250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

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glj
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by glj » July 30th, 2011, 12:19 pm

Wordranger, this is well written. But it didn't really grab me. Hooking interest is very hard, and is quite dependent on the reader as well as the author, but this didn't compel me to read more. A hint of what is at stake in this argument would be more compelling. Some suggestions below.


Grown-ups fight a lot, Magellan thought, as he looked out over the crowd. He wasn’t reallylistening to the argument going on between his father and the tall man anymore. They just kept saying the same things over and over,… Ssomething about freeing the Rorian moon.

“It’s a totalitarian government!” his father said. This contradicts the above statement that Magellan wasn't listening?

“It is nothing of the sort!” the tall man retorted. “Give me one example of a person on that moon that wants freedom!”

They weren’t the only angry ones in the room. There were a lot of people gathered around his family in the center of the huge chamber, and every one of them seemed mad. They were all dressed in bright colors and fabrics Magellan had never seen. The men wore crisp, clean uniforms, and the women wore long, flowing gowns like the ones his sisters dressed their dolls in. His family’s drab, serviceable clothing stood out, and he felt a little embarrassed by how they looked. It might just be me, but I want something to happen before you slow down to describe how people are dressed. If I don't care about what is happening in the story, I won't care what they are wearing. His brothers and sisters didn’t seem to notice the crowd. They were all huddled behind their mother, watching the argument with huge eyes. The term "huge" implies fear to me. What about "wide eyes"?

Sometimes one of the people in the crowd wouldcalled out, agreeing with the tall man. No one agreed with his father. The onlyreactions aimed at his family were jeers and rude gestures. Magellan sighed, and brushed back a lock of golden hair than had fallen over his eyes. Why do grown-ups think yelling solves things? The phrase "sometimes one of the people in the crowd would ..." is a statement of past events and therefore doesn't add as much tension as if it were happening right now.

glj
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by glj » July 30th, 2011, 12:32 pm

This has good imagery. And a bit of tension. I felt connected to the narrator.

I felt a little confusion about whether the Cairumen live above ground. Maybe the reference to "town" and "the Underground" to me implied that Cairumen was not part of the Underground. No suggestion, but maybe you can make it clearer right up front? Some suggestions below.


I know the statue’s supposed to symbolize the spirit of the Cairumen people, but it looks like a squashed toad to me. I don’t know what the artist was thinking. They carved this monstrosity from the stone of the Underground and set it in the middle of town like it’s a great tribute to our people. The others How about "The other townfolk/Cairumen"? As is, it is kinda vague who the "others" are. love it, but I can’t see past the squashed toad.

I hope that’s not what we’re really like inside. Sure, the Cairumen can be a depressing, depressed? bitter, angry people, but I’d like to think there’s at least something noble inside of us. It’s like our caves – the Underground where we live. Here is where I'm finally understanding the setting. They’re They're meaning the caves? infested with trolls and the walls drip with moldy water, but there’s a lot of good down here, too. There’s…uh…

Okay, so the others say there’s a lot of good down here. Personally, I don’t see it. The Underground is the prison of the Cairumen, nothing more. It’s not really a prison, but it feels that way to me. Cairumen don’t leave and the Ivalas don’t come down here. Why would they? They live on the surface with a real sky and sun and plants. Luxuries like that don’t exist down here. Our world is made of stalactites, red bricks, and conjured lights.

And lately it’s gotten even worse. People have started disappearing. I don’t think there’s a single Cairumen who hasn’t lost someone they love. It’s taken a dank and dreary place like the Underground and turned it into the worst place in the world to be.

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Watcher55
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by Watcher55 » July 30th, 2011, 12:40 pm

Sanderling wrote:Watcher55 - I disagree with wordranger; I really like that opening paragraph, and I love how it segues into your character introduction. I especially liked the "who thinks his name is Ted", which immediately poses the question, well if it isn't Ted, what is it and why does he think it is Ted? It makes me think of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, though I can't recall for sure if they ever actually opened a book this way. I do feel a slight conflict in the narrator's voice between paragraph one and two, though - in the first one it's very omniscient third-person, while in the second, "what Ted had to describe as" isn't (omniscient third-person wouldn't rely on Ted to describe the setting, the narrator would do it).
Douglas Adams' work is ahuge influence for me - thanks for comparison. About the errant phrase: I knew there was something about the second paragraph that niggled at me. that one little phrase does stick out like a weed I forgot to pull - thanks some more.

