SF book opening

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#1
This is either the beginning of the book or the chronological beginning of the story. The main character is 17, but will be much older for most of the story, so this is background more than establishing the character fully.

I am trying to not spell everything out - that's for the reader to figure out how this planet works as they read. So I'm trying to inject enough detail to pull the reader along without boring anyone. Is this interesting? How is the writing?

Any comments or questions are welcomed. Thanks.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

“Ma, I’m going to visit the Vikings.”

This was final notice; negotiations and preparations were behind him. Dinner table discussions had given way to extra hours of work and study to create time that was Anthony’s alone. Three weeks, banked with late nights at the family forge and a complete withdrawal from his social circle.

“Bike, gear, food, trinkets?”

“I’m packed.”

She kissed his forehead with weather-worn lips and pushed into the yard ahead of him. The clack of the door behind him brought his father’s head up out of the pea patch. His wide brim hat nodded a simple farewell.



The site of the Knarvik Catastrophe was twenty eight hours Northwest by bicycle. Their population stable, the Viking settlement had remained close to their object of veneration for well over a century. Economic rescue by Fair Oaks as unlikely as the Knarvik rebooting, they had remained conceptually stranded between old dreams and refugee status. So the Vikings gathered the abundant wild foodstuffs, built orderly Stone Age villages and held frequent symposiums, tests and classrooms in the fundamentals of system administration, data extraction and manufacturing control oversight. The true skill sets they had brought to Iopia were not going to wither from disuse.

“Viking” was pejorative, and Anthony reminded himself once again to screen it from his speech. The eleven thousand odd hunter/gatherers were a potent group of technocrats with no access to high technology, and absolutely no inclination toward warfare. Anthony’s colonials had slapped that name on the Scandinavian crash survivors as both satire and warning to keep clear of the shoeless blonds, lest they start mixing into the population. The administration at Fair Oaks only had a viable recovery plan for their own population, and the Norwegian expats were in no danger if neglected a bit longer.


Cresting the last of the hill line left by CO2 glaciers, Anthony could see a corner of the Knarvik jutting unnaturally from the landscape.

“Is this a police action?” The spearman was tall, near naked and only dirty below the shins. Several furry carcasses ran down his back. His smile spelled out the humor without any real warmth. He materialized out of the bush by magic.

“I’m Anthony Kall. I was invited to visit the Svengards? I’m not with Administration, or anything like that.”

“The sun is still up, bicycleman. Don’t let me delay you – you’re spooking the meat.” Anthony rolled on, feeling the spearman’s eye calculating several kinds of trajectories.
 

Jo Zebedee

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#2
Be warned, I have teeth. :) Comments in bold.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

“Ma, I’m going to visit the Vikings.”

This was the? final notice; negotiations and preparations were behind him. Dinner table discussions had given way to extra hours of work and study to create time that was Anthony’s alone. Three weeks, banked with late nights at the family forge and a complete withdrawal from his social circle.

“Bike, gear, food, trinkets?”

“I’m packed.”

She Not sure the pronoun works here, but not sure why. Maybe it's because she hasn't been named except in the dialogue attribution. kissed his forehead with weather-worn lips and pushed into the yard ahead of him. The clack of the door behind him brought his father’s head up out of the pea patch. His wide brim hat nodded a simple farewell.Feels very passive - like the hat is the one that's nodding, and that just creates a weird image in my mind.



The site of the Knarvik Catastrophe was twenty eight hours Northwest by bicycle. Their population stable, the Viking settlement had remained close to their object of veneration for well over a century. Economic rescue by Fair Oaks as unlikely as the Knarvik rebooting, they had remained conceptually stranded between old dreams and refugee status. So the Vikings gathered the abundant wild foodstuffs, built orderly Stone Age villages and held frequent symposiums, tests and classrooms in the fundamentals of system administration, data extraction and manufacturing control oversight. The true skill sets they had brought to Iopia were not going to wither from disuse. I feel this whole paragraph is an info dump that could easily be shown as the strory goes on.

