Thoughts on story opening

Paul Meccano

Meccano Magic
Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
141
Location
ohh! I can see the last post from here
#1
I'm working on a story that expands at the end of time and dimension events that have upended humanity, essentially an aftermath but with a visible, perceived, utopia as a quest for our hero's beyond. I have an opening ( below ) thats short but needs critiquing. I don't want to go too far otherwise as I'm still a bit of a nervous writer. thanks in advance for your time.

800 ish words


Feather on the breeze


Scatters removed his leather head band and let his earpiece and sights rest on his chest; the wires taped and twisted, holding them suspended, ready in case. He sunk both knees into the cushion having turned the antique armchair around; its back now resting against the wall below the horizontal slit window. Leaning forward, breathing slowly, he peered over the sill and out to the carnage.

The glass acted as a magnifier, its edges still firmed into the framework of the window; sealed enough from the torrential downpour and wind outside for the rare feather to rest unaffected on the inner sill next to his chin.


‘A DHS?’ Finch spoke from behind, quietly, questioning.


‘Yup,’ sighed Scatters ‘melted everything, the glass on this window’s bulged.’ The feather lifted and traced around the windows handle as he spoke, landing back to the ledge. It swivelled as he breathed, a slight mist now rising on the glass in front.


Finch angered ‘Who the f*ck uses Dimensional heat-sinks, I mean the residual effects are bloody disastrous’ He kicked a redundant shot-glass which spun on the floor. The noise rang out, ‘Sorry…sh*t.’ His hand shot to cover his mouth.


‘I don’t know, but it’s not our friends from the sky, I think this one’s a misfire, accidental. The military had a batch of them you know, from the fallen craft.’ Scatters had lifted his hand, placed a finger on the quill of the feather as he spoke, he rolled it watching as it flushed dust from the sill and frame abut.


Finch squatted, hands propping his head as he rocked, thinking. He muttered without raising a glance, ‘Well are we going in, is it clear, I think I’d…’


‘Finch Down!’ Scatters forced himself up, torn from his spot by a shadow dancing over the east wall. Finch fell to the ground a squeal of fear wrenched from his breathless lungs. As he fell the open door burst wide and an enraged Quinn ran unexpectedly through. ‘No!’ Scatters launched himself over the arm of the chair aided by a push from the wall, ‘Quinn, no!’


Quinn was ahead, full speed across the room, he slid toward the body on the floor. ‘Mum, mum!’


Scatters, mid air, grasped at his passing friend; his face close, contorted with fear, tears running as free as time but for Quinn, without warning, time stopped dead.


He was gone. Scatters landed in a heap at the edge of the horizon between this dimension and that, his friend a sudden memory. He lay, still, a blank mind penetrated only by the sound of sobbing, Finch broken, finally and after coping for so long.


‘He was supposed to stay out back, we should all stay out back, away from this sh*t.’ Scatters turned his head his body not wanting to move, his cheek rested on the floor as a shard of light glanced through the window, rendering a blanket of dust hanging in the air. Finch noticed the glare, stopped sobbing; a new reality hastening his attention.


A door to the outside, somewhere close at the rear creaked open; the weathers sound track filled the room and a breeze sifted the dust and loose papers on the floor.

Finch froze, Scatters went for his gun, stayed flat, ready.


‘Don’t move.’ He looked to the window, the breeze kicked his feather from the sill, it floated, tumbled and danced toward the ceiling. Scatters watched entranced, a moment of fate resonating in his mind. Could this really be the moment, when the future catches up. The feather floated down toward his position, Finch raised his head as footsteps crunched glass in the adjacent room; heavy, adult.

It was time, Time had caught up. ‘Finch its now, the breach is here’ he spoke in a whisper, begging time to pass. Finch clasped his hands preyed to no god at all as the intruder walked into the room. Scatters flipped onto his back and reached up for the feather as it floated down to meet his grasp. This was the moment, he’d seen it, the reason he’d carried that feather so long. ‘A ****ing moment of joy please!’ Scatters screamed out a request to the bringer of moments, the sound of a blaster ripped the air as everything froze.
 

