PDA

View Full Version : The Man who knew too much



Raptor980
January 7th, 2012, 01:59 AM
Hello. This is a story I had to write for my English class. It is inspired by Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum. I am hoping to improve my work with feedback from all you folks here at WF. I hope you enjoy it.


The Man who knew too much


For the moment, at least, I was free."- The Pit and the Pendulum.

Peter eyed the gun in the guard's hand. One quick jab to the face and a hard hit to the chest would have taken him out, but he was handcuffed to a large metal table. The room around him was white with one lone window looking out toward Washington D.C. The window pane was cherry red, and an ugly shade of brown carpet adorned the floor. The only decoration was a few metal chairs and the metal table. On the southwestern wall, there was a large wooden door leading off to the rest of the building. By it was a keypad with an eight digit password. Peter looked through the window. By the look of the height of the building, they were approximately thirty floors up.
Peter knew too much, and whoever was in charge wanted to know what he knew.The guard was just a kid, twenty years old or so. He looked middle-eastern by the looks of his face, and had a large red winged serpent tattooed on his arm.Many wouldn't have thought anything of it, but Peter knew the significance. The guard was part of the Seek gang, a newly founded terrorist group bent on abolishing the United States. The Seeks already had a few thousand members from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and various other middle-eastern countries.On the guard's other arm there was a black circle tattooed around an orange cobra.That was his division. He was from Saudi Arabia, the head of the gang. Iran was another important meeting place of the Seeks. That was a station for crystal meth and heroine. Both drugs were the Seeks' main export.Someone knocked on the door. The guard got up and spoke something in Arabic. The person behind the door replied in fluent Arabic. He undid the deadlock and typed in a password on the keypad which disabled the alarm. The guard opened the door inward to reveal a beautiful woman with wide-rimmed glasses. She had bright blonde hair. In both her hands, she carried a big black briefcase. She flashed Peter an evil smile and strutted toward an empty chair which she pulled up to the table.The guard lit a cigarette and the thick fumes filtered into the room.She sat down and crossed her legs. "I hear you have the account numbers and PIN numbers to seven of the richest companies in this wretched nation." She had a thick accent. "We really want to know them, and you're going to tell us them." She opened one briefcase and faced it toward him. "You have a choice: one million dollars, unmarked bills or," she opened the other briefcase and faced it toward him, "we can do it the hard way. I'll let you think about it."Peter cringed at the sight of the other briefcase. Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead.She smiled and walked out the door. She chuckled a bit when she figured her way down the labyrinth of corridors. She reached the main corridor and made her way to the stairs.The operation had gone so smooth. Taking out the real interrogator was the easy part. Slipping the bobby pin to the target was more complicated. It would be hours before they found the real interrogator stuffed in an empty closet. She reached ground floor and made her way to the entrance.Peter fumbled with the bobby pin in his hands. He inserted it into the lock and quietly moved it around inside. He slipped off one side of the handcuffs and began feeling life in his right hand again. He waited for an opportune moment to strike. One quick jab to the face and a hard hit to the chest.The woman made it to her car and sat down in the plush leather seats of her Cadillac. She slipped off her wig to reveal a bald head. She began removing fake patches of skin from her face. Hidden underneath them were scars from previous operations gone wrong. She entered the key into the ignition and slowly turned it.An explosion of metal and glass shook the building. The guard became still for a moment before he ran toward the window to see the carnage of what used to be the luxury car.Peter knew it was time to act while the guard had his back turned. He got up quickly and sprinted toward the guard with the metal chair clanging to the floor behind him. The guard sensed him coming and spun around before Peter could reach him.Peter lashed out with his fist toward the guard's face. The guard saw it coming and batted Peter's fist out of the way. The guard then counteracted with a jab that launched its way into Peter's stomach.Peter's world spun in circles as he gasped for oxygen. He clutched his stomach and desperately tried to get the air flowing again.The guard let down his guard for a second. It just so happened to be a second too long. Peter put all his force into his fist as he punched the guard square in the jaw. The guard blindly swung his fist toward Peter which he easily batted away. He punched the twenty year old guard in the chest and heard ribs cracking. The guard toppled to the ground.Peter quickly dealt with the guard by handcuffing him to the table. He scurried over to the door and tried it. Whoever had designed the door made it to keep people in.He hurried over to the keypad. There was no way he could crack the password without all of his equipment with him. His last hope was the window.Steel bars covered the window. He tried budging them, but they didn't move. He cursed loudly. His elaborate escape route was reduced to shreds.He sat down and picked up the guard's gun and waited. He heard footsteps outside his door. The door opened, and Peter dropped the gun. A feeling of horror filled his body. He looked toward the open door with true fear on his face…

Dylan
January 9th, 2012, 09:54 PM
There's a lot of sentences that slap me in the face.

