Breach of Security
Posted 08 June 2013 - 08:56 PM Edited by albanyave, 30 August 2013 - 05:17 PM.
Breach of Security
Chapter 9 The End
Posted 08 June 2013 - 09:05 PM Edited by albanyave, 11 June 2013 - 01:29 AM.
Mud holes had formed in the yard where the inmates played baseball at Par Tone Correctional Facility. This is where Malcolm Warren has spent the last 5 years of his life eating, sleeping, and thinking behind the hard cold steel bars of cell 28. Five years ago Malcolm took the rap for breaking and entering the private residence of James and Carol Stevens. In reality, Junior Pettera and Anton Young were on the scene also. The Stevens were home at the time and were able to identify Malcolm and no one else.
Malcolm kept quiet and took the entire blame. No hearings, no trial, straight to sentencing by Judge Carver. Because Malcolm showed remorse for the crime and was quick to admit guilt, all but five years of a ten year sentence were suspended. Now Malcolm sits in cell 28 waiting for his release date.
Junior pulled of the highway and parked outside Tucker’s Diner in West Haven. It had been raining all day. Now the rain poured down in sheets making it nearly impossible for Junior to see the road clearly. It was 7pm when he made a call to Anton Young.
“Holla at me.”
“Where are you right now?”
“At home chillin’. Why?”
“We have a problem.”
“Big or small?”
Junior cleared his throat. “When is a problem of ours ever small?”
“Right. So what is it that you need me to do?”
“Grab your gear and password to our West Haven lockup and meet me at Randy’s place in an hour. Don’t be late.”
“Gotcha, I’ll be there. Ah, do we need any food. Randy ain’t never got spit to eat.”
“Yeah. That’s right. Stop in at Renay’s Café and pick us up something good.”
“Will do. Out.”
The line disconnected and the rain continued to pour. Junior quickly tucked his mobile into his jacket pocket. He started the engine of his black RT 120 and pulled onto the street. It’s about a thirty minute drive to Randy’s place, Junior thought. If it continues to rain like this, it may take a little longer.
Traffic was light in downtown Pace City. Main St. was unusually deserted for a Thursday evening. Maybe the rain had something to do with it. A few blocks south of Tucker’s, the Premiere Hotel was ablaze. Four of five fire trucks were scattered around the front entrance of the building cutting of South bound traffic. It seemed like some kind of explosion had occurred. There was a gaping hole near the fifth floor with flames pouring out hot and high. The rest of the trip to Randy’s place was pretty much uneventful.
Junior turned left onto Mondy St and parked near Randy’s apartment building. He quickly sprinted to the front door and headed up to Randy’s apartment. The bright lights of Downtown Pace City seemed so far away here in Brookedale. The shabby three story walk-up where Randy called home smelled of urine. The walls were covered with an assortment of gang graffiti. Junior recognized some of the marks but others were brand new gang tags. This is such a depressing place to live. Moments later a knock at Apt. 3C startled Randy from sleep. A tired nervous voice spoke through the door.
“Yeah, who’s there?”
“It’s Junior. Let me in.”
The door to Apt. 3C swung open in a hurry. Bright purple and orange painted walls greeted Junior with a swift shock to his eyes. How Randy could sleep in a place that looked like this, was a mystery. He always said the place was dressed up for any occasion. I’m sure Randy’s place was the only one in the entire neighborhood that could cheer up the most depressed of the depressed. Paper flowers on the painted walls, smiley faces on the refrigerator, and any kind of candy bar you wanted laid on the countertop.
“Hey Junior. Don’t you know it’s raining out?” Randy was fully awake now.
“What you tryin’ to say? I’m an idiot or something. Of course I know it’s raining out. Get me a towel so I can wipe off.”
“No, alls I meant was that this is a good time to sleep. Now I’m wondering why you’re way over here?”
Randy fumbled through drawer after drawer looking for a towel. Finally he grabbed a red and white tea towel and handed it to Junior.
“Trust me; I wouldn’t come over here if I didn’t have a good reason to. This place gives me a headache every time I come here.”
“You want something for it? I got something to take it right away in a hurry. You can’t have fun when you’re in pain.”
Junior finished wiping the rain from his jacket and tossed the towel on the counter. “No I don’t need anything Randy. Anton is on his way over. He should be here in another 20 minutes.”
Posted 09 June 2013 - 01:52 PM
'Survival of the fittes' for example. Simple spelling error.
Also there seems to be a bit of a mess regarding the how he wound up in jail. Does he know? Yes? No? You're taking the reader down a path here and quickly discarding it which has left me feeling perplexed.
|f course I know. But it all had to happen first before I really realized exactly what was happening. So now I know. Do I wish that things could have been different? Truthfully, no, no I don’t.|
This has no point. You're not telling the reader anything or even creating a sense of mystery or suspense.
It all had to happen first before I realised what was happening
That seems like stating the obvious. Warren wouldn't know what was happening before would he? But the thing is: you're not telling us what! There's no specifics, only vague words of an already empty feeling character. I liked the opening sentence, really did but the rest was just... Meh.
The next paragraph starts to tell us something but in a second hand way. I'm not there. I'm hearing it but not experiencing it. It feels to me you could have cut most of the first paragraph out and gone from the opening line to the second paragraph, which also is not pulling me deeper into the story.
Then there's repeats. You tell us twice about Steve's pants - is that detail that important we need it twice? Also 'trouble started as soon as trouble found me' - this line tells me nothing other than trouble started when trouble started. It's like saying 'I got wet when the rain soaked me'. It's the same thing twice and neither seem necessary.
I think you're making a reference to the fact trouble always found warren, in which case ''trouble always seemed to find me. Like with Steve Conway. I didn't ask for him to ruin my brand new shoes. But he did, and there was no having that. We were in line for lunch and be stepped back to reach a spoon - we were having vegetable soup that day..."
Now a few things with this:
1-kudos in the detail of the soup. I like that detail. The fact it's vegetable soup. Not strictly needed but when you remember things certain things stand out.
2-when he spilled the soup (I assume) on warrens shoe, I was a little lost. I was imagining him collecting the spoon before the soup. Was that not the case? I don't believe you said he already had his soup...
This tiny event seems pointless however. He spilled soup then avoided warren? 'From that day to this day' seems clumsy too 'from that day on' would be better - remember you want to cut down the word count!
But he spills soul then avoids warren. Why is that of consequence? Who the f*ck cares? I told a woman to f*ck off in the supermarket once and never saw her again. It's useless information.
There's no implication of it leading anywhere either - as he avoided warren.
Next section is a jolt - is this a flashback of a new scene? What's the point of any of the previous? We've seen a character - great - know he's in jail and has soup spilled on his shoe by someone he never dealt with again. Why? Why did we need to read all that?
What would be more effective, if juniors scene is a new one, is if warren is being talked about - having a character 'big up' the protag (who we've not met) is very effective IMO. The mind paints a picture and asks questions and the interest grows.
If its a flashback or something then, well I got lost.
"7p"? What's that? Seven pence? Seven pm?
Proofread my good man!
Rt 120? What IS that? A car? Better to say the manufacturer than the model. Say dodge charger instead of R/T, for example. It's good seeing detail but you want that detail to paint a clear picture - not raise questions (and not everyone will now cars etc).
I also feel you could state who spoke first on the phone
"Holler at me," Antonio rapped down the crackly line - there never was avoid signal at the diner, but Junior was hurting for a brew.
There's also much more information there - why he's st the diner for example, as well as some detail about the call. All of a sudden there's more character
Juniors speech here is also a bit long winded 'when is a problem of ours ever small?" - stop it right there. Short, snappy.
Now firstl why would be need to grab his password?
Secondly, junior is AT A DINER. Why can't HE pick up food?
".. Ain't never got a spit to eat."
"Alright. I'm at Tucker's getting a coffee - you want a donut?"
"Nah, their donuts are sh*t. Grab me a bagel or something."
I liked the scene about the fire - but I wonder if a small digression of juniors thoughts might have been cool here - what did he think had happened?
The story gets a bit better once he sprints to the apartment (was that because of the rain? Otherwise what's his rush?)
Finally however - why on earth is he wiping his jacket? I've never seen anyone do that. Most would take it off and hang it to dry and wipe their face and hair.
All that said, I was slightly I trigger by junior and his story. So far I dot give a sh*t about warren though. He was mentioned and for no end. I think that needs addressing
As an opening to a story , I don't feel this is very strong. Its generic. A few details mixed in some nice dialogue (at times) in amongst a whole load of text with questionable purpose. I once read that every word ou write has to have a purpose. Every word is there for a reason. Warrens introduction did not seem to have a reason and I enjoyed this more once I'd discarded that completely.
Your challenge now is to turn it around. The next time you mention warren, you need to make it more interesting for me, because there's the danger ill skip paragraphs (even Tom Clancy has made me do this).
I feel there's something missing here. There's no event - nothing really happens. A prisoner remembers getting soup on his shoe and a man drives to talk about a problem. That problem and scenario intrigues me but that's it. I feel a rework may be your best bet here if I'm honest but either way something needs to happen. Ill keep an eye in this solely because juniors situation interests me.
Posted 09 June 2013 - 08:14 PM
No flasback, just another scene with Junior. Junior is too preoccupied to think about buying food. Anton brings up the idea.
I 'll try to cut some words from chapter 2.
Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:05 PM
|QUOTE (albanyave @ Sunday, Jun 9 2013, 20:14)|
|Thanks Mokrie for the comments. I can see how I can cut down on the word count. Malcolm is not a main character but he is important for one reason. I wanted to introduce him as having something unknown about him. I wanted the reader to ask "why" about this character and just forget him. Also I wanted to show how Malcolm was a tough guy as a kid and his troubles sent him to jail. He is mentioned again but not much.|
Unfortunately I don't feel you did that. I could forget about him easily but that's about it.
I don't see him as tough. What's tough about having soup on your shoe? Are you impying that he beat the kid up? Show it. Show us why he's tough.
H may be Important but that's not coming over at all. Junior has more weight to him so far. I'm not sure how you can rectify it tbh as I don't know your story and haracters well enough yet, but I hope you can. So far, the entire scene with Malcolm feels like it could be cut. To paraphrase eminence, sometimes it's your babies you have to cut - meaning you might like the scene but it might not work. I personally feel juniors section is a better intro.
Regarding word count - don't think about cutting or adding words too much. Just remember that every word has its place. If something isn't needed to be there, why keep it? Sometimes you want to pad bits out and slow it down and attention to detail (as well as stuff like the food thing I mentioned ) can do that. Others you want each sentence to be like a jabbed punch. Something to think of in editing - don't let it get in the way of the actual writing.
In your shoes I would rewrite the prisoner scene. Give it meaning and purpose. Connect it to what follows - as it stands now it feels like two different stories and not even exciting parts either. My advice: make something happen or at less give the reader something to keep them interested a Malcolm's entire scene does not do that in my eyes
Ps forgive any spelling errors in this - I'm on my phone which doesn't like every other letter I type and autocorrects like a 2 year old. Punch for example is not a word and CLEARLY I mean a 'jabbed lunch' stupid phone!
Posted 10 June 2013 - 12:56 AM
Posted 11 June 2013 - 01:48 AM
I know I said I would post a chapter every 5 days but let's keep this critique rolling. Maybe I'm a little long winded in trying to get to an action scene or some mystery, but I thought I had to set things up first.
Anyway, I've written it and I want you guys to help me make it better. Here's Chapter 2.
Posted 11 June 2013 - 02:07 AM Edited by albanyave, 28 July 2013 - 09:14 PM.
Anton Young was in the middle of a good movie when the call came in from Junior Pattera. He pressed the record button and did as he was told. Anton always kept a duffle bag stocked with the most essentials to be grabbed at a moment’s notice. He was dressed and out the door heading across the Montage Bridge when his mobile rang. He turned down the radio and answered.
“Holla at me.”
“Hey man, Danny here. You up for going out?”
“Not now D. I’m in the middle of something. Maybe another time. I’ll call ya.”
“Ok then. Later.” Danny said, sounding disappointed
Anton took the Laurel St exit that would take him right past Renay’s. He gently pulled into the parking lot. It was really raining now. He jumped out his truck and splashed puddles as he quickly made his way into the café. On a better night the café would have been loaded. Lucky for Anton the rain kept people home tonight.
Back out on Laurel St, Anton easily maneuvered the nearly empty streets. Soon he was casually driving across the South Janter Bridge. He had plenty of time left to reach Randy’s place. His favorite group; Street Light, was playing on The Grind 99.5. By the end of the song, Anton spotted Junior’s car parked on Mondy St. He parked about two car lengths behind him and grabbed the grub and gear and made his way to the front entrance of Randy’s apartment building. The rain had slacked some.
Randy’s apartment building was an old three story walk-up with gang graffiti scrawled across the walls and the stench of rat urine trailed from top to bottom. Anton noticed that the Covington Kings had crossed the bridge and left their mark. He lightly jogged up to apartment 3C and banged on the door. He didn’t wait for an answer.
“Anybody home? It’s me”, said Anton.
The chain and deadbolt rattled. Junior pulled open the door and greeted Anton.
“Hey man, come on in. Thanks for getting here in a hurry.”
Anton caught a glimpse of Shelton Maan sitting in the living room as he moved forward to enter the apartment.
“Shelton?” Anton said confused. “Why is he here?”
“He was already here when I came in. You know how close those two are, since high school. I trust Randy. Randy trusts Shelton. There hasn’t been a problem. Let’s don’t make a big deal of it, ok.”
Anton reluctantly agreed. “Ok, but that guy is way too close to the circle.”
He stepped into the apartment and locked the door. Anton closed his eyes for a moment to try to calm the queasiness from seeing all that bright paint. He followed Junior down the narrow hallway into the living room. Randy and Shelton were sitting across from each other smoking.
“Sup?” said Anton.
Randy was the first to speak. “Nothing much.”
“Hey man”, Shelton said through a haze of smoke.
Anton gently placed his duffle bag on the floor beside where he sat and put the food from Renay’s on the coffee table for all to enjoy. Shelton and Randy were the first ones to dig in. There were enough burgers and onion rings for everyone. Cherry soda seemed to please Shelton the most. After a few quick bites of his sandwich, Junior started explaining the situation.
“Here’s the deal. Our last job was a little sloppy. I’m not droppin’ anyone’s name but things weren’t done quite the right way."
“So what went wrong?” said Anton.
Randy interrupted. “Whatever it was, I didn’t do it. I followed the rules to the letter.”
“Like I said, I’m not droppin’ any names. Things just got a little sloppy and we need to correct the mistake in a hurry.”
“How can I help man?” said Anton, refocusing the conversation.
“A junk drive is missing. Anton, you know better than any of us what’s on that drive.”
No one said anything for a while. Randy and Shelton finished off the remaining burgers. Anton and Junior spoke quietly in the kitchen. Soon they rejoined the others. Anton pulled his laptop from his duffle bag and they began to formulate a plan.
Posted 11 June 2013 - 10:42 AM
Two things from the off:
|“Ok then. Later.” Danny said, sounding disappointed|
Two errors here. Can you see them?
1 - something i always used to do: full stop after "later". 2 - missing full stop at end.
The reason the first is wrong, is because it's all one sentence. Read it aloud: "Ok then. Later." Danny said.
Sounds wrong, no? Imagine you take away the speech marks for a moment: OK then. Later. Danny said.
Now, with the comma, with and without speech marks: OK then. Later, Danny said.
So the correct version is:
|"Ok then. Later," Danny said."|
Because you're following the speech up with a verb, describing it, its the same sentence. "Yes," he said. "Never!" he shouted. "In your dreams," she laughed.
And the missing full stop at the end needs no explanation
|It was really raining now|
Nothing wrong with it. Writing narrative around a character is good when you write "as" that character, so characteristic words and phrases are good. But i can't help but feel you could have done better. "Really raining" doesn't really explain anything. Personally I would elect for "The rain was heavy now" or even merge it with the previous sentence:
|He pulled cautiously into the parking lot, amidst a torrent of needle-like raindrops that rattled on his car endlessly.|
|He pulled into the parking lot as the rain lashed down furiously. He jumped out of his truck and dashed toward the cafe, his hood doing little to fend off the barrage of icy water.|
This is what I meant by cutting down on words. Two sentences telling the reader something, OR! ONE sentence SHOWING it.
Show us the rain; make us feel it.
|Anton took the Laurel St exit that would take him right past Renay’s. The windscreen wipers clunked with a one-two rhythm, barely able to keep the heavy rain off the windscreen. He splashed into the parking lot, carefully guiding his Toyota into the empty space nearest to the cafe, cutting down his mad-dash to the door. With a breath of relief he stood in the cafe, seeing it usually empty. He was glad it wasn't.|
That's what I'd settle for.
Next is a very confusing jump. He enters the cafe and is back on the street. Why did he enter the cafe? The transition i think could be smoother:
|His belly now warmed by a cup of cheap coffee, Anton had no problem maneuvering the empty streets.|
|His favorite group; Street Light, was playing on The Grind 99.5.|
|His favorite group – Street Light – was playing on The Grind 99.5.|
Next: he grabs the grub and gear. I kind of like the alliteration here, but it sounds a little too poetic, and kind of stands out. Nothing wrong with it though, although I tend to avoid it, not sure why. But here you've stated he's got food, yet we don't see him collect any - THAT'S why he was at the diner! I think mentioning it in the previous scene would be good. Where I mentioned His belly now warmed by a cup of cheap coffee, Anton had no problem maneuvering the empty streets.
could now be:
With a brown paper bag, soggy from the rain, on the seat next to him, Anton had no problem maneuvering the empty streets - except for the teasing aroma of the warm food beside him.
Or something like that anyway. I am aware i said cut down words, but i think i was too vague on that. Cut down stuff you don't NEED there. I've added more here, because it tells the reader more, and I think, puts the reader in the scene. I for example can almost smell the mixture of food and rainwater. Little details like this will go a long way toward immersion.
Again your mention of the rain slacking seems tacked on. It's told. Show us.
|He parked about two car lengths behind Junior's car and grabbed the grub and gear. He stepped out, relieved that the rain had slacked some, and made his way for Randy's apartment.|
|Randy’s apartment building was an old three story walk-up with gang graffiti scrawled across the walls and the stench of rat urine trailed from top to bottom. Anton noticed that the Covington Kings had crossed the bridge and left their mark. He lightly jogged up to apartment 3C and banged on the door. He didn’t wait for an answer.|
Mixed tenses here - randy's apartment WAS an old....... urine trailED from...
Stick to one, because nothing pulls the reader out like mixed tenses.
