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628 Soulcaster

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About Robinski

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    Fighting unnecessary capitalisation since June 2013

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  1. Very keen to read another one of your stories, RD. Without further ado… “As far as I could tell, The only one I encountered was a dusty printer in need of toner.” – lol, great first ‘punch’. I just figured he (?) would know if he’d encountered another. “Before, me, I just had to worry about” – really awkward. I can’t get the cadence of this line. “Now it was my turn to bristle. I slowly lowered my rifle.” – Feel like there’s a sentence here. Okay, I see this was in third person before. I won’t pick every one, but there are some instances of hang-over. “Then then . . . all of this . . . is real” – Hmm, there’s some weird punctuation going on here. To me, it’s more; “Then… then, all of this… is real?” “S-sorry sit sir.” “I said, as convincingly as I he could.” – Okay, this is my last typo for this run! In a short, I firmly believe there is no way you need that section break. I think it flows on fine without it. “I could read the expressions of distaste on more than few Marines” – This was weird for me. More than of few ‘faces’ sounds more natural to me, or more than a few of ‘them’. “hadn’t done me much favors” – many ‘favors’. “MRE” – I don’t know what an MRE is. “The hot California skin beat down” – FFS, unless someone is shooting a porno round the corner, I feel that this might be a typo “was too neat to be done by accidental” – grammar. “The base’s previous occupants had made sure the base wouldn’t…” – repetition always sounds jarring, to me at least, and therefore to the 5.4% of the population like me. The last line of the section, which refers to them sunning themselves is good, but it doesn’t land for me. There’s a lot of untidiness in this draft, which clearly needs several more passes, but what’s new – that’s what we do Again, I don’t think you need the sections breaks. I think the lines you have preceding the section breaks are nice, crisp ‘closers’, and the next lines are quite clearly ‘pick-ups’ after a pause or time passing. I like that aspect, which I think you’ve handled well, the feeling of time passing and going from scene to scene. “the old-fashioned way” “Pendleton didn’t just vanish overnight” – so does that mean the town, since they are in the base? “The only what then in your mind” – Awkward, confusing. “to retrieve an MRE to snake on” – no clue what this means. “If any Command was out there, they were playing smart and quiet” – I'm finding a lot of the language confusing. I think the writing can be tightened up a lot. This just confuses me though. Is he thinking about their Command? Why would it be smart for them to be quiet? Where is the threat? I think there’s a lack of focus in the story and it’s suffering for that, at the moment. Kind of rambling, I feel. “Team four actual,” I said, as I radioed Porter. “We’re Oscar Mike” – Huh? Don’t know what this means. “Flower pedals now whittled by three years’ neglect” – Roses riding bicycles?! Now that’s clever. Also, possessive form of years. “Mejers looking fugitively” – Yeah, this sounds extra weird when used a second time. The word is ‘furtive’. I’ve never heard of ‘fugitive’ used in this way. “It wasn’t nuclear – there’s no radiation. Wasn’t biological, because none of us are think. I don’t know what it was, but until I know otherwise, I have to assume it’s still out there” – This here; this is great, it really beds us down in the mystery of it all. I realise when I read this line that you haven’t been playing up the mystery much at all, and that really has been missing from the story. I think this line should be way up front, much closer to the start. “I was jolted from my stupor” – I'm confused here. Is this next section after Wright left? No, because he’s still there, and it feels like the conversation between them didn’t even happen. Also, there’s some tense confusion before the end of the page. There is a tendency to repeat the same work in close proximity. I don’t like that, personally, because it’s not really used for effect, it feels like it needs another word to break it up, e.g. “Wright’s point Humvee pushed out, with another Humvee close behind, and my Humvee bringing up the rear” – I get that they're all h/vs and that’s what marines use, but you could call one ‘vehicle’ and not lose anything. “The Humvees were taking most of the damage, with the large beams cutting out even sections of the Humvees” – really, you wouldn’t “John was taking most of the damage, with large beams cutting out sections of John.” would you? “towards the source of the running cry” ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – Did you read this again before you subbed it? The typos are driving me BANANASSSSS! “Parker