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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back Story Submission--Legacy of the Eye

Here's our first back story submission. My comments are in purple

Title: The Legacy of the Eye
Genre: Science Fiction
General area of the book the passage is from: Chapter 2, page 18.
Why you feel this information is important: Illustrates David and Catrine's relationship before it falls apart.

"I've been giving graduation quite a bit of thought lately," David said. "It's disconcerting not to be able to plan ahead, as I don't know how my parents will react to my choices. I don't even know if they are still alive…"

"Your parents wouldn't have sent you to the Academy if they were interested in directing your future. And they know what your interests are, even if you haven't communicated them yourself. I'm sure you will be interested in visiting their home, wherever it may be. (this sentence slows things down for me. I think it's something you can show us later.) I think your problem is you have too many unknowns in your calculations for the first time in your life, and that's bothering you." I love the wording here. It really sets me in your world and gives Catrine this analytical vibe.

David smiled. Cat was always able to understand him and he knew she did not mean to reproach him  (I didn't feel a reproach) for not writing to his parents these past years. Students at the Academy were encouraged to write to their relatives and communicate their interests and experiences. He knew Cat wrote often because she had mentioned it at various occasions. David, however, had not written to his parents in years. His last letter had been more like a note:

I made it into the Governance program. They said I was too young, but I told them age was not a requirement if I qualified. I did not have to argue too much. The instructors will probably tell you more.

David had discovered at the time that (this is really wordy. Try David knew the...)instructors always sent parents a student report reports about the students at the end of every quarter. Thus, he had decided there was no need for the duplicate effort. After they became friends, Cat had not argued with him when he explained his rationale for not writing to his parents.

Their friendship had started soon after Cat joined the Governance department, a couple of years after David had, when one of the instructors had paired them up for an assignment. David had been unhappy about the pairing at first. Not because she was a novice in the class--he had enjoyed working with the new students the year before--but because she was so quiet. However, he had found out soon enough that Cat would venture her opinions more freely when the two of them were working by themselves. Her critical thinking had amazed him. They had become friends at that point and had been inseparable ever since. Is there any way to condense this so that it's half the length? You can hint at his discomfort with her silence by sharing the moment he was first exposed to her "opinions".

David's concern, as they sat together in the Center Gardens, was that they might each have to follow a different path after graduation. They had great ideas to improve the Academy. The Tutor Program was only a first step and they had often talked about staying on Demia. The more he had learned about the other planets, the more he had thought the rest of the galaxy could benefit from all the things they learned at the Academy. But now David could not stop wondering from which planet they had come. He feared all the planning he and Cat had been doing together this past year was a waste of time. This paragraph is really confusing to me, but I'm going to assume some of it is mentioned before and therefore not as confusing as I think.

It feels like you have two lines of back story going here. 1) David getting into the program and not writing his parents, and 2)meeting Cat.

My questions for you would be--
  • Is there a way to put the bit about getting in and letters somewhere else? Then just tighten it a bit.
  • And, can you think of a way to SHOW us this relationship. Maybe they are sitting in the same place they've sat for the last X# of years? Have him think of how the smell of (fill in the blank with something in the room, or her soap, or something) will always remind him of how well they work together. Or show us how they've worked out some problem.
When you thin out the ideas to just one tidbit of back story at a time, the reader will have the time to process it.

I enjoyed all of the back story and feel it should be in here some where. It helps ground me in the world the author is creating as well as the relationship between the two characters.

Ask yourself--if I lived in this world it would all be normal, so how would it look to me? How would I react to it? Put yourself behind your MC's eyes and then LIVE. The way the character reacts to the world shows us the world as well as build that character. 


Remember, mine is just one opinion. What do YOU think of this submission?

3 comments:

Patchi said...

Thanks Charity! I know it's really hard to critique a fragment without much of an idea of what the whole looks like, but your comments were quite helpful.

Here is how I revised the back story, keeping what is important for this sequence:

David smiled. Cat was always able to understand him and he knew she did not mean to criticize him for not writing to his parents these past years. Students at the Academy were encouraged to write to their relatives and communicate their interests and experiences. He knew Cat wrote often because she had mentioned it at various occasions. David, however, had not written to his parents in years. Once he had discovered that instructors sent reports to the parents at the end of every quarter, he had decided there was no need for the duplicate effort. His last letter had been more like a note:

I made it into the governance program. They said I was too young, but I told them age was not a requirement if I qualified. I did not have to argue too much. The instructors will probably tell you more.

David's concern, as he sat with Cat in the Center Gardens, was that they might each have to follow a different path after graduation. They had become friends soon after Cat joined the Governance department two years after David and had been inseparable ever since. Plus, they had great ideas to improve the Academy. The Tutor Program was only a first step and they had often talked about staying on Demia. The more he had learned about other planets, the more he had thought the rest of the galaxy could benefit from all the things they learned at the Academy. But now, David could not stop wondering from which planet they had come. He feared all the planning he and Cat had been doing together this past year was a waste of time.

mshatch said...

I think Charity made some excellent suggestions. My only comment is that the language feels stiff and formal to me, but that might very well be intentional and if so then it should stay as is.

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