CTRandall

I have my very own plant pot!
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
290
Location
North-east England
#2
I was about to tell you to cut out all the stuff about the feather--and then the feather seemed to take on importance at the end. If the feather is important, try to give a hint early on. And even so, you could probably reduce the references to it.

The bit from where Quinn runs in to "time stopped dead" is confusing. I don't know who Quinn is, where he's coming from, why he's come in or why he shouldn't come in. Belatedly, I learn he's killed by a dimensional bomb but almost immediately, confusion sets in again, as I don't know where "out back" is. It gets clearer after that, though "the bringer of moments" throws me again (maybe capitalize if it's some sort of deity/religious reference--that would be enough to carry me along).

A clearer sense of setting and character would really help clarify things. Are they on a ship? In a house? Are they hiding? Taking part in a battle? Are they scared out of their minds? Are they professionals trying to figure their way out of a tight spot? It seems like Quinn was young, possibly a child (calling out for "Mum") and the mention of an "adult" intruder makes me think Finch and Scatters might be young, too, but I'm not certain. I need less info about the antique chair, wires and window and a clearer sense of who Scatters and Finch are and wht their current environment/predicament is.

Good things: love the DHS and the way Quinn ceases to exist. Cool idea! I also like how you introduce the time-travel element at the end. That gave me just enough to be curious about what is really going on with Scatters. There's a sense that this could be a highly original setting and story line.

I'm not going to do a detailed grammar edit. Fixing some of those errors will also help with clarity but they weren't big enough to really get in the way for me. As you get closer to a final draft, though, you'll need to find a good way to get on top of those.
 

ctg

weaver of the unseen
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Messages
5,939
#3
Military SF. Interesting. There should be a demand for this sort of stuff, but taken the prose needs editing and in places you're missing words, I'd recommend you to stick with it and keep writing the story. If this is the one you want to push out, then you have a lot of writing and editing ahead. So, finish the story or use this as a platform to hone your skills as not all stories need to be put out in the market, but the most important thing is that you'll finish something. Thing is you have poetic skills, so I have a confidence in you that you can do it. (y)

Scatters removed his leather headband and let it hang with his earpiece and sights rest on his chest; the wires taped and twisted, holding them suspended, ready in case.
The problem with the opening sentence is that it's too wordy for what you're trying to deliver. You don't need actual a great deal of description as a lot of times minimalist wins the game. Think it as if you describe something you might have to use at some point, like for example Chekov's Guns sitting on the mantle piece. What is good that the reader can get straight away into the atmosphere and scope of your work from this very first sentence. So, think about what you need to describe and put it in. I assume at this point he's armed and the sights aren't for the cameras, drones or other those sort of things.

He sunk both knees into the cushion having turned the antique armchair around; its back now resting against the wall below the horizontal slit window. Scatters leaned forward, breathing slowly as he peered over the sill and saw the out to the carnage.
In here the description is acting against you. It confused the reader rather than giving a clear picture about him sneaking over turned armchair and peering into the battlefield.

The glass window at front of him acted as a magnifier. Its edges sitting firmly into the framework of the window; sealing the hole well enough from the torrential downpour and wind outside for the rare feather to rest unaffected on the inner sill next to his chin.
Instead of describing what Scatters sees at outside, you describe the window and the weather. I get from reading forward that the feather is important to the story, so why not focusing on it and making clear that this is the McGuffin instead of rest of the stuff? You got the skills man.

‘A DHS?’ Finch spoke from behind, quietly, questioning.

‘Yup,’ sighed Scatters ‘melted everything, the glass on this window’s bulged.’ The feather lifted and traced around the windows handle as he spoke, landing back to the ledge. It swivelled as he breathed, a slight mist now rising on the glass in front.
Two things. First grammar. Sooner you learn to write your prose in the proper format, sooner you take hell of a lot work off from your back. Second, think about the character positioning and how you write it out. If Finch is standing behind Scatters, don't be scared to write it out. For example you could had written this out:

"Is that a DHS?" Finch asked.

