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Author Topic: The Preeminent War  (Read 1897 times)
Munley
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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2018, 05:37:11 AM »

I'm curious about how this reads compared to starting with a prologue, but the solid block of five pages of text (except for your section titles) is just too physically daunting to follow. Also hard to assess the development within paragraphs. If you'd be willing to add a blank line between paragraphs and between changes of speakers in dialogue, I'd be happy to take a look in the next day or two. (Busy remodeling my house)

The double hyphens as em-dashes don't matter to me pasted in here, since you'll be fixing them in your actual submissions.
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RockWhitehouse
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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2018, 08:25:37 AM »

Hunley -

My apologies for the formatting - that should have caught my eye. Here's the latest version, taking into account some of Sabreur's suggested improvements.

ISC Fleet Destroyer Liberty
Above Inor (40 Eridani A (b))
Saturday, January 15, 2078, 0700 UTC

Ensign Carol Hansen flopped into her preferred seat in the last row in the first shuttle of the day down to Inoria. That seat had always been 'her spot,' be it ground transport or sub-car or shuttle, with Rick on her right and David Powell next to her across the aisle. But her friend David was gone, having headed home from the University one day and into a family disaster he could neither anticipate nor turn away from. Rick was, thankfully, elsewhere. Her University classmate Ensign Marty Baker dropped in across the aisle instead, and it was all she could do to not call him by the wrong name.

"G’ morning Hansen!" Senior Lieutenant Rich Evans said to her as he sat down a row ahead and across the aisle. "Finally getting downstairs?"

"Yes, Lieutenant," she answered, smiling pleasantly. "Captain says no ship tours for the Inori on Saturday, so I'm taking advantage."

"Good for you!" he responded. The shuttle filled quickly with more than the usual load heading for the surface this early. "Chresus Jeist, is anybody left to run the ship?" Evans asked with a laugh. Evans’ fast-talking New Zealand accent and sense of humor puzzled her sometimes, but he was as respectful of subordinates as he was of superiors and she instinctively liked and respected him in return.

"So, you doing the tour?" Evans asked, seeing the Fleet Guide to Inoria in her hand.

"Yes," she answered, pointing to Baker. "Marty's tagging along for comic relief."

Evans laughed. "OK, well, good luck with that!"

"Sir!" Marty objected.

"What about you, sir?" she asked. Evans smiled broadly.

"Carter and I are headed up north into the countryside. Small tour - supposed to be very unique up there."

"Well, bring us back some pictures, sir," Carol said.

"I'll try, Hansen. We'll see." The hatch closed with a distinct thump and then they could hear and feel the shuttle being moved into the ShuttleLock for launch. A couple clicks and one heavy thud and they were outside Liberty and heading for the surface.

An hour later the hatch swung up on a distinctly orange morning, and they filed out, a dozen or more conversations going on all at once. Carol saw Evans and Carter jump into a waiting vehicle -- an open-sided beat-up thing that looked vaguely Jeep-ish -- and pull away from the landing area.

Once clear of the shuttle exit, Carol looked again at the guide map to get her bearings.

"Snowflakes!" she said to herself as Marty caught up with her.

"Yeah, not much like Omaha," he added. The map reflected Inori street design: all oblique angles and complex intersections. Carol and Marty started roughly southwest, towards the first site on the tour. It was good to be walking real ground and breathing real air, even if it wasn't home. She had planned to walk the city alone, but at dinner last night Marty had invited himself along, and now that he was here she was glad for the company.

"So, Carol, if this is your first time here, what's been keeping you upstairs?"

"Roskov asked me to be available for tours, and anyway I wanted time to study for the L-T exam."

"You're too dedicated, Hansen. You're a bad example for the rest of us," he said, teasing her a little.

"Yeah, NOT!" she replied, giving him a shove on the arm. The star was full up by now, fueling a warm, cloudless day, and the taller buildings glowed with reflected light and the subtle colors of the masonry. The Inori build with a material that resembles stucco, but it's harder and smoother. The iridescent flecks in it reflect a variety of colors, depending on the angle of the star's light. They aren't much for other colors on the outside of buildings, but the windows, six-sided of course, are often decorated with bright, vibrant hues and lit from within.

"Got your shades?" she asked Marty as she pulled hers from the zipper pocket on her right sleeve.

"Yep!" was his snappy reply as he dramatically produced his and slapped them on his nose. "Much better!" he said with relief.

"Yeah, my eyes are starting to water," Carol replied.

They walked the first half of the published tour in an hour and a half. It conveniently ended at a small café a few blocks east of Meridian Street, the main north-south thoroughfare. The Inori had adopted tea, but not coffee, and there was a small selection of bakery for their frequent human customers. They rested their feet, drinking the strong tea with English biscuits and spent a half hour or so in the quiet, pleasant conversation shipmates and classmates and other co-workers have: people and places shared and not shared, knuckleheads and geniuses they each knew and could relate mildly insulting stories about.

Then their NETLinks went off.

"Combat Recall?" Marty said, staring first at his wrist and then at Carol. At that same moment, they became aware of a heavy and rapid drumbeat, some distance away. As they rose to leave Carol could hear it getting louder and closer. She beat Marty out the door by just a step and turned northeast towards the shuttle landing area only to hear another ugly sound, this one more like fabric being ripped - a repetitive snap and bang very close by. As she turned around to find the sound, Marty was torn open mid-stride and fell to the crushed-stone pavement. She ran to kneel at his side only to see the shock, and the life, fade from his eyes as he looked up at her. His left arm was amputated almost at the shoulder. The weapon had continued to lay open his torso, finally cleaving off his left leg just above the knee. He died in seconds. Carol, still kneeling over him, looked to her right and saw a trail of holes in the ground leading to and past Marty's mangled remains. Further along to her left, she could see two Inori bent over another, flailing in pain. The flails faded quickly as the poor victim's life drained away. As she considered what to do next, the building behind her was hit, covering her in dust and stinging her back with small rocky debris. The shockwave and sonic boom of the heavy weapon almost knocked her over.

She got up, reluctantly leaving Marty where he was, and moved away from the building, fearing it would collapse on her. She heard her Ground Combat instructor's voice yelling at her from the past: Get your ass down, Hansen, and get under cover. You're no good to anyone dead. There were explosions all around her now, and she looked desperately for some kind of shelter, finally crawling between a damaged building and a pile of rubble that had fallen from it. Shoving her growing fear to the side, she got down as low as she could and decided to wait it out. She prayed for Marty. She prayed for Liberty. Aloud she said to herself "Oh David, you're going to be so pissed you missed this."

The Countryside North of Inoria
Saturday, January 15, 1078, 1000 UTC

After a bumpy ride north out of Inoria, while Carol and Marty were enjoying the unusual sights of the city, Rich Evans and Matt Carter had followed their guides into the rolling countryside along a well-worn path. After an hour of hiking, they had stopped just past a grove of what passed for trees on Inor, where a small stream flowed into a lake. They sat on the bank and watched the creatures in the stream, which on the one hand were obviously fish and on the other like nothing they had ever seen before. As they sat together by the stream, Rich asked the Inori a question that had been on his mind for some time.

"May I ask about Ino?"

"Yes, Mister Rich, what is your question?" Rich sat up straighter, a subconscious expression of respect.

"In human religions, there are books - collections of stories really - that tell us about God, that teach us what a religion means, its traditions, its morals. Are there stories of Ino? Is there a book of Ino?"

The Inori made a low rumbling growl that Rich understood was laughter. It went on for what seemed a long time. Finally, they stopped, and one spoke.

"Yes, we have heard of this practice among humans. We do not understand it. The world, Mister Rich, is the book of Ino. The sea, the sky, the land, we sitting before you, are all the stories Ino requires. So, no, there are no stories, and there is no book. Ino is present everywhere." Evans nodded his understanding, thought a moment, then asked again.

"How are the youth taught about Ino? Do any ever refuse to believe in Ino?" Again, laughter.

"Ino does not need to be taught, Mister Rich. The young know the presence of Ino in their teachers, in their food, in their litter-mates. As to your second question, it is even stranger to our ears than your first. To refuse to believe in Ino is to refuse to believe in the sunrise, or the stars, or ourselves. He is as tangible for us as the ground we sit on, as the water flowing before us."

They rested there, taking time for tea and talking to the Inori about the animals of the countryside, their habits and how similar animals behaved on Earth. It was a pleasant, nearly idyllic scene. The NetLinks' shrill alarms shattered this quiet tableau.

Evans looked at his in disbelief. He looked over at Carter who said, "Combat Recall? What the hell?" Evans responded electronically and tried to get through to Liberty by audio but was unable to raise the ship.

"We gotta go. Now." As he stood, he could see bright streaks in the dark blue sky.

