Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » 1st 13 sci-fi ~5600 words

   
Author Topic: 1st 13 sci-fi ~5600 words
RyanB
Member
Member # 10008

 - posted      Profile for RyanB   Email RyanB         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Revision: some large number + 1:

Felix surveyed the central monitoring station when he arrived. Lukas, head of security at Hoechst Research, scanned the CRT monitors switching through video feeds. Another officer puffed a cigarette while a third sipped stale coffee.

Felix was ready to get to the bottom of this. “Ok, tell me exactly what’s happened so far tonight.”

Lukas shook his head. “Seriously? What’s it going to take for you to admit your system is broken? I’ve been here for,” he looked at his watch, “twenty-two hours now. Which means you’ve been here for nineteen. Just admit it’s broken and let's go home.”

Felix thought about his cozy bed, the smell of fresh cappuccino instead of burnt coffee, or just fresh air. “The equipment is fine. Your guys helped me test every one of those motion sensors.

Revision: some large number:

In quick succession Felix asked his questions and got his answers. A motion sensor went off. Two guards rushed to the location, but didn’t find anything. About seven minutes later another sensor lit up. Rinse and repeat. They never saw anything on the cameras, never found anything out of place.

The security team did this thirty-three times the night before. Their two-way radios had never transmitted so much cursing in one night. And tonight was looking like a repeat performance.

“Are you ready to call this off? Say the system is broken? We can shut it down and run manual patrols, then you guys can come replace it tomorrow,” Lukas said.

“It’s not broken. Your guys helped me test every one of those sensors. They’re working correctly,” Felix knew if he was wrong he might be looking for a job with these guys.

Original
Felix was startled awake by the bright light and harsh voice.
"Let's go, Mr. Engineer. We’ve had two tripped motion sensors. Time to do your thing."

Felix rolled over and looked at the clock: 1:12 AM. "So they came back?"

"If by ‘they’ you mean whatever is causing your system to malfunction, then yeah, they are back. Should I tell the guys to keep a watch for little green gremlins?"

Felix ignored this last comment and pulled his hair into a pony tail. The security guard beamed a condescending grin from under his buzz cut. Felix chuckled silently. Would you like to compare paychecks? Who would be laughing then? But Felix reminded himself that none of this was the security team’s fault. He’d try to make tonight go smoother than the day shift.

1st revision:

Felix shifted his body around. This cot had to be the worst bed he had ever used. He was exhausted, but there was no way he could sleep. He couldn’t stop his mind from trying to solve this problem.

He heard the door open then bright fluorescent lighting seared his eyes. The security guard spoke 3 times louder than normal. "Let's go, Mr. Engineer. We’ve had two tripped motion sensors. Time to do your thing."

Felix looked at the clock: 1:12 AM. "So they came back?"

"They? Should I tell the guys to keep a watch for little green gremlins? Or are you going to fix your system."

Felix was certain the security system was working correctly. He pulled his hair into a pony tail. The security guard beamed a condescending grin from under his buzz cut.

**
I'm looking for people to critique the whole story. Let me know if you're interested.

[ February 01, 2013, 03:50 PM: Message edited by: RyanB ]

Posts: 219 | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
easterabbit
Member
Member # 9810

 - posted      Profile for easterabbit           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Starting with someone waking is a cliche.

The 'harsh voice' remains disembodied until you clarify it in the line 'The security guard beamed...', until that point I had no idea if it was male, female or an electronic voice, or someone speaking over an intercom, etc--harsh doesn't necessarily mean male.

When someone talks it is important to clear up who is doing the talking so we have a peg to hang the voice on.

Not sure I like your protagonist--his comment about comparing pay checks makes him seem shallow. Not sure I like the direct thought in the middle of the 3rd person--consider italicising it, perhaps a line on its own, or (my preference) don't use a direct thought e.g.

...under his buzz cut. Felix chuckled silently. 'Course, they could always compare paychecks--that'd wipe the smile off the man's face. But, Felix reminded himself, that was none of...


The actual prose is fine.

[ January 16, 2013, 03:07 PM: Message edited by: easterabbit ]

Posts: 54 | Registered: Apr 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
RyanB
Member
Member # 10008

 - posted      Profile for RyanB   Email RyanB         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ahh. I had that italicized in the original document. I guess I need to pay more attention when I copy/paste.