"Yup." Scatters nodded. He didn't moved his eyes from the feather as it rose from just pressure of his breath and swilled in the air over the misting windows. "It melted everything. The glass on this this window is bulged from the sheer power of that thing."
So, again, work on your descriptions please, because they carry the story a lot of times.

Finch angered ‘Who the f*ck uses Dimensional heat-sinks, I mean the residual effects are bloody disastrous’ He kicked a redundant shot-glass which spun on the floor. The noise rang out, ‘Sorry…sh*t.’ His hand shot to cover his mouth.
When you write dialogue, first think the speaker and if you have a need to identify the speaker. In some cases, you can leave it out and go with the spoken words. In other times you need to focus on either the actor or the scene around the actor(s). If you can make those two things to work together, you're golden.

I would have written:

"Really?" Finch spat out angrily. "Who the fu*k uses dimensional heat-sinks any more? They should had been banned long time ago. The residual effect from the alone are bloody disastrous." In the middle of his rave, he kicked a lonely shot glass on the floor. It rolled over the floor, before it hit a wall and glanced to stairs. There was nothing him or Scatters could had done as it bounced down the stairs.

"So... sorry." Finch clapped a hand over his mouth.
Remember that your building tension. If you can max it at the opening chapter you will pull in a lot of readers through the action.

‘I don’t know, but it’s not our friends from the sky, I think this one’s a misfire, accidental. The military had a batch of them you know, from the fallen craft.’ Scatters had lifted his hand, placed a finger on the quill of the feather as he spoke, he rolled it watching as it flushed dust from the sill and frame abut.
Although you raise the tension, you fail to act on it. Is Finch's reply correct one to what happened in the last paragraph? Why to make a point on trying to be stealthy if you can continue being casually careless? From what he is saying I get that there is some sort of alien invasion going at the background world.

Finch squatted, hands propping his head as he rocked, thinking. He muttered without raising a glance, ‘Well are we going in, is it clear, I think I’d…’

‘Finch Down!’ Scatters forced himself up, torn from his spot by a shadow dancing over the east wall. Finch fell to the ground a squeal of fear wrenched from his breathless lungs. As he fell the open door burst wide and an enraged Quinn ran unexpectedly through. ‘No!’ Scatters launched himself over the arm of the chair aided by a push from the wall, ‘Quinn, no!’

Quinn was ahead, full speed across the room, he slid toward the body on the floor. ‘Mum, mum!’

Scatters, mid air, grasped at his passing friend; his face close, contorted with fear, tears running as free as time but for Quinn, without warning, time stopped dead.
The action. You have marvellous skill as you drop in the enemy unannounced. This is the reaction to that glass bouncing down the stairs, making ruckus on its way. Thing is the readers know so little about the two main actors at this point that some what you write doesn't make any sense. Your pacing is correct, even wonderful at this point, but while the action is going you can still use small descriptions to move things forward.

I imagine Quinn as a raving mad alien beast. Or a guard dog gone mad.

He was gone. Scatters landed in a heap at the edge of the horizon between this dimension and that, his friend a sudden memory. He lay, still, a blank mind penetrated only by the sound of sobbing, Finch felt broken, finally and after coping for so long.
He was gone????? What? What just happened? Who's gone?

Try to separate descriptions into their own sentences, please.

‘He was supposed to stay out back, we should all stay out back, away from this sh*t.’ Scatters turned his head his body not wanting to move, his cheek rested on the floor as a shard of light glanced through the window, rendering a blanket of dust hanging in the air. Finch noticed the glare, stopped sobbing; a new reality hastening his attention.
Where are they? Was Quinn a guard stationed at outside? Why would he had gone berserk?

You're missing the speaker tag. It's not immediately clear who is speaking.

