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Bard_Daniel
February 19th, 2017, 04:15 AM
Delta-9


“You are not the most ordinary of men, Mr. Graves,” was the first thing the guard said in the interrogation room. Sheldon Graves had begun to go bald in his teenage years and, now, by the age of twenty-seven he had only a few remaining hairs left on his head. To compensate for this he grew in a beard. The problem with it was that it was patchy-- incomplete. When they had strip-searched him they discovered that his chest was bare of hair besides the small spirals on his stomach.

They found nothing wrong—at first.

When the strip search was over he put back on his The Clash t-shirt. His skin was tanned by the sun. This occurred to people who went to the Delta-9 moon. The proximity to the sun was much closer to the moon than on Earth.

“I see here that you were commended for bravery on Gamma-5,” the guard with the name-tag entitled Riggs said. He had wisps of gray streaking his hair and a full goatee. “A medal of honor is not something I take lightly. My cousin was out there. He did not make it back. There were a lot of rookies out there... most of them just out of basic training. He was one of them.”

Sheldon nodded. “I was a few weeks out of basic. There were a lot of good men down there. We lost most of them.”

Riggs took his beret off and laid it down on the table that separated the two men from each other. He smoothed back his hair and took a deep breath and then let it out very abruptly. “You were an officer. I heard that they kept trying to pick the officers off with snipers in an effort to discourage organization.”

“Yes,” Sheldon said, scratching his beard. “The first day I was there three officers alone were taken out.”

“Those damned rebels,” Riggs said. His hair was concentrated in a V-line that made him look intimidating. His eyes were dark and focused. There was something about his face, and his manner, that was almost Roman. He poked at the beret that was on the table. “I myself saw action though not there. Quadrant Seven. I was in the second wave. My platoon went down like dominoes... one after the other. We had trained well and...damn it... we tried to fight the best that we could. It made no difference. I was wounded—” he tapped the side of his chest. “... right here and was lying on the battlefield waiting to die... praying for God to get me out of there... to just have one more day back home,” he said. “Lying there, I heard the sound of ships approaching... reinforcements had arrived. Some medic lugged me out of there.”

Sheldon looked down at the beret on the table with a blank expression.

“So,” Riggs said. “Are you going to tell me why you had military-grade electronics in your baggage?”

Sheldon turned pale. He did not look up at Riggs, who leaned forward on his chair and looked fiercely at Sheldon.

“I always keep afloat of the news that comes in and out of this colony. Yesterday a bomb went off in the capital. It killed many people... some of them women and children. The people who set that bomb off thought that they were revolutionaries... freedom fighters they like to call themselves. But they are not. They are cowards,” he said. Sheldon, with his one hand beneath the table, clenched and unclenched his hand. “And they were caught. They said that another attack was being planned. It was meant to broadcast the message that the underground movement would not cease its activities until the colony was liberated from the shackles that had been placed upon it by Earth.” He paused to let his words sink in. “Some of the members have already been detained and... I’ll share this with you... they sang....well...with a little bit of persuasion,” he said.

Sheldon looked up at Riggs.

“If you talk,” he continued, “We can work something out. You’re not like the rest of them. Maybe you got all caught up into something that you did not fully understand. Perhaps they are pressuring you... holding your friends and/or family as collateral. If you talk to me I’m sure we can come to some sort of understanding. We are both reasonable men.”

“I’m not going to talk about anything,” Sheldon said. “And you can go to hell.”

Riggs was quiet for a moment. Suddenly, he brought down his fist, hard, on the table. Even the beret moved. Sheldon’s eyes widened while Riggs’ narrowed.

“This is not a multiple choice exam,” Riggs said. “It’s going to get bad... real fast... if you don’t cooperate.”

“Well that’s rather unfortunate,” Sheldon said, looking up at him. “Because I don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.”

“Disappointing,” Riggs muttered. Without getting up he threw a punch that connected with Sheldon’s jaw. It sent him backwards by the force. Sheldon winced and then dabbed a finger on the inside of his mouth and brought it up to his face to reveal blood.

“Yeah?” Riggs asked.. “Is that how you want this to be? I can be the good guy or the bad guy. I don’t like playing the bad guy but... damn it... am I ever good at it,” he sneered.

“You are a real son of a bitch, you know that?” Sheldon said, smiling.

“Talk,” Riggs commanded.

Sheldon flipped over the table and then grabbed the chair he had been sitting on and dashed over to a corner of the room.

“Don’t want to play ball eh?” Riggs said. “That is unfortunate.”

Sheldon threw, with all his force, the chair that he had been holding directly at Riggs. The interrogator ducked and the chair sailed past him and hit the wall. “You didn’t throw it right,” he said.

The P.A system and alarm sounded at the same time. “This is central command. The outpost is under attack. All hands to battle stations. I repeat this is Central Command. All hands to battle stations.”

“I play for keeps,” Sheldon said. Riggs grabbed the chair that had been thrown off the floor. He held it with both hands.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Sheldon said. “I’m not going anywhere,” Riggs said. He slowly began to advance towards Sheldon.

The interrogee tore into his wrist and pulled something out. It was small knife. “I read in your file that you don’t carry a gun into your interrogations,” Sheldon said. “Yes. We have files on you like you have them on us.”

Riggs paused for a moment and then kept advancing. Sheldon started to slink into the other corner of the room. “That was your biggest mistake and the one that made infiltrating this facility possible,” he said.

“What do you mean by that?’ Riggs said. He was close now.

“The transmitter is inside of me. While we have been here it’s been broadcasting to our forces.” Riggs raced at him with the chair and Sheldon darted away.

“You’re never going to win,” Riggs said.

"Oh really?” Sheldon replied. “This place is going to fall... and then the next... and then the next. There will be no end until negotiations open up. Colonies don’t work anymore. They did not work on Earth and do not work here either. The shackles of imperialism will be breached."