I like that paragraph though.
|“Anybody home? It’s me”, said Anton.|
Correct choice in using a comma, but misplaced. I'll assume that's a simple whoopsie - i've often typed letters the wrong way round "yuo" for example haha.
|“Anybody home? It’s me,” said Anton.|
The word: "Sup" is a cut down version of "what's up." Therefore it should be proceeded with an apostrophe to show the omitted letters:
Next you mention the food is burgers and onion rings - have you any idea what they smell like?! You just HAVE to pick up my earlier suggestion about the smell - it's torture! How Anton didn't pull over and just eat one i don't know! I would have!! I'm glad you mentioned that, because i wondered what the food was. With food of such a smell like burgers and onion rings, i would consider putting THAT detail in the earlier scene, but holding off works, but only because I'm a foodie, and was curious. Not everyone would care, so I'd say mention the smell like i showed, and state what the smell is
|"So what went wrong?" Said Anton.|
I do not like this at all. I've seen it in book by established authors, but i don't like it. He's clearly asking a question, i simply do not like "said" after a question. Instead, asked works better, but is not needed as there's a question mark. Instead what i like doing in throwing in a bit of action:
|"So what went wrong?" Anton pulled out a slice of gherkin from his burger, flicking it into the empty bag.|
This implies it's Anton who's speaking, without the needless "asked" or out of place "said." Just preference here, i've no idea if it's technically correct or not.
|“How can I help man?” said Anton, refocusing the conversation.|
Same as my above point, and I'd used "Anton asked, refocusing the conversation." simply because I like the latter part.
The biggest problem is still here, however. NOTHING HAPPENS. Yes, there's a hint of something, and there is some direction revealed, but still, nothing has happened. There is no goal in sight, and seems to be no big event that triggers the story. It's just a list of things, and none leading to anything interesting.
There's no suspense or mystery either, and you need suspense, mystery or action to keep the reader going. In otherwords, you need to have the reader on the edge of their seat, flicking the pages as quickly as they can read; asking questions and aching for the answers; or being shown something happening, some purpose in the story. A robbery, a fight. Aceray's pointed it out too; some will call it boring. It's called "Breach of security" - a snappy title that pulled me in, but.... aside from critiquing, I'm not sure how long i would have read for.
My advice would be to start the story with the robbery, showing the characters (and assuming we know them well, in some ways, can be good, as it can heighten intrigue), then how Warren got busted, and the rest escaped. Fast forward to him in prison, then carry on as you have.
Either way, you need to have something happen, for the reader to be asking questions, or giving suspense, and you need that soon.
Posted 12 June 2013 - 01:54 AM
I guess if I could make my point quicker, it would be less boring. Also try to show more. That's part of my problem. I tend to be long winded when trying to show something.
Right now I am cutting and combining chapters 3 and 4. I am hinting at a mystery but it's not getting there fast enough.
I guess another couple of days before Chapter 3 is ready for your sharp knife.
Thanks for your time.
Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:24 AM
You'll get there. You're showing willingness to listen and learn, so you're well on your way.
I look forward to seeing more and the improvements.
Oh, and I'll e sharpening my knife
Posted 22 June 2013 - 03:36 PM
I had trouble with my data usage but that’s all cleared up now. Not being online gave me an opportunity to really digest the comments you made. I combined chapters 3 and 4. Cut some stuff and rewrote some to try to say more with fewer words. I think I’m getting a handle on the punctuation. I feel like I’ve taken a baby step forward. Hope you can see some improvements.
Here’s Chapter 3
Posted 22 June 2013 - 03:48 PM Edited by albanyave, 11 July 2013 - 11:01 PM.
Morning dew still glistened on the lawns of Southbridge as the company van of All Day Security snaked its way to the Cramer residence. The morning traffic report blared through the speakers. No one spoke.
Thomas Cramer was sitting in the kitchen eating a bowl of cereal when the doorbell rang. A few moments later the door crept open to reveal a tall skinny kid with messy brown hair. He could have been Randy’s kid brother from the looks of him.
“Good morning we’re from All Day Security,” said Anton.
“Oh yeah, my dad said you guys were coming out to take a look at our system,” Thomas said as he stepped aside to let the three men in.
“Yeah, that’s right,” said Anton. It should take us no more than a half hour to recalibrate your sensors. We just need access to entry points including the basement. We’ll be as quiet as possible.”
“I’m the only one home and about to hit the shower so feel free to make as much noise as you want,” Thomas said as he headed upstairs.
With the house nearly empty, the three immediately started their search for the data stick. Anton stayed downstairs and used the desk in the study to set up his computer. He quickly but thoroughly checked the book shelves. He rummaged through the desk drawers and the small file box on top of the desk. Anton found everything but the data stick so he moved on to the kitchen which was quite spacious and clean.
Upstairs, Randy scurried from bedroom to bedroom checking nightstands and drawers being careful not to make too much of a disturbance. No luck. He could still hear the shower in the hall bathroom so he continued. He checked the desk drawers and the top of the chest of drawers and came up empty handed. Where is this thing? Randy thought. With nothing to show for his efforts, he headed back downstairs.
Shelton came back up from the basement rather quickly and found Anton bent over an open drawer in the kitchen.
“I have it,” Shelton said flatly.
Surprised, Anton snatched his hands from the drawer and turned to see Shelton standing there holding a small black object.
“How do you know that’s ours?” asked Anton looking stunned to see the drive.
“Well it’s black and it has a purple clover on the back,” replied Shelton as he handed it to Anton.
Anton flipped the drive over to reveal a purple clover on the rear panel.
“Where did you find it?” asked Anton suspiciously as he checked the connectors for any damage.
“It was in a box with some other drives."
Anton was still standing near the open drawer staring intently at Shelton when Randy entered the kitchen. He eyed the drive in Anton’s hand. Shelton was standing near the refrigerator with his arms folded. The silence was broken when Anton banged the drawer shut and plowed past Randy on his way back to the study. His computer was already booted so he gently pushed the drive into the USB port and called up the files. Everything seemed to be there. None of the files had been modified. Anton closed the program and removed the drive from the port. He studied it for a while still not believing he had made such a misstep.
For good show, they spent 20 minutes going through the motions of recalibrating the sensors. A statement of services and incident report was left on the kitchen counter as they left. Anton drove a short distance to Renay’s. Randy and Shelton went in to eat breakfast before heading back to the office. Anton stayed in the van and placed a call to Junior. His name and number popped up on the display and Junior answered immediately.
“Tell me you have good news”
“Yes, I have it. But something doesn’t feel right. I need to talk to you about Shelton.”
Junior paused for a moment. “Remind me later.”
“Sure,” said Anton still sounding dejected.
The line clicked off and Anton waited for Shelton and Randy to return.
The drive back to the office was quick and quiet. Relieved to have the data stick in Junior’s hands, Anton spent the rest of the day doing paperwork at his desk. Shelton and Randy punched out and left after lunch leaving Junior and Anton alone.
“Can we talk now?” Anton asked as he lowered the shades to block the imposing sunshine.
“You first,” said Junior.
“I don’t trust Shelton!” Anton said boldly. “He was the one to find the drive. My feeling is that he had it all along.”
Junior reared back in his chair inhaling deeply. “That drive shouldn’t have been at the house in the first place.”
“I agree,” Anton snapped. So you think I left it there? At any time Shelton could have reached in my drawer and taken the drive.”
Anton yanked his desk drawer open to reveal a tray full of data sticks. Beads of sweat had formed on Anton’s forehead. His chest heaved up and down as he grew more annoyed by the implication that Junior had made.
Junior leaned forward to examine the contents in Anton’s drawer. “What reason would Shelton have to take the drive?”
“You know that drive has all the locations of property that we planned on boosting. I think he and Randy wanted to do it themselves,” Anton said as he sank back into his chair trying to calm himself.
The office fell silent. Junior sat back in his chair and rubbed at the prickly hairs that had started popping out on his face seeming to consider Anton’s explanation of the recent events.
Posted 28 June 2013 - 12:24 PM Edited by albanyave, 11 July 2013 - 11:06 PM.
A blast of late afternoon heat slapped Anton in the face as he stepped out into the back parking lot. The day had been a long and difficult one and he just wanted to go home. His mobile rang as he pulled open the door to his truck. He recognized the ringtone as belonging to Danny so he answered.
“Hey D,” Anton said trying to push today's incidents to the back of his mind. “What’s up?”
“I got a call from Malcolm this afternoon.”
“We haven’t heard from Malcolm in years,” said Anton. “Why is he calling now?”
“It was a weird call,” said Danny. “He just said to tell you and Junior hello and that he’ll see us soon.”
Anton hesitated for a moment. He quickly counted the number of years that had passed since Malcolm’s incarceration.
“He’s being released," said Anton.
“Already?” asked Danny sounding surprised.
“Yeah. I guess it was good behavior,” said Anton sarcastically. “I don’t want that guy coming back here and starting a whole lot of crap. Shelton is enough to deal with.”
“What’s going on with Shelton?” asked Danny.
“D, I’ve had a long day. I’ll tell you all about it later. I just need to get something to eat and go home.”
“Alright then,” said Danny. “Call me when you feel like it.”
The line clicked off and Anton got in his truck and headed home. Main St. was a terrible mess at this time of the day. Anton almost wished he had taken the long way around across the South Janter Bridge instead of heading downtown right smack in the middle of rush hour. Last night's fire at the Premiere Hotel caused extensive damage to the south corner of the fifth and sixth floors. Blue tarps covered most of the devastation.
