Second half of an opening scene

Glitch

#452
Supporter
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
1,694
#1
This is from a piece I've been revisiting recently. It's the second half of an opening scene - the whole scene is too large to post here.

In the first half we are introduced to Sarah York. She's an archaeologist who's just lost her funding and is a bit depressed. She's using her phone to make voice recordings of recent discoveries.

-----

She glanced through the paperwork. “Carbon dating of the samples we’ve found is not conclusive enough to support my theories. These items may be several thousand years old but unfortunately, they’re not from the period I’m looking for.” She sighed. “I guess the great leap forward will just have to wait for another time.”

“Doctor York, Doctor York,” Aziz’s voice crackled over the radio.

Sarah looked over at the out of reach walkie-talkie. She felt like ignoring it but knew Aziz would persist. Lazily, she leaned over and grabbed the radio.

“What is it Aziz?” she said unintentionally sounding annoyed.

“Doctor York, we have found something.”

“Aziz there’s no point —“

“Please, come quickly Doctor York,” said an excited Aziz, interrupting her.

“Where are you?”

“Area four, section F”.

She looked at the map pinned up on a notice board. Section F was at the furthest end of the encampment. Area four, barely inside the boundary, was hashed out as the ground was unusually hard going.

Now she really was annoyed. She pressed the talk button on the walkie and was just about to give him a bollocking when the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. “Alright, give me a minute.”

What the hell was he doing out there?

She wanted to curl up in a ball, but knew it wouldn’t solve anything and Aziz would just keep at it until she caved. She took a deep breath to compose herself. Her boots felt heavier than before. She pulled them on and marched off to find Aziz.

The small band of workers waited patiently around a recently excavated pit. Aziz stepped forward as she approached.

“Aziz.” She took another deep breath. “Look, we need to talk.”

“But first you must see this.” He handed her a brush and directed her to the ladder.

She felt a bit self-conscious as everyone watched. Usually most of them would be busy elsewhere and she wouldn’t have such an audience. She stepped forward and peered into the pit. The whole base of the pit glistened as if full of diamonds. There was a horde of red markers clustered together, but she couldn’t see anything specific among them. She looked back at Aziz and frowned. “We weren’t planning to dig anymore in this area. It’s too hard going on the equipment and every change of drill head costs a lot of money.”

Aziz ushered her towards the ladder. “Yes, but every time I passed this area something made me want to look again. You’ll see. Please Doctor York.”

Reluctantly Sarah took hold of the ladder and made her way down. A cold chill washed over her as she descended. She looked at the goose bumps on her arms and at first thought it was anxiety about how she would tell Aziz it was all over. Although it was more than that; as she continued down the ladder she felt genuinely cold. This was by no means the deepest pit on the site, but something felt different. Perhaps the something Aziz was referring to.

She stepped away from the ladder to allow Aziz to climb down. The sand was coarse and sounded like walking on gravel. She could feel the cold emanating from the ground as she crouched down. She scooped up a handful of sand; it was like holding a load of tiny ice cubes. Rather than melting with the heat of her body she could feel the cold penetrating her hand. She opened her fingers and brushed the sand off, whilst rubbing her hands together to warm them up before turning her attention to the cluster of red markers.

Buried in the sand was a skull, staring up at the sky. It glistened with a thin layer of ice. She pulled a pair of rubber gloves from her pocket and struggled slightly to pull them over her cold fingers. She slowly began to expose more of the skull using the brush Aziz had given her.

“Certainly human, although the brow seems more prominent than I would expect.” She said curiously.

The thin plastic gloves offered no protection at all from the cold. She had to keep flexing her fingers just to be able to feel them.

“Is this enough to renew our funding?” Aziz enquired.

She sat up and took a deep breath of cold air. Was it getting colder down here? She didn’t want to have this discussion right now.

“All we have is a frozen skeleton in the middle of the desert.” She raised an eyebrow, “Granted that’s very unusual, but on its own it doesn’t mean anything.”

As she waved her hand over the skeleton, it passed through a column of freezing air, more so than the surrounding air. She turned to Aziz, “Do you have a bottle of water?”

Aziz shouted up to the onlookers and a plastic bottle was quickly passed down. Sarah held the bottle on its side and slowly passed it over the skeleton. As the bottle passed over the chest area a portion of the water quickly froze. They both looked at the lump of ice in amazement.

