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  1. #1
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    The Declaration of Unity--Chapter One: 1,200-words, spec-fic/contemporary fantasy

    "R" rated tone and a few expletives.

    Seeking any and all feedback anyone's willing to offer. Thanks in advance.


    THE DECLARATION OF UNITY

    The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations. ~Thomas Jefferson

    One

    Human nature was dead, and I’d helped murder it.

    Backstage, organized chaos spun around me. Clipboard-toting producers paced to and fro, spouting instructions into their headsets. Grips and pages scurried to perform said tasks. Lighting operators threw switches. Technical engineers routed cables. Secret Service agents marched to their posts. My and my opponent’s aids offered last second strategies to their prized stallions. Whatever the reason these people took these silly duties so seriously, a paycheck, prestige, or barebones modern survival, none of them were living as nature intended. The beauty of the human control design? Every single one of them believed they were.

    My nerves stirred. In five minutes I’d be labeled a commie terrorist, more vile than Hitler and Bin Laden’s love child. I fished a handkerchief from my pocket and sopped up the sweat beaded on my forehead.

    “Leo Winslow Jefferson, yes or no?” Louise’s voice snapped my trance.

    I pocketed the handkerchief and jutted my chin. “I’m sorry?”

    “Are we flipping to tax reform or sticking with healthcare?”

    I respected that about her. All business. No judgment that I hadn’t been listening. Yet always coddling. She was a perfect campaign manager, with her perfectly pressed pantsuit, perfect blonde helmet hairdo, and perfect cutthroat drive to win.

    If only her perfectionism applied to our for-show marriage.

    “Well?” she asked.

    Taxes, healthcare, energy diversion, uprooting troops, they mattered only because those controlling the strings made them matter. As one of the faceless puppeteers, I knew this firsthand but didn’t have the heart to tell Louise. She’d find out soon enough; the first step toward that was in four minutes to be exact.

    I flashed the smile in which I’d graduated prep preschool three decades ago with honors, projecting the exact right degrees of calm-assertiveness, compassion, wisdom and trustworthiness. “You’re for healthcare. Healthcare it is. Relax, Weezy.” I took her hand. “We’re movin’ on up.”

    She pulled away. Rigidity, now that trait she faithfully employed in our marriage. “Very well. We’re all set. I’m off to cozy up to the enemy behind the enemy, then.” She started to reach out her hand but raised it and wiped an imaginary piece of lint from my shoulder. “Knock ‘im dead.” With two stiff pats she left to pick the opposing campaign manager’s brain.

    “That’s the plan,” I muttered, knowing as she disappeared into the sea of frenzy that’d probably be the last time I’d ever see her. I cared for her, but love was always absent. Not that I knew what love was.

    Three minutes.

    One of the lucky few press photographers allowed backstage snapped a photo, nodded and continued on. The media had feasted on this election. At thirty-five, both presidential candidates were the youngest in history. And for the first time, both were direct descendants of prominent founding fathers; the juiciest morsel of that being which two. Me: Thomas Jefferson. Archibald: John Adams. Broadcasters had ensured every American was aware of the rivalry between the Jefferson and Adams of old, lapping up the bit where both men died hours apart, and on America’s fiftieth anniversary. Even juicier, on his deathbed, Adams’s last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

    And in two minutes, the world would know the feud still smoldered.

    “Leonardo.”

    I turned. Archibald Adams had joined me, standing behind the curtain that’d soon be pulled back.

    “Archie.” I allowed the pretense of dominance in our handshake. Hot, damp, sour air bombarded my nose. “What is that, scotch or whiskey?” I asked.

    “Brandy, actually.” Archie leaned closer. “Mixed with the cheap perfume of two of the filthiest mouthed whores I’ve ever bedded.”

    My eyebrow reflexively cocked. I opted to communicate my next words via telepathy. Brilliant move, admitting to your opponent you’re a philanderer, and engage in illegal sex acts.
    Ah, but we’re bound by The Covenant’s code. Too bad for you. No, this election depends on who’s the better liar. May as well bow out now, my friend.

    Don’t call me friend. We both know why we keep each other close. I winked, biting my tongue, my entire body, from lashing the traitorous smiley-glad-hands ****.