Still distracted by the conversation with Anton, Junior set next weeks’ work schedule aside and left the office for the day. The evening had brought a much needed break in the temperature. A cool breeze tugged at Junior’s hair as he drove home to West Haven. He needed to unwind so Junior called up his buddy Cameron Vaughn.
“You got me,” said Cameron.
“I’ve had one stressed filled day that I sure would like to forget. How about heading over to Cranberry’s if you ain’t busy,” said Junior.
“Man you know I’m gonna be busy over at Cranberry’s tonight. Ha-ha. What time you wanna meet up?”
“I’ll be at your place around 10,” answered Junior.
“That’s good. I think I saw Anton at Tucker’s earlier. I was heading out and he was standing in line. I don’t think he saw me though. The place was a mad house so I didn’t bother to yell back to him.”
“Could’ve been,” said Junior.
“Alright man, see you at 10.”
The line disconnected and Junior continued on home trying to push the day far away.
10 o’clock had rolled around quickly. The sidewalk and part of Quell St in front of Cranberry’s glowed from the neon pink sign that hung over the entrance. A light pink haze wrapped around an inflated crowd of jacked up regulars. Junior and Cameron were among the ones that waited on line to be ushered through a security check point. Posters of the CLiPS; a local band, covered the front wall of the club. They would play here tomorrow. Tonight, DJ Pops will get the party started. Something caught Cameron’s eye. He stepped aside to get a better view.
“Is that Shelton?” asked Cameron pointing across the street.
Junior craned his neck to see over a small crowd of scantily dressed females that staggered past.
“Yeah, that’s him,” said Junior.
Once again the thoughts of the conversation with Anton filtered back into Junior’s mind. Shelton seemed to be talking on his phone as he walked towards the bar across the street. Junior cupped his hands around his mouth and called out to get his attention. Seeming to hear Junior call, Shelton paused and turned to see Junior gesture for him to come over. Apparently ignoring the invitation, Shelton walked on past the bar and disappeared around the corner.
“That was strange,” said Cameron.
“Yeah, maybe,” said Junior becoming more suspicious now.
Moments later, Junior was pulled back to reality when the bouncer signaled the anxious patrons to move forward through the check point. He and Cameron paid the cover and headed downstairs. The beat was hypnotizing, almost intoxicating. Pink and red neon cranberries flashed in time with the beat and multicolored tube lighting adorned the walls leading down to the VIP section. Junior always went there first to relax before he moved upstairs to mix it up.
Posted 30 June 2013 - 11:42 AM
A quick note about the thoughts of characters:
|Where is this thing? Randy thought. With nothing to show for his efforts, he headed back downstairs|
Most of the time you'll see thoughts as italics, as it separates them from the narrative. Speech is done so with speech marks, and usually thought with italics:
|Where is this thing? Randy thought. With nothing to show for his efforts, he headed back downstairs|
It makes it easier to read and look better.
But there are times where the author makes the decision not to do this. You may want to blend the narrative with the thoughts (first person stories for example). IIRC, A Scanner Darkly did this, bleeding the narrative with Bob Arctor's thoughts, thus creating a 'bleeding effect' between the two - if you've read the book, you'll know why it works so well, especially with the adverse effects of drug use. In the instance of your story, though, i feel italics would be beneficial.
Just a quick one to let you know of this:
|“We haven’t heard from Malcolm in years,” said Anton.” “Why is he calling now?”|
Here we have a conversation between two people. There is no need to keep saying "Said danny" as it's clear who's talking. Once every now and then, but the reader is perfectly capable of following.
|“He’s being released, said Anton”|
Slow down man, it feels like you're rushing. It's hard, but take your time in uploading this. This is a tiny tiny mistake, but one that makes me wonder:
This is good, but if he took more time, how much better would it be?
(in case you can't see it, the speech mark is in the wrong place!)
|Last nights’ fire at the Premiere Hotel|
This was a nice detail though. I'm getting the feeling that this city is real (btw what city is it?), a living one. I do wonder though, whether the fire has anything to do with the narrative. Twice you've mentioned it now, and it's brilliant for consistency - it has the effect of rooting the reader in well, but mentioning it too much implies it's an important event. Is it?
Also consider doubling the space between characters and scenes. Leaving two lines, not one, when you're switching. Makes it easier to read.
|How about heading over to Cranberry’s if you ain’t busy, (question mark here.)” said Junior.|
I commend the connection you've got between characters. But careful not to take it too far - not everyone will know everyone else!
Overall I'm enjoying this. A little more activity - as previously mentioned - would be good, but there's an element of mystery to this, which is good. Is shelton ripping them off? I sense there's even more to this, which is cool.
I do feel you need to make more happen though. The last chapter didn't seem to serve too much of a point, apart from introduce another character.
I refer you to THIS post here (different forum, PM me if the link doesnt work), as that might help you a little.
Posted 12 July 2013 - 12:40 AM
Here’s Chapter 5.
Posted 12 July 2013 - 12:50 AM
Anton was jolted awake early Saturday morning by the buzzing of his alarm clock. He reached over and slapped the off button to quiet the noise. With Shelton and Malcolm still on his mind, Anton threw the covers back and headed to the shower. He wanted to get an early start to what he hoped would be a better day.
After a quick shower and a bite to eat, Anton made a bee-line to Jimmy’s Repair and Wash Service. His truck hadn’t been clean for a while and the recent rain hadn’t help to wash the grime away. As Anton pulled into the lot at Jimmy’s, he caught a glimpse of Shelton and Randy beside a vending machine near the garage.
Anton parked and rolled down his window. The roar of the automated carwash machines drowned out the sound of what appeared to be a rather intense discussion. Anton leaned forward straining to hear what Randy was telling Shelton. Suddenly Randy grabbed Shelton’s collar and pushed him against the vending machine. Shelton jerked free of Randy’s grasp and picked something up off the ground. Randy threw up his hands and walked away. Shelton did not see Anton approaching as he walked back towards the service window.
“Hey Shelton,” yelled Anton.
He didn’t answer. Anton called out again. No answer. Shelton quickly tucked whatever he had picked up into his front pants pocket and headed down an alley. Anton chased after him. He rounded the corner just in time to see Shelton make a sharp right down the backside of the hardware store next to Jimmy’s. Anton ignored the dirty splatters on his white sneakers and blue jeans as he pounded through puddles of filthy water. Still within sight, Anton called out to Shelton once again.
“Shelton! Stop, I just want to talk to you.”
Shelton turned to look behind. Nearly out of breath, he stumbled over abandoned crates and tumbled head first into a pile of wet soggy garbage. Six more strides and Anton pounced on top of Shelton to hold him down. They struggled against each other, tumbled left then right. Filthy garbage was flung into the air and rained its stench down on them. Shelton wriggled on his back and took a swing at Anton. He missed but Anton landed a blow straight beneath the ribcage. Shelton quickly surrendered in defeat, doubled over in breathless pain. After a spell of hacking and coughing, Shelton rolled over to his back. A big lump had popped out on the right side of his forehead. Anton stood looking down at him.
“Stand up Shelton,” demanded Anton.
Shelton moaned and complained as he tried to lift himself out of the pile of garbage that he had fallen into. He staggered a little but regained his balance. A thin trickle of blood played down the side of his face where he had scraped it on the concrete. The lump stood out prominently and had turned red with a touch of purple speckles around it.
“Why did you run from me Shelton?”
“I wish you guys would just leave me alone. I just want out.”
“You and Randy pinchin’ some property on your own? Is that what he was talkin’ to you about just now at the vending machine?” asked Anton.
“What? No. No. I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about. Things are getting confusing now,” stuttered Shelton.
Anton stepped closer to Shelton. Shelton retreated from his intrusion. Anton continued forward forcing Shelton to put his back to the wall.
“I don’t trust you Shelton. You two need to drop it right now or leave.”
Shelton didn’t answer.
Anton turned and walk back towards Jimmy’s. He wiped the sweat from his clean shaven head and brushed away some of the muck from his jeans but the stains remained. Two slots in the automated car wash area had opened up now. He pulled his phone and tapped the number assigned to Junior.
“Hello,” answered Junior.
“Something is definitely goin’ on with Shelton and Randy,” said Anton.
“You sound a little worked up. What happened?”
Anton hastily filled Junior in on the details of his encounter with Randy and Shelton.
“And to top it all off, Malcolm called D yesterday,” said Anton.
“Malcolm called,” said Junior flatly. “What did he want?”
“Nothing really. Just to tell us hello and that he’ll see us soon.”
“Alright Anton, I’ll handle it from here. Don’t you go chasing after either of those two.”
Before Anton could respond, Junior abruptly disconnected the line.
Posted 12 July 2013 - 12:40 PM
Posted 25 July 2013 - 06:50 PM
Breakfast was cut short. The whole business about Randy and Shelton had left a bad taste in Junior’s mouth. The call from Malcolm came completely out of left field and sounded more like a threat than anything else. Junior beckoned for the server. He dropped a single bill on the table and left Tucker’s through the side entrance.
Cameron was outside his apartment complex applying a coat of wax to the hood of his SUV when Junior pulled up beside him. Cameron eyed him with a big smile slapped on his face. Junior stepped out of his car into the glaring morning sun.
“How did the red-head treat you last night?” asked Cameron as he continued to wipe at the hood.