"What the hell, indeed," he said to Matt. He watched the streaks pass over, hundreds of them. After the streaks had passed, he was suddenly aware of a whistling sound followed by a rolling sequence of sonic booms. Evans and Carter and the Inori moved as quickly as possible back the way they had come. Not long after they started, they could see smoke ahead and heard a distant explosion.

"I think that was our ride," Matt said quietly.

"Gonna be a long walk, Matt," Rich answered.

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Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. - Edison
Munley
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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2018, 09:21:10 AM »

Thanks for adding the blank lines. It really helps.

Quote:
Ensign Carol Hansen flopped into her preferred seat in the last row in the first shuttle of the day down to Inoria. That seat had always been 'her spot,' be it ground transport or sub-car or shuttle, with Rick on her right and David Powell next to her across the aisle. But her friend David was gone, having headed home from the University one day and into a family disaster he could neither anticipate nor turn away from. Rick was, thankfully, elsewhere. Her University classmate Ensign Marty Baker dropped in across the aisle instead, and it was all she could do to not call him by the wrong name.

"G’ morning Hansen!" Senior Lieutenant Rich Evans said to her as he sat down a row ahead and across the aisle. "Finally getting downstairs?"

=======================
Got partway through on a coffee break.

My reaction is being invited into a particular time and place to settle in with this character, Ensign Carol Hanson, only to  have my attention immediately drawn away from her by being told about two guys who are not present and given explanations as to why they are not there.

I like the first sentence. It has the promise of getting to go where some interesting character goes.
I suggest not digressing into what she usually does if she isn't doing it now. Steer away, in general, from lapsing into an explanatory mode. Sometimes explanations are necessary, but they feel less intrusive when they have some impact on the immediate goings on.

Imagine entering a museum or a funhouse and, just as your eye is drawn to some fascinating artifact or figure enhanced by some special lighting that really draws you in and makes you want to explore more, and the tour guide says, "There used to be a wall right here, but we took it down because we thought it made the entrance feel a little too cramped. Actually, we did put in this short half wall here to retain some sense of partition while getting rid of the boxed-in feeling this section had before. And we added those lights, which we got at a really good price."

Hope this doesn't sound too blunt, but my point is that the opening misses the opportunity to engage any of the reader's five senses in the immediate scene or atmosphere of the impending day of this character in an intriguing way that immediately immerses us in the drama and keeps us there. Not suggesting a list of things about the place that cover all 5 senses, but some sensory selection that has an impact on Carol in the here and now.

It might also be an opportunity to let the reader in sooner on the fact that they are below ground and about to ascend to a world taken over by non-humans, but do it in a way that shows Carol's anticipation. Looking forward to it or dreading it, something. Do these creatures gawk uncomfortably at her human form. Does their form make her uncomfortable? Is she so used to them that seeing them doesn't faze her?
« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 09:34:30 AM by Munley » Logged
RockWhitehouse
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« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2018, 01:31:56 PM »

Hunley -

Thanks for the comments. Much to think about in what you say.
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« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2018, 10:56:34 PM »

One more thing...I realize you only got partway through, but I need to correct this impression:  It might also be an opportunity to let the reader in sooner on the fact that they are below ground and about to ascend to a world taken over by non-humans, but do it in a way that shows Carol's anticipation. Looking forward to it or dreading it, something. Do these creatures gawk uncomfortably at her human form. Does their form make her uncomfortable? Is she so used to them that seeing them doesn't faze her?

They're actually in a spaceship in orbit. The shuttle will be taking them 'downstairs,' that is, to the surface of the alien planet. 

Also, Hansen has been giving the aliens (the 'Inori') tours of her ship, which lets us know that humans are familiar and comfortable with them and they with us.

The only reason she feels she can make the trip is that the Captain has not allowed any tours to be scheduled on Saturday. This tells us something about her devotion to her job.   

I dropped some of the details of the Inoris' appearance in this last overhaul of the opening but perhaps I should see if there is something I can get back in.

I get what you're saying about more sensory details, and you're not the first to point that out. My thinking is that I want to get you inside Carol's head, see what she is like and what she's feeling at this moment, and maybe a hint of why and of more to come. My first reaction is 'It's a shuttle. So what? Pay attention to the people!!" but clearly more tactile impressions will bring a reader more immediately into the scene.

Again, thanks for the comments.
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Munley
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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2018, 01:23:27 AM »


I get what you're saying about more sensory details, and you're not the first to point that out. My thinking is that I want to get you inside Carol's head, see what she is like and what she's feeling at this moment, and maybe a hint of why and of more to come. My first reaction is 'It's a shuttle. So what? Pay attention to the people!!" but clearly more tactile impressions will bring a reader more immediately into the scene.

Again, thanks for the comments.


I really want to stress that it isn't just tactile information for the reader to learn more about the physical setting and shuttle (apart from who your characters are), but revealing your character, Carol, through her reactions to the physical place she is in, not just through her abstract thoughts.

For example, in Dostoevsky's opening of Crime and Punishment, the writer gives us some background information and  physical details about the setting where the student drop-out Raskolnikov lives:

-- tiny, grungy room on the top floor or a rooming house in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Summer is hot, oppressive
-- landlady's door is always open along the inside staircase
-- outside is crowded, and dirty, and loud. Also oppressive.
-- Raskolnikov, has been sickly and unkempt. Wears an awful-looking hat.

Numerous physical features of Raskolnikov's surroundings weigh heavily on his mind and affect his feelings, while we learn his abstract thoughts, as well. The background information that he's way overdue on his rent isn't just trivia for the reader to learn. Combined with the physical layout (having to pass the landlady's open door whenever he wants to go out), it's a major stress for him.

So, again, it isn't just information for the reader about what the place is like. I don't want to learn about what shuttles are like, per se, but what the surroundings are like for your character, the effect they have on her.
The very things that make one person feel content can drive a different person crazy.

Here is that opening:

=============
Chapter I

   On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.

   He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below in a separate flat, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her.

   This was not because he was cowardly and abject, quite the contrary; but for some time past he had been in an overstrained irritable condition, verging on hypochondria. He had become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady, but anyone at all. He was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance; he had lost all desire to do so. Nothing that any landlady could do had a real terror for him. But to be stopped on the stairs, to be forced to listen to her trivial, irrelevant gossip, to pestering demands for payment, threats and complaints, and to rack his brains for excuses, to prevaricate, to lie — no, rather than that, he would creep down the stairs like a cat and slip out unseen.

   This evening, however, on coming out into the street, he became acutely aware of his fears to meet his creditor.

   ‘I want to attempt a thing like that [We will soon learn that he’s considering murdering an elderly pawnbroker for abstract, philosophical reasons. He's on his way to her flat now.] and am frightened by these trifles,’ he thought, with an odd smile. ‘Hm ... yes, all is in a man’s hands and he lets it all slip from cowardice, that’s an axiom. It would be interesting to know what it is men are most afraid of. Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what they fear most.... But I am talking too much. It’s because I chatter that I do nothing. Or perhaps it is that I chatter because I do nothing. I’ve learned to chatter this last month, lying for days together in my den thinking ... of Jack the Giant-killer. Why am I going there now? Am I capable of that? Is that serious? It is not serious at all. It’s simply a fantasy to amuse myself; a plaything! Yes, maybe it is a plaything!’

   The heat in the street was terrible: and the airlessness, the bustle and the plaster, scaffolding, bricks, and dust all about him, and that special Petersburg stench, so familiar to all who are unable to get out of town in summer—all worked painfully upon the young man’s already overwrought nerves. The insufferable stench from the pot- houses, which are particularly numerous in that part of the town, and the drunken men whom he met continually, although it was a working day, completed the revolting misery of the picture. An expression of the profoundest disgust gleamed for a moment in the young man’s refined face. He was, by the way, exceptionally handsome, above the average in height, slim, well-built, with beautiful dark eyes and dark brown hair. Soon he sank into deep thought, or more accurately speaking into a complete blankness of mind; he walked along not observing what was about him and not caring to observe it. From time to time, he would mutter something, from the habit of talking to himself, to which he had just confessed. At these moments he would become conscious that his ideas were sometimes in a tangle and that he was very weak; for two days he had scarcely tasted food.

   He was so badly dressed that even a man accustomed to shabbiness would have been ashamed to be seen in the street in such rags. In that quarter of the town, however, scarcely any shortcoming in dress would have created surprise. Owing to the proximity of the Hay Market, the number of establishments of bad character, the preponderance of the trading and working class population crowded in these streets and alleys in the heart of Petersburg, types so various were to be seen in the streets that no figure, however queer, would have caused surprise. But there was such accumulated bitterness and contempt in the young man’s heart, that, in spite of all the fastidiousness of youth, he minded his rags least of all in the street. It was a different matter when he met with acquaintances or with former fellow students, whom, indeed, he disliked meeting at any time.