    “Down, senators. Look like a couple of gladiators squaring off.” A producer emerged and adjusted us to face the curtain. “Save it for the camera. We’re on in ten. Good luck, gentlemen.”

    I composed myself, tuning out Archie’s rendition of “She sells sea shells…”

    The curtain drew back and the PA System blared The Star Spangled Banner.

    “Let’s keep the distraction mill rolling, shall we?” Waving to the modest-sized audience, Archie marched to the podium at stage left.

    I took my station, waiting through Archie’s address, poring over every detail that might hiccup the plan. It was solid, though I wasn’t looking forward to my exile. But after tonight, no option remained.

    Claps and cheers erupted in the crowd. I was up. No turning back. My nerves initiated a revolt and my breathing threatened to join in. More sweat trickled from my brow. I huffed, cleared my mind, then took the initial step that’d change the world.

    “Aren’t you tired of eating bull****? I‘m certainly tired of feeding it to you.” The auditorium incarnated the silence/pin drop cliché. Their minds were already on the defense, combating the truth. “I know, I may as well be standing on a soapbox. Luckily, I’m a man of few words. Let’s get to setting you free then, shall we?”

    Congratulations, you fool, our brothers will have your head. I’ll be jitterbugging on your grave by week’s end. Archie’s transmission came through as clear and sharp as shattered glass.

    I leered at my opponent, my rival, my enemy, and shook my head, sensing but ignoring the crowd’s growing restlessness. You know the best thing about our current status, Archie? I sauntered over to him. We get to bypass all those pesky metal detectors.

    I drew the pistol from my breast pocket, pressed it to Archie’s forehead and fired. Liquid warmth splattered my face. Archie plummeted, a slight smirk forming on his way down.

    Floodlights jolted on overhead. Screams bounced off the auditorium walls. Policemen, secret servicemen and Covenant agents stormed the stage, weapons drawn. I closed my eyes, steadied my mind’s light and waited, letting the pitch of the internal electrical surge climb higher. When it peaked, I transported out of the theatre, abandoning the mania in my blurred, multicolored wake.

    Twenty seconds later, I was at the motorcycle I’d stashed seven blocks away in a lightless alleyway.

    I stripped down to just my t-shirt and slacks. Before tossing the suit and pistol into a nearby dumpster, I cringed at its ability-hindering contents. Surplus burgers and fries from a fast food chain. Empty water bottles. Soda and coffee cups. Outdated magazines and electronic devices. All of it, poison and heartache. The stench of grease and rotting Chinese food prompted me to put on my helmet, fire up the bike and peel to the end of the alley.

    Phase one: force Archie from the public spotlight. Phase two: dodge The Covenant for as long as it took the heat to dwindle. Phase three: begin forming an army for the evolution revolution.

    To the left, sirens blared and blue and red lights flashed throughout the west side of downtown Philadelphia. The Covenant would clean up easily enough, bribing some doctor to explain away Archie’s miraculous survival, and the people would buy it, remaining oblivious to the glorious gifts inside them.

    For now.

    I turned right and headed in the direction of reform.
    Last edited by Adam Bentley; 04-10-2012 at 01:01 AM. Reason: Formatting.



  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    I'd replace the paragraph beginning "Backstage, organized..." with the paragraph beginning "One of the lucky few...". I know that screws up your little countdown, but I think you can eliminate the countdown without too much hurt. Also, I'd make it clearer what exactly this event is. I suppose it's some kind of televised debate or something, but you never say what it is, where it's at, or anything. The setting is vague to say the least. Replacing that paragraph helps a little.

    I'm left with an awful lot of questions after reading it. Several things don't make sense, and appear contradictory. Take the first sentence – wouldn’t you say a man killing an opponent is a pretty strong indication that human nature ISN’T dead? Maybe you mean something else besides human nature. Several contradictions like that in this piece.

    Apparently, the two contenders can communicate telepathically by some kind of electronic device? Is that right? Not really clear.

    If you wanted the reader to be confused and lost, I think you succeeded admirably, but if I were you, I’d shoot for a different goal.

    As for the writing itself, one of the main things I noticed was an annoying list mannerism. It infects even your description of action. Right off, you list a bunch of people and their jobs…well, tell me if you see any lists in these clips:

    Clipboard-toting producers paced to and fro, spouting instructions into their headsets. Grips and pages scurried to perform said tasks. Lighting operators threw switches. Technical engineers routed cables. Secret Service agents marched to their posts. My and my opponent’s aids offered last second strategies to their prized stallions.

