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NathanBrazil
May 12th, 2015, 03:07 PM
Seth’s hair formed a cul-de-sac around a neat furrow of skin. His wild gray hair, which refused to conform to any natural order, had twined and knotted itself into an unmanageable state. Just one more, he thought. Seth attached a thin line of graphene to a horse fly. There were all manner of flying insects tethered in the same fashion to a model dirigible. Through countless experiments, he had found that certain frequencies of sound offered him some form of control.

The door to his study creaked open. “Father?” his daughter Jaylene said.

Seth didn’t acknowledge her presence. This delicate work required his complete attention. “There!” Seth exclaimed.

“Father!”

He stepped back and cranked the knob of a hand held control; two short antennae extended fully on either side. It emitted a high pitched screech and the insects each began to rise, lifting the dirigible.

“That’s got it!” Unfortunately the disparate wing speed of the different species caused the dirigible to tilt; not to mention that one of the bees had expired during the procedure. A dragonfly’s cable twined itself around the horse fly’s cable and the dirigible came crashing down. “Dammit!”

He plopped down on his work stool, disgusted.

Jaylene leapt over the downed dirigible, lithe and sleek, like a dancer. She stared at her father, arms folded, lower lip pushed out petulantly.

“I’m sorry, honey. How can I help you?” He peered over his spectacles.

Jaylene fiddled with the hem of her dress; a long blue satin dress that shimmered in the dusky gloom of his office. A light like a star would pulse then wink out on some part of her dress, then another and another. She looked over her shoulder at the insects, some of which were still trying to lift the dirigible in vain. “Maybe if I grew wings and was a tad smaller, you would pay attention to me.”

“Yes, that’s a brilliant idea,” he smiled, mischievously.

“Daddy!” Jaylene huffed.

He took Jaylene’s arm, brought her in, hugged her tightly then kissed her forehead. “I’m all yours now. What did you need?”

Somewhat mollified, she perched lightly upon one of his legs. “I wanted you to see my-“

“Oh, yes. Your latest creation.”

She seized his hand and led him through a dimly lit hallway to an atrium; a round room with a high domed ceiling featuring an enormous circular skylight and expansive windows evenly spaced around the room. The moon which was surprisingly close filled the room with its ambient glow. In the center of the room was a spiral of pulsing, multi-colored globes.

These pulsing globes, called Mnangs, were remnants of an ancient alien civilization, originally discovered on an abandoned outpost world. Mnangs were a docile, pliant creature that were easy to breed and lived primarily off of light. It could also maintain its position anywhere in space, as if dangling by an invisible thread. This of course had made them very popular and they had been transplanted to planets throughout the galaxy.

Jaylene dashed off and hopped on an antigrav-mat. She steered the grav-mat to the center of the spiral of Mnangs and adjusted a few. With her lips pressed against one Mnang, she hummed different notes until the she had produced the proper color shift. Satisfied, she guided the grav-mat back to her father, floating just few feet off of the ground. “Well?” she said.

“Fantabulous!”

A skimmer, a light, fast spacecraft, came into view, spoiling the moment. It hovered momentarily, then maneuvered itself passed a grove of trees, landing in a field below.

Deafmute
May 12th, 2015, 03:44 PM
I really enjoyed this. This works really well as introduction to a larger story. You very well manage to set this universe up as an interesting somewhat magical place. Its not all hard technology even though this is a scifi setting. i like that. I like the bizarre alien species and the allusion to long dead alien races. The hook here is subtle. There is no emergency, though the skimmer could lead to something, but mainly you hook the audience with your setting. Your absent minded professor and his cute bubbly little girl are both likable. Over all I think you are on a good track. Only typo I saw was in the first sentence. I think you meant to say had instead of "head".

NathanBrazil
May 12th, 2015, 04:06 PM
Thanks, Deafmute. I worried about the slow opening. I'm glad it worked for you.

Harper J. Cole
May 12th, 2015, 06:04 PM
Very nice! I liked the opening cul-de-sac metaphor, which I've not seen used for hair before. The characters were set up well; very believable as father and daughter. I imagine them as probably a single-parent family, mother died or otherwise absent?

Just a few things I spotted ...

"she hummed different notes until the she had produced the proper color shift." - a superfluous 'the' is in here.

I think 'handheld' or 'hand-held' are normal (rather than 'hand held').

The word 'dress' is used three times in quick succession in paragraph 10, maybe change one of these to another word to avoid repetition.

I'm nitpicking, though; this was a well crafted teaser, I'll hope to see more of the story! :thumbl:

NathanBrazil
May 12th, 2015, 06:21 PM
Thanks HarperCole. Nitpick away. I'll have to rework the dress part. Now that you pointed it out, it sticks out, and I wants to fix it. I'm only 1300 words in but I imagined the mother is absent. I just haven't worked out that bit yet.

Silence
May 13th, 2015, 01:39 AM
I like the story and it does seem to be an intro. Though I'm having a hard time seeing what Seth and Jaylene's experiments are.

NathanBrazil
May 13th, 2015, 02:02 AM
Thanks Silence. That's a problem. I need to find a way to clarify without overloading the beginning. I'll have to give that some thought.

Silence
May 13th, 2015, 05:34 AM
What are the goals or purpose of their experiments? I might be able to help if I knew what they were.

NathanBrazil
May 13th, 2015, 06:14 AM
I think that DeafMute nailed it. Seth is an absent minded professor. His experiments are more about discovery than about any ultimate goal. He has no lofty aspirations.

The simple purpose is to have a bunch of flying insects lift a model dirigible.

