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Author Topic: First 13 of a thriller
hteadx
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This is my new WIP. I already have about 38,800 words of it done and I'm aiming for about 110,000 words. This is one of the drafts of my prologue. I'm intentionally leaving the identity of the character a mystery because he is one of my antagonist. I'm just looking for a critique of my first 13.

****************************************************
All kills should be made with a gun, he thought to himself as he tucked a syringe into his jacket. Bullets through heads may not be subtle, but in his opinion they always left a clear message. Unfortunately his job today wasn't to offer opinions.
He looked back down the hallway at the room he had just left and unconsciously reached for the Px4 sub-compact Beretta in his chest holster. Rational thoughts prevented him from following through with his instincts. With old hardwood floors, and tall ceilings with crystal chandeliers this house was not made to suppress gun fire noise. He opened the front door, tidy up his appearance, and worked up the nerve for pleasant smile.
A friendly voice greeted him as he walked out the door."Good

[This message has been edited by hteadx (edited May 19, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by hteadx (edited May 19, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited May 19, 2008).]


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wrenbird
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Very good. I like the first bit alot. Not only did we get a glimpse of the character, but, for me, a clear hook is laid by the character tucking the syringe into his pocket. It's creepy, and that's good.
My only question was, on line 4, why does he reach for his gun? Does something startle him? What were his instincts making him want to shoot?
Other than that, good stuff.

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MrsBrown
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I agree with wrenbird about the hook and reaching for the gun. It bugs me a little that there is no noun or pronoun for this character in the first sentence, but I don’t know how you could do differently and maintain your objective. Some nits and possible suggestions (all are not necessarily improvements, even in my own opinion):

quote:
All kills should be made with a gun, he thought to himself as he tucked a syringe into his jacket. Bullets through heads may not be subtle, but [in his opinion <-could cut. Its clear we are in his POV] they always left a clear message. Unfortunately his job today wasn't to offer opinions. [<- not sure about this sentence, but I do like that you establish he is “working” right now. Anyone else?]

He looked back down the hallway at the room he had just left and unconsciously reached for the Px4 sub-compact Beretta in his chest holster. Why? Did something in that room threaten him? If his instinct is about the job ahead, have look out a window in the door. Rational thought[s prevented him from following through with] overrode his instincts—the old hardwood floors, [and <-cut] tall ceilings, and crystal chandeliers of this house could not suppress [or “would amplify”] gun fire noise. He opened the front door[, tidy up his appearance, <- huh? cut] and worked up the nerve for a pleasant smile.
”Good Morning Doctor.” Who said this, to whom?
He casually turned to see Carlos, the family's gardener, waving. Its not clear to me whether the gardener is waving at the MC, whether or not a third person is present, and who the Doctor is.


Suggest, “A bullet in the head wasn’t subtle, but it always left a clear message.” OR: “He preferred a bullet in the head--not subtle, but it always left a clear message.”

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited May 19, 2008).]


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hteadx
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Thanks for the suggestions.

I think I cleared up who was saying good morning doctor.

I'll try to clarify the intentions of his actions.


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Pyraxis
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Still looking for more, by any chance?

All kills should be made with a gun, he thought to himself as he tucked a syringe into his jacket. Bullets through heads may[might] not be subtle, but in his opinion they always left a clear message. Unfortunately his job today wasn't to offer opinions.
He looked back down the hallway at the room he had just left and unconsciously reached for the Px4 sub-compact Beretta in his chest holster. Rational thoughts[I'd remove the "s"] prevented him from following through ["with his instincts" is not needed]. [O]ld hardwood floors[cut ","] and tall ceilings with crystal chandeliers [were not made] to suppress gun fire noise. He opened the front door[from the inside? and before he tidied up his appearance?], tid[ied] up his appearance, and worked up the nerve for [a] pleasant smile.
A friendly voice greeted him as he walked out the door. "Good


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InarticulateBabbler
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My take:

quote:

All kills should be made with a gun, he thought to himself as he tucked a syringe into his jacket.<--Huh?] Bullets through heads may not be subtle, but [in his opinion<--Who else's would it be?] they always left a clear message. Unfortunately[,] his job today wasn't to offer opinions.<--Eh?]
He looked back down the hallway at the room he had just left and unconsciously reached for the Px4 sub-compact Beretta in his chest holster. [Rational thoughts prevented him from following through with his instincts.<--[Too ambiguous. What are the "rational thoughts"? What are the "instincts"?] With old hardwood floors, and tall ceilings with crystal chandeliers this house was not made to suppress gun fire [noise<--Redundant. And this sentence is passive.]. He opened the front door, tid[y<--ed] up his appearance, and worked up the nerve for pleasant smile.
A friendly voice greeted him as he walked out the door."Good

You're short one line, by my submission box.

I'm left mostly confused. I knmow (or think I know) that someone just died. Some thoughts seems to indicate he is a hired killer, others contradict that thought-process.

"All kills should be made with a gun" is strange when you have him putting a syringe into his jacket. Both halves of the sentences make me ask why: Why is it all kills should be made by a gun? This is not the thinking of a highly trained assassin, though it seems like that's what it's intended for. [Why use a syringe (let alone carry it away)?<--I understand this now, I didn't catch that he was being addressed as a doctor until I read the other posts.] And...on whom? I've got an idea of the setting (which is also contradicted when he walks out the door and someone talks to him). If he's a killer/assassin/spy/field operative why does he have to "work up the nerve to smile", when he didn't to kill someone?

I hope this helps.

[Edited to adjust a comment.]

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited May 22, 2008).]


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MrsBrown
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Oh! Oh! He already did the deed?! I missed that completely. I thought he was getting ready to do it! Which is why I was confused that he looked back at the room instead of ahead, out the door.

And now I get why he is being addressed as a doctor; that disguise was his opportunity.

Count on IB to pick up on it, but I think you need to make it clearer for the rest of us (or at least the portion of your readership who will take it the way I did).


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wrenbird
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Ah.
Yeah, I didn't pick up that he had just done the kill. I too, thought he was preparing to do it. Iiiiinteresting.

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hteadx
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Thanks for the feedback.

I'm working on making it clear that my antagonist has just "used" the syringe and I'm debating using the instinct line because I think it forces me to answer what my antagonist's intentions are too early.

IB is actually asking many of the questions I want my reader to ask.

I just need to clean it up a bit in my next draft.

[This message has been edited by hteadx (edited May 25, 2008).]


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pixydust
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Lots of interesting questions raised here.

The only thing I can add is: "...reached for the Px4 sub-compact Beretta in his chest..."

Too much detail for all the tension of the moment in my mind. I'm not sure the reader will care the exact make and model of the gun and it was more of a distraction than anything else.

Hope this helps. Looks interesting...I love assassin stories. Have you seen Dexter? the needle brought that to mind.


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micmcd
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Just a tiny issue in the first sentence for me: "...he thought to himself..." sounds a bit redundant. Unless you have a spec fi thing were people can communicate telepathically, you always think to yourself. If "he thought" doesn't convey the feeling you want, perhaps, "he lamented," or a verb of that type. Having the quote in italics implies that it is thought, not speech, so you are free to use another word. I usually abhor the use of words much different than "he thought," or "he said" for dialog, but in this case, with an opening hook, and with absolutely nothing preceding it, I feel that it is appropriate.
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