Author Topic: "A Hostile Situation" (Warning: adult language/content. word count: 1,178)  (Read 2829 times)

Offline CodyWright77

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I've been working up to posting something for a while.  I wrote this today.  It is part of a much larger work, and you'll be coming in around chapter 20...so...you've missed a lot.  I won't go into much detail unless asked.  I am mostly concerned with the opening two paragraphs, but I also want your bless'ed opinions on dialogue as well.  Here you go!



It was an easy thing. Crixus took some of his most well trained Sicarii with him and Hector to the Hexad tower, dressed in the stolen uniforms of the captured soldiers. Getting in was a matter of following a frightened, fidgety commander through a series of biometric scanners, and into an elevator. No one so much as batted an eye at them.

They waited until darkness engulfed the city. The insurgents scaled the tower with their specialized gear with the natural ease that belonged to seasoned war dogs. Crixus waited at the corner of a balcony, dangling just underneath the railing. He waited and listened to the bustle of the Minister’s quarters until he developed a mental image of how many there were...and where they stood. It was not long before the Minister ventured to the balcony.

“Have you contacted the Prime Minister?” asked a frantic voice.

“Yes, Minister Julius,” said another man.

“What did his staff say?”

“They said you have enough forces to deal with the rebels, sir.” The officer knew the Minister wouldn’t like it. You could hear it in the way they spoke. “The Prime Minister said specifically...use what you have in the tower.”

“Damn them!” spoke Julius bitterly. “He does not understand the severity of these animals! Does he expect me to be vulnerable while I send what men I have to the streets?”

Crixus could see the hands of Minister Julius as he clutched the railing.

“I will not! My ass will stay right here until he sends support to deal with these Sicarii.” The word seemed to leave a bad taste in his mouth. Crixus liked that.

The gladiator cautiously pulled himself upwards. There was a change in the sound of the Minister’s voice. He leaned against the railing, with his back towards the outside world.

“Sir,” came another voice from somewhere inside the room, “if we do nothing but sit here, they will barricade us in. We will be useless, Minister Julius.”

“Useless but not made of stone,” replied Julius. “My decision is final. I will not risk the loss of this tower!”

Crixus made his move. He clambered up the side of the balcony until his head was even with that of the Minister. The eyes of the communications officer became wide as he stared over the shoulder of Julius.

“What the fuck is your problem?” barked Julius. “You look like you have seen a ghost.”

Crixus clasped Julius’ shoulder with one hand, then wrapped his other around his neck in a friendly embrace. This, naturally, was done to a petrified man. A man who, if immortals had the need, would have had warm piss running down his leg.

“I,” said Crixus, “am the problem.”

The communications officer fell backwards as Crixus pointed Aurelius’ pistol at the man’s temple. There was a scramble as men realized what was happening, pathetic as it those things were. Four rifles pointed at the officers from the sides of the balcony, each held by fiercely determined men and women.

“Steady,” said one of the Sicarii, “let’s not do something foolish, now.”

“P-p-p-put your weapons down!” ordered a soldier.

“Shut the fuck up!” demanded the quivering minister. “Do not make them nervous, you son of a fucking whore!”

Crixus drew his lips downward in a near frown, and his brow went up as he nodded his head in agreement with Julius.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you have now entered into a hostage situation,” stated Crixus. “Have you trained for such an event?”

The soldiers looked to one another, rifles still pointed towards the rebels.

“I did not think so. Let me explain...I have a high value target,” Crixus patted Julius’ chest, lovingly, “and you have to find a way to get me to cause him no harm. The problem is, you need to know my demands.”

One of the soldiers spoke up. “Wh...what are your demands?”

“Good,” smiled Crixus, “good. My demands are for you put down your weapons or else.”

“Or else what?” asked the shaky soldier.

“Or else I get a fucking bullet in my fucking head, you fucking shit-eater!” yelled Julius.

“You must have done this before,” chided Crixus. “But he is right.”

Crixus cocked his brow. “Now, good man, what do you think you should do next? No idea? Panthea?”

“Yes?” asked the woman, her aim terribly steady.

“Enlighten him, please.”

“Assess the situation. Discover your options. Every option. Eliminate the choices that lead to undesired outcomes. Determine the most effective solution, then implement with swift action.” Panthea spoke with a condescending, causal tone.

“How long should such an assessment take?” asked Crixus.  “Hadrian?”

“Seconds,” replied Hadrian as he stared through his sights.

“What is your name, solider?” Crixus demanded of the fellow.

“Jim,” said the officer.

“Well, Jim, I will give you...let’s say...five...no six seconds to make a decision.”

“Put down your fucking-” began Julius.

Crixus pushed the pistol a little further into his temple. “No, no, no. Give him time to think.”

“Six…five...four...three...two...one,” counted Panthea.

The soldier’s eyes darted back and forth between his men and the terrorists on the balcony. His weapon shook, and his mouth seemed to move but made no sound. Then, he dropped his weapon on the floor and put his hands above his head.

“Drop your weapons,” he called to the other soldiers.

“Genius,” grumbled Julius.

“You did well, Jim, very well,” said Crixus. “Now do you know what happens?” Jim shook his head. “You have effectively saved your comrades from a very horrible fate. You are a hero, Jim...a hero.”

Jim gulped as he stared at the weapons still pointed at him.

“Now, what I want you to do is get yourself and your men lined up on that far wall. Evenly spaced, hands behind your heads, legs spread apart. Do you understand, Jim?”

Jim nodded, but did nothing.