A door to the outside, somewhere close at the rear creaked open; the weathers sound track filled the room and a breeze sifted the dust and loose papers on the floor.

While Finch froze, Scatters went for his gun, stayed flat, ready.

‘Don’t move.’ Scatters looked at the window as the breeze kicked his feather from the sill. It floated, tumbled and danced toward the ceiling. Scatters watched its dance entranced while he thought: Could this really be the moment, when the future catches up? As the feather started floating down, someone crunched glass in the adjacent room; heavy, adult.
Every word, every sentence you put down should make the situation clearer. I understand why you add words when you don't need to, because I've gone through this same process. You need to work on the fluidity of these descriptions and how you mix them with the action.

It was time, Time had caught up. ‘Finch its now, the breach is here’ he spoke in a whisper, begging time to pass. Finch clasped his hands preyed to no god at all as the intruder walked into the room. Scatters flipped onto his back and reached up for the feather as it floated down to meet his grasp. This was the moment, he’d seen it, the reason he’d carried that feather so long. ‘A ****ing moment of joy please!’ Scatters screamed out a request to the bringer of moments, the sound of a blaster ripped the air as everything froze.
When you have repeating words, you need to be careful on how you use them. In this case the use of word time is confusing the reader. I am confident you can find a better way to describe this. Focus on one actor at time and don't try to mix them all together.

Overall I liked this piece despite its flaws. Well done. (y)
 

tinkerdan

candycane shrimp
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
3,654
Location
x(squared)+y(squared)=r(squared) : when x~infinity
#4
I like this; however I had to read it several times because of the sense of obtuse.

What I mean by this is that there is a difference in poetic narrative and poetic obtuseness and I think the writing here is skirting the edge of obtuse.
You can do that; as long as you realize that it limits your audience to those who don't mind either reading over several times or reading very slowly to try to unravel the story the strange language pictures are trying to tell. I'm not sure if it solely lies in the realm of the feather alone and you just need to resolve the mystery of the feather early so that the reader knows why it's there. However it does seem there are still images brought in that don't relate to the feather and yet almost seem inscrutable.

Such as this:
He lay, still, a blank mind penetrated only by the sound of sobbing....
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
21,481
Location
Highlands
#5
IMO you could really do with tightening up on POV use and character development - you're too reliant on simply describing physical actions instead of internal emotions - and conflict.
 

Lumens

Travelling Light Headed
Joined
Apr 1, 2017
Messages
364
Location
UK
#6
I like this! It has a feshness to it, and feels like something that's worth telling. But as others have said, you are making the reader work hard to understand what's going on. In a way, I recognise my self in your writing -- I want to play with the language to an extent, not just get on with the story, although we have very different styles. This is an important part of finding your voice, which I guess is a never ending process.

The little errors here and there didn't turn me off, so I wouldn't worry too much about that for the moment. Keep it coming.
 

Paul Meccano

Meccano Magic
Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
141
Location
ohh! I can see the last post from here
#7
The bit from where Quinn runs in to "time stopped dead" is confusing. I don't know who Quinn is, where he's coming from, why he's come in or why he shouldn't come in. Belatedly, I learn he's killed by a dimensional bomb but almost immediately, confusion sets in again, as I don't know where "out back" is. It gets clearer after that, though "the bringer of moments" throws me again (maybe capitalize if it's some sort of deity/religious reference--that would be enough to carry me along).

A clearer sense of setting and character would really help clarify things. Are they on a ship? In a house? Are they hiding? Taking part in a battle? Are they scared out of their minds? Are they professionals trying to figure their way out of a tight spot? It seems like Quinn was young, possibly a child (calling out for "Mum") and the mention of an "adult" intruder makes me think Finch and Scatters might be young, too, but I'm not certain. I need less info about the antique chair, wires and window and a clearer sense of who Scatters and Finch are and wht their current environment/predicament is.
All three are young, Scatter's is 18, Finch is 13, Quinn was 14, the other two had met him only an hour before trying to get back home after a dimension device is set off in his town. Quinn had been told by Scatters to wait outside while they go in to "help" his mother.
I felt describing all of this would detract from the action. The next stage was to run the back story behind the main opening piece and the reason for me wanting critique.
I could start with a description of the house or lead the characters into the rooms setting (this will mean describing what they find when they get in there inc Quinn's dead Mother) to help provide a better setting. All doable.

