Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First 250 Words Smash! #32

Most Wonderful Author: Kristal
Most Evil Critique Master: Sarah
Working Title: Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Somewhere between the sour lemon tang of afternoon kisses and the dusky ochre tinge of morning sex lies a world of pain we have yet to explore.

It takes time, she once said. It all takes time. It took time for her to open her eyes in the first place, because she wanted silence more than she wanted me. Silence is so much louder when sight is shut out.

You aren’t her. This I know with an age-old conviction that reverberates through my spirit-bound bones. You aren’t her and you’ll never be. But I stay with you (and you with me), for, without each other, we are no one.

I was no one when she left. I think she stole my soul, all quiet-like, when she slipped away in the tangelo dawning hour. She trailed the barest essence of me in her wake. What she left behind—what you see and taste and feel and hear—is a burnt out shell of something. Something you love for the sake of love. Something that cannot love you back.

But ink is dear, and I am rambling. Come, let me tell you what she would have wanted you to know.

Strong Points –
Oh man, the writing is absolutely gorgeous. I mean, I was hooked with the first part of the first sentence, “Somewhere between the sour lemon tang of afternoon kisses”, and I was like, the array of feelings that such a combination of words communicates just got me. And also, I absolutely loved this whole thing:

What she left behind—what you see and taste and feel and hear—is a burnt out shell of something. Something you love for the sake of love. Something that cannot love you back.

This communicates SO much by withholding specificity, by casting shadows, and it really stuck with me.

There’s such command of the mood as well. I can feel it in every sentence, even the smallest sentences, like “You aren’t her.” I love it, and I love the lyrical cadence and the organic flow of the sentences. And voice? Yep. The character voice develops subtly, under the surface, in such phrases as “quiet-like”. You really utilize ambiguity in a captivating way and I love it.

Some Tips –
Minor tweaks are all I see, craft- and style-wise. You have a poignant style that translates right away, and this is really tough to do in the first few paragraphs unless you really know and have a handle on your style already. So, in that regard, I definitely can’t critique it. The only thing I can really help you with is tell you how I see the story you’re weaving – or, my translation of it, in a sense.

Lyrical writing, while beautiful, demands that the reader read slowly to take everything in. Consequently, the pacing of your story is that much slower. If this is what you’re aiming for, then good. Go for it. Just keep in mind that prose that casts shadows like this will cause your readers to take more time to digest the narrative. I, for example, read some lines twice because I liked them that much, or I read twice to make sure I got every detail as clearly as I could.

Secondly, the way the writer addresses “you”, along with such lines as “lies a world of pain we have yet to explore” and “Come, let me tell you what she would have wanted you to know” are part of the “reminiscing” opening type trope, or the “addressing the reader” opening type trope, or “rambles” as the writer calls it, that often straddle the cliché.

If the “addressing the reader” theme, or the general second person POV, continues on throughout the narrative, then this might be okay. If it’s a one-time thing, I’ve often seen openings like this get cut because they’re sort of like unnecessary introductory bits that stall the reader from getting to the actual story. In a sense, it’s sort of like cushioning for “dramatic” or “mysterious” inflating, like talking up the reader to get them interested instead of simply giving them the story. “I’m going to tell you about the story before we actually get into the story.” If used incorrectly, this tool can actually take away from the story. So, be aware of that. I definitely can’t speak for yours since I only have the first 200 words, but it’s absolutely up to you in the end.

Also, since you sent in your title, I’m definitely going to advise against using a cliché. (I’ve seen clichés used well before, sure, but usually it’s in an ironic sense.) Of course, this is subjective, and people often argue that a cliché is a cliché because it works – however, a cliché is also a cliché because it’s been used too much and has lost its edge. Clichés are best when freshened up or used in an unexpected way.

Would I Keep Reading?
Most likely. I love the writing to pieces, but, personally, the “telling vs. showing” aspect of the intro and the title leaves me a bit wary. I’d want to give it a chance, at least, and see if the “telling” aspect is pervasive. Otherwise, for me, this is definitely the type of writing that I’d mark to remember.

Good luck! ♥

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much! =D This just made my week. I'll take what you've said into account for later drafts (editing is something I never fail to procrastinate). I should probably start thinking of another title, too... any suggestions?

    I know you're a little short on time and all but if you'd ever like to read all 3,000+ words of Ashes, I'd be more than happy to send it over. No pressure though--I understand. =]