“Viking” was pejorative, and Anthony reminded himself once again to screen it from his speech. The eleven thousand odd hunter/gatherers were a potent group of technocrats with no access to high technology, and absolutely no inclination toward warfare. Anthony’s colonials had slapped that name on the Scandinavian crash survivors as both satire and warning to keep clear of the shoeless blonds, lest they start mixing into the population. The administration at Fair Oaks only had a viable recovery plan for their own population, and the Norwegian expats were in no danger if neglected a bit longer.Ditto this one. I'd be twitching to put the book down about now.


Cresting the last of the hill line left by CO2 glaciers, Anthony could see a corner of the Knarvik jutting unnaturally from the landscape.

“Is this a police action?” The spearman was tall, near naked and only dirty below the shins. Several furry carcasses ran down his back. His smile spelled out the humor without any real warmth. He materialized out of the bush by magic.You need this sentence before the desciption of him: it pulls me out of the story, to have to go back and imagine him appearing in a different way than I'd first envisaged it.

“I’m Anthony Kall. I was invited to visit the Svengards? I’m not with Administration, or anything like that.”

“The sun is still up, bicycleman. Don’t let me delay you – you’re spooking the meat.” Anthony rolled on, feeling the spearman’s eye calculating several kinds of trajectories.
For me, there is too much info and not enough story. However, what is hinted at is interesting, but I'm seeing little conflict. Is this dangerous, to visit these people? Is Anthony spooked by the sudden appearance of the spearman? I don't know any of this because there are no visceral reactions within this at all. How does he feel, leaving his parents? That his father doesn't even bother to say goodbye? Because I'm not being shown any of that, I don't know your character enough to engage with him.

I hope that makes sense.
 
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#3
I think the character's age comes across fine. There is, however, a lot of backstory, some of which could be revealed in conversation or perhaps in smaller chunks through inner dialogue. It's the character's perception of his world that's important, as is his motivation for embarking on his journey.

“Is this a police action?” The spearman was tall, near naked and only dirty below the shins. Several furry carcasses ran down his back. His smile spelled out the humor without any real warmth. He materialized out of the bush by magic.
A couple of niggles from a reader's perspective: the spearman is facing the character so how can we see what's hanging down his back, the spearman is described and then materialized out of the bush.

It is difficult for a reader to judge such a brief excerpt, but I hope this is of some use.
 

night_wrtr

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#4
The two paragraphs of exposition slowed my progression. They could be shortened to a sentence or two so that the story continues to progress, but you still get some of that detail you want to be known. The story wasn't established enough for me at that point to get a chunk of info.

The site of the Knarvik Catastrophe was twenty eight hours Northwest by bicycle.
Did he just ride his bike for 28 hours? There was no mention of travel, which could be useful for bringing the setting of this world to life. It doesn't have to be long, but it felt abrupt that the action of the story showed him leaving his mother and father, then he had arrived in the next beat.

The first couple of sentences and the last got my interest.
 

Brian G Turner

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#5
I think there's a good concept and spread of information here, but it's not yet gelling together as a story for me.

The main problem is that the exposition is getting in the way of the immediate character experience, rather underpinning it - so the effect is somewhat jarring.

I think if you look more closely at your POV use and try to make everything relative to Anthony then this may start to come through better.

For example, you state that the journey by bicycle will take 28 hours - yet no sooner has his mother kissed him goodbye then he's there. Why is it important to Anthony to make the journey? How much of a struggle is the journey? Does he feel any sense of achievement in reaching it? Consider these issues and we might have a better sense of a story coming to life.

As ever, I strongly recommend reading Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer - which comprehensively covers the technical guidelines for making a story stronger; also Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, which focuses on emotional character arcs for stronger character development.
 

