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Thread: Advanced topics: Openings - Lightbreaker, by Mark Teppo

  1. #1
    A Work in Progress aadams73's Avatar
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    Advanced topics: Openings - Lightbreaker, by Mark Teppo

    Ok, folks, here it is, an opening that works and sold. The book is Lightbreaker by Mark Teppo. It's the full opening scene, but that's what sold me in the bookstore so that's what we're going to look at.

    So, let's pull it to bits. I'm going to tell you what worked for me and why.

    The deer lurched out of the forest on a dark curve of the narrow highway, staggering onto the pavement like a maritime drunk. Silver light radiated from its mouth and eyes, a spectral luminescence that made the animal visible against the dark brush.
    How often we hear this: start with the protagonist doing something interesting. But what do we have here? A first paragraph that starts with a non-character. It's one step up from the weather or scenery. But it works.

    Why? We've all traveled down those dark roads in the wee hours, we've all got stories of near misses, where something lunges from the shadows into our path. The author has given us something I can certainly relate to. My first reaction is to mentally gasp because I know what could happen. And yet...he follows up the familiar with something unexpected. We know instantly that this deer isn't destined for road kill. Something much more nefarious is going on, something paranormal. (I was pretty sure at this point the deer hadn't just been slurping on luminescent paint. )

    The author has me. I want to move on to that next paragraph. Why is the deer glowing? I have to know.

    I stopped the car and the deer shied away from the vehicle with an unorganized accordion movement of its legs. It was a young buck, a pair of knobby buttons adorning its head. Bloody foam flecked its muzzle.
    The light leaking from the animal was spiritual overflow, a profusion of energy not meant to be contained in the deer's simple meat sack. The possession of an other. A human spirit.
    Here the protagonist appears. Again, we're hit with something mundane followed by the unusual. It's established instantly that, in this world, glowing deers aren't normal, and the protagonist goes on to give us a clue as to what's wrong: the deer is possessed.

    How? Why? How does the protagonist know this? Who is he?

    As it wobbled across the road, the car's headlights bleached the shadows on its flanks. Not all the shadows disappeared, and what I had first thought were streaks of dirt or soot were revealed to be burns. With some difficulty, it traversed the shallow ditch running beside the road. At the top of the short embankment, the animal paused, chest heaving, and a tiny cloud of silver motes danced at its mouth.

    I powered down the window, and the smell rolled into the car, an acrid sweetness of seared meat.
    Now that our attention has been captured, the camera is pulling out a small ways. The author is establishing scenery, the mood, and filling in the senses. Seared meat. Who doesn't know that smell?

    The author doesn't leave us here for long, though. He quickly moves on to explain before we get too tired of waiting for answers and shove the result of his hard work back onto the shelf.

    The human soul is too intense for the animal kingdom. The mythologies say Man was created as a reflection of the Creator. Crafted in His image and composed of the four elements, the human shell was built specifically to carry the fire of the soul. The Word written in flame and flesh. The lesser creatures of the world are too fragile, the fables tell us, they are vessels unable to sustain the intense presence of the Divine Spark.

    Why then was a soul possessing the body of this deer? How had it become separated from its proper vessel?
    Hmmm, so while possession isn't unheard of in this world, animal possession sounds somewhat taboo. Only someone desperate or with a faulty moral compass would do such a thing. The protagonist tells us, in a subtle way, that this form is just temporary. The soul inside is going to need another container--and soon.

    Then he goes on to ask the same questions we're asking. So we get the sense that the protagonist knows a whole heck of a lot, but this scenario is unusual enough that he doesn't have all the answers. Yet.

    The Chorus were a whispering echo beneath these questions, and—exquire!—responding to my curiosity, they arced across the road. Phantasmal snakes wiggling through ethereal space, they kissed the smoldering flesh of the deer, and the contact returned a taste of the hot human presence within.
    More reader curiosity invoked! So, it's clear the protagonist is unusual and maybe powerful, but...it has a source? What is this Chorus? Part of him or something external? Does he control it, or it him?