“Just fine. But she left this morning before I could thank her,” said Junior. Anyway, that’s not important right now.”
Junior filled Cameron in on most of the details about Malcolm’s telephone call and Anton’s suspicions about Randy and Shelton. Cameron didn’t seem to be too concerned about either situation.
“I think Malcolm is simply ticked off about spending five years of his life locked up. Randy and Shelton smoke too much pot. They act strange. No big deal,” said Cameron.
“I’m not real sure what to think,” said Junior. “I need to have a little chat with both of them. I need to know why all of a sudden Shelton is feeling like this. We’ll just have to wait and see with Malcolm.”
“So what are you gonna do now?” asked Cameron.
“I’ll give Shelton a little time to cool down before I try to call him. Or, I may just go out looking for the both of them.”
“I’ll be hanging close to home the rest of the day. Call me if you need an extra pair of eyes.”
Most of the morning had past and the temperature had begun to rise. Junior got back in his car and headed home. He clicked on the air conditioner for a little relief from the heat and humidity. His place, overlooking the North Janter River, was only a few blocks from where Cameron lived. He parked on Dalton St. and took the elevator up to his 5th floor apartment.
It was almost 3 o’clock when Junior turned off the television and tried once more to reach Randy. Still, no answer. He had tried to reach Shelton several times to no avail. He quickly dialed Cameron’s number hoping he was still home.
This is Cam. Tell me something good.
Straight to voice mail. Where is he? “Hey Cam it’s Junior. If you are still home, give me a yell.”
Junior walked out onto his terrace and laid his phone down on the terracotta table. The afternoon heat was almost unbearable. The sun bounced a blinding glare of the river as Junior gazed out over the city. Junior was just about to go back inside when his phone rang. He eagerly looked at the caller ID. It was Cameron so he connected the line.
“Hey buddy,” said Junior.
“I have a bad feeling that Anton is right. I’m going out to look for those two. You wanna come along?”
“I sure do.”
“You’re gonna have to drive but I’ll meet you at your place.”
Junior pulled the curtains to the terrace and headed downstairs. His car was waiting for him near the curb on Dalton St. Cameron’s apartment was a twelve block straight shot down Dalton and Junior was moving with a purpose. He clipped an orange pickup truck in front of him as he attempted to pass on his right. Horns honked and wheels squealed as Junior ripped down Dalton St. The more he thought about Shelton and Randy the more agitated Junior became.
Moments later Cameron saw Junior’s car bouncing and swerving into his apartment complex parking area. Junior parked in the guest parking area and quickly found a seat inside Cameron’s blue SUV. Nearly out of breath, and heart pounding, Junior pulled the door shut and Cameron quickly left the parking lot.
“What the heck is going on Junior?”
“Just find Randy,” demanded Junior. He better tell me the truth. I’ve been calling Shelton most of the afternoon and the punk never picked up.”
“Come on man, calm down and stop beating up my dash.”
“Shelton is guilty about something and I want to know what it is. Let’s take a look around at the office first.”
Junior kept his eyes wide and focused on the right side of the street while Cameron scanned the left side. Main St was deserted. A few late lunch stragglers made their way out restaurants and into their cars. No sign of Randy’s black SUV anywhere. Cameron made a left turn onto Blunt Avenue. He pulled into the back lot and cut the engine. The office seemed quiet, nothing unusual.
Junior let out a long almost undetectable sigh. "Let’s check his apartment."
Posted 31 July 2013 - 12:43 AM
Mondy St. loomed ahead. Cameron made a right turn and a few blocks later he and Junior were in front of Randy’s dilapidated apartment building. They stared up and through the windshield at his 3rd floor apartment. There was no sign that anyone was home. The windows were down and the blinds were pulled shut.
Cameron circled the block. They did not see his SUV parked anywhere. The alley ways were empty except for overflowing trash dumpsters and an occasional drunken bum.
“Park and let’s go inside,” said Junior.
Cameron found an empty parking space a block down from Randy’s building. He and Junior walked back and entered through the back entrance. Apartment 3C was at the end of a narrow dimly lit hallway. Junior tried the door. It was lock.
“I feel like breaking this door in and then breaking Shelton and Randy if they’re in there,” said Junior as he wiped beads of sweat from his forehead.
Junior banged at the door with his fist. He called out for Randy to open the door. No answer. He took a deep breath and stepped back ready to bash the lock with the heel of his western styled boot.
“Hold on man,” said Cameron as he stepped between Junior and Randy’s apartment door. “I really don’t think they’re here. You wanna go over to Covington? We might find both of them over at Shelton’s place.”
Junior settled back and thought twice about breaking in the door. “Come on let’s get out of this dump. He should spend his money on a better place to live and be less of a pothead.”
A quick trip across The South Janter Bridge and to the Westside of Covington, Cameron and Junior were right in the middle of gang territory. The Covington Kings controlled this part of town. Young men with white t-shirts and gold bandanas lurked in every corner. Shelton never left his stumping ground after leaving the gang years ago. His apartment is on the 18th floor of building 238 in the Tom Wells Projects. Cameron pulled into a small parking lot outside of Shelton’s building.
“You wanna go up?” asked Cameron.
“You stay with your truck. I’ll ask around. His old friends will be quick to give him up.”
“Alright. I’ll circle around.”
Junior walked towards the entrance to building 238. The first couple of Kings he asked didn’t know Shelton. The next one hadn’t seen him for two days. Junior was about to pull the door to go inside when his phone rang. It was Cameron so he answered.
“I see Randy’s truck parked at the QwikMart.”
“Are you sure?” asked Junior.
“I just caught a glimpse of him going in but I’m pretty sure that’s his SUV. I’m over on Trenton Ave.”
“Stay there. I’m on my way.”
Junior jammed the phone into his front pants pocket as he hurried to meet up with Cameron. He cut between the buildings, correcting his balance after stumbling on a wooden crate. He bumped and jostled his way through a small crowd in a back lot. Gasping for breath, Junior scrambled over a fence and landed on a slick grassy hillside running along Trenton Ave. He spotted Cameron’s blue SUV parked a few yards away. He carefully maneuvered a cascade of concrete steps that ended at street level. Breathing heavily, Junior pulled open the door and eased into the front passenger seat.
“Go over there and stay off to the side,” panted Junior.
Junior and Randy sat there and watch customer after customer leave the store. Finally Randy showed up in line with an armful of items so Cameron cut the engine and they got out and stood near the exit and waited. Moments later Randy pushed through the outdoor with two bags full of what looked like sandwiches and something to drink. He hadn’t noticed Junior and Cameron. A low calm voice called out.
“Hey Randy,” said Junior.
Startled, Randy turned quickly towards the direction of Junior.
“Surprised to see me?”
Randy said nothing.
“Let’s talk in your truck.”
Randy shuffled back and forth from foot to foot. He still hadn’t said anything. Then he spotted Cameron who was still standing near the exit doors. Randy exchanged suspicious glances with Cameron and then Junior. He almost looked like he wanted to run. After a short while, Randy gestured for Junior to get in and he headed over to the driver’s side.
“You’re a hard man to find Randy. Tell me what’s goin’ on with Shelton.”
Randy’s eyes shifted away from Junior’s glare. His lips parted slightly but nothing came out.
“Don’t look at your feet Randy. Look at me and tell me what’s going on with Shelton,” demanded Junior.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was laid up with some woman all day.”
“Well, what were you two arguing about over at Jimmy’s this morning? You and Shelton dippin’ in the pot? Doing some jobs on the side?” asked Junior in a determined tone.
“No, we’re not,” snapped Randy. The Kings are still bothering him and it’s really gettin’ to the guy. He owes them money for some pot that he never sold.”
“Get it together Randy. If Shelton is still dealing with the Kings, I don’t want him working for me. You tell him that when you see him.”
Junior left Randy sitting in his truck at the QwikMart not convinced that he had told the entire truth. He and Cameron made their way back to West Haven where a cool breeze was blowing in off the Janter River. Junior had to push this situation far away. He needed a clear frame of mind to prepare for the upcoming job.
Posted 31 July 2013 - 10:09 AM
I am enjoying this, but one thing that comes to mind is the characters. I haven't read it for a while, and i've almost forgotten the characters. I don't find them memorable. I don't remember you describing them, or giving an insight into them. When you introduce a character, what do they look like? What's unique about them? Give the reader something they'll remember - (i use the following cliches as example, not suggestions) an eye patch, or a wooden leg, bright red hair. I'm reading and seeing these names, and tbh i can't remember who the hell they are. I remember Malcolm (in jail) and Junior, but Cameron? I think it'd benefit you if you gave the reader more. Do any have accents? If so, can you convey that?*
*A southern US accent for example could include the words "y'all" or "Git" instead of "get" - you want to be careful using these, however; they make the speech obviously unique but too much or too obscure and the reader will be confused.
"Well howdy y'all," Dave said in his Louisiana brogue. "I do believe it's time we git gone."
Now i'm not saying make every character's speech gimmicky, but I think a little more to make them memorable would help.
