I'd like opinions on this piece of a story I wrote

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Tdarcos
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I'd like opinions on this piece of a story I wrote

Post by Tdarcos »

I think it works but I'd like suggestions, positive or negative. It's from a short story or book called The Takeover Man. I wish I had gotten the idea back in September, I could have done NaNoWriMo, as it is, in about a week or so I was so excited by the story I wrote 84 pages!


– The Takeover Man visits the County Jail –

He'd read in the news about a particular individual who had been arrested for bank robbery, and was being held in the Nadir County Jail before his arraignment. Bringing his mind control device along with him, he had the opportunity to interview the man at a table. Brought over to The guy, he says, "Are you my lawyer?"
"Not exactly. Are you interested in leaving this fine establishment?"
"Don't be fucking stupid, of course I would."
Pointing his device at the man, he informed him that he would do anything he told him, that when he got out of jail to call a certain number, and follow the instructions, and forget he was told this until he gets out of jail. Trivially easy it was (thanks to his device) to find out who he had to speak to, then instruct the appropriate members of the jail staff to mix up the paperwork between another inmate that was being released that afternoon and the gentleman that he had just spoken to, so as a result, the bank robber was released shortly thereafter. Shortly after that, the cell phone he had bought for $20 three days ago rang.
"At exactly 11:34 tomorrow morning you're going to rob the 14th & Robinson branch of Zenith National Bank. They'll have a lot of cash and no security guard. When you come out, you'll turn left, and there will be a man wearing a painter's outfit. Run into him and drop the cash, then grab as much of it as you can and run off. You will not shoot or hurt this man no matter what happens."
"Okay."
The guy hung up, and went to a paint supply store to purchase some supplies.

At 11:28 the next morning The guy is visiting his financial institution, which happens to be the branch of Zenith National Bank located at 1411 Robinson Street. He happens to be wearing a hairnet, a painter's cap, safety goggles, a respirator draped over his neck, and white coveralls. He goes in and withdraws the remainder of the $5000 that he borrowed, and gets it in small bills, mostly hundreds. He walks out of the bank

Exactly six minutes later a man comes in and demands money from a few of the tellers, presenting a small handgun as reason for payment. He gets a large amount of money, then runs out the door, turns left, and collides with The guy, dropping all of his money and knocking them both to the ground.

At this moment the dye pack explodes, spraying all over The guy, the money, the robber, the sidewalk, the building and everything else in range. The guy immediately puts the respirator on, gets up and runs out of range of the gas cloud. The robber grabs as much of the money as he could, then runs off. The bank manager comes over to The guy, apologetic about what had happened. Using his best impression of a man who is about as angry as an innocent victim, he pulls the respirator off his face, then proceeds to carve a new asshole into the bank manager.

"WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!" he screamed. "Look at this! I look like my clothes have the measles! I'm going to sue you sons-a-bitches and I'm gonna own this goddam bank! If I hadn't had my painter's respirator I'd probably have ended up in the fucking hospital! I just was coming back because I'm hiring a painting crew and needed smaller bills, he knocked me over and I don't know which of this was mine! Presuming I can use it now that it's all painted red! And it's not even a nice shade of red either!"

The branch manager has The guy come back into his office. The police would have to interview him anyway since he literally was a witness to the crime. He couldn't tell them much other than some guy ran into him and an alarm rang, "then some fucking bomb blew up in my face! I want to get your names so I can sue you, and I'm gonna have this all over the Channel 10 news!" The bank manager winced, he'd heard places had been bankrupted and in some other cases, people got fired after that station had targeted them in some of their investigative reports.

After a quick conversation with the bank's security and legal departments, the manager made an offer which was, for the bank, a not-very expensive agreement for The guy to sign a waiver of damages and a promise not to mention the incident to the media, in exchange for canceling his loan, and crediting his account $25,000. He said that would be acceptable. Not mentioning the wrapper under his clothes around his legs he used to store the original $5,000 he had on him.

He went home, washed the soap off his face and hands that kept the dye from sticking to him, threw away the goggles that kept the dye from getting in his eyes, the hairnet that kept his hair from becoming stained, and the painter's outfit. ("Not worse for wear,") he thought, about the only place he missed was the back of his neck. Buy some rouge or makeup like women wear to cover it and in a few weeks it will wear off. He was grateful when he interviewed the bank manager with the help of his device a bit earlier and discovered the dye pack has tear gas in it, and so he had the proper respiratory and eye protection.

