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  1. #1
    Brandon Cleveland

    First to second draft comparison. (800 wds). Opinions required.

    About halfway through the major rewrite, and I'm hanging in there. Basically, this is a comparison between my first draft and the rewrite. My weaknesses are that I'm a little wordy, and use complicated words and details when short easy words work. That's my big thing.

    So here is the first draft
    - - -
    The alarms that sounded to signal the shuttle's arrival to its destination startled me as I was well off into dreamland.

    A couple of months back, to save a few credits on the cable bill, I sold off some ad space in my brain. Which meant that every once in awhile for the next year, I'd have a well remembered dream concerning some new mouth bacteria that cleaned your teeth and freshened your breath without having to brush; or minimum level discount gene splicing that could modify your eyes to emulate the feline look, or grow a tail that would work like a spider monkey's.

    What purpose genetic splicing served, I had absolutely no idea, but if given the chance to rethink the ad space deal I made with my feed provider, I would've gladly paid the extra eighteen credits a month rather than have any more dreams advertising holo-data disc featuring computer generated sex between old cartoon characters. A mouse and a duck with a hat, or something. I was never into retro-toons, even as a kid. Some of those ads made for some very unpleasant dreams.

    If my digital assistant was right on, I was where I was supposed to be and I was still the only one on the train.
    Most of my business was done in the central part of the city, so it was rare when I was able to make it to the west end.

    Instead of the normal Please Watch Your Step message that usually rolled across the train's display windows, it read Exit Carefully and Slowly with Arms Out in a Non-Threatening Matter.

    I knew I had to get to the Carribbean perma-prison, but I thought I would've boarded as a federal official, not a prisoner.

    My yawn was long and I wiped the wetness that would eventually become crust from my eyes. I wasn't ready for what was next, but I had no choice in the matter then, regardless of how competent I felt.

    How was I going to get on a prison bound air shuttle with a gun? I had watched enough feeds to know that the feds were thorough in the search before boarding the shuttle. Like, every orifice thorough.

    Even my signal dampening coatwasn't going to save me the trouble of losing not only my gun, but probably the coat itself.

    Relunctantly, I pushed myself up from the seat and walked towards the car's dual sliding doors with my hands up, like the classic action movies when the bad guy finally gives himself up to the hero.

    As I got to the exit, I glanced out to notice a line of people who I assumed to be prisoners, who looked to be magnetically tethered to one another; not that there was anywhere to run.



    “What the –,” I say, my eyes open wide from a nap so short that I’m not sure if I even slept.

    A high pitch whistle signals the train’s destined stop. I take a look at my PDU and surprisingly, the trip takes less than four minutes in total, which doesn’t allow enough time for me to find comfort within a dreamland. By my calculations, I nap for about one hundred twenty seconds in total. I yawn so wide that the skin of my lips feels like they may break at any second. I dare not stress them any further. Bloody, painful lips are the last thing I need. Static courses throughout my brain, like a thick fog that I’m not sure will ever fully disappear. It’s like a bad acid trip, you know, where you hope that you’ll wake up okay and normal the next morning. Once I’m fully up, I realize what the fuzz is.

    It sounds like an idiot move – which everyone says until they eventually find themselves doing it – but I sold a bit of space in my brain to advertisements to save a little credit on the monthly feed bill. It’s not really that bad, just for the next nine months, I’ll have a lucid dream that centers around some new mouth cleaning bacteria, or minimum level discount gene splices that’d make my eyes emulate the feline look, or extend my spinal column into a tail that works like another arm. The ‘implant of ideas’ is what they called it, but every month it comes off more like brainwashing.

    Sure, bad breath and gross teeth – the mouth bacteria does wonders. The gene splices on the other hand – no clue. If I could rethink the ad space deal, I’d be glad to pay the extra credit rather than have another dream that features sex between ancient cartoon characters – a mouse and a duck this time – which make for unpleasantness.

    The windows that were clear back in the Industrial zone are now blackened, and nothing outside can be seen from the inside. I could take this as a bad omen, but I’ll roll with it for now.

    Another look at my digital unit and the GPS signal is blocked. Wherever I’m at, it’s a secure location. Before the train doors open, I check for a body identification tally for the Reagan, and still nothing. Then again, no word from Liza either. She would’ve heard of the incident by now, and undoubtedly would’ve tried connecting to me. The best thing I can do for her is try not to screw up and come out alive. No way has she and thousands of others died in vain.

    It’s quiet here too, a far cry from the central n-Builds and even the howl of the abandoned section from where I just left. Usually if I have business within the city, it’s in the central sector, which is where the fed presence is at its highest. I’m talking zero crime rates, even in its subsection.

    The door opens and the clean air of the train is replaced with an even cleaner smelling solute.

    Something I don’t particularly notice usually, probably because I – like all the other billions of life forms – am so used to seeing it, is the Please Watch Your Step message that rolls across every train’s windows. Like I said, ninety nine times out of a hundred, I don’t notice it; but this time – this time though, it notice it reads Exit Carefully and Slowly with Your Arms Out.

    @!#$, I say aloud. MICAH should’ve told me … that I’ll enter the prison as a prisoner. He didn’t say that – but scrolling messages and red directional arrows make the suspicion become more evident.

