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Author Topic: Light Sci fi
sephina
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Sephina’s chest felt tight with fear, she d to fly. It didn’t seem possible that this mass of metal would ever be airborne, much less carry them to their destination. Her hands and arms would ache at the end of this journey, from gripping the chair. They always did, no matter how often she made these trips.
The flutter of excitement almost made the fear bearable. Her destination was one she had only dreamed about. The kingdom of Arboria, the place her father's father had lived before servitude to the Emperor had claimed him. No one looking at her would guess she had Arborian running through her veins. Dark hair and blue eyes were the trade mark of the Arborian race. Sephina carried the coloring of her Fermian mother; auburn hair and dark green eyes.


[This message has been edited by sephina (edited March 06, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited March 06, 2008).]


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J
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I thought this one had potential. I had some trouble with it, though. The interesting ideas that seem to be in there get swallowed up in the prose. With a copy of Strunck & White handy, and stronger verbs driving the ideas, this could be pretty good.
Specific comments below.

Sephina’s chest felt tight with fear, she d to fly. "She d to fly"? Typos (or an inexplicable acronym that looks like a typos) need to be weeded carefully, especially in the first few pages. Most especially in the first sentence. Also, be careful how you describe feelings, especially when you assign them physical locations. It's easy to end up with really weak sentences if you aren't careful. It's a bad habit of mine, too. Here, for example, the real sentence is "Sephina's chest felt tight..." The "with fear" weakens the whole thing. The rule of thumb I learned a long time ago from wiser heads than mine, some of them from this site, was to try to do most of your work with verbs rather than descriptors. In this case, "Fear tightened Seiphra's chest . . ." or "Fear gripped Sephira . . ." would be a stronger choice, especially considering it's the opening snetnece. It didn’t seem possible that this mass of metal would ever be airborne, much less carry them to their destination. Same sort of thing here. Stronger, more direct subject-verb sentence configurations, with stronger verbs that shoulder more of the load, would translate this great thought into great prose. Her hands and arms would ache at the end of this journey, from gripping the chair. They always did, no matter how often she made these trips. These two sentences could be combined for better flow and greater effect
The flutter of excitement almost made the fear bearable.Where did the excitement come from? This is a little confusing. Her destination was one she had only dreamed about.Another weak sentence that could easily made strong with different subject-verb choices The kingdom of Arboria, the place her father's father had lived before servitude to the Emperor had claimed him. No one looking at her would guess she had Arborian running through her veins. Dark hair and blue eyes were the trade mark trademark? That's a mark used in trade. Don't you mean hallmark? of the Arborian race. Sephina carried the coloring of simple is almost always better--"carried the coloring" could be "resembled". Unless you mean it literally, which it doesn't appear you do her Fermian mother; auburn hair and dark green eyes.
The air shimmered above the granite docking pad, as heat radiated off the sun baked stone.


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sephina
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Thanks for the input. I'm trying to get the first twenty ready for a writing contest. The missing word 'd' is d and there should be the word 'blood' after Arborian. I tried to edit them back in but some how it wouldn't let me. I'll make some changes and post them.
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rickfisher
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quote:
The missing word 'd' is d

It's still missing. I clicked on the edit button for your post to see if anything was there, and it was just a bunch of spaces. Are you using some strange character set (either intentionally or accidentally)?

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sephina
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Fear gripped Sephina. She hated to fly. She stood beside the mass of metal and wondered how it could ever become airborne; much less carry them to their destination. Her hands and arms ached, no matter how often she took these flights, from her death grip on the chair.
Excitement counter balanced the fear this trip. Her destination one she'd only dreamed about; the kingdom of Arboria, the place her father's father lived before servitude to the Emperor claimed him. No one who look at her would guess she had Arborian blood running through her veins. Dark hair and blue eyes were the hallmarks of the Arborian race. Sephina resembled her Fermian mother, auburn hair and dark, green eyes.

I was censored by my own cybersitter.

[This message has been edited by sephina (edited March 07, 2008).]