You mention Randy and Shelton smoking too much pot - could their speech and actions reflect that? are they laidback ("Yeah man....") or paranoid (constantly looking around, on edge in their speech) or maybe had ticks (jerks of the head or limbs, or even speech, almost like tourettes)
I gotta say though, im feeling the city. Where is it set? Real or fictional? If the latter, I'd personally love to see a map of the place. You mention these roads and locations (which i commend you for) but to me, it means nothing. It's implying the location, but because whatever city this is i do not know, as nice as the detail is, it means little. Stating the city early on would be a good idea imo (unless you did and i missed it).
|Junior walked out onto his terrace and laid his phone down on the terracotta table. The afternoon heat was almost unbearable. The sun bounced a blinding glare of the river as Junior gazed out over the city. Junior was just about to go back inside when his phone rang. He eagerly looked at the caller ID. It was Cameron so he connected the line.|
Two things. Firstly: the first three sentences i really liked. The "Junior was about to go back..." however, Is a little too much "tell" and not enough "show"
Instead, show us:
The sunlight was beginning to tire his eyes, so he turned to go back inside and fetch his shades, perhaps fix a cocktail and enjoy the weather - yeah right; he had too much to think about.
As he turned to his abode, he felt the vibration of his cell and a moment later, the audible ring. He eagerly looked at the Caller ID. It was Cameron. He sighed in relief and answered.
A rule of thumb for any writing is to show and not tell. Don't tell me "Dave drunk his beer."
Show me "Dave cracked open the can and almost inhaled the first drag of beer. He swallowed it with a pleased sigh, his eyes shut in appreciation of the well deserved drink."
I remember this being discussed in the old social club:
|“What the heck is going on Junior?”|
There should be a comma here.
|“What the heck is going on, Junior?”|
|“Just find Randy,” demanded Junior, lashing out with his palms on the dashboard. He better tell me the truth. I’ve been calling Shelton most of the afternoon and the punk never picked up.”|
“Come on man, calm down and stop beating up my dash.”
I added in a section here because Cameron says for junior to stop beating up his dash, yet you do not show him doing so.
|Main St was deserted. A few late lunch stragglers made their way out restaurants and into their cars.|
Instead I would do:
|Main St was almost deserted; a few late lunch stragglers made their way out restaurants and into their cars, but the street was ominously quiet. There was no sign of Randy's black SUV.|
(Note my insertion of "there was"
|Junior let out a long, almost undetectable sigh. "Let’s check his apartment."|
I'm not sure "almost undetectable" works here if i'm honest.
Firstly, I personally dislike seeing "Mondy St." I feel it's lazy, like saying "24 hours ago." Instead, I think "Mondy Street" and "Twenty-four hours ago" look much neater and more professional, and just less lazy but that's just my opinion. I've seen "24 hours" in published books, even though i dislike it.
The next sentence, I think could do with some commas: Cameron made a right turn and, a few blocks later, he and Junior were in front of Randy’s dilapidated apartment building.
Is "Apartment 3C" a nod to GTA Vice City btw?
As said, there still needs to be a read-through on your part, for you to find the parts you've missed out punctuation and correct the little things, but they are, at least, all little things. This is coming along nicely, and although there still isn't much happening (in the sense that so far people have spoken and looked for someone), I find it very entertaining. When sh*t starts to hit the fan and things really start moving, I'm sure this is gonna be a wild ride!
Posted 01 August 2013 - 12:06 AM
I see your point about being able to remember the characters through something that stands out about them. As far as "much happening", I'm trying to keep it the way things might happen in real life and I don't know how to put something happening that's not happening if you know what I mean. Suggestions.
The setting is Pace City. I mentioned it in Chapter 1, the second paragragh after the first block of dialogue. I haven't mentioned the name of the city since. It is mentioned again later in the story. "Apartment 3C" is a coincidence.
I am having the worst time proofing. I thought I had caught all the missed punctuations. I'll try harder. Thanks.
Posted 01 August 2013 - 10:04 AM
You have to learn to he objective - you've got to be a dick enough to tear through it, but trying too hard to do so because it's you.
I must have missed the city name! Either way i like how you've got the detail of street names and districts and even that apartment fire - i really liked that. I wondered if it was related to the story, or just a random event. (don't clarify that!)
Characters: It's a little too late in the story to begin the descriptions of them. Such things are small, subtle things, seeded early on and alluded to throughout. Suddenly describing a character in length midway through the story would probably be weird, but you can put in small details ("Yes," he said, stroking the grey bristles on his chin.) but the chance to place the original seeds is gone. For next time, though.
My best advice to proofing is this:
When you've written a chapter, set it aside and work on the next. Come back to the chapter after a week or so, when your mind is clear and fresh. Read through it and split your proof up. Firstly read through it, checking for spelling and punctuation. Then go through it checking tense and viewpoint* (i haven't noticed any issues of this in this story to be fair). Then, leave it a week again. Come back to it and read through it AGAIN. Split it if need be, but check for spelling, punctuation, tense etc. Each proof read you do, you'll likely edit things - adding a sentence or scene, tweaking speech... Everytime you do any changes, set it aside for a while before reading it again.
Then when you've gone through it thoroughly, upload that bad boy.
Not necessarily a week, though, a few days might suffice, but patience is the key.
The paradoxical risk, however, is doing this too much. You could edit the chapter 500 times and you'll never achieve perfection (it does not exist). You want one or two, maybe three edits - hell you might even need ten (it might be a particularly bad chapter). But you can overdo it, so think of it as cooking - adding chili, for example. Throwing in a small pinch will add some dimension. Throwing in a larger pinch will add more. But put too much in and you lose flavour and get nothing but spice. Every chapter will need different amount of editing, and you don't want the reader thinking "this feels artificial".
As a rule of thumb, you need between 1 or 2 proofreads, or if you're not too good with it, maybe 3.
*Tense is obvious - past present and future.
Viewpoint is something I've had problems with in the past. Imagine your story as a film. Where is the camera? In one character's head? By the side, watching from a fixed position? An omnipresent camera floating through walls? It's best to stick to one of these. your story has many characters so the first "in head" may not be the best option.
It doesn't matter what one you choose but here's my problem:
In Justice in Flames, the "camera" is predominantly in Niko's head, and in Johnny's. (and Luis). Their thoughts and concerns are shared. But what, say, Little Jacob thinks, the reader is not shown, because that "camera" is not in his head.
The problem came about when I switched to two random (D'Amico and Greenhorn) guy and shared their thoughts. The story follows Niko, then for no reason, the camera jumps to another guy... it didn't quite work, so just be aware of where the "camera" is and you should avoid this easily.
Posted 10 August 2013 - 11:05 PM Edited by albanyave, 16 August 2013 - 12:06 AM.
Junior placed his hand over his eyes to block the intrusion of the morning sun. Streaks of yellow light inched through his bedroom blinds and played across his face and chest. Last night Junior relentlessly paced his bedroom floor as his head swirled with thoughts of the upcoming job that he, Randy and Anton had to do and everything that could go wrong. This morning he laid there thinking of Shelton and how Anton was right by not trusting him from the start. Junior soon pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind and rolled out of bed and showered before leaving for work.
An overturned Pace City Utility truck blocked south bound traffic on Main Street that caused Junior to be slightly late getting to the office. He pulled into the back lot and parked near the entrance. Anton and Randy had already arrived. Junior snatched up his briefcase, locked the car door and headed inside. The office was quiet and smelled of freshly brewed coffee and hot biscuits. Anton and Randy were in the kitchen rustling through breakfast bags from The Main Street Kitchen when Junior entered. Some tension from Randy was still evident as he quickly moved to the other side of the room to place the orange juice inside the refrigerator.
No sign of Shelton. I guess he got the message, thought Junior as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Good morning guys. What’s in the bags? Smells good.”
Anton chimed in, “Randy bought us some sausage and egg sandwiches, egg sandwiches, Hash browns, and orange juice.”
“Just what I need. Toss me a sausage-and-egg, Randy.”
Randy quietly sifted through the pile of sandwiches. He found one and tossed it to Junior. Junior caught it one-handed and sat down at the kitchen table. A puff of steam escaped from the foil as Junior pulled the wrapping from the sandwich. It was hot and juicy, just how he liked it. Anton grabbed another sandwich and moved on to the front office leaving Junior alone with Randy.
“I take it you’ve spoken with Shelton since the last time we talked?”
“I have,” answered Randy as he looked off into the distance.
“I hope you have a good understanding of my expectations.”
“Ok. Nothing else needs to be said. Let’s put this behind us and move on to the day's business. I’ll speak with Shelton later.”
Randy quickly finished his sandwich and joined Anton in the front office. Junior could hear Anton on the phone confirming a service call with a customer so he gobbled down the remainder of his sandwich and washed the stickiness from his hands before moving on to the office area. His desk was just as he left it on Friday. He keyed in his password to open up the company worksheet and printed out four work orders. Anton retrieved the copies from the printer and took a moment to check for correctness then handed them to Randy. Seeming to be satisfied, Randy tucked the papers inside his portfolio and he and Anton left by the back exit.
Half the day had passed when Junior plucked the black data stick from Anton’s desk drawer. The purple clover on the rear panel gleamed under the bright florescent lights. Junior connected the device to his computer and waited for the files to load. The screen flickered and a list of names with corresponding locations appeared. He typed the keyword PAIGE in the small search box at the top of the page and a short list of customers appeared. Junior scanned down and double-clicked on PAIGE, Carolyn O. The screen switched to a customer history with contact information situated at the top left corner of the document. Junior picked up the receiver and tapped in the phone number and waited for a pick up on the other end.
“Hello,” said a trembling weak sounding voice.
“Is Ms. Paige available?” asked Junior.
“This is Ms. Paige. Who’s calling please?”
“This is Junior Pettera at All Day Security...”
“Oh,” said Ms. Paige abruptly.