Time is the "bringer of moments" in this scenario and It's become almost a religion to a young human post "time" world.

Question:
Would it be fair to say that you managed to understand it as you went through? Yes I could deliver it differently ( I'm dyslexic and am working on grammar issue's, as such I'm grateful for you not going mad on that now.) but each time I deliver it differently, add in more concise POV, build characters, set the scene further give more detail, I take away from the action and feel of the thing. Therefore: If this wasn't an opener with more context in front of the piece is it likely it would work fine/better?

Glad you like the idea of the piece. It is born of the age old question what is time. I felt answering how people view and feel time was more pertinent.

Thanks for your time on this. All points considered and on board the edit train.
 

ctg

weaver of the unseen
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Messages
5,939
#8
If this wasn't an opener with more context in front of the piece is it likely it would work fine/better?
Maybe. We would have to see it to know for sure. The best way would be however fixing the mistakes in this one and adding tiny amount of details to make the scene cleaner. And, by the way I'm dyslexic too. F Scott Fitzgerald and Agatha Christie had the same problem. So, with the practice you can get over it. ;)
 

Paul Meccano

Meccano Magic
Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
141
Location
ohh! I can see the last post from here
#9
I like this; however I had to read it several times because of the sense of obtuse.

What I mean by this is that there is a difference in poetic narrative and poetic obtuseness and I think the writing here is skirting the edge of obtuse.
You can do that; as long as you realize that it limits your audience to those who don't mind either reading over several times or reading very slowly to try to unravel the story the strange language pictures are trying to tell. I'm not sure if it solely lies in the realm of the feather alone and you just need to resolve the mystery of the feather early so that the reader knows why it's there. However it does seem there are still images brought in that don't relate to the feather and yet almost seem inscrutable.

Such as this:
He lay, still, a blank mind penetrated only by the sound of sobbing....
Thanks for spending the time Tinkerdan.

Yep, I get what your saying about obtuse, I suppose I am playing with it a bit. The idea is to learn where the limit is and critique helps.

The armchair and sideboard should indicate a recent time scale with the magnifying window a hint that the Dimension device creates heat (glass sagging but still in the frame and dust from closer to the event) and that the scene is set at the extremities of the "event".

Blank mind (keeping it real) penetrated (hearing). Does this not work? if not can you explain why as I'm honestly being dumb.

The friends in the sky not being military surly can be left open for the reader to find out more later in the story?
 

Paul Meccano

Meccano Magic
Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
141
Location
ohh! I can see the last post from here
#11
Military SF. Interesting. There should be a demand for this sort of stuff, but taken the prose needs editing and in places you're missing words, I'd recommend you to stick with it and keep writing the story. If this is the one you want to push out, then you have a lot of writing and editing ahead. So, finish the story or use this as a platform to hone your skills as not all stories need to be put out in the market, but the most important thing is that you'll finish something. Thing is you have poetic skills, so I have a confidence in you that you can do it. (y)



The problem with the opening sentence is that it's too wordy for what you're trying to deliver. You don't need actual a great deal of description as a lot of times minimalist wins the game. Think it as if you describe something you might have to use at some point, like for example Chekov's Guns sitting on the mantle piece. What is good that the reader can get straight away into the atmosphere and scope of your work from this very first sentence. So, think about what you need to describe and put it in. I assume at this point he's armed and the sights aren't for the cameras, drones or other those sort of things.



In here the description is acting against you. It confused the reader rather than giving a clear picture about him sneaking over turned armchair and peering into the battlefield.



