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Thread: [Critique Game] Post The First Three Sentences of your Short Story

  1. #626
    practical experience, FTW sockycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiddlywinks View Post
    First, I love your title. I have no idea what it means, but you'd catch my eye with that alone.

    I think you need to dig a little deeper into the meat here in order to set the hook for your story. There's a cool concept in here, but it's kinda buried under ok vague. The writing's sound. Just needs a little more...something.

    Sorry, that's all I got.
    Hahaha, thank you! I work full-time for a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and developing low-income housing, and as a result, we run into a LOT of Nimbyism (the "not in my backyard" people)

    Basically, the premise is that Earth is no longer inhabitable, and humans need somewhere else to go. It's a story about a bunch of aliens saying the same stereotypical nymbism bullshit that I hear people say about low-income members of the community. So I just changed NIMBY to NOMP-- Not On My Planet!

    Thank you for the feedback!! I'll try to find a different word for that 1st line
    "Seashells", Aphelion, May 2017

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  2. #627
    Hiding. Possibly writing tiddlywinks's Avatar
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    Ok, now that is a clever title. I lika!
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  3. #628
    figuring it all out sublunam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sockycat View Post
    The trouble started when the spokesman for ICRML—the Intergalactic Council for Resettlement of Misplaced Lifeforms—turned to the assembly and asked “Now, are there any opposed to the humankind resettlement plan?”

    Objections exploded throughout the room.

    Representatives and community members from nearly thirty planets had gathered, some lounging in the mediocre metal chairs that had been stuffed into the black-tiled room, others standing shoulder to fin.
    Sockycat, I love this premise. I do think you need to do a bit of paring down here, though. The sentences feel a little too densely packed with information for the opening hook. Here are some suggested changes:

    The spokesman for the Intergalactic Council turned to the assembly and asked “Now, are there any opposed to the resettlement plan?” That was when the trouble started. Representatives from nearly thirty planets had gathered--some seated in the metal chairs crammed into the black-tiled room, others standing shoulder to fin--and objections exploded throughout the room.

    I've taken out what I think you might consider to be key information, and so I assume you won't like all of the suggested changes, but I want to put some of them out there. The council name I think you could include in paragraph two, together with the information that the resettlement is going to be of human beings. But I assume if we're halfway through proceedings, there would be no need to refer directly to the species being resettled. In general, I've left your wording as is (just shuffled around), just changing "lounging" to "seated," because "lounging" seemed to be the wrong verb for a bunch of creatures explosively objecting.

    I hope this helps! And I look forward to reading more!
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  4. #629
    practical experience, FTW sockycat's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback everyone, it's much appreciated !
    "Seashells", Aphelion, May 2017

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  5. #630
    practical experience, FTW sockycat's Avatar
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    Alright, I tried to rework the first three sentences to be less info dump-y so that they can be more engaging. Some of the info that was bogging down the original first three was reworked into later sentences and feels more organic, so I appreciate everyone's feedback on that matter!

    THE NOMPERS Revision 2:

    The trouble started when the spokesman tapped a cracked claw against the desk and said, “We will be taking questions now.”
    Representatives and community members from nearly thirty planets cried out in unison. Some leaped from their chairs, and others slithered up the black tiled walls.
    "Seashells", Aphelion, May 2017

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  6. #631
    practical experience, FTW Denevius's Avatar
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    The trouble started when the spokesman tapped a cracked claw against the desk and said, “We will be taking questions now.”
    Representatives and community members from nearly thirty planets cried out in unison. Some leaped from their chairs, and others slithered up the black tiled walls.
    I think your first version slipped by me, and I didn't comment on it. Examining just the first lines of each version:

    1) The trouble started when the spokesman for ICRML—the Intergalactic Council for Resettlement of Misplaced Lifeforms—turned to the assembly and asked “Now, are there any opposed to the humankind resettlement plan?”

    2) The trouble started when the spokesman tapped a cracked claw against the desk and said, “We will be taking questions now.”