    The deer jerked as if it had just been shocked, the invasive soul reacting to my spectral inquisition. The animal snorted, hot blood spattering from its nose, and bolted. The sound of its movement through the heavy brush was pure panic—that unidirectional flight of instinct-driven terror.
    My throat and nose tingled as the Chorus returned, flush with stolen memories. They brought me spoil like worker ants returning to their hive queen. Sensory data belonging to the traveling spirit coursed into my awareness, and for a few moments, I was overwhelmed by this rush of images and scents and textures.
    Here we get a taste of what the Chorus does. Not too much, mind you, but just enough to make us thirst for more. And we know the information it provides can be somewhat of a sensory overload for the protagonist. I can see where that could be a liability down the road--can't you?

    There. A flicker of memory caught my attention. The Chorus wrapped it tightly, and when I squeezed, all of its secrets gushed out. Memory is nothing more than ego impressions imprinted onto raw sense data, consciousness lattices laid over the chemical cages of the brain. It is the psychological bindings—the way these structures become our identities—that anchors the spirit to the flesh. These secrets linger with the soul. The Chorus stretched this illicit memory so I could clearly dissect it. Yes, there. The touch of another spirit. More than flesh, more than spit or blood. Spirit touch. And with that touch, came other details. The ones I remembered. As I inhabited the foreign memory, my tongue unconsciously touched my lips and tasted her skin again; I inhaled deeply as if I could actually smell her on the night air.
    And we learn a little about how the Chorus works. The author is telling us how the magic works in this place. We have to believe it can be real, so he's giving us what we need to buy into that. His explanation makes me nod my head and say, "Ah, yes, that makes sense to me."

    And then...HER? Ah, so there's a woman? Isn't there always?

    Lilacs.

    He knew Katarina. Shortly before this man had become a rogue spirit, he had been in close physical contact with her.
    Again with the sensory information. Sometimes we go overboard with descriptions when one word can tell us all we need to know.

    So here's what we know from this paragraph: the protagonist has some tie to this Katrina. The spirit inhabiting the deer shouldn't be there, it's against the rules of this world, it's male, and it also knows this Katrina.

    But who is Katrina? Lover? Friend? Foe? His former landlady?

    The Chorus, indelibly bound up in the cosmological memory of my past, sang in their eagerness to find her. Their collective voices, usually a persistent chatter of ancient skulls, became an undulating wind of wordless need. In the dark pit beneath them, I felt the twist of a long-buried root, as if its movement was giving birth to a breath of air that the Chorus magnified into a wind.
    Whoever she is, she's important enough that this force, the Chorus, seems eager to find her, too. So I'm guessing she's not the former landlady.

    We're given something else here: this mention of the "long-buried root" tells us that Katrina isn't someone new. She's been there a long time. Maybe since the beginning. Roots are, after all, the foundation of trees. To me it hints that maybe she has something to do with the protagonist's unusual traits.

    I left the car by the side of the road, and went into the forest after the possessed animal. The deer could move faster than I, and I couldn't hope to catch it during its terrified flight. But it wouldn't run for long.
    The presence of the human soul was devouring the beast from the inside. Soon, he would be forced to find another host. He could use other animals, but they would suffer the same fate as the deer. He needed to find a human host if his soul was going to survive. This stretch of Washington state road wasn't more than a few miles from Winslow and the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal. He was heading for Seattle, and if he found a host and made it across the water, I would never find him in the glittering city.
    It's time for the protagonist to move, and he's off and running after the deer. Only if he catches up to it will he get his answers.

    We establish a physical location, the Seattle area.

    And, we're reminded of the ticking clock: if the protagonist doesn't get his deer, the soul is going to destroy it and move on...if it can find another host body.

    He was a direct link. His contact with her was fresh, a few hours old. This was the closest I had been in ten years. A gravid tension lay in my testicles, a near sexual response to being in such proximity. The Chorus sang, a lyric resonating deep in my joints, and like a tuning fork, I vibrated with this need.

    I had to catch him.
    Tick tock!

    Catching the deer is the only chance he has to find this mysterious woman. And now we know it's been ten years since he's seen her. What could she possibly have done that he's holding onto her for that long?

    Must be something good, and by that I mean ominous.

    This opening has all the ingredients necessary for a solid opening. It invokes lots of reader questions, gives us some answers, and those answers lead to more questions--the kind that make a reader turn the page. And it gives us that ticking clock that instills a sense of urgency, which is...TENSION.

    So, I want to hear what everyone else thinks. What say you? Does this work for you? Not? If not, I'd love to know why--as we all know not every book is for every reader.

    I think we could all get a lot out of this kind of discussion. So hit me with it--but don't break the skin.

