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  1. #1
    msknight
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    Worth continuing?

    I'm messing around with starting a comedy fantasy. What do people think? Worth continuing? This is, of course, simply first draft.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration were guarding a secret. On the extremities of Voyager 2's journey, it had found another planet on which the human race could live. There was, however, one slight problem. The existing inhabitants.
    “That's never stopped us before.” said a scientist in a meeting room at Houston.
    “But we have to tell people! It's our duty.” piped up another soul, completely energised by the discovery.
    “No we're not. We have a duty to report on intelligent life.” came a detractor.
    “Exactly. And from what surveillance has told us, sentient is about the best you can level at them.”
    “But they're alarmingly like us. They could be our relatives. We have to tell people about this!” The energetic person punctuated their sentence by hitting the desk, in the vain hope that violence would add weight to their argument. Although that technique worked on TV, in reality it only left them with a dull throbbing sensation.
    “Yes, and they're sailing around their planet in wooden boats, waving cutlasses in the air and calling everyone me'hearty.”
    “Need I remind you that our own species did that not so very long ago.”
    “And dare I remind you of how we turned out as a species? What better reason do you need to leave them alone, than us?”
    “But this is what people have been searching for; putting all their efforts in to. Are we finally to have found extra terrestrial life and tell no one?”
    There was a murmur around the table. “I suggest that we don't tell them anything; at least, not if we want them to keep looking.” Voices muttered general agreement. “Discovery of a planet like this might dash all hope of finding intelligent life out there.”
    That's how the discussion continued.
    The planet they had discovered was roughly twice the size of Earth and mostly composed of water. The volatile weather systems caused a lot of isolated, violent disturbances on the surface, so it had been officially named, “Cymopoleia,” after the Greek sea-nymph of high storm waves.
    However, after a number of people continued to get it confused with an intimate human disease, they had decided to simply call it, “Water.” That, in turn, had led to other confusing conversations; but as those social faux-pas were deemed less embarrassing, the nickname stuck.
    The land coverage of the planet was only around fifteen percent. It was also very highly distributed. The best that someone had managed to describe it, was as if a deity had got up one morning with a heavy cold, gone for a celestial stroll and happened to sneeze on it as they walked by.



  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Not much to go on, but I was a little interested. I think your language is a little too murky and dulls the humor. Suggestions in red:


    NASA was guarding a secret. On the extremities of Voyager 2's journey, it found another planet where humans could live, but there was one slight problem: the existing inhabitants.

    “That's never stopped us before.” said a scientist in a meeting room at Houston.

    “But we have to tell people! It's our duty!” piped up another.

    No, we don’t. We have a duty to report on intelligent life,” said a detractor.

    “Exactly. And from what surveillance tells us, ‘sentient’ is about the best you can say of them.”

    “But they're alarmingly like us. They could be our relatives. We have to tell people about this!” The person punctuated the sentence by hitting the desk to add weight to the argument. Although the technique worked on TV, in reality, it added only a dull throbbing sensation.

    “Yes, and they're sailing around their planet in wooden boats, waving cutlasses in the air, and calling everyone ‘me hearty’.”

    “Need I remind you that our own species did that not so very long ago?”

    “And need I remind you of how we turned out as a species? What better reason to leave them alone?”

    “But extra-terrestrial life is what we’ve been searching for! Are we finally to find it and tell no one?”

    There was a murmur around the table.

    “I suggest we don't tell them anything…at least, not if we want them to keep giving us money to search.” Voices muttered general agreement.

    “Discovery of a planet like this might dash all hope of finding intelligent life.”

    That's how the discussion continued.

    The planet they discovered was roughly twice the size of Earth and mostly composed of water. Volatile weather systems caused a lot of isolated, violent disturbances on the surface, so they officially named it “Cymopoleia” after the Greek sea-nymph of high storm waves.

    However, after a number of people confused the name with a sexual disease, they nicknamed it “Water”, which led to other confusing, but much less embarrassing conversations.

    The land coverage of the planet was only around fifteen percent and highly distributed. Someone once said it was as if a deity woke up with a heavy cold and sneezed on it in the midst of a morning celestial stroll.

  3. #3
    msknight
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    Thanks John,
    So, that's one vote for a little bit interested so far.
    Anyone else?

  4. #4
    Junior Member Marci Mathers's Avatar
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    I am so new here, I hesitate to comment, but I have been reading for a long time, so I will dive in. I like the concept and I do think it's worth developing. I especially like your last line.

  5. #5
    msknight
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    Hi Marci,

    Many thanks for taking the time to comment! I have a broad plot sketched already; the real test was whether I would be able to pull the humour off. I've had positive feedback on a few other channels as well, so it's looking like I'll take this concept through and see if I manage to make a decent book out of it.

  6. #6
    Rogue Mutt
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    I second what John said.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    I also agree with John that some of the humor gets lost in the muck. The hardest thing about writing comedy is that the comedy and tone need to remain consistent throughout. You could easily tighten this and get rid of or pump up the dialogue that is falling flat.

    One thing I suggest you do is bring the gaggle of scientists to life in a more specific way. "A scientist" "Another soul" etc. are beyond generic. The more specific the better with comedy - so we can not only hear, but also see the characters.

    I agree that the final visual image of a deity sneezing on the planet is the strongest visual - you may want to think about starting with that image of the planet and then lead into the academic conversation between the scientists. Also don't be afraid to push the dialogue (and narration) to an absurd level. You can always pull it back.

