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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » First 13...fantasy work in progress

   
Author Topic: First 13...fantasy work in progress
swallgren
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“Finished.” Chenowyn wiped the quill dry and placed it at the top of his weathered work desk. Ink bottle capped, he took the parchment to Master Graves, who was busy tallying the latest shipment figures. “Is there anything else you require of me, sir?”

Graves took the parchment from Chenowyn and gave it a brief look. “Did you make sure to include the latest tax figures from Altoral?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Run along now, I’m quite busy. Make sure to tell your mother that I expect you at dawn tomorrow…”

Already running out the door, Chenowyn called over his shoulder, “I will!” He couldn’t wait to find Scarlis and tell him what he had discovered in his reading that morning.


Looking forward to hearing from you all.


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Devnal
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Hey Sawllgren, you have good flow to your writing. I am afriad though, that Chenowyn's penning of tax figures leaves little to desire. I wouldn't read on in the present form. Your story doesnt seem to really start until the last line where Chenowyn is excited to tell his friend about his discovery.

I would suggest, IMHO, starting with that last line, it would be a pretty good first line, and expand on the interesting stuff. If its important to your story that Chenowyn does taxes for Graves you'd be better off adding it after you have already grabbed the attention of the reader. Don't suffer them the first 13 with accounting stuff ;op.


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InarticulateBabbler
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Hi. This is a line over 13.

Not bad. The hook is subtle.

My take:

quote:

“Finished.” Chenowyn wiped the quill dry and placed it at the top of his weathered work desk. Ink bottle capped, he took the parchment to Master Graves, who was busy tallying the latest shipment figures. “Is there anything else you require of me, sir?” [What, no blotter-sand to soak up the excess ink? ]

Graves took the parchment from Chenowyn and gave it a brief look. “Did you make sure to include the latest tax figures from Altoral?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Run along now, I’m quite busy. Make sure to tell your mother that I expect you at dawn tomorrow…”<--[Is there a reason for the ellipsis? Read with a period, to me, it works just as well.]

Already running out the door, Chenowyn called over his shoulder, “I will!” He couldn’t wait to find Scarlis and tell him what he had discovered in his reading that morning.


1) Your hook is what he discovered, but if he's excited about it, maybe we should see it through his eyes when he discovers it. Then we could learn why whatever-it-is has that effect on him, and it would be a stronger hook into the character and the story.

As it sits, it's an iffy hook: some will be hooked, some turned off. It's a fairly mundane beginning. No hint of a speculative element.

2) What time period is it? (Not for you to answer with a post, but in the text.) I know that they use quill pens, but that could be anywhere up to the early 1800s. In fact, it seemed like A Christmas Carol in tone and setting. If that's what you wanted to achieve, great, if not, maybe a loose description of what Graves is wearing could help.

The voice is good. It's not too overbearing with newness of names (which is difficult for a lot of new writers). All in all, this is not bad.

I hope this helps.

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


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swallgren
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Dev: I agree about the tax thing, not the most exciting topic in the world. It was more of my way of setting the scene, but really not effective. I rather like the idea of starting with him running out of the store, I'll play around with that.

IB: I recounted, you're right. Time period will be answered in revision. And anything you say helps.


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jayh
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I enjoyed the flow. It grabed me at the end wanting to know what he had read that morning. Im very new to writting but I will try to give my insight. I hope it helps.


(((((Scarlis will not believe what I discovered in my reading this morning. Master Graves' work is important, but this. Chenowyn smiled at the internal excitment building as he inked the last figure.)))))

"Finished.” He wiped the quill dry and placed it at the top of his weathered work desk. Ink bottle capped, he took the parchment to Master Graves, who was busy tallying the latest shipment figures. “Is there anything else you require of me, sir?”
Graves took the parchment from Chenowyn and gave it a brief look. “Did you make sure to include the latest tax figures from Altoral?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Run along now, I’m quite busy. Make sure to tell your mother that I expect you at dawn tomorrow…”

Already running out the door, Chenowyn called over his shoulder, “I will!”

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

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

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


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swallgren
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Thanks for the input, everyone. Here is v. 1.1:


Just think—if I found that treasure, then mother wouldn’t have to work so hard to provide for Bethann and me. And the treasure is magical! If only—

“Chenowyn! Try to keep your daydreaming to a minimum and focus on finishing that last bolt of cloth, will you?”

“Sorry, Master Graves. I was just thinking about this book I read this morning.”

Master Graves looked up from his work. “And I’m just thinking of my customers, and the gold they will give me for delivering that cloth today.”