    (As an aside, Lightbreaker is one of the tightest books I've read in a while. Mark Teppo doesn't tell you a single thing before you need to know it. But that's another topic for another day. )
    Last edited by aadams73; 02-18-2010 at 08:30 PM. Reason: Another typo--sheesh!

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  2. #2
    Custom User Title Slushie's Avatar
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    Okay, I'll play. Color-coded for your entertainment.

    The deer lurched out of the forest on a dark curve of the narrow highway, staggering onto the pavement like a maritime drunk. Silver light radiated from its mouth and eyes, a spectral luminescence that made the animal visible against the dark brush.

    I stopped the car and the deer shied away from the vehicle with an unorganized accordion movement of its legs. It was a young buck, a pair of knobby buttons adorning its head. Bloody foam flecked its muzzle.

    The light leaking from the animal was spiritual overflow, a profusion of energy not meant to be contained in the deerís simple meat sack. The possession of an other. A human spirit.

    As it wobbled across the road, the carís headlights bleached the shadows on its flanks. Not all the shadows disappeared, and what I had first thought were streaks of dirt or soot were revealed to be burns. With some difficulty, it traversed the shallow ditch running beside the road. At the top of the short embankment, the animal paused, chest heaving, and a tiny cloud of silver motes danced at its mouth.

    I powered down the window, and the smell rolled into the car, an acrid sweetness of seared meat.

    The human soul is too intense for the animal kingdom. The mythologies say Man was created as a reflection of the Creator. Crafted in His image and composed of the four elements, the human shell was built specifically to carry the fire of the soul. The Word written in flame and flesh. The lesser creatures of the world are too fragile, the fables tell us, they are vessels unable to sustain the intense presence of the Divine Spark.

    Why then was a soul possessing the body of this deer? How had it become separated from its proper vessel?
    First thing I noticed was the adjectives. The first paragraph is a great example of how they can be effective. He uses 'dark' twice in two sentences, but I think he does this to contrast with 'silver light' and 'spectral luminescence'. Adjectives usually seem to be most effective when they highlight a contrast. Same could be said for adverbs, I guess.

    I love the descriptive action, here: 'unorganized accordion movement of its legs'. Sure, he could have gone with a single action verb, like 'gait' or 'stumble', but I like how he expanded the deer's movement into something abstract, yet still recognizable; it really added some voice, too.

    I love, love 'headlights bleached'. It's so much better than 'illuminated', or 'shined'. Maybe it's because we associate bleach as a liquid, so the action alludes to the light washing over the animal. Love it.

    But 'traversed' doesn't seem to fit. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the word itself; it just seems too archaic for this scene and went against my initial impression of this voice. And, maybe this is just me, but 'traversed' has a kinda leisurely connotation, and that detracted a little from the immediacy of the scene. A slight pull, but I s'pose I can get over it.


    This is all tell, right? But it works because the information is interesting; at least, to me it is. Also, it's presented early in a concise paragraph, letting the reader know what they're in for. I don't read much fantasy about spirits, and stuff, but I wouldn't put this book back on the shelf at this point and this exposition wasn't a pull.

    But I also think then end of the quote is a good example why presenting unanswered questions can be considered ineffective. I mean, I was already wondering those things after reading the above paragraph and didn't really need the author to spell it out. They could have been axed, imo.


    There. That's my constructive comment for the day.

  3. #3
    Horror Man seun's Avatar
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    It's an interesting opening, definitely, but too wordy for my tastes. Some of it edges into a writer who loves words so much that they're forgetting about their story.

    I'd read more but the story would have to be shit hot to keep me going through the style.

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    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    Personally I found this to be a bit purple for my tastes and if I picked it up and read that then I probably would have put it down again.

    However, I like opening with a non-character, that's interesting, but not exactly a new concept. Michael Crichton and Terry Pratchett do it alot.
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    A good example of "Place an interesting character in an interesting situation."

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    A Work in Progress aadams73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slushie View Post


    But I also think then end of the quote is a good example why presenting unanswered questions can be considered ineffective. I mean, I was already wondering those things after reading the above paragraph and didn't really need the author to spell it out. They could have been axed, imo.


