Friday, October 4, 2013

First Impressions - Legacy of the Eye

Our second submission of the month is one you may recognize if you've been following First Impressions. Here is the first page of Patricia's scifi, LEGACY OF THE EYE. You can find her @patchi_writes and at My Middle Years. To see what Dianne thought of this head over to In High Spirits.

David: Proposal

After following Cat into the traveling pod, I covered the keypad and faced our instructor, who blocked the doorway. "Max, we're leaving the school anyway, why not let me punch the code?" It might be a symbolic gesture, but I was not budging. This beginning feels a little abrupt to me, a little too much in media res. Since this an adult story, I wouldn't mind a bit of an intro to one of these characters before the narrator decides not to budge along with an explanation of what that means. Is the narrator not budging about keying in the code or is he physically not budging?

Arms crossed over his loose-fitting black outfit, Max obscured the pod's exit despite his short stature. "The council should have made you wait until after graduation like everyone else." See, if we knew that Max didn't like them before, then this would feel more natural. Does that make sense?

Cat and I had been confined in the school since we were two. What difference would two weeks make after sixteen years? "We've earned the distinction."

"Next you'll ask to stop for a black uniform on the way out," the instructor said.

We probably earned that too, but I knew how to pick my battles.

Cat's hand pressed my shoulder. "David, we'll be late."

"Tell him that," I said.

"You're only making him more stubborn, Max," she said. "You know we have no reason to run away."

The instructor hesitated. Would he make us miss our appointment with the council? Max knew Cat and I could not navigate the maze of buildings to get to the gates--even disregarding the risk of being detained as soon as we left the governance complex. Our gray uniforms would give us away as soon as we stepped outside because students were not allowed to leave their home departments. How long would it take to convince every instructor in our path that we had an appointment with the council? We had one, not fourteen daylight hours to reach the government building. The easiest way to the front entrance was by pod. I had never been in one of these vehicles, but I was certain the motorized spheres did not travel at the speed of light. I think you could cut this paragraph down to this: "The instructor hesitated. Would he make us miss our appointment with the council? Max knew that without access to a pod we would never make our appointment in time." Then, when they actually leave, show us what they see. 

"CO3X04W." Max pointed his rolled up hat at me. "If you don't behave, I'll deny you my recommendation and the council will veto the Tutor Program." This seems rather demeaning, like he's talking to a small child. Is it intentional?

He must be bluffing. I doubted we needed his help to defend the proposal. We had discussed the idea with students and faculty for months. Plus, Cat had written a meticulous petition.

"We don't have our hats," Cat said as I turned to the keypad and pressed the first two letters. What hats?

Max stepped out of the pod. "Then go get them." Is he ordering?

I finished inputting the destination code to the front entrance and grabbed Cat by the waist before she could exit the pod for our hats.

I feel like I totally red-penned this when in fact, with a little revision, I think this could be an excellent opening. It has the potential to show a lot more about the characters by how they interact with Max and with each other so I think this is a big improvement over the previous version.


  1. Agree about the opening. I think even one short paragraph could set up the characters before they get into the pod.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Marcy! Your insight is always remarkable. Is this the kind of opening you think would clarify things:

    A single day can alter the course of someone’s life, and today was meant to change mine. After months of hard work, and intense arguing, the Council of Demia had allowed Cat and me to present our proposal. We were a pod ride away from our future, and the freedom of leaving the Academy. I just hoped the instructor chaperoning us did not decide to take undue credit.

    I ducked as I followed Cat into the underground traveling pod. Inside, I covered the keypad and faced our instructor, who stood in the doorway.

    Thanks for having me on your blog again!

    1. Thanks! Some people seem to start too soon, I'm the opposite...

    2. Wow. This is so much better. More concise and I feel like I understand what is going on. Amazing what a difference a few (excellent) changes can make!

  3. Terrific critique, Marcy!

    I, too, like this version better than the earlier one, and the version within the comments section, even better yet. Great job, Pat! Getting better all the time.

  4. Great job, both of you :) I really like Patricia's revision posted in the comments!

  5. The second version flows much better. Isn't it wonderful what a little objective criticism can do?

  6. I like the start in the comments better too. And I agree with Marcy's comments. My main thing is that I want to know more about the characters as I read this. Maybe you could weave a bit in here. But I like that you start right in the action and with a problem.

  7. Best of luck to Patricia with this story. I admire your bravery for submitting to public critique like this!

  8. Marcy did a great job of critting. I think the most important cut would be the big explanation in the middle. Marcy's fix is great, Perhaps even the "Max knew" could go. Whenever you write somebody knew already something, it sounds as if it's info just for the reader and not natural thoughts for the character.
    Good luck! :-)


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