She brushed away the sand to find a pendant around the skeleton’s neck; no not a pendant, more of a shard of broken glass or metal. As she brushed more of the sand away the shard reflected the light perfectly like a flawless mirror.

She pulled out her phone to record her findings.

“A jagged piece of what looks like metal; perfectly smooth on top; not a single imperfection that I can see.”

She used the brush to flip the shard over.

“Also smooth on the underside. No layer of dirt, in fact it looks brand new, besides the fact it appears to be a broken shard of a something larger.”

Sand was starting to stick to her gloves. She removed them, reached out, and touched the shard, intending to pick it up. As she touched it an extreme cold filled her bones, as if she had just jumped into a pool of freezing water. No sooner had the sensation arrived had it gone. Her fingerprint was as clear as day on the surface of the shard; but as she watched, it slowly faded into her reflection and left the pristine surface that had greeted her.

She touched it again. This time she felt only the physical touch of the shard, and no visible fingerprint. She gently lifted it from the skeleton's chest.

“Doctor York.”

Aziz’s voice startled her and caused her to cut her thumb on the edge of the shard. Although she was holding the shard vertically she watched as the blood from her thumb rolled up the surface of the shard and pooled in the centre of the object and then dissolved, leaving the pristine surface once again.

The cold that filled the air quickly receded, replaced with the usual warm desert air. The thin layer of ice covering the skeleton started to melt and Sarah felt herself sinking into the sand.

“Crap, Aziz we need to get out of here.” She said as she stood up.

Aziz quickly stood and began shouting up to the onlookers. He pushed her up the ladder while several hands reached down from above.

The ladder moved as she climbed and the once solid walls of the pit began to crumble as the onlookers pushed back from the edge. Once in arms reach she was quickly hauled up and manhandled out of the pit, almost yanking her neck back in the process.

Lying on the sand she turned back to see Aziz pulled clear as several planks of wood were swallowed up by the pit. He had a large grin and she looked at him somewhat puzzled.

“Now I feel like Indiana Jones,” he said laughing.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
1,001
#3
My strongest impression is that many of York's responses don't make a lot of sense for a scientist:

If Aziz is a trusted assistant, intimate with funding issues, why is York so annoyed with him saying that they found something worth looking at, and wanting to talk to him about something else when she arrives at the site?

Why isn't the pit sparkling like diamonds of immediate interest?

Despite being an anthropologist, the bottle freezing instantly should have been the single most amazing bit of science York had ever witnessed - that much heat removal in open air is simply incredible. But she doesn't really react much to it.


Are they in a desert, where nothing should be frozen underground, or a tundra with permafrost? Does permafrost sparkle? Are my questions all resolved by the context and SF setting?

A small thing, but "hard going" is used twice as if it isn't figure of speech.
 
Joined
Jun 19, 2018
Messages
412
Location
Nirvāṇa
#4
I am not educated or skilled enough to critique anyone's work. For myself however, I'll very often do something that improves my writing. I'll often note that I reuse a word, any word too often. So, I'll search the document for the word, making a solid effort to either delete it when I find it, or change it to something else (using as many other words as I can find that fit).

Most recently, I did this with a novel I'm working on, performing a search for 'though, then, and,' naturally each search performed separately. What made me think of it reading the above, was the word "she."

You might consider inserting her name, to even deleting them realizing that the focus is already upon her. What I mean by second thought is, if an entire paragraph doesn't shift focus to someone else, you can very possibly delete a number of 'she'(s) and it will not detract from the focus upon her.

Good stuff you have written there!

K2
 
Joined
Jun 19, 2018
Messages
412
Location
Nirvāṇa
#5
By the way @Glitch ; if you would like an example of what I'm suggesting, using a couple of the above paragraphs, just let me know and I'll do so here.

K2
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
21,955
Location
Highlands
#6
It's a real shame we don't see your current version of the opening, as that would help to set up a lot of the context to understand this excerpt better.

But as it stands, I think you need to cut this down brutally. What you have is:

1. News of an unusual find
2. Encountering the unusual find

but both sections lack focus on what's really important and driving the scene.

The opening dialogue runs too long - you can easily summarize this as none of it comes across as important. What would be good is to get more of a reaction from here - at the moment she seems a little wistful and not particularly engaged.

