Author Topic: One parapgraph  (Read 224 times)

Dansinger

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One parapgraph
« on: August 11, 2019, 09:30:44 AM »
On the other side, we used to have topic in which you could post your first sentence (and only that one) for critique. Often, people would post more than one sentence, and got away with it. It was a rather popular topic.

I'd like to try something similar here. But not a first sentence. I'd suggest to post one paragraph - and please, no more than one! - in this thread. It doesn't have to be a first paragraph. Just one that you'd like to get some feedback on.

I'll start. And please feel free to jump in. Anytime.

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"That would be a first." Some people would give anything to have an exciting life. Neel would be just as happy if his life weren't so interesting, even if only for one or two turnings. "Kata?"
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Mark Hoffmann

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2019, 01:46:44 PM »
I'll play. I don't recall it form MWC. Is the idea you review the last para in the topic then post another? I'll assume yes.

It's hard to review something in isolation as what goes before may provide all the context, but that notwithstanding I found your para confusing. I have no idea who is speaking or who they are speaking to. Ignoring the dialogue, the narrative probably stands alone. It could be tightened a bit but I won't edit it as that always moves from review to changing style.

I'm not sure about the turnings bit. It feels that that would work with complicated but not so well with interesting.


Here's my para (from The Village):

Sir St. John was on his way to the corner shop. Lady Veronica Brown-Spaniel was visiting that afternoon for tea, biscuits, and extras and he needed a few provisions. Batteries, lard, a grapefruit and one of those tools for getting stones out of horses' hooves. He was very much looking forward to the triste and whistled a Sousa march - The Thunderer – as he walked.
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Lin Treadgold

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2019, 04:14:56 PM »
I think I started this some years ago and it ran for ages.  I encouraged folks to write their first lines and asked the question would a publisher want to read on?


Dansinger

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2019, 05:17:15 PM »
I think I started this some years ago and it ran for ages.  I encouraged folks to write their first lines and asked the question would a publisher want to read on?

Yes, that was the one. This one is inspired by that one, but different. I can only hope it will be just as successful, but if this works, it might help make this forum more attractive for other writers out there.


Mark, thanks for the review. I'll mull that over for a bit.

As for your question, the short answer is no. You can post a review or your own paragraph, or both. And you can also review a paragraph that has already had other reviews. We can discuss. It's simply meant to be a low threshold thread for posting a snippet of your work and for reviewing.

Also, I think, when reviewing a paragraph, it would be a good idea to quote the one you're reviewing, or (once this gets some momentum) things could get confusing.

Gawd, I hope I'm making sense. It's all perfectly clear in my head, but that doesn't mean anything.

Edit: I do intend to review your paragraph too, but I the way I do reviews, I always give a piece several readings, let it sink in, and then share my thoughts. (That's why I have a hard time reviewing longer pieces.)
« Last Edit: August 11, 2019, 05:40:58 PM by Dansinger »
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Dansinger

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 02:55:54 PM »
Sir St. John was on his way to the corner shop. Lady Veronica Brown-Spaniel was visiting that afternoon for tea, biscuits, and extras and he needed a few provisions. Batteries, lard, a grapefruit and one of those tools for getting stones out of horses' hooves. He was very much looking forward to the triste and whistled a Sousa march - The Thunderer – as he walked.

I don't visit the village, so I have no context. Which means I'll just review the para on its own merits.

From the name Lady Veronica Brown-Spaniel I'm assuming the village is a place to just horse around and have fun. Visiting for tea, biscuits and extras seems a bit longwinding. Why not ditch the biscuits and extras. They're already implied. Also, I don't see why your sir St. John would need batteries for tea. I certainly couldn't stomach them. I wouldn't eat tools either.

Finally, a typo. I think you meant tryst. Not triste.

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Dansinger

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2019, 03:11:59 PM »
On to your review of my paragraph, not that I've had time to think about that too.

It's hard to review something in isolation as what goes before may provide all the context, but that notwithstanding I found your para confusing. I have no idea who is speaking or who they are speaking to. Ignoring the dialogue, the narrative probably stands alone. It could be tightened a bit but I won't edit it as that always moves from review to changing style.

I'm not sure about the turnings bit. It feels that that would work with complicated but not so well with interesting.

Yes. Reviewing a single para without knowing the context doesn't make things any easier, and I understand your confusion.  I think I made a mistake in posting this paragraph here, as you really need the context to understand what it's about. Still, what you said about tightening made a lot of sense. I knew something didn't work there, and I think that hit the nail on the head.

The turnings bit... that's where context would have helped. A lot. I'm writing fantasy, and the idiom isn't always the same as ours. A turning is a year.

Again, thanks for your input. It's appreciated.

I'll post a new paragraph in a new reply, so we don't get several different things mixed up in one reply.
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Dansinger

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2019, 03:19:58 PM »
He woke up to sounds he couldn't immediately identify. To his dismay, he was lying under a shrub. Cold, sore and naked. Birds. It was birds he heard. Nearby, a twig snapped. Shuffling footsteps approached, making the autumn leaves rustle, and only seconds later an unkempt face appeared.
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Mark Hoffmann

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2019, 03:28:25 PM »
...
I don't visit the village, so I have no context. Which means I'll just review the para on its own merits.

