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 Cvalin's (Chris') Story

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Whigworld
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PostSubject: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:42 am

Use this thread to critique Chris' story once posted on Box.net
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Mon Sep 29, 2008 2:30 am

Okay, I've posted my first draft. I know it's not long enough yet, but I'd like to hear what everyone thinks before I begin tweaking it.

Thanks!

edit: I corrected a misspelled word

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:23 am

CV, I've read your first draft of "Phone Home" and I've got some feedback for you.

Right off the bat, I think that the device you've employed -- the message from future self to current self -- has been done to death in science fiction. So much so that as soon as Todd gets the phone call, you know exactly how the rest of the story will unfold.

Secondly, I don't feel like it makes sense to have Todd be a practical joker, and tie that in with stealing the key card. I think it would make more sense for him to be a thief and an opportunist. That would make his theft of the key card more believable.

I'm also going to have to fall back on the old writer's adage of "Kill the sheriff on the first page." The story really picks up steam once Todd is on the base, so why not start the story there? In fact, start it with him running down the hall with the guards right on his heels, and then give him a chance to hide and have him reflect on his backstory there ... something like, "Oh God, why did I ever answer that ad?" I feel like the entire beginning just doesn't add to the story.

The other thing I think that could beef it up, and this ties back to the "future message" being all done, is to maybe have Todd on the base and see himself run by in the hallway. Have it be a case where he uses the time machine to go back and stop himself from using the key, but every time he does, the guards are on him so fast that he doesn't have time to find and stop himself. Build the story from there. That way, when he sees himself running down the hall, at least the reader doesn't know where it's going -- did they clone him? Did they create Todd-bots for some insidious purpose?

Hope some of this helps!
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:02 pm

Cv, I agree with most of what trib said, the second he got the phone call, I thought "time loop", I really don't have a problem with a "well used" permise if you can give it a fresh spin...Trib's idea of starting in the middle as your hook, where the action starts is a good idea, probably I would consider him hiding from the guards or the alien at some point then refelcting back to the beginning you have, I agree that having him pass himself would be a good "red herring" for the reader because it makes them ask "whats going on?" Personally I think it would be better if he ran into several versions of himself, showing that he keeps going back and trying to escape, maybe when he sees himself, the self(s) keep going back to the time machine trying to escape the lab.

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Mon Sep 29, 2008 2:23 pm

Thanks for the feedback, guys! You both have some great ideas that I'll incorporate into the next draft. My main goal will be to make sure it's a fresh take on the concept. I thought it might not be as obvious since this isn't going to be a sci-fi book, but it sounds like it's still way obvious from the beginning.

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:53 am

My critique:

"Phone Home" was an interesting story... I definitely didn't know what was going to happen next, and from the beginning, you would never guess how it was going to end. The pace was very fast, which is good, and there is plenty of action.

However, I don't think there was enough character development or build up. I think this is just a matter of fleshing out your story more. More description of the base would be good...you set it up well, but you could make it much more sinister with just a little more description.

The dialouge was good, very believeable...your characters were spot-on. I have to agree with the premise being well-worn, but you can spice it up if you just give it more thought. The action sequence could be longer, and perhaps his wandering around the base could be better developed. I really think you just need to add more description to go along with your action.

I liked this fast-paced read and think you have a great jumping-off point here. I think with some expert tweaking, this will be a great one. Good job!
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:04 pm

Thanks, Holly! I'm definitely going to be fleshing it out a lot (I think it's only about half as long as it needs to be). I have a confession to make: I have so much going on that I got confused and thought the deadline was last Monday, so I cranked out what I could and then posted it. It's basically an outline of what I wanted to do, but I'm glad I didn't flesh it out too much because it will actually be easier to incorporate some of you guys' ideas.

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:29 pm

Very Happy I have been holding back saying anything, as what has been said by everyone else is right in line with what I observed in your story.

I also agree that this needs more work, and to tell you the truth, I kind of suspected you were planning on fleshing it out more without any of us telling you to. This is, after all, first draft time and we all are giving one another very encouraging words!

Laughing Laughing Good for us!!

I also thought you added a lot of dialogue this time around because in the first book, your character wasn't able to speak his mind! Ha!

I liked this story a lot and am looking forward to everything you come up with from this draft on!!
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:36 pm

Heya Chris!

My first impression -- I like your fast-paced action-packed style. It's fun and I want to just rush through and go along with whatever crazy thing happens, because it's such fun to do that with your stuff!

The big thing: same as the others have said, his personality didn't come into play enough to make it worthwhile for me... I thought for sure (despite it being a pretty "done" plot element that I should have seen coming) that somehow his co-worker had been behind this whole thing and it HAD been a practical joke on him. I was thinking this would be his moment of comeuppance for being inconsiderate in his jokes on people.

The little things:
- The door said "level 5 and above" and he had a 4, so I assumed the key wasn't going to work in that door. That tripped me up.
- I know what a TARDIS is, but not what a steampunk is. Smile
- In the end he used his cell phone, but he told the guy earlier that he wasn't allowed to have his cell phone on the base/compound thingy, so I was confused where he got it from.

This is going to be a fun one when you do a bit more tweaking to it! Can't wait to see where you run with these guys, because the two friends seem like they'd be fun to read more about.

-moon
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:44 pm

Thanks, Sheri! Yeah, I wanted to prove that I could write a story with plenty of dialogue this time.

Thanks, Moon! I just recently figured out exactly what steampunk is after seeing they had a whole convention-within-the-convention at Comic-Con this year. It's something I've been very familiar with other than the name, but I got the impression I was behind the times by not knowing, so I thought it would be okay to throw it in. It's basically retro-tech sci-fi, such as might have existed in the old Jules Verne and H.G. Welles stories. If you've seen League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, that's a very steampunk story.