Crixus cocked his brow. “Jim?”

“Y...y...yes?”

“Now.”

As the captured soldiers delicately made their way to the far wall, Crixus and his band came over the railings of the balcony and marched into the expansive room. Crixus took the Minister over to a large chair and forced him to sit. Panthea stood guard by the entrance to the quarters as Hadrian had the soldier’s bound.

“Now, good minister,” began Crixus, “you and I need to have a talk about your current strategy.”

The wide-eyed Minister stared back at him. “What?”

“You seem to have quite the problem here. I now own you, just as you have owned Babylon. And, because I own you, you must do what I say. You are a wise man...I can see that. So what I need you to do, is just give the commands. Understand?”

Offline Owl5986

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Hey, Cody, it's nice to see that you've finally made the dive  :D I'll comment as I go along.

I've been working up to posting something for a while.  I wrote this today.  It is part of a much larger work, and you'll be coming in around chapter 20...so...you've missed a lot. That's pure telling, try "show" stuff more. Just kidding, just kidding ;D  I won't go into much detail unless asked.  I am mostly concerned with the opening two paragraphs, but I also want your bless'ed opinions on dialogue as well.  Here you go!



It was an easy thing. Crixus took some of his most well trained Sicarii with him and Hector (Hector and him?) to the Hexad tower, dressed in the stolen uniforms of the captured soldiers. Getting in was a matter of following a frightened, fidgety commander through a series of biometric scanners, and into an elevator. No one so much as batted an eye at them.

They waited until darkness engulfed the city. The insurgents scaled the tower with their specialized gear with the natural ease that belonged to seasoned war dogs. Crixus waited at the corner of a balcony, dangling just underneath the railing. He waited and listened to the bustle of the Minister’s quarters until he developed a mental image of how many there were...and where they stood. It was not long before the Minister ventured to the balcony.

“Have you contacted the Prime Minister?” asked a frantic voice. (Now, I'm not one to tell you that you can't add "asked in a frantic voice" after the end of a quote; but if you do use something like it, it can't be something this short, otherwise it's cliche and uninteresting; better to delete it or write a line that is more elaborate)

“Yes, Minister Julius,” said another man.

“What did his staff say?”

“They said you have enough forces to deal with the rebels, sir.” The officer knew the Minister wouldn’t like it. You could hear it in the way they spoke. “The Prime Minister said specifically...use what you have in the tower.” (Why the '...'?)

“Damn them!” spoke Julius bitterly. “He does not understand the severity of these animals! Does he expect me to be vulnerable while I send what men I have to the streets?”

Crixus could see the hands of Minister Julius as he clutched the railing.

“I will not! My ass will stay right here until he sends support to deal with these Sicarii.” The word seemed to leave a bad taste in his mouth. Crixus liked that.

The gladiator cautiously pulled himself upwards. There was a change in the sound of the Minister’s voice. He leaned against the railing, with his back towards the outside world.

“Sir,” came another voice from somewhere inside the room, “if we do nothing but sit here, they will barricade us in. We will be useless, Minister Julius.”

“Useless but not made of stone,” (hmm?) replied Julius. “My decision is final. I will not risk the loss of this tower!”

Crixus made his move. He clambered up the side of the balcony until his head was even with that of the Minister. The eyes of the communications officer became wide as he stared over the shoulder of Julius.

“What the fuck is your problem?” barked Julius. “You look like you have seen a ghost.” (Somewhat cliche)

Crixus clasped Julius’ shoulder with one hand, then wrapped his other around his neck in a friendly embrace. This, naturally, was done to a petrified man. (clunky) A man who, if immortals had the need, would have had warm piss running down his leg.

“I,” said Crixus, “am the problem.”

The communications officer fell backwards as Crixus pointed Aurelius’ pistol at the man’s temple. There was a scramble as men realized what was happening, pathetic as it those things were. (clunky or broken) Four rifles pointed at the officers from the sides of the balcony, each held by fiercely determined men and women.

“Steady,” said one of the Sicarii, “let’s not do something foolish, now.”

“P-p-p-put your weapons down!” ordered a soldier.

“Shut the fuck up!” demanded the quivering minister. “Do not make them nervous, you son of a fucking whore!” (amusing  :D)

Crixus drew his lips downward in a near frown, and his brow went up as he nodded his head in agreement with Julius.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you have now entered into a hostage situation,” stated Crixus. “Have you trained for such an event?”

The soldiers looked to one another, (unbelievable; their gaze would stay on Crixus and Julius) rifles still pointed towards the rebels.

“I did not think so. Let me explain...I have a high value target,” Crixus patted Julius’ chest, lovingly, “and you have to find a way to get me to cause him no harm. The problem is, you need to know my demands.”

One of the soldiers spoke up. “Wh...what are your demands?” (Write here "one of the soldiers spoke up.")

Good,” smiled Crixus, “good. My demands are for you put down your weapons or else.”

“Or else what?” asked (said) the shaky soldier.

Or else I get a fucking bullet in my fucking head, you fucking shit-eater!” yelled Julius. (he's a tempered bastard and got a potty mouth; I like this Julius  ;D)

“You must have done this before,” chided Crixus. “But he is right.”

Crixus cocked his brow. “Now, good man, what do you think you should do next? No idea? Panthea?”

“Yes?” asked the woman, her aim terribly steady.

“Enlighten him, please.”

