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May 20 - Kuiper - Pretty Slick Hands


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This began as a fantasy story, but partway through the revision process I decided to strip out the supernatural elements so I could focus more on the other elements of the story.  In particular, I'd like to hear your remarks regarding the pacing of the story, as this was my focus throughout most of the revision process.

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Okay, that was an enjoyable read!


I particularly liked how you set up his values early on, to then chip away one after the other as the story progessed. "never put a name on your mark" - "no drug work" - "no boss" ... I could see how with each step along the path of his new job he was degrading more and more away from those values.


The last sentence "This is what freedom feels like" was a bit of a surprise... I was expecting a more bleak, cynical end. Or was that irony? You might want to make it more clear.


Regarding the pacing... in terms of story-flow I think it works well, you draw the reader in and keep him interested. I didn't think too hard about the pacing of the actual grabs... The initial scene worked fine in the description. Nothing seemed odd or off, so I was good to trust the author here.


Well, I feel a bit weird to not have anything critical to say, but here you go.

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Welcome to Reading Excuses!  Looks like we have several new members recently.


I Love the first line.  It's a great contradiction.
Your writing is light and polished enough that I was on page 5 and completely sucked in before I remembered I was supposed to be taking notes. After page 5, the pacing slows down just a little, which is alright, as you've got the reader hooked by then.  In general, the pacing seemed fine.  Nothing jumped out at me.


For some reason, him admitting to selling drugs pulled me out of the story.  Not sure if it was just personal aversion or if it didn't fit with the mental profile I had of the main character.  It did work with chipping away at his values, as GuruCoyote says.


The biggest issue I can come up with is the lack of description.  Description isn't necessary to all styles, of course, but the biggest place I felt the lack was in people description.  I can imagine typical city scenery fairly well with no input.  In the first few pages, there was no description of the man who contacts him, but I could believe that the thief wouldn't look to see details.  However, there's no description of the man's face the second time either.  Now I know they're talking face to face.  Is there anything memorable about him?


In fact, no one gets a name or face here.  Not bad, but it's sort of hard to refer to people once you realize it.  It does fit in with the "thief" lifestyle and he says specifically he doesn't want to know the people he steals from.  Still, I would think he might know his landlady's name.  Just that one word can describe a person to the reader, even if it's not a real name.
(eg, "I never learned her name, but referred to her mentally as Lemonface")


This has good thief/partner/mark play.  Believable action (even if I don't know anything about it...).  There's still not a lot of description during the take, which again is not necessary, but a few words here and there might help.


I did keep expecting something magical or SciFi to happen, and then read your note about taking it out.  I was expecting it more because this forum caters to that, and not because of any lack in the story.  I do suspect whichever agency is putting together these plans for stealing information, but that could just as easily be the thriller-type conspiracy as the wizards behind the scenes or the Science Fiction advanced or alien technology.


Last, is this the first part of something, or meant to be a full story by itself?  Either works, but I see plenty of room to go from here.
Looking forward to more!

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I like this story. It has good flow throughout and the prose is crisp and enjoyable. The pacing was good; there weren't any passages that dragged or felt rushed.


I was thrown off a bit by the "landlord" being a woman.

I thought it odd that the protagonist knew exactly down to the second how long transferring the data from the phone took. Wouldn't that depend on the amount of data, its format, etc. ? Considering how bad every single file system known to me is about estimating how long a certain data transfer will take, this seems quite implausible to me. To make it more plausible, you could maybe give us the progress as a percentage along with the rough estimate of how long it'll take based on trials with the dummy phone.


I'm with Mandamon in that the first line is excellent.

I also especially liked the paragraph about not knowing your mark on page three.


There are a lot of powerful lines in this story. This is one I liked especially:

Such as it is, this is the life I've chosen.  I have to go on living like this.  But I can't go on living like this.

Straightforward, but very moving. I would only suggest a tiny alteration: to remove the "But." Without it, I think the message is even clearer and the impact is increased by the parallelism of with the previous sentence.


I think the ending wasn't quite as good as the rest of the story. It was a satisfying ending, but it lacked the sort of punch I had hoped for.


Still, this is an excellent story and I enjoyed reading it.

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Reading Syme's remark abut the transfer time of the data, I recall I was wondering about this too. Actually, I was expecting this to be the place where "things go wrong" - the transfer taking much longer than in the practice runs etc.


One possible explanation of why we know exactly how long the download will take ist this: the jimmy copies the flash storage of the phone 1:1 in its entirety. That is, it does not copy 'just' the data, but makes a physical copy of the drive. Given the practice phone has the exact same build, that would make it take exactly as long for both phones. Doing it this way might actually make sense (you'd end up with a copy of the *running* system, not just the stored data. E.g. you'd also know what apps were running and what was showing on screen etc.)

That being said... I doubt that would be accomplished in the time we have here. Just try copying a 16GB USB flash drive to you computer in total...

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With such an alias, I would have expected a SF story, so I was lucky to read your notice before starting the story.


I do love a good con story, so I felt at home in yours, even if it's not the usual genre we see here.


I'm not particularly fond of descriptions, so the number of descriptions you used was OK for me, except when the "boss" first talks to the protagonist. You kept describing him as either "the voice" or "the man" and I had trouble following what was happening because I needed some visual cue here.


For the timing the device takes to copy the data, even if I don't believe it would be so short for a raw block copy, you established that the character did test it over and over, so I expected it to either fail or take exactly that time (you established the magic system, so to speak, so it was all right).


For the ending, this feels like a character story where the protagonist decides to trade some of his principles over stability. If you want this to be a character story through and through, you might want to establish his principles right away. You do this over the course of several pages, so it doesn't feel like this will be the focus of the story. If you establish this earlier, I think the character story will come out much stronger.


Aside from that, very good story with the right pacing and an interesting character. I really enjoyed it.

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