    There. That's my constructive comment for the day.
    Great stuff, Slushie! Normally I'd be right there with you about spelling out questions, but in first person it works for me because it's part of the natural thought process. I was already asking myself those questions, but for the protagonist to ask them, too, shows me that he might have all this power, but he's treading on some unfamiliar ground. I guess it underlines his uncertainty for me. He knows a lot, but not everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by seun View Post
    It's an interesting opening, definitely, but too wordy for my tastes. Some of it edges into a writer who loves words so much that they're forgetting about their story.

    I'd read more but the story would have to be shit hot to keep me going through the style.
    Interesting. What would you cut? Show us.

    Quote Originally Posted by shaldna View Post
    Personally I found this to be a bit purple for my tastes and if I picked it up and read that then I probably would have put it down again.

    However, I like opening with a non-character, that's interesting, but not exactly a new concept. Michael Crichton and Terry Pratchett do it alot.
    Again, very interesting. Thanks for joining in. I'm fascinated by how we all see something a bit different.

    I like the non-character opening, too. It's interesting to me, particularly in urban fantasy, because it's a genre where we usually get a character-related big bang in that first line--or paragraph.

    For example, Kelly Meding's (AKA Chaostitan) opening sentence in Three Days to Dead:

    I don't recall the first time I died, but I do remember the second time I was born.
    Bam!

    Both kick ass, but they're vastly different--in the same genre.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    A good example of "Place an interesting character in an interesting situation."
    Yes, exactly. It's a familiar situation twisted into something new and different. Instead of the deer running out onto the road, we've got a glowing possessed deer. Now there's something you don't see every day unless you live near a nuclear waste dump.

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  7. #7
    Horror Man seun's Avatar
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    It's hard to be precise on what I would change because it is an interesting start but the mood of it strikes me as overdone and I have to agree with the purple comment. It's (to me, at least) trying too hard to sound arty. I'd lose some of the emphasis on colour and I'd definitely cut stuff such as this:

    The light leaking from the animal was spiritual overflow, a profusion of energy not meant to be contained in the deer’s simple meat sack. The possession of an other. A human spirit.

    Too much. This is why I gave up on Clive Barker. Words are powerful. They shouldn't be overused just as they shouldn't be underused.
    Last edited by seun; 02-19-2010 at 01:10 AM. Reason: Typo

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    Hm, this doesn't work for me. I feel it's non-descript. The narrator appears part plot automaton and part philosophy carrier to me (I suppose, the utter lack of compassion for the deer, the "facts" about what a soul is, etc. interfere, so it's not entirely the text's fault). I don't much like the language: it reads as if the personal touch has been workshopped out of it (many second versions on crit-boards "lose something" and end up sounding much like this).

    I have no time now, but if a less favourable analysis is welcome I might try tomorrow. I'd be trying to work out my bias as well, as it certainly informs my reading.

  9. #9
    Benefactor Member Cranky's Avatar
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    I think the opening works, and achieves it's objective of getting you to read the next sentence.

    The only problem I have is the same as seun -- it's overwritten in places. (As someone who does this herself, I recognize it in a flash, lol) For example?

    The deer lurched out of the forest on a dark curve of the narrow highway, staggering onto the pavement like a maritime drunk. Silver light radiated from its mouth and eyes, a spectral luminescence that made the animal visible against the dark brush.


    This paragraph definitely puts a picture in one's mind, but the author is repeating himself, as if uncertain we're really going to "get" the image he's transmitting. "Lurching", "staggering", and "maritime drunk"...all to describe one movement. I love the color of "maritime drunk", and I think keeping it keeps the author's voice. The rest is unnecessary, imo.

    Same thing with the second sentence, with "spectral luminescence" paired with the silver light radiating from it's mouth and eyes. I get it, the dang thing's glowing.

    Then there is this:

    The light leaking from the animal was spiritual overflow, a profusion of energy not meant to be contained in the deer's simple meat sack. The possession of an other. A human spirit.

    More redundancy. Maybe it's for mood, or maybe the protag continually thinks like this. Anyway, I'd still keep reading despite that, but it's right on the edge of turning me off. And that's a shame, too, because I'm intrigued by what is going on.
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    I'm so glad you posted this I like it very much. And I'm very happy to see that not answering all of the questions right away is interesting to others, too.

    I like that we have to figure it out. I like the language he uses, but I'd like it also if it were a tad more mundane sounding.