said, nodding to the wreckage. I could make out the pale flesh of a limp arm hanging out of the wreckage.” – Again. Maybe I'm the only one calling this, but that doesn’t mean I'm wrong. “I wasn’t thrilled to hear my Marines were hiding ordinances from me” – good line. There are some really good lines in the story. I think that’s the most frustrating thing. I can see the good story in there trying to fight its way out. “No country on Earth made this” – Don’t tell me, show me; I want the wonder of alien tech. “California and Detroit was were “hostile”” – Previsouly, it was Cali and Texas. “Get used to it” – get used to what, the indecisiveness? Unclear. There’s a good idea here, but this version lacks focus and punch. I feel like it’s rambling, without a clear direction and through line. I think it would benefit a lot from paring down; the narrative feels, I don’t know, scattered. Also, there’s a lot of jargon in the story that distances me from it. Maybe it’s squaddie lingo, military-speak, but a lot of it is lost on me. Maybe people who read military fiction know what OM means, but I don’t, and I would be considering putting the story down if it continued to exclude me in that way. Another big issue, probably the biggest actually. I’m having significant problems remembering any of the characters. I’m not sure any of them have any character, apart from the one guy who was an ‑‑‑hole. I can’t picture any of them. I think it’s okay for the protag to be a blank canvas, as long as the people around him are real and different, but for me, they're all basically anonymous at the moment. The ending fell a bit flat for me. I think because I never felt engaged with the characters. I can see the arc you’re going for with Wright, which kind of works, but I think it will take major tidying up and overhaul for me to start rooting for these guys. I know you can do that. The grammar, typos and tense errors (due to presumable conversion) really kill my ability to stay engaged with the story for critiquing purposes. It’s a bit of a mess in this form. I would be very pleased to see another version of this after an overhaul. And for the love of Pete, ellipses, man, ellipses!! <R>
  2. Hey Mr. Puddles - many thanks for the comments, much appreciated. There's some good stuff in here. I've made various adjustments, including; Yes, I like this one. Definitely - I've tweaked a bit. I've cut 'loved her' - you're right; better to show it by the first part - no need to tell. I've sought to do that - subtly (I hope!). Awesome. I really appreciate your comments, and I feel like there are some real improvements made here. Overall, I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. I've really enjoyed incorporating this round of comments and seeing the story improve. Really appreciate your comments here. I am going to let it rest for a spell. Try it on some 'live' readers (as opposed to virtual ones ) and see how it lands. Thank you everyone!!!
  3. Yes, this is what is was trying to get at. Yeah, I was going to say something about lack of 'wow'. I'm fine with a sequel chapter to allow a breather in pacing (depending on what you're going for), but I do agree with @rdpulfer about the pace. A lull is okay, but I can't remember how breathless the last chapter was, to know it the story has earned it here. Not saying it hasn't, just can't remember. Completely agree with @Mandamon... and @kais, and @industrialistDragon; it's definitely a good deal better, but the big lack is character. I want something about Land to be unusual, intriguing, mysterious, unique. I want to root for him as an individual, but I just don't know why I should at this point. Big, massive character hook at the start of a story is vital, and i don't think it can be powers or magical sword or any of those MacGuffins, it has to be about him as a person, imho. One thing I've started to find very useful is writing character portraits or little vignettes that are not intended for the main story. You can really go wild and stretch your imagination to find the depth in your characters. Some you bin, but some give the character whole internal arcs and motivations - can be really fruitful. Oh, fruit. Remember to avoid the low-hanging variety. Hero is good with a sword - yawn. Hero is good with an axe - hmm, slightly better. Hero is good with a hammer? You've got Thor. Okay, that's been done, but I use this only as an example of where you can end up by not accepting the first idea that presents itself. Don't stop, keep going!! This is why they call it a work of fiction