Jay Greenstein

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#6
“Ma, I’m going to visit the Vikings.”
Here, someone in an unknown time and place, who is of unknown age and position, in an unknown society, addresses a remark to someone not introduced, for unknown reasons. You, knowing all the unknowns, hear the emotion in the voice, can visualize the setting, and know how the line is delivered. Your reader has not a clue. And learning what's going on a few lines later helps not at all because you cannot retroactively remove confusion.
This was final notice; negotiations and preparations were behind him. Dinner table discussions had given way to extra hours of work and study to create time that was Anthony’s alone. Three weeks, banked with late nights at the family forge and a complete withdrawal from his social circle.
Think about it. You opened with a declarative statement, made by someone in the story, to someone nearby. As a reader, do you expect that to be followed by:

a) A response from the one addressed as "Ma?"
b) Some action taken by the one speaking, or the one addressed.
c) someone neither on the scene nor in the story expounding on things general to the story, but for which we lack all trace of context, as if the reader knows what they're talking about?

A or B work. C can't, because you've failed to address the three issues a reader wants resolved quickly, so as to provide context: Whose skin am I wearing? Where am I? What's going on? You've also provided no short term scene-goal.

In short, this is the author, mentally watching the film version, while providing what amounts to the director's voice-over to that film.

Our medium is a hard taskmaster. It's unlike any other. Film, for example, is a parallel medium. An eyeblink and we're oriented as to who's in sight, how they're dressed, what they're doing, and a host of things more. And in the film that picture changes twenty-four times each second. The soundscape, too is a parallel medium. We hear dialog in concert with the ambient noise, and, the background music. But the prtinted word medium? It's serial, with every detail laboriously spelled out, one after another. No way in hell can a few hundred words provide what a glance at the screen gives us. Nor can our book-report and essays skills, learned in our school days, do the job. Like any other field, writing fiction is filled with specialized knowledge and tricks of the trade. So to write like a pro we need to know what the pro knows.

It might be nice if by reading fiction we learn how to write it, but we see only the final product, edited and polished by pros. To produce that product we need the process—those tricks of the trade.

You've demonstrated that you can learn them by learning the nonfiction skills our schooldays gives us. So some time and a few coins spent on acquiring a writers education makes a lot of sense.

A really great resource is the the local library's fiction writing section. There, you'll find the views of successful publishing pros, writers, and noteworthy teachers.

It's not going to be easy. Any profession takes time to master, But it does come, and it's well worth the work.

So give it a try. Chew on a few books on writing technique to see if they make sense. Remember:

“If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.”
~ Wilson Mizner

Hang in there, and keep on writing.
 
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#7
Here, someone in an unknown time and place, who is of unknown age and position, in an unknown society, addresses a remark to someone not introduced, for unknown reasons. You, knowing all the unknowns, hear the emotion in the voice, can visualize the setting, and know how the line is delivered. Your reader has not a clue. And learning what's going on a few lines later helps not at all because you cannot retroactively remove confusion.Think about it. You opened with a declarative statement, made by someone in the story, to someone nearby. As a reader, do you expect that to be followed by:

a) A response from the one addressed as "Ma?"
b) Some action taken by the one speaking, or the one addressed.
c) someone neither on the scene nor in the story expounding on things general to the story, but for which we lack all trace of context, as if the reader knows what they're talking about?

A or B work. C can't, because you've failed to address the three issues a reader wants resolved quickly, so as to provide context: Whose skin am I wearing? Where am I? What's going on? You've also provided no short term scene-goal.

In short, this is the author, mentally watching the film version, while providing what amounts to the director's voice-over to that film.

Our medium is a hard taskmaster. It's unlike any other. Film, for example, is a parallel medium. An eyeblink and we're oriented as to who's in sight, how they're dressed, what they're doing, and a host of things more. And in the film that picture changes twenty-four times each second. The soundscape, too is a parallel medium. We hear dialog in concert with the ambient noise, and, the background music. But the prtinted word medium? It's serial, with every detail laboriously spelled out, one after another. No way in hell can a few hundred words provide what a glance at the screen gives us. Nor can our book-report and essays skills, learned in our school days, do the job. Like any other field, writing fiction is filled with specialized knowledge and tricks of the trade. So to write like a pro we need to know what the pro knows.

