To begin with and before the review, I have to confess to feeling that “An Author’s Introspection” is a bit grand. I wrote local sports, a couple articles for a small magazine where I did desktop publishing, and this ficblog. The Author, L. Stephen O’Neill, (perhaps you’ve heard of him. Perhaps YOU have, but you don’t own one of his books. I can guarantee that.) seems a bit pretentious, or at very least premature.
I suppose this disclaimer is to protect myself from unreasonable expectations.
I started this little story, Ko and the Widening Sea, to have something to write that wasn’t that important to me AND because I thought, and still hope, that it will be important to my daughter. I realize, perhaps too late, that to be important to her it might best have been begun by her, still…
What One Might Reasonably Expect
You can’t seek publishing advice for very long before being warned of the dangers of publishing too quickly. It isn’t a speed thing, but in this internet age there are concerns that putting out something cringe worthy can have a negative impact on one’s writing career. The permanence of the electronic media means that such stinkers will hang about ones neck very much like a rotting albatross.
Still, so I DO write, I bring these for your consideration and hopefully your enjoyment. I am in process, yes me, the author, L. Stephen O’Neill. It might not be a very good idea, but I’m going to look at what I wrote and see what can be done to improve it, beginning with Ko and the Widening Sea.
I just want you to know that this isn’t the best I’ve got. In fact, this website is really more of a writer’s scratch pad than stories that are finished and finely wrought to the best of my ability. I started Ko without much thought, and waiting for the next bit I’ve had time to think. So I’m going to have a look at these three posts beginning the story of a mermaid named Ko and see if I can improve things from the start.
What I Like and Why
There is a music to the title: “Ko and the Widening Sea” It is what I thought of off the top of my head, but it might have legs.
Authors Note, *AN* I plan to name the members of Ko’s shoal with a consonant and a vowel. Females are CV and males VC.
I like that I establish Ko as something special in the first paragraph. She seems positive, she rises early to find what the day will bring. That speaks of hope for good.
The second paragraph establishes that there are threats, danger. Father is mentioned and stars, a wider world reinforcing her differentness.
EDIT: I mention the thin air of heaven twice, I think that is redundant. “bright points of the stars above even the dry air of the heavens, Ko found the surface fascinating.” ->… stars above even the heavens, Ko found the surface…
Interestingly I think the third paragraph misses a golden opportunity to describe Ko as she looks at her own reflection. I’ll have to think about what I want her to look like. Now is a time that we can revisit ALL the information I’ve supplied about her so far.
I’ve missed so many setups that I wonder if I meant to use them and intentionally left those points on the field. Maybe I just suck, but at least I’m seeing them now as I read. Alternately this may be an example of what rewriting is for. I am just starting out and I don’t know Ko, perhaps I should let Olivia have a crack at personifying her.
The fifth paragraph references “The Others” which I think should be a place holder for something more specific. Who were the merfolk that attacked her shoal and what are they like? It will come into play later on, but at this point in the story we don’t know, but Ko does. At this point in the writing I have no idea.
I’d like to talk to my daughter about “The Others” and what she wants for Ko.
The sixth paragraph is not perfect either. Far from it. Grammatically this annoyed me: “…needed to snare the unwary prey…” I think it can be “…needed to snare unwary prey” or why does it have to be unwary? It needs sharpening.
Then: “Likely they would gather to harvest a larger catch together, but Ko liked to hone her personal skills and maybe find some new thing, some unlooked for treasure.” I think this speaks to how the shoal normally functions and that Ko is a little different, a little more than average, that’s good. We learn that she is more skilled because she trys to improve, and then I know what I mean, but I don’t think “…maybe find some new thing, some unlooked for treasure.” makes sense as she is looking for these new things and it is part of her motivation. I mean to express that she DOES find things, observes more closely perhaps, and they are treasures, but she IS looking for them. Not sure how to fix that.
Author’s Note: (*AN*) I’m interested at how much I found to fix so quickly in the first post. This suggests two things to me: 1) I want to talk to my co-writer because I want to have a co-writer. 2) I think I need to write on. I’ve got story ideas that I can get out and fix the discontinuities with rewriting.
What I Didn’t Like and Why
I guess I’m sort’a discouraged about how much I can point out as having problems. I also think I should have spent some time thinking about who Ko is (as well as other characters). I just started in, and that’s not a bad thing, but I need to talk to Olivia and see what she thinks.What I Think Can Be Better and How
I think the second and third paragraphs provide good opportunities to introduce interesting ideas.
The second paragraph explains the danger of the surface. It is an opportunity to relate the shoal’s very precarious situation
Ko’s father is mentioned, he is dead which reiterates the danger, but also deepens Ko’s character. I use this to explain why Ko is drawn to the surface despite its dangers. This is how you write, so I shouldn’t feel bad, I just need to press on.
What to do, What to DO
I’m going to write on and gather up the plotting I’ve done so far. It may be that this early material need not be the starting spot at all. Perhaps my daughter will want to start somewhere else. Perhaps all of this is just back story. So I think I will press on to flesh out the starting situation and lay out the basic plot of the beginning subject to change through collaboration.
That seems the best to me,
PS. I have to acknowledge that my experience reviewing my story start here with Ko and the Widening Sea suggests that all my stuff may be similarly flawed. (It might suck) This makes me wonder if I shouldn’t practice self-editing and revising on my accumulated work so far. Another option is to push on toward ending either in outline form or maybe hitting a few high points with notes or maybe to simply write the ending out of order to see if I can write a riveting “knock-out” ending.