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jParker - 9 December 2013 - Cut Flower Sound Ch. 5 & 6


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Nicely written, but it didn't feel like things moved on much - like you said, he's mostly just wandering. The bit with Colby helped balance this - a nice bit of conflict that was raised and resolved, adding variety to his settling into town. Maybe this is the way to deal with the issue in general - create a challenge or conflict, a short subplot that takes him to the places and events you want to exposit, and then wraps itself up. Something around harvesting maybe?


On a much smaller point, I wasn't clear what the municipal/FNG bit was  meant to refer to - might be something I've forgotten from earlier, if not it was just a bit confusing, though felt like it hinted at something interesting in Elmer's background.

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Once again, I'm in agreement with Andyk:


2nd paragraph, lots of passive tense
pg 1: "What he did not know was that planting was a very delicate procedure, requiring precise timing and weather. "
--if he doesn't know it, he can't narrate it.
pg 2: placket
--had to look that one up.
pf 4: "Some jokes are just too bad not to laugh at."
So again,  Good writing and good characterization.  I'm starting to like Elmer and I'm getting a feel for the townsfolk, but he's just not doing anything.  We have a few hints of why he's in town, and other strange things might be happening at night.  Aside from that, Elmer fends off a woman, has a day, and then goes to bed.  
I'm sure there's some plot here and I'm eager to hear what it is.  You've got my attention, now follow through on your delivery.
I think the issue is that Elmer just observes.  The best way to generate conflict is have two characters interact.  So give Elmer the job he's looking for, and maybe he finds out about farming in the mix.  The bit with Colby was good because it showed us family relations, as well as having action.  
I would question why you're interested in telling us about Legacy before you have the plot rolling.  Get us caught up in the action, or have something strange happen in the night, and then we'll start to wonder about this little town with all the conflict in it.  I'll gladly listen to exposition on Legacy then.
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And that's the problem I keep running into. When I was writing this in November, I had no idea where I was going. I was just writing to the next major scene I had envisioned. Now that I'm running back through, I'm sorely tempted to toss 90+% of the material out and start fresh. 

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Hey, I'm new to the group and coming in late so keep that in mind. 


I assume you are a more discovery type than an outliner based on the i had no idea where I was going. That is cool, but you might want to sit down and at least define the endpoint of the chapter/scene if nothing else. That way you can devise a way to add a bit more conflict. I completely agree with mandamon and andyk, I really think the problem here is that nothing is going on and I see no direction in the story. 


To me these chapters seemed longer than they were. Adding in characterization and world building in ways that it is caused by some sort of conflict, should make it read a bit faster, regardless of the number of words you need to do so. I think that looking at your characters and their desires, along with the overall plot to decide how they are going to hamper each other from doing what they want and what needs to happen, will make a lot of the other stuff take care of itself.

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Not a lot to add to what's already been said here. As far as problems with exposition goes, one problem with it is that the narration is so, so very closely wedded to the POV of the character.


There's a broad spectrum of narrator-character involvement with total immersion in the character's psyche on one end and total detachment on the other, and in between there's a sliding scale that you might profitably play with. Maybe take a paragraph at the beginning of the chapter, just a few sentences, use a little description not only to set the scene but to slip in exposition. That way at least you don't have to walk the character around by the hand and have him look at things in order to be able to talk about them. (Hope that makes sense...)


Anyhoo, in chapter 6 we finally get some inkling of what's actually going to happen with Elmer in this story, i.e. the encounter with John and Katherine (kind of a random place to introduce two characters, at the end of the chapter BTW) and the intimations of strange things.


When you go back and revise this you might consider moving that last bit of information so that it appears much earlier in the story. Not the specifics (the devil etc.) but just "people see strange things" and leave it at that. I think in general in these first few chapters you have some interesting pieces in need of rearranging to make more sense dramatically (and some extra pieces that you can easily discard--maybe not 90% though) :)

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