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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Mir Maid- a scifi fairytale

   
Author Topic: Mir Maid- a scifi fairytale
KimS
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I was the one who aligned the last of the prismatic mirrors and pushed the button at the precise moment when the Star Spinner emerged from his death thrall. I am Kal Neriad, from one of the ancient lines of Sea Kings. I am a water man from Mir, a pirate newscaster in the city of Fraternity , and sometimes take the appearance of a man in an orange jumpsuit.
If I was to true tell you this tale, I'd have to start further back then when the Shifter moved a city thousands of light years across space. Perhaps to the most ancient days, when the first dirt men came to Mir.
Humans. They think they just encountered us, but we've been dealing with them for more then seven millennia. Before those first dirt men came, the water men ruled all of Mir. We lived

[ May 21, 2015, 11:06 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Denevius
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It reads like a cool idea that now needs to be made into a present moment narrative. I would probably read only a little bit further, but if by the end of the page or the top of the next page we aren't in an active scene, I'd probably put the book down.
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KimS
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thanks for your feedback! This was initially the opening of Act 2 of my story, but I worried that I had not given enough information on the front end, may go back to starting with a scene
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KimS
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this is what I originally opened with...
My tale hinges on a curious act of kindness. It all began with a twelve year old boy, on a planet and in a time very far from yours, on a day that he already determined was going to be the worst of his life.

I could run away, go live in the Wilds.. I could just keep walking and never turn back. The boy swung a piece of driftwood aimlessly, kicking sand in the air and occasionally thunking against a bit of shell. He ignored the mountainous clouds rolling in from the sea, even when fat drops of rain began to wet his recently shorn head. It been shaved in preparation for his bonding ceremony, but when it came time to put on the scarlet robes, he slipped out a window instead. It's not fair.

I don't WANT to be bonded, especially to a councilman's daughter I've never met. Maybe in a few more years...

The rain drops began to splash in earnest, competing with the waves, but the boy noticed another sound. He walked into the

[ May 21, 2015, 11:07 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Denevius
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The opening of Act 2 is better, actually.

The main issue, though, is that even though this is first person narrative, you're doing way too much telling. Plus, it's a little bit confusing, as we're both in the boy's thoughts and the narrator's thoughts at the same time in the version you just posted. I'm unsure who the 'I' refers to.

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KimS
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got it. its italicized in the manuscript, but still playing with the idea of having an omniscient 1st person narrator, maybe too confusing
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KimS
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Thank you, Denevius, went back to my story this morning with a fresh eye for the things you pointed out. Problematic throughout the story. Your feedback will be very helpful in the rewrite
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MattLeo
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OK, this opening seems a bit cluttered to me, but I confess a tendency to see clutter in most openings. One of the red flags is Kal's very broad hint that without a thorough grounding in several thousand years of galactic history we aren't going to be able to follow the story. If you have a narrator say something like that, you have to be really sure that the reader won't believe him; long-winded background briefings are the bane of speculative fiction.

The opening of a story is a very constrained place. The reader doesn't know your narrator, nor the rules of your world, nor the history. Kal here seems eager to give us a primer on all three as quickly as possible. I think it comes out a bit dense to chew on. What if Kal were to focus on just one thing, and the reader begins to intuit other things from that? For example let's strip strip the opening paragraph down to Kal introducing himself.

quote:
I am Kal Neriad of the ancient lines of Sea Kings; a water man from Mir, a pirate newscaster, and sometimes a man in an orange jumpsuit.
Now this may give a completely wrong impression of Kal, but I wanted to make a point. One of the ways you can make first person work for you is that Kal is literally addressing the reader here. Readers have social intuitions which extract information from the way someone addresses them. Is that person proud? Pompous? Deceptive? Get the reader's imagination working early and you don't have to spell everything out for them.

