Opening Scene; Soft Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy; Critique?

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Anobile1
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Opening Scene; Soft Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy; Critique?

Post by Anobile1 » June 12th, 2010, 3:42 am

Working Title: Personal Artificial Pet

I'm a little paranoid about putting the hook/plot/summery/pitch thing out on the internet just yet, so I'm not going to...

I'm not sure if I have any personal issues with my opening scene, though I have a lot of questions:

1) I don't think you can tell very well just from this piece, but I'd like to know if people think it's more YA or adult. I feel the fact that it has some chapters from the point of view of older characters (29 and 34, specifically) makes it more adult, but I also feel it's written like YA, and would be appropriate and enjoyable for pretty much any age. So, it's probably impossible to tell from this short excerpt, but I thought I'd mention this point anyway.

2) I purposefully don't mention the man's/woman's names, but this is more for symbolic reasons than for the plot, so if enough people think I should give their names, I probably will.

3) The term ALO is used twice in this part. The term is explained later on, but should it be explained here? I personally think it would interrupt the emotion and flow of this scene, but other opinions would be nice.

Those are my more specific questions. Then there's the whole pile of questions like "do I have a style/voice?", "does it grab you?", etc. Sigh.


And a brief note for the excerpt: the name 'Iarfhlaith' is pronounced 'YAR-lath'.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Laith could only stare into the dragon's eyes and admit he had no right to interfere.

Only twice in his nine years of scouting for members had someone been crazy enough to suggest turning themselves in. Never had anyone ignored all of his logical reasoning and actually gone through with it.

But here, in the living room of a very normal house, he was faced with a middle-aged couple and an ALO who had. He'd always thought that only someone who had nothing to loose or someone with a hero complex would be stupid enough to do it. Everything from their calm expressions—both human and dragon—to the fact they they had everything to loose and likely nothing to gain, proved him wrong.

And all he could do was sit before them in awe and desperation.

He closed his eyes, unable to stand the love and respect in the dragon's gaze anymore. For ten months, she'd looked at him like that, thankful beyond measure for what he'd done for her. In ten hours, that expression would be gone.

“So I guess this is goodbye.” he said to the three of them. He opened his eyes again to see the human woman smiling.

“For now, anyway,” she said.

He didn't have the heart to say that was only true for two of them.

Her husband glanced across the room at the clock set into the wall by the stairs. He placed a hand on her arm. “Time to go.”

The two of them stood and the dragon followed suit. Her long white and yellow fur shimmered in the midday sunlight streaming through the window. It felt wrong that she'd made herself so presentable for this day

“Iarfhlaith, come here a moment,” the woman said as she opened a drawer in the couch's built-in side table. When he'd forced his muscles to move and walked over to her, she pushed two folded pieces of paper into his numb grasp. “One of these is for Yora,” she said. “The other is for Jaden. ”

Now only feet from her, Laith could see the fear beneath the calm in her eyes. The calm before the storm, the anticipation before a battle. He pushed the papers into his pocket. “Will Yora believe me?” he asked.

The dragon lowered her head a few feet to be level with his. “Her ALOs will know. She will trust them,” she said.

He swallowed. “Good luck, Zin.”

She inclined her head in thanks.

“And good luck to you, Laith,” the man said. He stepped forward and offered his hand. “It's been a pleasure.”

Laith took his hand and shook it. He couldn't manage any words in return.

With a smile, the man nodded to his wife and they walked to the door.

As he watched them put on their coats, Laith felt a strange determination. Maybe this was goodbye, but he wasn't going to let it be for long. Not even for Zin. “I'll see all of you again,” he said, and somehow he was confident he would.

The humans smiled and Zin bowed her head. Then the woman looped her purse over her shoulder.

And with a soft click of the door, they were gone.
Last edited by Anobile1 on June 12th, 2010, 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
My Blog: http://amorenanobile.blogspot.com/ (Most recent post: Inspiration Patterns and an Old Friend)

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Gina Frost
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Re: Opening Scene; Soft Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy; Critique?

Post by Gina Frost » June 12th, 2010, 9:57 am

1.) I am never sure about genre classification but if it has dragons in it then I think that the young adult audience would be interested.

2.) I tend to leave out names of specific persons in the beginning of my stories as well so this does not bother me at all.

3.) The term ALO, as used in the text at the beginning interrupted the flow a little bit for me. It made me pause and question what it meant or what it could possibly stand for. I think it would be better to explain in the beginning. With everything in this excerpt that left me with questions, it would be nice to give some explanation about something in the beginning.

Typos-loose should be lose. larfhlaith should be capitalized.

Yes, the story does grab my attention. I would definitely read past the first page and would finish the story as long as the questions raised after reading this excerpt were answered.

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khanes
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Re: Opening Scene; Soft Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy; Critique?

Post by khanes » June 12th, 2010, 3:49 pm

Hello! I agree with Gina that ALO is too distracting. Actually, in my opinion, I think the beginning needs a little streamlining. I would delete some stuff, and focus on Laith's interaction with the dragon. Here's what I would do (I hope you don't mind my hacking)

---------------------------------------
Laith could only stare into the dragon's eyes and admit he had no right to interfere.