Instead of describing what Scatters sees at outside, you describe the window and the weather. I get from reading forward that the feather is important to the story, so why not focusing on it and making clear that this is the McGuffin instead of rest of the stuff? You got the skills man.



Two things. First grammar. Sooner you learn to write your prose in the proper format, sooner you take hell of a lot work off from your back. Second, think about the character positioning and how you write it out. If Finch is standing behind Scatters, don't be scared to write it out. For example you could had written this out:

"Is that a DHS?" Finch asked.

"Yup." Scatters nodded. He didn't moved his eyes from the feather as it rose from just pressure of his breath and swilled in the air over the misting windows. "It melted everything. The glass on this this window is bulged from the sheer power of that thing."
So, again, work on your descriptions please, because they carry the story a lot of times.



When you write dialogue, first think the speaker and if you have a need to identify the speaker. In some cases, you can leave it out and go with the spoken words. In other times you need to focus on either the actor or the scene around the actor(s). If you can make those two things to work together, you're golden.

I would have written:

"Really?" Finch spat out angrily. "Who the fu*k uses dimensional heat-sinks any more? They should had been banned long time ago. The residual effect from the alone are bloody disastrous." In the middle of his rave, he kicked a lonely shot glass on the floor. It rolled over the floor, before it hit a wall and glanced to stairs. There was nothing him or Scatters could had done as it bounced down the stairs.

"So... sorry." Finch clapped a hand over his mouth.
Remember that your building tension. If you can max it at the opening chapter you will pull in a lot of readers through the action.



Although you raise the tension, you fail to act on it. Is Finch's reply correct one to what happened in the last paragraph? Why to make a point on trying to be stealthy if you can continue being casually careless? From what he is saying I get that there is some sort of alien invasion going at the background world.



The action. You have marvellous skill as you drop in the enemy unannounced. This is the reaction to that glass bouncing down the stairs, making ruckus on its way. Thing is the readers know so little about the two main actors at this point that some what you write doesn't make any sense. Your pacing is correct, even wonderful at this point, but while the action is going you can still use small descriptions to move things forward.

I imagine Quinn as a raving mad alien beast. Or a guard dog gone mad.



He was gone????? What? What just happened? Who's gone?

Try to separate descriptions into their own sentences, please.



Where are they? Was Quinn a guard stationed at outside? Why would he had gone berserk?

You're missing the speaker tag. It's not immediately clear who is speaking.



Every word, every sentence you put down should make the situation clearer. I understand why you add words when you don't need to, because I've gone through this same process. You need to work on the fluidity of these descriptions and how you mix them with the action.



When you have repeating words, you need to be careful on how you use them. In this case the use of word time is confusing the reader. I am confident you can find a better way to describe this. Focus on one actor at time and don't try to mix them all together.

Overall I liked this piece despite its flaws. Well done. (y)


I'm glad you liked this overall and I have taken what I can from your critique, although, I must say it was confusing for me. Some elements make sense and with others, I wonder if there is an old fashioned approach to how you are viewing my piece? (that is said with no disrespect).

Grammar n spelling. Yep, I get that and sorry, I will need a good editor to finally pick n sort.


"Yup." Scatters nodded. He didn't moved his eyes from the feather as it rose from just pressure of his breath and swilled in the air over the misting windows. "It melted everything. The glass on this this window is bulged from the sheer power of that thing."

Your idea on re-writing this section seems less appealing to me? (and the glass is warped from heat not force) Sorry.

Thank you for your time ctg (your comments are valuable and echo with others.)
 

Paul Meccano

Meccano Magic
Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
141
Location
ohh! I can see the last post from here
#12
I like this! It has a feshness to it, and feels like something that's worth telling. But as others have said, you are making the reader work hard to understand what's going on. In a way, I recognise my self in your writing -- I want to play with the language to an extent, not just get on with the story, although we have very different styles. This is an important part of finding your voice, which I guess is a never ending process.