   And yet when a drunken man who, for some unknown reason, was being taken somewhere in a huge wagon dragged by a heavy dray horse, suddenly shouted at him as he drove past: ‘Hey there, German hatter’ bawling at the top of his voice and pointing at him—the young man stopped suddenly and clutched tremulously at his hat. It was a tall round hat from Zimmerman’s, but completely worn out, rusty with age, all torn and bespattered, brimless and bent on one side in a most unseemly fashion. Not shame, however, but quite another feeling akin to terror had overtaken him. ‘I knew it,’ he muttered in confusion, ‘I thought so! That’s the worst of all! Why, a stupid thing like this, the most trivial detail might spoil the whole plan. Yes, my hat is too noticeable.... It looks absurd and that makes it noticeable.... With my rags I ought to wear a cap, any sort of old pancake, but not this grotesque thing. Nobody wears such a hat, it would be noticed a mile off, it would be remembered.... What matters is that people would remember it, and that would give them a clue. For this business one should be as little conspicuous as possible.... Trifles, trifles are what matter! Why, it’s just such trifles that always ruin everything....’

==========
I’m not suggesting that you mimic D’s writing style -- which is more dense with details than most modern writing -- but just notice how the interplay of character and physical setting in this example reveals the character’s mind, personality, feelings. And the impact they have on how he conducts himself and what he is thinking of doing. Like your character Carol, this young man is on his way someplace to do something in this opening.

I will read more of the story when I get a chance. And will do so before commenting again.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2018, 01:26:59 AM by Munley » Logged
RockWhitehouse
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« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2018, 06:36:24 AM »

Just realized I have been typing Hunley not Munley. 

Apologies.

Clearly I have been watching too much Curious George with the grandchildren...
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Munley
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« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2018, 05:58:12 AM »

Good morning.

I just read through the whole post and found the story really engaging once it got past a certain point. There is more of the interplay of setting and characters that struck me as lacking in the very opening.

I think my impression about Carol and group being underground on Earth overtaken by Inori came from references to reaching the surface, and a few other things. I did think it was odd that it would take some sort of "shuttle" to get them up there, but I allowed for whatever technical goings on a writer wishes to create.

So now I see that a shuttle has landed, not risen up from some sort of catacomb existence the remaining humans have. Sorry.

Some particular suggestions:

1) Would you consider opening at the point of the shuttle landing?
 

2)  Give us some idea what the non-human Inori look like.
It's hard to picture this conversation between Rich and the Inori with no idea what the Inori looks like. Or how comfortable/uncomfortable Rich is in his presence. Also hard to picture Carol and Marty being waited on by these non-humans at the cafe. Not looking for a separate paragraph of description, but some sort of interaction. For example, what sort of hands set the tray down on their table.
    I think the detail of the rumbling sound that Rich has come to recognize as laughter is a great detail. That's the sort of thing I mean.

3)  Give us some idea, before the military strikes, that there is some sort of war going on. While I like the contrast between the relaxed time of Carol and Marty verses the horror of the strike, the narrative up to that point feels completely inconsequential to me and full of trivial conversation that goes on and on. That friendly exchange could be much shorter with some sense of impending trouble hanging over it.
    It was also impossible for me to tell if Inori were attacking Carol and Marty, with some Inori creatures killed by chance. Or if the humans and Inori were both attacked by a common enemy.
    If they have a common enemy and the threat of attack is ever-present, you could establish that, as well as what the Inori look like in the opening with Carol and Marty getting off the shuttle. I like the Omaha reference, and suggest keeping that, but also hint at some overhanging threat.

    If the Inori are the enemy or they are in collusion with the enemy, that would could be brought out too -- in a way that makes some difference to Carol and the other humans even in the friendly moments. I don't want to go too much detail about my personal experience here, but I will never forget the moment of landing in the Soviet Union, where I had volunteered to work on a collective farm one summer. Nothing that happened on the plane before that moment was worth mentioning. Growing up during the Cold War in the United States had instilled such a sense of the USSR as "the enemy", yet here I was volunteering to work on a farm there. I had mixed feelings the whole time, benefiting from wonderful hospitality, yet being aware of the likely agent provacateur in the Soviet group trying to draw out our attitudes toward their government with various (less than subtle) techniques. Because of that, a trip to a cafe was a very different experience than the usual cafe experience in the USA. The cafe experience of Carol and Marty reads to me like an everyday Starbucks until the strike starts. I think you could bring out what's distinct about it.
    Whether the humans and Inori are "enemies" or allies against a hostile third group would probably be a helpful thing to establish before creatures start getting killed. 

I like the distinctions between the two religious approaches. Very interesting. I think you have an interesting story overall.



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« Reply #23 on: July 01, 2018, 11:39:28 AM »

Munley -

1) Let me think about that. I've spent some time on the scene in the shuttle with better details and some revision of sequence and dialog:

Ensign Carol Hansen flopped into her preferred seat in the last row in the first shuttle of the day down to Inoria. The grey fake leather seat was firm but comfortable. The four-point safety harness was another question. She pulled it down from her shoulders and snapped it together at her waist as usual, and as usual when the harness servos auto-adjusted to her it felt a little too much like an over-confident second date when she was younger; one where if her gentle dissuasion failed, she'd leave the boy with a bruised rib or a handprint on his cheek to explain to his mother.

The seats were four-across, with an aisle down the middle. The windowless, narrow spacecraft began to fill with other crewmembers headed down to visit the planet's only large city, the rising sound of small talk sounding muffled somehow in a small space of padded seats and well-insulated bulkheads. Her University classmate Ensign Marty Baker dropped in next to her across the aisle.

"Good morning…Marty."

Baker caught the delay in her voice and looked at her with sympathy.  "'Morning, Carol," he said, holding her eye for just a second then looking away. For better than three years that had been her friend David's spot. She now reflexively looked to her right, seeing an empty seat where Rick would have been back in those same years. But Rick was, thankfully, elsewhere. She looked up as a tall, thin, balding man with thick glasses and an oversized nose came down the aisle.

"G’ morning Hansen!" Senior Lieutenant Rich Evans said to her as he sat down a row ahead of Marty. "Finally getting downstairs?"


2) I'll work the description of the aliens back in. That detail was dropped in this version. Perhaps Carol could describe the driver greeting Evans and Carter. Whatever, I'll get that back in the first five. If you don't mind I may steal your idea about the delivery of the tray. But, I have to careful about how much detail to include when I only have five pages. There's lots of additional details and backstory to work in later, but I have to be somewhat frugal in these opening pages. FWIW here is the original description from a longer version of Evans' trip into the countryside, just to give you the picture:

The smooth, sand-colored skin on the back of Alpha's head hardly seemed to notice the bounce and sway while Rich and Matt were holding on to whatever they could to stay aboard.

and

They left the vehicle near a small structure, which would turn out to be the home of guide 'Beta' and started into the countryside with together. 'Alpha' and 'Beta' were not their actual names, of course, but in casual contacts, the Inori are content with simple names for reference since their actual names are often ten or more syllables, only a few of which humans have yet managed to pronounce correctly. The Inori, on the other hand, manage a passable if accented version of English. Rich and Matt took notice that Alpha was a bit lighter and taller than Beta. Otherwise, they might have been twins for all they could tell from their mostly impassive faces. Inori are taller than most humans, the average height being perhaps six-feet-five, with some as tall as seven feet. They have no external ears, just a small area of thin skin on the sides of their heads. Their hearing is good in air but spectacular in water, likely an evolutionary inheritance from their amphibian ancestry. Their eyes are round and dark, but the even-darker 'pupils' looked fixed to human observers since the real pupil structure is further inside the eye. They have no nose to speak of, the mouth handling both breathing and eating. Their large hands have a long opposing digit and then five webbed 'fingers.' They have only a minimal neck. Their large heads flow smoothly through a slight narrowing into their large torso. They otherwise look somewhat human, bipedal with two arms, usually sandy-colored and smooth-skinned, but at the same time, they are obviously something very different.


3) Until this strike occurs, there is no war. It's a complete surprise to everyone, Inori and human alike. Perhaps it should be clearer as Carol and Marty are running out of the cafe that this is a large-scale attack on the city, not just on them. I tried to express that with the distant, approaching drumbeat but I probably need to do more there. But, until that happens, it really is just Starbucks In Space. (add echo for effect!)

Thanks for the comments about the religions. I tried to conjure a world that would very different from ours but have something deep within the culture that we could respect and even identify with. There will be another culture later in the book, which we will eventually learn has no concept of a supernatural 'God' and no word for 'worship' in their language. But we don't really know all that until book two...

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this.