Now, he has some serious money and can look into even more serious money.
"And as I try to make my way, to the ordinary world, somehow I will survive."
- Duran Duran, Ordinary World

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Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

I will get you some feedback this weekend.
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Plot Holes

Plot Hole #1

Post by Plot Holes »

If "The guy" has a mind control device strong enough to control a jailhouse prisoner and members of the jail staff, why wouldn't he just walk into the bank, point his device at a bank teller, and have her transfer half a million dollars into his bank account?

Plot Holes

Plot Hole #2

Post by Plot Holes »

Not that it would ever happen in the way you described, but what would be the point of having someone a note not to mention a bank robbery to the media? At 11:30am, my bank is standing room only. Unless you want to take leave from work to do your banking, you pretty much have to go during your lunch hour. The busiest time for most banks is from 11am-1pm. There most likely would have been at dozens of witnesses, including the other employees, all the other customers, and anyone standing on "Robinson" street who saw the dye pack explode.

Within minutes the police would be on site, long before a bank manager could (or would) talk to corporate and authorize a cash settlement over some dye-stained clothes. You forgot about the months of haggling with lawyers in there somewhere.

I've met at least two bank managers and neither one would let a dye-soaked stranger sit in any of their furniture or let them anywhere near their office.

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Re: Plot Hole #1

Post by Tdarcos »

Plot Holes wrote:If "The guy" has a mind control device strong enough to control a jailhouse prisoner and members of the jail staff, why wouldn't he just walk into the bank, point his device at a bank teller, and have her transfer half a million dollars into his bank account?
Because he's not greedy, doesn't want to get into anything too big all at once, and he's new at it. He is just getting started and wants more experience using it, since he's only done one person at a time. I'm glad you asked that, in fact I'll put the point into the story.
"And as I try to make my way, to the ordinary world, somehow I will survive."
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Re: Plot Hole #2

Post by Tdarcos »

Plot Holes wrote:Not that it would ever happen in the way you described, but what would be the point of having someone a note not to mention a bank robbery to the media?
I'm thinking he is being paid off so he wouldn't mention the Dye Pack Explosion on him to the media.
Plot Holes wrote:At 11:30am, my bank is standing room only. Unless you want to take leave from work to do your banking, you pretty much have to go during your lunch hour. The busiest time for most banks is from 11am-1pm. There most likely would have been at dozens of witnesses, including the other employees, all the other customers, and anyone standing on "Robinson" street who saw the dye pack explode.
Good point. I suppose I can move the time to earlier in the day, say right after the bank opens at 8:30. And you noticed the reference, it's sort of my "Hitchcock cameo" in the story (Alfred Hitchcock did small cameos in every one of his films.)
Within minutes the police would be on site, long before a bank manager could (or would) talk to corporate and authorize a cash settlement over some dye-stained clothes.
You forget, having the dye pack explode is assault and battery against the innocent customer, not merely getting his clothes stained. Think about it, if you are being robbed, and you shoot the robber with a shotgun, that's self defense. But if the pellets ricochet onto an innocent person, well, you wouldn't be liable criminally (you have the right to defend yourself), you could be sued for damages for the injury to the third party.
You forgot about the months of haggling with lawyers in there somewhere.

I've met at least two bank managers and neither one would let a dye-soaked stranger sit in any of their furniture or let them anywhere near their office.
Good point. I'll put in a thing about him stopping off at the bank's headquarters and giving a suggestion (via his device) to the bank's chief corporate legal counsel to route all calls regarding injuries to him, and then suggesting to the bank manager to ignore his stained clothes. I'll put it in that the guy could have done something simpler, but at some point he's going to have to use his mind control device to get people to do things, possibly complicated ones, so he's going to have someone try something. Then he gets the idea of having the bank robber try this.

Yeah, it's more complicated than robbing the bank directly or tricking them into giving him the money, but then, he's got cameras to deal with, possible photographs or video from nearby locations, and so on. No, far better to have someone else do it.