The little errors here and there didn't turn me off, so I wouldn't worry too much about that for the moment. Keep it coming.
Thanks Lumens
the stillness of the scene prior to any action is like the "upside-down" in Stranger Things ( if you've seen it). To really indicate the difference between the real world and the upside down the makers of the series put in a visual dustfall/snowfall that solved the piece at the click of a finger.
To solve it in this piece will take a lot of description of which I don't want to include here. Also I do want to teach the reader the subtle nature of my descriptions and characters. This is against the rules I know (I will get stripped for it), however, I can't stand being spoon fed as with teenage movies and as such describing everything and informing of everything drives me mad. I found with your WIP that I got things others didn't.

This probably points to my poor writing skills rather than my grasp of modern written prose, however, I'm finding more and more written pieces that are vague and uninformative but when read again offer deeper knowledge ( subtle). This I'm happy to be taught as a reader rather than spoon fed. Finding the balance may be a big, big journey and one that I may not be capable of.
 

tinkerdan

candycane shrimp
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
3,654
Location
x(squared)+y(squared)=r(squared) : when x~infinity
#14
I took it out of context; so I was sure you'd complain it was out of context. However the real problem comes while it is in context.

Scatters, mid air, grasped at his passing friend; his face close, contorted with fear, tears running as free as time but for Quinn, without warning, time stopped dead.


He was gone. Scatters landed in a heap at the edge of the horizon between this dimension and that, his friend a sudden memory. He lay, still, a blank mind penetrated only by the sound of sobbing, Finch broken, finally and after coping for so long.
You have several things happening all at once with very little explanation or reader understanding of the events; however the key points in this small passage for me are that for Scatters time is running free for Quinn it has stopped dead. (No idea what this means; maybe Quinn disappears or maybe he drops dead--not at all clear.)

He was gone. (In my mind he's vanished; however in truth he could still just have died and is also on crumpled on the ground though the POV doesn't mention it.) Scatters landed in a heap--his friend(Quinn?)a sudden memory. He lay, still, a blank mind penetrated only by the sound of sobbing...(His friend is just a memory; however he now has a blank mind so really his friend is not even a memory at this moment maybe he wasn't a memory at all at least not to Scatters. This sort of makes Quinn a memory to the narrator and not to Scatters. However even the punctuation begins to confuse me 'He lay, still,.... why is still separated is he laying still or is he perhaps Still, a blank mind? If he has a blank mind already then I missed that? Did his mind blank because of contact with whatever took Quinn?

The ambiguity, the POV and the punctuation create an obtuseness. And as I said this does not mean something bad(A lot of Elizabeth Bear's work strikes me this way and I do have to concentrate when I read it.); however there are the little things around it all that make the struggle more difficult, because they indicate a possibility that you didn't mean them the way I read them. I admit on some occasions to having deliberately left ambiguity in my work, however it is where it doesn't make a lot of difference which way they read the line because it doesn't conflict or contradict previous lines of information.
 

Paul Meccano

Meccano Magic
Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
141
Location
ohh! I can see the last post from here
#15
I took it out of context; so I was sure you'd complain it was out of context. However the real problem comes while it is in context.



You have several things happening all at once with very little explanation or reader understanding of the events; however the key points in this small passage for me are that for Scatters time is running free for Quinn it has stopped dead. (No idea what this means; maybe Quinn disappears or maybe he drops dead--not at all clear.)

He was gone. (In my mind he's vanished; however in truth he could still just have died and is also on crumpled on the ground though the POV doesn't mention it.) Scatters landed in a heap--his friend(Quinn?)a sudden memory. He lay, still, a blank mind penetrated only by the sound of sobbing...(His friend is just a memory; however he now has a blank mind so really his friend is not even a memory at this moment maybe he wasn't a memory at all at least not to Scatters. This sort of makes Quinn a memory to the narrator and not to Scatters. However even the punctuation begins to confuse me 'He lay, still,.... why is still separated is he laying still or is he perhaps Still, a blank mind? If he has a blank mind already then I missed that? Did his mind blank because of contact with whatever took Quinn?