Riggs watched him gesticulate with his hands wildly and took it as his cue. He rushed in with the chair and hit Sheldon square in the face. Sheldon slashed viciously with his knife and cut one of Riggs’ arms flicker that sent an X trickling up the top of his wrist to his bicep. Riggs blocked out the pain while Sheldon staggered back both bruised and bleeding.

“This is not going to be pleasant,” Sheldon said. “We do not need to do it this way. I could make it easy on you. I have... in my other wrist... a cyanide-pill. If you take it they’ll be no interrogation. I’ll say that you fought until the end. No one will have to know that you took the easy way out.”

“I never take the easy way out,” Riggs said. He shifted the chair in his hands and charged again.

The siren wailed in Riggs' ears and he remembered his wife back home. It was people like her who made the world fighting for. I may die, he thought. If anyone is listening out there: thanks for the ride.

The chair connected with the side of Sheldon’s arm and the knife skirted off to the side. Riggs head-butted Sheldon and knew he had hit his mark when he heard the man’s nose break. Sheldon moaned in pain and Riggs hit the arm that was holding the knife with his chair again, trying to make him drop it. Yet, Sheldon held on. The knife came closer and closer to Riggs until it seeped into his shoulder and Riggs involuntarily dropped the chair, grunting. Riggs put a hand onto Sheldon’s broken nose and pushed forward. The interrogee emitted a monstrous sound and the blade slid, slowly, downward from Riggs’ shoulder. He punched Sheldon in the throat and the man buckled onto the ground. Riggs took the knife out of his shoulder with one hand while his other picked back up the chair.

Sheldon looked up at him, eyes glazing over, with an expression of surprise and mild shock. “So,” Sheldon coughed. “You’ve got me. What am I supposed to say?” Even his breathing looked painful. “Do as you will. Kill me.”

“No. I’m not going to kill you. I’m taking you in alive.” “How are you going to do that?” Sheldon wheezed. “We’re attacking the facility with our troops even as we speak.”

Riggs was silent.

“We’ll never make it through alive,” Sheldon said. “Hey... come on... let’s cut a deal. You let me go and I tell them to leave you alone. Sound fair?”

“No deal,” Riggs said. “I’m taking you in even if it means I die trying.”

“Then you’re a damn fool. But I’ve still got one last trick up my sleeve...” Riggs made to rush him but before he knew it Sheldon had pierced his other wrist and swallowed the cyanide capsule. “I’ll be gone in less than two minutes. I suspect that you won’t be following me too far behind. Well–” Sheldon croaked. “Adios Riggs. It’s been swell.”

In less than a minute Sheldon was dead.

The alarm was still raging as Riggs went over and closed Sheldon’s eyes.

After that, he went out the door and prepared for what was next.

Ptolemy
February 19th, 2017, 08:49 AM
I already apologize of the bdcharles rip off editing but eh.

Also I know this isn't the prose boards, but I need to comment on this piece.



Delta-9


“You are not the most ordinary of men, Mr. Graves,” [Okay, let's get crackalakin | Overall, this line is to stilted for the situation, the man is a guard, not a Harvard scholar. I would suggest "dumbing it down" and have him saying: "You're not a very ordinary man are you?" was the first thing the guard said in the interrogation room, <--[ I also suggest cutting this completely. It has no bearing in the story, just have him say "said" no need for additon. Sheldon Graves had begun to go bald in his teenage years and, now, by the age of twenty-seven he had only a few remaining hairs left on his head. To compensate for this he grew in a beard. The problem with it was that it was patchy-- incomplete. When they had strip-searched him they discovered that his chest was bare of hair besides the small spirals on his stomach. <--[I'll be frank, this was not a very good description of Sheldon Greaves. To start, the introduction makes no sense, why does it matter that he lost his hair as a teenager? How does that have any bearing on the story, hell it may come up later, but if you are going to establish this, establish it later that he lost his hair as a teenager, having it be the opening line of the exposition description is just plainly not good. The thing that is also missing, is substance. We get a description of his hair and the tone of his skin, what about his eyes? Or his mouth? Or his nose? Or his body size? We get a The Clash tee shirt, but what about him? I suggest a change where you encompass him as a person, not just his baldness.]

They found nothing wrong—at first. [Way to kill the tension, I think you thought that this would build some sort of tension (maybe you subconciously did it), but in all honesty it doesn't. While I don't think it's a "cliché" I think the "at first" is over used as a way to try to tense up the reader. Our goal is to make the reader feel tense, not tell them they should be tense. Just say they found nothing wrong and work with that, and show us that they "didn't find anything wrong-- at first."]

When the strip search was over he put back on his The Clash t-shirt. His skin was tanned by the sun. This occurred to people who went to the Delta-9 moon. The proximity to the sun was much closer to the moon than on Earth. [This through me for a loop, for one, I couldn't find any evidence that being closer to the sun would make you tan faster, if anything it would increase your chances of having a sunburn, since a moon's atmosphere would (most likely) not be the same as Earth's and Earth's atmosphere protects us from the harmful UV rays that the sun radiates. This causes us to get a tan rather than a sunburn with the select use of sunscreens or general sun exposure. Descreasing the distance between the source of those UV rays and (theoretically) decreasing the "density" of the atmosphere wouldn't cause a tan per say. I can only assume this because throughout the entire story you don't mention Delta-9's atmosphere at all. So I can only assume that it would be like our moon.