    To me, it's clear that the first line of version 1 is far more interesting. In that one, we have specificity: the ICRML, and a clear plot point to jump off with.

    The second version's first line is a general figure holding something that seems a little silly opening the the narrative up with dialog that I've heard many, many times before.

    And the description of aliens in both versions:

    1) Representatives and community members from nearly thirty planets had gathered, some lounging in the mediocre metal chairs that had been stuffed into the black-tiled room, others standing shoulder to fin.

    2) Some leaped from their chairs, and others slithered up the black tiled walls.

    One does a nice job of implying haste while giving a memorable image of the black tiled room and metal chairs.

    The other, again, just seems a little silly to me, like it's supposed to be a joke.

    So obviously I prefer the first version, and feel this is a step backward. Personally, I don't find the first version to be infodumpy. You were introducing a character, and you said who the character was. The ICRML. To me, there's nothing telly about that that should be avoided, as you then continue right into the present moment situation: the resettlement of the human race.
    SHOVE PUSH STAND (Expected publishing date September 1st in Aurora Wolf)
    THE POP SINGER (Expected publishing date September 1st in SciFan Magazine)
    THE ASCENT MADE HIM PLUNGE (Published August 2017 in The Big Book of Bootleg Horror 2, Hellbound Books Publishing)
    GWI'SHIN (Reprint published July 2017 in Scarlet Leaf Review)
    INFECTIOUS (Now available in the May 2017, Issue 54 in Expanded Horizons)
    WHEELS AND DEALS (Expected publishing date October 2017 in Pole to Pole "Dark Luminous Wings" Anthology)
    TRANSUBSTANTIATION (Expected publishing date September 2017, Issue #104 of Aurealis Science Fiction & Fantasy)
    GWI'SHIN (Published September 2016 in Eastlit Journal)
    MOMENTUM (Published 2014 & 2015 as Issue #3, and as part of an anthology in Tokyo Yakuza.)
    Website: A Crow's Flying

  7. #632
    practical experience, FTW sockycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denevius View Post
    So obviously I prefer the first version, and feel this is a step backward. Personally, I don't find the first version to be infodumpy. You were introducing a character, and you said who the character was. The ICRML. To me, there's nothing telly about that that should be avoided, as you then continue right into the present moment situation: the resettlement of the human race.
    Ack, conflicting feedback! I appreciate the honesty. I will see if I can find a happy medium between the two.
    "Seashells", Aphelion, May 2017

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  8. #633
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    New kid on the block here, thought I'd share something.

    This is from a short called "Duck, Duck, Goose". POV is a male prostitute in Hong Kong.

    This summer is suffocating. I don’t even feel cool when I’m naked, especially since I spend much of my time sharing body heat, skin pressed against another’s, the stickiness between us like hot red bean paste oozing out of a bun. And here in P’s flat, there’s no air conditioner, only an old fan that sounds like a dying engine and pushes the dampness in circles.

  9. #634
    practical experience, FTW sockycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicotine027 View Post
    New kid on the block here, thought I'd share something.

    This is from a short called "Duck, Duck, Goose". POV is a male prostitute in Hong Kong.

    This summer is suffocating. I don’t even feel cool when I’m naked, especially since I spend much of my time sharing body heat, skin pressed against another’s, the stickiness between us like hot red bean paste oozing out of a bun. And here in P’s flat, there’s no air conditioner, only an old fan that sounds like a dying engine and pushes the dampness in circles.

    Is this meant to be a funny story? The "like the hot red bean paste oozing out of the bun" really threw me. I was with you up until then, but I feel like at that line the tone completely flipped, and your third line lost its power because I was so distracted/confused by the second?
    "Seashells", Aphelion, May 2017

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  10. #635
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    There is a lot of dark humor in this story, so I do expect the reader to laugh a bit although the situations are dark. May it would make more sense in the context of the whole scene, but perhaps I should rework the beginning so it's not as jarring?

