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Thread: Space

  1. #11
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Tinman View Post
    The post date on his heading says: 1/25/2015 2:56 am. Isn't it a revised post. Granted, I remember seeing it somewhere before (I think).
    His profile says his last activity was 2/23



  2. #12
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    Ah well I'm new to the forum, and just picked this because I thought it looked interesting. I can check the dates more carefully in future, but I'm happy to have wasted my time as a practise run!

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    When will you people ever learn to check the dates? The person who posted this hasn't been here in 3 months. Yeah, yeah, it could help someone else or the author could come back. Keep telling yourself that so you don't feel like you just wasted a bunch of time on nothing.
    The mistake this author is making is probably the single most common trap that new writers fall into. You can see it showing up in most posted writing, on pretty much every writing website. And since neither you nor anyone has pointed out the problem, and explained why it's a problem, and how to fix it...

    After all, if we don't spend some time and a few dollars learning our professional craft, can we really think of ourselves as serious writers?

    You'll find that I do what I care to, when I care to, for reasons that matter to me. I tend to care more about what the pros think and say on the subject of writing. But thank you for pointing out the obvious.

  4. #14
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    The mistake this author is making is probably the single most common trap that new writers fall into. You can see it showing up in most posted writing, on pretty much every writing website. And since neither you nor anyone has pointed out the problem, and explained why it's a problem, and how to fix it...

    After all, if we don't spend some time and a few dollars learning our professional craft, can we really think of ourselves as serious writers?

    You'll find that I do what I care to, when I care to, for reasons that matter to me. I tend to care more about what the pros think and say on the subject of writing. But thank you for pointing out the obvious.
    I know, I know, nothing you ever do is wrong.

  5. #15
    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    When will you people ever learn to check the dates? The person who posted this hasn't been here in 3 months. Yeah, yeah, it could help someone else or the author could come back. Keep telling yourself that so you don't feel like you just wasted a bunch of time on nothing.
    It isn't a waste in any way. It's still conversation. Bee just revived a thread that several people are now talking in. No harm there.

  6. #16
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wickett View Post
    It isn't a waste in any way. It's still conversation. Bee just revived a thread that several people are now talking in. No harm there.
    Talking about why they shouldn't be talking in the thread isn't a real conversation.

  7. #17
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    I apologize for my absence. Technical and physical interruptions have separated me from writing for almost a year.

    I have read your critiques and hopefully employed them to make this chapter better.

    Space

    Chapter 1
    Milikos Drift

    I stared into Keo's eyes; so crystal clear, I saw tiny blood vessels spreading out like spider legs, but no blood pumped through them. Frozen in brilliant clarity—all life gone. He lasted over a week. I could survive ninety days, unless I killed myself from space-crazy.

    I detached the lifeline that bound us together for eight days. One day past expectations, a day filled with talk of memories and heartache, for we thought it was his last. He didn't appear to suffer as his solar heater died; he shivered but kept talking.

    “Parker, do you remember the two Jellybean whores on Fanchon?” Keo laughed, his teeth sparkled in the brilliant light from the far off super sun of Janus. “I thought I was too drunk to find a way into her. Finally, you yelled from the next room. Turn her over!”

    I laughed. We had been young and neither of us yet married. The galaxy had been our playground and we had money and a degree of power as Rim Pilots.
    “Parker, do you remember when you met Martha?” Keo asked, his helmet only inches from mine as drifted.

    I nodded. I didn't want to talk about this, not now, not ever, but I wasn't the one dying, not yet. My more advanced and larger space suit was designed to last three months. Keo's was a quick deploy suite, rated for only seven days. I, being the first one to the ejection pod, had time to activate and don the two-ton Stage 6 Zenar suit, basically an ecosystem to itself. All food, oxygen, piss and **** was recycled, reconstituted and reused until at the end of 90 days, the molecules had enough, and were barely hanging together.

    But now, Keo had only a few hours to live. Perhaps, if places were reversed, I would want to talk about the past. My wife had been Keo's first love.

    So I held his arm. “How could I forget?”

    He never answered, his lips frozen with his last smile.

    Three days earlier there had been three of us; Tarp, Keo and myself tethered together. We talked little. We knew we would soon be dead. We wanted to be alone with our thoughts, but that got boring. By the third day, we were talking for hours on end like old friends at a bar.

    My suit was big enough for me to turn around in. Kind of like being the only sardine in a can. Keo and Tarp had only enough time to slide into stage 2 suits. We had thought of our options—turn our thrusters on and aim the way we came. We had hoped to get near a flight route. Our information told us we could be close to the rumored Sestan, a planet whose whereabouts was mostly based on speculation. Our original mission had been to find it.

    A decade ago, a wagbottom ship had crashed on Sestan. A damaged recording—jettisoned back to the Prime Galaxy from the captain—had talked about the planet in great length, but the exact coordinates were indecipherable. He said there was H2o, O2 and carbon, everything needed for life.

    We sent beacons from our ship before it exploded. We had calculated it would take three months for any signal to reach the closest outpost.

