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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » What's Right is Left (still working on the title)

Author Topic: What's Right is Left (still working on the title)
Harry Palm
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General Abraxas stood looking out of his office window, thinking of the events that led to his exile to this frozen wasteland of Europa; plotting revenge on those that forced him here. He walked over to the vid-phone and punched in the private codes, first to Holler Geld CEO of Mananso then to Cillian and Deville Kabos, the siblings who own CBK, Inc.

“We have been waiting for your call General”, said Cillian Kabos.

“What is your plan?”, asked Holler Geld.

“Now is the time to the Tepar Coalition to arise”, he said, “Now is the time to strike”.

“We want you to join with Savitri Circe to help coordinate the assault”, said DeVille Kabos. “She is our best and most

[ February 09, 2015, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Just a couple of thoughts:

  • That first sentence is way too long.
  • Your tenses are inconsistent.
  • Since you've chosen such a distinct setting, can you do more to make the reader experience Europa?

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Grumpy old guy
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Opening a story with a name is problematic, particularly when it is at the head of a litany of names. And therein lies my second problem, too many disembodied characters. A small, informal gathering of henchmen planning the return might be a better option. Then, you can spend a little time setting up the who, where, when, and why components of introducing the story.

Also, there are the various grammatical errors. In a draft, that's fine, in a submission, even a first 13, it is again problematic.


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Interesting premise. I think there is a story here that would interest me. I wouldn't read on, though. Here's why:

Too much info too fast. A lot of new names, political entities/situations, new setting, all thrown at the reader too quickly. It's like trying to drink from a fire hose. 

I advise, introduce 1 or 2 new things at once. Let us learn about them and get used to them before introducing the next new thing.

Also, ditto on cleaning up the grammar.

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An intriguing and lively meld of Gnostic Greek, classic Greek, Hebrew, Danish, Germanic, and Celtic name motifs. The intent for the motifs is less obvious though than is perhaps ideally accessible by any audience. A connection of note is descent from Anatolian origins. A projectable intent not apparent is a monocultural Earth and complications of natural and necessary schisms competing for supremacy, if not left to their schisms' independence from a global empire's oppressions.

The working title implies a pun and contrary meaning with political undertones that hold significant meaning. Right generally associated with conservative ideologies of the state as absolute sovereign before individuals and left with liberal ideologies of individual's sovereignty before the state, crossed up with the what is right, as in proper, is left over echoes conservative libertarian ideologies. Plus the irony that what is left after all is said and done is the conservative right's ideologies and policies trump liberal libertarinism's prerogatives. An intriguing title that expresses what, in my estimation, a best-practice title does. Despite my personal politics notwithstanding.

The fragment, to me, telegraphs the action and outcomes to come. Abraxas restored to Earth emperor: spiritual, political, and military leader, and plagued by courtly rivalries. Narratives best practice unfold as an action of events in a causal sequence, not summarized and explained up front beforehand. And the summary is of an "As You Know, Bob" nature designed to tell the backstory the conference call participants already know.

I believe this start is not a best practice time, place, or situation (setting criteria) to open the narrative. For example, Savriti Circe's arrival is a stronger setting and event start, when the dramatic action starts.

By the way, thirteen lines ends at "see the plan though [through].' Savitri".

The above excerpt properly places the terminal punctuation outside the citation because the excerpt is a formal quote of a citation that does not include the period, for example. In prose, punctuation marks at the end of a dialogue string belong inside a final quote mark, nor are one placed inside and one placed outside. For example:

"'What is your plan?', asked Holler Geld."

Either the question mark or the comma, or, in other cases, a period, colon, semicolon, dash, exclamation mark, etc., belong inside the final quote mark for dialogue, at least in U.S. prose conventions. Not one punctuation mark inside and one outside, nor outside at all.

A comma is optionally suitable for the above cite instead of the question mark, because the dialogue tag verb is "asked" and is immediate proximity to the question itself. Instead, the verb said could replace "asked" and the question mark then be imperative. Said is the least visible of dialogue tag verbs. "Asked" is somewhat more visible and summarizes and explains what has already been expressed by the question mark and redundant and tautalogical for it.

The glitchy punctuation alone signals a shortfall, to me, of writing craft, grammar, and style. The attempt at scene development is also, to me, a shortfall from a larger proportion being summary and explanation than reality imitation.

The first sentence's three present participle verbs are also static from their depiction of ongoing actions and -ing ring rhyme. They depict otherwise static -- not passive -- physical movement though not dramatic movement, a shortfall for me, because they are routine events and lack dramatic liveliness of at least emotional attitude such that the start upsets emotional equilibrium.

Unlike the average start fragments here, this fragment to me seems slow, not rushed, though the numerous name expositions are rapid-fire. Consider where and when and in what situation the dramatic action starts and open from there.

The core complication holds promise, for me; that is, an exiled emperor seeks to restore his empire; consistent, timely, and relevant to international current events. That potential intrigues me. Perhaps the start could be Abraxas's unsettled exile routine and Circe's surprise proposal of a plan to redress that exile.

[ February 08, 2015, 03:59 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Couple of things. 1-it's not good to start off with a name. 2-Have us experience what the general is going through. What does he see out of the window? What are his thoughts? Don't just tell u that he's been banished and is launching a rebellion, tell us why these events occured.
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