I never thought much about "starting with waking" as being cliched. How much of a problem is that?

Posts: 219 | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
easterabbit
Member
Member # 9810

 - posted      Profile for easterabbit           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It is a common cliche that beginner writers will often use without realising it is identifying them as such.

It is simply an over-used opening device.

There are pros who may use it, but they may get away with it. Editors may simply dump a story from an unknown writer the minute they see it starts with the MC waking, as it usually (99%) marks a lower quality story.

Of course, it is a legitimate way to start a story--just risky. I wouldn't do it.

Posts: 54 | Registered: Apr 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
RyanB
Member
Member # 10008

 - posted      Profile for RyanB   Email RyanB         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the heads up. I was hesitant to change it at first because there's a symmetry with ... (ok I won't go there).

I thought of a way to avoid the "starting with waking up" and I like it better. Thanks.

Posts: 219 | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
RyanB
Member
Member # 10008

 - posted      Profile for RyanB   Email RyanB         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So, what's the protocol here? I edited the beginning in response to comments above. Do I add it in a post, edit the OP, or what?
Posts: 219 | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
easterabbit
Member
Member # 9810

 - posted      Profile for easterabbit           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you edit your original post leaving the original version of the intro intact, but post the new version just below the original, using a heading such as '1st Revision', then people can see the evolution of the piece based on crits you received (some of which you may choose to ignore).

It keeps all versions at the top of the thread--sometimes threads can be quite long and you don't want people to comment on the original version simply becuase they have failed to read the whole thread and were unaware of a revised version 10 posts down.

Posts: 54 | Registered: Apr 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What easterabbit said, RyanB.

That's the best approach.

Posts: 7995 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
RyanB
Member
Member # 10008

 - posted      Profile for RyanB   Email RyanB         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ok, I rewrote and rewrote this opening. Then I chopped off the first two pages. I think I finally got it to where it starts with the essence of the first part of the story.
Posts: 219 | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mayflower988
Member
Member # 9858

 - posted      Profile for mayflower988   Email mayflower988         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sounds intriguing, but could you maybe offer us a little more than "location"? I had a hard time getting a mental picture of the happenings, i.e. is Felix commanding the guards remotely, is he with them and seeing them firsthand? I figured since you used the word "guards", they must be in some kind of prison, but it was hard to figure out where Felix was in relation to the guards and what his role was.

I'm also unclear on the relationship between Felix asking questions & getting answers and the motion sensors going off. Why did the motion sensors go off? How are they working correctly if the guards didn't find anything?

And the last line - why would Felix be looking for a job with the guards if he was wrong? I was confused because I've never heard of a prisoner being promoted to guard for doing something wrong.

Granted, I'm not an experienced writer, but I hope that helps. Maybe it can give you an idea of what an everyday Joe Schmoe (or in this case Jane Schmane) thinks while reading your story.

Posts: 286 | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
RyanB
Member
Member # 10008

 - posted      Profile for RyanB   Email RyanB         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ahh, you're right. I keep forgetting that the first thing most people think of for "guard" is prison rather than watchmen/guards.

I'm having trouble fitting in both setting a description of what's going on in the first 13. I revised it again to focus more on setting.

Thanks for your perspective.

Posts: 219 | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mayflower988
Member
Member # 9858

 - posted      Profile for mayflower988   Email mayflower988         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh, by the way, I'm interested in reading and critiquing the whole story. Sorry, I forgot to mention that earlier. :)
Posts: 286 | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SR Dev
Member
Member # 9986

 - posted      Profile for SR Dev   Email SR Dev         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
opening with someone surveying feels a little weak to me. Again Felix was ready to get to the bottom of this.

That feels so vague to me it doesn't prompt specific enough questions to make me want to read onward. More importantly, There were no clues from the previous sentences to inspire this thought, so it read as a little bit of a non sequitur to me.

I feel a little bit as if I"m being plopped in in the middle of the story. Which isn't a huge problem, but then I feel like I'd like to have some more details. What exactly is the problem with the feeds? I mean show us how the character knows there's a problem. Give us a concrete symptom. That could be a really strong hook itself. Show us the officer watching the footage, and maybe it looks like there's nothing wrong, but then have him focus on what he thinks is wrong. I needed more specificity to get too interested instead of vaguely confused. But maybe I'm just an idiot.

Posts: 37 | Registered: Dec 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2