“Yes, sir.” Chenowyn tried to focus on the loom and the task at hand, but all he could think about was finding Scarlis and telling him about what he had discovered.


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MrsBrown
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Hmm… the dialog in the first one sounded more realistic. It had the right touch of formality for an educated boy in a scholarly workplace. The second version sounds too formal, both in thought and speech. I’d change the second para to something like, “Chenowyn! Quit daydreaming. Finish that last bolt, will you?”

Does he really think of her as “mother”? Then I’d capitalize it (but it creates emotional distance from her).

I’d cut “to provide for Bethann and me,” because it is not how someone speaks, and because here he is working away to what, help provide for himself? I could better believe him thinking how he’d like to quit his job, or buy his mother a nice house or something, rather than rescue her from working.

Also I liked the setting in the first one; now it’s almost voices floating in space. Could he be doing something with the loom, when he thinks of his discovery? Could he grab for a (spindle?) before saying sorry?

May I suggest, replace Graves’ “work” with ledgers or dye vat or ? I didn’t like the possible implication that he was doing the same task as the boy, after you set up the superior/worker-bee dynamic.

This hook doesn’t quite work for me, but I’m not sure why – maybe the “magical treasure” is too generic to grab my interest. Are you withholding information for dramatic effect? (That’s usually frowned on.)

I liked the first version better, with a few nits. I thought there were too many person/place names. Perhaps you could make it leaner by eliminating “Did you make sure to include the latest tax figures from Altoral? Yes, sir.” I like how the new version ends with the word “discovered.” The next sentence could pick up with his reading about the (specific) magical treasure.

Or a third possibility as suggested by IB: maybe start with him reading the book, finding this wonderful discovery (why is it so wonderful?). Maybe he has to put it down and get to work. Make me believe that his family needs money (where does he sleep, etc.) and that "treasure" could reasonably be expected to be magical in this world. And explain how a poor boy can read and own a book--or maybe he's not poor, just wanting more?

P.S. You can spend forever trying to get an opening just right--folks around here often say its better to get busy and write your story, than fix it later.

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited March 20, 2008).]


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rickfisher
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quote:
Just think—if I found that treasure, then mother wouldn’t have to work so hard to provide for Bethann and me. And the treasure is magical! If only— This opening didn't work for me. In the first place, opening with internal monologue is like opening with dialogue--not generally interesting until you know who's talking/thinking. Give us some tiny tidbit about Chenowyn first, something like "Chenowyn paused in. . . ." whatever he's doing. Second (and this is more of a taste issue than the "opening with dialogue" issue, but I'm not alone in it), I don't like "quoted" internal monologue when internal thought descriptions will do just as well. Sort of: "Chenowyn [messed up with what he was doing]. His mind was not on the work, but on the treasure. If he found it, his mother . . ." etc. I find this type of view into the POV's head to be more realistic, less obtrusive, and more accurate than the "quoted" stuff. Third, the line: "And the treasure is magical!" sounds childish to me.

“Chenowyn! Try to keep your daydreaming to a minimum and focus on finishing that last bolt of cloth, will you?” I liked the taxes better, I'm afraid. It's like this: in the first version, mention of taxes is enough, for lots of people, to cause their eyes to glaze over, because nothing else is there to hold their attention. In THIS version, there's a treasure and an urgent desire to do something about it, so the dullness of taxes is the perfect counterpoint. No wonder he's daydreaming, having to work on taxes when there's a magical treasure to be found!

“Sorry, Master Graves. I was just thinking about this->a book I read this morning.” Actually, I don't think he needs to give an excuse. The "sorry" is enough.

Master Graves looked up from his work. “And I’m just thinking of my customers, and the gold they will give me for delivering that cloth today.” If you keep Chenowyn's excuse above, this is a good rejoinder, so it might be worth keeping the excuse after all. On the other hand, if he gives no excuse--just the "sorry"--Graves could scathingly remark on that as well.

“Yes, sir.” Chenowyn tried to focus on the loom [and the task at hand, but all he could think about was finding Scarlis and telling him about what he had discovered.] Aside from the mention of Scarlis, the rest of this sentence contains no information we don't know or couldn't deduce.



All in all, I prefer the environment from the first version, but the presentation of material in the second. I would half suspect that what Chenowyn is working at (scribe, math, weaver, whatever) ought to have some impact on what happens in the rest of the story, so regardless of what choice works better for the opening, you might want to think about what would be most useful later in the book and use that here. But aside from that issue, I second the recommendation of writing the rest and then coming back to this.

[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited March 21, 2008).]


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