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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by glj » July 30th, 2011, 12:46 pm

There is a lot of overwriting in this. Drop the excessive descriptors, as they don't make it more dramatic, they just get tiresome to read. And strain credulity.

My take is that a hunting party has returned, and Keturah is watching for her son to arrive, as he is the only missing member of the hunting party. You dress this up with way too much unnecessary stuff. Hook me with the story, and then later you can give detail of her appearance/personality.

And there is no emotion in Keturah. Wouldn't she be feeling/exhibiting worry--or worse?


Keturah was a sentry with bones afire. This makes no sense. She tried to calmly scan the horizon but her heart galloped, her right foot ground the dust beneath her and her wide nostrils flared, ready to exhale flames. The boy was out there somewhere in a sandstorm that was higher than ten full grown palms and solid as a wall of rock. Posted at camp’s edge, Keturah glared at the wind. I agree with another commenter that this makes her sound like a horse. Causing confusion in the mind of the reader is not a good thing. Plus, the writing is over the top.

Gusts of heat assaulted her doe-bright eyes, Another descriptor that really put me off. but she didn't blink or look away. Her face like flint, Stop with the rock references. she gripped the sand with her toes and hoped for a shadow, or a signal from his mirror, anything to let her know which direction in which to run. Moon's face shone just brightly enough.

Music arose from the central tent behind her,. No doubt, they were celebrating the big hunt. It had been successful: four gazelles and twenty-three partridges. No deaths, they assumed. Only the son of Jared and Keturah hadn't returned. This is confusing. Would be better if it were "Only her and Jared's son hadn't returned."

"He's smart," they said. "Tomorrow, after the storm, we will see him. Probably with horse meat on his shoulders."
Foolish men. He was too young. He never should have gone. They took him only because of his size and his father's reputation. His dead father, she corrected. Thoughts of Jared the Great almost wrested her heart from the horizon, but she swallowed the grief. This was no time for tears; they'd cloud her vision.

The storm was closer. Now she heard and felt it. It screamed at her, and though she was wrapped in the cloth of the flax plant, hot grit whipped at her from everywhere.

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dios4vida
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by dios4vida » July 30th, 2011, 1:44 pm

A bit late on my opinions. A lot of what I'm about to say has already been said, but I wanted everyone to get as many 'reviews' as possible.

---

Collectonian – At first I was having a hard time getting ‘into’ your story world. It seemed a little generic. But as I continued reading, the little tidbits you gave us about Sakura made me like her. The part about letting her partners leave and not wanting to deal with their social banter in particular – the introvert in me can really relate to that. I’d like to see her in a more supernatural situation (which I know we will) because right now it’s feeling a little bland. Your skills at writing are evident, though, because this is in no way a ‘bad’ piece of writing. It’s very good, all in all.

glj – I loved your hook/premise. Wizard seeks trophy bride. It’s very catchy and super intriguing. I’d love to see where you take this. The formality of the language tended to jar me from enjoying the piece as much as I wanted to. I know you intended it that way since they’re wizards, but it was feeling a bit forced to me. I’m still giggling over this idea, though!

AnimaDictio – At first I was having trouble getting into the prose. Sometimes it was rough to picture exactly what you were trying to portray, like there were one too many similes to really understand the scene. Other times your painting of the scene was lyrical and beautiful. Once you got talking about the hunt, the reason Keturah was standing out in the coming storm, though, I was fully engaged. I got chills when I learned that she was waiting for her young son, the son of her dead husband. I was moved. I want to know more. I have a few gripes about some of the early prose, but overall I really enjoyed the mood and emotions evoked by your piece.

Wordranger – I like how you started. A child watching the argument and mentally commenting on it gave it a much closer view than just reporting the argument. I found it hard to relate to Magellan, though. He didn’t give off any particular character, and without the framework of the world I don’t really care about the Rorian moon. If you gave Magellan a little more personality that we could see earlier on, I think it would make this even tighter. I like the flow of your prose. It felt natural. The words and sentences worked. You have a lot of talent!