It might be nice if by reading fiction we learn how to write it, but we see only the final product, edited and polished by pros. To produce that product we need the process—those tricks of the trade.

You've demonstrated that you can learn them by learning the nonfiction skills our schooldays gives us. So some time and a few coins spent on acquiring a writers education makes a lot of sense.

A really great resource is the the local library's fiction writing section. There, you'll find the views of successful publishing pros, writers, and noteworthy teachers.

It's not going to be easy. Any profession takes time to master, But it does come, and it's well worth the work.

So give it a try. Chew on a few books on writing technique to see if they make sense. Remember:

“If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.”
~ Wilson Mizner

Hang in there, and keep on writing.
With all respect, have you ever read a William Gibson novel? Readers don't always expect to feel immediately informed.
 

TheDustyZebra

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#8
“Ma, I’m going to visit the Vikings.”

This was final notice; negotiations and preparations were behind him. (If that's the case, it seems an odd statement to make. She already knows where he's going. Ma, I'm leaving, maybe.) Dinner table discussions had given way to extra hours of work and study to create time that was Anthony’s alone. Three weeks, banked with late nights at the family forge and a complete withdrawal from his social circle.

“Bike, gear, food, trinkets?”

“I’m packed.”

She kissed his forehead with weather-worn lips and pushed into the yard ahead of him. The clack of the door behind him brought his father’s head up out of the pea patch. His wide brim hat nodded a simple farewell.



The site of the Knarvik Catastrophe was twenty eight hours Northwest by bicycle. (Does this mean 28 hours of riding, which would take several days depending on the fitness of the rider, or that at the pace he rides, he'll be there 28 hours later?) Their population stable, the Viking settlement had remained close to their object of veneration for well over a century. Economic rescue by Fair Oaks as unlikely as the Knarvik rebooting, (I don't know what this means, and I've just started skimming.) they had remained conceptually stranded between old dreams and refugee status. So the Vikings gathered the abundant wild foodstuffs, built orderly Stone Age villages and held frequent symposiums, tests and classrooms in the fundamentals of system administration, data extraction and manufacturing control oversight. The true skill sets they had brought to Iopia were not going to wither from disuse.

“Viking” was pejorative, and Anthony reminded himself once again to screen it from his speech. The eleven thousand odd hunter/gatherers were a potent group of technocrats with no access to high technology, and absolutely no inclination toward warfare. Anthony’s colonials (He has colonials? Skimming again.) had slapped that name on the Scandinavian crash survivors as both satire and warning to keep clear of the shoeless blonds, lest they start mixing into the population. The administration at Fair Oaks only had a viable recovery plan for their own population, and the Norwegian expats were in no danger if neglected a bit longer.


Cresting the last of the hill line left by CO2 glaciers, Anthony could see a corner of the Knarvik jutting unnaturally from the landscape.

“Is this a police action?” (Say what?)The spearman was tall, near naked and only dirty below the shins. Several furry carcasses ran down his back. His smile spelled out the humor without any real warmth. He materialized out of the bush by magic. (That's all backward. We don't know who's talking, then presumably the person is described, and then we find out it was said humorously, and then he appears.)

“I’m Anthony Kall. I was invited to visit the Svengards? I’m not with Administration, or anything like that.”

“The sun is still up, bicycleman. Don’t let me delay you – you’re spooking the meat.” Anthony rolled on, feeling the spearman’s eye calculating several kinds of trajectories.

***

This hints of something interesting going on, but it's hard to tell just what, and the exposition is getting in the way of the information. Perhaps if it falls somewhere other than the beginning of the book, you'll be able to get the important stuff across more cleanly, since we'll already know it by then.
 