“I see here that you were commended for bravery on Gamma-5,” the guard with the name-tag entitled <--[This is not the correct use of "entitled" that means you think you are better than someone, even in that context. In all honesty you could acutally show us how 'Riggs' is shown on the name tag. Is it scrawled? Or is it stately? Both are better to use than "entitled" I still suggest an edit of this] Riggs said. He had wisps of gray streaking his hair and a full goatee. “A medal of honor is not something I take lightly. My cousin was out there. He did not make it back. There were a lot of rookies out there... most of them just out of basic training. He was one of them.” <-- [Again, very stilted, and very unnatural for a former solider to talk like. Also, there is no character, not umph in his voice; it's just, "War Hero from Gamma-5, My cousin was down there, he was a greenie, he died." It's like he's a reading a speech and trying not to mess it up. Go for more of a: "Can't scoff at Medal of Honor. Cousin was down there too, good kid, good heart, perfect drive to be a solider. He naive though, thought he would change the world, that mentality only gets you a body bag these days. Shame, he was a real good kid." This shows character, and obviously you don't have to do this, it's only a suggestion. It still builds Riggs character in a whole and since he (SPOILER) is the protagonist (apparently) it allows us to relate to him quick and early and can make us feel for him.

Sheldon nodded. “I was a few weeks out of basic. There were a lot of good men down there. We lost most of them.” <--[Again, stilted, make it causal, make it feel like a conversation between to soldiers, show and give us that mutual respect all soldiers have for each other. Give us that. (I'm just going to put in purple a "stilted" in brackets in each use of very stilted dialogue.)]

Riggs took his beret off and laid it down on the table that separated the two men from each other. He smoothed back his hair and took a deep breath and then let it out very abruptly. “You were an officer. I heard that they kept trying to pick the officers off with snipers in an effort to discourage organization." [Sort of stilted, I would give this a pass though really. What you need is a viable tag to show some emotion here.]

“Yes,” Sheldon said, scratching his beard. “The first day I was there three officers alone were taken out.” [Take out the underlined words, it flows much better]

“Those damned rebels,” Riggs said. His hair was concentrated in a V-line that made him look intimidating. <--[Oh boy, I hate this. Don't tell us he looks intimidating, show us he is intimidating. Heck you do this, you give us a description (albeit it could be better to show intimidation) of his "intimidating" features. Don't just say he is intimidating, let your descriptions do the talking. His eyes were dark and focused. There was something about his face, and his manner, that was almost Roman. <--[This is a "meh" description, I would give it a 5 out of 10. What you need here is a shift in tone, get dark, get gritty, use power words and describe his face to make him intimating. Have him grind some imperfect teeth, describe a scar that flexes when frowns. Make us intimidating, make us feel like we are being interrogated with this description. Put us in your world. He poked at the beret that was on the table. “I myself saw action though not there.<--[I feel this is an error, it's really choppy.] Quadrant Seven. I was in the second wave. My platoon went down like dominoes... one after the other. We had trained well and...damn it... we tried to fight the best that we could. It made no difference. I was wounded—” he tapped the side of his chest. “... right here and was lying on the battlefield waiting to die... praying for God to get me out of there... to just have one more day back home,” he said. “Lying there, I heard the sound of ships approaching... reinforcements had arrived. Some medic lugged me out of there.” [Sub par] [Ellipsis... ellipses... ellipsis... ellipsis... elip-- More ellipsis' =/= more tension and character. An ellipsis is a very hard pause. So, I'm imagining him just stopping and pausing every two seconds before going right on, then stopping and pausing, then stopping and pausing. On and on and on. Also, the use of "said" isn't a very good tag to use, this is a very important and character driven scene, we see a bit of character resonate out of Riggs have him get emotional. He's remembering what I can say was a massacare, why is he just cooly saying it like it's no business. Have him show emotion, and where you show emotion, you build character.

Sheldon looked down at the beret on the table with a blank expression.

“So,” Riggs said. “Are you going to tell me why you had military-grade electronics in your baggage?" <--[Because he was a former military leader, a leader who got a Medal of Honor at that, how is having military grade electronics suspicious at all? There are many "military grade electronics" in everyday life. Fiber optic cables (Hyplon, EPDM, Viton structures), solenoids, helices, motherboards etc etc. Hell many things are made out of "military grade aluminum" too. Military-grade doesn't automatically make it illegal, it just means it's some hardcore stuff. I would say maybe use some made up company's electronics that are allied with the rebels.. Like "Are you going to tell me why you had Ulta tech in your baggage?" Or something around there, military grade electronics doesn't just make him a terrorist or rebel, it's highly unlikely. Hell you can make a more than adequate bomb out of a pressure cooker, you don't need military grade electronics to make a bomb. It's just unlikely that this would raise some suspicion.

Sheldon turned pale. He did not look up at Riggs, who leaned forward on his chair and looked fiercely at Sheldon.

“I always keep afloat of the news that comes in and out of this colony. Yesterday a bomb went off in the capital. It killed many people... some of them women and children. The people who set that bomb off thought that they were revolutionaries... freedom fighters they like to call themselves. But they are not. They are cowards,” he said. Sheldon, with his one hand beneath the table, clenched and unclenched <--["Unclenched" is not a word, say he released his hand] his hand. “And they were caught. They said that another attack was being planned. It was meant to broadcast the message that the underground movement would not cease its activities until the colony was liberated from the shackles that had been placed upon it by Earth.” He paused to let his words sink in. “Some of the members have already been detained and... I’ll share this with you... they sang....well...with a little bit of persuasion,” he said. [Actually not bad, but there are problems, including the overuse of ellipsis' and the failure to make me feel anything towards Sheldon, this is due to the lack of emotion that fails to radiate from this passage. The problem also lies that it is half stilted, half not stilted and very very choppy to read through. I suggest maybe relaxing it with more exclmation points of ellispsis, have him get angry let Riggs go man. Sheldon's cohorts blew people sky high, have him get pissed!] [But also, here we get the unwanted, unrequited exposition dump. I mean, I don't really know how to fix this to be honest since it kind of is needed to pull the story forward, but it is just so long and dumpy that it feels forced. Like we have to hate Sheldon, due to the actions of others. It's not like Sheldon killed those people, other people did. I don't know, because I don't hate or feel any negative emotions towards Sheldon, I don't feel that he "betrayed his home and country" I don't get that. So the dump just feels useless. However, this is more of a personal problem, I feel it would be better if you touched up the dialogue and didn't make it feel like an exposition dump.]