    The OSP, Outreach Space Program, was reaching its first millennium and had yet to find another inhabited or inhabitable planet. A few Quick Start planets were discovered, but they would take hundreds of years to produce a habitable environment where life support was not needed.

    Tarp was the engineer, his mind was a racehorse of contradictions. He kept everyone on their toes. “Let's try to com-sat our radios. That will increase there range and faster by a multiple of three.”

    Keo asked, “If I knew what you were talking about. And lets pretend I do. Three times faster...better...towards where?”

    Tarp faced away from us so we could not see his face. He popped a jet and turned back to us. “I think, over there.”

    It was always funny to me, that in space, without a recognizable planet in close proximity or a computer to figure it out for you, there was no direction. Pointing was as high tech as it got out here.

    We had limited thruster use only to turn to face each other. Though the jets had the power to send us over a thousand miles, we would save them for when a miracle rescue occurred. Then we would turn on and reverse the jets to slow our entry.

    At least I didn't have a wife and kids to burden me. I knew Tarp felt overwhelming guilt for, as he called it, abandoning his family.

    I was holding Tarp's arm when I felt a jolt. His thruster spurted. Too late. A fist size hole was bleeding out of his chest in the space between us. The meteor passed so fast I never saw it. Mickey's mouth was still open, as he was about to talk. Parts of his suit, blood and lungs misted around us. It was heartbreaking, floating with his debris. I unfastened him, wasted a bit of power and pulled Keo and me away from the scene of Tarp's death. We should have cannibalized his suit, but it and Tarp were such a mess, that neither of us could do it.

    Keo and I didn't talk for a few days after that. Seconds dragged to hours, and hours dragged for days. A week would be an eternity. Death looked more inviting every day.

  8. #18
    Rogue Mutt
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    Your first sentence is a run-on sentence.

    I stared into Keo's eyes; so crystal clear, I saw tiny blood vessels spreading out like spider legs, but no blood pumped through them.
    I stared into Keo's eyes, so crystal clear. I saw tiny blood vessels spreading out like spider legs, but no blood pumped through them.

    At any rate the blood vessels aren't important if someone's dead. It's that the eyes are unmoving and unfocused.

  9. #19
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    You’ve worked hard on this, and obviously feel it’s important. But there’s an overriding problem that hasn’t been mentioned, one that needs addressing: You’re watching the film version in your head as you write and telling the reader about what you see, without giving the reader that picture. You’re also assuming that the reader knows things you’ve not given them, with the result that they lack context for pretty much everything you say.

    Look at a few lines as a reader would, one who knows only what the prose means to them.

    I stared into Keo's eyes
    As we read this we don’t yet know who we are. We don’t know where we are in time and space. And, we don’t know the situation. Given that, this line could refer to someone making a deal, and meeting their eyes. It could be someone looking at the person he loves. It could fit many situations. What odds would you give that a reader, who knows none of the things I just mentioned, would assume this unknown person was looking at a dead body? I’d put it way down there on the list. And you cannot take it as a give that the reader will learn the actual situation as they read on. Readers dislike finding that they were mistaken because the line misled them. So, pretty much the first time you do it they stop reading.

    • so crystal clear,

    The antecedent for this is the subject of the last line, so this says the eyes are clear, which is what you said but not what you meant. Things like this matter.

    And how is crystal clear different from clear? People use it in speech, so if this was dialog it would be an affectation of the speaker, and okay. Otherwise it only serves to slow the narrative.

    Problem is, as you read the story it all makes perfect sense because you have context before you begin to read. And you have the images of the scene because you have something that doesn’t make it past the keyboard: intent.

    • I stared into Keo's eyes; so crystal clear, I saw tiny blood vessels spreading out like spider legs, but no blood pumped through them. Frozen in brilliant clarity—all life gone.

    In total, you used thirty-one words to say, Keo was dead. That’s the point you are trying to make. What possible reason would there be to supply a line that take ten times as long to kill off someone we know nothing about, and who—from a reader’s viewpoint, will not appear in the story after that?

    Your reader is looking to be entertained by being made to become emotionally involved in the protagonist’s life, not read the words of a narrator, whose “voice” they can’t hear.

    Here’s the short version:

    Writing is a profession. And we learn damn little about how to practice it through reading—no more then we learn how to write a screenplay by watching films, or become a journalist by reading newspapers. And we learn damn little about fiction writing technique in our school days because there, we're taught nonfiction techniques to make us useful on the job. And as Mark Twain wisely observed, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    We all leave school filled with “just ain’t so” when it comes to writing fiction. And that’s what you need to fix.

    You have the desire. You have the story. Doesn’t that story deserve a telling by someone knowledgeable in the craft that the pros take for granted? Doesn’t it make sense that if you want to write like a pro you should spend a bit of time, and perhaps money, on a writers education?

    For an overview of some of the issues you might dig around in the writing section of my blog. But in the end you want to go to the pros. And that’s a matter of visiting the writing section of your local library. And that’s free. My personal suggestion is that while your there look for books by Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, and Debra Dixon. They’re the best I’ve found.

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