    I respected that about her. All business. No judgment that I hadn’t been listening. Yet always coddling. She was a perfect campaign manager, with her perfectly pressed pantsuit, perfect blonde helmet hairdo, and perfect cutthroat drive to win.

    Taxes, healthcare, energy diversion, uprooting troops, they mattered only because those controlling the strings made them matter.

    I flashed the smile in which I’d graduated prep preschool three decades ago with honors, projecting the exact right degrees of calm-assertiveness, compassion, wisdom and trustworthiness.

    “Archie.” I allowed the pretense of dominance in our handshake. Hot, damp, sour air bombarded my nose.

    I took my station, waiting through Archie’s address, poring over every detail that might hiccup the plan.

    I leered at my opponent, my rival, my enemy, and shook my head, sensing but ignoring the crowd’s growing restlessness.

    I drew the pistol from my breast pocket, pressed it to Archie’s forehead and fired.

    Floodlights jolted on overhead. Screams bounced off the auditorium walls. Policemen, secret servicemen and Covenant agents stormed the stage, weapons drawn. I closed my eyes, steadied my mind’s light and waited, letting the pitch of the internal electrical surge climb higher.


    Surplus burgers and fries from a fast food chain. Empty water bottles. Soda and coffee cups. Outdated magazines and electronic devices. All of it, poison and heartache. The stench of grease and rotting Chinese food prompted me to put on my helmet, fire up the bike and peel to the end of the alley.

    Phase one: force Archie from the public spotlight. Phase two: dodge The Covenant for as long as it took the heat to dwindle. Phase three: begin forming an army for the evolution revolution.


    Also, several instances of odd wording, I thought.

    That’s about all I have time for.

  3. #3
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    My and my opponent’s aids offered last second strategies to their prized stallions.

    That's as far as I got.

  4. #4
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    John,

    Firstly, thanks so much for ripping into this for me. 'Preciate it a lot.

    Yeah, vague is indeed something of which I'm often accused. I will indeed brushstroke some additional setting details.

    The laundry listing: indeed and couldn't agree more. Thank you for pointing this out. I just went through and eliminated a good 75% of them. Thank you.

    As for the telepathy, no electronic device involved. Just good old-fashioned mind communication. But you're right, vague and confusing. I'll think of some way to SHOW this sooner.

    Again, thank you so much for the crit; it's helped immensely.

    Adam

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    Leslee,

    Thanks for reading as far as you did. My style's definitely not for everyone.

    Adam

  6. #6
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    My and my opponent’s aids offered last second strategies to their prized stallions.

    The grammar is poor and there's a spelling error. Is that a matter of style? It's intentional?

    Interesting choice.
    Last edited by leslee; 04-10-2012 at 03:30 PM.

  7. #7
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    The beauty of the human control design?
    This line threw me. What does it mean?

    a commie terrorist, more vile than Hitler and Bin Laden’s love child.
    Wouldn't that be a Nazi terrorist?

    sea of frenzy..., ...nerves initiated a revolt..., ...peel to the end of the alley...
    Nice phrases.

    Overall, you've got the writing chops, but it's a bit over done in places and the set-up left me puzzled in spots. Don't know where you are in the process, but I recommend another rewrite. Good luck and thanks for posting.

  8. #8
    simba major
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    I don't get it.

    At all.

  9. #9
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    Leslee,

    Indeed. I've nixed the line altogether for several reasons: laundry-listing, poor grammar, awkwardness.

    As for "aids", I get it, although "aides" and "aids" are technically both correct.

    In any event, it's a goner.

    Adam
    Last edited by Adam Bentley; 04-10-2012 at 04:25 PM.

  10. #10
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    Jayce,

    "The beauty of the human control design?" line is where I seem to have failed miserably at simply saying there's a plot designed to control humans.

    Good point on the "Nazi terrorist" comment.

    Thanks for the compliments and I agree: it's overdone and vague.

    This was my third--and I was hoping final--draft of a completed novel. But I see now more work is needed.

    Thanks again for sharing. Everyone's comments and reactions are invaluable.

    Adam

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