“Assess the situation. Discover your options. Every option. Eliminate the choices that lead to undesired outcomes. Determine the most effective solution, then implement with swift action.” Panthea spoke with a condescending, causal tone. (it's cliche for mr. or mrs. know-it-all to be condescending and have casual tone; I'd make her character different, ergo more interesting)

“How long should such an assessment take?” asked Crixus.  “Hadrian?”

“Seconds,” replied Hadrian as he stared through his sights.

“What is your name, solider?” Crixus demanded of the fellow.

“Jim,” said the officer.

“Well, Jim, I will give you...let’s say...five...no six seconds to make a decision.”

“Put down your fucking-” began Julius.

Crixus pushed the pistol a little further into his temple. “No, no, no. Give him time to think.”

“Six…five...four...three...two...one,” counted Panthea.

The soldier’s eyes darted back and forth between his men (his eyes would stay on target) and the terrorists on the balcony. His weapon shook, and his mouth seemed to move but made no sound. Then, he dropped his weapon on the floor and put his hands above his head.

“Drop your weapons,” he called to the other soldiers.

“Genius,” grumbled Julius. (not cussing anymore?)

“You did well, Jim, very well,” said Crixus. “Now do you know what happens?” Jim shook his head. “You have effectively saved your comrades from a very horrible fate. You are a hero, Jim...a hero.”

Jim gulped as he stared at the weapons still pointed at him.

“Now, what I want you to do is get yourself and your men lined up on that far wall. Evenly spaced, hands behind your heads, legs spread apart. Do you understand, Jim?”

Jim nodded, but did nothing.

Crixus cocked his brow. “Jim?”

“Y...y...yes?”

“Now.”

As the captured soldiers delicately made their way to the far wall, Crixus and his band came over the railings of the balcony and marched into the expansive room. Crixus took the Minister over to a large chair and forced him to sit. Panthea stood guard by the entrance to the quarters as Hadrian had the soldier’s bound.

“Now, good minister,” began Crixus, “you and I need to have a talk about your current strategy.”

The wide-eyed Minister stared back at him. “What?”

“You seem to have quite the problem here. I now own you, just as you have owned Babylon. And, because I own you, you must do what I say. You are a wise man...I can see that. So what I need you to do, is just give the commands. Understand?”


Okay, some cliche, some unbelievable actions, but on the whole -- an entertaining read.  :)

Offline CodyWright77

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Thanks Owl5986, I really appreciate your comments.  I wanted to clarify about the soldiers.  They are horribly unpracticed people, a joke of a military.  It should feel a little unbelievable that they would look back and forth from each other.  Crixus is having to talk them through a situation that should be standard for guards of a "high value target".   

Yeah, the cliche things...I've got to fix them.  With a first draft, I tend to write far too many cliches.  Thanks for pointing them out :)

Offline RamblingRose

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Hi Cody. Well done for posting. I liked this - you write well and it flowed smoothly. There is some tightening to the wording, which isn't a big issue as this is a first draft in any case.
I haven't highlighted the cliches - but there are a lot as you know...
There were one or two instances where I couldn't follow who was doing what, but that may be a result of starting at chapter 20! I thought the dialogue was ok, seemed to capture the character of the men. I've commented as I went through:
I've been working up to posting something for a while.  I wrote this today.  It is part of a much larger work, and you'll be coming in around chapter 20...so...you've missed a lot.  I won't go into much detail unless asked.  I am mostly concerned with the opening two paragraphs, but I also want your bless'ed opinions on dialogue as well.  Here you go!



It was an easy thing. Crixus took some of his most well trainedwording is a bit clunky - his best soldiers? Sicarii with him and i paused here as well, as I didn't know Hector was with them - maybe "with him, and they followed Hector to..."?Hector to the Hexad tower, dressed in the stolen uniforms of the captured soldiers.  Getting in was a matter of following a frightened, fidgety commander through a series of biometric scanners, and into an elevator. No one so much as batted an eye at them.

They waited until darkness engulfedthis is a bit flowery! the city. so they waited til it was dark - in the elevator?The insurgents scaled the tower with their specialized gear with the natural ease that belonged to seasoned war dogs. Crixus waited at the corner of a balcony, dangling just underneath the railing. He waited and listened to the bustle of the Minister’s quarters until he developed a mental image of how many there were...and where they stood.i was a bit confused here - how long is he hanging in under a balcony? A bit too long it felt like, no one's that strong It was not long before the Minister ventured to the balcony.

“Have you contacted the Prime Minister?” asked a frantic voice.

“Yes, Minister Julius,” said another man.

“What did his staff say?”

“They said you have enough forces to deal with the rebels, sir.” The officer knew the Minister wouldn’t like it. You could hear it in the way they spoke. “The Prime Minister said specifically...use what you have in the tower.”

“Damn them!” spoke Julius bitterly. “He does not understand the severity of these animals! Does he expect me to be vulnerable while I send what men I have to the streets?”

Crixus could see the hands of Minister Julius as he clutched the railing.

“I will not! My ass will stay right here until he sends support to deal with these Sicarii.” The word seemed to leave a bad taste in his mouth. Crixus liked that.

The gladiator cautiously pulled himself upwards. There was a change in the sound of the Minister’s voice. He leaned against the railing, with his back towards the outside world.

“Sir,” came another voice from somewhere inside the room, “if we do nothing but sit here, they will barricade us in. We will be useless, Minister Julius.”

“Useless but not made of stone,not sure I understand what this means?” replied Julius. “My decision is final. I will not risk the loss of this tower!”

Crixus made his move. He clambered up the side of the balcony until his head was evenlevel? with that of the Minister. The eyes of the communications officer became wide as he stared over the shoulder of Julius.