Jay Greenstein

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#9
With all respect, have you ever read a William Gibson novel? Readers don't always expect to feel immediately informed.
You miss the point. The opening has zero context for a reader because an unknown person is talking to someone not yet introduced. The reader can't even "hear" the speaker's gender in the words and so the words are perceived in a monotone.

You open with the protagonist speaking. Then you abandon that person, and as yourself, lecture them on things for which they have no context. So while for you it has perfect clarity, it does so only because you cheat. You begin reading with perfect knowledge of what's going on. So for you, every line acts as a pointer to images, ideas, memories, and more, stored in your mind. But...for the reader, who has only what the words suggest to them, based on their background, not yours, every line acts as a pointer to images, ideas, memories, and more, stored in your mind. But you're not there to explain, so...

Never forget that while you have intent directing your understanding, intent doesn't make it to the page.

You can, of course, write in any way you care to. But doesn't it make sense that if you want your reader to enjoy your writing as much as that of the pros you need to know what the pros know?
 
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#10
This hints of something interesting going on, but it's hard to tell just what, and the exposition is getting in the way of the information. Perhaps if it falls somewhere other than the beginning of the book, you'll be able to get the important stuff across more cleanly, since we'll already know it by then.
This is what I was thinking by "chronological beginning to the story" - this is the earliest even in Anthony's written timeline, but probably not the beginning of the book itself.

Not in an attempt to defend what I wrote, I'll explain it now that I've received many excellent critiques. Thank you, all:

Philosophically, I don't think people actually talk like they do in books and movies. They say things that are less clear, they make references to things that are cultural and totally outside the scene. So some of my dialogue choices, like the first line (which is Anthony ending the process of lobbying his parents to leave with the ritual of the same phrase he started with), or the "police action" line that is a humorous reference to the strained relationship and power differential between the Norwegians and the Anthony's group. It is also a signifier that Vikings are exceptionally well educated and know their history, despite being reduced to primitive life.

I definitely agree that the bike ride is confusingly abbreviated. I wanted it to be long because all the humans are a bit tougher than we are and wanted that to be a hint of that, but I didn't use that length for anything.


The order of the Spearman's appearance paragraph was also purposeful, but confusing. I'll likely rewrite it for clarity, but keep the format. It is supposed to be in the order that Anthony experiences the event - first a voice, then a sight, then the realization that something unexpected has happened - which is much as we all experience the unexpected.

I think a lot of this weirdness can be made to work if the opening pages of the novel prime the reader to be open to reading for clues. As I referred to earlier, I think William Gibson does this very well - it takes several chapters to even begin to understand what is happening in The Peripheral. A book I adored but friends found hard to read. So I'm either on to something that I'll make work, or it'll be as much of a mess as trying to present it in an excerpt.

But I really like the idea that the most immersive experience is when the reader has to cognitively invest in figuring out the world they're reading from what happens, rather than have the characters talk like someone is listening besides them. This was the experience of seeing Star Wars for the first time - struggling to keep up as treasure is revealed to be 'junk', and the capability of characters is revealed by their actions rather than rank or resume.

Brian, I took your recommendation from last month and read Wonderbook. Thank you.
 

millymollymo

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#11
Hi-ho Onyx.
Thanks for sharing your opening. I think with a little shifting around you can make this do what you want it to do.
It's an editing thing.

For me your opening line of dialogue sent me to a historical town. Mentally I started world building on the knowledge I have of that time, until I hit the word bicycle.

Looking back over that first para there are other clues, but not bright enough to interupt my internal worldbuilding you triggered. Look to convey the info you give us in the dialogue, or chip away at the first person.
It's intriguing enough. Keep going.
 
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#12
Hi-ho Onyx.
Thanks for sharing your opening. I think with a little shifting around you can make this do what you want it to do.
It's an editing thing.

For me your opening line of dialogue sent me to a historical town. Mentally I started world building on the knowledge I have of that time, until I hit the word bicycle.

