Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
shatteredsmooth

Jan. 1 2019_Caddy_1780 words (V)

17 posts in this topic

Hi All,
Here is a short story if you have time to read this week. It's an early draft, but I've got to the point where I can't see what the specific problems are. Anything you want to comment on will be helpful. I don't have any specific questions.
Thanks!
Sara  
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an interesting read, but I felt there were two points that made me pop out of the story:

1) There's not a lot of description of the "caddy" or what it does. Is it supposed to carry luggage? Is it a taxi? What's the deal with all the pipes on the back? I think one solid description of what it does and how it works would ground me better.

2) What is the MC doing? The story is about them triggering E's trap, but I'm not sure what it is or how the MC is trained for it. Is he just stealing the luggage? Is he people trafficking? I would guess the latter. But who is the MC and why is this a reasonable diversion before they go off to catch the slaver? You mention  that they didn't have to tell the chief the plan changed, but it didn't really. They are still on their way. I think I just need a little bit more about the world to understand why this side trip is important vs. the one that the MC is supposed to be on.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was an interesting concept, and I enjoyed it, however I pretty much agree with @Mandamon -- I feel like I didn't get enough background to understand what was really going on when the story switched from being a little romance-meet at some kind of steampunkish transit station to an action sequence with kidnapping and swordfights.

Why is the traveler so well-equipped? What's so bad about the luggage-guy that the traveler has to make a detour to deal with him? I was okay with the description of the actual caddy, but I feel like I needed more of a description of WHY throughout -- like, why is the man's normal-seeming behavior off-putting? Why does the traveler suspect kidnapping when he'd before only mentioned luggage-stealing? I don't need a whole ton of information or background, or even a lot spelled out concretely, but I feel like I need enough to ground the action and the twist as natural progressions from what I've read before. It's just not quite there yet.  Again, this reads smoothly and from a technical standpoint I can see a ton of improvement so keep up the good work!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thoughts As I Go:

Pg. 1 – It seems odd that the default expectation is for caddies to steal luggage.

Pg. 1 – I know not specifying coinage is an easy shortcut, but even something like ‘royals’ or ‘chits’ would be helpful. It’s also good for atmosphere building.

Pg. 2 – The name is A. Like the snake.

Pg. 3 – A’s sudden attraction to this man is a bit too sudden.

Pg. 4 – What indicates the trap? A keeps indicating this guy is sketchy, but this is almost exclusively tell, not show.

Pg. 4 – Depending on the gas, merely holding your breath may not even be enough.

Pg. 4 – Also, is there no one around? A got off a skyport. That sounds like a place where

Pg. 4 – And now there’s magic in addition to the scrimshaw technology.

Pg. 5 – Good taste in weapons.

Pg. 6 – So Miranda rights exist in this world.

Overall:

There’s a lot of poor setup in the beginning. I’m not sure what’s going, or what’s happening. The later half clears up some things, but it just makes the beginning confusing because A does not behave as I would expect someone to behave who wields sabers and blunderbusses. I'm also just not so invested because I have no idea what stakes are on the table for anyone. Sorry if this isn't much help.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, aeromancer said:

Sorry if this isn't much help.

It's plenty helpful. With flash, I have a hard time judging whether I've actually made anything related to world-building or character clear. In theory I know what I need to do, I just can never tell if I did or not until someone reads it and tells me. I'll make myself a checklist based on what everyone said, write out the details separate from the story, then go back and rework so everything on the checklist is clear. You definitely contributed a few good things. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I swear to the Great Writing Gods that I am going to get better about being on time with the crits.

 

Overall
Confusion, mostly. There's a decent flow to it and I think I have an idea what you were going for, but the worldbuilding and description are too vague. The end lacks punch because I don't actually know what the man wanted from the protag other than abduction, or why the protag was baiting the man to begin with. 

 

As I go

- The first sentence isn't an ideal cold open, as it doesn't do much to grab me.

- pg 3: The things that turned me on also made me suspicious.<-- I don't understand what this has to do with the previous sentence

- pg four: This wasn’t the job... <-- this part needs to come on like page one or two, since it's the first hook we've really gotten (unless this is a romance)

- pg 5: get him arrested for what? I assume our protag was out to get this guy but why? I think I need more worldbuilding and description in the first few pages, because now I'm getting action without backstory and it's leaving me confused, not compelled

- pg 5: blocking issues. So wait. They are under a bunch of...coats? Luggage? And they draw a sword and cut their way up and then start fighting with the man? Yes?

- pg 6: charged him with abduction with intent to experiment <-- yeah I need more on this 'experiment' part earlier

- so he... abducts people why?

Edited by kais
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/2/2019 at 10:50 AM, Mandamon said:

I think one solid description of what it does and how it works would ground me better.