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rickfisher
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quote:
Fear gripped Sephina. She hated to fly. She stood beside the mass of metal and wondered how it could ever become airborne;-->comma much less carry them to their destination. Her hands and arms ached, no matter how often she took these flights, from her death grip on the chair.How can her arms ache from her grip on the chair if she's standing outside the thing? I think you're including the "no matter . . . flights" phrase to clue us in but its in the wrong place. You should probably start the sentence with that phrase, and then include the word "always" (at least): something like "Her arms and hands always wound up aching from. . . ."
Excitement counter balanced counterbalanced the fear this trip. Her destination was one she'd only dreamed about;-->colon the kingdom of Arboria, the place her father's father had lived before servitude to the Emperor claimed him. No one who looked at her would guess she had Arborian blood running through her veins. Dark hair and blue eyes were the hallmarks of the Arborian race. Sephina resembled her Fermian mother,-->another colon, or, better, add the word "with" auburn hair and dark, green eyes.


Sephina's fear doesn't get to me. And I'm not sure it should, unless it turns out to be some important plot/character issue. I suspect it's just there to make this seem to start out with conflict, and for me it doesn't work.

Who else goes to Arboria? Why does anyone go there? Would anyone look at her and think, "Why is SHE going to Arboria?" If so, you could use that to give us an active scene rather than a static description: she would feel conspicuous, rather than frightened. Someone could even ask her the question and put her on the spot. Would she tell the truth? Or does she have a made-up excuse? On the other hand, if loads of Fermians go there for, say, sightseeing, she could be really annoyed at their pointless chatter, and you could compare THEIR vapid excitement at "seeing the sights" to her own, deeper excitement at returning to her ancestral home. You wouldn't fit as much into the first 13, but it would be more likely to get someone (or at least me) to turn the page.

[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited March 08, 2008).]


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sephina
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The air shimmered above the granite docking pad, as heat radiated off the sun baked stone. Sweat glistened on muscled backs as men loaded supplies into the belly of the freight transport. They sent guarded glances toward the woman who stood alone beside the open cargo bay. She wore a long dark blue skirt, a white long sleeved blouse and white cap which were the mandatory dress of a royal servant, a short embroidered vest her only decoration. A pouch tied around her waist held a few personal items and a letter. Draped over one arm, hung a hooded cape, hot and heavy it would be needed in the cooler climate to the far north. Perspiration beaded on her forehead; she raised her hand to brush it off. Expressionless she watched the men finish their task. Any


This was my original beginning but some well meaning friend said I should start with the fear of flying which is only incidental to the story.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited March 10, 2008).]


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mommiller
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Very description heavy without the benefit of Sephina's POV as you have with your first beginning. Nor is there any hint of conflict at all.

Is Sephina happy in this scene, sad, or upset about her upcoming change of venue?

Spehina watched the sweating backs of the muscled men working to load the cargo bay. The high summer heat shimmered off the granite docking pad, but she did all she could to quell the shiver causing her knees to quake beneath her skirts.
The vulgar men worked and shouted encouragement to each other, but she must remain silent and seperate. Her starched white cap setting her apart from the common laborer.
She looked up at the transport. A fragile looking thing of plasteel and glass, it looked more a child's plaything rather than something sturdy enough to carry them into the harsh northern reaches. Sephina adjusted the heavy winter cloak draped on her left arm and brushed at the embroidery decorating her vest. All was proper and aright, the recommendation letter tucked into her pocket. Now to just assemble the courage to step off the solid ground and into the vessel taking her to her new home.

Edited to add, that I've not read in detail any of the other comments. This is just my take on your current scene, and I added my own ideas on what I felt was missing.

[This message has been edited by mommiller (edited March 08, 2008).]


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rickfisher
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Your friend probably had the right idea, in that it got you past the initial cinematic picture. However, her fear is nothing. You've got hints in the second version (i.e., original opening) of where you should be going: "Any feelings were carefully masked through years of practice and the knowledge of the consequences of any unguarded emotion."

The thing is, that should be front and center. Why does she have to mask her feelings? What are they? What ARE the consequences of unguarded emotion? You want this opening to be from her POV, and you want to concentrate her thinking on what's most important: remaining expressionless and her reasons for doing so. Forget the fear of flying; even if she normally has it, it sounds like she's got other things to be afraid of right now.


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J
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Rick's advice is good, as usual. There's a hook in there, you've just got to keep it from getting all bogged down and confused with the description.
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sephina
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Thanks for all the great advice. I've been working on this manuscript for a long time. (years) I have about 75,000 words but still feel like I'm about 30,000 short of being finished. It's not a new premise, servant saves the world finds out she is really royalty, but the journey getting there has been fun for me to write. I'll try putting a new shine to the opening and post again.
Julie B.

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mommiller
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Looking forward to reading it.
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