This is also a chance to add some specific detail instead of the generic ones you have - which period, which dynasty, what kind of archaeology, are they digging for? Why does this matter to her?

Then when she gets news of something, hurry her there - a lot of archaeology involves not finding much - so any sort of find will be interesting (heck, watch any episode of Time Team to see this in action, and how a simple and apparently boring piece of pottery can get the archaeologists excited because of the dating context it can provide).

Then when she gets there, show a little wonder. As Onyx says, archaeologists work on rational principles - anything unexpected will generate surprise, and anything truly exotic will ... well, what? At the moment we only have physical sensations from her, rather than emotional reactions.

So my overall suggestion is that this isn't bad, but you could make it so much greater by making it much more concise and focused. Additionally, provide more of an emotional landscape - highs and lows - through the character's experience and conflict, and you'll find the piece could end up with a far bigger punch than you have now.

Just my 2c. :)
 

thaddeus6th

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2007
Messages
6,192
Location
UK, Yorkshire
#7
Motivated by altruism, and not remotely because I've got some time to kill and after about 10,000 words my muse has finally given me a rest, I thought I'd eviscerate this. As always, the critique is not set to stun, and I've deliberately not read what anyone else said. *sharpens knife*

These items may be several thousand years old but unfortunately, they’re not from the period I’m looking for.” - add a comma before unfortunately or axe the one after it.

“I guess the great leap forward will just have to wait for another time.” - axe 'for another time' as it's tautological (it adds no new information, by definition something that has to wait must wait for another time).

Lazily, she leaned over and grabbed the radio. - minor style finickityness but laziness and grabbing sound a little contrary to me. Grabbing implies urgency (to me, at least). Could keep that to retain the annoyed theme.

she said unintentionally sounding annoyed. - comma after 'said'.

“Aziz there’s no point —“ - comma after 'Aziz' [technically the vocative comma]

“Please, come quickly Doctor York,” - likewise but before 'Doctor York'

Area four, barely inside the boundary, was hashed out as the ground was unusually hard going. - d'you mean 'as unusually hard going' rather than 'was'?

Now she really was annoyed. - probably axe. Show don't tell.

She pressed the talk button on the walkie and was just about to give him a bollocking when the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. - I do like the word 'bollocking'.

The small band of workers waited patiently around a recently excavated pit. - opportunity to add something like smell or mention fresh heaps of earth, worms wriggling etc.

The whole base of the pit glistened as if full of diamonds. - I'd probably go for 'glittered'. 'Glistening' also sounds a bit wet to me.

Please Doctor York.” - vocative comma.

Reluctantly Sarah took hold of the ladder and made her way down. - probably add a comma after 'reluctantly'.

She looked at the goose bumps on her arms and at first thought it was anxiety about how she would tell Aziz it was all over. - goose bumps may work as one word.

The sand was coarse and sounded like walking on gravel. - perhaps minor rewrite to emphasise her walking and the sand being beneath her feet? Bit less abstract, puts the reader more, literally, in her shoes.

She could feel the cold emanating from the ground as she crouched down. - good stuff for conveying the situation to the reader.

“Certainly human, although the brow seems more prominent than I would expect.” She said curiously. - comma, not full stop. Also, may wish to axe 'curiously' (somewhat conveyed in the dialogue).

She raised an eyebrow, “Granted that’s very unusual, but on its own it doesn’t mean anything.” - full stop after 'eyebrow'.

As she waved her hand over the skeleton, it passed through a column of freezing air, more so than the surrounding air. - bit of 'air' repetition.

She turned to Aziz, “Do you have a bottle of water?” - again, I'd go for a full stop after 'Aziz'.

As she brushed more of the sand away the shard reflected the light perfectly like a flawless mirror. - I'd axe 'perfectly' or 'flawlessly' as that's just repeating the same sentiment in a very short space of text.

“Crap, Aziz we need to get out of here.” She said as she stood up. - comma not full stop ahead of the dialogue tag. Maybe have a comma after 'Aziz'.

Once in arms reach she was quickly hauled up and manhandled out of the pit, almost yanking her neck back in the process. - 'arm's reach' not 'arms reach'. And you've used 'quickly' quite a bit, I'd axe some or use synonyms.

