Israel Falls Re-Work (Fantasy 2400 words)

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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Dec 20, 2014
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#1
So I took everyone's advice. Scrapped the beginning save for a few parts and started again. Threw in some hooks and some stakes for the main character to gabble with as he discovers the problem he had just caused and now he is going to try to fix it. Hope you enjoy it.

Log…1?

My God. I f***ed up. I blinked and started to panic as I got used to my surroundings and adjusted to bright white light that seemed to flood everything. As I told myself to stop my arms and legs from flailing around like a crazy person. I realized that there was something that didn’t belong stuck to my bloodstained fingertips on my right hand. It was a post-it note. On it, a warning that I failed to remember and apparently didn’t listen to: TIME TRAVEL IS DANGEROUS. DO NOT ATTEMPT.

What an utterly useless piece of information. I thought to myself as I placed the post-it on the wall nearby. The markings sprawled out on top of the computer console which was a giant screen right in front of my face, that read LifePod NX-04 in fancy raised serif font that blended into the surrounding black chrome walls.

“Ah!” I exclaimed for no one to hear as I tried to sort out events in my Swiss-cheesed memory. “But everyone knows that time travel isn’t dangerous. Right?” That’s what I grew up with. That’s what I was taught all of my life. “Time Travel is safe and the world needs time travel.” For some reason I remembered the slogan of some mega-corporation on Earth. Even then like a sucker, I chalked it up to it being a normal part of everyday life that had no consequences whatsoever. Now of course, even the most casual time traveler didn’t believe that. They “knew” that the Temporal Consortium was tracking their every move, putting celestial firewalls on human souls, and who knows what they could be doing out in the uncharted areas of the timeline. I thought to myself as all this was coming back to me. Then I looked back at the note and I questioned my sanity for the first time. In that moment and in many more moments to come I could feel my way of life beginning to unravel as I slowly came to terms with my predicament. For that is the purpose of these entries. For myself to make sense of it all and to figure out where it all went wrong.

Now, the details of where I just was, just how I got here, and how that cryptic warning was anything of importance was slowly coming to me. Yet that note still tripped me up. I couldn’t quite remember everything at the moment and the only other thing that I seemed to keep focusing on besides for useless historical facts about the history of time travel, were graphic memories of flying pigs with bloody tusks and giant airplane wingspans swooping out of the sky! Up close they were quite disgusting, and menacing. Were they trying to save humanity from our mistakes in time or were they our enemies? I couldn’t quite remember but that says more about their species than my memory. Speaking of which? I thought back to the note. Why the f*ck would I write a note to myself warning me about attempting time travel, when the only thing I felt necessary to save my life was a freaking time machine?

As I looked around and realized that this particular model was designed to automatically adjust to the needs of human comfort so that you could co-exist within the temporal void in case you happened to get uh, lost. Typical 30th century tech.

I knew from that NX classification that the vessel was created for purposes of surviving a certain cataclysmic event. It’s a tiny, boring, and lonely vessel built for an eternity of Heaven and Hell all swirled together. The best of the best and you obviously didn’t even need to be good to get access to one. Practically a torture chamber full of endless entertainment and food one could ever need—with drum roll please, no companions. See? Torture. There’s a toilet a few inches from my right arm and the ceiling a few inches from my left shoulder. It automatically adjusts to the amount of space I need to take up and at this point. I happened to be sitting down in a quite comfortable lounge chair which reclined to the perfect angle and hugged the muscles of my body. Now, the ironic thing about being in a physical space that was built for comfort is that while your body is kept in order, your mind is doing crazy things.

For the life of me I couldn’t remember what cataclysmic event this pod was designed for. I knew it had to be bad but the limit of my imagination only brought me to the dark twisted events of what could have possibly happened—and there were many possibilities that could cause everything in the universe to blink out of existence. Most were quite harmless glitches, others were kinks in the timeline that the coders still had to work out and yet the dangerous ones were while varied and possible, extremely rare.

I say dark, because while these events typically amounted to mundane hiccups, I couldn’t think of anything particularly good that would cause everything to simply disappear like it had apparently done. In my memories and subsequent searching of official records. I could find no such good act which would happen to cause this. So I had an urgent need and some incentive to find out exactly what happened and to make sure that the bad thing never happened again.

I figured I can quite easily retrace my steps and possibly save the world! Not that I cared about that part so much but I assumed the option was available if I decided to grab it. I had the foresight to realize that this existence was going to get boring and needed something to do.

I blinked again to try to decode the seemingly very simple message on the post-it. Perhaps it was a subconscious way to remind myself that time travel was indeed dangerous and that society should have never had gotten used to it. Never should have attempted to grapple or regulate it, because humanity was just too inclined to screw it all up.

I was hoping that more information or details would magically appear on the post-it. It was known to happen. I knew, as with all things time travel. Nothing is simple and I needed all the help I could get to get out of this and put everything back in order. So I did the last thing that I thought I would ever do. Something that in hindsight seems ridiculous then and even more now, I prayed.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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#2
The trouble is, you're still simply trying to explain the context for the reader. While you are trying to write in something immediate happening, in the end it's just someone talking to themselves for the benefit of the reader and it's still all no more than one big infodump.

A story is a series of immediate events - things happening in the now. Focus on that and leave any and all explanations out, and you'll have something much stronger.
 
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#3
The opening paragraphs grabbed me and I was really interested to see where it went. There's a couple of awkwardly punctuated sentences near the start though. It all felt quite immediate and encouraged me to keep reading but then it lost its way half way throughough and nothing really developed, I just felt I was getting lots of exposition without anything really happening. By the end I didn't really care which is a shame given how much you had grabbed me at the start.
 