    [And I especially like that you like it when it reminds me a ton of the opening I've been working on Except I can't bring myself to say 'motes'. And I have wild boar instead of a deer ]

    Seriously, though. Any complaints about clarity? I find that to be a huge divide in what I like and what some of my betas and folks on here enjoy.
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    I liked everything about it, especially the writing. I didn't find it purple at all. Not even pale lavender.

    Sometimes I think new writers get drilled so often with the phrase "keep it simple" that they keep it way too simple. Simple doesn't mean flat. Writing that doesn't actively paint a picture is too simple.

    I think we need a new Rule. Keep it simple, but for God's sake, not that simple.

  12. #12
    Benefactor Member Cranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    I liked everything about it, especially the writing. I didn't find it purple at all. Not even pale lavender.

    Sometimes I think new writers get drilled so often with the phrase "keep it simple" that they keep it way too simple. Simple doesn't mean flat. Writing that doesn't actively paint a picture is too simple.

    I think we need a new Rule. Keep it simple, but for God's sake, not that simple.
    Sure enough. And I freely admit that in my case, it could just be a matter of taste, as well as maybe a tiny bit of projection. (Seeing my own weaknesses in *his* writing where perhaps it doesn't exist)

    Different strokes, and all that. After all, this did get published, and though I think it might be a tad overwritten in places, I think it's far from being terrible. Just not my cuppa.
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    Revolutionize the World kuwisdelu's Avatar
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    I didn't find it purple either. The style didn't catch me, but that's just personal preference—just not quite my cup of tea. I think sometimes we call a style "purple" if it's rich but just isn't to our personal taste.

    The sentence cited "The light leaking from the animal was spiritual overflow, a profusion of energy not meant to be contained in the deer's simple meat sack," did read purple to me out-of-context. In-context, though, personally, it's the part that got me interested. Not purple at all in-context.

  14. #14
    Around and About SuperModerator Birol's Avatar
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    The deer lurched out of the forest on a dark curve of the narrow highway, staggering onto the pavement like a maritime drunk. Silver light radiated from its mouth and eyes, a spectral luminescence that made the animal visible against the dark brush.
    I'd like to focus on the imagery in these opening lines. There's a lot of contrast going on here. First we have the contrast between the forest (nature) and the highway (man made). This is further emphasized by describing the deer (nature) as a maritime drunk (man). Finally, there's the silver light and spectral luminescence visually played against the dark brush.

    In the mind of the reader, it creates a dichotomy or a ying yang scenario. The ying yang is further emphasized by the curve of the highway, creating a sinuous line separating the two worlds presented.

    Finally, there is the road itself. It is a path, leading onward, but as it curves, we cannot see where it is going, cannot follow it with our eyes. The only way to find out where it is taking us is to continue reading.

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    It doesn't work for me. I like the premise, and without the excessive redundancy... I'd love to read the book. However, it's overkill for me. Cranky said it well. But here's my take...

    I absolutely love the first three sentences. I'm drawn in, I'd read more. Then I get to:

    The light leaking from the animal was spiritual overflow, a profusion of energy not meant to be contained in the deer's simple meat sack. The possession of an other. A human spirit.

    Meat sack? For me, I disengaged with the story because of the odd wording. For some it might work, for me... I fight the urge to start skimming. The word choice just doesn't work for me, especially not with meat used again in the next paragraph. And like Cranky, I think "the possession of an other" could be dropped. I get that with the next sentence.

    As it wobbled across the road, the car's headlights bleached the shadows on its flanks. Not all the shadows disappeared, and what I had first thought were streaks of dirt or soot were revealed to be burns. With some difficulty, it traversed the shallow ditch running beside the road. At the top of the short embankment, the animal paused, chest heaving, and a tiny cloud of silver motes danced at its mouth.
    He could cut "or soot," to me it doesn't add anything. Dirt works enough for my brain to get it. The "short embankment" is pretty much the top of the "shallow ditch" so why repeat? Why not, "At the top, the animal paused..." The "tiny cloud of silver motes" starts to make my eye jump but overall, the paragraph worked for me. As a reader, I have a very short attention span. Someone mentioned that writer's are sometimes taught to keep it too simple, but I'm just not in favor of wordy writing. It's a personal preference. Especially considering in the paragraph above he already told me there was light coming from the deer's mouth. I don't need it again.


    The human soul is too intense for the animal kingdom. The mythologies say Man was created as a reflection of the Creator. Crafted in His image and composed of the four elements, the human shell was built specifically to carry the fire of the soul. The Word written in flame and flesh. The lesser creatures of the world are too fragile, the fables tell us, they are vessels unable to sustain the intense presence of the Divine Spark.