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« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2018, 04:35:18 PM »

I've enjoyed reading the progression of your MS with all the amazing comments. I can't add anything more, the most senior members here are quite brilliant. However, I do have just one small piece of advice: don't be bummed about cutting your proloque and backstory, they are still the backbone of this incredible world you built, and an excellent archive for future sequels.

Good luck, A.
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« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2018, 10:56:18 AM »

Hunley -

My apologies for the formatting - that should have caught my eye. Here's the latest version, taking into account some of Sabreur's suggested improvements.

ISC Fleet Destroyer Liberty
Above Inor (40 Eridani A (b))
Saturday, January 15, 2078, 0700 UTC

Ensign Carol Hansen flopped into her preferred seat in the last row in the first shuttle of the day down to Inoria. That seat had always been 'her spot,' be it ground transport or sub-car or shuttle, with Rick on her right and David Powell next to her across the aisle. But her friend David was gone, having headed home from the University one day and into a family disaster he could neither anticipate nor turn away from. Rick was, thankfully, elsewhere. Her University classmate Ensign Marty Baker dropped in across the aisle instead, and it was all she could do to not call him by the wrong name. ( Do you mean Carol was about to Call him Rich as it's rich's spot? )

"G’ morning Hansen!" Senior Lieutenant Rich Evans said to her as he sat down a row ahead and across the aisle. "Finally getting downstairs?" ( Ricks dialogue is a bit jarring because you were just talking abaout Marty sitting down and I expect him to speak. I think this could be handled better if you mention Rich appearing as well, then speaking, because his dialogue tag is described retrospectively, so when I first see the dialogue I think it Marty talking )

"Yes, Lieutenant," she answered, smiling pleasantly. "Captain says no ship tours for the Inori on Saturday, so I'm taking advantage."

"Good for you!" he responded. The shuttle filled quickly with more than the usual load heading for the surface this early. "Chresus Jeist, is anybody left to run the ship?" ( this is spelled 'Is innybuddy lift to run the shup' in NZ. Lol just kidding. ) Evans asked with a laugh. Evans’ fast-talking New Zealand accent and sense of humor puzzled her sometimes, but he was as respectful of subordinates as he was of superiors and she instinctively liked and respected him in return.

"So, you doing the tour?" Evans asked, seeing the Fleet Guide to Inoria in her hand.

"Yes," she answered ( I'm being picky but your dialogue tags are unexciting and aren't creating much of a picture for me. Can you either add a bit more description, or find more interesting ones. 'Sniffed, and scratched his bushy eyebrow,' 'Huffed and unbuttoned his tie' etc etc ) pointing to Baker. "Marty's tagging along for comic relief."

Evans laughed. "OK, well, good luck with that!"

"Sir!" Marty objected. ( objected without anything else is a very stiff dialogue tag. I wouldn't go on about it but it's taking me out of the story. I understand this might be subjective so take it with a grain of salt )

"What about you, sir?" she asked. Evans smiled broadly.( some of these sort of moments need more imho. 'his coffee stained teeth glinting in the dim fluorescent light from the shuttle ceiling )

"Carter and I are headed up north into the countryside. Small tour - supposed to be very unique up there."

"Well, bring us back some pictures, sir," Carol said.

"I'll try, Hansen. We'll see." The hatch closed ( what and where is a hatch and what does it look like? ) with a distinct thump and then they could hear and feel the shuttle being moved into the ShuttleLock for launch. A couple clicks and one heavy thud and they were outside Liberty and heading for the surface.

An hour later the hatch swung up on a distinctly orange morning, and they filed out, a dozen or more conversations going on all at once. Carol saw Evans and Carter jump into a waiting vehicle -- an open-sided beat-up thing that looked vaguely Jeep-ish ( i like that description.  I saw what I was reading clearly )-- and pull away from the landing area.

Once clear of the shuttle exit, Carol looked again at the guide map to get her bearings. ( though I liked the flow of the above description, It feels strange to have Carol then look at the map instead of you giving us a basic setting description. Because 'orange morning' though nice, doesn't tell me much about the landscape. I think there is snow but it wasn't really described, so I"m not sure if I misunderstood. )

"Snowflakes!" she said to herself as Marty caught up with her.

"Yeah, not much like Omaha," he added. The map reflected Inori street design: all oblique angles and complex intersections. Carol and Marty started roughly southwest, towards the first site on the tour. It was good to be walking real ground and breathing real air, even if it wasn't home. She had planned to walk the city alone, but at dinner last night Marty had invited himself along, and now that he was here she was glad for the company.

"So, Carol, if this is your first time here, what's been keeping you upstairs?"

"Roskov asked me to be available for tours, and anyway I wanted time to study for the L-T exam."

"You're too dedicated, Hansen. You're a bad example for the rest of us," he said, teasing her a little.

"Yeah, NOT!" she replied, giving him a shove on the arm. The star was full up by now, fueling a warm, cloudless day, and the taller buildings glowed with reflected light and the subtle colors of the masonry. The Inori build with a material that resembles stucco, but it's harder and smoother. ( I see , it's a city they have landed in. I'd just try to mention this a little earlier. As I get so impatient to know what things look like.  )  The iridescent flecks in it reflect a variety of colors, depending on the angle of the star's light. They aren't much for other colors on the outside of buildings, but the windows, six-sided of course, are often decorated with bright, vibrant hues ( do you mean the window frames? ) and lit from within.

"Got your shades?" she asked Marty as she pulled hers from the zipper pocket on her right sleeve.

"Yep!" was his snappy reply as he dramatically produced his and slapped them on his nose. ( That's better dialogue tag!  Grin It's balanced with description and has personality! )  "Much better!" he said with relief.

"Yeah, my eyes are starting to water," Carol replied.

They walked the first half of the published tour in an hour and a half. It conveniently ended at a small café a few blocks east of Meridian Street, the main north-south thoroughfare. The Inori had adopted tea, but not coffee, and there was a small selection of bakery ( 'bakery treats' or 'baked goods',  'bakery' sounds odd ) for their frequent human customers. They sank into the generously cushioned chairs and rested their feet, drinking the strong tea with buttery English biscuits that melted on the tongue - so much better than vaccum sealed ship cookies and had only spent a half hour or so in the quiet, pleasant conversation shipmates and classmates and other co-workers have: people and places shared and not shared, knuckleheads and geniuses they each knew and could relate mildly insulting stories about. ( this bit just felt a bit telly and awkward.  We have seen them converse so we can imagine them chattering politely. ) in the relaxing ambience of the cafe ( name it ) when --

Then their NETLinks went off.

"Combat Recall?" Marty said, staring first at his wrist and then at Carol. At that same moment, they became aware of a heavy and rapid drumbeat, some distance away. As they rose to leave and made their way towards to door Carol could hear it ( filter word ) it got  getting louder and closer. She beat Marty out the door by just a step and turned northeast towards the shuttle landing area only to hear another ugly sound, this one more like fabric being ripped - a repetitive snap and bang very close by. As she turned around to find the sound, Marty was torn open ( this happens too fast and sounds comical. I like Marty and don't want to laugh at him dying lol . I suggest going into detail of what she sees in this moment. ) mid-stride and fell to the crushed-stone pavement. ( I'd also mention the crushed stone pavement earlier when you are describing that they walked half the tour thing , just to help world build and make this moment more real, because learning that the ground is crushed stone pavement was more of a visual than what I got for Marty dying ) She ran to kneel at his side only to see the shock turn his face white, and the life, fade from his eyes as he looked up at her.

His left arm was amputated almost at the shoulder. The weapon had continued to lay open his torso, finally cleaving off his left leg just above the knee. He died in seconds. Carol, still kneeling over him, looked to her right and saw a trail of holes in the ground leading to and past Marty's mangled remains. Further along to her left, she could see two Inori bent over another, flailing in pain. ( I just realised I don't know what the Inori look like so maybe mention that earlier too Maybe on that pamplet there can be an Inori smiling on the cover when Carol on shuttle ) The flails faded quickly as the poor victim's ( do you mean Marty or the Inori? )  life drained away. As she considered what to do next, the building behind her was hit ( sounds passive. ' what looked like an enormous wrecking ball flew through the air and smashed into the iridescent window three stories above the cafe ( example of more active ) if you can add 'by a zombie' to the end of a sentence apparently it means it's passive voice. I think that's what the rule is. So what you have is "the buidling behind her was hit by a zombie.' - active voice more exciting though my example probably bad , covering her in a cloud of gritty dust and stinging pummeling her back with small rocky debris. The shockwave and sonic boom of the heavy weapon almost knocked her over.

