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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Time's Crossroads

   
Author Topic: Time's Crossroads
Gregg L
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This is a SF story I have been thinking for many years. Currently I have written about 85k words and I am about 75 percent through a second edit of what I have written and rewritten. I know I will edit it again; I seem to learn more about my story as I edit.

I want to know if the first 13 lines gets your attention enough for you to want to read more. Is Caden someone you could care what happens too?

Would you be interesting in reading what I have and even what I have not edited yet.

For twenty years, much like the all the students at his school, Caden has lived an ordinary and dull life, until now.
Caden is exiting his last class for the day, looking forward to heading to the dorm for some quiet study. He must keep his grades up or lose his basketball scholarship, not that he is in danger of that happening, his constant studying ensures it. He is a starting small forward, too small to make the NBA, but good enough to pay for his education. Someone down the hall is calling to him, he cannot see him but recognizes the voice; it is his coach and adviser John Gaunce, and there is urgency in his voice. The crowd of students leaving for the day, and John, are all coming his way in the hall, he waits at the classroom door.

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Grumpy old guy
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G'day Gregg. What you've posted is a classic example of you telling me what's going on, rather than showing it to me. Why couldn't you begin with:

Caden walked out of the classroom, heading for the cafeteria and then back to his dorm to study. If I don't, I might loose my scholarship, he thought. It might not pay a lot, but is does cover the costs of school.

"Caden!" John Gaunce, his coach and adviser calls.

Caden stops and searches the . . .

Just a thought. As for your question: Is Caden someone you could care what happens to? My immediate response is, no. In order to create a character the reader cares about, something needs to stir the readers emotions. Something that 'the average person' holds to be important must be at stake. Life, love, happiness or reputation, or even loosing a scholarship, to name only a few. You've already ruled out loosing his scholarship in the third line. If the main character is not at risk, why do we need to feel anything for him/her?


Phil.

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GhostWriter
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Howdy Gregg! Congrats on finishing that first edit and I hope you finish your second soon here! Down to business.

"For twenty years, much like the all the students at his school, Caden has lived an ordinary and dull life, until now." - If you explane this, (EX show me why and how) I could relate to Caden much more. This is more show then tell and it keeps the reader distant from your character. This statement is cliche (starting out should be unique.)

So, in essence, I agree with Phil here. Do more showing and less telling. Throw the reader right into the fray, guns blazing (or in this case coaches and basketballs.) The first sentence should hook the reader right away with a problem or action (or both.) In this, I felt a lack of "hook". My advice to you, "Show, do not tell." It ruffs up emotion and gets me into the story. Thanks so much for sharing Gregg and may your pages be ever full!

-Jake

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Gregg L
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Thanks Grumpy and Ghost, for your input, that first paragraph could drive me nuts, except I already am.

I have rewritten that chapter half a dozen times. Looks like I will rewrite the first few paragraphs again. You both have given me a direction to go in, with many possibilities. Hook then background.

Caden keeps me going. Yes, Caden was a real person, though we never met, and never will in this life. Now you know I am nuts.

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Grumpy old guy
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I can get a letter from my psychiatrist that 'proves' I'm sane, but no one would believe me.

So, this is a biography then? How can I reconcile your last post with the, "This is a SF story I have been thinking for many years." that you started this thread with. Or is it SF using a character based on someone you've heard or read about.

Sorry, I'm confused. And crazy.

Phil.

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Gregg L
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The story has been in my head for a long time under various character names. I settled on the name Caden, shortly after he was born. Caden, was born Caden Gregory Oaks and was my grandson. I changed the middle and last names in my story. Anyway, Caden lived in Texas, I live in Indiana, and we all believed that we had all of Caden's life to meet and visit. We had no idea that Caden's life was going to be less than 4 months. The first draft was finished before he passed, and was buried with him.
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Grumpy old guy
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Okay Gregg, now I'm in tears. Literally.

I don't know what it is to loose someone so close, except for my parents; who'd led full and rewarding lives. So, I'm guessing this is some sort of testimony to your grandson's 'potential' life. I'd also guess that you'd want to do him 'justice' in the sort of story you'd tell.

Any time you want someone else's opinion on what you are thinking, just e-mail me and I'll be happy to give you my honest opinion, at any time, and without my usual acerbic quality.

Phil.