“Now I feel like Indiana Jones,” he said laughing. - comma after 'said'.
*

In general terms I think it works pretty well, despite your war on the vocative comma. Cold comes across well but you may wish to contrast this by emphasising the conditions beforehand. Does her shirt cling to her because of the sweat? Do flies or suchlike buzz about? Etc.
 

tinkerdan

candycane shrimp
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
3,856
Location
x(squared)+y(squared)=r(squared) : when x~infinity
#8
This piece reads well enough as it stands.
However I think it suffers both a bit from some passiveness and indefinite nature and a lack of closeness to the character.
The passiveness seems to leak all the way through; however it's more the lack of closeness again.
What I mean by indefinite nature is that there are these
the samples we’ve found is not conclusive enough
These items may be several thousand years old
I guess the great leap forward

These are all just my oppinion and as an example I'd like to demonstrate.
Please keep in mind I'm not expecting you to write it this way; however I think it might get across what I'm trying to say. I usually go a bit OTT because I don't expect to be critiqued for this and as I said I don't expect you to write the way I do.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Doctor York!"

Face flush from frustration more than heat, Sarah ignored Aziz's pleas coming from the radio demanding attention as she returned to the arduous task at hand with another stony glance through paperwork, hovering over her recording phone. "Carbon dating does not support my theories. Though clearly thousands of years old these artifacts are not from the period I had hoped." She pinched her nose as much in despair as to stave off the usual odor of grit, grime, soot and sweat that normally excited her in a dig. Today they were the insidious claws of a reminder of what she'd lost. "The great leap forward must wait....

"Doctor York, Doctor York," Aziz's enthusiasm threatened to lifted the radio as his increased volume crackled through to break past her obstinate demeanor.

Sweat clouded her vision as she thrust the phone away with the sweep of a hand, almost forgetting to turn off the recording feature. It wouldn't be wise to record the choice words she had for Aziz. Even so, after shutting the phone off, she attempted to compose herself, despite the itch from more than her perspiration. She swallowed the bitterness of her select vocabulary while she grasped the walkie-talkie. She grit her teeth.

What is it Aziz?"

"Doctor--" His voice cut off as though he felt her sharp teeth cutting into him."--we have something. We've found something you'll want to see."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think you could make this piece work as it is by just adding some of the five senses into your POV.
 
Last edited:

Glitch

#452
Supporter
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
1,694
#9
Thanks all.

@Onyx Good points. After reading your comment I agree she doesn't give the bottle freezing much reaction. Also they are in the desert where the ground shouldn't be frozen. The ground instantly thaws after she picks up the ground. I can see more is needed for in that section.

@-K2- I agree about removing over used words. Although I find that more difficult with he/she. Could you give an example?

@Brian G Turner I haven't watched Time Team for a long while, but good point.

@thaddeus6th Thanks for the grammar check. However in dialogue I would expect to use a comma to indicate a pause. In the line “Please, come quickly Doctor York." The speaker pauses after please. Wouldn't a comma before Doctor also indicate a pause?

@tinkerdan That's good I look what you've done. I'll have to think about that more.
 
Joined
Jun 19, 2018
Messages
412
Location
Nirvāṇa
#10
@Glitch ; I have changed a few other words and punctuation to make it work without "she"s, though, don't trust my grammar or writing skills, this is simply an example of what I mean.

Take note, in that entire paragraph we don't lose touch that it is all about Sarah and what she experiences. This little experiment about nothing more than removing "she"s, and insuring that we don't lose the focus of who the entire paragraph is upon,

She felt a bit self-conscious as everyone watched. Usually most of them would be busy elsewhere and she wouldn’t have such an audience. She stepped forward and peered into the pit. The whole base of the pit glistened as if full of diamonds. There was a horde of red markers clustered together, but she couldn’t see anything specific among them. She looked back at Aziz and frowned. “We weren’t planning to dig anymore in this area. It’s too hard going on the equipment and every change of drill head costs a lot of money.”

Sarah felt a bit self-conscious as everyone watched. Usually most of them would be busy elsewhere and there wouldn’t be such an audience. Stepping forward, peering into the pit, its entire base glistened as if full of diamonds. There was a horde of red markers clustered together, though nothing specific among them. Looking back at Aziz frowning; “We weren’t planning to dig anymore in this area. It’s too hard going on the equipment and every change of drill head costs a lot of money.”