She got up, reluctantly leaving Marty where he was, and moved away from the building, fearing it would collapse on her. She heard her Ground Combat instructor's voice yelling at her from the past: Get your ass down, Hansen, and get under cover. You're no good to anyone dead. There were explosions all around her now, and she looked desperately for some kind of shelter, finally crawling between a damaged building and a pile of rubble that had fallen from it. Shoving her growing fear to the side, she got down as low as she could and decided to wait it out. She prayed for Marty. She prayed for Liberty. Aloud she said to herself "Oh David, you're going to be so pissed you missed this."


i like it! I have obviously made some fine tuning suggestions that may or may not be useful but I think this starts off the story at a good place, has a good pace and something interesting happens. I put my hand up and say you have a much greater chance of hooking an agent with this than your prologue. I couldn't get past the first 3 sentences. Don't feel bad, I've 3 professionals tell me my first chapter was LONG AND BORING! lol. Yes one used those words and all caps. So I finally ditched it and it did hurt. You're not alone. 'Inoria' is a beautiful word, just saying. Every time I read it my brain is happy to imagine what it is like.   Smiley
Just am tired but I will read the rest tomorrow. It's not a reflection of losing me as a reader , I've am actually just tired

The Countryside North of Inoria
Saturday, January 15, 1078, 1000 UTC

After a bumpy ride north out of Inoria, while Carol and Marty were enjoying the unusual sights of the city, Rich Evans and Matt Carter had followed their guides into the rolling countryside along a well-worn path. After an hour of hiking, they had stopped just past a grove of what passed for trees on Inor, where a small stream flowed into a lake. They sat on the bank and watched the creatures in the stream, which on the one hand were obviously fish and on the other like nothing they had ever seen before. As they sat together by the stream, Rich asked the Inori a question that had been on his mind for some time.

"May I ask about Ino?"

"Yes, Mister Rich, what is your question?" Rich sat up straighter, a subconscious expression of respect.

"In human religions, there are books - collections of stories really - that tell us about God, that teach us what a religion means, its traditions, its morals. Are there stories of Ino? Is there a book of Ino?"

The Inori made a low rumbling growl that Rich understood was laughter. It went on for what seemed a long time. Finally, they stopped, and one spoke.

"Yes, we have heard of this practice among humans. We do not understand it. The world, Mister Rich, is the book of Ino. The sea, the sky, the land, we sitting before you, are all the stories Ino requires. So, no, there are no stories, and there is no book. Ino is present everywhere." Evans nodded his understanding, thought a moment, then asked again.

"How are the youth taught about Ino? Do any ever refuse to believe in Ino?" Again, laughter.

"Ino does not need to be taught, Mister Rich. The young know the presence of Ino in their teachers, in their food, in their litter-mates. As to your second question, it is even stranger to our ears than your first. To refuse to believe in Ino is to refuse to believe in the sunrise, or the stars, or ourselves. He is as tangible for us as the ground we sit on, as the water flowing before us."

They rested there, taking time for tea and talking to the Inori about the animals of the countryside, their habits and how similar animals behaved on Earth. It was a pleasant, nearly idyllic scene. The NetLinks' shrill alarms shattered this quiet tableau.

Evans looked at his in disbelief. He looked over at Carter who said, "Combat Recall? What the hell?" Evans responded electronically and tried to get through to Liberty by audio but was unable to raise the ship.

"We gotta go. Now." As he stood, he could see bright streaks in the dark blue sky.

"What the hell, indeed," he said to Matt. He watched the streaks pass over, hundreds of them. After the streaks had passed, he was suddenly aware of a whistling sound followed by a rolling sequence of sonic booms. Evans and Carter and the Inori moved as quickly as possible back the way they had come. Not long after they started, they could see smoke ahead and heard a distant explosion.

"I think that was our ride," Matt said quietly.

"Gonna be a long walk, Matt," Rich answered.

I think this part needs a little more description in general but with , for example, Rich and Matt. I don't know how one is any different from the other appearance or character wise, and although I loved the peaceful scene and felt I was there in an intuitive sense I didn't get a feel for the characters. It was interesting to read though. I mean , what they were talking about   Smiley
« Last Edit: July 15, 2018, 06:16:41 AM by Pineapplejuice » Logged
RockWhitehouse
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« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2018, 03:15:30 PM »

PineappleJuice -

Thanks much for the feedback. 

I will take another pass at it with those in mind.


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« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2018, 04:13:36 PM »

Edit based on feedback from Munley and PineappleJuice, and even a few ideas of my own.

The problem now is that it's grown so much it's not really a first five anymore...but here goes...

ISC Fleet Destroyer Liberty
Above Inor (40 Eridani A (b))
Saturday, January 15, 2078, 0700 UTC

Ensign Carol Hansen flopped into her preferred seat in the last row in the first shuttle of the day down to Inoria. The grey fake leather seat was firm but comfortable. The four-point safety harness was another question. She pulled it down from her shoulders and snapped it together at her waist as usual, and as usual when the harness servos auto-adjusted to her it felt a little too much like an over-confident second date when she was younger.

The seats were four-across, with an aisle down the middle. The windowless, narrow spacecraft began to fill with other crew members headed down to visit the planet's only large city, the rising sound of small talk sounding muffled somehow in a small space of padded seats and well-insulated bulkheads. Her University classmate Ensign Marty Baker dropped in next to her across the aisle.

"Good morning…Marty."

Baker caught the delay in her voice and looked at her with sympathy.  "Morning, Carol," he said, holding her eye for just a second then looking away. For better than three years that had been her friend David's spot. The memory made her reflexively look to her right, seeing an empty seat where Rick would have been back in those same years. But Rick was, thankfully, elsewhere.

She looked up as a tall, thin, balding man with thick glasses and an oversized nose came down the aisle. Senior Lieutenant Rich Evans nodded to Carol as he sat down a row ahead of Marty.

"G’ morning Hansen! Finally getting downstairs?"

"Yes, Lieutenant," she answered, smiling pleasantly. "Captain says no ship tours for the Inori on Saturday, so I'm taking advantage."

"Good for you!" he responded enthusiastically. The shuttle was almost full, perhaps twice the usual number heading for the surface this early. "Chresus Jeist, is anybody left to run the ship?" Evans asked loudly with a laugh. Evans’ fast-talking New Zealand accent and sense of humor puzzled her sometimes, but he was as respectful of subordinates as he was of superiors and she instinctively liked and respected him in return.

"So, you doing the tour?" Evans asked, seeing the Fleet Guide to Inoria in her hand.

"Yes," she answered, pointing to Baker. "Marty's tagging along for comic relief."

"OK, well, good luck with that," Evans deadpanned, poking a little fun at his subordinate.

"Sir!" Marty cried with feigned offense, punching the back of Evans' seat.

"What about you, sir?" she asked Evans. He smiled broadly, his blue eyes lighting up behind thick lenses.

"Carter and I are headed up north into the countryside. Small tour - supposed to be very unique up there." The large square split hatch swung closed with a distinct thump and then they could hear and feel the shuttle being moved into the ShuttleLock for launch. A couple clicks and one heavy thud and they were outside Liberty and heading for the surface.

An hour later the hatch swung open on a distinctly orange morning and they filed out. The usual disembarking small talk quieted as they met the requisite Inori greeting detail. Nine two-meter tall Inori, with their smooth, sand-colored skin and their large, impenetrable black eyes, greeted each visitor. They shook hands awkwardly, each human hand disappearing inside the Inoris' large hands, which have a long opposing digit and five webbed fingers. The Inori are similar to humans in overall design, bipedal with two arms, but a minimal neck. They are unclothed, with no visible sex organs or waste elimination structures.

Once clear of the line, Carol looked again at the guide map to get her bearings. Looking up, she saw Evans and Carter jump into a waiting vehicle -- an open-sided beat-up thing that looked vaguely Jeep-ish -- and pull away from the landing area. The shuttle pad was on a small hill at the eastern edge of the city. To her left were sparse structures in mostly open countryside, the city rising to her right. Ahead of her was the large bay beside which Inoria had been built, the narrow, mountainous mouth just visible in the hazy distance.

Looking again at the map, she was reminded of the simple folded-paper snowflakes she had made as a child. "Snowflakes?" she asked comically as Marty caught up with her.

"Yeah, not much like Omaha," he said, one eyebrow up. The map reflected Inori street design: all oblique angles and complex intersections. No right angles, ever. They started roughly southwest, towards the first site on the tour. It was good to be walking real ground and breathing real air, even if it wasn't home. The crushed stone Inori pavement crunched pleasantly under their Fleet-issue nonskid shoes, feeling very different than the steel decks of the ship. She had planned to walk the city alone, but at dinner last night Marty had invited himself along, and now that he was here she was glad for the company.

"So, Carol, if this is your first time here, what's been keeping you upstairs?"

"Roskov asked me to be available for tours, and anyway I wanted time to study for the L-T exam."