From the name Lady Veronica Brown-Spaniel I'm assuming the village is a place to just horse around and have fun. Visiting for tea, biscuits and extras seems a bit longwinding. Why not ditch the biscuits and extras. They're already implied. Also, I don't see why your sir St. John would need batteries for tea. I certainly couldn't stomach them. I wouldn't eat tools either.

Finally, a typo. I think you meant tryst. Not triste.

I did indeed.

Are you saying that the fact he's buying batteries (and lard) is enough to show that there will be extras? How about:

Sir St. John whistled Sousa's The Thunderer as he marched through the village to the corner shop. Lady Veronica Brown-Spaniel was visiting that afternoon for tea and he needed a few provisions. Batteries, lard, a grapefruit and one of those tools for getting stones out of horses' hooves.

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Mark Hoffmann

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2019, 03:34:08 PM »
He woke up to sounds he couldn't immediately identify. To his dismay, he was lying under a shrub. Cold, sore and naked. Birds. It was birds he heard. Nearby, a twig snapped. Shuffling footsteps approached, making the autumn leaves rustle, and only seconds later an unkempt face appeared.

Seems fine. You could cut "up" and cold/sore/naked shows or at least implies dismay so you could remove it. But it's not a biggie.
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Dansinger

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2019, 03:51:38 PM »
Are you saying that the fact he's buying batteries (and lard) is enough to show that there will be extras?

No. I think tea means there will be extras. Like biscuits, cake, and maybe sandwiches. Unless you mean something else by extras. But then the word tryst seems to imply, or at least hint at that, I'd say.

As for the batteries. My understanding of the word provision might be too narrow, but to me, provisions means food and drink. Hence my problem with the batteries.


How about:

Sir St. John whistled Sousa's The Thunderer as he marched through the village to the corner shop. Lady Veronica Brown-Spaniel was visiting that afternoon for tea and he needed a few provisions. Batteries, lard, a grapefruit and one of those tools for getting stones out of horses' hooves.


That would work too (if indeed, I'm wrong about provisions meaning just foodstuff), but I prefer the previous version, as that has a better flow to it.
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Dansinger

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2019, 03:54:04 PM »
Seems fine. You could cut "up" and cold/sore/naked shows or at least implies dismay so you could remove it. But it's not a biggie.

Thanks. Two very useful suggestions, and I'm pretty sure I'll ditch the dismay. Will have a think about the "up" too. I'll read it a couple of times with and without, and see what sounds best to my ears.
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hillwalker3000

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2019, 11:06:53 PM »
Dansinger

Quote
"That would be a first." Some people would give anything to have an exciting life. Neel would be just as happy if his life weren't so interesting, even if only for one or two turnings. "Kata?"

I agree - without context your first sample paragraph makes very little sense.
We have no idea who is speaking the two lines of dialogue nor do we have any clue regarding the narrative point of view.

Quote
He woke up to sounds he couldn't immediately identify. To his dismay, he was lying under a shrub. Cold, sore and naked. Birds. It was birds he heard. Nearby, a twig snapped. Shuffling footsteps approached, making the autumn leaves rustle, and only seconds later an unkempt face appeared.

Your second is easier to follow but the narrative sequence is rather disjointed.
Personally I would stay focussed on the sounds that woke him - the initial confusion before identifying birdsong followed by the snapping twig, the shuffling footsteps and rustling leaves.
Reference to his state of undress and unusual location can wait until a little later or be revealed by other, more subtle means. Maybe the approaching person sees him and comments on his situation.
I don't think we need to be told the face appeared 'seconds later' unless he is holding a stopwatch to time the sequence of events - and I'm not sure a face can be 'unkempt' - more likely the hair or beard or clothing maybe.

Mark

Quote
Sir St. John was on his way to the corner shop. Lady Veronica Brown-Spaniel was visiting that afternoon for tea, biscuits, and extras and he needed a few provisions. Batteries, lard, a grapefruit and one of those tools for getting stones out of horses' hooves. He was very much looking forward to the triste and whistled a Sousa march - The Thunderer – as he walked.

It's immediately made clear this is going to be a gently humorous piece based on the characters' names and the taking of afternoon tea, so the absurdity of the shopping list is only to be expected. This kind of Wodehousian writing is not my cup of tea, but it works as an introductory hook.

-

For what it's worth, here's the opening paragraph to my own WIP

We always had plenty of fun in Gander's back yard, and nothing bad ever happened in spite of my twin sister's fooling around until the day Emma-Jay put her hand down a hole and pulled out an ocean.

H3K

Mark Hoffmann

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2019, 11:33:37 PM »
HW

Thanks :) I'd like to be more Pratchettesque than Wodehousian but you'd not spot that until the dwarves arrive.

Your opening seems fine, but for the want of anything better to suggest, you could make a small re-ordering thus:

We always had plenty of fun in Gander's back yard and despite my twin sister's fooling around, nothing bad ever happened until the day Emma-Jay put her hand down a hole and pulled out an ocean.

And that is an excellent hook. I'd definitely want to know more.

Mark
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hillwalker3000

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2019, 09:39:10 AM »
Thanks Mark - it's surprising how one little tweak can make something read more smoothly.

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Dansinger

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Re: One parapgraph
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2019, 05:03:36 PM »
Hill, thank you. You made some good points there.

As for you para, I'm with Mark. Don't have anything to add, I think. Except maybe that it feels a bit like Alice in Wonderland, so I'm hoping that's what you were going for.
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