Looking back over that first para there are other clues, but not bright enough to interupt my internal worldbuilding you triggered. Look to convey the info you give us in the dialogue, or chip away at the first person.
It's intriguing enough. Keep going.
The characters are simultaneously frontiersmen, colonists of a terraformed world, leftovers of old earth cultures, stone age primitives and highly educated people of great ability. I want an uncomfortable clash of expectations as Anthony blacksmiths in the shadow of a degraded starship and hunter-gatherers debate the finer points of salvage law.

Thank you for the encouragement.
 
Last edited:

millymollymo

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#13
The characters are simultaneously frontiersmen, colonists of a terraformed world, leftovers of old earth cultures, stone age primitives and highly educated people of great ability. I want an uncomfortable clash of expectations as Anthony blacksmiths in the shadow of a degraded starship and hunter-gatherers debate the finer points of salvage law.

Thank you for the encouragement.
You're welcome.
Trying to give all my world in my first page always resulted in a crash and burn.
Like others have said, what you know isn't transfering to your reader. That's ok. We've all done that.


Take a step back and see through your character's eyes. You will create the clash you want as a writer, through your character.
As a writer ask yourself: What do they need to know, and how can you show it. Make notes. And keep asking yourself it as your character progresses through the landscape. It's obvious you know your world well and have spent a lot of mental hours in it.
 

Joshua Jones

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#14
I really like the possibilities of the universe you describe here, but I have to agree with many of the pervious comments that this particular section seems more interested in explaining the Scandinavian colonists rather than telling Anthony's story. If you cut out the objective information related, you have Anthony declaring his intent, presumably against the protests of his mom (hence the discussion referenced in the second sentence), who then runs through a maternal checklist of what Anthony needs (very believable moment, btw), but does it without any emotion and he replies in kind. Then, he rides for 28 uneventful hours to get the bejesus scared out of him by an unnamed spearman who appears and disappears both in reference to Anthony and to the storyline. You could set some of the risk in the journey at the outset by his mother's comments and reactions. Is she afraid, due to racial bias, that the "Vikings" are going to kill him? Or, is she afraid that a large animal or brigand (or half naked spearman) will attack him on the road? Is she still vicerally afraid or is she more resigned to the fact that she can't stop him? All this to say, this character could be fleshed out rather easily with only adding another sentence or two, while at the same time setting the stakes for his journey. Personally, I would rewind the conversation back one line to something like "But, Anthony, they will kill you!" Or "Anthony, listen to your mother," she pleaded. "What if a tiger-bear attacks? Priscilla said her son saw one..." or something to that effect.

Then, the spearman situation. I am presuming that he will show up again, but at the moment, he appeared from nowhere in the storyline and disappeared into oblivion. He seems like an interesting chap, so please bring him back from oblivion! Also, I get what you are doing with the order of the event, but I think the problem here is threefold. You cannot explain in your story that this is the order of recognition when startled, and the reader is highly likely to miss this intention. Second, it is written in an objective narrator voice, rather than Anthony's. Unless the narrator was startled, (s)he isn't going to describe it that way. You may make a case that you are writing in a close 3rd, but this would require some cue that the narrator is limited to his perspective, and there seems to be significant distance between the narrator and Anthony, judging from the info paragraphs. Third, you are manipulating objective information to imply emotion, rather than describing the emotion itself. This misses an opportunity to have the reader connect with the protagonist, as it is entirely reasonable to be startled if a half naked man with animal hides and spears appears from the bushes. Instead, the reader must unpack what is happening, which takes the reader from the story.

One last comment on the spearman. The way this is depicted, he uses magic. If your universe doesn't have magic, you want to make sure this is presented as a perception, rather than an objective fact.