"You're too dedicated, Hansen. You're a bad example for the rest of us," he said, teasing her a little.

"Yeah, NOT!" she replied, giving him a shove on the arm. The star was full up by now, fueling a warm, cloudless day, and the taller buildings glowed with reflected light and the subtle colors of the masonry. The Inori build with a material that resembles stucco, but it's harder and smoother. The iridescent flecks in it reflect a variety of colors, depending on the angle of the star's light. They aren't much for other colors on the outside of buildings, but the windows, six-sided of course, are often decorated with bright, vibrant hues and lit from within.

"Got your shades?" she asked Marty as she pulled hers from the zipper pocket on her right sleeve.

"Yep!" was his snappy reply as he dramatically produced his and slapped them on his nose. "Much better!" he said with relief.

"Yeah, my eyes are starting to water," Carol replied.

They walked the first half of the published tour in an hour and a half. It conveniently ended at a small café a few blocks east of Meridian Street, the main north-south thoroughfare. The Inori had adopted tea and there was a small selection of baked goods for their frequent human customers. They sat in surprisingly comfortable Inori wicker-something chairs, resting their feet and drinking tea with fresh English biscuits as they talked quietly.

Then their NETLinks went off. 

"Combat Recall?" Marty said, staring in surprise first at his wrist and then at Carol. At that same moment, they could feel a heavy drumbeat through the floor, some distance away, but clearly getting closer. Carol beat Marty out the door by just a step as the deafening sound began to catch up with the vibrations in the ground. They looked in the direction of the drumbeat and saw debris rising into the air in the distance.

"Oh, sh**!" Marty said, fear sneaking into his voice. Carol quickly turned back northeast and they started running towards the shuttle landing area. They made a few dozen strides, Carol a couple meters ahead, when they heard another sound, something like fabric being ripped - a repetitive snap and bang very close by. As she looked back to find the source, Marty was torn open mid-stride and fell to the crushed-stone pavement. She ran back to kneel at his side only to see the shock drain the color from his face, the life fading from his eyes as he looked up at her. Carol held his gaze until there was nothing more to hold, willing herself to stay with him all the way to the end. Looking at him through rising tears, she saw his left arm was amputated almost at the shoulder. The weapon had continued to lay open his torso, finally cleaving off his left leg just above the knee. Carol looked to her right and saw a trail of holes in the ground leading to and past Marty's mangled remains. Further along to her left, she could see the line of holes lead to two Inori, bent over another flailing in pain. The flails faded quickly as the helpless victim's life drained away. The drumbeat finally caught up with her and the building behind her was struck by a heavy weapon, covering her in hard, coarse grit and pummeling her back with small rocky debris, the shockwave and sonic boom slamming her to the pavement. As she looked up, the fine dust that was starting to fill the air sparkled with bits of Inori masonry, and she had the sudden impression of being trapped in some kind of hellish snow globe.

She got up, reluctantly leaving Marty where he was, and moved away from the building, fearing it would collapse on her. She heard her Ground Combat instructor's voice yelling at her from the past: Get your ass down, Hansen, and get under cover. You're no good to anyone dead. There were explosions all around her now, and she looked desperately for some kind of shelter, finally crawling between a damaged building and a pile of rubble that had fallen from it. Shoving her growing fear to the side, she got down as low as she could and decided to wait it out. She prayed for Marty. She prayed for Liberty. Aloud she said to herself "Oh David, you're going to be so pissed you missed this."

The Countryside North of Inoria
Saturday, January 15, 1078, 1000 UTC

After a bumpy ride north out of Inoria, while Carol and Marty were enjoying the unusual sights of the city, Rich Evans and Matt Carter had followed their guides into the rolling countryside along a well-worn path. After an hour of hiking, they had stopped just past a grove of what passed for trees on Inor, where a small stream flowed into a lake. They sat on the bank and watched the creatures in the stream, which on the one hand were obviously fish and on the other like nothing they had ever seen before. As they sat together by the stream, Rich asked the Inori a question that had been on his mind for some time.

"May I ask about Ino?"

"Yes, Mister Rich, what is your question?" Rich sat up straighter, a subconscious expression of respect.

"In human religions, there are books - collections of stories really - that tell us about God, that teach us what a religion means, its traditions, its morals. Are there stories of Ino? Is there a book of Ino?"

The Inori made a low rumbling growl that Rich understood was laughter. It went on for what seemed a long time. Finally, they stopped, and one spoke.

"Yes, we have heard of this practice among humans. We do not understand it. The world, Mister Rich, is the book of Ino. The sea, the sky, the land, we sitting before you, are all the stories Ino requires. So, no, there are no stories, and there is no book. Ino is present everywhere." Evans nodded his understanding, thought a moment, then asked again.

"How are the youth taught about Ino? Do any ever refuse to believe in Ino?" Again, laughter.

"Ino does not need to be taught, Mister Rich. The young know the presence of Ino in their teachers, in their food, in their litter-mates. As to your second question, it is even stranger to our ears than your first. To refuse to believe in Ino is to refuse to believe in the sunrise, or the stars, or ourselves. He is as tangible for us as the ground we sit on, as the water flowing before us."
They rested there, taking time for tea and talking to the Inori about the animals of the countryside, their habits and how similar animals behaved on Earth. It was a pleasant, nearly idyllic scene. The NetLinks' shrill alarms shattered this quiet tableau.

Evans looked at his in disbelief. He looked over at Carter who said, "Combat Recall? What the hell?" Evans responded electronically and tried to get through to Liberty by audio but was unable to raise the ship.

"We gotta go. Now." As he stood, he could see bright streaks in the dark blue sky.

"What the hell, indeed," he said to Matt. He watched the streaks pass over, hundreds of them. After the streaks had passed, he was suddenly aware of a whistling sound followed by a rolling sequence of sonic booms. Evans and Carter and the Inori moved as quickly as possible back the way they had come. Not long after they started, they could see smoke ahead and heard a distant explosion.

"I think that was our ride," Matt said quietly.

"Gonna be a long walk, Matt," Rich answered.

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Pineapplejuice
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« Reply #28 on: July 14, 2018, 11:08:38 PM »

Edit based on feedback from Munley and PineappleJuice, and even a few ideas of my own.

The problem now is that it's grown so much it's not really a first five anymore...but here goes...

ISC Fleet Destroyer Liberty
Above Inor (40 Eridani A (b))
Saturday, January 15, 2078, 0700 UTC

Ensign Carol Hansen flopped into her preferred seat in the last row in the first shuttle of the day down to Inoria. The grey fake ( synthetic/faux/ might sound better ) leather seat was firm but comfortable. The four-point safety harness was another question. She pulled it down from her shoulders and snapped it together at her waist as usual, and as usual when the harness servos ( if they are people I'd say 'walked over and' . But i was confused at to whether they were people or some machine that comes out of the chair etc ) auto-adjusted to her it felt a little too much like an over-confident second date when she was younger. This reads a lot better than before because it has enough detail for me to feel like I'm there, and not 'reading writing'.  Grin

The seats were four-across, with an aisle down the middle. The windowless, narrow spacecraft began to fill with other crew members ( good moving image  Grin ) ( I'd put a full stop here and then 'They were headed' as reads like they intend to get to city via walking down aisle. Might just be me. ) headed down to visit the planet's only large city, the rising sound ( waves/ murmurs/ swell, something more descriptive and specific than 'sound' would be more enjoyable ) of small talk sounding was muffled somehow in a the small space of due to the padded seats and well-insulated bulkheads. Her University classmate Ensign Marty Baker dropped into the seat next to her across the aisle. ( I added 'seat' because I kept reading the first time and didn't realize he'd sat down. I know 'dropped in' implies that but it was too easy to miss somehow )
Again though, reads heaps better.   Grin
"Good morning…Marty."

Baker caught the delay in her voice and looked at her with sympathy. ( I'd move the dialogue either before sympathy or after the explanation for his sympathy as I found the emotion point hard to follow broken by the dialogue. But I love the mood/emotion there for Marty! ) "Morning, Carol," he said, holding her eye for just a second then looking away. For better than three years that had been her friend David's spot. The memory made her reflexively look to her right, seeing an empty seat where Rick would have been back in those same years. But Rick was, thankfully, elsewhere.

She looked up as a tall, thin, balding man with thick glasses and an oversized nose came down the aisle. Senior Lieutenant Rich Evans nodded to Carol as he sat down a row ahead of Marty.

"G’ morning Hansen! Finally getting downstairs?" He said, reaching up to put his duffel bag in the overhead locker.

"Yes, Lieutenant," she answered, smiling pleasantly. "Captain says no ship tours for the Inori on Saturday, so I'm taking advantage."