He closed his eyes, unable to stand the love and respect in the dragon's gaze anymore. For ten months, she'd looked at him like that, thankful beyond measure for what he'd done for her. In ten hours, that expression would be gone.

“So I guess this is goodbye.” he said, as much do the dragon as to the two humans in the room. He opened his eyes again to see the human woman smiling.
----------------------------------------

I think those three lines are very captivating, and leave the reader with lots of questions. What did he do to deserve the dragon's respect? Why will that expression be gone? Excellent questions that make me want to read more.

After those lines, I would suggest going into what exactly is happening in that room. The conversation between him and the man and woman was good. It left me wondering who the letters are for, who are Yora and Jaden? I did feel a little surprised the dragon was speaking. At first I didn't know who "she" was, when you put a quote in from the dragon. Not sure if there is any way to make this more apparent.

I liked the last sentence of this excerpt. It makes me want to read more!

Down the well
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Re: Opening Scene; Soft Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy; Critique?

Post by Down the well » June 14th, 2010, 8:25 pm

I agree with what the other commenters have said about the ALO. I think it would be helpful, and maybe even intriguing, to know what that stands for. Tell us what is at stake here. I know you allude to it, but maybe you should just say it.

I noticed in another post that you had asked about the similarity of names. This always bothers me. Too many "L" names gets confusing. I would try and make each name as unique and identifiable as possible. Also, I thought there were a lot of names to keep track of in this short passage. This was a criticism I got from others on one version of my opening scene, and I found it did help to go back and streamline - too many characters too early is hard for a reader to follow in an opening.

Good luck! I like dragon stories and hope to hear an update on this one!

Anobile1
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Re: Opening Scene; Soft Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy; Critique?

Post by Anobile1 » June 18th, 2010, 7:01 am

Sorry for taking so long to respond! Thanks to the three of you for the critique. Much appreciated. I'll probably edit with a revised version sometime soon.
My Blog: http://amorenanobile.blogspot.com/ (Most recent post: Inspiration Patterns and an Old Friend)

Emily J
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Re: Opening Scene; Soft Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy; Critique?

Post by Emily J » June 18th, 2010, 3:41 pm

Anobile1 wrote: Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Laith could only stare into the dragon's eyes and admit he indefinite pronoun, unclear if this is referring to Laith or the dragon had no right to interfere.

Only twice in his nine years of scouting for members had someone been crazy enough to suggest turning themselves in. Never had anyone ignored all of his logical reasoning and actually gone through with it.

But here, in the living room of a very normal house, cut "very" doesn't add anything he was faced with a middle-aged couple and an ALO who had. He'd always thought that only someone who had nothing to loose lose not loose or someone with a hero complex would be stupid enough to do it. Everything from their calm expressions—both human and dragon—to the fact they they had everything to loose lose not loose and likely nothing to gain, proved him wrong. you need to keep an eye on your pronouns and possessive pronouns, they are often unclear

And all he could do was sit before them in awe and desperation.

He closed his eyes, unable to stand the love and respect in the dragon's gaze anymore. For ten months, she'd looked at him like that, thankful beyond measure for what he'd done for her. who is she? 1/2 of the couple? In ten hours, that expression would be gone.

“So I guess this is goodbye.” a bit cliched he said to the three of them. He opened his eyes again to see the human woman smiling.

“For now, anyway,” she said.

He didn't have the heart to say that was only true for two of them.

Her husband glanced across the room at the clock set into the wall by the stairs. He placed a hand on her arm. “Time to go.”

The two of them stood and the dragon followed suit. Her long white and yellow fur shimmered in the midday sunlight streaming through the window. It felt wrong that she'd made herself so presentable for this day missing punctuation

“Iarfhlaith, come here a moment,” the woman said as she opened a drawer in the couch's built-in side table. When he'd forced his muscles to move and walked over to her, she pushed two folded pieces of paper into his numb grasp. “One of these is for Yora,” she said. “The other is for Jaden. ”

Now only feet from her, Laith could see the fear beneath the calm in her eyes. The calm before the storm, the anticipation before a battle. He pushed the papers into his pocket. “Will Yora believe me?” he asked.

The dragon lowered her head a few feet to be level with his. “Her ALOs will know. She will trust them,” she said.

He swallowed. “Good luck, Zin.”

She inclined her head in thanks.

“And good luck to you, Laith,” the man said. He stepped forward and offered his hand. “It's been a pleasure.”

Laith took his hand and shook it. He couldn't manage any words in return.

With a smile, the man nodded to his wife and they walked to the door.

As he watched them put on their coats, Laith felt a strange determination. Maybe this was goodbye, but he wasn't going to let it be for long. Not even for Zin. “I'll see all of you again,” he said, and somehow he was confident he would.

The humans smiled and Zin bowed her head. Then the woman looped her purse over her shoulder.

And with a soft click of the door, they were gone.
This is not bad, but I do think you need to be careful when using pronouns that it is clear to the reader who you are referring to. Also, I find it a bit confusing. I do think you need to explain ALO. It is not uncommon in Sci-Fi of fantasy with major world-building to throw the reader into the midst and not give them the answers right away. Still, I think there are too many questions being begged here. A few more answers would be nice so that the reader can get their bearings.

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