Your first Pargraph!

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bcomet
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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by bcomet » February 1st, 2011, 1:49 am

J. T. SHEA wrote:
CHAPTER 1
JUST IMAGINE…
'WELCOME TO MY WORLD.'

My name is Jimmy Fort. I am sixteen. Mr. Abel Sunderland, proprietor of the Daily Globe, and Mr. Marshall Mahon, its editor, have asked me to write an ongoing account of the Globe Expedition to the Equatorial Lost City, and my part in it. When (and if) we reach the Lost City, a copy of this account will be among the many items to be sealed in a time capsule and buried there to commemorate our (hoped-for) success. Therefore I am instructed to record and explain some things which may seem obvious to a present-day reader. Marshall Mahon will edit a shorter version to appear in installments in the Junior Section of the Globe. (not sure this is needed, and it seems redundant, thus the strike through. But then again, I don't know what's coming and this may make more sense later, so this is really an uninformed strike through.)
I think this is just great.

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by J. T. SHEA » February 1st, 2011, 2:33 pm

Thanks, Sierra! Like they say, there's no accounting for taste.

Exactly, Holly! I love Robert Louis Stephenson and Jules Verne and the other Nineteenth and Twentieth Century fabulists, the grandfathers of Steampunk, though as inspiration rather than direct influences. My opening paragraph is the most formal part of the story.

Thanks, Bcomet! The last two sentences do indeed make more sense later, though I too would probably delete them if I didn't know what's coming up. Jimmy is a cub reporter, but my novels must show more of his world than his newspaper account would, hence the time-capsule and last two sentences.

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Re: Your first Paragraph!

Post by Sundance » February 1st, 2011, 8:17 pm

Thank you, Falls Apart and J. T. Shea! I'm not even exactly sure what I expected when I posted that paragraph, but the positive response sure feels nice. :)

I feel unsure commenting on your own work when I have little basis to do so, but you gotta start somewhere, I guess. J. T. Shea, I really like your paragraph! It's completely in the style of the adventure books I devoured as a kid -- Jules Verne indeed comes to mind -- and does a good job of whetting my appetite. Even the part of me that wants to fiddle with words EVERYWHERE till kingdom come has little to say.
J. T. SHEA wrote:My name is Jimmy Fort. I am sixteen. Mr. Abel Sunderland, proprietor of the Daily Globe, and Mr. Marshall Mahon, its editor, have asked me to write an ongoing account of the Globe Expedition to the Equatorial Lost City, and my part in it. When (and if) If we reach the Lost City, a copy of this account will be among the many items to be sealed in a time capsule and buried there to commemorate our (hoped-for) success. Therefore I am therefore instructed to record and explain some things which may seem obvious to a present-day reader. Marshall Mahon will edit a shorter version to appear in installments in the Junior Section of the Globe.
I think it flows a little better like this (but keep in mind I may feel completely differently within minutes, for psychotic implies restless). Maybe the vocabulary could be tightened here and there -- maybe something like "chronicle day to day trivialities" instead of "explain some things which may be obvious", and "abridged" instead of "shorter"? Maybe? -- but since vocabulary can always be tightened, this is not saying very much. I like the word "chronicle" because it conveys an idea of dutifully recording even the mundane, which would serve as your mean to show more of your world than the newspaper account warrants. It does make 'trivialities' a bit redundant, though. Gah, options, options.

Also I think maybe a brief hint at what kind of marvels await the narrator and the reader both in the City would be a great hook -- maybe in the form of a sentence like, "I am therefore instructed to chronicle the day to day trivialities of our journey alongside our captured schematics of the City's pre-Columbian steam gearworks." Something like this. If I'm making any sense? Obviously you know where you are headed with your paragraph and I don't, though, so take the suggestion with a grain of salt.

I'll stop now. Yes. It's a good paragraph. It doesn't need my attention. It must be beginning to find me a bit creepy by now, ogling it up and down like so.

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by J. T. SHEA » February 1st, 2011, 10:56 pm

Many thanks, Sundance! Wanting to fiddle with words everywhere is normal for a writer.

