(Working title. Looking for critiques only at this point; I haven't gotten near enough written down to be looking for readers yet. Project is a Novel, SF/Political Thriller. On to the lines: [12, to avoid cutting off in mid-sentence])
Andy English breezes by the doorman and into the party. He's wearing enough shimmerdust to make any face-recog software give up and die, just like half of the celebs inside, and a face that screams out "C-list movie star: you know, that guy. In that thing. Oh, and one of the legionaires in Tyler's 'Beau Geste'". Tyler did Andy, and, he supposed, dozens of actual C-listers a huge favor with that film's whole 'no-virutal-extras' stunt. The forged invitation on his public persona card holds up to the perfuctory scans, and he is waved through. Past the gatekeepers, Andy scans the party for his target. The party is a good one, with plenty of Names mingling. Occasionally Andy sees a pair that the tabloids haven't linked yet, and takes a few shots. Twelve years ago, Andy had his left eyeball replaced with a terapixel array camera. Heavily encrypted picture bits go into his internal storage, and queue up for wireless transport to three offshore data havens as soon as he gets out in public again, where it's safe to broadcast freely.
Hi Jeff. Welcome. (I'm not the official welcoming committee, by the way -- I've been voted off that job. )
I can almost dig what you're striving for with this piece, but the info-dumps are hurting it in my opinion. The present tense is interesting, but be warned that some find present tense hard to read throughout an entire novel. There's a sort of Fight Club like feel to the narrative -- the movie I mean, I've not read the book -- which appeals to me.... I suppose strangely.
Consider focusing more on Andy's business at the party and less on who did who a favor and what happened 12 years ago. It's hard to see where the next few lines will take us, so other than recommending to find another way to work in the technology a little more smoothly, I don't know what else to say.
Someone here once told me: SF readers are smart. Incredibly smart, on average. You don't necessarily need to explicate everything, they'll accept it if it fits within the context of the narrative. They'll figure it out if you do it right. (Of course, we weren't discussing Hard SF where it's mostly about how stuff works when this was told to me.) This story seems to be a character story at first glance. If so, don't worry about the how, just show us what it does.
Well, I'm seeing it as more of a setting story, actually. And the present tense is only in the Andy sections; the other two viewpoint characters get "normal" past tense text. I went with present for him because (I) it fits the character; moving the 3rd person into almost a running personal narritive for him, and (II) I know I'm going to be doing a good number of flashbacks eventually with him, and I really hate past perfect narration.
Other points taken; some of the things you mentioned are beats that need to get hit in the setting but that can wait until page 3 or 4 (or later, in some cases.)
quote:Andy English breezes by the doorman and into the party. He's wearing enough shimmerdust to make any face-recog software give up and die, just like half of the celebs inside, and a face that screams out "C-list movie star: you know, that guy. In that thing. Oh, and one of the legionaires in Tyler's 'Beau Geste'". Tyler did Andy, and, he supposed, dozens of actual C-listers a huge favor with that film's whole 'no-virutal-extras' stunt. The forged invitation on his public persona card holds up to the perfuctory scans, and he is waved through. Past the gatekeepers, Andy scans the party for his target. The party is a good one, with plenty of Names mingling.
your first sentences is lovely. There is something perfect about using the verb breezes to describe an actor named "Andy English."
CUt out: "just like half of the celebs inside," We don't need it. We'll find out that it's a celeb party when you start talking about the press. Just start the next sentence, "His face."
"Tyler did Andy, and, he supposed, dozens of actual C-listers a huge favor with that film's whole 'no-virutal-extras' stunt. "
This is funny, except I don't know if I caught the nuance because this is not a one line joke. It's a story in and of itself. If you aren't going to explain this at another time, explain it here or cut it because all it does hint at a funny joke without delivering, and that just could get frustating. If you are going to leave it in, I hope you take the story later on the book.
The hardest part is for you to keep your eye on the ball. What's this scene supposed to do. Andy is in a party to do something to a target. Everything really should have something to do with Andy's relation to the target, in my opinion. If you are going to have funny tangents, they should reveal Andy's relation to the target.