He scurried over to the door and tried it. Whoever had designed the door made it to keep people in. He hurried over to the keypad.

*barf*


I liked how you wrote it though! It was very interesting, and I think if you made it "flow" better than it would be quite a nice piece of work :)

BabaYaga
January 10th, 2012, 01:16 PM
Hello. This is a story I had to write for my English class. It is inspired by Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum. I am hoping to improve my work with feedback from all you folks here at WF. I hope you enjoy it.

Hi Raptor,

It's a good effort, I like that you seemed to really have embraced the whole 'show, don't tell' philosophy by including lots of little details to paint the picture for the reader, this works well when you talk about the guards tattoos- I found this interesting and it told me something about both the guard and your protagonist. There are parts, however, where all this detail is a bit too much- like in the description of the room. If you give me just a few clues to a setting, I will imagine it myself, but describing the walls, the carpet, etc. It's too much.

I also struggled to see the comparison between your inspiration and your story. For one, it seems like your story isn't quite finished... there's no resolution on any level. Peter doesn't have to get out alive and you can leave us with a few mysteries, but this really feels like it cuts out halfway through. There also seem to be a lot of details and elements that don't seem to add up. Like the car explosion- I can see why you added it, but you need to give us more information.

Some suggested edits below- don't be put off by the amount of red, most of them are questions that you will hopefully find helpful. Good luck and I'm looking forward to seeing where you take this story.



The Man Who Knew Too Much
(I would suggest trying to find a title that isn't already immediately identifiable with another work. The Man Who Knew Too Much was the title of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.)


"For the moment, at least, I was free."
Edgar Allen Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum.


Peter eyed the gun in the guard's hand. One quick jab to the face and a hard hit to the chest would have taken him out, but he was handcuffed to a large metal table. [The room around him was white with one lone window looking out toward Washington D.C. The window pane was cherry red, and an ugly shade of brown carpet adorned the floor. The only furnishings were a few metal chairs and the metal table. On the southwestern wall, there was a large wooden door leading off to the rest of the building. Next to it was a digital keypad with an eight digit password- how can we know this from looking at it that the password is 8 digits long?. Peter looked through the window. By the look of the height of the building, they were approximately thirty floors up.]

Do we need to know all that about the room? If all the reader needs to know is that we are in a cramped, filthy, sparsely furnished room, high above Washington D.C., then that's all you need to tell us.

Peter knew too much, and whoever was in charge wanted to know what he knew.The guard was just a kid, twenty years old or so. He looked Middle Eastern by the looks of his face, and had a large red winged serpent tattooed on his arm. Many wouldn't have thought anything of it, but Peter knew the significance. The guard was part of the Seek (sp? Is this an intentional reference to the Sikh religion?) gang, a newly founded terrorist group bent on abolishingthe United States. (why?)

The Seeks already had a few thousand members from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and various other Middle Eastern countries.(what is the mandate of this new group? Why is it attracting so many followers from so many countries? Is it a fundamentally religious cause? Remember that Israel is a Middle Eastern country as well, so I think you need to elaborate.) On the guard's other arm there was a black circle tattooed around an orange cobra.That was his division. He was from Saudi Arabia, the head of the gang. Iran was another important meeting place of the Seeks. That was a station for crystal meth and heroine. Both drugs were the Seeks' main export.

This seems to have little to do with the line that comes before. The guard is identified as being from Saudi Arabia and then we start finding out about Iraq and the group's income source.

Someone knocked on the door. The guard got up and said something in Arabic. The person behind the door replied in fluent Arabic We can infer that he would reply in the same language. He unbolted the deadlock and typed in a password on the keypad which disabled the alarm. The guard opened the door inward to reveal a beautiful woman with wide-rimmed glasses. She had bright blonde hair (an unusual look for a Middle Eastern operative). In both her hands (did she have one in each hand?), She carried a big black briefcase, flashed Peter an evil smile and strutted toward an empty chair, which she pulled up to the table.The guard lit a cigarette and the thick fumes filtered into the room (nice use of imagery here). The woman (try to avoid starting too many sentences with the same word, i.e. 'She') sat down and crossed her legs. "I hear you have the account details (corporate accounts are spread across many different accounts/ funds/ assets, etc- by saying 'details' you don't actually have to go into the details) of seven of the richest men (there is no way one man could memorise the financials of 7 big corporates. Their own CFOs probably wouldn't be able to do that) in this wretched nation." She had a thick accent. "We really want to know them, and you're going to tell us them." you've already told us they want info that Peter has. She opened one briefcase and faced it toward him. "You have a choice: one million dollars, unmarked bills or," she opened the other briefcase and faced it toward him, "we can do it the hard way. I'll let you think about it." Peter cringed at the sight of the other briefcase. Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead. She (how else could you describe her here?) smiled and walked out the door.