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GhostWriter
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I am sorry to hear your loss Gregg and I am glad you are continuing this story. Yea you caught my soft spot as well...

Keep up the great work, and if you need help, just let us know and we all will be more than willing.

Jake.

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Gregg L
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Thanks both of you.

I use names of family in my stories. Lazy? Maybe. In my story, Caden's full name is Caden Amlasc McGregor. The middle name fits the story and who is, what he does and is hinted at late in the story, though, so far, Caden never pursues its meaning. I may change that. My intent is to let the reader dig into it

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Gregg L
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I am finishing editing a time travel story and I hit a snag. I am editing a book length story that I have rewritten several times. The many rewrites has left me with a plot problem that for the life of me, I cannot remember why I wrote it that way. I remember outlining it in my head on the way to work, (I have a long 70-minute drive each way and run my story plots in my head while driving) and thinking that it was logical and fit with the premise of the story. Later when I put it to paper, it still made sense to me. My mistake is that I did not make the logic part of the story line.

Last night while editing that particular set of chapters, I could not help thinking that my reasons were not as self evident as when I created the situation as thought. Now I cannot make sense of it, as my reasons are not coming to the forefront. My wife says let it be and some night about 1 AM, I will wake with the answer. However, what if I that never happens?

The plot situation is dangerous; however, it is more dangerous this time because if a mistake is made there is no way use the time machine device to repair a death to my cast of characters as the device must be used on site rather than the established norm, which is from the family’s Star Yacht in orbit. The question now is why must it be used onsite?

I want to avoid useless dangers to enhance the plot. There must be a logical reason. My response to the questions about a plot item should not be, “Well, when I wrote it, the idea worked in my head.”

The plot: The crew of the Star Yacht is skimming ahead in time taking short looks at the civilization’s decline on Earth. Think Heinlein’s, “The cowards stayed home and the weak died along the way.” The cowards and takers are all that is left. The crew is working to set up a plan that will help the survivors, the ones that will learn they must produce or die. That part is well explored and the explained.

During the time skimming, they reach a point in time where the Earth has been reduced to rubble strung out over the path of her orbit. The destruction is unnatural and it is clear it was manmade. However, the civilization on Earth at the time was incapable of the technology needed to cause the destruction. There was a set of experiments being conducted by group of off world humans that lead to explosion that took out Earth.

In order to research the reasons for the experiments and the why the experiments destroyed the Earth, they must themselves partake in the experiments as part of the team. The added danger is that the time machine device must also be used onsite, where, if the team makes a mistake and the explosion occurs sooner than the original, the time machine is destroyed and the dead remain dead and my time traveling family remains forever non time travelers. Without a solid reason for that conflict an entire chapter makes little sense. I think the average reader would wonder as I do now, why put the time machine in danger when it is not needed.

So here I am hat in hand asking for help. I had a reason when I plotted it out and wrote it. My hope is that others can see it too and help me remember it.

Note from Kathleen:

I added breaks between the paragraphs in hopes that it might be a little easier to read on a screen.

[ April 01, 2013, 12:20 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Carl F
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Howdy Gregg.
I read Heinlein too. I hope this may help.

If the family of time travelers go to a point where Earth is rubble, they must then go back to a time when it isn't; discover the cause and plan how to prevent it. Could the 'scientist' in the crew discover that the disastorous experiment made use of a cruder time travel machine and their machine must be on site to prevent its usage.
Maybe a member of the crew would jump back in time to alter an ingredient of the experiment or prevent the distruction of a vital gizmo or something. There's plenty of room in that for some adventure.

I generally work on my plots during a daily walk. I often have a scene worked out in my mind and need to get it on paper before it 'senior's' out. Maybe I'll get a small recorder to carry with me and record ideas while walking. Could you do the same while driving?

Carl

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Gregg L
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Thanks Carl.

Several of my friends and my "Grammar Nazi" (proof reader) do not see a problem as it reads. My proof reader is an avid SciFi fan and even now sees no fault in how I painted that part of the picture, but it drives me nuts that I can't rmemebr the reason for the plot twist. Getting old I guess.

I have learned from this. Keep notes, don't be afrid to explain/show too much and keep the origianl and all other versions on hand in case of brain @#$s. I need to take my wife's advice and let it come. I know it is there and I know it worked, forcing the issue will not bring it home. Oh and get a voice notes app for my Droid

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