I really like the idea, though. It has quite a bit of potential, so I would encourage you to keep working on it.
 

night_wrtr

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#15
Here, someone in an unknown time and place, who is of unknown age and position, in an unknown society, addresses a remark to someone not introduced, for unknown reasons. You, knowing all the unknowns, hear the emotion in the voice, can visualize the setting, and know how the line is delivered. Your reader has not a clue. And learning what's going on a few lines later helps not at all because you cannot retroactively remove confusion.
You miss the point. The opening has zero context for a reader because an unknown person is talking to someone not yet introduced.

You can, of course, write in any way you care to. But doesn't it make sense that if you want your reader to enjoy your writing as much as that of the pros you need to know what the pros know?
Opening with unattributed dialogue can be effective, and doesn't have to rely on a tag when a reader can gather information through the following context. There are bad ways to do this of course, but like any writing advice or methodologies, anything can be done when executed well.

I'm simply responding here because I've opened stories this way, and have read many more that do this very thing. Its not a question of amateur vs pro, but what can be made effective and serve the story.
 

Joshua Jones

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#16
Opening with unattributed dialogue can be effective, and doesn't have to rely on a tag when a reader can gather information through the following context. There are bad ways to do this of course, but like any writing advice or methodologies, anything can be done when executed well.

I'm simply responding here because I've opened stories this way, and have read many more that do this very thing. Its not a question of amateur vs pro, but what can be made effective and serve the story.
Yeah, I am with you that the unattributed line didn't bother me so much. It was immediately clear in context what was going on. Had it been followed by an info dump, then yes, I suspect it would be problematic, but as it stands, I don't see the problem. I think the bigger issue is the lack of emotional response throughout and the flow of the spearman encounter, which I argued for above. But, yeah, unattributed lines at the opening aren't necessarily a problem in my mind.
 

Shorewalker

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#17
I have to say that opening with an orphan line of dialogue works for me, especially if it suggests something happening, as this does. Who/what/why/where/when needs to come close after, but that line can grab interest immediately and, if it's good enough (and I think it is), the reader wants to know its significance and read on.

What follows needs a bit of work, but more an edit than a rewrite. I think there's too much exposition too early on. You have a 28 hour bike ride, where Anthony is alone with his thoughts, so perhaps most can go there? The first couple of paragraphs can then focus on his departure, and/or the negotiations that led to it?

The concepts seem interesting, enough to have me reading on, but I do feel a touch weighted down by them. Thin some out, leave some for later, and use the time to get us closer to Anthony.

Which is the final thing I'd say...POV isn't strong/close enough yet. I've bought into the concepts moreso than I have into Anthony, so try to reverse this.

Overall, though, I'd certainly read on, so you've achieved exactly what you needed to.
 
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#18
Is she afraid, due to racial bias, that the "Vikings" are going to kill him? Or, is she afraid that a large animal or brigand (or half naked spearman) will attack him on the road? Is she still vicerally afraid or is she more resigned to the fact that she can't stop him?
Actually, she's concerned because her son is committing an act of political protest - he's going to show the Vikings how to refine abundant iron ore and make steel tools. Her concern isn't for immediate dangers, but long term danger to the colony's political stability and Anthony's place in it, while the father doesn't take the issue seriously.

All of which are rather hard to communicate in a short excerpt, so maybe I ought to have asked for more specific kinds of feedback so I'm not wasting people's time with issues that will be resolved in other chapters. On the other hand, maybe I do need to be more explicit at every step and I'm over-doing the subtlety. Much to think on.

Either way, I sincerely appreciate all the feedback from everyone.
 
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Joshua Jones

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#19
Actually, she's concerned because her son is committing an act of political protest - he's going to show the Vikings how to refine abundant iron ore and make steel tools. Her concern isn't for immediate dangers, but long term danger to the colony's political stability and Anthony's place in it, while the father doesn't take the issue seriously.
Ah, gotcha. If I were writing this, I think I would still include part of her argument, as it shows the debate rather than references it, and still sets the stakes for the journey. The only exception I can think of off the top of my head is if they had a lengthy debate about it in the proceeding chapter, and it leaves Anthony debating what he should do. In that setting it would be redundant, but in any other setting I can think of off the top of my head, it adds a good bit of depth for minimal length.