    Why then was a soul possessing the body of this deer? How had it become separated from its proper vessel?
    To me, this just reads as an info dump and on the first page at that. I need a little while to get in a book before I'm willing to tolerate background information... it might be absolutely necessary here, but I'm not so sure? And could he have shortened it to one quick sentence that gave a glimpse on the magic/world view without having to drop a paragraph? It slows the first page for me and enough that I'd probably put it back and pick up another book at the bookstore. I wasn't kidding about the short attention span. Such a cool idea, great start but not my taste overall.

    You compared it too THREE DAYS TO DEAD by Kelly Meding. Very different styles, and much more my taste. The entire book flowed well and her first sentence shows why. She didn't waste words and often got the image nailed the first time around. She didn't need to repeat herself. She treated the reader like someone who could follow along without every detail needing to be said twice.

    -shrugs- Obviously, what some people think is wordy, others find nicely descriptive.

  16. #16
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    The deer lurched out of the forest on a dark curve of the narrow highway, staggering onto the pavement like a maritime drunk.
    First he lurched, then he staggered. You're repeating yourself. I know simplicity is not always the order of the day, but I don't like this sentence.

    I stopped the car and the deer shied away from the vehicle with an unorganized accordion movement of its legs.
    "Unorganized accordion movement?" Is that needed? We got it, he's stumbling--we heard you the first two times.

    To say nothing of why a shy animal would move into the street with an oncoming car moving toward it.

    a profusion of energy not meant to be contained in the deer's simple meat sack.
    Yuck! This isn't "wrong" but it's not to my taste. Describing a living animal's body as a "simple meat sack" grosses me out. I don't think I like this character's way of seeing things.

    As it wobbled across the road
    Now it's wobbling. Repetition can be used effectively, but I don't feel it is here. The fact that the creature is wobbling is not the most interesting thing about it, nor it is a difficult concept to grasp.

    the car's headlights bleached the shadows on its flanks. Not all the shadows disappeared, and what I had first thought were streaks of dirt or soot were revealed to be burns.
    What? It sounds like he's calling the burns shadows, but first mistook them to be dirt. If they aren't shadows and he never thought they were, why is he talking about shadows? It seems unrelated to the marks the way he's presenting it here.

    an acrid sweetness of seared meat
    Yuck again. "Acrid sweetness" is an oxymoron. It reads like nonsense to me.

    The human soul is too intense for the animal kingdom. The mythologies ("the mythologies?" Care to elaborate?) say Man was created as a reflection of the Creator. Crafted in His image and composed of the four elements, the human shell was built specifically to carry the fire of the soul. The Word written in flame and flesh. The lesser creatures of the world are too fragile the fables tell us, they are vessels unable to sustain the intense presence of the Divine Spark.

    Why then was a soul possessing the body of this deer? How had it become separated from its proper vessel?
    I do think this idea is compelling, if this type of story interests you. A wounded deer spitting silver light is a powerful visual, and this explanation is simple and intriguing...kinda goes nowhere though if you're a person who does not know or care about "the mythologies."


    I'll stop here because I don't wanna seem cruel and pick apart this guy's every word. I found this very purple. I often struggled to figure what he was getting at. This is more likely because I'm a bit slow on the uptake than an error on his part. Feel free to tell me off if I've read this all wrong. There'll be no hard feelings on my part if you do.

  17. #17
    Worst song played on ugliest guitar Libbie's Avatar
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    I typically have a strong dislike for urban fantasy, but I'd read more of this. However, it's the writer's unusual word choices (disorganized accordion movement of its legs) that draw me in. I am less intrigued by the tension of the moment, and more interested in the wordplay. Enough that I'd probably read more, even though this is a genre I usually have a very difficult time enjoying.

    But then, I like that goddamn literary crap.

  18. #18
    Benefactor Member Cranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Libbie View Post
    I typically have a strong dislike for urban fantasy, but I'd read more of this. However, it's the writer's unusual word choices (disorganized accordion movement of its legs) that draw me in. I am less intrigued by the tension of the moment, and more interested in the wordplay. Enough that I'd probably read more, even though this is a genre I usually have a very difficult time enjoying.