Sheldon looked up at Riggs.

“If you talk,” he continued, “We can work something out. You’re not like the rest of them. Maybe you got all caught up into something that you did not fully understand. Perhaps they are pressuring you... holding your friends and/or family as collateral. If you talk to me I’m sure we can come to some sort of understanding. We are both reasonable men.” <--[Much better, but overall show some more tense emotion here. Have him shorten his words, have him fake Sheldon out that he is playing good cop. Having him use monotone words masquerading as "sweet talk" doesn't work. Have him goad Sheldon on, have him play to his wants etc etc]

“I’m not going to talk about anything,” Sheldon said. “And you can go to hell.” <--[I chuckled at this. I really did, "And you can go to hell." No, no, no, no. Have him actually piss Riggs off. "Go to hell" really isn't up there on my list of antagonistic dialogue. Have him tell Riggs to go f*** himself, or that he was no good as a solider, have him hit him in feels bro. Have him cut him to the core. The line "And you can go to hell" doesn't warrant the fight that occurs in the latter half of this passage, I have a friend who is a police interrogator and they get much much worse insults hurled at them and they don't even bat an eye at it, let alone cold-cocking the interrogatee]

Riggs was quiet for a moment. Suddenly, he brought down his fist, hard, on the table. Even the beret moved. Sheldon’s eyes widened while Riggs’ narrowed. [Hell yea! This is what I'm talking about! Show us the rage (even if it isn't warranted). The only problem here is the "Even the beret moved" unless you are either dead, malnurtured, or an infant if you throw a fist into an interrogation table, the stuff on said table will move, it's kind of a given.]

“This is not a multiple choice exam,” Riggs said. “It’s going to get bad... real fast... if you don’t cooperate.”

“Well that’s rather unfortunate,” Sheldon said, looking up at him. “Because I don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.” [Good job at having him play dumb, here is a place where you can have stilted dialogue due to him screwing with Riggs, using more sophisticated language shows that he thinks he's better than Riggs and warrants a harsher response. Nice job.

“Disappointing,” Riggs muttered. Without getting up he threw a punch that connected with Sheldon’s jaw. It sent him backwards by the force. Sheldon winced and then dabbed a finger on the inside of his mouth and brought it up to his face to reveal blood.

“Yeah?” Riggs asked,.. <--[Should be a comma, not two periods.] “Is that how you want this to be? I can be the good guy or the bad guy. I don’t like playing the bad guy but... damn it... am I ever good at it,” he sneered. [The good cop/bad cop thing is kind of a cop out (pun totally intended) I know it is what we are usually shown in an interrogation scene, the "good intention cop who works with the suspects needs and wants" and the "Morally ambious, willing to beat the shit out of a suspect and uses scare tactics cop" but that doesn't mean you have to use it. Make it original, saying "I can be the good guy or the bad guy" is just cliché, it's like saying "you can have the easy way or the hard way, and I enjoy the hard way." It's cheap, it's flat to be honest, I suggest editing this dialogue to make it more original and gives us a more feeling of an interrogation.]

“You are a real son of a bitch, you know that?” Sheldon said, smiling. [Tad cliché, but I would let it pass tbh]

“Talk,” Riggs commanded.<--

Sheldon flipped over the table and then grabbed the chair he had been sitting on and dashed over to a corner of the room. [This is a big problem I have here and it kills the rest of your piece. Interrogation tables are bolted to the floor. So are the chairs. This kills your story because you can't just flip a interrogation table, I don't care if you are a solider or whatever, those things are solid steel, and they are very heavy. Very heavy. Also you can't pick up a chair, because it is bolted to the floor for one, but also, most times a suspect is placed on a stainless steel bench not a chair (and it is bolted to the floor too) and their lower body would be exposed. Most interrogation rooms don't have a table within grasping distance of a subject because, A.) they use the table as a mental shield, so they feel more comfortable lying and B.) it hides their lower body, which is KEY to see if a subject is lying. I know this is the future (I'm guessing) but they would still use modern interrogation tactics. It is Earth anyway.]

“Don’t want to play ball eh?” Riggs said. “That is unfortunate." <--[Pretty cliché dialogue tbh.]

Sheldon threw, with all his force, the chair that he had been holding directly at Riggs. The interrogator ducked and the chair sailed past him and hit the wall. “You didn’t throw it right,” he said.

The P.A system and alarm sounded at the same time. “This is central command. The outpost is under attack. All hands to battle stations. I repeat this is Central Command. All hands to battle stations.”

“I play for keeps,” Sheldon said. Riggs grabbed the chair that had been thrown off the floor. [U]He held it with both hands <--[This is some unnessary words, we can infer and assume he would hold it with two hands.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Sheldon said.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Riggs said. He slowly began to advance towards Sheldon. <--[Formatting issue, should have been a new paragraph.]

The interrogee tore into his wrist and pulled something out. It was small knife. “I read in your file that you don’t carry a gun into your interrogations,” Sheldon said. “Yes. We have files on you like you have them on us." [Haha, What? What!? Who in god's name doesn't walk into an interrogation armed? I mean yea, common knowledge would be not to be armed because the suspect could grab it but most interrogators still have some sort of incapacitating device on them, whether it be pepper spray or a tazer or even a baton in case the suspect get's rowdy. It's just insane that he isn't armed at all for this. It's mental.]

Riggs paused for a moment and then kept advancing. Sheldon started to slink into the other corner of the room. “That was your biggest mistake and the one that made infiltrating this facility possible,” he said.

“What do you mean by that?’ Riggs said. He was close now.

“The transmitter is inside of me. While we have been here it’s been broadcasting to our forces.” Riggs raced at him with the chair and Sheldon darted away.