R. Mountebank
May 13th, 2015, 06:21 AM
Very cool Nathan.
Good flow. Interesting ideas. The right amount of whimsy...
I don't feel that it is slow - you are introducing new elements every other paragraph. It is enough to keep the reader hooked.
Is it part of a larger piece?

NathanBrazil
May 13th, 2015, 06:29 AM
Thanks, Mountebank. It is a part of a larger piece, though I've only managed a little over 1,300 words so far. I have some ideas, but nothing that's been converted to digital ink.

bilz346
May 13th, 2015, 08:26 PM
I liked it as well. Very smooth flow. The dress part stood out to me as well. Maybe change it to something like this:

Jaylene fiddled with the hem of her long blue satin dress, which shimmered in the dusky gloom of his office.

instead of:

Jaylene fiddled with the hem of her dress; a long blue satin dress that shimmered in the dusky gloom of his office.

NathanBrazil
May 13th, 2015, 09:02 PM
Thanks, bilz346. That's a good edit. I'll think on that and probably make that change when I have a bit more time.

Kevin
May 15th, 2015, 06:05 PM
Good description. Excellent dialog. The back and forth, child/adult , father/daughter, serves well. Good character development.


These pulsing globes, called Mnangs, were remnants of an ancient alien civilization, originally discovered on an abandoned outpost world. Mnangs were a docile, pliant creature that were easy to breed and lived primarily off of light. It could also maintain its position anywhere in space, as if dangling by an invisible thread. This of course had made them very popular and they had been transplanted to planets throughout the galaxy. --- this is good... a so sort of Segway into the futuristic.. Fits in well. Ties in neatly.




“Fantabulous!”Very good. Made me laugh. Too short to get a real sense, but for what is there, it's good.





Knits:


A skimmer, a light, fast spacecraft, came into view, spoiling the moment. It hovered momentarily, then maneuvered itself passed a grove of trees, landing in a field below.--- I might add something about the skimmer being seen through the glass ceiling/windows, as you have a lot of description, first of the atrium, then some action, and then back to what they are seeing, which requires the reader to recall the exactly, the setting description. JAT (to help us along)



These pulsing globes, called Mnangs, were remnants of an ancient alien civilization, originally discovered on an abandoned outpost world. Mnangs were a docile, pliant creature that were easy to breed and lived primarily off of light. It could also maintain its position anywhere in space, --- 'It' , 'a' , or 'they' ? A plural vs. singular issue, I think... Mnangs are docile, pliant creatures... A Mnang is a docile, pliant... Hope any of this helps. Keep it up. K

NathanBrazil
May 15th, 2015, 06:18 PM
Thanks K. Good stuff - as always.

Add: Both are great suggestions. I had another reader have that same issue with visualizing the skimmer outside. I just need a bit more time to address both those issues.

Brian A Seals
May 17th, 2015, 11:08 PM
What's new and exciting Nathan? I'm Seals.

Or Brian. (Whatever works for you).

A few comments (sort-of concerns): I think you accidentally typed "Jolene", instead of "Jaylene", as the name of the girl in two sentences there. Either this is a mistake, or I'm missing something. Okay, so my next comment towards your work, is an issue of style, not grammar, because there's nothing wrong with your grammar, as far as I can tell. A couple of books have done their best to shape me as an author. One is "On writing", by Stephen King, the other is "Screenplay", by Syd Field. I'm pretty sure this advice comes from Stephen King though; try using the word "said", when explaining who is speaking dialogue, exclusively. Use "Seth said", or "He said", or "She said", etc., and avoid using words like "exclaimed", or even "screamed".

There's a couple reasons for this. One is: the tone and/or volume of voice should be evident in the writing, or, you should leave it up to the reader to make that determination, rather than trying to force them to read it in a certain way. The other reason is simply a style choice. Using 'exclaimed", "shouted", "Whispered", "cried", "huffed" and so on, can read like a somewhat outdated young person's novel, like Nancy Drew. Writers often use these words in fear that the reader won't get the mood without them, but if I recall correctly, King suggests that you allow your writing to tell the tale.

Of course, this is just a small sample of your writing, so the use of "exclaimed" and "huffed", may be the exceptions to the rule in your work. Or, it may be your own deliberate style choice. Either one is fine, but I'd suggest trying it the other way, just to see if you like it,

Personally, since using "said" all of the time, does get a bit repetitive, I often write dialogue like this:

[Seth smiled. "If horse flies were as big as horses, I suppose we could ride them dear".]

I use the above all the time. I try and steer clear of this: [Seth said, cheerily.}

Now on to what I liked, and this is the appropriate timing: I was really intrigued by Seth and what he was doing. I'm very interested in learning more regarding his character. Also, the interaction between him and his daughter is sweet. You made another choice that interested me as well: alien plants that live off of light alone? I'm no scientist, but I know enough of science from college, to know that small detail is fascinating. I'd suggest expanding on that idea, if you haven't already. This plant, if alive, needs to excrete as well. What waste does it produce? Just that could lead to an interesting plot point.

Beyond that, I could find no spelling errors, no grammatical errors, no misplaced punctuation, nothing. It's good.

More, please.

-B.

NathanBrazil
May 18th, 2015, 01:41 AM
Thanks, Brian. I changed the name somewhere in mid-creation, and didn't fix it everywhere. Should be Jaylene. I tend to stick with "said", and sprinkle a few of the other type in, but I can revisit. I was planning on expanding on the Mnangs further down the line, though my thoughts in this regard are pretty nebulous.

I was planning on posting more, but work has been incredibly busy. Hopefully I can squeeze some time in soon.