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Author Topic: Hurry Up and Drift (SciFi 5900 words)
Brian Carlson
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Hello, I could use some critique on the first 13 lines. I'm also looking for readers for the whole thing. I'm actually struggling on the paragraph after the first 13 and how it fits into the rest of the story. Its important information but I may need to relay it in a different way someone more experienced might be able to suggest.

1st Try:

The drift is the hardest part of any mission. An operator can pass time running through the mission brief in their head. Others might listen to music, watch videos, meditate, or even sleep. None of it distracts long from the knowledge that they are in free drift, in a sea of vacuum far from any backup, and inching closer to their enemy with every passing second.
Captain Adam Riley, member of the U.S. Space Operations squadron Combat Operations division, was on a stealth mission with no fuel budget for countermeasures or armor for his orbital transfer pod. Operators endeavor to blend in with all the other drifting micro meteorite relics of decades past. They find personal safety, and more importantly mission assurance, among the radar noise of space debris.

2nd Try:

The drift is the hardest part of any mission. Captain Adam Riley was on a stealth mission with no fuel budget for countermeasures or armor for his orbital transfer pod. His objective, orbiting about the Earth/Moon L5 point, was listed as a North Korean nano-capable ore processing station with a clean inspection history in the United Nations and International Nanotechnology Monitoring Agency station registries. Past experience has taught the squadron to stake little confidence on a clean surprise inspection by the INMA.
Combat personnel in the U.S. Space Operations squadron try to pass the time any way they can. Nothing distracts long from the knowledge that they are in free drift, in a sea of vacuum far from any backup, and inching closer to their enemy with every

[ June 24, 2015, 08:53 PM: Message edited by: Brian Carlson ]

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Disgruntled Peony
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I'm intrigued and would be willing to read further if you're inclined to send the story my way, but there's definitely a lot of information to absorb in the second paragraph. I'd need to read the whole story in order to be sure what to recommend, but my first thought is that you might be able to seed the information throughout the story as it becomes relevant. Another option might be some paragraph restructuring to increase dramatic tension:

quote:
Captain Adam Riley was on a stealth mission. He had no fuel budget for countermeasures or armor for his orbital transfer pod. His goal was to blend in with all the other drifting micro meteorite relics of decades past.
The drift is the hardest part of any mission. An operator can pass time running through the mission brief in their head. Others might listen to music, watch videos, meditate, or even sleep. None of it distracts long from the knowledge that they are in free drift, in a sea of vacuum far from any backup, and inching closer to their enemy with every passing second.

If the part about the U.S. Space Operations squadron Combat Operations division is important, you can probably fit that in later. The 'Captain' title and the stealth mission heavily implies Space Marine.
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Scot
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I'd probably keep reading.

I liked the certainty and curiosity from the opening sentence. Seems like the the 2nd line could bring the captain in right away, then contrast what others do to what he does during the drift. I'm looking to find out whether he's a character I can root for, so giving me this kind of info helps me.

The situation of hanging in space (I assume above a target, a planet?) is intriguing, but I wonder how practical it is. I'd need some justification soon about why this is a useful way to conduct military ops. Right now, it's borderline "whatever" and "well, maybe...."

Since I don't care about the captain as a person yet, I don't care about his org chart. And the other details about fuel and armor don't mean much to me yet, except to make me think he's been assigned a kamikaze mission (mission assurance > personal safety?). The assertions about micro-meteorites and space debris pique my interest again. But it seems that radar ought to be a little outdated by the time people are drifting like this.

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Brian Carlson
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Disgruntled Peony
Thank you very much for your response. I sent a copy of my draft to your email.

Scot
Being new here I didn't want to assume.

Did you mean you'd be willing to read the rest if I sent you my draft?

Or that just by the 13 lines it didn't suck so much you'd throw it in the trash if it was in your hands?

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Brian Carlson
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quote:
Originally posted by Scot:
I'd probably keep reading.

I liked the certainty and curiosity from the opening sentence. Seems like the the 2nd line could bring the captain in right away, then contrast what others do to what he does during the drift. I'm looking to find out whether he's a character I can root for, so giving me this kind of info helps me.

The situation of hanging in space (I assume above a target, a planet?) is intriguing, but I wonder how practical it is. I'd need some justification soon about why this is a useful way to conduct military ops. Right now, it's borderline "whatever" and "well, maybe...."