“You’re never going to win,” Riggs said. [Sort of sub par, there is no emotion or conflict with this dialogue, I think it's just your use of "said" the use of "said" as a "forget me word" doesn't work when it is like the only tag you use in emotional settings. This should be tense, this should be thrilling. "Said" isn't tense or thrilling at all. It's boring, and lame. Give us that umph, build some tension by using some tensionious tags.]

"Oh really?” Sheldon replied. “This place is going to fall... and then the next... and then the next <--[Don't use ellipsis' here, they have no point, and as I have previously said, they don't build tension in the way you might think they do. They just make the dialouge very choppy.] There will be no end until negotiations open up. Colonies don’t work anymore. They did not work on Earth and do not work here either. The shackles of imperialism will be breached." [Real "Meh" here. Like it's a 6/10, this should be Sheldon's crowing moment, his motivation on why he would betray the planet he fought for, the planet he fought for. And his motivation is................ Imperialism. Really. "The shackles of imperialism will be breached," (for one, don't use "breached" use broken, it works with the context) Imperialism. That's his motivation. Why? Well we are not given a reason why. I don't know why, why couldn't have been he didn't agree with the war that was held between the rebels. Why couldn't have been he was betrayed by the army? Those two clichés would work monumentally better than "imperialism".

Riggs watched him gesticulate with his hands wildly and took it as his cue. He rushed in with the chair and hit Sheldon square in the face. Sheldon slashed viciously with his knife and cut one of Riggs’ arms flicker that sent an X trickling up the top of his wrist to his bicep. Riggs blocked out the pain while Sheldon staggered back both bruised and bleeding. [Not the best, but a passable introduction to the action. I liked the descriptions, I would just wish for a bit more showing.]

“This is not going to be pleasant,” Sheldon said. “We do not need to do it this way. I could make it easy on you. I have... in my other wrist... a cyanide-pill. If you take it they’ll be no interrogation. I’ll say that you fought until the end. No one will have to know that you took the easy way out."[Stilted, no real emotion.] [But wait, did Sheldon just ask Riggs to take the cyanide pill? What? What? The hell? Why would ask Riggs that? That's so out of the bleu and weird. It has no real bearing in the story, it's not like a slice across forearm is going to kill you. It's going to hurt and your going to bleed a lot, but your not going to die for sometime. It's just a weird thing to say. I has no point.]

“I never take the easy way out,” Riggs said. He shifted the chair in his hands and charged again.

The siren wailed in Riggs' ears and he remembered his wife back home. It was people like her who made the world fighting for. I may die, he thought. If anyone is listening out there: thanks for the ride. [Again, what? This is such a useless piece of exposition. Really, really useless. To me, it seems like a forced cliché to give Riggs a wife in an effort to make us relate and feel for him. I feel this is the result of a lack of character building in the former half the passage. We have no real reason to follow Riggs as a character. He seems like a dick, doesn't really care for anyone or anything. He has no real visible personifying flaws or quirks. He's just a shallow, hollow, asshole of a character. Hell I'd rather want Sheldon to be the main character instead of Riggs. Riggs has no qualities that makes him a complex, interesting character, and doesn't make him fit (in my mind) to be a protagonist.. And giving him a wife is just a cliché cop out.

The chair connected with the side of Sheldon’s arm and the knife skirted off to the side. Riggs head-butted Sheldon and knew he had hit his mark when he heard the man’s nose break. Sheldon moaned in pain and Riggs hit the arm that was holding the knife with his chair again, trying to make him drop it. Yet, Sheldon held on. The knife came closer and closer to Riggs until it seeped into his shoulder and Riggs involuntarily dropped the chair, grunting. Riggs put a hand onto Sheldon’s broken nose and pushed forward. The interrogee emitted a monstrous sound and the blade slid, slowly, downward from Riggs’ shoulder. He punched Sheldon in the throat and the man buckled onto the ground. Riggs took the knife out of his shoulder with one hand while his other picked back up the chair. [Actually a very convincing action scene, it's pretty good. Nice Job]

Sheldon looked up at him, eyes glazing over, with an expression of surprise and mild shock. “So,” Sheldon coughed. “You’ve got me. What am I supposed to say?” Even his breathing looked painful. “Do as you will. Kill me.” [There is no real emotion, or tone in these lines again. It's the tags, there is no tension there is no emotion. It's flat.]

“No. I’m not going to kill you. I’m taking you in alive.” Riggs snarled. [Example of some "tense tags"]

“How are you going to do that?” Sheldon wheezed. “We’re attacking the facility with our troops even as we speak.” [Formatting, should have been a new paragraph.]

Riggs was silent.

“We’ll never make it through alive,” Sheldon said. “Hey... come on... let’s cut a deal. You let me go and I tell them to leave you alone. Sound fair?”

“No deal,” Riggs said. “I’m taking you in even if it means I die trying.” [Doesn't he already have him? Sheldon says "So, you got me, what am I supposed to say?" Why does Riggs say thus then? What? It's like all over the place really. It's here and there and everywhere. It makes no sense because it flows like a derailed train. The flow here is just terrible, its convulted it's confusing. I'm sorry it's just meh. Just meh.]

“Then you’re a damn fool. But I’ve still got one last trick up my sleeve...” Riggs made to rush him but before he knew it Sheldon had pierced his other wrist and swallowed the cyanide capsule. “I’ll be gone in less than two minutes. I suspect that you won’t be following me too far behind. Well–” Sheldon croaked. “Adios Riggs. It’s been swell.” [I laughed again, I'm to burned out to comment on this, but it's just such crappy last words. Have him die like a solider at least. Saying "Adios Riggs" as your last words is just maddening. Like I'm lost for words. I really am.]

In less than a minute Sheldon was dead.

The alarm was still raging as Riggs went over and closed Sheldon’s eyes.

After that, he went out the door and prepared for what was next.