“What the fuck is your problem?” barked Julius. “You look like you have seen a ghost.”

Crixus clasped Julius’ shoulder with one hand, then wrapped his other around his neck in a friendly embrace. This, naturally, was done to a petrified manactually, given the literal meaning of petrified, this confused slightly as well- given his earlier comment about not being made of stone . A man who, if immortals had the need, would have had warm piss running down his leg.

“I,” said Crixus, “am the problem.”

The communications officer fell backwards as Crixus pointed Aurelius’who's this? pistol at the man’s temple. There was a scramble as men realized what was happening, pathetic as it those things were. Four rifles pinted at the officers from the sides of the balcony, each held by fiercely determined men and women.

“Steady,” said one of the Sicarii, “let’s not do something foolish, now.”

“P-p-p-put your weapons down!” ordered a soldier.

“Shut the fuck up!” demanded the quivering minister. “Do not make them nervous, you son of a fucking whore!”

Crixus drew his lips downward in a near frown, and his brow went up as he nodded his head in agreement with Julius.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you have now entered into a hostage situation,” stated Crixus. “Have you trained for such an event?”

The soldiers looked to one another, rifles still pointed towards the rebels.

“I did not think so. Let me explain...I have a high value target,” Crixus patted Julius’ chest, lovingly, “and you have to find a way to get me to cause him no harm. The problem is, you need to know my demands.”

One of the soldiers spoke up. “Wh...what are your demands?”

“Good,” smiled Crixus, “good. My demands are for you put down your weapons or else.”

“Or else what?” asked the shaky soldier.

“Or else I get a fucking bullet in my fucking head, you fucking shit-eater!” yelled Julius.

“You must have done this before,” chided Crixus. “But he is right.”

Crixus cocked his brow. “Now, good man, what do you think you should do next? No idea? Panthea?”

“Yes?” asked the woman, her aim terribly steady.

“Enlighten him, please.”

“Assess the situation. Discover your options. Every option. Eliminate the choices that lead to undesired outcomes. Determine the most effective solution, then implement with swift action.” Panthea spoke with a condescending, causal tone.

“How long should such an assessment take?” asked Crixus.  “Hadrian?”

“Seconds,” replied Hadrian as he stared through his sights.

“What is your name, solider?” Crixus demanded of the fellow.

“Jim,” said the officer.

“Well, Jim, I will give you...let’s say...five...no six seconds to make a decision.”

“Put down your fucking-” began Julius.

Crixus pushed the pistol a little further into his temple. “No, no, no. Give him time to think.”

“Six…five...four...three...two...one,” counted Panthea.

The soldier’s eyes darted back and forth between his men and the terrorists on the balcony. His weapon shook, and his mouth seemed to move but made no sound. Then, he dropped his weapon on the floor and put his hands above his head.

“Drop your weapons,” he called to the other soldiers.

“Genius,” grumbled Julius.

“You did well, Jim, very well,” said Crixus. “Now do you know what happens?” Jim shook his head. “You have effectively saved your comrades from a very horrible fate. You are a hero, Jim...a hero.”

Jim gulped as he stared at the weapons still pointed at him.

“Now, what I want you to do is get yourself and your men lined up on that far wall. Evenly spaced, hands behind your heads, legs spread apart. Do you understand, Jim?”

Jim nodded, but did nothing.

Crixus cocked his brow. “Jim?”

“Y...y...yes?”

“Now.”

As the captured soldiers delicately made their way to the far wall, Crixus and his band came over the railings of the balcony and marched into the expansive room. Crixus took the Minister over to a large chair and forced him to sit. Panthea stood guard by the entrance to the quarters as Hadrian had the soldier’s bound.

“Now, good minister,” began Crixus, “you and I need to have a talk about your current strategy.”

The wide-eyed Minister stared back at him. “What?”

“You seem to have quite the problem here. I now own you, just as you have owned Babylon. And, because I own you, you must do what I say. You are a wise man...I can see that. So what I need you to do, is just give the commands. Understand?”


Offline Balazs

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Hi,

The story and the scene seems to be exciting, I have a few problems though.
The actions don't come across immediate enough, try to use more active voice.
The conversation about putting or not putting the guns down goes on too long.
Too many names appear in such a short piece, which is quite confusing.
There is room for tightening.
Not bad for a start.

Good luck!

hillwalker3000

  • Guest
You mention concerns regarding the opening so I'll concentrate on that for now.
First look at removing all unnecessary words - or maybe even consider rewriting both paragraphs and reversing the sequence. As it stands the chronology makes no sense to me - and the rather cumbersome way you describe events doesn't convey any sense of drama.

Quote
It was an easy thing. Crixus took some of his most well trained Sicarii with him and Hector to the Hexad tower, dressed in the stolen uniforms of the captured soldiers. Getting in was a matter of following a frightened, fidgety commander through a series of biometric scanners, and into an elevator. No one so much as batted an eye at them.

I'm not sure what purpose your first sentence serves. If it's a summary of what follows it's unnecessary. If it's meant to suggest how easy they gained entry - again, why tell us something first then show us? My advice - remove it.

The rather long and complex sentence that follows.
'some of his most well trained Sicarii with him obviously they're with him if he took them and Hector' - what a mouth-full. Similarly 'dressed in the stolen uniforms of the captured soldiers' is rather long-winded.
What do we need to know?
Crixus and Hector were accompanied by an elite group of Sicarii all disguised in stolen uniforms.
Most readers will be able to figure out for themselves who the uniforms were stolen from.