  4. Hi Matt, apologies for the delay, but here come my comments – at last… I like the opening, it has power and resonates with a certain depth of history that I enjoyed. The thing that hampered it for me was not quite following how the terms and titles related to each other, not fully understanding the role of each and their position on the good/bad scale. “Streaks of iridescent light glinted from the Temple’s Godstone walls as Landon strode through the arched entrance of the temple gardens” – yes, I’m happy with that as a first line, I get a little character, some setting and evocation of it. “The guards’ inattention” – belonging to the guards. “Inside the entry, a clerk sat” – redundant. At this point, I am enjoying the brevity and the directness. While I'm interested in what the entrance looks like, I realise it’s not all that important, and I can picture generic, medieval-style interior until we get to more relevant places. I do think that you could easily add depth to the description with very few additional words. Think of the other senses; could the hall be echoing, smell dusty? “Each vase depicted a scene form from the histories and was set on a small table”. “Two worn and cozy-looking chairs” – compound adjective. Also, ‘cosy’ seems off-tone to me. Somehow it makes protag sound weak. I thought it was Tha speaking when the vicar did. “Bolar smiled and his ankle length vestments jiggled about his body” – So, is he laughing, not just smiling? Otherwise, I'm not sure what causes the movement. Chuckling, maybe? “This piece. Interesting that you say it pulls at you,” the Vicar said as he tied his belt. “A Lord found this piece hidden away” – I’ve noticed a few instances of close repetition. I find it distracting. Maybe that’s just me, though. “ “This piece has absorbed” – missing i/c. “he wanted a chance to Petro’s strange rambling” – missing word. “sat back in his chai” – messy!! “from a licensed traders” “It…” He paused,” – really think this has to be ellipsis. “suspicisions” – typo. “Have the other Vicars complained of similar troubles?” – I'm enjoying this version a good deal more than previous. I feel it still has detail, intrigue in the discussion of the raiders, and sense of setting and character. I still feel I'm not getting as much as I good from it. Here, for example, I don’t understand the political setup, so this line is somewhat lost on me. “At least a sergeant, but probably a Captain or higher rank” – there’s some real inconsistency in the capitalisation. I hold firm to my accumulated experience and view on this, which is that names (e.g. Captain Phillips) are capitalised, and generic references (e.g. ‘He was a captain.’, are not). In this sentence we have both, but I really think it is not driven by the rank itself. “The Vicar tapped his chin” – I accept that reference to a specific individual is less clear. Personally, I would not capitalise here. I think looking at published works that you read will give more clarity on this. “there is fierce status emerging” – I don’t understand what this means. “Continue hunting for the brigands, but reach out to your friends in the army. Quietly inquire if anyone knows of anything wayward.” – I feel like the first sentence is a plausible instruction, but the second one is telling the Pal how to do his job, talking down to him. ““Yes… Your” and “"I." He glanced” – these are kind of all over from one pause to the next. I think any incomplete sentence needs to have ellipsis. Consistency. “That is impressive, Paladar” “You’ve trained him well, Paladar” – maybe it’s personal choice, but I think there is always a pause in these situations. “so young could managed such a feat” – typo. “Bolar opened his mouth to speak, hesitated and then said, “How could your nephew” – I'm finding several of the dialogue tags really quite clunky. I don’t think the long tags are adding much to the meaning, just slowing me down in getting to the dialogue itself. I'm not saying bin them all, but long tags need to be interesting or add character/content/meaning, imho. “the Vicar said, surprised” – if you read this out loud, I bet you make a pause, even if it’s just a small one. If you read it with no pause, it sounds like ‘The vicar said “surprised”.’ – I think. “And… He is good” – another ellipsis issue, need a space there. “Your nephew should have registered for his Service work two years ago” – This stuff about training and apprenticeship makes Land seem foolish. He knew the rules, surely, but just decided unilaterally that Pet would be an exception to them and Land could just do what he wanted. “If he trained Petro with a sword, he’d learn to depend upon a weapon he may never be permitted to wield” – this doesn’t ring for me as a final line. I feel it doesn’t pack a punch, or leave a question hanging, especially. I think this version is a lot better, but there are still things that could use more work. Not just the ellipses!! Maybe it’s WRS, but I don’t remember the political setup, so references to the wider world leave me kind of confused, and making assumptions. I’m struggling a little with Land’s character. I don’t get a strong sense of it; he seems a bit generic as a character, and doesn’t appear to feel strongly about all that much. I just listened to a WE cast about writing shorts, but someone mentioned the importance of giving a character a strong desire for something and playing off that. What is it that Land wants? Is it all about training Pet? If so, what makes it so important to him? Does Land have no family of his own? Why not? Maybe, secretly, Pet is Land’s son – or could be. I don’t know, I just feel I need more depth of character. Hope these thoughts are useful. <R>