  11. #636
    practical experience, FTW sockycat's Avatar
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    Maybe wait for other's feedback, but for me that simile didn't work and just threw off the beginning for me.
    "Seashells", Aphelion, May 2017

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  12. #637
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    This summer is suffocating. I don’t even feel cool when I’m naked, especially since I spend much of my time sharing body heat, skin pressed against another’s, the stickiness between us like hot red bean paste oozing out of a bun. And here in P’s flat, there’s no air conditioner, only an old fan that sounds like a dying engine and pushes the dampness in circles.
    A solid three line opener.
    SHOVE PUSH STAND (Expected publishing date September 1st in Aurora Wolf)
    THE POP SINGER (Expected publishing date September 1st in SciFan Magazine)
    THE ASCENT MADE HIM PLUNGE (Published August 2017 in The Big Book of Bootleg Horror 2, Hellbound Books Publishing)
    GWI'SHIN (Reprint published July 2017 in Scarlet Leaf Review)
    INFECTIOUS (Now available in the May 2017, Issue 54 in Expanded Horizons)
    WHEELS AND DEALS (Expected publishing date October 2017 in Pole to Pole "Dark Luminous Wings" Anthology)
    TRANSUBSTANTIATION (Expected publishing date September 2017, Issue #104 of Aurealis Science Fiction & Fantasy)
    GWI'SHIN (Published September 2016 in Eastlit Journal)
    MOMENTUM (Published 2014 & 2015 as Issue #3, and as part of an anthology in Tokyo Yakuza.)
    Website: A Crow's Flying

  13. #638
    watching The Office again Ellis Clover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicotine027 View Post
    This summer is suffocating. I don’t even feel cool when I’m naked, especially since I spend much of my time sharing body heat, skin pressed against another’s, the stickiness between us like hot red bean paste oozing out of a bun. And here in P’s flat, there’s no air conditioner, only an old fan that sounds like a dying engine and pushes the dampness in circles.
    I like this a lot, too. The simile works for me.
    WIP #1: Track (Mystery/Thriller) 95k/90k - resting
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    Real estate was an industry she’d taken for granted would be a buzz. It was paid performance art, wasn’t it? And she'd loved it at first, passionately loved it – the agents’ shiny faces and newsreader voices, the pompous excesses of its ads, its innate base soullessness – back when she’d assumed everyone was in on the joke.
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  14. #639
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks guys! I suppose it's a matter of personal taste? I think I'll keep it for now.

  15. #640
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    Nicotine, I'd have to agree on the "bean paste" comments, a cool image but flipped the tone completely. Don't change it though, we can only gauge so much from three sentences so take our criticism's on "overall tone" with a pinch of salt 😉

    Here's a little ditty I've been writing,

    It had been a long journey for the couple, but considering the distance, they were lucky to have brought the California weather with them. A light hazelnut haze was beginning to levitate above the ocean surface, as rays of the rising sun filtered through the streaky clouds above. Their voyage hadn’t always been as peaceful as this, nor as picturesque, but they were nearly there now, 3,000 miles away from home and the only two people to have sailed these seas since the great disaster…

  16. #641
    practical experience, FTW Denevius's Avatar
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    It had been a long journey for the couple, but considering the distance, they were lucky to have brought the California weather with them. A light hazelnut haze was beginning to levitate above the ocean surface, as rays of the rising sun filtered through the streaky clouds above. Their voyage hadn’t always been as peaceful as this, nor as picturesque, but they were nearly there now, 3,000 miles away from home and the only two people to have sailed these seas since the great disaster…
    My only reaction is that the story begins a little later. In these first three lines, which is really four without the awkward conjunction, we have no POV, no plot, and no background development.
    SHOVE PUSH STAND (Expected publishing date September 1st in Aurora Wolf)
    THE POP SINGER (Expected publishing date September 1st in SciFan Magazine)
    THE ASCENT MADE HIM PLUNGE (Published August 2017 in The Big Book of Bootleg Horror 2, Hellbound Books Publishing)
    GWI'SHIN (Reprint published July 2017 in Scarlet Leaf Review)
    INFECTIOUS (Now available in the May 2017, Issue 54 in Expanded Horizons)
    WHEELS AND DEALS (Expected publishing date October 2017 in Pole to Pole "Dark Luminous Wings" Anthology)
    TRANSUBSTANTIATION (Expected publishing date September 2017, Issue #104 of Aurealis Science Fiction & Fantasy)
    GWI'SHIN (Published September 2016 in Eastlit Journal)
    MOMENTUM (Published 2014 & 2015 as Issue #3, and as part of an anthology in Tokyo Yakuza.)
    Website: A Crow's Flying