Okay, that was an adventure. A real two hour adventure. ]

Daniel overall, I didn't like it. I'm sorry, I tried and I tried. I just noticed so many inaccuracies, and convoluted plot points, and a plot hole with the furniture in the room. Your SPaG was fine, it was close to perfect outside of some minor problems like "entitled" and some formatting problems but overall it was some decent stuff.

What I did like:

The action scenes: They were pretty decent truth me told. The descriptions were nice and tasteful while being just violent enough that it was believable, but not to violent that it was obnoxious. These were probably the crowing jewel of the piece.

Your SPaG: Thank god this was at least comprehensive. If it was unreadable I would have not spent 2+ hours on this. Thank you for making this readable and comprehensive.

The pacing: The pacing was alright, but there was no real "umph" to the pacing. It was pretty standard and bland, but I didn't get to bored outside of the bombing exposition dump.

What I didn't like:

The dialogue: I'll be frank, the dialogue isn't that good. It's very stilted in placed where it shouldn't be. This is more of a pet peeve on my point but I just hate stilted dialogue where there is no need to have stilted dialogue. There is no emotion, the tags are just off, the over use of ellipsis' instead of interruptions or stutters just made me bored and angry as it went on. This is an interrogation, it should be tense, high pressure, high stakes, but when everyone is talking in monotone "said" it's all lost.

The real lack of character development: This was a problem from the git go, because of your lack of good, characteristic dialogue, you lost a real (and frankly necessary) tool to develop Riggs and Sheldon. Hell, I liked Sheldon more than Riggs. Riggs was just a jerk, who had no quirks, no personifying features, no protagonist traits that make me want to relate to him. I can't relate to someone that I have no real substance with. I just can't. It's not good, if you're going to push this further you need to look more into the development of character traits and make me feel something about them. I can't be forced to like Riggs due to him being the protagonist, I need something to grasp onto.

Your descriptions: They are not good either. You don't use descriptions to your advantage either. At all. Descriptions, (flinching, stuttering, quiver, grinding teeth, hard eyes, soft eyes, dry mouth, licking lips etc etc) all can be used to build character. And once more you lose it with this. We get nothing about Sheldon other than he is bald, with a beard, tan, and wears a The Clash tee shirt. Plus you tell us Riggs is "intimidaing" but your descriptions are just cliché intimation descriptions (Hard eyes, he looked "Roman") and that's it! WHY!? WHY! Why do you stop after two! TWO! Describing features? I don't get it. I have so much more to talk about here but I'm running on hour 3 so, I'm going to hurry up.

The real crutch of clichés: It's a real crutch. "Let's play ball." "I could be the good guy or bad guy" "Your a son of a bitch, you know that?" These. I could pass these up and I wouldn't give a damn if you didn't given Riggs and no substance wife. It's a cop out. A real cop out. Giving him a wife, and having her be his "motivation" is utter BS. I'm sorry. I really am, but this turns to another problem. It's a forced, cliché, cheap way of building him to be relatable with no work or effort put in. It pisses me off so much because this is caused by the lack of character development. I'm assuming here but I think that you made it half way through this piece, realized that Riggs wasn't developed enough and just thought "What can make my readers care for Riggs? Oh! A wife!" Daniel I'm not trying to be mean at all, I hate being mean, but adding a wife with no substance or reason, is lazy writing to me. It shows me that you don't want to develop Riggs early as a character because your afraid that your readers will realize the "twist" that he is the protagonist. It just irks me. Bad, real bad.

What is the timeframe? (aka your world building): When is this set? Like near future? I don't know! You have two conflicting things going on here, you have The Clash (which was in italics for some reason (I believe its unnecessary to have a band name in italics but idk)) The Clash debuted in 1976, (unless we are talking about a different London punk band) but "Delta-9" and "Gamma-5"? The hell? Does the Earth have two moons now? It's confusing on the time frame because the writing is just so convoluted on the setting and plot. There's no substance. (I would comment more but I'm tired af)

The other problems that would take to long to write at 3AM: The minor plot hole with the bolted furniture, and Riggs not having a incapacitating device on him, plus the whole Sheldon asking Riggs if he wants to kill himself are just weird, and confusing and killed the pacing, made it choppy. You also tell a lot in places where you should show.

In Conclusion:

Daniel, this needs some work. The SPaG is great but some serious work if you want to stretch it out into a full story, focus more on some character/world building. And don't cheap out on Riggs either, he's a protagonist somehow and you need him to feel like a protagonist. I, again would write more, but I am super tired, and it's been 3 hours going on 3AM

Best of luck Daniel in your endeavors.

The Fantastical
February 19th, 2017, 11:21 AM
This is a gripping start to a story... It has the bones of a really good sci-fi, spy, action, thriller novel or short. But there are some issues that need to be cleared up in editing.




Delta-9


“You are not the most ordinary of men, Mr. Graves,” First I think the word you were looking for was extraordinary. secondly you don't tell us why the guard would say that... and I don't think not having hair makes in extraordinary. was the first thing the guard said in the interrogation room. Sheldon Graves had begun to go bald in his teenage years and, now, by the age of twenty-seven he had only a few remaining hairs left on his head. To compensate for this he grew in a beard. The problem with it was that it was patchy-- incomplete. When they had strip-searched him they discovered that his chest was bare of hair besides the small spirals on his stomach. Why is his lack of stomach hair important? A description of his build or size or height would have been more helpful, considering that he is now going to die and that is that. Where he has hair really isn't important.

They found nothing wrong—at first.

When the strip search was over he put back on his The Clash t-shirt. If this is sci-fi... it most likely is st in the future. They still have the Clash in the future or is the shirt an really old shirt? His skin was tanned by the sun. This occurred to people who went to the Delta-9 moon. However it also happens to people on earth. It isn't something that ONLY happens to people that go to the Delta-9 moon. So you need to say something like He was tanned as though he had spent years in the sun back on earth. However unlike a tan gained by the soft rays of the earths sun this tan would never fade. Burned by the Delta-9 moons proximity to the sun which was much closer than earths. Make it an identifying mark as well as a reason it would be so.

