How many fiction writers do we have here?

ma
mary
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:24 pm Post

I am feeling neglected! No one had anything to say about my first line, nor, indeed, about my first chapter. :(

OTOH, I quite agree that the line about Nancy Drew was fascinating. it's also true that the original Nancy was a lot more liberated than some of her later iterations. You can see the same thing in Hitchcock; the original, 1930s Man Who Knew Too Much featured a determined, alert little girl and a sharpshooter mother. In the 1950s revision, the girl was replaced by a boy, and the mother got to scream and sing rather than shoot bad guys. Interesting!

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Jaysen
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:37 pm Post

Be careful what you which for, Mr K may show up.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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Ca
Carradee
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:23 pm Post

More first line comments: (Thank you, Mary, for drawing my attention to that I had missed 'em!)

nom wrote:She was alone.


Interests me, but it really depends on where you go from here.

Mollys Mum wrote:She knew the fence was electric when she put her hand through it.

She was careful. There were three strands, of white braided plastic, and room to slip her palm between them, towards the mare whose history she did not know. A horse she had seen on countless drives between the oncology clinic and her townhouse. Unkempt, her shoulder thick with muscle, bristling with dull fur like a dog with the mange.


I've already told y' what I think o' this. If I may sum it up for the public view so mary won't feel so singled out:

"When" may be the wrong subordinating conjunction in that first sentence, since it makes it sound like she found out by sticking her hand in. "Before" might work better.

Cut the first two commas from the third sentence. That's a prepositional phrase, and the commas disconnect it from its subject.

Those last two sentences are fragments, in case you didn't know, and that latter one is vague about whether it refers to the horse or the lady. (Note that the "her" referred to prior to that fragment was the lady.)

mary wrote:The boy nodded sharply at the girl holding the holocam and began to speak a second after she started to record.


Ah, erm. Hrm-haw. This is going to sound mighty strange and blunt, okay?

My first thought is that this line can't stand by itself. It needs to be surrounded by more so I could tell for sure, but I think you're still working on developing your writing style. Possibly younger or newer to the world of writing as a hobby, and if you've worked on style itself, I'd guess it's only in the past five years.

The line strikes me as bland, forgettable. I read it, then thought about something else, then came back and had to reread it to make my comment. When I skim some more paragraphs, the situation sounds interesting, but I'm not feeling drawn into it. I think you could benefit from someone revising a section for you to demonstrate how the same scene can be displayed in different ways. If you'd be open to such a thing.

I intend this nicely, mary. I hope you don't take offense.

I'll give you an opening line of my own to rip to pieces as a peace offering. I recently wrote the short story "Romeo and Jillian" for a friendly competition over on Patricia Briggs' fan forums, and include the link if you want to see and mock the rest. (And yes, I only dish out what I can accept in return.)

Romeo and Jillian wrote:Raucous laughter spilled from men and women both as the wine overflowed. Jillian gathered her skirt in her free hand and dodged the flirts and sots who neglected to notice the slim girl in the host's livery who passed by.


-'Dee
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Jaysen
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:56 pm Post

Romeo and Jillian wrote:Raucous laughter spilled from men and women both as the wine overflowed. Jillian gathered her skirt in her free hand and dodged the flirts and sots who neglected to notice the slim girl in the host's livery who passed by.


Line 1: replace "overflowed" with "flowed freely" or maybe "freely flowed"
Line 2: replace "neglected to notice" with "were beyond noticing" or maybe "refused to notice"

But there may be things further in that makes this unacceptable.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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Ca
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:07 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:
Romeo and Jillian wrote:Raucous laughter spilled from men and women both as the wine overflowed. Jillian gathered her skirt in her free hand and dodged the flirts and sots who neglected to notice the slim girl in the host's livery who passed by.


Line 1: replace "overflowed" with "flowed freely" or maybe "freely flowed"
Line 2: replace "neglected to notice" with "were beyond noticing" or maybe "refused to notice"

But there may be things further in that makes this unacceptable.


*considers* Line 1, I can see your point enough that I'll have to consider that, though I really don't want an adverb there. Line 2, your suggestions change the meaning overmuch. Do you not like that because it sounds wrong, or just because it sounds odd?
Wanna hydroplane?
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vic-k
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:20 pm Post

Carradee wrote:though I really don't want an adverb there.
Why not?
who neglected to notice the slim girl in the host's livery who passed by.
I think ,'...failed to notice... more than adequately fits the bill. Unless there was some, pre mentioned requirement, for them to pay attention to her.

My first line:
Her heightened state of arousal, was attributable to nothing more than his sadistic juxtaposing of certainty and uncertainty.

vic
Last edited by vic-k on Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Jaysen
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:26 pm Post

Neglected seems to … passive. And it is awkward. As in not smooth. If the passive "mistake" type meaning is needed then maybe simply "didn't" would be an option. Sounds like there are good reasons for neglected though.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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gr
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:54 pm Post

mary wrote:I am feeling neglected! No one had anything to say about my first line, nor, indeed, about my first chapter. :(


Jaysen wrote:Neglected seems too … passive. And it is awkward. As in not smooth...


