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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » 13 lines - YA sci-fi

   
Author Topic: 13 lines - YA sci-fi
tesknota
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I didn't change much, but I rephrased some things. Hope it didn't get worse. Thoughts?

Revision:

Stephen walked down the street, making each stride as long and as purposeful as he could. In his left hand was a grocery bag filled with enough packets of food to last him three days, maybe four. The shadows cast by lampposts and street signs already stretched long by this time of evening, and Stephen wanted to get home before dusk set in completely. A thirteen-year-old boy walking alone this late on a school night was an odd sight. The last thing he wanted was to attract attention.

He wouldn't have gone out at all if it had been up to him. But his grandfather still hadn't come home after five days, and he was left with no choice. He had already gone through all the food in both the kitchen and the pantry. Stephen knew about the extra cash in the oatmeal box above the refrigerator, so he had retrieved


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Original:

Stephen walked down the street, making each stride as long and as purposeful as he could. In his left hand was a grocery bag filled with enough packets of food to last him three days, maybe four. The shadows cast by lampposts and street signs already stretched long by this time of evening, and Stephen wanted to get home before dusk set in completely. A thirteen-year-old boy walking alone this late on a school night was an odd sight. The last thing he wanted was to attract attention.

He wouldn't have come out at all if it had been up to him. The most inconspicuous place to stay would have been in his own house. But when his grandfather still hadn't come home after five days, Stephen was left with no choice. He had already gone through all the food in both the kitchen and the pantry.

---

I'm doing NaNoWriMo this month, and I got stuck. Philip Pullman says that writer's block is like plumber's block in that it doesn't exist, and I know something's wrong when I begin to doubt his wisdom. Here's what Joss Whedon says about this:

"If something isn't working, if you have a story that you've built and it's blocked and you can't figure it out, take you favorite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It's brutal, but sometimes inevitable."

And who am I to ignore the creator of Firefly? I've decided to cut away my treasured opening and start with a new one, and I'm glad I did.

I'm wondering how this opening sounds. I've tried the opening a few different ways, but as of now I'm leaning towards this one.

The genre is sci-fi, but is it okay to not include any sci-fi elements in the first thirteen? Any opinions appreciated. Thanks! And please excuse (but point out) any technical errors that jump out; I'm functioning on caffeine, adrenaline, and Twix.

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[ November 10, 2013, 01:09 AM: Message edited by: tesknota ]

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Denevius
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quote:
if you have a story that you've built
I wouldn't exactly call novels that's been written during Nano month something that's been "built".

You build a city. You throw up a shantytown.

From what I understand of Nano month, you're supposed to just keep writing. Thinking about what you've written will simply have you fail the goal the month has set forth.

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wetwilly
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I think this is a very engaging opening. I'm hooked by the hints of danger, and I would keep reading to find out what is so dangerous about leaving the house.

I do think the 2nd line of the 2nd paragraph ("The most inconspicuous place...") is unnecessary. It explains something that I would already assume, and you can cut it without losing anything.

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tesknota
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Cool, thanks guys. =)

Denevius, I'm breaking the rules of NaNo in that I'm taking a project I've been working on sporadically for a couple of years now and I'm applying the goal of 50,000 words towards it. Hopefully I'll want to keep half those words after the end of the month...

wetwilly, thanks for pointing that out! You're right. It's unnecessary. It's out. I'll think about this a bit more and post a revision soon.

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Mecopitch
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Maybe speak more directly from Stephen's head?Maybe refer to "His grandfather" as just simply, "Grandpa ,Grampy, or Grandpapa," something like that. The way it's written it seems like you might be flirting with two different kinds of POV, Limited and Omniscient?

Actually, that whole line stood out as peculiar.
"But his grandfather still hadn't come home after
five days, and he was left with no choice. He had
already gone through all the food in both the
kitchen and the pantry"

You could probably reduce that to something like
"But Grandpa still hadn't come home and after five days there was nothing left but crumbs."


Since you're already talking about food in his living space, kitchen and pantry might be over-redundant.

Also, the use of "food packets" may convey the scifi nature well enough for some readers. It certainly worked for me.

I find when writing, I include WAY too many details and I end up boring my first test reader. (my wife)

I think I'd continue reading. I already want to know what happened to Grandpa.

That's all I got.

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