As far as the cops, your idea allows me to tie in something from a couple of videos on YouTube, "Never Talk to the Police" where a law professor tells you why you should never tell the police anything, and even if you're innocent it can get you in trouble. Then there's a rebuttal period where they have a detective from the Virginia Beach police, and he says the professor was exactly right on every point, and goes on to explain how he uses methods to get crooks to talk.

When the cops point out he's just a victim and he shouldn't have anything to hide, he can say, "Just tell that to the late Richard Jewel" and I can tie the story of that poor bastard and what happened to him just for doing his job.

I like your pointing out the holes and it will make my story better. Thanks.
"And as I try to make my way, to the ordinary world, somehow I will survive."
- Duran Duran, Ordinary World

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Post by AArdvark »

Why a bank? Why not blip an armored truck driver while he's making a pickup or something?

Dye pack dye will eat holes in clothes and money.



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Post by Tdarcos »

AArdvark wrote:Why a bank? Why not blip an armored truck driver while he's making a pickup or something?

Dye pack dye will eat holes in clothes and money.
Another reason for the bank to settle a claim. Actually I just like the idea of the robber hitting a bank as opposed to an armored car. I wonder if I should have thought of it considering Bill Murray does it in Groundhog Day.

Remember, I pointed out the bank has no security guard. Much softer target than an armored car with two guards. So I think the bank is a better target.

Goddamn it, that's even better! Just after the robbery, an armored car rolls up and The guy curses himself for not thinking of having the crook rob that instead. A lot less trouble and effort. It will make him think that he should consider shaving with Occam's Razor.

----
Nobody can get no sleep
There's someone on everyone's toes
But when Quinn The Eskimo gets here
Everybody's gonna want to doze.
- Manfred Mann's Band, The Mighty Quinn
"And as I try to make my way, to the ordinary world, somehow I will survive."
- Duran Duran, Ordinary World

The Happiness Engine

Re: Plot Hole #2

Post by The Happiness Engine »

Tdarcos wrote:You forget, having the dye pack explode is assault and battery against the innocent customer, not merely getting his clothes stained.
"There's a certain species of idiot who tries to semantically argue their way out of idiocy, and to this day they're confused about why their dictionaries haven't gotten them laid."

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Re: Plot Hole #2

Post by Tdarcos »

The Happiness Engine wrote:
Tdarcos wrote:You forget, having the dye pack explode is assault and battery against the innocent customer, not merely getting his clothes stained.
"There's a certain species of idiot who tries to semantically argue their way out of idiocy, and to this day they're confused about why their dictionaries haven't gotten them laid."
Ouch, I think I did that once. I said something in fun to a really nice lady, upset her, then my attempts to apologize upset her worse and she broke up with me. I sometimes wonder, if I hadn't messed up we'd probably still have been having sex several times a month for years. I was so upset about what I'd done that I stopped trying to date women for three years.

I don't get the point here. If you have a dye pack and it explodes on a crook, because it was the result of committing a crime, thus the person has some part of the fault involved, and thus is barred from collecting damages.

This is why in strict negligence states the defendant's lawyer in an auto accident case (usually an experienced insurance company employee or freelance defense counsel for insurers) will try to argue the plaintiff was in some way at fault; in those states even 1% fault by the plaintiff means the defendant owes them nothing. In comparative negligence states, the plaintiff's recovery is reduced by the % amount they are at fault.

Now, returning back to the exploding dye pack, a customer or a person walking along the street in front of the bank has no reason to expect something to blow up in his face, same as if he got covered in glass because a robber tried to blow open the safe and exploded all the windows into the street. The bank is liable because the injured party has no fault and did nothing to cause the incident to happen.

I just wrote the scene because I thought it was an interesting (and somewhat funny) plot twist. Most people probably don't even know this stuff and wouldn't care.

TV Guide reported that one time a tv show had a plot device where someone robs the coin box on a pay phone, and showed a guy doing it. The visual was so good someone used it to crack an actual pay phone and it worked, perfectly. The show neglected to mention that cracking a pay phone will trip the silent alarm to the telephone company, and he got arrested almost immediately.