  8. #8
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    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration were guarding a secret. On the extremities of Voyager 2's journey, it had found another planet on which the human race could live. There was, however, one slight problem. The existing inhabitants.
    “That's never stopped us before.” said a scientist in a meeting room at Houston.
    What you've provided here is a report. It's data, and all the reader can say, on reading it, is, "Uh-huh." So it's informative, but not entertaining. And that's pretty much how it goes till the end. You, the author, are explaining the story, and dropping in quotes here and there. But people aren't speaking those lines, and no one is reacting to what's said and done. Instead, you're reporting them.

    In general, a story is related to one person's problems, and presented in such a way that for the reader there's uncertainty as to what will happen as a result of what they do and say. That's necessary, because without uncertainty there can be no surprises, only a listing of events.

    Your focus in this is telling the Story—with Story defined as the sequence of important and interesting events that make up the plot. But story, with a lower case S lives in the moment, in the aspirations, the desires and problems of the protagonist. And to involve the reader we must make them shadow the actions and decisions of the protagonist. Anything else provides an informational, not an emotional experience.

    You're not either on the scene nor in the story. So the moment you appear and begin talking to the reader—explaining things—realism leaves. Moreover, while you can tell us the character snarled, laughed, or fell down laughing, you cannot tell the reader how you speak the lines of text, making your words arrive in the reader's mind in a monotone, at a metronomic rate. How exciting can that be?

    My point is to stop telling and place the reader into the scene as a participant. Reality, to you and I, is a tiny slice of time we call now. So why not piut your reader into your protagonist's reality and take the reader along as you sweep time along, moment-by-moment, decision-by-decision?

    Take a look at this article. It outlines one very powerful method of providing a strong point of view that will involve the reader. Chew on it till it makes sense, then play with it a bit. I think you'll like the result.

  9. #9
    msknight
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    Thanks for this.

    The first part is, indeed, information. The story itself starts on the planet. It's why I didn't want to get bogged down too much with characters in this first part, its job was to describe the main features of the planet and its reason for existing.

    Making the opening part snappier and a feature in itself is something I initially wanted to avoid. But I can see the benefit in amping it and making it a stronger comedic piece in its own right.

    Thanks folks, that's a lot for me to chew on, and a major decision I've got to make.

  10. #10
    msknight
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    OK ... so here's this...

    NASA was guarding a secret. On the extremities of Voyager 2's journey, it had found another planet on which the human race could live. It was roughly twice the size of Earth and composed mostly of water. Volatile weather systems caused violent disturbances on the surface, so it was officially named, “Cymopoleia,” after the Greek sea-nymph of high storm waves.

    After people kept getting it confused with an intimate human disease, they nicknamed it, “Agua.” This in turn led to misunderstandings at the water cooler, but as those were less embarrassing, the nickname stuck.

    Land coverage of the planet was only around fifteen percent and it was highly distributed. There were large numbers of small islands all over the surface, with a few larger land masses here and there. It looked like a deity had woken up one morning with the flu, gone for a celestial stroll and happened to sneeze on it as they walked by.

    As far as habitable planets went, it didn't look too bad; but there was one slight problem. The existing inhabitants.

    “That's never stopped us before.” said a scientist in a high security meeting room at the Houston complex. A group of sixteen men and women, top people in their professions, were debating the thorny issue at hand.

    A thin, physically weak specimen among them, burst forth with a vocal energy that belied his appearance. “But we have to tell people! It's our duty!”

    On the other side of the table was a woman who was also on the opposite side of the debate. “No we don't. We have a duty to report on intelligent life, and 'sentient,' is about the best you're going to get with this lot.”

    A woman with what looked to be half the stationary cupboard in her chest pocket, chimed in. “But they're alarmingly like us. They could be our relatives. We have to tell people about this!” She punctuated her sentence by hitting the desk, in the vain hope that violence would add weight to her argument. Although the technique worked on TV, in reality it only left her with a dull, throbbing sensation in her fist.

    A rather conservative figure off to the side attempted to move the conversation forward. “What, exactly, would you like us to report? That there's a bunch of aliens sailing around their planet in wooden boats, waving cutlasses in the air and calling everyone me'hearty?” He opened his arms wide in invitation of a challenge, as if that settled the issue.

    Someone duly accepted. “Need I remind you that our own species did exactly those things not so very long ago?”

    The conservative figure already had his response planned. “And dare I remind you of how we turned out as a species? We are the perfect example of why they should be left alone.” He glared at his colleagues to see whether there would be a response. None came, so he attempted to seal the deal; after all, they were already several hours overdue for dinner. If they kept this up, it would be time for breakfast again. “I mean, we all know what another five hundred years is likely to mean for that planet. Fox News, cheese in a can and Eurovision.”

    Silent acknowledgement of his powerful argument drifted across the room. The puny one had a problem letting this go. “But this is what people have been searching for; putting all their efforts in to. Are we finally to have found extra terrestrial life, only to tell no one?”

    A murmur of discontent spread around the table. His opposite number, once again, opposed him. “I suggest that we don't tell anyone, anything; at least, not if we want people to keep looking for something worth finding.” Voices muttered their general agreement.

    A bearded figure who had remained silent to this point, suddenly burst forth with considerable volume. “Discovery of a planet like this might dash all hope of finding intelligent life in outer space. People might give up searching. We can't risk that happening.” He dramatically raised a pointed finger in to the air. “Hope and discovery are the cornerstones of our species!”

    The discussion continued on until breakfast the following day; and beyond.

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