“I see here that you were commended for bravery on Gamma-5,” the guard with the name-tag entitled Riggs said. He had wisps of gray streaking his hair and a full goatee. “A medal of honor is not something I take lightly. My cousin was out there. He did not make it back. There were a lot of rookies out there... most of them just out of basic training. He was one of them.”

Sheldon nodded. “I was a few weeks out of basic. There were a lot of good men down there. We lost most of them.”

Riggs took his beret off and laid it down on the table that separated the two men from each other. He smoothed back his hair and took a deep breath and then let it out very abruptly. “You were an officer. I heard that they kept trying to pick the officers off with snipers in an effort to discourage organization.”

“Yes,” Sheldon said, scratching his beard. “The first day I was there three officers alone were taken out.”

“Those damned rebels,” Are these the same rebels the Sheldon has now joined? If not you need to distinguish between the two groups. Or make it clearer that they are one and the same. Riggs said. His hair was concentrated in a V-line that made him look intimidating. Sadly if someone walled into a room with a v on their head, intimidating would not be the word that would come to mind. Maybe say crew cut or something sort of military ish, His eyes were dark and focused. There was something about his face, and his manner, that was almost Roman. He poked at the beret that was on the table. “I myself saw action, though not there. Quadrant Seven. I was in the second wave. My platoon went down like dominoes... one after the other. We had trained well and...damn it... we tried to fight the best that we could. It made no difference. I was wounded—” he tapped the side of his chest. “... right here and was lying on the battlefield waiting to die... praying for God to get me out of there... to just have one more day back home,” he said. “Lying there, I heard the sound of ships approaching... reinforcements had arrived. Some medic lugged me out of there.”

Sheldon looked down at the beret on the table with a blank expression.

“So,” Riggs said. “Are you going to tell me why you had military-grade electronics in your baggage?”

Sheldon turned pale. If being captured was part of the plan, why would he turn pale? He did not look up at Riggs, who leaned forward on his chair and looked fiercely at Sheldon.

“I always keep afloat of the news that comes in and out of this colony. Yesterday a bomb went off in the capital. It killed many people... some of them women and children. The people who set that bomb off thought that they were revolutionaries... freedom fighters they like to call themselves. But they are not. They are cowards,” he said. Sheldon, with his one hand beneath the table, clenched and unclenched his hand. “And they were caught. They said that another attack was being planned. It was meant to broadcast the message that the underground movement would not cease its activities until the colony was liberated from the shackles that had been placed upon it by Earth.” He paused to let his words sink in. “Some of the members have already been detained and... I’ll share this with you... they sang....well...with a little bit of persuasion,” he said.

Sheldon looked up at Riggs.

“If you talk,” he continued, “We can work something out. You’re not like the rest of them. Maybe you got all caught up into something that you did not fully understand. Perhaps they are pressuring you... holding your friends and/or family as collateral. If you talk to me I’m sure we can come to some sort of understanding. We are both reasonable men.”

“I’m not going to talk about anything,” Sheldon said. “And you can go to hell.”

Riggs was quiet for a moment. Suddenly, he brought down his fist, hard, on the table. Even the beret moved. Sheldon’s eyes widened while Riggs’ narrowed. ​Again a inconsistent reaction from Sheldon. If he really had the intel that he says he as on Riggs then none of this would be a surprise, he would be the one in control.

“This is not a multiple choice exam,” Riggs said. “It’s going to get bad... real fast... if you don’t cooperate.”

“Well that’s rather unfortunate,” Sheldon said, looking up at him. “Because I don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.”

“Disappointing,” Riggs muttered. Without getting up he threw a punch that connected with Sheldon’s jaw.A move that would be rather difficult to do over a table without knocking the wind out of himself on the edge of the table. His bum would have to at least lift off the chair to give him the reach over the table. It sent him backwards by the force. Sheldon winced and then dabbed a finger on the inside of his mouth Having bitten my cheek a couple of times I can safely say that "dab" is not the word for the tender probing of tender flesh. and brought it up to his face to reveal blood.

“Yeah?” Riggs asked.. “Is that how you want this to be? I can be the good guy or the bad guy. I don’t like playing the bad guy but... damn it... am I ever good at it,” he sneered.

“You are a real son of a bitch, you know that?” Sheldon said, smiling.

“Talk,” Riggs commanded.

Sheldon flipped over the table that would mean that he is now NEXT to Riggs, so does he reach over the table and grab his chair? Why does Riggs not grab him? and then grabbed the chair he had been sitting on and dashed over to a corner of the room.

“Don’t want to play ball eh?” Riggs said. “That is unfortunate.”

Sheldon threw, with all his force, the chair that he had been holding directly at Riggs. The interrogator ducked and the chair sailed past him and hit the wall. “You didn’t throw it right,” he said.

The P.A system and alarm sounded at the same time. “This is central command. The outpost is under attack. All hands to battle stations. I repeat this is Central Command. All hands to battle stations.”

“I play for keeps,” Sheldon said. Riggs grabbed the chair that had been thrown off the floor. Riggs needs to have moved to where the chair is, across the room. He held it with both hands.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Sheldon said. “I’m not going anywhere,” Riggs said. He slowly began to advance towards Sheldon.

The interrogee tore into his wrist and pulled something out. It was small knife. “I read in your file that you don’t carry a gun into your interrogations,” Sheldon said. “Yes. We have files on you like you have them on us.”

Riggs paused for a moment and then kept advancing. Sheldon started to slink into the other corner of the room. “That was your biggest mistake and the one that made infiltrating this facility possible,” he said. What was the mistake?

“What do you mean by that?’ Riggs said. He was close now.

“The transmitter is inside of me. While we have been here it’s been broadcasting to our forces.” Riggs raced at him with the chair and Sheldon darted away.

