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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » First 13: Two Possibilities

   
Author Topic: First 13: Two Possibilities
Rob Roy
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Genre: Historical Mystery
Title: The Last Student
Word Count: 95,752

First 13--Version 1:

The first death to be laid at Erik’s door happened on a day that began just like any other.
The crowd wound its way through the rows of carnival stalls, creeping patiently towards its goal. A large tent, of a kind most of them had never seen before, stood on the green, a gold pennant hanging damply from its peak. The gathering clouds that had been threatening all morning opened upon the crowd, and umbrellas unfolded like so many black mushrooms sprouting above their heads. The roustabouts and gatekeepers watched them, occasionally turning to one another to mutter, in their various native tongues, about the almost indecent order with which English crowds conducted themselves, even in the pouring rain.


First 13--Version 2:

The first death to be laid at Erik’s door happened on a day that began just like any other he could remember in his short life at Le Quesne Brothers’ Circus.
The rehearsals in the big top that morning were flawless; afterwards, Erik went to the caravan he shared with the second acrobat, Émile, to get ready for the matinee. His last job before the performance was to check the ropes the acrobats used; then, from a concealed position, he watched the audience file in before taking his place with the acrobats, awaiting the signal for the grand procession.
Émile was to Erik a replacement for the father he had never known; but Erik’s best friend at the circus was an older boy named Mahmoud, the son of Ali, the first acrobat and Émile’s


Feedback please: is either of these any better than the other? Do either of them make you want to turn the page? The book is substantially complete, but I want to make sure it has the best chance of being read.

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy


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honu
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just more of a gut reaction than anything/// I like ver 1 better // less names to get lost and lose the flow ///
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Rob Roy
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Honu,

thanks for the feedback. You're right; V2 does have too many names. V1 is the original, as it is in the manuscript, but it's too much description and not enough action. V2 is my first attempt to get into the action earlier.

Here's my third attempt:

The first death to be laid at Erik’s door happened on a day that began just like any other he could remember in his short life at Le Quesne Brothers’ Circus.
He could not have been more than six years old; but he knew what a worn or frayed rope looked like, and checking the acrobats’ ropes was his job. So he looked over all the ropes and rigging before the roustabouts hung them; then he climbed and walked them himself before the rehearsal.
The rehearsals in the big top that morning were flawless; afterwards, Erik checked the ropes again; he could not inspect them from end to end, but he could climb up and see if they showed signs of strain: they did not; accordingly, he went to the caravan he shared with the second acrobat, Émile, to get

Better? Worse? No different?

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy


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honu
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It might be just me, but what really works for me is short choppy sentences that define "one concept" really well///I think it adds a sense of drama and hook when you arrest a reader's attention by your version 1 first sentence/// when you fill in the background too soon, as ver 3 does for me /// for me it loses that same grabberness/// Am I making sense? /// If you can paint in the detail a little at a time, as you create Erik's living situation, like a painter a brush stroke here, a brush stroke there as you escalate the tension, it has more of a continuing hook for me/// hope this helps//// I like your story and would read on
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JASU
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I'm having a bit of a problem getting into the story. I'm getting hung up on the idea of a six year old being in charge of something so important like checking the tight ropes. It could just be that I don't know enough about the circus. If so, forgive me.
I agree with the idea of making it more choppy.
The whole first death thing is a good hook for me. Like it.
JA--

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Dogmatic
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Definitely version 1. Version 2 seems like too much exposition rather than setting a mood or a scene. You can ease into that later. Pull us in first then expand.

Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Steve


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