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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Judge

   
Author Topic: Judge
J
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First 13 of my long-suffering WIP. I posted a prior edit of this several years ago, but, seeing as how there is a whole new crowd here, I figured I'd take advantage of new insights. Comments/critiques of all kinds welcome.

The sun was an enemy. The boy had known that truth all his life, even before his father taught him to pray for safety at dawn. He looked east and saw the trace of a glow at the horizon. The boy was afraid. He raised his head from the sand. The night had been moonless, but there was enough light to see his feet now. Gingerly, he pulled the legs of his rough-spun cotton pants up past his ankles. The left one was swollen to almost twice the size of the right. He had heard something snap when the rock twisted under his foot. As if provoked by the look, waves of pain rolled up from his ankle. His stomach roiled. The boy closed his eyes and waited.

The pain receded to a dull ache. The boy opened his eyes. The glow was brighter. The sun was lurking there, just below the horizon, waiting to pounce.

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stutson
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It's off to a good start! The foreboding mood is good and the thoughts about right for a boy.
Some of the short sentence format is good -- just a little too much of it, leaving me feeling antsy with three of them in a row as in second paragraph.
I'd like a one word hint of what he was up to -- traveling? returning home? running away? Just how desperate is he in the face of the sun?
Minor logic problem: It sounds almost as if his ankle didn't hurt until he looked at it (I know it hurts more when you do.), although "gingerly" helps. It's swollen, but he had just "heard something snap" -- not felt? Seems like there ought to be at least a dull ache to cause him to look at his ankles.

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annepin
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Wow, I would turn the page. You've got me hooked. Lots of great details here, an interesting character and situation, excellent mood and tension. The only thing that I really didn't like was the "waiting to pounce" bit. You do such a good job of letting the drama build on itself that that last line seemed overkill and, to me, cheapened the rest of the prose.
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Uley Bone
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If I were looking for problems with this, as opposed to merely determining whether I would read on or not (and I likely would); it is that the ideas here sort of skitter around like butter on a hot pan.

Going from an opener of using the sun as an antagonist, which likely shifts most folks' skew on things and presets the curiosity as to how this particular perception came about; the ankle on the rock issue strikes me as more of distraction. The list of symptoms works alright, yet the boy's seeming shock that the sun is going to rise is uh... well, let's just say, I suspect he is in for a really rough patch of weather if it don't.

Logic, in proportion to his reaction, would likely indicate that, given to the panic response you described, he would be only too well aware of just when the sun was coming, and plan his days, and somewhat curious ways, accordingly. Being caught, unaware of the time (along with something of at least inferred cause) might explain this situation; yet as it stands now, he just seems surprised that the sun would do such a thing.

I-know, I know-- it's only 13 lines, but those are my thoughts after reading them. I'd still read on to maybe catch a glimpse of why this is so. (For the record, accusing the sun of "pouncing", or even possessing the intentions thereof, does tell us a few things about ol'boy-- I am just not certain that is where you are intending to head with the story or not.)

I hope this helps you along, but if I had anything to suggest-- it would be to keep the opening to the matter at hand, and focus it in (focusing your reader upon the character). This part begs for some relevance, and I suspect you likely put some of that out near-after. I'd suggest holding up on the turned, possibly broken, ankle. (Being a medic myself, I am going with a serious strain at worst, due to the MOI (mechanism of injury), possibly a torn ligament/tendon if he didn't stretch...)

Okay, now I am just being a goof. Nice to meet you J.

Uley

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The_last_lifeline
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You definitely have my attention here. I have to ask my questions even if it isn't something you could get to in the first thirteen lines. I got the impression that he *just* snapped his ankle, which confuses me, because he knew it was almost dawn, and "the sun is an enemy." Did he lose consciousness? He is lying in sand; is it burning him or cold like the desert at night? I know you can't work every detail in, but I would have felt a bit more connected to the character if I felt like I was feeling things with him, not just observing. Otherwise, great work!
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EmilyS
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"The sun was an enemy."
This would be more powerful if the sun was the enemy.

There's a definite sense of foreboding here, but it feels strangely distant. I think there are a couple reasons for that. First, you haven't given the boy a name. Second, you start kind of far off, showing the glow on the horizon and then looking at his ankle, and only then does he feel any pain. The scene would feel more intense if you showed that earlier.

The boy was afraid.
Show me.

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RLKnight
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"The boy was afraid" As EmilyS said, show it. It is alright to tell it, because your trying to get so much into such a short frame. Perhaps keep with the sun the enemy at first, to have space to show the fear... then move on to the ankle and why the boy is stuck in a situation he knows is bad.
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