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Thursday, February 16, 2012

WE OF THE UNIVERSE - part two

Today we have the second part of Rachel's chapter one:

 
Finally it was her turn; she was waved through by the Matron.

Up close the door looked like rippled glass, but instead of shining in the light it seemed to suck light into it. She put her hand to it and it shifted and moved to encase it; the surface rippled, showing the dark space behind it. As she stepped through, it seemed to stick to her skin, and as she stepped out, she felt like she was taking some of it with her and it was keeping some of her. (Interesting) She was in a dark void, where tiny lights pulsed in the distance, too far away for her to feel any heat or for their light to offer comfort. Even if she had not known what was expected of her, she would have headed towards the lights for the comfort they offered. She missed the light feel of the previous room. She scanned the dark, noting their distance, some closer and some faint, far away. She heard the faint music in tune with the pulsing of the lights, fast and sprightly, deep and loud, soft and mournful, each different and contrasting and yet together sounding beautiful, each building to a personal and yet combined crescendo. She swam in the darkness towards the light that had first caught her interest. I like this description, but as you can see the word ‘light’ has been used a lot. I’m not sure how you might re-write this or what word you might use as a substitute but I’d try.

It (the light?) was a deep blue and its music was a rigorous, marching beat. It sounded purposeful and dutiful, just like she wanted to be. Each note seemed to be played louder and louder as she swam through the void; as she came closer, the light grew bigger and brighter until it filled her sight.

A bronze disc awaited her, two marks dug into it for her feet. She stepped onto it and felt the metal shift first over her toes and then over her feet, encasing them. As it began to move, she felt a great feeling of excitement as she was moved around the light, becoming one with the universe, the light and the sound making it impossible for her to feel any more fear. (what happens to her body when she feels this excitement? Does her heart race? Does her body tense? Or does she relax into it because she isn’t afraid? Instead of saying that she felt a feeling of excitement, show us that she’s excited.) Then the disc started spinning, slowly at first and then faster, causing bile to come to her throat at the disorienting effect. Nothing unexpected though, she had been warned that there would be that effect at first as she adjusted to the movement. I think this would be a better, more exciting paragraph if more active verbs were used.

After two circles around the light, she had become became used to it and was almost enjoying herself again when she came to a sudden stop, jolting her spine. It had been her fault. She had been told it would be sudden and now her back aching marred the experience. Her head was still off spinning around the light, making it hard to focus. The disc was moving more slowly now and a shadow alerted her to something above her.

She looked up to see a disc resembling her's, with a shadowy figure upon it. She waved in greeting, and he acknowledged her with a salute, and yet she was not allowed to enjoy the meeting between companions because her disc started spinning again, faster and faster. She could not help the A crush of disappointment that overcame her, and yet what had she expected? It very rarely happened the first time.Hmm, what rarely happens the first time?

My main concern with this middle passage is that there are a lot of 'to be' verbs. These verbs - was, is, has been, etc - are very useful, but using them too much makes our writing passive and a bit dull. I'm not a huge advocate of ridding our work of every single 'to be' verb but I do think we need to limit them. This passage would be hugely improved if it was made more active. I'd love to see what it would look like then. Now, what do you guys think? And can you think of any words that could be substituted for light? That's a hard one.

Tomorrow, I'll post the last part of this chapter. 

ps don’t forget that comments count toward winning our monthly prize.

6 comments:

Angela Brown said...

Okay, so here's the tiny 2 cents I have. I agree that more active verbs would make the passage less passive. As I read it, I experienced that moment of "passing something by" and generally noting its existence instead of being pulled into the scene.

For the lights, I wonder if it would be possible to reference them as other things like tiny, dancing flames, a collage of candles gathered in the dark void, slight breaks in the darkness, scattered rays of the sun, itty bitty orbs of incandescence...just throwing something out there to give more life to the "light".

mshatch said...

God suggestions Angela, thanks :)

sunflowerrising said...

It's funny you say that because the first draft did have more of a poetic feel, with more descriptions for the light. Shows when your editing you might edit out something good.
Thanks for the honest feedback so far. Looking forward to seeing what you make of the final part.

Huntress said...

Great world building.

This phrase might need correcting: '...now her back aching marred the experience...'

Back aching? or aching back?

Donna Hole said...

I get what the overall feeling is supposed to be for this segment – I think. A sense of vastness, but with the comfort of compulsion mixed with normal curiosity, to continue forward. I think you could shorten and tighten this segment to encompass the feelings and that would help get rid of all the “light” references. It would also make this portion more showing and less telling.

Also, inserting Legeve’s name in place of several pronouns would help make this a more intimate journey and connect the reader with the MC.

This was an active scene, but the movement didn’t have a distinct purpose, or progress the character/overall plot forward. I liked the setting too, but needed more of an emotional attachment to Legeve. Again, that sense of awe and wonderment I thought was the point of the segment. Perhaps you could use the “shadowy figure” on another spinning disc as a transition to the next scene.

I’m off to read part 3. Sorry for posting so late.

.......dhole

Brooke R. Busse said...

I like what you have going on, but I feel like you need to do a lot of tightening, especially with your pronouns. Here are some changes I think the first paragraph of this section would benefit from

Up close the door looked like rippled glass, but instead of shining, it absorbed the light. She touched it and the surface moved to encase her hand, showing the dark space behind it. As she stepped through, it stuck to her skin, and as she stepped out, she felt like she had exchanged a piece of herself for a piece of the door. She was in a dark void. Tiny lights pulsed in the distance, too far away to offer comfort. Even if she had not known what was expected of her, she would have headed toward the lights for the comfort (use a different word here) they offered. She missed the weightless feel of the previous room. (Do you really need this sentence? If so, I think you should move it elsewhere.) She noted their distance, some closer and some faint, far away. She heard faint music in tune with the pulsing of the lights, fast and sprightly, deep and loud, soft and mournful, each different and contrasting and yet together sounding beautiful, each building to a personal and yet combined crescendo. She swam in the darkness toward the light that had first caught her interest.

Note that all of my changes are just my suggestions and in no way do you have to accept any of them.

I also completely agree with Marcy's suggestion to make your verbs stronger. I suggest you cut out all the "seem" verbs as well. Usually, it either is or isn't. I've done that in the paragraph above so you can see how it would affect the passage.