Possibly a brief explanation from Carols pov what a ship tour is. And what day is it. I like how she 'smiles pleasantly here because it indicates he's a rank above her and she's lifted her mood superficially because she is on her best behavior

"Good for you!" he responded said, enthusiastically holding his thumbs out ( okay that's just an example of 'showing' enthusiasm. 'Responded' sounds too stiff, like a machine. The shuttle was almost full, perhaps twice the usual number of ( Insert what the crew etc are generally called . Just helps the picture in my head )  heading for the surface this early. ( New paragraph for new dialogue from another person )

"Chresus Jeist, is anybody left to run the ship?" Evans asked loudly his voice booming over the general chatter. with a laugh. Evans’ fast-talking New Zealand accent and sense of humor puzzled her sometimes, but he was as respectful of subordinates as he was of superiors and she instinctively liked and respected him in return. ( While I'm here, just going to apologize for my NZ accent joke earlier. It was tasteless, especially if you are from there. I'm Australian and ...we have a bad habit of picking on NZ accents. Which is silly because Australians have the weirdest one to many countries lol  embarrassed2 )

"So, you doing the tour?" Evans asked, seeing the Fleet Guide to Inoria in her hand.

"Yes," she answered, pointing to Baker. "Marty's tagging along for comic relief."  (lol, in hindsight, having read what happens, this is pretty funny to reader reading it the second time. I mean leave it, it's funny )

"OK, well, good luck with that," Evans said, suddenly deadpanned, poking a little fun at his subordinate. ( I don't get the joke here. Oh Marty isn't funny? )

"Sir!" Marty cried with feigned offense, punching the back of Evans' seat.

"What about you, sir?" she asked Evans. He smiled broadly, his blue eyes lighting up ( I'd like a simile here ) behind thick lenses.

"Carter and I are headed up north into the countryside. Small tour - supposed to be very unique up there." The large square split hatch swung closed ( in other version I also didn't know what this was. Need to know right here what it is - a door, so as not to be confused ) with a distinct thump and then they could hear and feel ( these are filter words, better to say 'the seats began to vibrate and the roar of the motor made it hard to hear ) the shuttle being moved into the ShuttleLock for launch. A couple clicks and one heavy thud and they were outside Liberty moving through space ( are they in space or hovering in the sky? ) and heading for the surface.

An hour later the hatch swung open ( the distinctly orange light of an Inor morning piercing into the dim shuttle. My description not perfect, but adding a little more ( placing light as interacting with shuttle , helps us  see it ) on a distinctly orange morning and they filed out. The usual disembarking small talk quieted as they met the requisite Inori greeting detail. Nine two-meter tall Inori, with their smooth, sand-colored skin and their large, impenetrable black eyes, greeted each visitor. ( Ahh good! A description of Inori here is what we need!  Grin ) They shook hands awkwardly, each human hand disappearing inside the Inoris' large hands, which have a long opposing digit and five webbed fingers. The Inori are similar to humans in overall design, bipedal with two arms, but a minimal neck. ( Do they have hair? I keep picturing them bald with long pointed foreheads ) They are unclothed, with no visible sex organs or waste elimination structures.

Once clear of the line, Carol looked again unfolded at the guide map to get her bearings. Looking up, she saw Evans and Carter jump into a waiting vehicle -- an open-sided beat-up thing that looked vaguely Jeep-ish -- and pull away from the landing area. The shuttle pad was on a small hill at the eastern edge of the city. To her left were sparse rural/ residential structures in mostly open countryside, the city rising to her right. Ahead of her was the large bay beside which Inoria had been built, the narrow, mountainous mouth just visible in the hazy distance. ( Good description Smiley )

Looking again Returning her eyes to at the map, she was reminded of the simple folded-paper snowflakes she had made as a child. ( What reminded her of this? )  "Snowflakes?" she asked comically as Marty caught up with her.

"Yeah, not much like Omaha," he said, one eyebrow up. ( Good addition, that gives personality and an image  Grin ) The map reflected Inori street design: all oblique angles and complex intersections. No right angles, ever. ( Interesting. I'd get very lost there lol I think you may have added 'no right angles' thing and it's good because I didn't know what oblique meant and this gives a better picture. ) They started roughly southwest, towards the first site on the tour. It was good to be walking real ground ( with small stones shifting beneath her feet ) and breathing real ( Unrecycled/unfiltered ) air, even if it wasn't home. The crushed stone Inori pavement crunched pleasantly under their Fleet-issue nonskid shoes, ( ahh good maybe ignore my suggestion though for flow it is better to have description of ground right as you mention ground. Unbroken by 'even if it wasn't home. But it's a small thing to point out ) feeling very different ( less inhibiting/ it feels like freedom compared with the than the steel decks of the ship. She had planned to walk the city alone, but at dinner last night Marty had invited himself along, and now that he was here she was glad for the company. ( 'very different' is obvious and doesn't add any dimension )

"So, Carol, if this is your first time here, what's been keeping you upstairs?" Asked Marty, his eyes on the road and hands in the pockets of his open jacket.

"Roskov asked me to be available for tours, and anyway I wanted time to study for the L-T exam."

"You're too dedicated, Hansen. You're a bad example for the rest of us," he said, teasing her a little.

"Yeah, NOT!" she replied, giving him a shove on the arm. The star was full up by now, fueling a warm, cloudless day, and the taller buildings that loomed out of the meadows a few hundred metres away glowed with reflected light and the subtle colors of the masonry. The Inori build with a material that resembles stucco, but it's harder and smoother. The iridescent flecks in it reflect a variety of colors, depending on the angle of the star's light. ( Which colour are they reflecting most now? I expect to read, 'right now it was dominated by orange hues ' or something.) They aren't much for other colors on the outside of buildings, but the windows, six-sided of course, are often decorated with bright, vibrant hues and lit from within. ( do you mean the window glass, like stained glass, or the window frames? ) ( you do put a beautiful image in my mind btw  Grin  )

"Got your shades?" she asked Marty as she pulled hers from the zipper pocket on her right sleeve. ( Nice detail! )

"Yep!" was his snappy reply as he dramatically produced his and slapped them on his nose.  Grin  "Much better!" he said with relief.

"Yeah, my eyes are starting to water," Carol replied. ( Just help reader out by explaining that Inor light effect eyes, because sometimes the things you say about their jobs etc or in this case the Inor Info, kind of throws me and it feels like hard work trying to fill in the holes myself as breaks me out of reading experience . It also feels too noticeably like you're using dialogue as info dump. ( It's not a 'dump' of course as they are small details, but you know what I mean I hope. Adding a tiny explanation of Carols thoughts about the Inori light, maybe trying to remember if she put eyedrops in her bag etc, would make it less jarring )

They walked the first half of the published tour ( which was a circuitous route around the perimeter of the city, including all the main historical landmarks and a large stone memorial on the hill of Someone Important etc) in an hour and a half. It conveniently ended at a small café a few blocks east of Meridian Street, the main north-south thoroughfare. The Inori had adopted tea and there was a small selection of baked goods for their frequent human customers. They sat in surprisingly comfortable Inori wicker-something chairs, resting their feet and drinking tea with fresh English biscuits as they talked quietly.


Just need a break/ need to go do things Might be back later tonight

Then their NETLinks went off. 

"Combat Recall?" Marty said, staring in surprise first at his wrist and then at Carol. At that same moment, they could feel a heavy drumbeat resounding through the floor, some distance away, but clearly getting closer. Carol beat Marty out the door by just a step as the deafening sound began to catch up with the vibrations in the ground. They looked in the direction of the drumbeat and saw debris rising into the air in the distance.