I like your suggestions, which do indeed smooth the flow. 'Chronicle' and 'abridged' would suit the formal tone of this first paragraph, but the rest of the series is less formal, more 1920s or 1930s New York Damon Runyon than Victorian London. And I'll be streamlining the vocabulary until someone prises the manuscript from my cold but hopefully not dead fingers.

Jimmy lives on a colony planet centuries in the future, but one cut off from other planets, with human technology limited to the level of 1930s Earth. So his everyday 'Kansas' (to use the WIZARD OF OZ metaphor) needs some explaining to us twenty-first century Earthlings.

The OZ, a lost alien city, has no pre-Colombian steam gearworks (good idea though!) just weather control, flying skyscrapers and giant snow-beasts, among other wonders. Hints and hooks come later, as the first paragraph is already long by my standards.

And my paragraph assures me it does not find you in the least creepy!

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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by Petronella » February 2nd, 2011, 12:35 pm

Interesting first paragrahps everyone! Hope you don't mind me adding one of mine? Actually two since my first paragraph is only one sentence long.

One year after daddy’s death – one year after finding him cold and stiff beside me in the bed we shared - I decided to take on the task of putting away his personal possessions.

The office seemed the best place to begin. It was the one place I had spent but little time, having no interest in daddy’s business. I raised my hand to rap on the door; then, remembering daddy was not there to answer, would never be there to answer again, let it drop to my side, and opened the door. Daddy’s oakwood desk bulked large in the room. Nothing marred its gleaming surface. Walking around it I let my fingers trail over the smooth wood. I imaged daddy seated in the leather chair and stacks of e-papers waiting for his signature placed in neat piles in front of him. Only an empty expanse of wood remained, and nothing of my daddy. Nothing at all of him.

Ha! I can see a dozen things that need fixing - bit of an exageration, but I do see a few things needing a polish.

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Dankrubis
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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by Dankrubis » February 2nd, 2011, 3:01 pm

I'll take a crack at it. Things I take issue with are in red. My comments in blue.
Petronella wrote: One year after daddy’s death – one year after finding him cold and stiff beside me in the bed we shared - I decided to take on the task of putting away his personal possessions. Sharing a bed with daddy? Pretty creepy. If that's what you were going for, you've succeeded.

The office seemed the best place to begin. It was the one place I had spent but little time, having no interest in daddy’s business. I raised my hand to rap on the door; then, remembering daddy was not there to answer, would never be there to answer again, let it drop to my side, and opened the door This comes a little to late to use a pronoun. I had to reread to figure out 'it' was her hand. Maybe cut 'let it drop to my side' so it's just 'I opened the door' or 'I slid the door open' or something. Furthermore, it seems odd she would forget the room is unoccupied a full year after her father's death. A few weeks I could see, but a year?. Daddy’s oakwood desk bulked large in the room. Bulked sounds odd, like you're not using it correctly. I'd find better word choice. Nothing marred its gleaming surface. Walking around it I let my fingers trail over the smooth wood. I imaged imaged sounds funky. Is this supposed to be imagined? daddy seated in the leather chair and stacks of e-papers waiting for his signature placed in neat piles in front of him. Only an empty expanse of wood remained, and nothing of my daddy. Nothing at all of him. I'd transpose 'at all of him' so it's 'of him at all.' If you're going to repeat a phrase, it sounds better on the ear to keep it similar- And nothing of my daddy. Nothing of him at all. -or you could even get rid of the pronoun - And nothing of my daddy. Nothing of my daddy at all.
So not bad! I think you have some tense issues. You weave in and out between past and present. But one of my major writer hangups is tense, so I can't help very much. But pretty strong overall. Curious as to how old this girl is and why she was sleeping in her dad's bed.

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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by Guardian » February 2nd, 2011, 3:14 pm

My first paragraph in my second WIP is actually an "experimental" preface. Those points are morse codes. Let's see how is it going to work out. :)
NIGHTFALL

Throughout our history, ships were designed and built, commissioned and sailed.

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ...

Many desperately called for help; waited to be rescued, waited to be saved.

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ...