The ambiguity, the POV and the punctuation create an obtuseness. And as I said this does not mean something bad(A lot of Elizabeth Bear's work strikes me this way and I do have to concentrate when I read it.); however there are the little things around it all that make the struggle more difficult, because they indicate a possibility that you didn't mean them the way I read them. I admit on some occasions to having deliberately left ambiguity in my work, however it is where it doesn't make a lot of difference which way they read the line because it doesn't conflict or contradict previous lines of information.
I'm open to accept all of what you've said if I can understand where I'm getting it wrong. Please bear with me.

I was hoping that Quinn disappearing was covered in the following line ( Quinn, unlike Scatters didn't stay this side of the horizon)
as follows:
"Scatters landed in a heap at the edge of the horizon between this dimension and that, his friend a sudden memory"

does the fact Quinn is a sudden memory mean that Scatters needs to be thinking of him at any particular time? My cat was rendered a sudden memory last year. I can choose to think of her or not at any time.

laying still is important when your trying to stay still and not draw further attention. can I not say " he lay, still, hoping to not be noticed."?
 

crystal haven

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2007
Messages
1,119
#17
Hi. I'm afraid I found this a bit confusing too, but I really liked the feel of the writing. You've said you are working on the grammar, which would definitely help the reader to follow the sentences. I enjoyed it, enough for me to be hunting for more information to grasp hold of, a bit more to explain what's going on. I am sure you can add it a bit here and there without altering the feel of the scene.
 

tinkerdan

candycane shrimp
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
3,654
Location
x(squared)+y(squared)=r(squared) : when x~infinity
#18
I would use:
He lay still...if he is laying still.
I would use.
He lay, still hoping to not be noticed.--if he's still hoping to not be noticed.
He lay, still, hoping to not be noticed.--becomes ambiguous.

If you really need a pause in there then you might want to break a rule.
He lay, still; hoping to not be noticed.
Keeping in mind that this is not the line in the original text.

He lay, still, a blank mind penetrated only by the sound of sobbing, Finch broken, finally and after coping for so long.

Do you need to force a pause before still.

As for the memory thing...I fully understand and it devolves onto POV and perhaps I'm not sure but this would have to be Omniscient objective narrator who is making this comment; I suppose. Maybe I'm just not clear on POV. But remember I'm not clear as to when he actually became blank. If this is meant to be in his POV and he was blank before then what memory would he have of anything.

In the long run it's just an expression here and has nothing to do with any of the characters so I suppose it should work. It might work better if it is separate on its own line and divorced from any connection with another character.
 
Last edited:

Paul Meccano

Meccano Magic
Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
141
Location
ohh! I can see the last post from here
#19
I would use:
He lay still...if he is laying still.
I would use.
He lay, still hoping to not be noticed.--if he's still hoping to not be noticed.
He lay, still, hoping to not be noticed.--becomes ambiguous.

If you really need a pause in there then you might want to break a rule.
He lay, still; hoping to not be noticed.
Keeping in mind that this is not the line in the original text.

He lay, still, a blank mind penetrated only by the sound of sobbing, Finch broken, finally and after coping for so long.

Do you need to force a pause before still.
Understood (y)

For me there is a difference in laying still generally and laying still purposefully. One holds more tension. How is this best served?
 

tinkerdan

candycane shrimp
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
3,654
Location
x(squared)+y(squared)=r(squared) : when x~infinity
#20
I have one more thought-technically.

The heat it takes to be able to deform glass is quite high and beyond the ignition point of several other elements.
What is the building made of?

Also consider that the glass has to be held at a temperature less than yet still very high for a period before it gradually cools or most glass will shatter.
No one in or near the building would have survived the heat; if the building didn't just burst into flames(in which case they would go with it).[Flesh won't ignite at the temp that will warp the glass, but it will be severely burned--cooked.]
 

Similar threads

Top