K2
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
10,090
Location
nearly the New Forest
#11
Eek. I'm going to have to critique a critique! ;)

A word of warning to everyone of the perils of participial clauses, ie ones which start "[Verb]ing". More detail here in this post of mine The Toolbox -- The Important Bits

Dangling participles are the devil's own work, and anyone who uses them will be taken to the Staff Room Dungeons and subjected to horrific treatment -- HareBrain's singing, among other ordeals. You have been warned. :p
 

Robert Zwilling

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jun 12, 2018
Messages
211
#13
I can only give impressions. Grammar is like an illusion to me, can't quite grasp it. I looked in the Toolbox --- The Important Bits. It was looking into a gold mine where the gold had fallen out the veins, walls, and ceiling and was just piled up on the ground, treasures wherever one looked.

The scenes drum up some interesting sights to think about.

I'm not sure why she is annoyed. Either she is disappointed in the dig, or disappointed in herself, or could be the workers. Maybe she could be battling it out with a bug while answering the radio. Either a rare bug she can't kill but won't leave her alone, or a pesky fly she would like to kill that keeps outsmarting her. Something external that would explain the shifting reactions she is feeling.

The first radio call, why is she annoyed? Is Aziz the type of digger who digs up old shoes, never finds anything good. If so, that could be mentioned it.

Her impressions are out of step, kinda of reversed, to my way of thinking. The boots feel heavier before she puts them on.

“Alright, give me a minute.”
What the hell was he doing out there?

Since she was annoyed, these two lines reversed would make more sense to me.

What the hell was he doing out there?
“Alright, give me a minute.”

She has sudden insight into something or some instant feeling that makes the hairs stand up on her neck, she thinks what is he doing? Then says, give me a minute. Alright, give me a minute doesn't match the hairs standing up. Or she is so tired that I have visual clues about her body she isn't aware of.

“All we have is a frozen skeleton in the middle of the desert.” The skull turned into a skeleton? Again, it seems to me like her reactions are off step.

I'm seeing the frozen hole episode as being an unusual event, the collapsing dirt, mysterious amulet, it has the feeling of the dwelling of an evil spirit, or an evil spirit escaping. Everyone seems to get it but Dr York. It feels like the pit with the curious villagers clustered around it, lit up by torches, waiting to to see if the monster is going to pop out. When she gets pulled out of the hole I would think she would realize something was happening, instead of just “Crap, Aziz we need to get out of here.” She said as she stood up. With nothing to follow it up by her movements, comments, or thoughts. Maybe a silent "Yippee!" or "WTF is happening?"
 

thaddeus6th

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2007
Messages
6,192
Location
UK, Yorkshire
#14
Glitch, I think the specific instance(s) I mentioned about full stops becoming commas involved the use of 'said'. Obviously you can keep the full stop and axe the dialogue tag instead, but both together is wrong.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast. http://jozebedee.com/newsletter
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
16,376
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
#15
You know me. I call it as it is. :)

This is from a piece I've been revisiting recently. It's the second half of an opening scene - the whole scene is too large to post here.

In the first half we are introduced to Sarah York. She's an archaeologist who's just lost her funding and is a bit depressed. She's using her phone to make voice recordings of recent discoveries.

-----

She glanced through the paperwork. “Carbon dating of the samples we’ve found is not conclusive enough to support my theories. These items may be several thousand years old but unfortunately, they’re not from the period I’m looking for.” She sighed. “I guess the great leap forward will just have to wait for another time.”

“Doctor York, Doctor York,” Aziz’s voice crackled over the radio.

Sarah looked over at the out of reach walkie-talkie. She felt like ignoring it but knew Aziz would persist. Lazily, she leaned over and grabbed the radio.The filter here weakens things and pulls your point of view distant. I think joining these together might be more effective:

"Doctor York," Aziz's voice crackled over the radio on the next desk/in the corner/in the bag, whatever. It gives you a chance to flesh out the scene placement a little, and also removes the filter.

“What is it Aziz?” she said unintentionally sounding annoyed.How does that make her feel. Is she annoyed at herself for being so abrupt.

“Doctor York, we have found something.”

“Aziz there’s no point —“

“Please, come quickly Doctor York,” said an excitedyou don't need this tell - you've shown it in the dialogue Aziz, interrupting her.And, again - you used --" above to show an interruption, you don't need to tell us too. Trust your reader to keep up.

“Where are you?”Resigned, excited, intrigued. I think I take the opposite view to Brian here. This doesn't need cropping, it needs expansion so that we know what she is feeling, and why it's important. More exposition. IMHO.