    But then, I like that goddamn literary crap.
    Out of all my nitpicks, that phrase you pointed out wasn't one of 'em. I really liked that, and ever so much better than some of the other words he used. I lurve me some colorful turns of phrase, like that "maritime drunk". It tickles me fancy something fierce. Is it goddamn literary crap? I dunno, but if so, I don't care.
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  19. #19
    Revolutionize the World kuwisdelu's Avatar
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    I still find it amusing, for all the hate this line is getting:

    The light leaking from the animal was spiritual overflow, a profusion of energy not meant to be contained in the deer's simple meat sack. The possession of an other. A human spirit.
    it's the one that drew me in. Before it, I was bored. Now I'm interested.

  20. #20
    Well this didn't do it for me. I would have put it down at the "meat-sack line" or there's a good chance of it because nothing grabbed me enough to keep reading about someone who would refer to an injured animal in those terms. I instantly didn't like him.

    I have to say I didn't think the writing was purple but there was a lot of rather sloppy seeming redundancy such as "tiny mote". A mote is by definition tiny. The deer wobbles, lurches and staggers all within a couple of sentences. As several said, I got it the first time. No need to tell me three more. However, if the other element hadn't put me off that might or might not have made me stop reading. It depended on whether this was a fault only on the first page. Except for that, I would have given it aother page or two to interest me. I'm not a fan of urban fantasy, but I'm willing to read it occasionally.

    The writing isn't terrible and it has some interesting imagery in it when it wasn't being redundant.
    Last edited by Albannach; 02-19-2010 at 11:44 AM.

  21. #21
    Revolutionize the World kuwisdelu's Avatar
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    Okay, now I'm curious.

    If it doesn't wobble, lurch, and stagger, just what is the deer supposed to do?

    Ignoring the deer-frozen-in-the-headlights cliche (since this is a possessed deer we're talking about, after all), would those who are criticizing this part prefer if it had stayed still, or what?

  22. #22
    Benefactor Member Cranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
    Okay, now I'm curious.

    If it doesn't wobble, lurch, and stagger, just what is the deer supposed to do?

    Ignoring the deer-frozen-in-the-headlights cliche (since this is a possessed deer we're talking about, after all), would those who are criticizing this part prefer if it had stayed still, or what?
    It's not about the motion, it's about how he describes the same thing over and over again. "Lurched", "staggered", and my favorite descriptor, all in *one* sentence. It was overkill, imo. That's all.

    ETA: To balance out all the nits I've made, I should add the things I liked about this opening:

    1) powerful imagery
    2) never too much information before I need it &
    3) the information I get leads to more questions

    The setup is intriguing, and I want to know more of what's going on.
    Last edited by Cranky; 02-19-2010 at 11:46 AM.
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  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
    Okay, now I'm curious.

    If it doesn't wobble, lurch, and stagger, just what is the deer supposed to do?

    Ignoring the deer-frozen-in-the-headlights cliche (since this is a possessed deer we're talking about, after all), would those who are criticizing this part prefer if it had stayed still, or what?
    So the writer had to use all three synonymous verbs one right after another is what you're saying?

    The word for this is redundant.

    I don't think it's so terrible I'd necessarily stop reading if I hadn't felt that I definitely do not want to be in this guy's head. But it would annoy me quickly if he didn't stop.
    Last edited by Albannach; 02-19-2010 at 11:50 AM.

  24. #24
    Revolutionize the World kuwisdelu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albannach View Post
    So the writer had to use all three synonymous verbs one right after another is what you're saying?

    The word for this is redundant.

    I don't think it's so terrible I'd necessarily stop reading if I hadn't felt that I definitely do not want to be in this guy's head. But it would annoy me quickly if he didn't stop.
    So you'd prefer he'd used the same verb? Not mention any movement at all? Or what? That's what I'm not understanding.

    To me, it's just a continuation of movement.

  25. #25
    Revolutionize the World kuwisdelu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cranky View Post
    It's not about the motion, it's about how he describes the same thing over and over again. "Lurched", "staggered", and my favorite descriptor, all in *one* sentence. It was overkill, imo. That's all.
    Hmm.

    For me, it's not repetitive. The first time, I get an image of the deer emerging from the forest. In the next phrase, I see it out of the forest and on the highway.

    If anything, for me, the part I'd criticize is I'd make it a compound sentence instead of tacking on the phrase, so the progression is more clear.

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