Oh man, now I am soooo confused. :P

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vic-k
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:19 pm Post

gr wrote:Oh man, now I am soooo confused.

It`s all right Mary feeling neglected, and you being confused, I feel as if I`m being boycotted whenever I put my sensible hat on! :? :(

Neglected/Boycotted of Stockport
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Ca
Carradee
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:57 pm Post

vic-k wrote:
Carradee wrote:though I really don't want an adverb there.
Why not?


Line: Raucous laughter spilled from men and women both as the wine overflowed.

Notice the adjective-noun-verb sets. I want to keep that parallelism, if at all possible.

I will ponder that "neglected". "Failed" is a good alternative, if I can't figure out something better. Hm.

Thanks, ya'll.



vic wrote:Her heightened state of arousal, was attributable to nothing more than his sadistic juxtaposing of certainty and uncertainty.


*cough*No comma!*cough* A-HEM. Excuse me. Frog in my throat. Not triggered by your split subject and verb, no sir. :mrgreen:

(To make it obvious, cut the extra modifiers: "Her state was attributable…")
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Jaysen
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:00 pm Post

Oh stop. No one here believes you have a hat that Matches that description.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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gr
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Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:30 pm Post

Same hat.

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nom
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:20 am Post

Carradee wrote:I'll give you an opening line of my own to rip to pieces as a peace offering. I recently wrote the short story "Romeo and Jillian" for a friendly competition over on Patricia Briggs' fan forums, and include the link if you want to see and mock the rest. (And yes, I only dish out what I can accept in return.)

Romeo and Jillian wrote:Raucous laughter spilled from men and women both as the wine overflowed. Jillian gathered her skirt in her free hand and dodged the flirts and sots who neglected to notice the slim girl in the host's livery who passed by.



Well, I'll take the dissenting view (why isn't my wife surprised?). I like the parallelism of "spilled" & "overflowed".

I also liked "neglected". To me this was the opposite of passive. It was not just that they failed to notice, but that they didn't care to notice. That she wasn't worth noticing. They *neglected* to notice. It implied social hierarchy of some sort in a way that "failed" would not.

The downside of this is I am doing something that I don't like - pulling apart individual phrases and sentences, out of context and without reference to overall style and content. Case in point: Stephen King. The great SK is one of the best and worst writers I have ever read. Reading individual sentences from a Stephen King novel can be painful. BUT when you put those sentences in context, then you keep reading them because he has you hooked. I am not a Stephen King fan, and rarely choose to read his work, but there are few of his books that I have not finished once started. In contrast, there are some more "artistic" authors who write at a level of perfection that is breathtaking. Each sentence is beautiful. But combine them together it's like walking through a gallery of independent art pieces - all nice to look at and incredibly skilful, but I forget the story and eventually lose interest. Then, of course, you come across someone like Tim Winton who hooks you with the narrative and writes beautifully all the way through (and he's good looking, lives in the bush, surfs and is apparently a nice bloke. The fink).

Also, as I've noted before, there is the fact that great literature rarely follows the rules of formal grammar and often bends the rules of punctuation in unusual and potentially painful ways. How many words did Shakespeare actually create? How often did he distend words and phrases, not to mention pronunciation, to fit his rhythm and rhyme?
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nom
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:34 am Post

vic-k wrote:My first line:
Her heightened state of arousal, was attributable to nothing more than his sadistic juxtaposing of certainty and uncertainty.

vic


Vic: Again, I'm going to be a voice of dissent. I think the qualifiers are essential. Remove "heightened" and "of arousal" and the sentence loses it's meaning and intensity. Was she sexually aroused? Emotionally aroused? Was it fear? Anger?

Having said that, I'd rather know what her heightened state of arousal entailed. Increased heart rate? Breathing? Perspiration? Butterflies in the stomach? Sexual arousal? Racing thoughts? Clenched fists? I learnt in the "describe, don't tell" school, so this is my own prejudice coming through. Since I don't know what is coming up, it may be you want the ambiguity so you can surprise me later, I'm hesitant to make recommendations or suggestions.

I am less enamoured with "sadistic juxtaposing of certainty and uncertainty", but I would read on to find out. As an opening sentence, what you wrote would carry me on to at least the end of the first paragraph, maybe to the end of the second. Like every other author, you'd have to earn my eyes from then on.

BTW: I like your hat.
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vic-k
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Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:57 am Post

Carradee wrote:*cough*No comma!*cough* A-HEM. Excuse me. Frog in my throat. Not triggered by your split subject and verb, no sir.
(To make it obvious, cut the extra modifiers: "Her state was attributable…")
O Sweet gentle Dee,
I`m an Ex-hairy-arsed welder, not a MA English Language. I wouldn`t know what a split subject and verb was, even if the explanation was tattooed back`t`front on my forehead, and I was a chronic narcissist :wink:

How do I show she was in a highly aroused state, rather than a torpid state, for example, if I remove those two modifiers. I must confess I don`t follow your reasoning on that at all.

Does this do anything for y`?
It was simply his sadistic juxtaposing of certainty and uncertainty, that held her at the peak of heightened sexual arousal.

vic
Last edited by vic-k on Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
As a professional, you, are your one and only asset. Without integrity you are worthless, but with it, you are priceless.