“Don’t worry, nothing’s wrong,” said Junior reassuringly.
“That’s good to hear. So, how can I help you?”
“I’ve been reviewing your customer history and it’s time for another courtesy visit. I was wondering if I could send a crew out tomorrow to check your system. No charge of course. We want to make sure everything is still operating properly.”
“Oh dear, I’m leaving for the airport in about an hour to visit my sister in Great Falls and I’ll be gone for two whole weeks.”
“That’s ok ma’am,” said Junior as he leaned back in his chair with a devious grin pinned on his face. We’ll schedule when you get back. Just give us a call. You have a safe trip and try to have fun.”
“Thank you and I will. Goodbye.”
“The old broad has a bad habit of leaving town the same time every year,” said Junior as he disconnected the line. “Too bad for her, but not for me.”
Posted 13 August 2013 - 02:56 PM
|QUOTE (albanyave @ Saturday, Aug 10 2013, 23:05)|
|Anton chimed in, “Randy bought us some sausage sandwiches, egg sandwiches, sausage and egg sandwiches, hash rounds, and orange juice.”|
This doesn't work for me. It's too long winded, saying the same thing. Instead, consider "Randy bought us some sausage and egg sandwiches, Hash Browns, and orange juice."
Or even "...bought us some sandwiches - sausage, egg, and both. Hash Browns and orange juice, too."
I find it useful to say your dialogue out loud. SPEAK it, and ask yourself, does it sound like someone's actually talking, or it's being read? How would you say it? How would this character say it? the word "Sarnie" for example, or "OJ". The way you wrote it, while not wrong, seems too exact for me. Better to give the reader a little room to breath.
|“Just what I need. Toss me a sausage and egg Randy.”|
This is something that was discussed in the Writers' Room (or maybe the old Social Club). The conclusion was that there should be a comma before Randy's name:
"Toss me a sausage-and-egg, Randy."
It was said that this works much better and flows better. Say it out loud: "Toss me a sausage and egg Randy." It's almost robotic: "tossmeasasaugeandeggrandy." Just one drone.
Add the comma and there's a very slight break, as if you're addressing someone:
"Toss me a sausage and egg, Randy." If you say this line out loud, you'll notice a very, very slight change in tone when you say the name. The comma does that.(The same applies later when Junior says "That's ok, ma'am.")
I added hyphens because it breaks it up a bit more and makes a distinction between the type of sandwich and the rest of the sentence: "Toss me a [sausage-and-egg], Randy" Otherwise it could be read as : "Toss me a sausage and [an] egg, Randy." Almost like it's two separate items. The hyphens make it one.
|It was hot and juicy just how he liked it.|
A comma or semi colon or even an em-dash would fit well here:
It was hot and juicy, just how he liked it.
It was hot and juicy; just how he liked it.
It was hot and juicy – just how he liked it.
The comma or em-dash work best here. The semi colon would work the other way round:
It was just how he liked it; hot and juicy.
|“Ok. Nothing else needs to be said. Let’s put this behind us and move on to the days’ business. I’ll speak with Shelton later.”|
A note about the apostrophe in "days"
I'm thinking it should be "day's" - day being singular. Unless you're referring to multiple days, in which case days' would work, but in the context of this sentence, i think it's the former.
The soldier's gun was heavy. Singular. That one soldier's gun.
The soldiers' guns were heavy. Plural; referring to many at once.
|“Too bad for her but good for me.|
Another comma missing.
Too bad for her, but not for me.
Again, read it out loud and you'll see the subtle difference.
Now all the pedantic crap that my OCD can't ignore (i don't really have ocd, but you get what i mean):
I really enjoy the language you're using. The opening passage about the sun was nice. I liked the characterisation you used on the sun, as it inched across the floor - however, this made me imagine the sun rising, the light slowly seeping in. Light itself travels almost instantly, so light from an already risen sun "inching" across the floor is countering your description. Instead perhaps "flooding" would work better. When I wake up and pull open the curtains, it's a sudden flash of light, not a subtle or slow change. consider this.
On the whole, I'm enjoying it. I'm not sure why as it lacks that element of excitement. There's something in the background though - something's coming maybe? I keep thinking of Malcolm and how pointless he feels so far. My mind is telling me he'll return in a major way.
Keep it up, though man.
Posted 30 August 2013 - 05:14 PM
A cargo van gently cut through the streets of Pace City gleaming from the steady rainfall washing over a midnight blue paint job. The roads were slick and the street lights danced like glitter across the highway. The three occupants sat quietly as the wipers thudded against the windshield in a desperate attempt to beat back sheets of pouring rain. The driver took a left onto Palmore Avenue and continued on past Cramer High School on a determined route north. He had not noticed the unmarked PCPD car following since Blunt Avenue.
Detectives Stokes and McBride sat in a gray car parked along Cain Street in the residential area of Chester Heights. The two had set up surveillance of the rear entrance to 1748 Weeble Road several hours ago. Detectives Peters and Jenkins covered the front. It was a miserable night for a steak-out. The persistent pounding of the rain on the car roof drowned out any sounds of the neighborhood. The rain streaked windshield turned ordinary objects into bizarre images.
“Where are these clowns?” asked Detective McBride as he wiped at the passenger side window to clear away some of the accumulated moisture. “They should have been here by now.”
“Just sit tight. We haven’t heard anything from the tail so the plan is still in motion,” said Detective Stokes.
“You think this is gonna work?” asked McBride.
“We’ve done it a thousand times. Let’s hope it works tonight,” replied Stokes as he took another bite of his roast beef sandwich.
The residential area of Chester Heights was just another mile north. Carolyn O. Paige owned the property situated at 1748 Weeble Road. It was 11:15pm when a cargo van slowly circled this location twice and finally parked on a nearby Pace City Waste Management access road. Detective Stokes peered through his field glasses to get a better view. The driver cut the engine and doused the lights.
The house at 1748 Weeble Road was clearly visible from the access road. Junior Pettera pulled his binoculars to take a quick look around at the back side of the property. The rain had slacked substantially. Satisfied that nothing seemed out of place, he returned the glasses to his bag. Junior gave Anton Young the nod to terminate security protocol. A few keystrokes later the house sat vulnerable to penetration. Randy Strouse sat in the front passenger seat securing his tools and digital sensors. No lock was safe tonight.
The side door to the van slid open first. The two front doors quietly click open next. Three darkly dressed figures emerged into the rainy night. Cloaked by the darkness, the men quickly made their way across the road and settled behind a row of hedges that ran along the back side of the property. Crouching low, Junior led the way to the back patio as he wiped away rain streaming down his face. Hesitating for a moment, each listened for any sign of trouble.
“88 to 112, come back,” said Detective Stokes.
The radio crackled, “112 here.”
“The targets are entering through the rear. We’re gonna move up. Wait for our call.”
Randy moved forward to the back door. He checked the knob. Surprised that the storm door was left unlocked, Randy quickly pulled it open and slid in closer. He reached on the inside pocket of his coveralls for the exact tool. He knew them by touch. He made quick work of the lock and the three men disappeared inside and closed the door.
Detectives Stokes and McBride quickly exited the car. They moved towards the home approaching the right rear cautiously. The steady rainfall covered the sound of their advancing footsteps. Detective Stokes could see that the three men had made it to the patio. The storm door was ajar. The main door soon popped open and the three men scurried inside.
Hidden behind an old oak tree, Stokes called once again to Detectives Peters and Jenkins.
“You got 112 here,” said Peters.
“Targets are inside the home. Repeat. Targets are inside the residence. Call for back up and tell those guys to keep it quiet. We don’t want our cover blown.”
Junior placed a black light on a nearby table and switched it on. There was enough light to illuminate the elegance of the room. A hand woven decorative rug was laid in the center of a beautifully polished hardwood floor. The brilliant gleam of cut glass ornaments adorned the built-in shelves. Junior smiled with delight.
“Man, I’d like to live here one day,” said Anton as he patted his rain soaked coveralls with a towel. “I would give up my little apartment in Longview in a hot minute.”
“I kinda like my little run down place,” said Randy.
“Alright, enough daydreaming. Let’s get to work,” interrupted Junior. “Randy, she keeps the safe upstairs in her bedroom. Anton, you’re with me in the attic.”
The three men finished toweling off and each grabbed a black light as they moved on down a hallway leading towards the front of the house. The staircase was situated up ahead and off to the left.
Detectives Stokes and McBride crouched low and moved silently towards the patio. Stokes stopped instantly when he caught the reflection of red and blue lights bouncing of the side of the house. Stokes cursed under his breath as he radioed Peters and Jenkins.
Stokes’ voice strained with tension. “112, if that’s our black and white, tell them to cut the lights and move away.”
“You see that?” asked Randy as he instinctively squatted near the staircase.
Standing as stiff as a statue behind Randy, Junior whispered, “I see it.”
“What’s goin’ on man?” asked Anton nearly dropping his black light.
No one moved or said anything for what seemed like an eternity. They watched the red and blue strobe lights flicker off and heard the cruiser quickly move away. A sharp piercing ringtone broke the silence. Junior clumsily fumbled for his phone, jerking it from an inside pocket and answered to quiet the noise.
“Hello,” answered Junior with a choked quivering voice.
“Hey partner. You sound a little unsteady.” said the other voice.
“Who is this?” demanded Junior.
“I’ll let you figure it out. But it’s your turn now.”