In my mind, the clearance levels would go up as you got closer to one. So Level One clearance is the highest, therefore four is higher than five. Maybe I have it backwards?

As for the cell phone, he didn't have one, but the scientist gave him his when he sent him into the chamber. I might need to make it more clear. Did anyone else think that wasn't clear?

edit: removed a stray apostrophe

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Thu Oct 09, 2008 11:15 pm

The rhythm and pacing of the story was great, particularly when we're in the military base. Like Moon, I was confused about the key-card being labeled "4". I thought for a second, "Uh-oh. He won't be able to open the door. I wonder what the key really opens ..."

I think the cellphone should be Todd's, that he snuck it in, and it was his fault that the battery was near dead.

I think there should be a lot more twists at the end, red herrings and such. What if when he enters the time machine there are dozens of corpses each in a different state of decay? -- that shows that he's failed dozens of times.

What if the alien somehow traveled back in time with him?

What if the whole "key" thing messes up his decision making? Maybe keys show up in different places throughout the story, and he's not sure how and when to heed the warning.

Just some thoughts.
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:38 am

Thanks for the feedback, Eugene! It's funny how many of the things you mentioned were things I had considered originally and/or planned to change already. I was going to have a bunch of dead bodies in the time machine, but I thought it might be too much, but now I might go back to that. The cell phone was Todd's when I first wrote the story, and the last thing I changed was making it the scientists instead. I was trying to figure out how he could sneak it in, and I was thinking maybe it would be unrealistic to think he could get it into a place like that. I was also going to plant more keys so he wouldn't know which one he was talking about in the phone call.

By the way...did anybody get that this was supposed to be Area 51, or did I leave that too vague?

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:43 am

Exclamation Exclamation Very Happy I thought it might be Area 51 at first, but when I didn't read anything more to tie it to my thought, I figured I was wrong and it was some other place. On that note, I feel you should put more hints in that this is indeed Area 51. That would be more eerie for sure!

You might want to stretch it out so that he goes into the time machine more than once, but each time he does, another "body" of himself is inside decompsing! So at the end the reader knows he's caught in a loop he can never escape from!

How creepy a thought that a person is stuck for ever with the rotting corpses of himself!
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:12 pm

Okay, my second draft is up at Box.net. I implimented many of the suggestions you guys had, so thanks again everyone! Trib, I decided not to make him a thief because I didn't think he'd be sympathetic enough, and I thought it would take some of the steam out of my new ending.

Thanks in advance for reading it again and giving me more notes!

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:13 am

Laughing affraid This one was way better! I loved it! And I couldn't help thinking this character looks like Ashton Kutcher! Hee Hee Hee!

You were right not to make him a thief, but just a kid who loves pouring on the practical jokes. I had a lot of sympathy for him that way. I also loved he was funny yet smart when the time called for him to be.

The end was totally unexpected, as I thought it would end with him stuck in a loop...ah yes, but who's to say he isn't, right?

Good job!!
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sun Oct 26, 2008 1:16 am

Thanks for the quick read, Sheri! I'm glad you like this one better. I thought I'd include your loop idea in there, even though he wasn't necessarily caught in it at the end.

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:34 pm

I discovered a major continuity error (one of the hazards of writing a time travel story), but I think I fixed it by changing just a couple of sentences. Let me know if you find anything else. Thanks!

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:16 pm

Just got through re-reading it, and to tell ya the truth, I never saw the first ones! Heh...

I still think it's a great read!

Go For The :!>: KEYS!!
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:12 pm

Chris, I really like your new take on your chapter. Lots of time-travel craziness and head-scratching-ness made it very fun. And I like how you tied everything up at the end but also left it a bit messy. Nice!
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:41 am

Thanks, Eugene! I hope I made it different enough now that it's not just another retread of the phonecall-from-the-future story.

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Thu Oct 30, 2008 2:07 pm

Chris,

Just finished the latest draft. SOOOOO much better. It had a really good flow and lots of really good twists, and was much easier to follow. Just one thing:

The scientist asking Todd whether or not his friends might ask questions and Todd's response don't ring true. It sounds too forced, like it was stuck in just to make it clear to the reader that Todd's not going anywhere. But I don't think it's necessary. I think if the scientist tells him that no one calls out, Todd should just agree but his face should betray that he knows something's up, and that should be enough to send the scientist into the next room.

Other than that, looks great!
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Thu Oct 30, 2008 2:17 pm

Thanks, Trib! I'll take a look at that as I finish my final draft.

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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:33 pm

cheers Idea Arrow Arrow Hey Teach! Great work! I like this so much better now.

...and check your emails...you have a note from The Time machine....Mua-ha-ha-ha!

mysterious mysterious mysterious
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:38 pm

CV - The story is awesome. You did some great revising and it's way more fleshed out now. It definitely took twists that I was not expecting, and that makes it even better. I loved the multiple Todds screwing with the other Todds. And I really liked your writing style - it was an easy read, and action-packed. Great job!

I have a quick suggestion...and I know this says "Final Draft," so I don't know if you want to make any changes, but I figured I'd give you one anyway.
On Page 4 - you've got "some old roads" and then in the next sentence you have "old, brick government buildings." I would suggest using only one "old" and changing the other one.

Again, I really like your story and the final draft is a vast improvement over the first one. It ROCKS!!!!!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Cvalin's (Chris') Story   Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:04 pm

Thanks, Holly! I don't mind changing one of those lines, but I'm not sure if Trib has started copyediting yet. Trib?

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