Getting in was a matter of following is that better than They followed? a frightened, fidgety can you think of a single word that avoids these two? commander through a series of biometric scanners, and into an elevator. No one so much as batted an eye at them.
Revealing how simple it was to get inside does nothing to help increase the tension. Was that your intention?

Quote
They waited until darkness engulfed the city. The insurgents scaled the tower with their specialized gear with the natural ease that belonged to seasoned war dogs. Crixus waited at the corner of a balcony, dangling just underneath the railing. He waited and listened to the bustle of the Minister’s quarters until he developed a mental image of how many there were...and where they stood. It was not long before the Minister ventured to the balcony.

Now I'm confused. First they're inside an elevator. Now, hours later presumably, they're. . . goodness knows where. Outside a tower? And where did they wait until dark? Incidentally, you don't need to mention the city being engulfed in darkness because presumably the reader already knows where this is taking place.
I'm also not crazy about the way you drop in random technical details - 'biometric scanners' in p1 and 'their specialized gear' in p2. You don't elaborate on how these work or are deployed so they're superfluous - but that's just my opinion.
However, I do have a problem with the rest of this paragraph.

Crixus waited at the corner of a balcony, dangling just underneath the railing. He waited We know. You told us in the previous sentence. and listened to the bustle of the Minister’s quarters awkward phrase until he developed a mental image of how many there were... How many what? and where they stood. It was not long before the Minister ventured to the balcony That's a non sequitur since it has nothing to do with what precedes it..

What do we need to know now?
Crixus dangled from railings outside the Minister's office and waited until he heard the Minister step out onto the balcony.
It's that simple.

You're trying to be too specific at times when describing locations. Understanding the difference between 'a' and 'the' is therefore critical if your story is to make sense.
- 'the corner of a balcony' could be anywhere - which balcony? 'a balcony' implies there are several balconies - and each presumably has more than one corner (even though 'the corner' suggests there's only one corner). Why even bother mentioning any corner?
- and 'just underneath the railing' - why 'just'? - and since you've not mentioned any railing before now how are we to know which railing you're writing about?
'the Minister ventured to the balcony' - I presume this is the same balcony as before. First it was 'a balcony' - now it's 'the balcony'. Can you see how confusing all these stage directions become?

My advice - begin with Crixus dangling from the railings. He's waiting - so while he's waiting you can afford to allow him a brief sentence or two to reflect on how easy it had been to gain entry and scale the tower so far. . . He's begining to feel confident then, bang - the Minister steps outside and we're back to the action. That way the drama is allowed to progress in a more natural way.

I'll leave it there for now but maybe comment on the rest when I have time to give it a read through.

H3K

hillwalker3000

  • Guest
OK - part 2.

Since much of what follows features dialogue I'd suggest it needs work along with the speech tags.

“Have you contacted the Prime Minister?” asked a frantic voice.
“Yes, Minister Julius.” said another man.
“What did his staff say?”
“They said you have enough forces to deal with the rebels, sir.”

Crixus can hear two men speaking but he can't see them - so all we need for now is to hear what he hears.

The officer knew the Minister wouldn’t like it. You could hear it in the way they spoke.
This makes no sense. How can I hear it in the way they spoke? And who's telling me all this stuff? You - the author? It doesn't fit the narrative. And I've no idea who 'the officer' is. The second man on the balcony or Crixus?

“The Prime Minister said specifically...use what you have in the tower.”
“Damn them!” spoke Julius bitterly said Julius. “He does not understand the severity of these animals! Does he expect me to be vulnerable while I send what men I have to the streets?”

The only person who would know he's speaking bitterly would be Julius. And who is Julius? Ok - it's the minister, but this needs establishing much earlier - maybe call him Minister Julius the first time he's ever mentioned.

Crixus could see the hands of Minister Julius as he clutched the railing.
Who clutched the railing? It could be either of them.
Crixus could see the Minister's hands clutching the railing.
Though I'm unsure how he knows whose hands he can see. Does it add anything to the scene?

The word seemed to leave a bad taste in his mouth. Crixus liked that.
Except that Crixus can't possibly know any of this unless he's telepathic. The entire scene is dragging now because you're switching from dialogue to reaction to perceptions.

The gladiator cautiously pulled himself upwards. There was a change in the sound of the Minister’s voice. He leaned against the railing, with his back towards the outside world.
Who's the gladiator? And since the next voice we hear is from inside the building how can there be a change in the minister's voice? He hasn't spoken. I'm assuming it's the minister who's leaning against the railing. But we're still seeing this from Crixus's perspective - so how he can see the minister if no one can see him? Ok. I'll buy that he's peering over the lip of the balcony floor maybe. But this needs a tidy up and the plot needs to get a move on. I'm getting increasingly bored.

Crixus made his move. He clambered up the side of the balcony until his head was even level with that of the Minister. The eyes of the communications officer became wide as he stared over the shoulder of Julius.
It's difficult to follow who's who because you keep renaming them. Am I supposed to have figured out this is the guy who was speaking to the minister earlier?

“What the fuck is your problem?” barked Julius. “You look like you have seen a ghost.”
Completely the wrong line. It doesn't sound the kind of thing the minister would say judging from the preceding dialogue - over-formal at best. And if they're already under threat of attack would he react this way?

Crixus clasped Julius’ shoulder with one hand, then wrapped his other around his the minister's neck in a friendly embrace. This, naturally, was done to a petrified man. A man who, if immortals had the need, would have had warm piss running down his leg.
Now I'm lost.