Some of their voices faded in time; to live in our legends, to never forget them.

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ...

Now one desperately calls for help, but for her, no one remembers.

... --- ... / .- ... ...- / .- .-.. . ... ... .- -. -.. .-. .- / .-.. .- ..- .-. . -. - .. .-

She has no past, as she never existed.

Until now.

Petronella
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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by Petronella » February 7th, 2011, 2:07 pm

Dankrubis wrote:I'll take a crack at it. Things I take issue with are in red. My comments in blue.
Petronella wrote: One year after daddy’s death – one year after finding him cold and stiff beside me in the bed we shared - I decided to take on the task of putting away his personal possessions. Sharing a bed with daddy? Pretty creepy. If that's what you were going for, you've succeeded.

The office seemed the best place to begin. It was the one place I had spent but little time, having no interest in daddy’s business. I raised my hand to rap on the door; then, remembering daddy was not there to answer, would never be there to answer again, let it drop to my side, and opened the door This comes a little to late to use a pronoun. I had to reread to figure out 'it' was her hand. Maybe cut 'let it drop to my side' so it's just 'I opened the door' or 'I slid the door open' or something. Furthermore, it seems odd she would forget the room is unoccupied a full year after her father's death. A few weeks I could see, but a year?. Daddy’s oakwood desk bulked large in the room. Bulked sounds odd, like you're not using it correctly. I'd find better word choice. Nothing marred its gleaming surface. Walking around it I let my fingers trail over the smooth wood. I imaged imaged sounds funky. Is this supposed to be imagined? daddy seated in the leather chair and stacks of e-papers waiting for his signature placed in neat piles in front of him. Only an empty expanse of wood remained, and nothing of my daddy. Nothing at all of him. I'd transpose 'at all of him' so it's 'of him at all.' If you're going to repeat a phrase, it sounds better on the ear to keep it similar- And nothing of my daddy. Nothing of him at all. -or you could even get rid of the pronoun - And nothing of my daddy. Nothing of my daddy at all.
So not bad! I think you have some tense issues. You weave in and out between past and present. But one of my major writer hangups is tense, so I can't help very much. But pretty strong overall. Curious as to how old this girl is and why she was sleeping in her dad's bed.
Thank you very much for your useful comments. At the time the story begins, she is not a girl but a 40 year old woman. She's slept in her father's bed pretty well all her life.

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sarahdee
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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by sarahdee » February 7th, 2011, 9:20 pm

Throughout our history, ships were have been designed and built, commissioned and sailed.

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ...

Many desperately called for help; waited to be rescued, waited to be saved.

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ...

Some of their voices faded in time; to live in our legends, to never forget them.

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ...

Now one desperately calls for help, but for her, no one remembers.

... --- ... / .- ... ...- / .- .-.. . ... ... .- -. -.. .-. .- / .-.. .- ..- .-. . -. - .. .-

She has no past, as she never existed.
My only comments is to consider use of present perfect in the first line as the past is still relevant now but I think thats just personal preference and 'were' is just as correct.

Oooh I like it. Very atmospheric. Not sure about the morse code, I googled it out of interest but I suspect the common reader curled up in their armchair might not go to so much trouble. How vital is it to the story that its translated?

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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by Guardian » February 7th, 2011, 9:31 pm

Thanks, Sarah. I'm glad you like it. Well, the morse code means the following...

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ... = S.O.S. / S.O.S. / S.O.S.
... --- ... / .- ... ...- / .- .-.. . ... ... .- -. -.. .-. .- / .-.. .- ..- .-. . -. - .. .- = S.O.S. / A.S.V. / ALESSANDRA / LAURENTIA

The readers will know this from the first scene as it's playing aboard the Alessandra Laurentia, right at the time when the ghost ship is sending it's distress call. It will be evident. Well, I hope so.

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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by Josin » February 8th, 2011, 6:38 pm

Guardian wrote:My first paragraph in my second WIP is actually an "experimental" preface. Those points are morse codes. Let's see how is it going to work out. :)
NIGHTFALL

Throughout our history, ships were designed and built, commissioned and sailed.

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ...

