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New opening - YA SF

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by Jo Zebedee, Apr 21, 2016.

  1.  
    Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee Come away, oh human child - Waters and the Wild

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    Nice catch, I'll amend.

    Now, now, that would be too easy. :D

    Yes, this would open it. It takes place a little before the story. Plus I think it might be just a little more hooky.
     
  2.  
    Wruter

    Wruter Aquarius

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    I like it and, apart from the minor word and sentence rejigs already suggested by others, found it effective as a short opening hook. Had you considered perhaps italicising these, as you say, short sections in the book to further differentiate the alien POV?
     
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  3.  
    J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    The word 'sizzling' .. on its lonesome, could be vaguely confusing in that particular sentence? Maybe sizzling sounds... I know, it's clear enough, but would sizzling sounds make it clunky?
     
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  4.  
    Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee Come away, oh human child - Waters and the Wild

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    Yes - i might well do, provided none of them run over about 700 words. :)

    I'm rejigging that sentence, so can fix that, too. Cheers. :)
     
  5.  
    Glitch

    Glitch #452

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    To keep the creature alien with regards to human emotions it could enjoy or dislike the feelings as it subdues and kills the mother.

    I found it interesting enough to keep reading :)
     
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  6.  
    pambaddeley

    pambaddeley Well-Known Member

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    I agree, would expect the creature to feel off balance and awkward without its accustomed weight, and its centre of gravity would be off so I would expect it to be more likely to stumble.

    I didn't believe the sexual sadism angle either if it is inhuman. So that came over as gratuitous.
     
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  7.  
    Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee Come away, oh human child - Waters and the Wild

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    Cool, thanks - I might need to make the shape-shifting a little clearer. And that it's the sadism rather than the sexual element that matters. Hmm. :)
     
  8.  
    Ihe

    Ihe Forum Revolutionary

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    I liked it, it hooks, it's well-written and the pace is good. Apart from the excessive use of it/its which does call attention onto itself, the only other thing that stood out for me that could be tightened is this:
    The repetition is too obvious for me. Synonyms or re-estructuring would benefit this sentence IMO.

    Ooooh, an alien with a phantom limb syndrome. Not only would he miss it or sometimes lose its equilibrium, but not seeing/using the stinger could make him feel pain/uncomfortable tingling there, as phantom limbs often do. This would be an instinctual motivator to want to use the stinger more often, even if at the expense of his disguise.
     
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  9.  
    LittleStar

    LittleStar Well-Known Member

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    I haven't read the other posts, but I assume tht here is a lot of conversation about the use of It as the pronoun. I'll weigh in with my thoughts here.

    I have written a couple of shorts using this and I still struggle with it... It is a hard word to use consciously and using anything so much (even he/she etc.) eventually stands out, but unlike other pronouns we don't push it aside because it's not familiar in that context.

    However, with that said, in one of my stories I switched it around, so the character had a gender and identity, but everyone else was an it, and while there is still the large number of uses of the word, it's not quite as jarring when trying to identify with the character... Unless of course that's what you're going for, obviously as an alien it isn't human, doesn't have our genders and maybe you want it to be seen as the outsider. but i think seeing the familiar genders as the outsider and the strange still has this impact.

    I was reading it fine, stumbling a little (though maybe editing and smoothing sentences woud sort that) but I think too much more of it and I might have become an issue for me.
     
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  10.  
    The Big Peat

    The Big Peat Well-Known Member

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    Just my two cents, but I don't think of panic as necessarily a human emotion. Animals panic. Imagination and empathy would be the two that might have me feeling slightly dissonant.

    Personally, the best way of making it feel inhuman, is to have it imagine it knows all about being human when it clearly doesn't. I think that happens in what Jo's written already and the irony of it is the biggest hook about it to me.
     
  11.  
    Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee Come away, oh human child - Waters and the Wild

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    Yes that was what I was aiming for - that it can mimic other species' behaviour but doesn't quite get it right here. It's important to avoid a deus ex machina later plus to set up a big plot point. I might have to pull it out a little more.
     
  12.  
    Martin Gill

    Martin Gill Well-Known Member

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    That was my reaction as well. I reread the first sentence because of that. But after that I think it works.
     
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  13.  
    Appello

    Appello Literary Hitchhiker

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    Have you thought about writing the scene from first person POV? You mentioned it's only a relatively short time that we are in the alien's POV, so it could be an interesting perspective, and the "I" would be less obviously repetitive than "it."