Since I don't care about the captain as a person yet, I don't care about his org chart. And the other details about fuel and armor don't mean much to me yet, except to make me think he's been assigned a kamikaze mission (mission assurance > personal safety?). The assertions about micro-meteorites and space debris pique my interest again. But it seems that radar ought to be a little outdated by the time people are drifting like this.

quote:

The drift is the hardest part of any mission.

The first line is the seed of thought that the whole story grew from. Imagining what it would be like having to do the work of a soldier plus having to deal with isolation.

I think I could definitely cut down the first two paragraphs into one and then be able to get to the rest story faster to keep everyone interested.

I'd probably classify the story as near-future hard-ish sci-fi. No warp drives or phasers. Currently confined to the Earth-moon system.

I probably need to figure out how to make that pretty clear right out of the gate. As a reader I imagine I'd want to know some reference of scale. Am I drifting between galaxies or just around the corner celestially speaking.

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Brian Carlson
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2nd Try:

The drift is the hardest part of any mission. Captain Adam Riley was on a stealth mission with no fuel budget for countermeasures or armor for his orbital transfer pod. His objective, orbiting about the Earth/Moon L5 point, was listed as a North Korean nano-capable ore processing station with a clean inspection history in the United Nations and International Nanotechnology Monitoring Agency station registries. Past experience has taught the squadron to stake little confidence on a clean surprise inspection by the INMA.
Combat personnel in the U.S. Space Operations squadron try to pass the time any way they can. Nothing distracts long from the knowledge that they are in free drift, in a sea of vacuum far from any backup, and inching closer to their enemy with every

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WB
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For me, the problem is the same in both, now all three, cases: "The drift" being the first thing I see. Radioactive drift? Some sort of biohazard? Mission creep? All these ideas or image go through my head, and then I puzzle out that it probably means something like "down time." I don't want to puzzle out what the author means. I want to experience the events with MC.

But I think your main question was: how do I get this background in early on?

OSC's take is: if you need it to understand the first things in the first scene, put in in paragraph one, and POV be damned. (Not his words.)

But if you need it later, you can put it later.

I think you've got info you don't need, or not now. We need to know that Captain Riley is on a dangerous space mission, and then we can understand his thoughts.

I also think this whole "drift is the hardest part" thought could be in Riley's POV, because, well, that's what we care about: we want to know him, care about _his_ fears rather than those of generic combat personnel. And we want to get out of summary and into a scene as soon as we can. E.g. that last line about how nothing can distract you on such a mission might become
quote:
He turned off the Star Trek rerun he was watching. Captain Kirk always wins, he thought, but if the 'ore processing station' senses me, I'll be dead before I can react.

Maybe a sandwich? No --

OK, I'm being silly, but the point is, we can see much of this from Riley's POV, while getting to know and care about him. I don't care what combat personnel do on their missions. I care about what Riley's doing on his.
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Brian Carlson
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Thank you WB. It seems that first line is less impactful and useful than it rings in my head. I have the whole story is sitting in my head while the reader is starting fresh.

I appreciate your input. I think I'm holding the story back trying to keep vestigial pieces that helped in creating the story but are taking up space from more effective replacements.

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Disgruntled Peony
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The first line is what caught my interest, but it doesn't necessarily have to be the first line in the final draft.
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Grumpy old guy
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For me, the entire story would appear to be a third person narrative by a disembodied narrator standing outside of the story. You are telling me everything and leaving me very little room to imagine feelings, emotions, and experiences; another word for the action.

The opening sentence led me to believe 'The Drift' was, in fact, a drift in concentration, not a low-Earth orbit. Hardly what I would call a drift. Satellites, space stations, and other craft don't drift or coast, they orbit at a set velocity depending on the distance from Earth.

The first sentence got me to read the second; and that's when the disappointment started to set in. I would not read on.

Phil.

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Scot
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Brian, sorry for not checking back sooner. I'm a little over-scheduled right now, so I'm afraid I can't read. But I want to say that I like the drift sentence. I understood it and was curious about the details of a boring, yet tense situation like that---sort of like a police stake out? Beyond that, the other reviewers' comments about character's POV and the action ring true to me also.
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