“I,” said Crixus, “am the problem.”
The communications officer fell backwards as Crixus pointed Aurelius’ pistol at the man’s temple.

Who's Aurelius? Why is Crixus using someone else's pistol? Whose temple is the pistol held against?

  There was a scramble as men Where did these appear from? realized what was happening, pathetic as it those things were Is this meant to make sense?. Four rifles pointed at the officers Are these the 'men'? from the sides of the balcony, each held by fiercely determined men and women This is very clunky and reads like filler.

“Steady,” said one of the Sicarii, “let’s not do something foolish, now.??
“P-p-p-put your weapons down!” ordered a soldier One of the officers? or the men?.
“Shut the fuck up!” demanded the quivering minister. “Do not make them nervous, you son of a fucking whore!” What?

The tone of the dialogue is desperately inconsistent - one minute the minister speaks in a formal way like an extra from LORT, and the next like a drunken participant in a shoot-em-up video game.

Crixus drew his lips downward in a near frown, and his brow went up as he nodded his head in agreement with Julius.
Crixus frowns by drawing his lips downward. . . Really?

I'm sorry but this is where I stopped reading. It's simply too much like hard work trying to keep track of what's happening or make sense of your characters' behaviour.
For an 'action piece' it's far too slow and complicated.
I'm no fan of this kind of fiction anyway - so maybe I'm the wrong person to offer feedback. But it seems to follow the same pattern of so many other 'fantasy' tales posted on here. The writer knows exactly what's going on but most of the readers are left in the dark.

H3K

Offline Emery

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I've been working up to posting something for a while.  I wrote this today.  It is part of a much larger work, and you'll be coming in around chapter 20...so...you've missed a lot.  I won't go into much detail unless asked.  I am mostly concerned with the opening two paragraphs, but I also want your bless'ed opinions on dialogue as well.  Here you go!



It was an easy thingWhenever I see an opening of 'It was...' or 'There were...' I'm immediately wary.. Crixus took some of his most well trained Sicarii too many hedging words--some, most. Shouldn't he actually know how many Sicarii he took with him?with him and Hector to the Hexad tower, dressed in the stolen uniforms of the captured soldiers. Getting in was a matter of following a frightened, fidgety commander through a series of biometric scanners, and into an elevator. No one so much as batted an eye at them.There is a time and place for narrative summary and telling, but I'm not sure this is it. If it's important or dangerous breaking into Hexad why not show the action?

They waited until darkness engulfed the city. I think I need some more narrative summary or something here. I have trouble visualizing where and what is actually going on.The insurgents scaled the tower with their specialized gear with the natural ease that belonged to seasoned war dogs. Crixus waited at the corner of a balcony, dangling just underneath the railingAgain, I'm all for allowing the reader room to visualize, but I'm having issues seeing exactly where Crixus is. Dangling from what railing, what balcony? How high? Why this one?. He waited and listened to the bustle of the Minister’s quarters until he developed a mental image of how many there were...and where they stood.Umm...and? The ellipses are not needed and I want to know what Crixus has deduced. It was not long before the Minister ventured to the balcony.

“Have you contacted the Prime Minister?” asked a frantic voice.

“Yes, Minister Julius,” said another man.We know it's another speaker and the 'another man' didn't characterize.

“What did his staff say?”

“They said you have enough forces to deal with the rebels, sir.” The officer knew the Minister wouldn’t like it. You could hear it in the way they spoke. How? This is a bit of a POV shift attempted to coverup with a quick explanation. “The Prime Minister said specifically...use what you have in the tower.”I'm not sure what you are getting at here but it didn't make a lick of sense to me.

“Damn them!” spoke Julius bitterly. “He does not understand the severity of these animals! Does he expect me to be vulnerable while I send what men I have to the streets?”

Crixus could see the hands of Minister Julius as he clutched the railing.I'm really having trouble visualizing where Crixus is.

“I will not! My ass will stay right here until he sends support to deal with these Sicarii.” The word seemed to leave a bad taste in his mouth. Crixus liked that. For me, there is an appreciable lack of contractions in his speech, making it a bit robotic.

The gladiator cautiously pulled himself upwardsHuh? Oh Crixus. Be consistent with how you refer to your MC. There was a change in the sound of the Minister’s voice.How so? He leaned against the railing, with his back towards the outside world.So now I'm definitely confused where everyone is. How can they be on the balcony and not notice Crixus?

“Sir,” came another voice from somewhere inside the room, “if we do nothing but sit here, they will barricade us in. We will be useless, Minister Julius.”Again, robotic.

“Useless but not made of stone,” replied Julius. “My decision is final. I will not risk the loss of this tower!”Stone? huh?

Crixus made his move. He clambered up the side of the balcony until his head was even with that of the Minister. The eyes of the communications officer became wide as he stared over the shoulder of Julius.

“What the fuck is your problem?” barked Julius. “You look like you have seen a ghost.”

Crixus clasped Julius’ shoulder with one hand, then wrapped his other around his neck in a friendly embrace. This, naturally, was done to a petrified man. A man who, if immortals had the need, would have had warm piss running down his leg.This is like a voice over. Ground it more in Crixus POV.

“I,” said Crixus, “am the problem.”

The communications officer fell backwards as Crixus pointed Aurelius’ pistol at the man’s temple. There was a scramble as men realized what was happening, pathetic as it those things werea bit jumbled.. Four rifles pointed at the officers from the sides of the balcony, each held by fiercely determined men and women. Are these guys with Crixus? Where they hanging out under the balcony too?