    I know that using "I" doesn't immediately suggest an 'otherness' to the reader, and might not achieve the desired 'distance' you mention wanting to maintain. But if you make it clear early on that it is not human (eg. "I had quickly become accustomed to my human form, but felt the absence of my stinger like a missing limb... In my mouth I could taste the blood of my last victim, urging me forward...") or something, you might still be able to maintain that air of creepiness. And it might be quite interesting for your readers, to get inside the mind of an alien serial killer like that :p

    I dunno, just throwing the idea out there, as an alternative to the "it", which did jar a little with me, although by the end of the excerpt my brain had decided it was no big deal :)
     
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  14.  
    Kith

    Kith Chronic Lurker

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    If you'd like an example of an 'it' POV used for an inhuman character, Charlie Fletcher's "The Oversight" uses it for the character of the alp (interspersed with calling it "the alp" and other descriptive names, like "the breath stealer").

    The it pronoun didn't bother me - other than the brief initial confusion of the opening lines, which others have already mentioned. If this is a rough draft, you'll probably catch on a re-read (or have already caught) the "Her eyes tracked him" slip, assuming it wasn't intentional. I'd agree with those who disliked the sexual element to the kill, but otherwise I enjoyed reading it. :)
     
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  15.  
    Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee Come away, oh human child - Waters and the Wild

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    Thanks all, the sexual element has gone (for a different reason- the age of the victim had to change, to fit with the storyline and it absolutely would not have fitted.)

    I like the idea of first person but, as this is YA, think it's too risky - 1st in YA is normally the protagonist's pov. :)
     
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  16.  
    ctg

    ctg weaver of the unseen

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    It's in the voice, in the language pattern, but not in the way of how people formulate it in English language. The way I read the excerpt, it works. Don't change your style or try to adapt a new way to tell this particular story. If the alien adapt personality in first person way then you can change style. But at the moment, I'm not sure if this is a good YA book. Your MC's mind is just too old for that sort of story, unless you twist it and make the character to do all young adult things.

    I see what you did. Why didn't you post an example from those YA PoV's?

    Nooooo. :cry: Sweetie, would HR Giger removed offending bits from his art and made it pleasing to some people? Although most of the people might find original Alien art quite offending and bizarrely sexual, it was way he saw it and he would not have changed a thing. Same goes to the great shaman himself. Alan Moore only produces his stuff for himself. Just like it has been advised to us. But if you had to do it, fine.
     
  17.  
    Martin Robert

    Martin Robert Active Member

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    Wasn't wild about the use of It, but wasn't that bad either. HareBrain brings up a good point about the drag - that was really odd. It sounded more like some shackle or chain mechanism with a weird name that I'd thought you'd explain later.

    Quickly instead of quicker.
     
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  18.  
    Appello

    Appello Literary Hitchhiker

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    You should make him sparkle and give him dreamy eyes :p
     
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  19.  
    tinkerdan

    tinkerdan candycane shrimp

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    I felt that it works quite well for what you're doing here. It helps that you are identifying it as alien at an early point. You might want to keep in mind the usual complaints over not naming the POV character early enough. Though this doesn't quite qualify, it still doesn't mean the reader won't look at it that way. But that is mostly informational rather than a critique.

    I agree with the comment about the loss of the stinger (or apparent loss). Having just finished A.E. Van Vogt's (Kevin Anderson) Slan Hunter novel where a character losses the tendrils used for telepathy and it's like having lost one form of defense while feeling somewhat blind in a way--the loss becomes important. Also this seems to be a dip into exposition to prepare the reader for the eventual use of that appendage and it is important to do that; so take advantage and have the character express how it's absence makes them really feel.

    One more observation. Have you ever seen the movie Amanda and the Alien aka Alien Love--based on a short story Amanda and the Alien by Robert Silverberg.

    I have not read the short, but I did see the movie and the description of the alien and it's ability to shape shift and the possibility of consuming it's victim (in such a way it gained their knowledge) and taking their shape all are so similar. I couldn't help thinking of that movie and it wasn't necessarily working in favor of this narrative.
     
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  20.  
    Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee Come away, oh human child - Waters and the Wild

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    I hate it when that happens. :( no, I hadn't come across it and, in this case the host isn't consumed,so hopefully it will be ok. *whimpers*
     
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