1. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Another intro wording problem

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by CGB, Apr 20, 2016.

    Here is another of my garbage intros to a chapter. Any suggestions for improving it?

    Basically what is happening: A stolen space ship is landed on a beach (with purple sand). The space cops are there to search it. It's evening on this part of the planet, and there is a storm brewing (such storms are common in this season on this particular world).

    The smuggled shipping vessel sat on the beach some fifteen miles across the inlet from the Long Dock Mining Facility. Commander Driscoll Cannon stood on purple-colored sand a few feet away from it, the coastal wind pelting him with cool, salty air. In the red sky above, thunderclouds gathered in prelude to another one of the cyclones common in this part of the colonial world of Juno.
     
  2. Cat Cherry
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    Cat Cherry Member

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    My advice is to cut the stuff that's expected. Coastal wind pelting him with cool, salty air? That happens on every beach. Just by knowing that we're on a beach, I already fill in those details myself. You don't need to describe them for me. Purple-colored sand? Red sky? Much more interesting. Also, instead of telling me that cyclones are common in this part of the world, show me. Show me the character looking at debris from a previous cyclone and then preparing for another one or grumbling about another one or talking to another character about the possibility of another one. That way, you don't have to say that cyclones are common, because you've shown me evidence of a pattern. Focus on 1) the stuff that is jarring or different for the reader, 2) the stuff that will develop your plot and character, and 3) the stuff that will get your reader to ask questions and require him/her to keep reading for answers. Cut the descriptors like "salty" and "common" if you can possibly cut them.

    Just my advice, though! It's an interesting world so far.
     
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  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK, I've been pretty picky, so here's my take on how you could say much the same thing.

    I've demoted Cannon to a more realistic rank, I've given him some company, and I've given him some action. I've tried to make the geography lesson less of a lesson, and introduced the weather as a bit more than a commentary. I'd go on to include some chat between Cannon and the captain (no matter what your rank, you are the captain of your ship - so, during WWII, a flotilla of MTBs [PT boats in USN] was commanded by a Lieutenant, and each ship's captain was a 2nd Lieutenant [Ensign in USN]) to establish their characters. I'm seeing the captain as taciturn, and Cannon a tough city cop, world-weary and cynical. The stolen nature of the ship is either already known from the previous chapter, so isn't needed here, or Cannon is only going to find this out later, so it would spoil the tension to tell us here! The frequency of the cyclones I'm working on by having the characters being fatalistic about something that happens that regularly.


    Sergeant Driscoll Cannon trudged across the purple beach, eyes squinted against the sand being whipped into his face by the gathering wind. He turned to the pair of troopers who accompanied him. "Come on, you lead-asses, let's get this ship searched and cleared before that cyclone hits."

    Fifteen miles down the inlet was the only visible sign of civilization, the towering extraction plant of the Long Dock Mining Facility just visible through the reddish haze that hung in the air. And, beyond that, Cannon knew, lay the bright lights of Long Dock itself. As bright as the lights in any city on Juno, at least. Above, the thunderclouds roiled in angry prelude, the occasional distant crack and rumble sounding like a giant clearing his throat.

    The trio mounted the ladder into the belly of the Volantis, and the captain handed over his cargo manifest and landing clearance papers without a word.
     
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  4. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Applaud you for coming up with that on the fly. I am way too bad of a writer to pull that out of my hat :/
    Nonetheless I get the gist of what you are saying.

    REASON I felt the weather is important is because... I don't know? Kind of maybe adds to the sense that some really bad stuff is about to happen (which it does).
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  5. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    You picture your scene like a movie, and in a movie, you would want to perfect the ambiance. Aside from production budget concerns, you could spend tons of money and effort getting it just right (you should) and that would not detract from the rest of the scene. It would only enhance the scene. It does not work the same way in creative writing -- you have to use words to describe the ambiance, which are words you are not spending on other details. Words that eat up the reader's attention, especially on the first page.

    Which is not to say you should not mention the ambiance at all -- just that it will cost you. It is probably a safe bet to spend no more than 5-10% of your words on it (yours stands at just over 50%) and use other techniques, in addition to describing the ambiance, to set the mood.
     
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