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Author Topic: The Artist / Sci-Fi
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I smirk as the dove carrying an olive branch flies through my window. It means my latest assignment has arrived. My employer has a rather sick sense of humor.

Contrary to what you might think, I am not a sociopath. I am quite possibly the most sympathetic person you will ever meet in your life.

The dove drops the olive branch on my desk, with a piece of paper wrapped around it. When I unravel it, there will be a photograph of my target. No name, no home address, and no place of work. I don’t need any of that crap. In fact, that sort of information would render me incapable of doing my job.

Freud once said “dreams are often the most profound when they seem the most crazy.” He was definitely onto something when he

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited April 24, 2009).]

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I'm quite interested by a couple of style points in this passage

The first was the use of present-tense, which is not something I'm particularly used to (I don't read a lot of literary shorts). Is there a reason you chose that tense for your story? That this fragment also includes future tense ( When I unravel it, there will be), and past tense (He was definitely onto something) is interesting - I wonder if it's going to be unfamiliar for some readers.

The second is the relationship between the narrator and the reader Contrary to what you might think.... I think it's great that this is introduced early, rather than being sprung on the reader later. Still, I'm not sure where this relationship between narrator and reader is going to go.

I don't consider either an issue, just interesting style choices.

I felt that It means could be dropped - the reader will naturally understand that it's the narrator ascribing meaning to the event.

As hooks go, I'd have kept reading. There is action, of sorts, in this scene, and a question about the central character that I'd continue reading to have answered. The Freud comment is the only (minor) turn-off, mainly because in the context of the fragment it seems to be unnecessary.

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It's nicely done, and the idea that the (presumed) serial killer/assassin is actually hampered by information about the target is an intriguing touch.

But self-justifying first-person serial killer/assassin stories can be a hrad sell; there's a lot of it about.

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I like the story idea. I like first person, too, but first person-present is tough. It seems to be distracting if not carefully crafted.

A few minor ideas to consider, mostly regarding modifiers and redundant words and phrases that weaken the prose. <suggested deletion> [suggested insertion]

It means my <latest >assignment has arrived.

My employer has a <rather >sick sense of humor....

...the most sympathetic person you will ever meet< in your life>.

<Contrary to what you might think> [No,] I am not a sociopath.

<I don’t need any of that crap. >In fact, that sort of <information>[crap] would render me incapable....

Good luck with it!

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Nick T
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Hi msgolds,

Not a fan of present tense first person; very difficult to make it work over the course of a short. Adding to what the others have said, you’ve given the readers a real challenge in identifying with the protagonist.

The Freud quote paints your protagonist as slightly pretentious. At the moment, he isn’t sympathetic (despite what he tells us) given the number of things you’ve established in the 1st 13 (very good); he’s probably a hit man of some kind, he smirks upon receiving a job (even though it’s employer’s joke, it’s still a joke with a person’s life at stake) and he’s got an established sense of superiority (i.e. “contrary to what you might think” is a command to the reader). Do you want this many strikes against your protagonist in the 1st 13? It can be done, but it’s difficult.

I’m tied up with critiques this week, but I can look at it next week.


[This message has been edited by Nick T (edited April 30, 2009).]

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From one sentence, what do we know about this person that would lead us to believe that he's a sociopath? That is my biggest problem with this. You put the idea in our head that he's a sociopath by saying that he's not.
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