“Area four, section F”.

She lookedAnother filter. CAn you rewrite to the remove it. She got up, back protesting at hours in the seat, and crossed to the map pinned on the notice board. The movement keeps the reader immersed; a filter distances them. at the map pinned up on a notice board. Section F was at the furthest end of the encampment. Area four, barely inside the boundary, was hashed out as the ground was unusually hard going.

Now she really was annoyed.OOOOOhhhh, show me that, don't tell me it. She stabbed the talk button, that sort of thing. She pressed the talk button on the walkie and was just about to give him a bollocking when the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. “Alright, give me a minute.”Said to who? I feel this line is in the wrong place - or else I need context about why she didn't decide to give him a bollocking after all.

What the hell was he doing out there?I'm completely lost here. Who is here and why does it matter?

She wanted to curl up in a ball, but knew it wouldn’t solve anything and Aziz would just keep at it until she caved. She took a deep breath to compose herself. Her boots felt heavier than before. She pulled them on and marched off to find Aziz.

The small band of workers waited patiently around a recently excavated pit. Aziz stepped forward as she approached.

“Aziz.” She took another deep breath. “Look, we need to talk.”

“But first you must see this.” He handed her a brush and directed her to the ladder.

She felt a bit self-conscious as everyone watched. Usually most of them would be busy elsewhere and she wouldn’t have such an audience. She stepped forward and peered into the pit. The whole base of the pit glistened as if full of diamonds. There was a horde of red markers clustered together, but she couldn’t see anything specific among them. She looked back at Aziz and frowned. “We weren’t planning to dig anymore in this area. It’s too hard going on the equipment and every change of drill head costs a lot of money.”

Aziz ushered her towards the ladder. “Yes, but every time I passed this area something A bit vague for a scientist. made me want to look again. You’ll see. Please Doctor York.”

Reluctantly Sarah took hold of the ladder and made her way down. A cold chill washed over her as she descended. She looked This is a filter of evil. You don't look at goose bumps; you feel them. That chill, and sense of the skin pulling. at the goose bumps on her arms and at first thought it was anxiety about how she would tell Aziz it was all over.This feels a little padded. This is a big moment. Draw us into it and forget about the peripheral stuff. Ratchet up the tense. Although it was more than that; as she continued down the ladder she felt genuinely cold. This was by no means the deepest pit on the site, but something felt different. Perhaps the something Aziz was referring to.

She stepped away from the ladder to allow Aziz to climb down. The sand was coarse and soundedanother big filter - I think you really need to cull for them like walking on gravel. She could feel arrrrrgggh! I'll just highlight them from now on but... the cold emanated from the ground a she crouched is much closer. the cold emanating from the ground as she crouched down. She scooped up a handful of sand; it was like holding a load of tiny ice cubes. Rather than melting with the heat of her body she could feel the cold penetrating her hand. She opened her fingers and brushed the sand off, whilst rubbing her hands together to warm them up before turning her attention to the cluster of red markers.

Buried in the sand was a skull, staring up at the sky. It glistened with a thin layer of ice. She pulled a pair of rubber gloves from her pocket and struggled slightly to pull them over her cold fingers. She slowly began to expose more of the skull using the brush Aziz had given her.

“Certainly human, although the brow seems more prominent than I would expect.," she said” She said curiously.

The thin plastic gloves offered no protection at all from the cold. She had to keep flexing her fingers just to be able to feel them.

“Is this enough to renew our funding?” Aziz enquired.

She sat up and took a deep breath of cold air. Was it getting colder down here? She didn’t want to have this discussion right now.

“All we have is a frozen skeleton in the middle of the desert.” She raised an eyebrow, full stop “Granted that’s very unusual, but on its own it doesn’t mean anything.”

As she waved her hand over the skeleton, it passed through a column of freezing air, more so than the surrounding air. She turned to Aziz, “Do you have a bottle of water?”

Aziz shouted up to the onlookers and a plastic bottle was quickly passed down. Sarah held the bottle on its side and slowly passed it over the skeleton. As the bottle passed over the chest area a portion of the water quickly froze. They both looked at the lump of ice in amazement.

She brushed away the sand to find a pendant around the skeleton’s neck; no not a pendant, more of a shard of broken glass or metal. As she brushed more of the sand away the shard reflected the light perfectly like a flawless mirror.