    First instinct tells me to toss the gun, which I do. There aren’t any seats to use as a stash spot, so I kind of just kick the gun to the train’s furthest corner. Shame that I have to waste the hardware, but it’s better than a bullet in my brain once they find it, which they would. I’ve seen many Feed documentaries on the prison system. Correction officers act as if the cameras aren’t on them when they pummel and kill insubordinate convicts. Now you want to talk about a group of people with problems …

    What comes next, I’m not ready for. Not that there’s a choice in the matter, regardless of how competent I feel. Once I’m composed, I leave the train through with my hands up, as if a hero were waits on the other side.

    After my eyes adjust to the lights – mood dampeners – I notice a line of people magnetically tethered to one another; as if there were somewhere to run to. The sights are absorbed until something large gets in my way.

  2. #2
    Kate B.

    Re: First to second draft comparison. (800 wds). Opinions required.

    Here’s what I think:

    Your rewrite is definitely much stronger than your original draft.

    That being said, I feel like there is still too much space spent setting the scene. As this passage ends, I get the sense that something is about to happen. Somebody big gets in the way of the MC. Why not start with that?

    The concepts (selling ad space in your dreams, a four-minute ride on the train, a brutal prison being infiltrated) are really, really interesting but I think maybe you are throwing me into this world too fast. The fact that he’s looking for someone called Liza, that he’s incognito, and that he’s in a life-and-death situation are all things that I can get my mind around.

    On the nit-picking side of things…

    I think you are still a little wordy. I’m going to play with your first paragraph. Bear in mind that this is just a suggestion and I’m still an amateur:

    A high pitched whistle signals the train’s stop. I look at my PDU and see that the trip took less than four minutes. Four minutes is nowhere near enough time to get comfortable in dreamland. My yawn stretches my dry lips feels until they feel like they will crack and I stifle it. Bloody, painful lips are the last thing I need. Static courses through my brain, like a thick fog. I’m not sure the static will ever disappear. It is like a bad acid trip—you know, where you hope that you’ll wake up okay and normal the next morning. Once I’m fully awake, I realize why I feel static-y.

    I was trying to loose your unnecessary descriptives…on a train, I assume that all stops are scheduled. You would only need to tell me if it was unscheduled. Is he really calculating how long he slept?


    The best thing I can do for her is try not to screw up and come out alive. This sentence makes me think that if the MC screws up, he’ll come out alive.

    Shame that I have to waste the hardware, but it’s better than a bullet in my brain once they find it, which they would. I would leave off, “which they would.” I think that “once they find it” makes the concept of the MC getting caught inevidable

    The sights are absorbed until something large gets in my way. I think that passive voice is even more glaring in the tense you choose to use. I absorb the sights….

  3. #3
    Christopher Proffitt

    Re: First to second draft comparison. (800 wds). Opinions required.


    I'm actually pretty beat, atm, but here's my go:

    The first draft is like a skeleton, to me. The second is like dressing it in flesh. Very much like your voice in the second. Strong, in-touch, almost Bladerunner type thought process going here. I like the rookie feel to the way the guy is approaching the situation, but also like the competence that says he might just have what he needs to pull it off.

    Great set up.

    The personalization of the people he's seeking, names two girls, makes it personal for the reader. Very nice. I like the choice of the name, Reagan, too. Strong name for a girl, you expect that to come forth later when you actually meet her. At least that's just how I feel when I'm reading it... Name her a girly name, you expect a damsel in distress... the semi-masculine name gives me expectations of an interesting and powerful personality in the girl.

    She doesn't need to be rescued, just freed. She'll take up your slack after the fact type-girl.

    I don't know if that's psychological or just me.

    My main critique here would be the advertisement in the brain thing. This could be just how I write and I do, honestly, see some potential in what you're trying to do with that idea, but it needs thought out more.

    Mostly, it's a distraction. A tangeant from the original story, unless it comes into play later at a crucial moment. Like, while cornered and about to try something risky, he's tripped up by images of Mighty Mouse doing lude things to Mini Mouse.

    But even then, unless this is satirical or a comedy, advertisements are everywhere, all the time, and I think if they wanted to put ads in your brain, they'd do it without permission.

    What you might want to consider, if you want to go with this at all, is blocking those ads and maybe the distractions caused are due to the interference that kind of spam blockage could cause.

    I'd give you an idea, but I'm already working on a short that's all in the protagonist's head and would hate for a law suit in the future. :P

    All in all, did not care for the first draft at all. Very much see great voice and talent in the second.

    Did you flesh out from the first as a plot to the second? Pretty good leap there... kind of curious.

    (Btw, I'm learning!! Copied before I posted and sure enough, it failed to post. Here it is, again)

  4. #4
    Christopher Proffitt

    Re: First to second draft comparison. (800 wds). Opinions required.

    Oh, btw, to add: Need to separate or clarify the Liza girl. I thought on the first read that she was a secondary target to find. Only on the second read, I realized that she was part of the extraction team (right?) and supplying info.

    I think you need to make her and any other part of the extraction team 'live' at the get go.

    Don't just refer to her not having anything to add, have he say she doesn't have any info.

    Lastly, nothing like a guy going for broke, but if he has a team, this should be reflected in the strategy and fore-thought...

    In other words, show that they planned this. Hi-tech world means impulse attacks get squashed.

    Btw, if I'm thinking about it this long, it hooked me. That's telling you that it's good stuff. Think about it more and refine.

    To a degree, too, I agree with Kate B. Set the pace higher. Clip your wording (slightly). Move it faster, at least at this stage.

    Suspence and violence have no commas.

    That last isn't totally true, but it's a good bench mark. Oh, and I think that phrase might be mine.

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