Many desperately called for help; waited to be rescued, waited to be saved.

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ...

Some of their voices faded in time; to live in our legends, to never forget them.

... --- ... / ... --- ... / ... --- ...

Now one desperately calls for help, but for her, no one remembers.

... --- ... / .- ... ...- / .- .-.. . ... ... .- -. -.. .-. .- / .-.. .- ..- .-. . -. - .. .-

She has no past, as she never existed.

Until now.
IMO, this reads a bit like a voice over for the beginning of a movie. Someone's speaking the words while the telegraph operator is sending the communique. It works well with a visual medium, but I'm not sure how well it works with a novel.

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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by Guardian » February 8th, 2011, 6:53 pm

Josin wrote:IMO, this reads a bit like a voice over for the beginning of a movie. Someone's speaking the words while the telegraph operator is sending the communique. It works well with a visual medium, but I'm not sure how well it works with a novel.
It's an experimental preface and not a chapter opening. Chapter 1 is written as a standard novel. But you see it right, it's working best on a visual medium and yes, it's like a beginning of a movie as this WIP is also existing in that format. A year ago I created a CGI trailer for this one and these sentences appeared there along with the morse codes. That one worked perfectly and that little trailer gave me the idea to create a similar opening in the novel. As I loved it's atmosphere, now I try to add that atmosphere to the novel somehow.

This preface may give a better atmosphere and also may serve as quick opening before the actual story begins. But if it's not working as it should be, the original opening in Chapter 1 is still there (What is still there even with or without these lines.). Now I'm testing this experimental idea. :)

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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by polymath » February 8th, 2011, 7:24 pm

Both the Spencer Tracy and the Anthony Quinn movie versions of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea open with them, respectively, as narrators doing narrator voiceovers narrating the novella's exposition-introduction text that doesn't readily translate otherwise to audiovisual media.

However, Morse code is as untranslatable to contemporary visual readers as braile, as foreign language, as special vernacular, and so on.

A workaround suggested by style manuals is to phonetically render Morse code into its constituent glyphs tagged with action or dialogue attribution;

Morse code blipped and bleeped from the bridge speaker. Dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot . . . , or S-O-S, S-O-S, S-O-S . . . A useful practice is to provide accessible sensory detail, including a visual sensation of where an aural sensation comes from. Something visual for focus so that a disembodied narrator's voiceover doesn't call attention to its disembodiment.
Last edited by polymath on February 8th, 2011, 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by Guardian » February 8th, 2011, 7:30 pm

polymath wrote:Morse code blipped and bleeped from the bridge speaker. Dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot . . . , or S-O-S, S-O-S, S-O-S . . . A useful practice is to provide accessible sensory detail, including a visual sensation of where an aural sensation comes from. Something visual for focus so that a disembodied narrator's voiceover doesn't call attention to its disembodiment.
Thanks polymath! So I should keep only this part for the preface...
Throughout our history, ships were designed and built, commissioned and sailed.
Many desperately called for help; waited to be rescued, waited to be saved.
Some of their voices faded in time to live in our legends, to never forget them.

Now one desperately calls for help, but for her, no one remembers.
She has no past, as she never existed.

Until now.
... and after this; Chapter 1 comes. So the morse should appear only in the novel on the way as you suggested (Dots and dashes or S.O.S.). That can be done, still it can give the very same atmosphere what I want. Although this dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot may work out well, but it wouldn't work out well with the morse of the ship name as it's too long.

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Re: Your first Pargraph!

Post by polymath » February 8th, 2011, 7:54 pm

You're welcome, Guardian,

I think the narrator voiceover by itself is easier to process, and better by being shorter, when it's separated from the aural sensation scenery.

Which way to show the Morse code is a best practice? I can suggest. I like the letter version for reading ease. The dots and dashes have more aural ambience. Decision-making is ultimately yours.

S-O-S, S-O-S, S-O-S. Dots and dashes blipped and bleeped from the bridge speaker. A-S-V, break, A-L-E-S-S-A-N-D-R-A, break, L-A-U-R-E-N-T-I-A, stop.
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