“Steady,” said one of the Sicarii, “let’s not do something foolish, now.”

“P-p-p-put your weapons down!” ordered a soldier.

“Shut the fuck up!” demanded the quivering minister. “Do not make them nervous, you son of a fucking whore!”

Crixus drew his lips downward in a near frown Or Crixus frowned., and his brow went up as he nodded his head in agreement with Julius.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you have now entered into a hostage situation,” stated Crixus. “Have you trained for such an event?”

The soldiers looked to one another, rifles still pointed towards the rebels.

“I did not think so. Let me explain...I have a high value target,” Crixus patted Julius’ chest, lovingly, “and you have to find a way to get me to cause him no harm. The problem is, you need to know my demands.”

One of the soldiers spoke up. “Wh...what are your demands?”

“Good,” smiled Crixus, “good. My demands are for you put down your weapons or else.”

“Or else what?” asked the shaky soldier.

“Or else I get a fucking bullet in my fucking head, you fucking shit-eater!” yelled Julius.

“You must have done this before,” chided Crixus. “But he is right.”just stick with said.

Crixus cocked his brow. his brow is getting a lot of work.“Now, good man, what do you think you should do next? No idea? Panthea?”

“Yes?” asked the woman, her aim terribly steady.

“Enlighten him, please.”

“Assess the situation. Discover your options. Every option. Eliminate the choices that lead to undesired outcomes. Determine the most effective solution, then implement with swift action.” Panthea spoke with a condescending, causal tone.

“How long should such an assessment take?” asked Crixus.  “Hadrian?”

“Seconds,” replied Hadrian as he stared through his sights.

“What is your name, solider?” Crixus demanded of the fellow.

“Jim,” said the officer.

“Well, Jim, I will give you...let’s say...five...no six seconds to make a decision.”

“Put down your fucking-” began Julius.

Crixus pushed the pistol a little further into his temple. “No, no, no. Give him time to think.”

“Six…five...four...three...two...one,” counted Panthea.

The soldier’s eyes darted back and forth between his men and the terrorists on the balcony. His weapon shook, and his mouth seemed to move but made no sound. Then, he dropped his weapon on the floor and put his hands above his head.

“Drop your weapons,” he called to the other soldiers.

“Genius,” grumbled Julius.

“You did well, Jim, very well,” said Crixus. “Now do you know what happens?” Jim shook his head. “You have effectively saved your comrades from a very horrible fate. You are a hero, Jim...a hero.”

Jim gulped as he stared at the weapons still pointed at him.

“Now, what I want you to do is get yourself and your men lined up on that far wall. Evenly spaced, hands behind your heads, legs spread apart. Do you understand, Jim?”

Jim nodded, but did nothing.

Crixus cocked his browThere's an awful lot of brow cocking going on.. “Jim?”

“Y...y...yes?”

“Now.”

As the captured soldiers delicately made their way to the far wall, Crixus and his band came over the railings of the balconyHuh? Where the hell have they been? and marched into the expansive room. Crixus took the Minister over to a large chair and forced him to sit. Panthea stood guard by the entrance to the quarters as Hadrian had the soldier’s bound.

“Now, good minister,” began Crixus, “you and I need to have a talk about your current strategy.”just 'said' please.

The wide-eyed Minister stared back at him. “What?”

“You seem to have quite the problem here. I now own you, just as you have owned Babylon. And, because I own you, you must do what I say. You are a wise man...I can see that. So what I need you to do, is just give the commands. Understand?”


I feel like this is pretty good for a first draft. A few things I would focus on during the re-write. One is clarity of action and choreography. The scene may play out clearly in your mind but take a step back and see it from a reader's POV. I saw someone suggest more immediacy which would help with this as well. Underline every adverb and try to get rid of them. There will be several that are necessary, but only if you cannot find a stronger verb and it actually alters the meaning of the sentence. Stick with 'said', all the others options are distracting, and drop any adverb associated with it. If the dialogue is written well, you won't need to tell me how someone said something. Read the dialogue out loud (and the entire piece), make it flow better.

Also, like h3k said, I'm not big in fantasy but I'm assuming this scene is extremely common--the protagonist scaling a building and entering a balcony to encounter his target. Can you flip it a little bit? Play against genre expectations? Just a suggestion.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2015, 11:22:13 AM by Emery »
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Offline CodyWright77

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HK3, Emery, RR, Balaz.  Thank you for your honesty and criticisms.  I've done the revisions that most of you have suggested.  The first two paragraphs were thrown out, cliches were re-written/taken out, and needless tags removed.

You really do need a tough skin for this kind of stuff, don't you?  Jeez.

Offline Mrs N

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I've been working up to posting something for a while. We know! ;)

I wrote this today. Aaahhh, so no time to let it settle. No revision. Just first, as it comes, draft. Not giving yourself much of a fighting chance. On an edit, you might have picked up some of the faults yourself. ;)

 It is part of a much larger work, and you'll be coming in around chapter 20...so...you've missed a lot.  I won't go into much detail unless asked.  I am mostly concerned with the opening two paragraphs, but I also want your bless'ed opinions on dialogue as well.  Here you go!



It was an easy thing. I don't mind this sentence. :) Crixus took some of his most well trained Sicarii with him and Hector Why is this Hector tagged on the end? Is he one of the well trained men?

to the Hexad tower. dressed in the stolen uniforms of the captured soldiers. Getting in was a matter of following a frightened, fidgety commander through a series of biometric scanners, and into an elevator. That sounds too ordinary after the scanners. No one so much as batted an eye at them.