Great dialogue formatting in the above paragraph, I've seen a lot of people struggle with it, but you've done it really well there. I also like that we don't know what's in the briefcase- it keeps us guessing- I'm just disappointed that we don't see it again for the rest of the story.

She chuckled a bit when she figured her way down the labyrinth of corridors (if she managed to get up there, why does she have to figure her way down?). She reached the main corridor and made her way to the stairs.The operation had gone so smooth. Taking out the real interrogator was the easy part. Slipping the bobby pin to the target was more complicated. It would be hours before they found the real interrogator stuffed in an empty closet. She reached ground floor and made her way to the entrance. Peter fumbled with the bobby pin in his hands. He inserted it into the lock and quietly moved it around inside. He slipped off one side of the handcuffs and began feeling life in his right hand again. He waited for an opportune moment to strike. One quick jab to the face and a hard hit to the chest.

The woman made it to her car and sat down in the plush leather seats of her Cadillac. She slipped off her wig to reveal a bald head. She began removing fake patches of skin from her face. Hidden underneath them were scars from previous operations gone wrong (this seems like an important detail, but I don't understand why its here- you need to clarify). She entered the key into the ignition and slowly turned it. An explosion of metal and glass shook the building. (Does this mean that she's been found out? Why is the guard upstairs surprised when her car explodes then?)

The guard became still for a moment before he ran toward the window to see the carnage of what used to be the luxury car. Peter knew it was time to act while the guard had his back turned. He got up quickly and sprinted toward the guard with the metal chair clanging to the floor behind him. The guard sensed him coming and spun around before Peter could reach him. Peter lashed out with his fist toward the guard's face. The guard saw it coming and batted Peter's fist out of the way. The guard then counteracted with a jab that launched its way into Peter's stomach. Peter's world spun in circles as he gasped for oxygen. He clutched his stomach and desperately tried to get the air flowing again.The guard let down his guard for a second. (this sentence doesn't work, try to rephrase, eg:The guard, distracted by noises outside the door, turned away from Peter for a second.

Nice melee description, again, you don't gloss over any action, which is good- but this seems to be the largest part of the story and all it tells me is that these two guys are punching the hell out of each other. Maybe try to shorten this sequence if possible to give the reader more meat in the other areas.

It just so happened to be a second too long. Peter put all his force into his fist as he punched the guard square in the jaw. The guard blindly swung his fist toward Peter which he easily batted away. He punched the twenty year old guard in the chest and heard ribs cracking. The guard toppled to the ground.Peter quickly dealt with the guard by handcuffing handcuffed him to the table. He scurried over to the door and tried it to no avail. Whoever had designed the door made it to keep people in. He hurried over to the keypad. There was no way he could crack the password without all of his equipment with him. The only window in the room was at least thirty floors above ground and covered by steel bars.Steel bars covered the window. He tried budging them, but they didn't move. He cursed loudly. His elaborate escape route was reduced to shreds (mixed metaphor and considering that his plan seemed to hinge on a woman giving him a hairpin, it doesn't seem that elaborate). He sat down and picked up the guard's gun and waited. He heard footsteps outside his door. The door opened, and Peter dropped the gun. A feeling of horror filled his body. He looked toward the open door with true fear on his face…[/QUOTE]What happens next? Does he get rescued/ killed? What about what's in the briefcase? Doesn't he ever have to deal with that?

It's a great start, now just tell us how it ends :)

Raptor980
January 11th, 2012, 12:57 AM
Thanks BabaYaga! I know the detail is a bit much and I normally wouldn't add that much detail. You're right though, no one cares about the carpet or windows.


you seemed to really have embraced the whole 'show, don't tell' philosophy I probably should have posted in my original post that the writing assignment's name was "Show, Not Tell."

I like a lot of your edits, but l wouldn't have gone to all the trouble telling you everything if it wasn't part of the project.