You strike me as a guy with a lot of good lines, and this story will use them, but you can't force them where they don't fit and serve the story. Good luck.
[This message has been edited by Tanglier (edited February 19, 2005).]
That being said, here's the one thing I noticed right away: there's too much going on here. I'm good with Andy sneaking into a movie star party, and that he's looking for a target. But the rest of the information you give is kind of distracting. The first sentence and a half is awesome, but then you go off on a tangent about Tyler and his film, and I totally lost you. I had to go back and remind myself of what, exactly, was happening when you jumped back into the present moment with, "The forged invitation on his public persona card..." It was kind of jarring. If we really need this information, perhaps you can present it later, where it will be immediately pertinent? I think that it's enough for this scene if you simply say that he looked like a C-list movie star.
Ah, Alynia's post has made me think of something to add to my previous post. It was her Douglas Adams comment (which I don't quite see, but she said only 'just a little' so I'll let it go as that... this time )
Right. If you choose a full omniscient narrator, like what DA did throughout the Hitchiker series, you can go off on wild tangents about how everything works, and be as silly as can be. But to do this, you must clearly establish the narrator is omniscient... not hard to do, but hard to do very well it is often said here. (few like omni narrators).
So, if the background of the tech is vital to telling the story, then you will need to choose an appropriate narrator to handle it, or as I said earlier, find another way to handle it within narrative so it doesn't feel like an info-dump.
Right. That's all. You are returned to you regularly scheduled fragment crits.
Lots of good comments. I think that I'll either trim or cut the Tyler line, and if I keep it recast it to stay in the present tense and keep things flowing. (Tanglier: references to that film do, at least according to current plan, recur fairly often as something between a motif and a running gag.)
I can't think of what I'd do in a Prologue, though. Part of the entire point of the exercise is the slow reveal, bit by bit, of how the culture gets from here to there, so I can't just summarize that at the onset, and I can't think of any set pieces that can't be done through flashback or other narrative device within the body.
Well,l it looks to me like Andy is a paparazzi himself (though ex-actor) and spends his time getting the dirt on fellow celebs. Definitely the possibility to become a good interesting story.
I have to agree with the present tense comments. It can be very difficult to read (and maintain). Switching between present and past tense has the potential to badly confuse the readers (especialy if they are concurrent within the time-line).
I don't find the the sentances scan particularly well. I'm not sure exactly what needs to be done with them, but I think that they need to be reworked to flow better. It can be very choppy, especially in the first paragraph.
The comment regarding Tyler really does fall inbetween short enough to simply be there and long enough to add something. I think that it's interesting, but I either need to learn a bit more about it there, or simply not hear about it yet.
Finally, regarding the eye-camera: I must agree with HSO, SF readers are usually rather intelligent. While many will want to learn how the information storage and transmission is handled, it is the type of thing that can be handled later (if it is important to the storyline) or not at all. We don't need to know the details about the encryption, transmission, and data-havens right now. Maybe replace the last sentance with somethign far similar, similar to: "The photos are stored securely for later transmission."
In general, I have to agree with those who were bothered by present tense, even though it didn't bother me that much here--but that was because this was an short excerpt. The longer I read something in present tense, the more wearying it becomes. (How much of the book is in Andy's POV?) By the way, flashbacks can be done in straightforward past tense, after a sentence or so in past perfect to clue the reader in.
Aside from that, I have one other comment relating, by happenstance, to present tense. I thought "Andy" in the first line was a typo when I read it, because the next two words, "English breezes," made perfect sense on their own. "And English breezes blew through the countryside," or something, was what I was expecting. By the time I finished the first sentence I realized the sentence had no verb and made no sense the way I was reading it. Obviously, past tense would fix this. But since I'm apparently the only one who stumbled over this, I'd say the general dislike of present tense on the part of readers is a more cogent reason to change it.
[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited February 25, 2005).]