I was watching a telephone company technician emptying coin boxes at a bank of telephones how he gets around the alarm, he was just opening the phones, dumping the boxes in the hopper, then returning the empty boxes and going to the next one. "Oh, the alarm goes off when I open them, too. But they know when my route takes me around to the various phones, so they know when it's me."
"And as I try to make my way, to the ordinary world, somehow I will survive."
- Duran Duran, Ordinary World

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Post by AArdvark »

Let's say that the robber would not make it to the sidewalk before the pack explodes, nor probably out of the building.

But enough about technicalities, back to the plot device. I would imagine that if I were to possess such a device as a mind control thingy that my aunt gave me that I don't know what it is, I would take the easiest course of action and use it at fast food drive thrus where I could blip the cashiers to hand out my order and all the money in the register. Eight or nine stops and there would be a similar amount in hand as would be in an average bank robbery. Plus all the McNuggets you can eat. Not as exciting as bank robbery though.


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Plot Holes

Post by Plot Holes »

I hope the police in this fictional town are as clueless as everyone else, for our "protagonist's" sake.

When the police arrive on the scene of this fictional crime, they're going to review the security tapes. When they review the tapes, they're going to recognize the bank robber as the same guy they had in jail the day before on bank robbery charges.

The police are also going to talk to The Guy, whether the bank manager paid him anything or not. When they do, it's not going to take a genius to realize that The Guy is the same guy that visited the known bank robber the day before in jail.

Cops aren't particularly bright, but they are thorough, and they recognize patterns and breaks in patterns. If I were a cop, the first person I would talk to would be the guy who happened to be standing there wearing a respirator when the tear gas went off. And, for our protagonist's sake, let's hope the cops have never read a book and that none of them know that "nadir" is the opposite of "zenith", otherwise they would know right where to start looking.

Plot Holes

Post by Plot Holes »

AArdvark wrote:I would take the easiest course of action and use it at fast food drive thrus where I could blip the cashiers to hand out my order and all the money in the register. Eight or nine stops and there would be a similar amount in hand as would be in an average bank robbery. Plus all the McNuggets you can eat. Not as exciting as bank robbery though.
Or you could just stand at the end of a drive-thru and convince the first driver of a Cadillac to hand over the keys and title to their car. That would net you both a $50,000 car AND some McNuggets.

Unfortunately, unlike the "Zenith" bank, most McDonald's have a security guard.

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Post by AArdvark »

Winner! Timer for a re-write, Captian!


These aren't the nuggets you're looking for...

These aren't my nuggets

Step out of your vehicle and walk away...

I'm getting out now, and walking away

To Bolivia

I'm walking to Bolivia now





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Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

Bringing his mind control device along with him, he had the opportunity to interview the man at a table. Brought over to The guy, he says, "Are you my lawyer?"

"Not exactly. Are you interested in leaving this fine establishment?"

"Don't be fucking stupid, of course I would."

Pointing his device at the man, [...]
What did he feel when the inmate swore at him?


Also! I noticed that you wrote "The guy" with a capital t lots. What was the reason for that, my friend?
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Post by Tdarcos »

AArdvark wrote:Let's say that the robber would not make it to the sidewalk before the pack explodes, nor probably out of the building.

But enough about technicalities, back to the plot device. I would imagine that if I were to possess such a device as a mind control thingy that my aunt gave me that I don't know what it is, I would take the easiest course of action and use it at fast food drive thrus where I could blip the cashiers to hand out my order and all the money in the register. Eight or nine stops and there would be a similar amount in hand as would be in an average bank robbery. Plus all the McNuggets you can eat. Not as exciting as bank robbery though.


THE
PINK SLIME
AARDVARK
Actually he does that earlier as a test, goes to 27 banks, gives them a $5 and convinces the teller to give him $500. Works every time. But it's just a test, he walks out of the bank, walks around the block, comes back, gives the teller the $500 and asks for his $5. (He doesn't want to get them fired or make it noticeable.)

I have decided to drop the bank robbery, or possibly make it into a dream sequence, realizes all the trouble it would cause, then he sees the armored car and decides that hitting that, then having the robber be the one who hits it a second time so that it looks like he stole all the money, is a better solution and much less risk. It even gives me the ability to do a shout-out to the Bill Murray scene doing the same thing in Groundhog Day.