Watcher55 – Wow, can you create an atmosphere! From the moment you started describing the oak tree I could feel the vast timelessness of that place. It was really hard for my brain to comprehend exactly what was going on – after all, a tree that large (or anything that large) boggles the mind. But it really gave your piece an interesting start. Transitioning to Ted worked very well, though Zeus’ statement was hard to me to understand. I don’t know if that was your intention, but all the Capitalized Names of Strange Things got a bit disorienting. Overall, I’m very intrigued by what’s gonna happen to the boy who thinks his name is Ted.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by Collectonian » July 30th, 2011, 4:29 pm

AnimaDictio wrote:Collectonian, I like the picture of her watching the boys laugh in the distance. I like how you've already set her up as an archetypal outsider. I would recommend that you read the sentences out loud. Some of them sounded awkward in my head, like maybe a comma was missing. Also, there are a few typos that threw me off. No biggie, though. I'm sure this is an early draft.
Thanks, and yep, I rewrote it some more right before posting. If I can ever stop editing chapter 1 to death, I might get the third draft finished LOL
dios4vida wrote:Collectonian – At first I was having a hard time getting ‘into’ your story world. It seemed a little generic. But as I continued reading, the little tidbits you gave us about Sakura made me like her. The part about letting her partners leave and not wanting to deal with their social banter in particular – the introvert in me can really relate to that. I’d like to see her in a more supernatural situation (which I know we will) because right now it’s feeling a little bland. Your skills at writing are evident, though, because this is in no way a ‘bad’ piece of writing. It’s very good, all in all.
Thanks :-)

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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by AnimaDictio » July 30th, 2011, 4:57 pm

glj, that is one of the clearest and most helpful critiques I've seen. Thank you sooo much. I knew the opening stuck me as a little lackluster, but now I can see so clearly what I was missing before. dios4diva confirmed it. I'm over writing it. Too many similes and too much description right up front. And, Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorite writers. I think I'll channel a little Old Man and the Sea when I rewrite this.

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Watcher55
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by Watcher55 » July 30th, 2011, 5:49 pm

wordranger wrote:Watcher, I'd start here...
Watcher55 wrote: Ted knew what he knew, but he didn’t remember who he was before a large man wearing a uniform snatched him from the kitchen during an argument Ted was having with his Mom. The man appeared out of thin air, grabbed seventeen-year-old Ted’s arm and said, “I Zeus, claim you as my addict in the name of the Interversal Empire and the divine Procreator.” Ted blinked; the man was gone and the kitchen was replaced by what Ted had to describe as a garden with manicured topiary that mimicked wolves, lions, bulls, and serpents.
I liked this part. The imagery was really cool in the first paragraph, but for me, if I'm being honest, I find this kind of stuff, right off the bat, a bit too much. If I am deep into a story... already "into it" so to speak, I may have liked it, but my brain wanted to start skimming right away. (even though the image was neat, which is strange) The second paragraph engaged me a little more, though. Probably because something started to happen.

For me... too much imagery right up front is boring, and I'd put it down. I know others feel differently, though. Personally, I'd flip the paragraphs and give the tree image later.

Neat premise, though!
Totally cool. I sometimes brag too much about breaking the rules, and I've always known it's a risk to start wide and close distance this way, but it's intentional and I do it in one fashion or another for every chapter. That way as the story unfolds, I can portray the setting itself as a character. I've found as many people who like it as don't - I'm glad you liked the imagery. Thanks
dios4vida wrote:Watcher55 – Wow, can you create an atmosphere! From the moment you started describing the oak tree I could feel the vast timelessness of that place. It was really hard for my brain to comprehend exactly what was going on – after all, a tree that large (or anything that large) boggles the mind. But it really gave your piece an interesting start. Transitioning to Ted worked very well, though Zeus’ statement was hard to me to understand. I don’t know if that was your intention, but all the Capitalized Names of Strange Things got a bit disorienting. Overall, I’m very intrigued by what’s gonna happen to the boy who thinks his name is Ted.
What if I told you someone turns him into a squashed toad? I loved the bit about not being able to identify a bright side. :}

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Cookie
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by Cookie » July 30th, 2011, 5:54 pm

Ok, I know I'm reeeally late to the party, but my internet was acting all wonky.