Second of all, the project was supposed to be about a sentence from the Pit and the Pendulum. Obviously, it doesn't have to be about the story itself only a sentence that gives inspiration to an original piece, but I thought I'd be clever and add small references to the famous Poe story in my piece. When the main character from the Pit and the Pendulum sees the bottom of the pit, all Poe gives the reader is "Any horror but this!" I thought I'd add a reference similiar to that with the briefcase. Think of it as your worst nightmare packed into a briefcase.

I guess I was trying to give as little as I could when I had to give so much. Your edits were incredibly helpful though.

Dylan
January 11th, 2012, 11:16 PM
I know the detail is a bit much and I normally wouldn't add that much detail. You're right though, no one cares about the carpet or windows.I like a lot of your edits, but l wouldn't have gone to all the trouble telling you everything if it wasn't part of the project.

You can be descriptive, and not make it so bland. Here's an example.

Peter eyed the gun in the guard's hand. One quick jab to the face and a hard hit to the chest would have taken him out, but he was handcuffed to a large metal table. The room around him was white with one lone window looking out toward Washington D.C. The window pane was cherry red, and an ugly shade of brown carpet adorned the floor. The only decoration was a few metal chairs and the metal table. On the southwestern wall, there was a large wooden door leading off to the rest of the building. By it was a keypad with an eight digit password.Peter looked through the window. By the look of the height of the building, they were approximately thirty floors up.

that is yours ^ lots of "he did this. this happened."


Calculating, Peter eyed the gun in the guard's hand. A quick jab to the face and a hard hit to the chest would have taken him out, but unfortunately he was handcuffed to a large metal table. The room around him was white with one lone window looking out toward Washington D.C. The window pane was cherry red, and an ugly shade of brown carpet adorned the floor. The only decorations were a few metal chairs, and the one lone table he was handcuffed too. Off to the side there was a large wooden door leading to the rest of the building, and by it was a small keypad with an eight digit password. Peter looked through the window, to get a sense of where he was. He guessed they were approximately thirty floors up; quite a long way to fall.


This still has "show don't tell" but its much easier to read in my opinion.

Raptor980
January 12th, 2012, 03:21 AM
Thanks Dylan! I don't write much for other people, and I usually write in my notebook because it's fun. This is my first time branching out and posting my stories for the public to see. Thanks for giving me something to work with. I do agree that your version is smoother and easier to read.

wallacemarino
January 14th, 2012, 11:46 PM
I like this piece very much although I do agree with many of the criticisms above. It definitely ends too soon. I understand your point about it being a show not tell work, but it really does feel unfinished.

bazz cargo
January 17th, 2012, 10:58 PM
Hi Raptor,
Gargh! Is was so into this and it suddenly stopped!

I'm impressed, as a first time out it had a lot going for it. Mostly well constructed, still needs a ruthless edit to smooth out the bumps. The text layout is in need of being broken up.

You will need to watch your pov, and there are some small tense issues. I would read something else by you on the strength of this. Waaay to go!

old_expat
January 24th, 2012, 10:02 AM
Hi Raptor980,

I started reading your work, but the formatting made it very difficult to follow. Consider more paragraphs, especially when starting a new instance of dialogue.


I also pretty much agree with what BabaYaga said.

Additionally, I see some (to me) POV problems.


He looked toward the open door with true fear on his face…

In this closing sentence Peter seems to be looking at his own face. Might be better to use some inner reaction, i.e. "gut wrench", "shiver", etc.

writingismylife<3
February 3rd, 2012, 09:26 PM
Detail, detail, detail. I understand that i am repeating what many others have said but you work is in dire need of it. I recommend that you read over your work and add in will needed details and describing words. For example

Peter eyed the gun in the guard's stiff, large hand. One quick, swift jab would wipe the smug expression off the guards face. A hard hit to his broad chest would have taken him out, but he was handcuffed to a large, copper colored table. The small, utterly empty room around him was white. One lone window, positioned on the wall in front of him, looking out toward Washington D.C. The window pane ,that wrapped around the small window was cherry red, an ugly shade of brown carpet adorned the floor. The only decoration was a few old, rusted metal chairs and the metal table which could barely stand under its own weight. On the southwestern wall, there was a large, oak door leading off to the rest of the building. By it was a keypad, that held the secret which he was so desperate to know, with an eight digit password. Peter looked through the window,he squinted as the sunlight burned his eyes. By the look of the height of the buildings around him, they were approximately thirty floors up.