I want to thank everyone here for the criticism, both positive and negative, you've allowed me to make the story stronger.

Hmm, I might just use the idea in an interactive fiction game, you get the option to try robbing a bank that way, and if you don't have all the proper equipment, the dye pack splatters you, or you get vision contaminated from tear gas, or can't breathe from the tear gas, or shot by the guard, or the robber, or any number of things.
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Post by Tdarcos »

Plot Holes wrote:I hope the police in this fictional town are as clueless as everyone else, for our "protagonist's" sake.

When the police arrive on the scene of this fictional crime, they're going to review the security tapes. When they review the tapes, they're going to recognize the bank robber as the same guy they had in jail the day before on bank robbery charges.
Right. I came to that conclusion independently. You can use a mind control device to screw up people's memory, but short of having gotten in with a crew to disable them, the camera doesn't forget. (See the movie Inside Job where they do that, gum up the cameras.)
The police are also going to talk to The Guy, whether the bank manager paid him anything or not.
I never said the bank would pay him not to talk to the police, I said they're paying him not to talk to the media.

But he's going to have the standard, correct answer which is what you should always say to the police if they want to question you about anything. "I don't have to say anything to you and I choose not to. If you want information out of me, feel free to subpoena me before a grand jury and I'll be happy to tell them. Otherwise I have nothing to say to you and if you want to question me I want a lawyer."

You are never under any obligation at any time to tell the police anything, even if you're a witness to a crime. The police are not a grand jury and have no right to compel you to give them information. And if you don't tell them anything they can't come after you for lying to them if you screw up and state something incorrect; they can't come after you for obstruction because you've stated you will testify if subpoenaed; and you haven't implicated yourself in anything if you say the wrong thing. As the saying goes, if the police say that if you're innocent you should have nothing to hide, the correct response is, "Tell that to Richard Jewell." (Well, Richard Jewell is dead but the point is correct.)
When they do, it's not going to take a genius to realize that The Guy is the same guy that visited the known bank robber the day before in jail.
Yeah, that was what convinced me that it's probably best to drop the scene altogether.
Cops aren't particularly bright, but they are thorough, and they recognize patterns and breaks in patterns. If I were a cop, the first person I would talk to would be the guy who happened to be standing there wearing a respirator when the tear gas went off.
The guy is wearing a painter's outfit, it is common practice for people painting to wear a respirator or a mask if they do a lot of painting, especially if it involves spray paint. In some cases, OSHA regulations mandate the use of respiratory equipment when painting,
And, for our protagonist's sake, let's hope the cops have never read a book and that none of them know that "nadir" is the opposite of "zenith", otherwise they would know right where to start looking.
I'm glad you noticed that, that was my idea. The city of Zenith comes from the 1923 book Arrowsmith and I've added a few twists, in which the city is Zenith and the county is Nadir. You can look up the fictitious State of Winnemac in Wikipedia, it's roughly a piece of Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, and Zenith is almost dead on where Toledo is. And it's about the same population, in the 300,000 range.
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Post by Tdarcos »

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
Bringing his mind control device along with him, he had the opportunity to interview the man at a table. Brought over to The guy, he says, "Are you my lawyer?"

"Not exactly. Are you interested in leaving this fine establishment?"

"Don't be fucking stupid, of course I would."

Pointing his device at the man, [...]
What did he feel when the inmate swore at him?

No real emotion, he expected the response to be something very similar. I mean, the way he said it was sarcastic, or if not sarcastic, some other term meaning obviously ridiculous and patently nonsensical, and intended to get the robber to come back with an equivalent response.
Also! I noticed that you wrote "The guy" with a capital t lots. What was the reason for that, my friend?
Placeholder until I decide what to call him. He doesn't have a name yet, so when I need a reference I call him "The guy" and I have been very careful to change any time I used "guy" to refer to any other male to change that reference to "him."

Eventually when I find a good name I like I'll put it in. Perhaps something reasonable like Xytofor Zitowich (yes, I was the one who used that handle on the message about how people with unusual names have problems, over at Caltrops.)