Here are the first 250 words. I just re-wrote it, so it probably still needs work. My opinions will follow in another post.


The imagination of a determined young boy knows no bounds when he sets out to accomplish something, which in this case was to attend the ball with his brother for no other reason than whatever his brother was doing, he wanted to being doing too. After fishing his shoes out of the tub, and pulling his suit down from the top of a very high pantry, Kazunari scrambled to get ready as he was already in danger of being late. Yaten proceeded to spend the next half hour firmly planted at the top of the stairs, bawling his eyes out because despite his best efforts, he was still not allowed to go. Their parents had told him he was far too young for such an affair, but Yaten of course, would have none of that.

“But Shiro is going!” he said through hiccoughing sobs. His feet, hanging through the railings of the balcony overlooking the foyer, banged against the wall in protest. His shoes left angry black smudges on the gleaming white marble.

“Shiro is older than you,” their mother said as she swept past him on her way to Kazunari’s room.

“By two years!” He threw his head back and wailed.

“Kazunari, are you still in there?” Their mother knocked on the door loud enough to block out Yaten’s insistent sobs, which had gotten progressively louder, and Kazunari was impressed to hear, were harmonized with his banging feet.

“I’ll be out in a minute,” he called and finished buttoning his shirt.

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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by ladymarella » July 30th, 2011, 8:07 pm

So this is the opening of my WIP

Mrs George Wedgwood to her brother-in-law, Mr Thomas Wedgwood, June 1778

Catchpool House
Edron, Kent
Wednesday
My dear Thomas,
I assume that you have not heard that George has been killed. Things such as this never seem to make the newspapers in town, which I find quite spiteful. It isn’t as if we aren’t high up in local society.
Late on Monday night George announced to me he was to take a walk. I did not persuade him otherwise, as this is a habit of his, to go around the estate. He was not home when I retired, and not the next morning either. I assumed he must have risen early and left.
At about midday, I received Josiah Sharpay, who brought the tidings of my husband’s demise. He had taken his walk to The Singing Mermaid (heaven forbid! that place has done nothing to restore its reputation in many years) I very much hope that the brawl that Sharpay sketchily mentioned was not something George found himself involved in. I sorely hope he was walking by and was trying to break it up, not that he had just gone there for drink. How common it sounds, that one’s husband was killed whilst attempting to fill himself with alcohol.
Anyway, one of the farmhands had a pistol and poor George was shot in the back twice and died. Josiah did not seem intent to furnish me with anymore of the specifics, and I was not prepared to endure hearing any further accounts of lower class barbarism.
Currently composing a sprawling family saga set in 19th century England
The world may be divided into people that read, people that write, people that think, and fox-hunters.'- William Shenstone,

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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by meganstirler » July 30th, 2011, 10:55 pm

Here's my contribution - it's been a long time since I've let anyone read this. I've been sitting on it for a couple of years and am finally getting back to my re-write:


I picked my way carefully down the hallway, tomblike in its silence, looking for signs that the systems were still operational. It wouldn’t do much good for me to find him if all that was left was a piece of meat. I wondered if they’d left any backup generators running to maintain the stasis equipment. I wondered what kind of resuscitation gear they’d left. I also wondered if I was crazy for being here at all.

I felt so unprepared for this place – Michael’s map and security codes hadn’t come with any other information and I’d never gotten the chance to talk to him about where he’d found them in the first place. Who knew if they were complete – or even real? Or if my unknown cartographer had access to the parts of the facility where they’d have kept Fairfield - assuming he’d been kept at all. Maybe this was just another conspiracy theory about the origins of the virus. After all, I was the only person here who actually believed all these stories. Everyone else on the team was just humoring me, waiting for their paychecks. My eyes tightened as I thought of Michael, but wishing wouldn’t bring him back.

