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AskPik
December 14th, 2005, 12:54 PM
Since I assigned my students to write a short story in the fantasy genre, I figured that I better give it a go as well. It turns out that I found the task enthralling, and difficult. I find myself thinking about my characters, story, plot, all the time. And I began writing it at the pace of a novel (slowly building characters, slowly introducing hints to a larger puzzle) instead of at the pace of a short story.

Anyway, I am interested in knowing what you think. Particularly, I want to know if it's "catchy"--is it believable and do you want to read more?

http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1124p0.html

Thank you very much. I shall now go critique some of yours, hoping that what goes around, comes around!

--Aaron

Kathryn
December 14th, 2005, 02:07 PM
sounds good so far! I want to hear more!
I like the names you chose, simple and easy to remember!

Expendable
December 15th, 2005, 01:13 AM
Aaron,
it's a very smooth read, building up from a good start. I also like how when you introduce new words, you use them in context instead of trying to explain.

There are a few things I noticed...

At the end of the rope someone had attached a stick.
Attached? Was it nailed on? Stuck through a loop? Tied? I don't think the kids would say it was 'attached'. I know you're trying to avoid saying 'tied' again, but 'attached' just jars at me.

Anya was anxiously pacing outside the back door of their home. She had a way of knowing when something was wrong. For the past two hours she had urged her husband to go looking for the boys, but he shrugged off her worries and assured her that they were just fine.

Just as she was about to beg her husband once more, she caught sight of Saul and Andrus coming up over the ridge with Beck in their arms.
You're telling us about Anya's worries - but what if you showed us instead, by letting Anya beg?


"Saul, run to the cellar and get a block of ice," called Berg. "Andrus, will you put some water on the stove?"
Saul's told to get ice, but then you change the pace by asking Andrus to heat some water. If you make it an order, it gives it some urgency and punch.

Please feel free to accept or reject anything I've mentioned.
-Ex.

Dawnstorm
December 15th, 2005, 07:26 AM
Very character driven, I like it. :)

I also like the way you use new words alongside familiar ones. Enhances plausibility. Since - so far - there are only 3 pages, I can't really comment on the effect yet, but I'm guessing the method is "step-wise alienation of the familiar".

The point-of-view switch from Saul to Anya was a bit sudden; you might consider inserting a scene-break to help guide reading.


Suddenly, there was a flash of red light, followed by a loud "CRACK". He looked up and saw the huge cedar branch fall from the tree. Still clinging to the stick, Beck fell to the rocks and the branch came crashing down on top of him.

"Beck!", Saul screamed.

But Beck didn't move.

Try removing the last sentence and see how it reads. I think, the function of the last sentence, as it stands, is tension-relief. If you end on the scream you've got a very emotional ending, denying the reader the comfort of a scene resolution.

But what you've got works well enough. Just an idea.

***

I'm curious how much the parents know, say, about the red flash. ;)

AskPik
December 15th, 2005, 09:01 AM
Thanks for the feedback.

Berg ordered Saul, but asked Andrus because Saul is his son, and Andrus is not. I will consider that further. . .

I am working on the POV. As I have never written before, I have found this to be difficult. How much should the writer know, or tell about each character's thoughts, etc. Does anyone have any good links to articles or workshops about POV?

About the flash of light. . .I am hoping to tease the reader by slowly introducing the magic that exists in Saul's world.

Thanks again for all the feedback.

Dawnstorm
December 15th, 2005, 12:47 PM
I am working on the POV. As I have never written before, I have found this to be difficult. How much should the writer know, or tell about each character's thoughts, etc. Does anyone have any good links to articles or workshops about POV?

If you've never written before, you're a talent. I think your PoV worked very well, on the whole.

What confused me was this:


Andrus and Saul had spoken little during the entire two hours. Saul thoughts raced. Mom and Dad are going to kill me! I shouldn't have let him swing! Please be okay, Beck, please be okay!

Anya was anxiously pacing outside the back door of their home. She had a way of knowing when something was wrong. For the past two hours she had urged her husband to go looking for the boys, but he shrugged off her worries and assured her that they were just fine.

You jump straight from the PoV-character's inner thoughts to the name of a new character; this is quite a huge leap, mentally. I'd expect some indication of the narrator focussing outwards again, to perceive the character.

Eventually, I realise that the PoV character doesn't, and we're inside the head of another. This kind of method does work; but if your intention isn't to disrupt the reading flow, I'd add a scene break (extra blank line). This indicates a change of some kind, and the name, Anya, is - then - read as the beginning of a new scene, and not as the continuation of the old one. The reader basically resets expectations, trying to figure out why there's a scene break.

You later switch back to Saul:


Anya quickly looked up from where she had been attending Beck. She looked at Andrus, then at Berg. She opend her mouth, as if to say something, but her husband stopped her with a hand on her shoulder.

"No, thank you Andrus. That's thoughtful of you to want to help, but we don't need any of that here."

As Andrus turned to leave, he stole a glance at Saul. There eyes met briefly--just long enough to understanding each other. Then Andrus departed.

Saul wondered why Andrus would offer his Dad Kain. Didn't Andrus know that Kain was forbidden in these parts? How could Kain possibly help anyway? And where would Andrus get the Kain, or how?

But here the transition is well done. You withdrew from Anya far enough to give a quasi-objective feel. Then there's this paragraph where Andrus departs; Saul is an object in there. "...to understand each other." is probably no longer Anya's PoV, though it could be. However, it could also be Andrus' or Saul's. There is no clear PoV character for this line. However, since your 3rd person narrator has already withdrawn from Anya far enough for the quasi-objective effect, this indeterminacy does not grate.

When you start the next paragraph with "Saul wondered...", you've established Saul clearly as the focus again.

So, although this involves a PoV-change also, it's handeled in such a way that a scene break is not necessary (such methods make up the advantage of 3rd person limited over 1st person narration; you can make transitions via various degrees of objectivity).

***

I found this (http://www.uni-koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm) article to be quite helpful. Although it doesn't use "Point of View" as a technical term, and talks about "focus" instead, it's a very comprehensive explanation of the methodology involved, describing focus (who tells), time (when), how...

AskPik
December 15th, 2005, 01:07 PM
Holy hannah! It's fascinating to me how much thought goes into PoV. I appreciate the time you took to "think out loud" for me and help me understand how my PoV changes during my story. The examples you give help a great deal.

thanks for the tip on the article, too.

and thank you for the complement, I'm encouraged to keep working.

If only I had more time. . .

--Aaron