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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Terminus

   
Author Topic: Terminus
skadder
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“Know what a bullet is, boy—I mean really?”
Sweat dripped from Carrigan’s aquiline nose onto the Colt Peacemaker he pointed at my chest. He lifted an eyebrow.
I shook my head, then ducked as another hail of bullets splintered the bank’s door. Sh*t, the sheriff would kill me if it meant stopping Carrigan escaping.
Carrigan pulled out a single bullet and held it up; it glinted in the sunlight. Rising to his feet he said,“It’s a way to travel, if you know how.” He grinned, then suddenly he was moving fast. He jammed my head against his and held it tight, with his other hand he ground the barrel into my temple.
“Hey, the twentieth century is cool. Let’s go there.” Then he pulled the trigger.


[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 27, 2008).]


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JustInProse
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First - Asimov's Foundation was on the planet Terminus.

Second - I had to read the second line literally seven times. Something about the flow is off, and I don't understand how he has sweat dripping from his nose to his gun. I've only shot a few guns, but I would never hold one right in front of my chest, touching my chest, for it seems the gun would have to be held like that for the sweat to hit it.

Ok, as far as the hook, I love it. The parts leading up to it, confused the crap out of me! Where are they standing. The sheriff just shot at them? Rising to his feet? How did he have sweat from his nose drop to the gun when he wasn't even standing?

I guess I would have to say, the hook is great, but I'm confused about what just happened.


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smncameron
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Terminus is latin for end, there is no way that Asimov has it trademarked.
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JustInProse
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I guess I skipped past that first remark so quickly I didn't explain what I meant. I usually am not a ritual type person of going through the "I'm not aware if you knew this." or such. I just threw that out there in the beginning. An earlier story someone had written used the name priam, and I remember omitting that from my first reply to his story, and afterwards found almost everyone else to have noticed it/have a problem with it as well. Sorry for how it seemed.
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smncameron
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A strong association with Foundation is certainly a valid reason for changing the title, it's just that I don't make that much of a connection. (As previously mentioned, I just think of end)
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Tiergan
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Real nice hook. Although for some reason the second sentence confused me at first, and it wasn't until I read through that I got it all lined up. Somehow I was mixing the characters all up. But now when I read it all makes sense. Go figure.


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Bent Tree
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I thought this was too busy. A little more scene than the bank door. I read this over severals times before it sunk in.

As for the Title, as long as the world is't even remotely close to Asimov's it will be ok, but you will you will no doubt catch some flack for it. I wouldn't submit it to Asimov's.


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annepin
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Wow, I don't know how you're going to do this in a short story. I thought the hook was good. I;d definitely turn the page.

I think what's confusing about the second line is the two proper nouns and the structure of "he pointed at my chest" referencing "Colt Peacemaker". It slowed me down but didn't trip me.

Does he load the bullet into the gun? If so, why? Is it a special bullet somehow? If so, why does he reference "bullet" in a general term in the first sentence? Or is he talking about two different qualities of bullets (i.e. killing capability and time travel capability) in which case the switch comes a bit too quickly for me.

And why doesn't the Sheriff just storm the bank? If Carrigan is holding the boy hostage, presumably he wouldn't be shooting through the door all nilly willy. So many questions! I don't need them all answered, but I'm going to want them to make sense at some point. But I think this is, in part, the danger of starting off with an action and information packed first thirteen--you generate a lot of questions--good, but also it can backfire if you leave the reader too confused and lost. It's a trust issue for me--I've got to have faith that the writer is adept, and sensitive enough, to address all these questions, and that they aren't just oversights or sloppiness (I'm in no way implying that you are, I'm trying to critique this as if I had no idea who the writer is).

At the end he's trying to shoot through both of their brains with one bullet, right? If so, one's cheek and temple would be pressed against the other--at least, that's how I pictured it. Then it seems to me it would be easier to hold the boy's (girl's?) head against his own, and then shoot through his own head--think about where your hands would have to be to do it the other way.


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Patrick James
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Possessing a certain amount of knowledge about guns made this more than a little disturbing for me.

Asimov is the first thing I thought when I read Terminus.

I had to read the second line only three times-- maybe four. still it was a little confusing. Too much too early. I hadnt been properly introduced to he characters and the sentence was difficult to read because of it.


