An unselfish wish made on the horn of a unicorn will come true. Our wish? To support the writing community by giving constructive tips and criticism through submissions. Check out the submissions tab for more information. We can survive the crucible of fire together.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Orbital Shifts

Here's our first submission for the week, the first page of the second chapter of Orbital Shifts, a science fiction novel. My comments and suggestions are in purple. Please add your own but don't forget to be kind and helpful.

"Tanner hesitated at the Afterburner’s door. Traffic skimmed around him on the promenade, voices rumbling low in the background. The broad, long cylinder, cut from Ananke’s dark stone, was meant to be a docking facilities for guests’ ships. The square airlocks, one per set of docking clamps, ran in two parallel lines where the cylinder arched closest to the little moon’s surface. The rest had been sectioned up into vendors’ stalls. Branch tunnels emptied into the promenade from all directions. And Port Authority’s offices had been carved into one end. I like this first paragraph; it paints a great picture. But I think the repeated words should be replaced with others that can aptly describe the scene. No easy task, I know; I just looked up promenade and couldn't find another word that would do.

Afterburner was cut into the stone, too, a wide bar room with one line of unglazed windows doubling as doors. Julia, Early and Dominic were already on perches at the bar, (were already perched, maybe?) watching a cage fighting match. Maggie and her political discussion had the large table at the far end, (I don't think you need the comma) under a projection screen that had been set to some quiet background music. Clay was on security duty this time, (you may actually want this since in the last chapter someone else may have been on security in the the previous chaper) hovering against the wall and watching. The planet-grown chuck (chuck? I'm not sure what this means but maybe this was explained in the first chapter or we'll find out shortly) had more muscle on his bicep than a bootstrapper had on a thigh, (like that description) but still didn’t intimidate the way Shen did.

Tanner looked to the back of Julia’s head. She cheered the fighter who’d pinned his opponent. Barkeep, taking drink bottles from the dishwasher under the bar, spotted Tanner and his mouth twitched. Anxious. Putting a hand in his pocket and squeezing, Tanner skimmed into the Afterburner. Made a beeline for Maggie’s table and the empty quadrant of the round table. Stopped the conversation. Even the little camera bot looked when everyone else did. Tanner crossed his legs and tucked them between the tabletop and the stone floor. He put both clenched hands on the table and risked a glance at Maggie, then the camera." 
There are a lot of fragments in this last paragraph, which is ok, I actually kind of like it, but be careful of playing loosely with the rules of grammar - just sayin.' The only other thing that jarred me was this sentence:Tanner crossed his legs and tucked them between the tabletop and the stone floor. It just reads a little awkwardly to me, as if he's crossing his legs before he sits down. Other than that and my other comments, I like the atmosphere created here in this first page and I think those short fragmented sentences may fit Tanner. I'm also curious as to why he's angry and why even the spy bot watches him. Plus, I love scifi. All in all, an intriguing first page of the second chapter.

Now, what do you think?

6 comments:

Brooke R. Busse said...

I'm wondering why Julia, Early, and Dominic are mentioned so thoroughly when Tanner places himself at Maggie's table. He may go over to them later, but that was my thought from just this short piece.

This is going to sound really nerdy, but I'm picturing the bar as the one in Bug's Life (don't laugh). It's just instead of all the different bugs, it's different robots and people (from your description of the security guard, I'm thinking some of them are not your average people).

Tara Tyler said...

scene setting is difficult, but i could picture most of it clearly =)
to avoid awkward sounding sentences, I've heard replacing was and were helps. like "clay was on security duty hovering against the wall and watching" could be "clay hovered against the wall while he stood watch on security duty."
and
"afterburner, also cut into the stone, opened into a wide bar..."

as for promenade = walkway? but i'd leave it a double, the 2nd docking part could just come out, and you could use tube for cylinder

take or leave these suggestions, you are the writer and i like this glimpse of your story!

ali said...

This is pretty good :)

Check this: Tanner skimmed into the Afterburner. Made a beeline for Maggie’s table and the empty quadrant of the round table. Stopped the conversation. Even the little camera bot looked when everyone else did. Tanner crossed his legs and tucked them between the tabletop and the stone floor.

You've got table twice in "made a beeline for" sentence, and then I'd nuke what Tanner does with his legs. I think it's enough to just say he takes a seat. What he does ABOVE the table seems more important. :)

Very cool! I love me some sci fi!

David Jace said...

I agree with most of the purple comments, but I have some of my own as well. I got confused by the Afterburner. I spent the first couple paragraphs trying to figure out if it was a part of a spaceship, a bar, or the name of a spacecraft.

This sets a great scene, and leaves me with LOTS of questions.

Charity Bradford said...

I didn't have some of the problems the other commenters mentioned, possibly because I remember chapter 1. I know that some of these people were part of a crew together and I know the bar is anti-grav so the folding his legs and putting them under the table anchors him. There might be a more clear way of saying it though.

"Tanner crossed his legs and tucked them between the tabletop and the stone floor to keep from floating away." or something.

Oh, new thought. You spend the first paragraph describing the space station. Wouldn't that be in chapter 1? Or am I getting confused with where we've been reading in the story before now?

L. said...

I did post a piece of the raw, pre-first-draft chapter 1 here back in June and won a crit from Huntress.

Haven't been posting from this WIP anyplace else, so... well, I'm flattered you remember.

Thank you to everyone for the feedback!