  5. Hey @Mandamon, I've clicked on a bit, the postage is 'only' 20 bucks, but it's the import duty that's the 'hidden' charge - and probably more than both. Let's go with your plan, and please remember, there is no urgency. Don't go incurring cost to yourself - you are a small business, as Brandon is always saying
  6. Ooh, you are so Machiavellian sometimes Good idea, of course. After another edit, I might try switch the genders; just for fun.
  7. I didn't think that was why he killed himself - I thought it was purely out of remorse for killing Deb. Sure, he hated being addicted to the Approval, but I thought it was what he did that was the driving force behind the decision. Agreed, but when was he ever politically correct? He started off throwing F-bombs at a 12-year-old. When he had the controller, I think you described him as stimulating the pleasure centre, but didn't use the word approval. I thought, in that instance, he was doing something different from delivering Approval. I don't think it's necessary to make him multi-dimensional. You can just make him serious and professional, as a career soldier is more likely to be. You could even make him appear caring, which could make the shock of his real position more impactful. Bah, I really like morphologies; for me, it's one of the aspects that make the story sound futuristic, and stand out and be more convincing, technologically speaking. 'Bodies' is a very ho-hum term for something that is amazing, technologically. Also, how likely is it that the boffins who developed the technology would use such a boring term? They are scientists, and are far more likely to apply scientific terminology, surely. Yup. Okay, there were not that many characters, but the general could have been a woman, the guard at the end (although they got rough treatment too). Definitely other opportunities. I read basically no military SF, but I was perfectly happy with the term. I think if you are writing an SF story, you have to use scientific terms. It's a reader expectation, a USP of the genre. I think dropping 'morphology' would be a mistake. This struck me too, but I forgot to #agreewithMandamon in my comments. I think you could trim the violence in terms of word count without losing its impact. Plus breaking it up with a suggest insert scene, which sounds good to me too, for what it's worth.
  8. Looking forward to another one of your stories. “meter-scale robotic form” – not sure how this sits with the 2m height. Is it not ‘two metre scale’? “neck could rotate indefinitely” – this is more of a measure against time than the extent of rotation, which I thought was what you were going for, given the context. “The leg joints, unfortunately, mirrored the human body’s quite closely” – this seems puzzling considering the lack of limitation on the rest of its movement. I'm wondering why the legs were designed with a higher level of limitation. “making everything seem smaller, as well as being situated one on top of the other” – something about the phrasing here – I thought they were meaning that the objects of focus were one on top of the other, as seen through the eyes. There’s a large screen in front of R, but also there is “the screen in front of them”. Does this second reference mean ‘them’ as the eyes of Colonel Brandt, or does it mean in front of R and B? Either way, it seems confusing, and I don’t really get the blocking of the scene. “the greek alphabet’ – Greek. “Jesus Christ, you want to send a F-bomb twelve-year-old into enemy territory? I’m not going to sign off on a F-bomb child soldier!” – I have several problems with this. One: this Davidson is swearing like a trooper in front of a 12-year-old child. This makes him a hugely insensitive, boorish and generally despicable person. Two: more importantly, the man is a poor soldier to show so little self-control in front of his subordinates. I don’t know enough about the situation. Maybe it’s the end of the world and he’s that worked up, or he was a corporal yesterday and isn’t equipped for the role, but for me the story hasn’t yet earned the right for this character to act that way – imo. “Given the hormonal stimulation procedures” – I think this says the procedures are hormonal, rather than stimulating hormones. I think it’s ‘hormone stimulation procedures’. “brain is closer to that of a twenty-year-old” – interesting; scratch Point One. Also, I like the use of Greek letters, although the general makes a fair point. I’d need to count through on my fingers. “instead of “Patient Rho,”” “when he had a mouth” – I like these little asides to