This is topic Lumenics in forum Fragments and Feedback for Short Works at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by easterabbit (Member # 9810) on :
As lightships go, the Cuerva A-4 was a thoroughbred, claws-out, track you down and wipe you out, murder machine. But so beautiful. My finger paused an inch above the black, pitted hull of the Arrow Class warship, I turned to the dealer, Robit Tiore.
“Your asking a lot of credits for her. She seems old, tired.” I shrugged .
Robit thrust out his lower lip, but his eyes didn’t flinch. “She's state of the art, but it’s your decision."
My finger tip touched the hull and something connected with my network and flicked a file into my c-i, bypassing all the expensive security systems I'd installed. A woman's voice whispered in my ear.
“Mr. Cesar, you should be aware that this man intends to kill you...” The voice paused for a moment. “This is the ship."
Posted by JSchuler (Member # 8970) on :
You had me. Granted, there were some problems, but you had me going for that second page. Then...

"This is the ship."

My teeth clenched down and I went on to the next story. You have something that can either be played up for tension ("Who is this mysterious woman?") or used as a minor demonstration of your ability to use subtext. Instead, it's resolved with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

In those last four words, you lost me.

Besides that, it was pretty decent. Plot wise I find it odd that we're talking about buying a warship much like buying a used car, down to the point a prospective buyer is running his finger along the hull. (Are these things that small? I'm picturing a fighter, not a warship.)

c-i? I'm going to assume that stands for Cabbage Igloo. Aside from an odd format for an acronym, it's good to spell out the full term first so your readers don't accidentally get a picture of someone chucking a manila folder past a laser grid into an Inuit shelter made of produce.

"I shrugged." This is dangerously close to an inappropriate said-bookism. The thing that saves it is that it's preceded by a period rather than a comma--meaning that his body is shrugging rather than he is shrugging the words--but it did trip a mental alarm as I read it.

I'd say that the second biggest issue is the lack of physical reaction by Cesar at getting his brain sliced into by a woman's voice. If I had high-end gear keeping my mind safe and secure and witnessed someone bypass it without effort, I would hope my new master would permit me a change of pants before I embarked on whatever nefarious scheme he ordered my body.
Posted by Disgruntled Peony (Member # 10416) on :
There's a lot of potential in these 13 lines, but also a lot of work that needs to be done. For example, you used "your" instead of "you're" in the second paragraph. There's a fragment, as well as multiple run-on sentences (the first sentences in paragraphs one and four). If the whole story reads this way, it's in bad need of an edit.

I agree with JSchuler--the bluntness of that last line is so painful it hurts. I'm of two minds about this story: I want to want to read on, but I'd rather read it after you've moved on to the next draft.
Posted by wcoditwgth (Member # 10431) on :
The intro is a pretty nice description of a ship. I'm a bit confused though: how can the main character claim that the ship seems old and tired if, according to Robit, she is supposed to be "state of the art?" The first sentence makes the ship seem a like a sleek, pure deliverer of death, but the "She seems old, tired" contradicts that.
I'd be willing to read more, though I don't have much experience as a writer or editor.

*After a second thought, I'm going to guess that the MC is trying to bargain for a lower price, hence the line description "old, tired." In which case, I'm left with wondering whether Mr. Cesar is cash-strapped (maybe spent all the money on the expensive security systems?), someone who enjoys saving money, or whether the asking price really is just too expensive.

[ July 06, 2015, 11:09 PM: Message edited by: wcoditwgth ]
Posted by Captain of my Sheep (Member # 10362) on :
I rather like it. I'd read on.

The fact that it is the ship that's talking will make me read more. A talking ship is nothing new, but one that knows the intentions of another person and decides to alert another of them is interesting. What does she gain from alerting the MC? Why alert him?
The fact that the ship talks isn't the hook for me, it's what she says.

I really, really liked the voice from the first sentence but I feel like that voice didn't carry over to your dialogue.

The line:

“She's state of the art, but it’s your decision."
This doesn't sound like a dealer who is trying to sell something. This makes me lose a bit of faith in the story because it makes me think all dialogue is going to sound inauthentic to me.

I shrugged.
To me that shrug doesn't accompany the dialogue. I'd like to know what he noticed that made him think the ship looked tired, that'd be more useful, maybe.

I agree with JSchuler about the lack of reaction when all his security systems are bypassed. You don't need a huge reaction, just a reaction.

Also I agree with Disgruntled Peony about the need for an edit.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
I actually didn't get that it was the ship talking until I read Captain's comment. I was vaguely confused by the line, but took it to mean someone was telling him "This is the right ship. This ship is the one you're looking for."

Aside from this confusion, I actually like this. Sounds like a story I might be into. Agreed that some editing/polishing is needed (isn't it always?) But I like the content.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
An individual negotiates a used car purchase. The car warns the individual the seller intends to murder him.

Okay, a warship, not a car; the situation is the same.

For me, the fragment rushes through the negotiations to get as soon as possible to the warning so that a "hook" is set.

Observe a real negotiation. Note the haggling is usually three steps: proposal-counterproposal three times, if both parties are sincere about a trade. Intermediate content praises or disparages an item's value.

I understand the buyer likes the item and once disparages it. "She seems old, tired." At least once if not twice more the buyer and Tiore could haggle. The warship could initially warn the buyer during the exchange, instead of sequentially, perhaps after the first bargaining exchange. And a gradual, three steps as well, buildup to the murderous intent. Opportunity for building tension is wasted when a fear-pity emotional cluster is just laid out once and done.

Also, a touch of ominousness could be developed by a character description of the dealer, stronger setting description, and a stronger event than more or less talking heads. The buyer does touch the warship, and also describes Tiore, the small item of thrusting out his lower lip, though they are vague and neutral attitudes.

A woman's voice is too specific, a female or feminine voice perhaps. Stronger if the voice's intonation implies female instead of directly states the voice is a woman's -- which it is not, the voice is the warship's artificial or otherwise intelligence.

I would not turn the page, due mainly to the rush through the negotiation to get to the warning.
Posted by Captain of my Sheep (Member # 10362) on :
wetwilly, here's the funny part, I didn't get it either until I read JSchuler comment. I thought the same you did.

I mention it now because it looks like I wasn't the only one to trip on that part. Probably means something.
Posted by easterabbit (Member # 9810) on :
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this intro. it obviously needs some more work, so I will consider the above comments...

Thanks again.
Posted by Scot (Member # 10427) on :
I would totally turn the page and read on.

Sure, polish is always helpful, but I like the setup and I'm already willing to start rooting for Mr. Cesar. I didn't have any problem with the details that other folks have brought up (except the line "This is the ship" which I think is unneeded). I think that's because I can relate to looking at a machine this way, so I was getting into sync with Cesar from the first line. Coming into a negotiation in media res works fine for me since there's nothing that implies these are the first words the negotiators are exchanging. The clincher for me was revealing that the ship is sentient, seems to see value in Cesar, and he is in danger.

Take my thoughts with a grain of sand though, since I don't usually read a lot of sci-fi.

If you'd like someone to read the whole story (assuming it's relatively short), I'd be glad to help.
Posted by Brian Carlson (Member # 10433) on :
Maybe a pained expression on the MCs face could be interpreted as not wanting to buy the ship leading into the next pass of bargaining.

That leads to the difficulty of having the seller who wants to kill the MC. What would be his drive to make a hard sell if he's just going to kill you.

I think I'd like the tension better if he doesn't positively know the source of the voice.

I would read on.

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