You can do the same thing if Kal decides to introduce the world rather than himself; in fact that choice is in itself intuitively revealing of Kal's character:
quote:
Humans. They think they just encountered us, but we've been dealing with them for millennia.
In this example Kal is ostensibly telling us something about the story world we'll need to know, but he's also unconsciously expressing attitude. The first example gives an impression of a Kal who's a big talker; a self-promoter and BS artist trying to pique the audience's interest with an intriguing picture of himself. The second version is more proud and disdainful. Whatever you do try to get the reader to read more than is literally there on the page.

Why is Kal telling this story to us? What does he hope to accomplish? To conceal? What does he assume about what we just know about the history of the galaxy and how does he feel about that? And choose an answer that for effect rather than as a pretext to info-dump on the reader.

People say get the action started as early as possible, but I don't agree 100%. I think you should get the reader's intuition working as early as possible. Part of doing that is not giving him quite so much manifest information to chew on.

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JSchuler
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For some reason, this opening puts me in a snarky mood...

I was the one who aligned the last of the prismatic mirrors and pushed the button at the precise moment when the Star Spinner emerged from his death thrall.

And? I don't even know what these terms mean, let alone how they relate to each other or why I should be impressed. The only usage I know of "prismatic mirror" is the rearview mirror of a car. Were you driving at the time? If you were adjusting a rearview mirror I'd assume you were trying to get away, maybe, from something. Or backing out of parking space at the local Piggly Wiggly. More likely the later than the former, now that I think about it.

And what's a death thrall? A thrall is a type of slave. Is this slave dead, or is it employed in the buisness of death somehow? And how does the Star Spinner emerge from it? Sounds messy. Did he take a bath after? Is it a he? Is it alive?

So, you were looking in your rearview, playing with the radio, when this Star Spinner guy/thing just explodes out of the ribcage of some poor person indentured to an undertaker. Sounds like the beginning to a strange and whimsical tale. Let's continue.

I am Kal Neriad, from one of the ancient lines of Sea Kings.

So's my neighbor. The red hair gives it away.

I am a water man from Mir, a pirate newscaster in the city of Fraternity , and sometimes take the appearance of a man in an orange jumpsuit.

Gorden Freeman?

If I was to true tell you this tale, I'd have to start further back then when the Shifter moved a city thousands of light years across space.

You do that. In the meantime, I'm going to put in these earbuds and listen to my Pandora station. Poke me when you get to *now.*

* * *

So, that's my visceral reaction to this opening. If you aren't writing a story about a guy wearing a hazmat suit who runs out to get groceries only to have an apprentice at a funeral home jump in his car just as a chest burster redecorates the rear seating, then DIBS! I called it!

Your second opening is much better, but still telling. The writing here is pretty good:

The boy swung a piece of driftwood aimlessly, kicking sand in the air and occasionally thunking against a bit of shell. He ignored the mountainous clouds rolling in from the sea, even when fat drops of rain began to wet his recently shorn head.

If this was the full thirteen lines, I'd be on the next page no questions asked. This is all in the now. I'm seeing this kid walking along a beach as a storm comes in. Great! But the rest falls flat. Dropping me directly into the kid's head to the point where I'm reading his plain thoughts makes it worse, because those thoughts are either exposition or emotionally on the nose. It's slightly more artful than the narrator saying it, but it's just shifting that onto the character. And one of the side effects is the character comes off as whiny to my literary ear.

My advice for either version is avoid exposition for now, no matter its form, and be sparing with names and alien terms. Take your time and develop the situation.

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kmsf
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Hi Kim. To me the narrator feels self-conscious and a bit frigid. By that I mean too distant from the story. I think that style or psychic distance could be made to work if we were already into the story.

I also think your instinct to open with a scene is correct. If you know that the scene the MC speaks of is the starting point of the character's story, then maybe you'd want to dramatize the action he now tells.

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KimS
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Thanks for the help! Will cut the exposition, put the obnoxious man in the orange suit back where he belongs, making cryptic remarks (but no monologues) in Act 2, and just start at the beginning and show what is happening with the kid for now.
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