  17. #642
    figuring it all out
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicotine027 View Post
    It had been a long journey for the couple, but considering the distance, they were lucky to have brought the California weather with them. A light hazelnut haze was beginning to levitate above the ocean surface, as rays of the rising sun filtered through the streaky clouds above. Their voyage hadn’t always been as peaceful as this, nor as picturesque, but they were nearly there now, 3,000 miles away from home and the only two people to have sailed these seas since the great disaster… .
    Pencil out the distracting and superfluous 'but considering the distance' and ditch 'hazelnut haze' for something less pretentious and you've got a pretty darn good opening.

  18. #643
    practical experience, FTW sockycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulieS View Post
    Nicotine, I'd have to agree on the "bean paste" comments, a cool image but flipped the tone completely. Don't change it though, we can only gauge so much from three sentences so take our criticism's on "overall tone" with a pinch of salt ��

    Here's a little ditty I've been writing,

    It had been a long journey for the couple, but considering the distance, they were lucky to have brought the California weather with them. A light hazelnut haze was beginning to levitate above the ocean surface, as rays of the rising sun filtered through the streaky clouds above. Their voyage hadn’t always been as peaceful as this, nor as picturesque, but they were nearly there now, 3,000 miles away from home and the only two people to have sailed these seas since the great disaster…
    Jumping in a bit late. This all feels like backstory to me. The images are fine and I actually quite like the descriptor of "hazelnut haze", but these sentences are all too packed together and unweildy to be a compelling beginning for me. I agree with Denevius that the story doesn't really start until the third line. I would begin with something stronger--something beyond backstory--and then maybe you could weave in those descriptions later?
    "Seashells", Aphelion, May 2017

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  19. #644
    practical experience, FTW Denevius's Avatar
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    This will be the third in the series of short stories I'm writing from this POV. I guess I'll have to eventually come up with a name for the series. This particular story is tentatively titled THE LAND OF MAIJU. The word count should be about 3000 words.

    ***

    The granddaughter of the most powerful witch in the world held a pencil in her right hand. Her classmates crowded behind her, waiting. If she could get the spell right, she’d bore through the wall to the land of maiju.
    SHOVE PUSH STAND (Expected publishing date September 1st in Aurora Wolf)
    THE POP SINGER (Expected publishing date September 1st in SciFan Magazine)
    THE ASCENT MADE HIM PLUNGE (Published August 2017 in The Big Book of Bootleg Horror 2, Hellbound Books Publishing)
    GWI'SHIN (Reprint published July 2017 in Scarlet Leaf Review)
    INFECTIOUS (Now available in the May 2017, Issue 54 in Expanded Horizons)
    WHEELS AND DEALS (Expected publishing date October 2017 in Pole to Pole "Dark Luminous Wings" Anthology)
    TRANSUBSTANTIATION (Expected publishing date September 2017, Issue #104 of Aurealis Science Fiction & Fantasy)
    GWI'SHIN (Published September 2016 in Eastlit Journal)
    MOMENTUM (Published 2014 & 2015 as Issue #3, and as part of an anthology in Tokyo Yakuza.)
    Website: A Crow's Flying

  20. #645
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denevius View Post
    This will be the third in the series of short stories I'm writing from this POV. I guess I'll have to eventually come up with a name for the series. This particular story is tentatively titled THE LAND OF MAIJU. The word count should be about 3000 words.