She pulled out her phone to record her findings.

“A jagged piece of what looks like metal; perfectly smooth on top; not a single imperfection that I can see.”

She used the brush to flip the shard over.

“Also smooth on the underside. No layer of dirt, in fact it looks brand new, besides the fact it appears to be a broken shard of a something larger.”This is all better, you could easily cut to this section.

Sand was starting to stick to her gloves. She removed them, reached out, and touched the shard, intending to pick it up. As she touched it an extreme cold filled her bones, as if she had just jumped into a pool of freezing water. No sooner had the sensation arrived had it gone. Her fingerprint was as clear as day on the surface of the shard; but as she watched, it slowly faded into her reflection and left the pristine surface that had greeted her.

She touched it again. This time she felt only the physical touch of the shard, and no visible fingerprint. She gently lifted it from the skeleton's chest.

“Doctor York.”

Aziz’s voice startled her and caused her to cut her thumb on the edge of the shard. Try this the other way wrong; cutting her thumb without telling us his voice caused her to. I had to back in time and reimagine things and that always pulls me out of a story. Although she was holding the shard vertically she watched as the blood from her thumb rolled up the surface of the shard and pooled in the centre of the object and then dissolved, leaving the pristine surface once again.

The cold that filled the air quickly receded, replaced with the usual warm desert air. The thin layer of ice covering the skeleton started to melt and Sarah felt herself sinking into the sand.

“Crap, Aziz we need to get out of here.” She said as she stood up.

Aziz quickly stood and began shouting up to the onlookers. He pushed her up the ladder while several hands reached down from above.

The ladder moved as she climbed and the once solid walls of the pit began to crumble as the onlookers pushed back from the edge. Make this more exciting. She could die! Once in arms reach she was quickly hauled up and manhandled out of the pit, almost yanking her neck back in the process.

Lying on the sand she turned back to see Aziz pulled clear as several planks of wood were swallowed up by the pit. He had a large grin and she looked at him somewhat puzzled.

“Now I feel like Indiana Jones,” he said laughing.
I think it needs some work - either by losing the early section or making it richer. I also think - I might have mentioned it above ;) - that you need to cull your filter words of evil. :) But, overall, much smoother than the last time I saw this section. :)
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
10,090
Location
nearly the New Forest
#16
There's not a lot I can add to the above. I, too, felt that the beginning of the scene needed either to be expanded a little to give more emotional heft (though it might be the very opening takes care of this, so it's not so necessary here) or pruned to make it read faster and get to the inciting event. I also agree that some of the lines would be better if swapped around a bit. And while the flatness of the writing fits in with her being down-in-the-mouth, it doesn't make it particularly enjoyable to read, to my mind, which is a problem in a first chapter.

I'm not an archeologist, not even a regular Time Team viewer, but the second half didn't feel real to me, either in her observations or what she does when she gets down into the pit eg I'm pretty sure that that are certain protocols which have to be followed if a skeleton is found, though I've no idea what they comprise and when they kick in. If you're not an expert yourself, it might be worth picking someone's brains on what would happen -- in which respect, I'm pretty sure Lex E. Darion has qualifications in this area. (Here is Lex's own opening with a dig and finding a skull Rebels' Wake chapter 1 second attempt. though the previous thread gives more detail on the issue.)

I won't do a nit-pick as this is only an early draft, but do watch your punctuation. And using TTS might help catch missing words, but it doesn't pick up homophones! :p So take care -- "horde" is a large mob, usually threatening if not positively warlike; you mean "hoard", though it's not a word I'd use for just a bunch of red markers, and I think you're better with simply a cluster of them.

Anyhow, good to see you here in Critiques. Good luck with it!
 

JoanDrake

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 24, 2008
Messages
1,435
#19
IMO this is very well written and the subject is intriguing, good work.

I will note that we go all the way through this and have no idea what Doctor York looks like, is she old or young big or small etc. I bring this up because I've always noted that females at archaeology sites in the exceedingly hot desert often dress quite fetchingly, at least if you go by the movies
 

Robert Zwilling

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jun 12, 2018
Messages
211
#20
I tend to leave out descriptions, letting people fill in the blanks themselves. If someone really wants a description not putting one in could ground out their attention. I felt the Dr York character could do more than what was presented.
 

Similar threads

Top