All of which are rather hard to communicate in a short excerpt, so maybe I ought to have asked for more specific kinds of feedback so I'm not wasting people's time with issues that will be resolved in other chapters. On the other hand, maybe I do need to be more explicit at every step and I'm over-doing the subtlety. Much to think on.

Either way, I sincerely appreciate all the feedback from everyone.
It can be a little difficult to communicate the context, but personally, I like getting the feedback on a wide scope, because it helps me catch issues I didn't anticipate. I think the question of how explicit to be in this part can only be determined by the context, but I prefer to err on the side of clarity rather than subtlety.

And I am quite happy to help any way I can! Feel free to post a revision on here if you are so inclined, and I will be happy to review it.
 
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#20
Here's a revision, trying to address many of the comments:
_________________________________________________________________________

“Ma, I’m going to visit the Vikings.”

This was final, ritual notice of intent; negotiations and preparations were behind him. Dinner table discussions had given way to extra hours of work and study to create time that was Anthony’s alone. Six weeks, banked with late nights at the family forge and a complete withdrawal from his social circle.

“Bike, gear, food, trinkets?” she asked, gazing into her own distance.

“I’m packed.”

She kissed his forehead with weather-worn lips and pushed into the yard ahead of him. The clack of the door behind him brought his father’s head up out of the distant pea patch. His wide brim hat nodded a simple farewell.



The site of the Knarvik Catastrophe was eight hours northwest by bicycle. Their population stable, the ‘Viking’ settlements had remained close to their object of veneration for well over a century, leaving virgin forest around the serene trail Anthony pedaled along. Rescue by the Fair Oaks Administrative Authority as unlikely as the mighty Knarvik rebooting, they had remained notionally stranded between old dreams and refugee status. His heavy load tugging against the hill climbs, Anthony thought hard about what he was here to offer, and whether the Vikings might actually prefer their pastoral life of gathering the abundant wild foodstuffs, orderly Paleolithic villages and the seemingly academic pursuits of system administration, data extraction and manufacturing control oversight. They weren’t going to let their true skill sets wither from disuse – but was their behavior tenacity in the face of long odds, or ritual that Anthony would play demagogue to?



Breathily cresting the last of the hill line left by carbon dioxide glaciers, Anthony could see a corner of the giant Knarvik jutting unnaturally from the landscape. The vista could host his last meal stop before his descent into the village.

“Is this a police action?” The spearman was tall, near naked and only dirty below the shins. Several furry carcasses ran down his back. His smile was humor without any real warmth. Finally, Anthony’s mind started with the realization of his magical materialization out of the foliage.

“I, ah, I’m Anthony Kall. I was invited to visit the Svengards? I’m not with Administration, or anything like that.”

“The sun is still up, bicycleman. Don’t let me delay you – you’re spooking the meat.” Dinner forgotten, Anthony rolled on, feeling the spearman’s eye calculating several kinds of trajectories.



“Viking” was pejorative, and Anthony had spent much of ride reminding himself to screen it from his speech. The eleven thousand odd hunter/gatherers were considered an impotent group of stymied technocrats with no access to high technology and absolutely no inclination toward warfare. Anthony’s colonials had coined the put-down as both gallows humor and warning to keep clear of the ‘natives’. The Administration at Fair Oaks only had a viable recovery plan for their own population, and the shoeless blondes could tolerate a few more years of benign neglect. Yet the spearman’s mild antagonism was a kind of threat, and Anthony’s thoughts went to lessons of diplomacy that may be more relevant now than he had realized. As the forest abruptly ended, peril that was more figurative than physical heated him with the shift from shade to summer sun.

His mother’s warnings taking on new substance, he crossed the threshold into Knarvik Community Nine.
 
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