Speaking of Caltrops, did you notice how that one backhanded article I did about abortion started so much commentary?
Last edited by Tdarcos on Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:55 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Tdarcos »

AArdvark wrote:But enough about technicalities, back to the plot device. I would imagine that if I were to possess such a device as a mind control thingy that my aunt gave me that I don't know what it is,
Where did you get the idea that someone gave it to him? And why specifically his aunt (unless you're just using that as an example)?

The story does not (here, in this segment) explain how he got it. He could have invented it. He could have borrowed it. He could have stolen it from its creator. He could have been given it by some extraterrestrials who wanted him to test it out on humans. Any number of possibilities. But I'll give you an answer from earlier in the story:
– The Takeover Man develops the Takeover Device –

He'd learned electronics and computer technology, and no matter how places claimed they needed technical people, he could never get hired. Hell, he even went to places that claimed they desperately needed people, and even they wouldn't hire him. He wasn't sure why, but he suspected that they thought his appearance was horrible, and didn't want someone who looked as bad as he did. Maybe plastic surgery would help, but that was out of his price range, and besides, right now he needed to keep from ending up on the street.

He found a few websites where he could advertise his services, and subcontracting out design and development, he was able to make a decent living. Not huge, but it at least bought him a furnished room, 3 squares, the computers and such to do his job, and maybe a little money set aside. Not much, but it was better than having to go on welfare and maybe living in a shelter or something.

He decided to try and do some side work on his own. What would be something to try? Something very valuable. Something very useful. One time he was watching TV, seeing another of the 10,000 commercials for sleeping pills and such, when he says, out loud, "Jesus, you'd think someone could make something so people wouldn't have to dope themselves up all the time, like an alpha-wave trigger. Yeah, I mean all you'd have to do..."

That's when it hit him. A device to allow people to get a good night's sleep. Do it right and people wake up without the drowsiness and other effects of narcotics and sleep aid chemicals. And something like that would be very lucrative considering the amount of money people spend on sleeping pills every year.

Over time as he borrowed from his regular work, he developed a device. Checked it over very carefully. Looked right, but he'd have to try it. He tried it on himself one night, and he discovered the next morning he'd slept 16 hours, and wasn't a bit worn out from sleeping too much, which is often what he'd feel when that happened. He went back over to see if he could refine his device, make it so he could change the effect, perhaps do 4, 8, 12 and 16 hours. People could use lower settings for naps. This was going to make him a fortune.

He would soon discover an even more useful setting that would make it even more valuable.

– The Takeover Man makes his discovery –

He looked at one of the circuits and thought about it. Wait a minute. This has a certain polarity, a certain resonance freqency it's generating, that's how it generates sleep. But if he changed this capacitor, this circuit and altered the frequency it generated... No, it can't be that simple.

He sat down in his chair with a thud. If he's right, he's got a device that can control human thought. A mind control device.
This also goes along with a point made most strongly by inventors and discoverers, even of major inventions, that the common statement made before a major discovery isn't "Eureka!" (I have found it) it's more like "Hey, that looks funny..."
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Post by Tdarcos »

AArdvark wrote:Winner! Timer for a re-write, Captian!
First, it would be "Captain," and second, remember, I'm the "Commander."

It probably doesn't get a rewrite until the first draft is finished although I do go from place to place and make revisions as one part of the story is fleshed out I sometimes have to go backward and change something else to make the later part work.

In some cases I change exposition to dialog, where instead of explaining things the characters tell about them.

There's one part where he meets this woman, a records clerk, and takes her to a motel. When he asks her (when he first hits on her) whether she practices safe sex, she admits she hasn't been interested and stopped dating the last ten years (later on another character points out most men are lousy in bed). Well, his device makes her definitely interested, so once I wrote that she had been inactive for ten years, I went backward to where he booked the motel and mentioned he stopped at a drug store to pick up a couple of things.

Then at the point where she's in bed with him, he pulls out the two things he bought at the drug store. Contraceptive film (much less risk for the woman than the pill, and almost as effective), and personal lubricant, if she hasn't had sex in years she might not lubricate that well and if she's not really wet, sex is gonna hurt.

I'm up to 101 pages, once I'm around 300 if it's done I can trim it a bit and it might turn out to be a decent novel.

Sincerely,

Commander Tansin Arogan Darcos.
"And as I try to make my way, to the ordinary world, somehow I will survive."
- Duran Duran, Ordinary World

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