"Oh, sh**!" Marty said, fear sneaking into his voice. Carol quickly turned back northeast and they started running towards the shuttle landing area. They made a few dozen strides, Carol a couple meters ahead, when they heard another sound, something like fabric being ripped - a repetitive snap and bang very close by. As she looked back to find the source, Marty was torn open mid-stride this is still to abrupt for a body being torn apart. Carol would see it in slow motion and reader will feel robbed if you don't show it. You sort of tell it here. Might be passive voice too, because 'Marty was torn open mid stride by a zombie'. )

( Was the fabric being ripped sound, and snap and bang, supposed to be Matty's injuries? Because it doesn't read like that. I thought fabric ripping was a metaphor for some bomb sound )

Needs more when seeing Marty. Something more like 'Carol turned and felt her heart slammed to her feet as hard as the piece of windowpane shapnel that exploded on the ground behind her. Matty was still standing but his eyes wide and clouded. Carol scans him, her eyes moving down to below his shoulder, and blood is gushing, bubbling like water from a tap after you've replaced a washer and the pipes are full of air, this red liquid pouring from the space where his arm used to be. Don't look, she thought, but her eyes moved despite herself to the pavement, where five meters away Martys dismembered, uniformed arm lies in a pool of blood. People and Inori are running around it mostly, but now someone tramples it in their haste, almost tripping. She lunges for Marty, throwing her hand over the wound , knowing deep inside it was useless. Martys horrified expression maade her tear up despite all her training. The clamour and chaos around her blurred and her hearing was only tuned in to her own breathing and Martys guttural whimpers.'


and fell to the crushed-stone pavement. She ran back to kneel at his side only to see the shock drain the color from his face, the life fading from his eyes as he looked up at her. Carol held his gaze until there was nothing more to hold, willing herself to stay with him all the way to the end. Looking at him through rising tears, she saw his left arm was amputated almost at the shoulder. The weapon  ( the rest of the description I like, as it's detailed but how does she know it was a weapon? And not shrapnel? ) had continued to lay open his torso, finally cleaving off his left leg just above the knee. Carol looked to her right and saw a trail of holes in the ground leading to and past Marty's mangled remains. Further along to her left, she could see the line of holes lead to two Inori, bent over another flailing in pain. The flails faded quickly as the helpless victim's life drained away. The drumbeat finally caught up with her and the building behind her was struck by a heavy weapon, ( heavy weapon doesn't sound right. I'm no expert but I always thought a weapon was a thing on your person. Does she have any idea what it is? I mean, it is a big ball shape like from a giant cannon, etc?It would help to know what she saw )  covering her in hard, coarse grit and pummeling her back with small rocky debris, the shockwave and sonic boom slamming her to the pavement. As she looked up, the fine dust that was starting to fill the air sparkled with bits of Inori masonry, and she had the sudden impression of being trapped in some kind of hellish snow globe. ( I LOVE what you did there!!! I really saw that  Grin )

She got up, reluctantly leaving Marty where he was, and moved away from the building, fearing it would collapse on her. She heard her Ground Combat instructor's voice yelling at her from the past: Get your ass down, Hansen, and get under cover. You're no good to anyone dead ( My personal preference is italics for remiscing type dialogue. There were explosions all around her now, and she looked around desperately for some kind of shelter, finally crawling between a damaged building and a pile of rubble that had fallen from it. ( You don't say what she has figured out about where this attack is coming from. I'd think hiding under a building that would be unstable due to having been bombed is a really bad idea. Isn't she likely to be crushed? ) Shoving her growing fear to the side, she got down as low as she could and decided to wait it out. She prayed for Marty. She prayed for Liberty. Aloud she said to herself "Oh David, you're going to be so pissed you missed this."

The Countryside North of Inoria
Saturday, January 15, 1078, 1000 UTC

After a bumpy ride north out of Inoria, while Carol and Marty were enjoying the unusual sights of the city, Rich Evans and Matt Carter had followed their guides into the rolling countryside along a well-worn path. After an hour of hiking, they had stopped just past a grove of what passed for trees on Inor, where a small stream flowed into a lake. They sat on the bank and watched the creatures in the stream, which on the one hand were obviously fish and on the other like nothing they had ever seen before. As they sat together by the stream, Rich asked the Inori a question that had been on his mind for some time.

"May I ask about Ino?"

"Yes, Mister Rich, what is your question?" Rich sat up straighter, a subconscious expression of respect.

"In human religions, there are books - collections of stories really - that tell us about God, that teach us what a religion means, its traditions, its morals. Are there stories of Ino? Is there a book of Ino?"

The Inori made a low rumbling growl that Rich understood was laughter. It went on for what seemed a long time. ( How does Rich feel about them laughing at his question? If embarrassed say his cheeks grew hot and he plucked a strand of Inor grass from the ground and rolled it between his fingers. Did the Inori put their hands on their bellies in laugher, slapping their knees. If not, what is the Inor equivalent of that. If subtle then say something small like their eyes squinted, like a contented cat etc Just ideas. Not saying use all of these but a tiny bit more helps it be more engrossing Finally, they stopped, and one spoke.

"Yes, we have heard of this practice among humans. We do not understand it. The world, Mister Rich, is the book of Ino. The sea, the sky, the land, we sitting before you, are all the stories Ino requires. So, no, there are no stories, and there is no book. Ino is present everywhere." Evans nodded his understanding, thought a moment, then asked again.

"How are the youth taught about Ino? Do any ever refuse to believe in Ino?" Again, laughter.

"Ino does not need to be taught, Mister Rich. The young know the presence of Ino in their teachers, in their food, in their litter-mates. As to your second question, it is even stranger to our ears than your first. To refuse to believe in Ino is to refuse to believe in the sunrise, or the stars, or ourselves. He is as tangible for us as the ground we sit on, as the water flowing before us."

They rested there, taking time for tea,  lifting their iridescent Inor porcelain tea cups to their mouths and sipping the hot rose-coloured beverage that was almost tart, like raspberries mixed with something reminiscent of cinnamon or nutmeg from Earth. and talking to the Inori about the animals of the countryside, their habits and how similar animals behaved on Earth. It was a pleasant, nearly idyllic scene. The NetLinks' shrill alarms shattered this quiet tableau.

Evans looked at his in disbelief. He looked over at Carter who said, "Combat Recall? What the hell?" Evans responded electronically and tried to get through to Liberty by audio but was unable to raise the ship.

"We gotta go. Now." As he got to his feet, he could see bright streaks in the dark blue sky.

"What the hell, indeed," he said to Matt. He watched ( he watched is a 'filter' ) the streaks pass over, hundreds of them. ( I don't know what the streaks are or what they look like. I'm imagining the long cloud like line a plane leaves across the sky but I shouldn't have to guess, especially as I might be wrong . And when you say the streaks pass it confuses me as those cloud lines from planes sit there for a long time. ) After the streaks had passed, he was suddenly aware of a whistling sound followed by a rolling sequence of sonic booms. Evans and Carter and the Inori moved as quickly as possible back the way they had come. Not long after they startIed,   they could see smoke ahead ( where's ahead. What does it look like? is ahead beyond the mountains on the horizon that they can glimpse through the wall of forest of the hill? ) and heard a distant explosion ( In what direction? In the direction of the smoke. It feels a bit vague ) .

"I think that was our ride," Matt said quietly.

"Gonna be a long walk, Matt," Rich answered.


I'd be wary of using filter terms. I think it's easy to use them in third person too much if you're not in the head on one main character. I think it's best to be in one POV per scene/chapter because it's easier to not filter and gives the reader a more close up experience.

Regarding my advice, feel free to ignore what doesn't feel right. I would recommend reading The Time Machine by HG Wells as it's a good read but MC has to explain a world from scratch the way you do. Reading it might give you ideas for handling tricky situations, including how to describe distant sounds etc. Good luck. ( Insert whichever Inori salute appropriate here Smiley

« Last Edit: July 15, 2018, 07:39:42 AM by Pineapplejuice » Logged
RockWhitehouse
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« Reply #29 on: July 15, 2018, 10:54:42 AM »

PJ -

Again, many thanks for your efforts. I don't know how you have the time but we are all grateful for your generosity.

A few quick responses...

I didn't try to actually do an NZ accent because (a) As a suburban mid-westerner I was pretty sure I'd screw it up and (b) I'd rather let the reader fill in their own personal version.

Carol smiles pleasantly because Evans is someone a couple ranks above her whom she likes and respects. You don't know it yet but pretense is not her thing.

The joke on Marty is just banter - Evans poking a little fun to get a laugh. (Like I do sometimes, but better)

'Heavy weapon' is indeed lame. I tried a couple different terms and none really worked so I will have to sit on that for a couple days. What's actually happening is that telephone-pole sized steel rods (aka RFG's 'Rods From God') are hitting the city, dispensed from the enemy in space. Like artillery, they're moving too fast to be seen, and Carol has no idea what's going on. What Evans is seeing in the countryside are the RFG's descending from the enemy in orbit to hit the city. The streaks are narrow and do not have the persistence of a aircraft contrail. But there I took three lines to explain it, and I ain't got no three lines to burn on that in this first five pages. And, I want the reader to wonder along with the crew what the h-ll is going on.

The fabric ripping sound is a different, more anti-personnel weapon (think oversized hyper-sharp lawn darts falling from the sky) hitting the pavement. I'll have to work on that more and find a different description. Perhaps Carol could hear the crunch as Marty is hit and turn around to find him already on the ground. That might work better and be less verbose. Can I be less verbose? I'm not sure.

When you say 'filter' word, do you mean 'filler?' My turn to be confused a little.

You've made a lot of good suggestions here for more depth. I get that message loud and clear. I will need to take the time to work that advice into the whole MS.

I may have The Time Machine around here somewhere. I'll take a look. I do remember hating it. My current opportunity read is HG Wells The Outline of History. Dense, frequently boring, but the extensive and correct use of the English language is such a contrast with what we see today.


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