the body changing elements of the story. “he’s still a F-bomb kid” – Ok, reinstate Point One. “The Colonel’s voice broached no argument” – ‘brooked no argument’ is the phrase. “get into any morphology, go into any virtual environment” – neat idea. “R’s current body was an aerial vehicle” – I'm enjoying the idea of a mind inhabiting and controlling different machines, however I'm not really feeling the emotion of what that is like. I'm not saying this is inconsistent, because R’s emotion seems to be controlled by the Approval drug, but it does introduce a kind of distance from the character, I think. “The ground below him bloomed with color” – Super line; I'm picturing the napalm scene from Apocalypse Now. “like a piece of abstract art made 3D” – I'm less fond of this. Seems like low hanging fruit as far as description goes. “with three times as many primary colors as the human eye perceived” – confused; surely, by definition, there are only 3 primary colours? “the Approval was starting to fade” – in case I haven’t mentioned already, this is a next concept. I like it. I don’t think there would be any harm in giving a bit more description of what ‘Approval’ feels like – so we get more of a show than a tell. “Hydraulics triggered at his thoughts” – there’s a grammar issue here, I think. A trigger is a ‘1’ or a ‘0’, pulled or not, and over in an instant, whereas this phasing is for a continuous or at least longer term action. Nice description of the change in perspective. It worked for me, but I still think you could push is further. “It was limited to a rifle and an automatic” – this puzzles me. Surely, all that is necessary is to target and pull the trigger. I don’t see how there is any more processing power required if he has a laser, or a rocket launcher, or two automatics. “glowing in near infrared” – wouldn’t this be visible? In which case, why would he describe something he can see as being near something else he can see? “the I morphology reminded most of a giant spider” – because he was in a humanoid form earlier, I assumed this was a humanoid form. I think the indication about the spider form would be better earlier. “R shot it. It stopped making noise.” – No Approval for this? I guess the problem with mentioning almost every time is that the times you don’t stand out. “Lost in a giddy haze of pleasure” – Hmm, so he’s so hopped up on this stuff, surely it affects his effectiveness; his ability to function. I wonder if it might be dialled down. It’s starting to feel like he’s a drug-fuelled maniac. Unless that’s the point, of course, which is see that it is!! “could see the figure in front of him by visible noctilucence” – I think this is redundant. You’ve said ‘see’. I don’t think the reader needs ‘visible’. “a greek letter Rho” – Greek. “through the lense of Approval” – lens. “The pale blue snow, was stained dark in the visible spectrum, yet brilliantly in the infrared.” – Great line, but didn’t read like a sentence to me. “For the first time, though, the bliss was tempered” – What bliss? From the Approval or the sight of her face? Great last line to finish this section – powerful. “If he looked closely, he could notice the flaws” – For me, ‘notice’ is an accidental thing, not part of a deliberate action. Was there a reason you didn’t just say ‘see’? “same 2-dimensional plane” – in this usage, the numeral stands out like a slap in the face, i.e. in a bad way. ‘two dimensional’ is more organic, natural to the eye, and doesn’t draw attention to the writing. Also, redundancy, a plane – geometrically – is 2D by definition. The scene with D worked really well, I thought. Good to see these emotions from R. “With the approval he was under” – not capitalised here, and neither are the later instances. Consistency required, I think. “humanoid morphology in the base” – sounds odd. Conventionally, it would be ‘on the base’, I think. “meant that the brain was still intact, that he was still alive” – this doesn’t follow automatically. I enjoyed this story. As usual, your style is easy to read and flows nicely. I like the idea of the story, and some of the concepts were well done and innovative, I thought. One thing that stuck in my head was the fact that the owner of the physical body that R possessed, that he killed, was ignored. If that was not his body, whose was it, and where was their consciousness? In a short piece, it’s worth being wary about introducing new question late on. I was not keen on the colonel as a character. I did not think his tone fitted the piece. He seemed a caricature of a solider, but not a very good soldier. Other than these things, really just some grammar and word choice points. I think another few passes would really tighten this up and make it marketable. Nice work. <R>
  9. Yeah, that sounds like a plan. I'll go through the steps and see what comes up and if it's scary, I'll go with your suggestion. Totally prepared to wait for it. Anticipation, etc, etc.