“You’re never going to win,” Riggs said.

"Oh really?” Sheldon replied. “This place is going to fall... and then the next... and then the next. There will be no end until negotiations open up. Colonies don’t work anymore. They did not work on Earth and do not work here either. The shackles of imperialism will be breached."

Riggs watched him gesticulate with his hands wildly and took it as his cue. He rushed in with the chair and hit Sheldon square in the face. Sheldon slashed viciously with his knife and cut one of Riggs’ arms flicker huh? that sent an X Never hear of blood doing this trickling up down the top of his wrist to from his bicep. Riggs blocked out the pain while Sheldon staggered back both bruised and bleeding.

“This is not going to be pleasant,” Sheldon said. “We do not need to do it this way. I could make it easy on you. I have... in my other wrist... a cyanide-pill. If you take it they’ll be no interrogation. I’ll say that you fought until the end. No one will have to know that you took the easy way out.”

“I never take the easy way out,” Riggs said. He shifted the chair in his hands and charged again.

The siren wailed in Riggs' ears and he remembered his wife back home. It was people like her who made the world fighting for. I may die, he thought. If anyone is listening out there: thanks for the ride.

The chair connected with the side of Sheldon’s arm and the knife skirted skittered off to the side. Riggs head-butted Sheldon and knew he had hit his mark when he heard the man’s nose break. Sheldon moaned in pain and Riggs hit the arm that was holding the knife But the knife is now on the floor.. with his chair again, trying to make him drop it. Yet, Sheldon held on. The knife came closer and closer to Riggs until it seeped into his shoulder and Riggs involuntarily dropped the chair, grunting. Riggs put a hand onto Sheldon’s broken nose and pushed forward. The interrogee emitted a monstrous sound and the blade slid, slowly, downward from Riggs’ shoulder. He punched Sheldon in the throat and the man buckled onto the ground. Riggs took the knife out of his shoulder with one hand while his other picked back up the chair.

Sheldon looked up at him, eyes glazing over, with an expression of surprise and mild shock. “So,” Sheldon coughed. “You’ve got me. What am I supposed to say?” Even his breathing looked painful. “Do as you will. Kill me.”

“No. I’m not going to kill you. I’m taking you in alive.” “How are you going to do that?” Sheldon wheezed. “We’re attacking the facility with our troops even as we speak.”

Riggs was silent.

“We’ll never make it through alive,” Sheldon said. “Hey... come on... let’s cut a deal. You let me go and I tell them to leave you alone. Sound fair?”

“No deal,” Riggs said. “I’m taking you in even if it means I die trying.”

“Then you’re a damn fool. But I’ve still got one last trick up my sleeve...” Riggs made to rush him but before he knew it Sheldon had pierced his other wrist with what? and swallowed the cyanide capsule. “I’ll be gone in less than two minutes. I suspect that you won’t be following me too far behind. Well–” Sheldon croaked. “Adios Riggs. It’s been swell.”

In less than a minute Sheldon was dead.

The alarm was still raging as Riggs went over and closed Sheldon’s eyes.

After that, he went out the door and prepared for what was next.

Jay Greenstein
February 20th, 2017, 01:32 AM
You've gotten on-point critiques. But given that you were hoping to see a lot less in the way of comments and corrections, and have worked so hard on this, I'd imagine that at this point you're in shock. So let me see if I can mitigate that a bit.

First, and of most importance, nothing in the critiques reflects on you, your talent and potential, or the story. Nor are you unique in having the problems noted, because pretty much all newer writers suffer the same thing. It's a result of our learning to read, and a single small fact that no one tells us: Remember all the reports and essays you had to write. That was to give you skill in a writing style whose goal is to inform the reader. It's character-centric and fact based, just like this excerpt. And who's to tell us of the problem? Not our classmates. And if your teachers weren't successful fiction-writers they learned their writing skills in the same classrooms. In other words, we became nonfiction writers.

The problem is that the goal of fiction is to entertain. And that's an emotional goal, not factual. That sig-line at the bottom of my post says it all. So with different objectives, the methodology, naturally, changes. Fiction is character, not author-centric. And it's emotion-based. The response to what has the character's attention, and what/how it motivates the protagonist to act is of more importance to the reader than the thing being reacted to.

In the story as it is, the only senses used are sight and hearing. Don't you react based on five? The character is spoken to but we never know what's going through his mind to make him respond as he does. He never speculates about the situation or the guard. But wouldn't you? Wouldn't you be choosing your words based on your perception of their probably effect so far as your welfare?

The short version: You're telling when you'd do better showing. And as for how to make the reader feel as if they're in the cell with the prisoner, with a stake in his success, that's a learned skill, and something not touched on in our school years.

So the solution is simple, though not easy. Simple because it's a matter of picking up the tricks of the trade and becoming proficient in their use. Not easy because like any other field, it takes time, study, and practice to master. But given that every writer faces the same thing, doesn't it make sense to spend a bit of time, and perhaps a few dollars acquiring those skills?

As for how, and assuming you don't have the time to devote to acquiring a degree in commercial fiction, I'd begin with the fiction writing section of the local library. There you can find the professional opinions of publishers and agents, and learn what matters to them in the4 work they recieve. You can find the opinions of successful, multi-published writers. You can read the views of people noted for their ability to teach the subject. And, it's free.

As as usual, my suggestion is to look for the names Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon on the cover.

But whatever you do, hang in there, and keep on writing.

Thaumiel
March 11th, 2017, 11:10 AM
You won writer of the month (http://www.writingforums.com/threads/170644-February-2017-Writer-of-the-Month) this piece... hey, maybe I should tell people when they're nominated...

The Fantastical
March 11th, 2017, 04:32 PM
You won writer of the month (http://www.writingforums.com/threads/170644-February-2017-Writer-of-the-Month) this piece... hey, maybe I should tell people when they're nominated...

Maybe... it might get the word out more?