The black light slipped slowly from Junior’s hand as he stepped from behind Randy and slowly walked towards the window facing Weeble Avenue. “Malcolm?” whispered Junior in disbelief.
“Glad you still recognize my voice after five years. You know you really shouldn’t have trusted Shelton. He got a hold of your little data stick and took it to the cops. I think I told him to do that,” said Malcolm matter-of-factly.
Junior almost collapsed. He stumbled and fell heavily against the wall as he continued to listen. Anton and Randy saw that something was wrong. Junior breathed heavily and pulled at his rain soaked hair. He pulled back the curtain to see two men moving quickly towards the house with their service weapon in hand.
A bang came at the door before Junior had time to release the curtain; “PCPD!” announced a loud boisterous voice. “We’re coming in”
“Sounds like you have company,” said Malcolm. “I’ll let you go.”
The front door splintered and the bolts rattled from one thunderous kick from Detective Peters. A second battering allowed Peters to push shoulder first into the living room with Detective Jenkins right on his heels. The bright beams from their flashlights bounced wildly around the room. Peters caught a darkly dressed figure standing near one of the front windows with something in his right hand.
“Get down! Down on the floor,” yelled Peters as he advanced with his service weapon leading the way.
The other two men dashed towards the rear entrance, black lights thrown to the floor, as Jenkins chased after them. The back door flew open. The men stopped dead in their tracks as a blinding light swept across their faces.
“Freeze! On the floor right now,” bellowed Detective Stokes.
The two men put their hands above their head in defeat and slowly drifted to the floor with their eyes closed.
With the suspects apprehended at the rear of the home, Detective McBride found and switched on a light in the living room. Detective Peters had the other suspect down on his knees with his hands behind his head starring down the barrel of his service weapon.
“Identify yourself,” demanded Peters.
The suspect narrowed his eyes and spit the words out through clenched teeth, “I am Junior Pettera.”
“Junior Pettera, you are under arrest for the unlawful entry of the residence located at 1748 Weeble Road. Anything you say…”
Detective Peters’ voice trailed off as Junior felt the cold hard steel of handcuffs wrapping around his wrists and locking into place.
Posted 02 September 2013 - 02:52 PM
"The rain streaked windshield..."
Change that to "The rain-streaked windshield..."
Because the former, how you wrote it, almost looks like "streaked" is an active verb, saying the rain streaked down the window" Where as you clearly mean the window was streaked with rain. using a hyphen will make it easier to read as i read it as "The rain streaked (action) windshield... wait, what?"
"accumulated moisture" - i'd consider using "Condensation" instead - it's shorter and simpler, and is what you're talking about. Accumulated moisture sounds too awkward.
Also here, there's no need to keep saying who's talking. When two people are talking, you establish each speaker, and alternate.
" A few keystrokes later the house sat vulnerable to penetration"
I'm not sure why, but this didn't work for me. I think it's too formal. Too matter of fact. "vulnerable to penetration"
I'm not sure how to improve it, so perhaps it's just me being weird, but personal preference? I didn't like the last three words.
"The side door to the van slid open first. The two front doors quietly click open next."
Consider your tenses here. It's likely a mistype (click - clicked)
"Three darkly dressed figures emerged into the rainy night. Cloaked by the darkness, the men quickly made their way across the road and settled behind a row of hedges that ran along the back side of the property"
Here I can't help but feel you can cut this down a bit:
"Cloaked by the darkness, three darkly-dressed figures emerged into the rainy night, quickly making their way across the road, settling behind a row of hedges that ran along the back side of the property."
It might be a bit long-winded, so it might need breaking into 2 sentences, but i feel you're almost repeating yourself with the "three men... the men..."
"He reached on the inside pocket of his coveralls for the exact tool. He knew them by touch"
This is an example of the above:
"He reached inside his coveralls pocket for the exact tool, knowing them by touch."
"They moved towards the home approaching the right rear cautiously"
I think a comma is needed here:
"They moved towards the home, approaching the right rear cautiously."
Now the radio conversation between 88 and 112, I do not find realistic. "Come back" and "You got 112 here" - i've never heard such radio talk. It might pay off to research radio calls. Perhaps you have, and my knowledge is lacking here, but it doesnt feel right. It don't believe this dialogue.
For example, when he says "call for backup, and tell them to keep it quiet" - its a very roundabout way of doing it.
Instead I would do this:
"William eighty-eighty to dispatch."
"Dispatch copies, go ahead 'eighty-eight."
"Request backup at 1748 Weeble Road, Code Two. Three male suspects, likely armed."
The dispatch call echoed over his radio. "All available units Backup requested; One-Seven-Four-Eight Weeble Road, Code two. Suspects believed to be armed; proceed with caution."
However, consider this: if it's a stakeout, with intent on intervening, several police units will be parked around the corner. Instead of calling for backup, Stokes would simply give a "go" code. The operation would be pre-planned. He'd simply call "Execute Flytrap, Go! Go! Go!" (it might differ in the US, as it would over here in the UK, where the "go go go" call is famous!
Saying, that, that might be what you're going for. I'd recommend watching some episodes of COPS or other police reality shows - the radio can be heard in that. Or, if you've got the bravado, walk into your local police station, and simply ask!
Getting the radio chatter right will go a long way to getting the feel of it down. The rain, police stakeout... i'm getting a very slight police-noir feel, which may or may not be your intention, but you can hammer that home by throwing some detailed writing in.
I'm really glad you mentioned "toweling off"
I was thinking [i]if they're trying to be quiet and not be detected, as hinted by the "tools" that Randy has, then traipsing rain water everywhere will f*ck that up - think MGS! you've obviously thought that one out!
Get rid of the "situated" bit (the staircase was situated... Instead just say "the staircase was ahead". "Situated is not needed)
I can see an issue with the police car lights - IRL the call would be made for them to approach silently (Code 2 - no sirens or lights), so the warning would simply not be there. However, having Stokes NOT call in code two paints him as an amateur, a novice. I got the impression that he was experianced, thus he would radio in for Code 2.
Instead, perhaps, have the responding car be driven by a newbie, who forgot to turn off the lights and have Stokes say
"Dispatch, if that's our black and white, tell them to turn off the lights and back away. I said code two, dammit... amateurs." - have him remark on it or something. (I still don't quite get the "112" bit - is that another unit nearby or supposed to be dispatch? I think you need to consider WHO is coordinating this)
Next, the cops breach and say "we're coming in" which is wrong. Instead: "PCPD! PCPD!" Then, when they SEE the three men, they'd order their weapons down.
But again, I don't feel like these cops would raid the house. Three men, in a house, against two cops.... they'd use SWAT for that, and if it's a planned operation, they'd have SWAT staging around the corner, ready to hit the house.
TBH it simply doesnt work for me. Now, I could be wrong (although i don't think I am), but it doesn't seem accurate to me.
You have, however, satisfied my thirst for sh*t to happen. I've had a sense that something was coming, and this was it? It was good, but could have been better. As said, look into police routines more. I don't feel the cops would enter - especially before backup is there. They'd play it by the book, and call in the (already-waiting) SWAT team. Twenty seconds after that call, the door would be breached (likely with a breaching shotgun or sledgehammer) and they'd move in, shouting "PCPD!" and what have you. They'd likely shout to drop the weapons, but either way, the moment the police breach, the three men inside would be f*cked. unless they left the building when they saw the flashing lights, they'd be caught/shot.
I think you simply need to think about it a little more.
But that's not to say I didn't like it. It could have been a hugely tense and epic chapter, with tensions rising, the reader on the edge of the seat, but for me, personally, it didn't hit the spot.
Posted 02 September 2013 - 07:01 PM
Thanks for sticking with me since June. This has been a writing experience like no other that I have ever attempted. I really appreciate everything that you've shared with me. The good points as well as the areas that I needed to improve. All of your advice felt genuine. Thank you.
I tried to answer any questions that the reader might have by the end of a story and to put a little twist that I kind of hinted at earlier.
During the stake-out, Peters and Jenkins were covering the front entrance (unit 112) and I wanted it to feel like someone messed up since the black and white showed up with flashing lights. I liked how you said exactly what I wanted the reader to think. It will help if I listened to the radio calls on COPS.
I think now I am armed with the courage and know-how to write and write some more. Practice makes perfect.
Posted 02 September 2013 - 11:03 PM
RE the "f*ck up" - personally, I would have the backup unit f*ck up and have the other cops acknowledge it. But hey, done is done. The problem, as i see it, is that you failed to establish who the "novice" cops are and who the "experienced" cops are. Switching viewpoint to the cops, runs the risk of saturating the viewpoint, but in this case it worked as it showed the police f*ck-up, and thus the warning the three inside get. That's fine, but youve got a cop (stokes) who APPEARS experienced, making a very rookie mistake (NOT calling for a code 2/silent approach). I liked the line about "If that's my black and white, tell them to back off" - it showed his frustration, but also his composure enough that he didn't say "GOD DAMMIT!". That tells me that he's a vet'.
Therefore the arriving unit is the one who f*cked up - and this is where the research would pay off. Stokes would call for a silent approach, and the rookie cop that comes to help him, simply forgets. Stokes then makes the order to dispatch/the operation commander, and perhaps says to his colleague "Damned greenhorns!"
Still, i am enjoying this, and, well is this the end? Junior's in cuffs, so is that it? I kinda want more! I would like to see some of the fallout of this. Unlawful entry isn't a huge crime so it's plausible that he'd get off or an early release.
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