    ***

    The granddaughter of the most powerful witch in the world held a pencil in her right hand. Her classmates crowded behind her, waiting. If she could get the spell right, she’d bore through the wall to the land of maiju.
    I think the first sentence is encapsulating too much. maybe put the section about her genealogy into it's own sentence?
    WIP: Heaven nor Hell (romantic fantasy)

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  21. #646
    Sockpuppet
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    This is the first three sentences of a short story, From My Covers Creep:

    As far as nightmares go, last night I had the nightmare of all nightmares. Something strong had grabbed my ankles in the middle of the night and pulled with such suddenness it awoke me. I twisted over on my stomach and reached for the headboard and hung on, literally for my life.

  22. #647
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias54 View Post
    This is the first three sentences of a short story, From My Covers Creep:

    As far as nightmares go, last night I had the nightmare of all nightmares. Something strong had grabbed my ankles in the middle of the night and pulled with such suddenness it awoke me. I twisted over on my stomach and reached for the headboard and hung on, literally for my life.
    I'd read on Decent sentences and a hook. Although I'm not sure of the merits of smacking your reader on the head with the repetition (it's a nightmare, a really big nightmare, did I mentioned it's about a nightmare? Cuz it's was a nightmare!), it smacks of satire of the genre. I'm not a fan of "literally" either, in general. Also, "awoke me" rings more awkward than "woke me up". None of those would stop me from reading on but if I'm putting up a review for the book, it may not get the full five stars.

  23. #648
    practical experience, FTW sockycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias54 View Post
    This is the first three sentences of a short story, From My Covers Creep:

    As far as nightmares go, last night I had the nightmare of all nightmares. Something strong had grabbed my ankles in the middle of the night and pulled with such suddenness it awoke me. I twisted over on my stomach and reached for the headboard and hung on, literally for my life.
    Is this satire? If not, I would be careful of the repetitiveness. The first line was giving me a bit of a president tinyhands vibe "it'll be great. the greatest. the best. the greatest best of all time." and I'm not sure if that's what you were going for.

    I'm not one to quit a story after three sentences, but I would probably give this one at least a paragraph to get a feel for the tone.
    "Seashells", Aphelion, May 2017

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  24. #649
    practical experience, FTW Denevius's Avatar
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    As far as nightmares go, last night I had the nightmare of all nightmares. Something strong had grabbed my ankles in the middle of the night and pulled with such suddenness it awoke me. I twisted over on my stomach and reached for the headboard and hung on, literally for my life.
    This isn't really a beginning of a story. Maybe a yarn, or an anecdote, told to a friend.

    The story might begin later, though something tells me that there isn't really a story here at all. Just a recollection of an experience.
    SHOVE PUSH STAND (Expected publishing date September 1st in Aurora Wolf)
    THE POP SINGER (Expected publishing date September 1st in SciFan Magazine)
    THE ASCENT MADE HIM PLUNGE (Published August 2017 in The Big Book of Bootleg Horror 2, Hellbound Books Publishing)
    GWI'SHIN (Reprint published July 2017 in Scarlet Leaf Review)
    INFECTIOUS (Now available in the May 2017, Issue 54 in Expanded Horizons)
    WHEELS AND DEALS (Expected publishing date October 2017 in Pole to Pole "Dark Luminous Wings" Anthology)
    TRANSUBSTANTIATION (Expected publishing date September 2017, Issue #104 of Aurealis Science Fiction & Fantasy)
    GWI'SHIN (Published September 2016 in Eastlit Journal)
    MOMENTUM (Published 2014 & 2015 as Issue #3, and as part of an anthology in Tokyo Yakuza.)
    Website: A Crow's Flying

  25. #650
    the possibilities are endless noranne's Avatar
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    Hi guys, giving this a shot. From my science fiction story, "The Hitchhiker."

    ===

    The sector was clearly marked as "vicinity of correctional facilities," but Louisa picked up the hitchhiker anyway. Jamming her finger into the personnel airlock button felt a bit like jabbing Pender in the eye, and that was something at least. Her own little fuck-you to the government.
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    MS6: A SF, 86k, waiting
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