  10. Hey ID, thank you for reading. It's good to know that the gibberish is starting to hang together!! I've tried to clarify this. That wasn't my intention; his uncle knew L's family and sought to make good from two bad situations. The importance of family is hard to encapsulate in so few words, but that's part of the test. Brevity, economy, effectiveness. I've tried to encapsulate and imply some of these things better in this version. More work to do. I've tried to show (but probably have told once or twice) how independently minded and forceful L is, to lead into the lengths that she will go to to protect her family. I've fixed this. I've changed 'reason' to 'approval to be there'. There is a stricture that is difficult to overcome. Good spot; it wasn't strong enough before. The facts that L is female and has a good idea are not meant to be connected. I suppose I could switch the sexes of the characters around; might make an interesting experiment for a version of the story, but then there is more to set up in terms of how the society came into being, because of our society's explicit gender bias. I will think on that. Great comments as always - thanks ID
  11. Thanks for the comments, Eagle. Very helpful. Less powerful is a pity, and ID said something similar, so I can't dismiss this as the ravings of a mad person I'm tinkering through this round of comment in Version 2.1, but have yet to do a complete read through, so that will hopefully reveal ways I can punch things up again. I feel that Le's thought process will be better in the next version. Thanks again!! Much appreciated. <R>
  12. Thanks for the latest comments. guys. Some good thinking points in there. I will come back with responses in the next couple of days, or so
  13. Wowser - that's neat. I'm wary after the time I bought a very neat NiN double CD/DVD with a 3rd disc which had Garageband files of all the tracks that you could remix. I recall the package being $50 and the import duty + postage being $75. Which you only discover when you get the bill on delivery Anyway, not the same scenario. I'll take some form of plunge. Must be wary of the Kickstarter deadline!!
  14. Hey kais, thank you for reading. Always keen and trepidatious to read your comments Yeah, it's a bit melodramatic, isn't it - maybe a bit purple. I'll review again. Arranged marriage - almost negotiated, perhaps, as it is a second marriage for him. I have tweaked a couple of those references, but will consider further. Yes, this is in now, everyone has mentioned it, which is great, because that makes it an 'easy' 'win'. Maybe. I'm going to submit to Daily SF. What I need is experience in submitting, and their process seems easy and their turn around, according to Submission Grinder, is good. I think there are at least a couple more edits in it though.
  15. Hey Gustaf, many thanks for reading. Good point. I feel this is something that Thep. has been dealing with for sometime (months?), and therefore would not have given up all of lives pleasures, in fact he might well cling to those functions that he can perform without difficulty. This said - in the context of the story - the reader's perspective is different, so I think your point is a good one. So, I'll mull on that. Yes, this is a very good point, made by RDP, yourself and a chap who commented directly by email. I have inserted a couple of try-fails. Ooh, that is an interesting one, and quite a challenge. I'll need to think on that. Thanks so much for your comment. They are very helpful. I'm certainly going to work this idea some more. I might set it aside for a month, to let it 'mature', then take another look.