“Shall we?” Zach asked blandly, snapping my attention back to the present.

“What? Oh, yeah, of course.” Zach got out a ratty map and we huddled around it, the beams of our headlamps fighting over the blue paper and making each crease a shadowed canyon.
Meg
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dios4vida
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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by dios4vida » July 30th, 2011, 11:54 pm

Cookie – I really like your writing style. It’s easy to forget you’re reading with the way you string words together. You didn’t go into a lot of physical detail but I could clearly see these kids and the sibling rivalry. I didn’t get a sense of what this story is, even its genre, from the beginning though. I have no idea what it’s about. Even so, the writing is so tight and I had to laugh at the all-too-real sibling envy going on (I am the youngest, after all, who always wanted to do whatever her sister did) that I’d read on just to enjoy these kids and see what happens to them.

ladymarella – I must admit that I groaned inwardly when I saw that you were starting with a letter. In historic pieces, these tend to be dry and dull. But then – what ho! – a murder! And not just a murder, but a report by a high-society woman whose voice is so authentic and her attitude so delightfully, detatchedly 19th century that I couldn’t help but love it. I have nothing negative to say about this opening. I adore it.

meganstirler – I’m intrigued. This place, what sounds like a cryogenic freeze warehouse or something similar, has a lot of atmosphere. The emotions in the girl’s voice are clear and genuine. There’s a lot of mystery here, and I think you did a great job of making us feel and wonder what was going on. I’d continue reading.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by ladymarella » July 31st, 2011, 2:25 am

Thankyou dios4vida. Great to get some good feedback, especially as this is my first novel. The letter-prologue is one of my favourite parts of it, and I was reluctant about doing this form at first, but it's the only way I felt I could set up the situation properly. Glad you liked it :)
Currently composing a sprawling family saga set in 19th century England
The world may be divided into people that read, people that write, people that think, and fox-hunters.'- William Shenstone,

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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by Writecastlesinthesky » August 1st, 2011, 8:08 am

Watcher55 wrote:Man, I hate I'm late to the party (we have outta town comp'ny), but better you than never late than me...aw hell, you know what I mean. I'm not much good at critiques and worse about picking good better and best. I can say that y'all could have gone over 250 words and I wouldn't notice.

Any way, I guess I'll show y'all mine even if I do have to buy my own Post Toasties.
Sorry about the Toasties.

I have to work today. I will anticipate reading these when I get home. What fun!

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Re: 250 Word Sharathon--post the opening of your WIP

Post by Sommer Leigh » August 1st, 2011, 10:30 am

I'm a little late to the party, here is the first 248 words of my WIP "The Wilds," a YA sci-fi. I've got responses for everyone's wonderful openings. I will share them later when I have time to type them up :-)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Two days earlier, a boy had crossed the yellow painted boundary into the protection zone, traveled the ten feet to the fence line, and was shot in the back of the head in less than 15 seconds. Rumor had it he'd even managed to slip his fingers through the chain links before being dropped. The boy was cremated, the sniper celebrated, and the image of the clinging boy sliding to his knees haunted parents. Overnight the shortcut home from school past the fence became absolutely forbidden.

It was Zoe’s idea to explore the empty neighborhoods for a new shortcut that afternoon. Her brother had been fine with taking the long way through the market, but she couldn't stand the idea of navigating the gauntlet of refugees every day, all those hungry eyes on her. She didn't have the stomach for it.

“Relax, Zoe. Look straight ahead.”

A penlight flashed across her pupils leaving light spots dancing where Dr. Mira Tremir’s face should have been. Before Zoe could answer, the doctor tied off a rubber strap around her upper arm where it bit and stretched her skin. A cloth ball was placed in her fingers.

“I didn’t touch the body,” Zoe said. “I didn’t go near it.”

“Squeeze the ball three times and make a fist.”

Dr. Tremir swabbed the soft blue skin at the crook of her elbow with alcohol. The smell made Zoe’s eyes sting and water but she didn’t dare move to wipe the tear away.




****TOTALLY OFF SUBJECT but I just realized this was my 1000 post :-) I think it is kind of appropriate since when I started posting on the Bransforums I had just started this manuscript.
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