (Don't definitely know the time period from the description.)

2) Where is the elf that's watching the house?

3) Why is the elf watching the house?

This is progressing well. Think about the image you are showing us, and how it differs from what you are seeing. Then choose the simplest way of making your vision be represented clearly. This is much better than last time, but still has a little work to go.

I hope ths helps.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited March 14, 2008).]


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Darth Petra
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THanks. I'll work with it some more....

And I need to finish the rest of the story. Who knows how long THAT will take.


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