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Jeff M
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I didn't have a problem with the gun stuff (maybe because I've never fired a gun). But the MC's thoughts threw me off. I couldn't figure out what the sheriff would kill me if it meant stopping Carrigan escaping meant. I'm fine with being dumped into a story with minimal information. But the information provided still has to make some sense in context. Presumably the meaning will become obvious later, but the way it was expressed made me stop and go "huh?"



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InarticulateBabbler
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quote:

“Know what a bullet is, boy—I mean really?”
Sweat dripped from Carrigan’s aquiline nose onto the Colt Peacemaker he pointed at my chest.[Maybe if you meantion Carrigan's breath or the heat emanating from him it would solidify the face-to-face image.] He lifted an eyebrow.
I shook my head, then ducked as another hail of bullets splintered the bank’s door. Sh*t, the sheriff would kill me if it meant stopping Carrigan escaping. [Major nit: "stopping Carrigan[FROM] escaping" or "Stopping Carrigan['s] escape".]
Carrigan pulled out a single bullet and held it up; it glinted in the sunlight. Rising to his feet he said,“It’s a way to travel, if you know how.” He grinned, then suddenly he was moving fast.[Doing what? Just shaking?] He jammed my head against his and held it tight, with his other hand he ground the barrel into my temple.
“Hey, the twentieth century is cool. Let’s go there.” Then he pulled the trigger.

Interesting concept. I think it'll be difficult to arrange the setting and time-travel concept smoothly with the spaced dialogue. I was confused whether it was an old west setting or just western. Colt peacemakers are still made. The model (year most often)--much like the Winchester, Henry Repeater or Enfield--makes a huge difference.

I hope this helps.


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rickfisher
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Nothing new to add, except the reason the second line confused ME.
quote:
“Know what a bullet is, boy—I mean really?”
Sweat dripped from Carrigan’s aquiline nose I thought the sweat would be dripping from the person the gun was pointing AT, hence Carrigan was the hostage(?) not the gunman, and the story was in 3rd person. The rest of the sentence violates that initial assumption. Attach Carrigan's name to the first line, and it would have been clear to me onto the Colt Peacemaker he pointed at my chest.

Oh, and anyone who's so much a fan of Asimov that Terminus would be a real stumbling block should also have read his The End of Eternity, where terminus is used often and in a completely different sense (one chapter being titled "Beyond the Downwhen Terminus"), so, really, it shouldn't even bother them.


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wbriggs
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I thought I wasn't confused by the first couple of lines, but then at the end I thought, ground the barrel of what? THen I reread and found that Carrigan has a gun.

In that case, who's shooting from outside?

I just want to know the players involved, and what they're doing.

I didn't react to Terminus being the Foundation planet, although I knew it, because a terminus is the end of a bus or train line, and I'm sure those are all over the place. I suppose if that many people are distracted by it, though, you have to take it seriously. (A reader's authentic reaction may be inconvenient, but it's still the reader's authentic reaction! and that matters.)

[This message has been edited by wbriggs (edited March 29, 2008).]


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skadder
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To be honest I rushed this and it shows. I would spend a little more time in the bank with Corrigan acting strangely before he kills them both--rushing it failed.
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Wildstar
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I loved the first line; it hooked me. I had to read the rest a couple of times. On first read I thought the Sheriff was Carrigan because the Colt Peacemaker, while being the name of the gun was used by lawmen like Wyatt Earp, if I remember correctly. I pictured him having a gun right at your character’s (who seems to be the protagonist but I know the least about him) chest, which made me wonder a couple of things: 1. How did he miss the chest when he fired. 2. How did the sweet drip onto it (that came to me on the third read). 3. Well 3 doesn’t matter I finally figured I had it wrong. I only mention it because it took a couple reads to figure it out.

Carrigan is the bank robber, your un-named protagonist is his hostage, and the Sheriff is outside trying to prevent him from getting away. Carrigan and your protagonist are by the front door, trying to escape, which getting into a gunfight is unnecessary as he has a magical bullet that can help him time travel. While being cool, I don’t know why he has to take the unnamed protagonist with him or what he is waiting for, why not shoot as soon as he has the money. I don’t really care about the sweet hitting the gun but it does suggest either it is really hot or a really intense situation that is making him sweet. But the bullet gives him an easy out so why is it intense, is there a reason not to use the bullet?

I now see your real hook is the bullet travel, which is cool but the scene is confusing. Would be interested in seeing your reworked version because I think it is a cool idea.


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