Agree completely.

On 1/2/2019 at 10:50 AM, Mandamon said:

What is the MC doing?

Also this. @Mandamon hit on my two main issues, too. 

On 1/4/2019 at 10:15 AM, industrialistDragon said:

Again, this reads smoothly and from a technical standpoint I can see a ton of improvement so keep up the good work!

Yes also this! The technical writing isn't bad at all!

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

It was a good read for me. I like the mood of the setting and I actually enjoyed the worldbuilding. A bit more could've set it in, but I got the overall impression I think. It read more like a first chapter than a short story to me. There didn't seem to be any conclusion or revelation, so as a short story seemed to end a bit abruptly and I wasn't sure what the point was. As a chapter, I would've liked to read the next.

The most difficult thing for me to understand was the characters and their introductions. I think the protag is female, but I'm not confident about that statement. I also don't understand the seemingly sudden and intense interest in Ebb.

The introduction of Ebb also threw me off. At first I imagined a middle-aged man in a suit, which then aged up as he started to haggle, and the image suddenly changed to a supposedly handsome but somewhat shabby young man. But that was quite jarring and quite a strange visual, given the previous changes. It kind of retained a part of each. Perhaps mentioning a general age would be a good idea, unless it has something to do with worldbuilding. Again, he went from glaring to grinning in a predatory way, kind of scary really, and I really couldn't understand where the attraction came from.

 

Edited by Lost Owl Needs Tea
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Lost Owl Needs Tea thank you for the comments!

On 1/9/2019 at 0:20 PM, Lost Owl Needs Tea said:

I think the protag is female, but I'm not confident about that statement

The protagonist is agender hence the "Mx." instead of Ms. or Mr. 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm really hoping this is a story about golf... <fingers crossed>

Ah, so because I know I'll enjoy the style and it will be pretty smooth and developed, I'm going into LBL mode, I hope that's okay. Email to follow.

 - Is D-fry the name of the skyport? Unclear.

 - So are they inside or outside? I don't get much sense of setting/environment, like from sounds, sights, smells, etc. This said, as a first page, I, totally on board. I want to know where they're going and why they want people to be misdirected. There are nice pointers about the character of the baggage man. I mean this in a completely encouraging way for others, but this is the kind of writing that simply and subtly puts character to the fore, a skill that a lot of new writers would do well to mark and try to develop.

- Ah, engines :wub:  So, the pistons push (and pull) the connecting rods, which turn the crank shaft which (if we dispense with a clutch and a gear box - which we can do for a cart) turns the drive shaft which turns the axle. Although if the engine is transverse mounted, no drive shaft. I'm not a grease-monkey, but that is my understanding.

- "The things that turned me on also..." - fabulous line: love it :) 

- "I've never lost..." - how fast does this thing go?! Actually, that's one of my points, I don't have the best sense of how big this thing is, but surely if it's just a baggage cart, he won't be going fast enough to 'lose' any luggage, even if it fell off?

- "Come close if you want to see how it’s secured" - Oh, aye. I bet he says that to all the customers! :lol: 

- "crystal" - Now then, I have no idea what sort of setting we're in, other than a couple of small clues about the significance of internal combustion, and burning 'treasures'. So, I have no idea what a crystal does, or why one would grip it in their pocket.

- "looked like leather, but flopped like it was made of cloth..." - Must... resist... innuendo... demon...

- "Warm mist sprayed out. If I inhaled at all, I’d pass out." - I feel like they don't have time for this internal thought process before inhaling, that it should be more instinctive, and maybe we hear the thought afterwards?

- "a spell..." - Yeah, this comes back to my point about the crystal. I guess if I knew the world having read earlier stories(?), I wouldn't be questioning, but should the story stand on its own? If you subscribe to that philosophy then I would need a couple of cues much earlier on about what type of world I'm in.

- "He shoved me. I fell backwards into the suitcase" - I can't quite reconcile or picture the manoeuvring here, and the relative position of bodies. This bit about them going into the case could be clearer.

- Confused. You said that the spell enlarged the inside of objects, but do the objects within the case stay the same size? Something doesn't scan. If they can't stand up, how can the blunderbuss (and maybe the sword) fit in the case? There's some weird relativity going down here, methinks.

- "middle of a crowded street" - I have not the slightest inkling that there was anyone within a hundred miles of them. The setting is pretty weak. If it's so busy, how does no one see him pushing them into the case? I'm losing investment in the story here, because it feels like the environment is just doing what you want it to to suit the story. This is turn makes it feel unconvincing, I think (the setting).

-  "hawking their wares" - Oh, god, no. Please, not another street with people hawking their wares. Every second story on this forum since 2013 has had someone hawking their wares in the street.

