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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Unnamed short story SF, around 8000 words

   
Author Topic: Unnamed short story SF, around 8000 words
Lionhunter
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Came up with this story this night, thought it might be interesting to pursue it.
quote:

Yellow-red bodies glided in the dark blue sea of infrared radiation, glowing like Christmas tree lights, each with its own concerns, dreams and hopes of a future they won’t have. The 3 feet long barrel of the rifle ripped through the cloaking blanket that shrouded the man wielding it, slowly changing its position as the targeting system searched for a specific thermal signature.
“11:57”.
The screenview of the rifle zoomed in and out, to find the target, scrutinizing every room of every floor, of the scoped building.
“Increase phase-shift horizon to 6.3 clicks”.
The warning system started to confirm the target lock by red circles enclosing on the marked results. The man then noticed


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genevive42
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Okay, first sentence is good but I think it's "they wouldn't have."

Second sentence, "three foot long barrel.." and "ripped" seems odd for what is probably a very calm, small movement.

For the most part, the first two sentences had me. After that the technical side gets very dry and I'm pulled away from any sense of concern I had for who was about to get shot or wondering who was doing the shooting. I don't know who I'm cheering for yet and there is no character to connect with.

Having played many hours of Syphon Filter I understand the scene you are setting but the technical stuff here bounces me out.

I would probably read on a little to see if it gets to an interesting character quickly enough but if it didn't, I would not go further.


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Architectus
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I would have read on a bit more to see if I am introduced to a MC. I like to get to know someone right away, and in a short story, the author doesn't have much time to do that.

Most mags that buy short stories have a max of 7000 words, just so ya know.

You painted a vivid image in my mind; though, the Christmas lights comparison doesn't fit IMO.

If you wish, you can comment on my first 13 for Lightning Elves.

-------------------------
This is what helps me flesh-out my stories


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Dropbear
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Okay, some thoughts ...

"dark blue sea of infrared radiation" -- infrared is lower on the radiation spectrum than red, and blue is at the other end of the visible scale, so a "dark blue" sea of "infrared radiation" doesn't sound right to me, or have I read your sentence wrong?

"each with its own concerns, dreams and hopes of a future" -- I stumbled here, not sure why, maybe a coma before the "and" is needed so that we know there are three items on the list: 1. concerns; 2. dreams; 3. hopes of the future. Or is "dreams and hopes of the future" supposed to be one item, in which case the sentence is very awkward.

First sentence, "bodies" is plural, and later "each with its own concerns" is singular.

Is it a "3 feet barrel" or a "3 foot barrel"? Sorry, I'm metric. Also, I believe "3" should be "three".

"rifle ripped through" suggests high velocity action, but later it says "slowly changing its position". The two don't seem to go together.

The 11:57 in quotes, what's that refer to? Is it sombody saying something, or is it a display on the scope?

The sentence starting "The screenview of the rifle ..." seems to me to be made up of several sentence fragments and I'm having trouble parsing it.


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Lionhunter
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quote:

Yellow-red specters glided on a dark blue sea, glowing like Christmas tree lights, each with its own concerns and hopes of a future they wouldn’t have. The barrel of a rifle emerged out of a cloaking blanket that shrouded the man wielding it, slowly changing its position as the targeting system searched for a specific thermal signature.
“11:57. Three more minutes.”
The screenview of the rifle zoomed in and out, scrutinizing every room of every floor, of the scoped building.
“Increase phase-shift horizon to 6.3 clicks”.
The system started to confirm the target lock by green circles enclosing on specters. The man then noticed that the signal


Architectus, i read your story when you first post it,but i'm not that versed into giving critique.A lot of the stories here are very interesting (including yours),atleast from the first 13 lines.
Dropbear, i'm metric myself but thought that the majority of people here are from the US.

[This message has been edited by Lionhunter (edited October 02, 2009).]