They waited until darkness engulfed the city. The insurgents scaled the tower with their specialized gear I thought they were wearing stolen uniforms with the natural ease that belonged to seasoned war dogs.

Crixus waited at the corner of a balcony, dangling just underneath the railing. He waited and listened to the bustle of the Minister’s quarters. until he developed a mental image   Huh? Is that all he had to go on? I hope that mental picture was good and accurate! :D of how many there were...and where they stood. It was not long before the Minister ventured to the balcony.

“Have you contacted the Prime Minister?” asked a frantic voice.

“Yes, Minister Julius,” said another man.

“What did his staff say?”

“They said you have enough forces to deal with the rebels, sir.” The officer knew the Minister wouldn’t like it. You could hear it in the way they spoke. “The Prime Minister said specifically...use what you have in the tower.”

“Damn them!” spoke Julius bitterly. “He does not understand the severity of these animals! Does he expect me to be vulnerable while I send what men I have to the streets?”
You've made this difficult for yourself. You are trying to do dialogue, introduce names and try and move the plot forward all whilst our MC (Main Character) is hanging around by his fingernails. I don't think you're giving dialogue a chance.


Crixus could see the hands of Minister Julius as he clutched the railing. This 'he' refers to Minister Julius. He's not hanging on that rail, is he?

Right, Cody. I thought your first two paragraphs were okay, especially as you only wrote this today. I thought the dialogue didn't work out that great because of the reasons above. Be very careful editing your stuff on the say so of others without giving yourself time to absorb what exactly has been said.

But, big congrats on posting. 8) Your skin's slightly toughened already. ;)

Offline Owl5986

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Good critique, Annie. Very insightful, as always.  :D

Offline Simple Things

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:)

I thought your story started better here....

Quote
The gladiator cautiously pulled himself upwards. There was a change in the sound of the Minister’s voice. He leaned against the railing, with his back towards the outside world.

“Sir,” came another voice from somewhere inside the room, “if we do nothing but sit here, they will barricade us in. We will be useless, Minister Julius.”


If you trimmed away the parts where you thought it needed explaining I believe you could have a nice chapter opening. Try not to interfere.

Welcome to the site

:)

Offline Clarius

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It was an easy thing. Crixus took some of his most well trained Sicarii with him and Hector to the Hexad tower, dressed in the stolen uniforms of the captured soldiers. Getting in was a matter of following a frightened, fidgety commander through a series of biometric scanners, and into an elevator. No one so much as batted an eye at them.

^ Okay, I know we're jumping in here but I see this a lot on the site, an author so keen to cut to the chase they summarise a scene into a telling paragraph. There's a lot of dramatic potential here but if it's not worth realizing then is it worth mentioning at all?

They waited until darkness engulfed the city. The insurgents scaled the tower with their specialized gear with the natural ease that belonged to seasoned war dogs. Crixus waited at the corner of a balcony, dangling just underneath the railing. He waited and listened to the bustle of the Minister’s quarters until he developed a mental image of how many there were...and where they stood. It was not long before the Minister ventured to the balcony.

^ more of the same, maybe?

From here on it gets better because we're in the present, but you're still telling and not showing. Let me explain.

“They said you have enough forces to deal with the rebels, sir.” The officer knew the Minister wouldn’t like it. You could hear it in the way they spoke. “The Prime Minister said specifically...use what you have in the tower.”

^ Who's they?  Show us this by telling how a messenger about to get shot might behave; think how they might behave in the PM's presence.

“Damn them!” spoke Julius bitterly. “He does not understand the severity of these animals! Does he expect me to be vulnerable while I send what men I have to the streets?”

^ Julius said, said Julius? Dialogue locution should never distract the reader, nor should dialogue need qualified with an adverb.

The gladiator cautiously pulled himself upwards. There was a change in the sound of the Minister’s voice. He leaned against the railing, with his back towards the outside world.

^ Adverbs, those words ending in -ly, are crutches. Seek them out and ask yourself why, why did I need to qualify myself.

Crixus made his move. He clambered up the side of the balcony until his head was even with that of the Minister. The eyes of the communications officer became wide as he stared over the shoulder of Julius.

^ Strunk & White. Omit needless words. The officer's eyes widened as he looked over Julius's shoulder and saw.. The POV in this paragraph shifts around. Always be consistent in your POV. Crixus climbs over the balcony, so this is his POV throughout. Crixus heaved himself over the balustrade and right into the officer's field of vision. That's the whole thing right there, ending with a dramatic little hook.

I could go on in the same vein but I'd be repeating myself. Be careful of your use of the word as, it makes for a passive reading experience.

There's good material here that needs some work.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2015, 05:37:59 AM by Clarius »
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us

 - Robert Burns

Offline CodyWright77

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Thanks a lot Clarius, I really appreciate the review.  The POV thing ... I'll have to pay closer attention to it.  I didn't think that was shifting perspective, but I can see it now. 

I've got a lot of learning to do, and a whole hell of a lot of editing to go with!  I wish I had joined when I first started writing.  Maybe I wouldn't have picked up so many bad habits  ;D

Offline Clarius

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^ And that's how you play the game, how you get to where you're going. I reviewed yours in favour of another's whose reply to another member was so rude I thought Kemkabba had crept back under a pseudonym.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2015, 02:18:57 PM by Clarius »
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us

 - Robert Burns