- "I kept chopping with my left hand. With my right, I grabbed a stun crystal out of my pocket and tossed it" - No, hang on. I'm trying a failing to picture what is going on. If they have chopped a hole in the case, it must be a very small hole, cause the case is only six to ten inches thick. How can they swing a sword and throw at the same time? My mind can't picture this, ergo, I don't believe it.

- I also don't buy that he can wield a whip on a small moving cart. Surely whips only work at some range, where there is space, time and leverage to get a swing in?

- I didn't ever have a sense of movement so, when they fall off the bike, I don't have a sense of stopping. Also, suddenly they're in an alley? It's the blocking all the way through that is giving me a problem. I can't develop and retain any sense of setting or place, and that tends to undermine the mechanics of who's doing what to whom, I think.

Okay, I really enjoyed how well this read, and the pacing and the action, but...

(a) It reads way more like the chapter of a story than a short. It seems to me one needs a lot of knowledge about the setting to understand and relate to what is being referred to in the characters and places at the end.

(b) I feel that the ending is underwhelming, because a whole lot of new stuff is introduced, like the chief and the other wrongdoer in the alley, and details of the assignment. I'm just not sure what it says as a stand alone piece.

(c) Because I never understood what was going on spatially once the enlarging happened, I remained fairly confused through the action, which undermined the tension, of course.

(d) Lack of setting and blocking leaves the action feeling more bland than it could and should be. Use of more of the five senses in description would help with this.

I know I would enjoy reading more of the setting and the character. I suspect you'll tell me I have already!! I would just like to be in at the beginning where all this stuff is introduced and set up, so that I understand what is going on.

Still a fun read though :) 

<R>

(LBLs emailed separately)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 09/01/2019 at 5:20 PM, Lost Owl Needs Tea said:

The introduction of E also threw me off. At first I imagined a middle-aged man in a suit, which then aged up as he started to haggle, and the image suddenly changed to a supposedly handsome but somewhat shabby young man.

Yes, I tripped over that too.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/01/2019 at 9:51 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

The protagonist is agender hence the "Mx." instead of Ms. or Mr. 

I'm not trying to be a smart Alec: this is a learning point for me! How do you say Mx. If Ms. is 'mzz' then I though sort of 'mczz'? (I don't know how to do that phonetic stuff... :unsure:)

Edited by Robinski
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Robinski said:

I know I would enjoy reading more of the setting and the character. I suspect you'll tell me I have already!! I would just like to be in at the beginning where all this stuff is introduced and set up, so that I understand what is going on.

Thanks for the feedback. :-)

Last weekend I sent a slightly revised (not nearly enough to warrant resubmiting) version of this to my newly returned from six-month hiatus face to face critique group. Mostly I had added in some of the information that seemed missing (a few sentences here and there), but hadn't spent a lot of time changing what was actually on the page, so your comments, particularly those about blocking and description, are extremely helpful. I have not worked on revising that aspect of it yet. 

38 minutes ago, Robinski said:

It reads way more like the chapter of a story than a short. It seems to me one needs a lot of knowledge about the setting to understand and relate to what is being referred to in the characters and places at the end.

My other group said the same thing. They thought I needed to make the whole story about the bust the mc was going to. So after I finish revising this scene, I may add on to it. I doubt it will grow into a book, but I could see it doubling or tripling its current length. 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Robinski said:

How do you say Mx. If Ms. is 'mzz' then I though sort of 'mczz'?

Close! It's more like "mix" or "miks."  Coined in the 1970s, it's the M from Mr/Miss/Mrs plus the variable 'x' meaning an unknown element. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

Close! It's more like "mix" or "miks."  Coined in the 1970s, it's the M from Mr/Miss/Mrs plus the variable 'x' meaning an unknown element. 

Super. Thank you :) 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Robinski said:

I'm not trying to be a smart Alec: this is a learning point for me! How do you say Mx. If Ms. is 'mzz' then I though sort of 'mczz'? (I don't know how to do that phonetic stuff... :unsure:)

Mix.

Thank you for calling me out on this. 

I'm  @Lost Owl Needs Tea tea. I was being a jerk. 

In my face to face life, almost no one would know what I was talking about if I said Mx. and they don't understand the concept of any gender other than man or woman. Then on twitter, I get stuck in filter bubbles that are the exact opposite. Then when I'm in spaces like that are somewhere between the two, I get a little cranky and snarky about this stuff, and I shouldn't. It's not helping anyone. 

I'm sorry. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Robinski said:

Oh, god, no. Please, not another street with people hawking their wares. Every second story on this forum since 2013 has had someone hawking their wares in the street.

BAHAHAHA guilty as charged, sir. 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.