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NoTimeToThink
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Working from your new version:

Yellow-red specters glided on a dark blue sea, glowing like Christmas tree lights, each with its own concerns and hopes of a future they wouldn’t have. (for me this is not a good beginning - it totally confused me. it isn't until the end of the paragraph that I am told we are dealing with infrared images. It would be better and clearer if you switch the 2 sentences in this paragraph) The barrel of a rifle emerged out of a cloaking blanket that shrouded the man wielding it, slowly changing its position (is the rifle moving itself?) as the targeting system searched for a specific thermal signature.
“11:57. Three more minutes.” (I'm trying to get a feel for a voice: who said this? a computer or the man?)
The screenview of the rifle zoomed in and out, scrutinizing (is the man scrutinizing, or the screen? maybe "as the man scrutinized") every room of every floor, of the scoped building.
“Increase phase-shift horizon to 6.3 clicks”.
The system started to confirm the target lock by green circles enclosing on specters. The man then noticed that the signal

That first sntence being out of place really is a killer for me. I was checking first 13's last night, started to read this one, and gave up because of it. Switch the 2 and all is right with the world. Concept is good, otherwise.


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Dropbear
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For me, that seems better. As for metric -- yeah, write for your audience, but if you intend to write a military story, remember that military organisations tend to be standardised on metric; even the US army is metric. In fact, you yourself drop to metric when you refer to "clicks" -- see below.

Okay, some further thoughts:

I agree with NoTimeToThink. The second line gets to the point much more quickly and gives you a better sense of what's going on.

I'm struggling with Christmas tree lights as a metaphor. Christmas tree lights are cheery, happy things, and the rest of your story is presumably about someone/thing about to get shot or killed.

I think the line in quotes needs a tag. At the moment its just a disconnected quote and we have no way of working out who or what is saying/displaying it.

The line begining "The screenview ..." has a comma, but the comma is incorrect and should be removed to make one uninterupted sentence.

The military slang "clicks" is a reference to "kilometres". So did you mean that the phase-shift was being adjusted to 6.3 kilometres? If so, how does that relate to a building which is presumably smaller than that size.

The second to last sentences, starting "The system started ..." is awkward, but I'm not sure why yet.

[This message has been edited by Dropbear (edited October 02, 2009).]


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Lionhunter
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quote:

Yellow-red specters glided in the cold blue sea of infrared radiation, glowing like a clear’s sky starlight, each with its own concerns and hopes of a future they wouldn’t have. The barrel of a rifle emerged out of a cloaking blanket that shrouded the man wielding it, slowly changing its position as the targeting system searched for a specific thermal signature.
“11:57. Three more minutes. Shouldn’t take long. Gonna call her after this”
The rifle’s screenview served as a map that guided the predator towards it’s kill, scrutinizing every room of every floor, from the scoped building.
“Increase phase-shift charge for 6.3 clicks”.
The system confirmed the target lock by green circles enclosing

Infrared vision gives off the temperature of a body. Cold=blue
Decided to keep the infrared part,to make that clear.

[This message has been edited by Lionhunter (edited October 02, 2009).]


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Tiergan
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Hi, my first thought was whose pov is this? The 2nd sentence reads to me like someone is watching the man stick the rifle out. But then later on I get the opinion that the pov is the man who stuck the rifle out. In fact in all but the 2nd sentence I feel its the rifleman/sniper's pov.


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Lionhunter
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3rd person limited/subjective.
The narrator follows the character,what he does and thinks.

[This message has been edited by Lionhunter (edited October 02, 2009).]


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extrinsic
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I think that the narrator in those thirteen lines is an objective anonymous one. If the intent is for a subjective interested, interpreting narrator, that's best to establish in an opening sentence that it's so. However, a subjective narrator is widely deprecated as that creates a reader-distancing quality for action-driven stories. As it is, the first sentence establishes the man's visual perception, a sensation that places him as the focal perspective. The narrative point of view kind of jumps around after that.

In the revised version: The first sentence depicts visual sensations from the man's perspective. Then the second sentence pulls away and depicts a fly on the wall narrator's perspective of the man. The third sentence has the semblance of an introspective thought of the man, but in quotation marks indicating dialogue conflicted by italics indicating thought. The fourth sentence provides an explanation of the rifle's functions by a narrator from outside the frame of the story's immediate picture and directly addresses readers. The fifth sentence appears to be a verbal utterance of the man, which is plausibly within his perspective. The sixth partial sentence begins another narrator's explanation of the rifle's functions.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited October 03, 2009).]


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zerostone
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IMO you may wish to establish the pov-in-location earlier, then the motivation, then the rifle scope; all this before you give us the distorted imagery through the scope.
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