Joshua Jones

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#4
I am kinda with Harry on this one. I think this revision moves in the right direction, but you do seem to still be explaining too much.

Personally, the way I think you should approach this is to cut back on the introspection and focus on his actions beyond trying to remember. What I got from this is that he woke up, saw a sticky note, and contemplated his ship, his life choices, the way society had gone, and so forth. I typically refer to something like this as a protagonist contemplating his or her navel. Granted, you introduced the memory issues to try to explain that, but experienced readers will probably see through that. I am of the opinion that these details should be sprinkled throughout the story to flesh it out as you go.

One of the things that made Slaughterhouse-five so great was the non-linear storyline and picking up the pieces as you go. You have time collapsing, so what better setting for a non-linear story? You could even have a story which is simultaneously linear and non-linear. And, I love the plot device of a sticky note that changes based on future actions of the protagonist in the past. You could have quite a bit of fun with that...

Again, I like your idea, but you seem to still be thinking of your opening chapter as an introduction to your setting and orientation to your story than an introduction to your character and the start of the action. One thing that may help is to write out a list of what actions he takes in a chapter. In this chapter, he wakes up, looks at a sticky note, then looks around to try to figure out what is happening, then prays... That isn't much. Maybe consider merging this chapter with your next chapter without adding length? I suspect this is going to be a somewhat slower paced story no matter what, but that may give some action in the first chapter other than observing, contemplating, and petitioning.

Keep working at it! It is a really interesting idea.
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
Joined
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#5
The opening paragraphs grabbed me and I was really interested to see where it went. There's a couple of awkwardly punctuated sentences near the start though. It all felt quite immediate and encouraged me to keep reading but then it lost its way half way throughough and nothing really developed, I just felt I was getting lots of exposition without anything really happening. By the end I didn't really care which is a shame given how much you had grabbed me at the start.
Thanks. Can you pinpoint exactly where I lost you so that I can work from there? I'm pretty proud of certain parts of this and especially the beginning. This is actually a combination of three chapters already. So I feel like the story is getting stronger.
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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#6
I am kinda with Harry on this one. I think this revision moves in the right direction, but you do seem to still be explaining too much.

Personally, the way I think you should approach this is to cut back on the introspection and focus on his actions beyond trying to remember. What I got from this is that he woke up, saw a sticky note, and contemplated his ship, his life choices, the way society had gone, and so forth. I typically refer to something like this as a protagonist contemplating his or her navel. Granted, you introduced the memory issues to try to explain that, but experienced readers will probably see through that. I am of the opinion that these details should be sprinkled throughout the story to flesh it out as you go.

One of the things that made Slaughterhouse-five so great was the non-linear storyline and picking up the pieces as you go. You have time collapsing, so what better setting for a non-linear story? You could even have a story which is simultaneously linear and non-linear. And, I love the plot device of a sticky note that changes based on future actions of the protagonist in the past. You could have quite a bit of fun with that...

Again, I like your idea, but you seem to still be thinking of your opening chapter as an introduction to your setting and orientation to your story than an introduction to your character and the start of the action. One thing that may help is to write out a list of what actions he takes in a chapter. In this chapter, he wakes up, looks at a sticky note, then looks around to try to figure out what is happening, then prays... That isn't much. Maybe consider merging this chapter with your next chapter without adding length? I suspect this is going to be a somewhat slower paced story no matter what, but that may give some action in the first chapter other than observing, contemplating, and petitioning.

Keep working at it! It is a really interesting idea.
Hey! Now you got me on ideas for potential advances in sticky-note technology and it's usefulness in the time travel industry...

You get the non-linear vibe of where this is going pretty quickly. Yeah being a time travel story about the life of a time traveler was pretty hard to write in linear format. I couldn't do it despite many attempts over the last ten years at trying it that way. You can look at them below if you want.
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2018
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#7
I wouldn't say there was a particular point where you lost me but I'd say paragraph 7 "I knew from that NX classification...." it started to go a bit flat and by paragraph 9 "I say dark, because while these events typically amounted to mundane hiccups..." I'd stopped caring. By that point it felt like nothing was developing, plot or character. Maybe it was and/or maybe it was important exposition for later but on a purely emotional level it just felt flat and not especially engaging. But that's just one man's opinion.
 

Ihe

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#8
@Cli-Fi, check out Time Salvager by Wesley Chu. They have a society that depends on time travel for survival, and the MC works as a time-travelling resource gatherer. I think it'll be right up your alley, and at the very least you can see how others do it. It's also quite fast-paced, and you'll see that despite the complexity of the setting, the author doesn't stop to explain. One learns only what is necessary and as the story goes, and often in an indirect way. The secret to this is narrowing the scope. Grand and complex settings often throw a lot of information at us that is not necessary for plot advancement, and there's so much that it is often exposed at the wrong times. Anyway, have a look. The guy is not a very good technical writer, but he is entertaining.
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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Messages
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#9
@Cli-Fi, check out Time Salvager by Wesley Chu. They have a society that depends on time travel for survival, and the MC works as a time-travelling resource gatherer. I think it'll be right up your alley, and at the very least you can see how others do it. It's also quite fast-paced, and you'll see that despite the complexity of the setting, the author doesn't stop to explain. One learns only what is necessary and as the story goes, and often in an indirect way. The secret to this is narrowing the scope. Grand and complex settings often throw a lot of information at us that is not necessary for plot advancement, and there's so much that it is often exposed at the wrong times. Anyway, have a look. The guy is not a very good technical writer, but he is entertaining.
Wow that sounds similar. Didn't think I had much competition :) I see a few differences the main one being that my society is peak utopia and not crumbling. I'll take a listen tomorrow.
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2018
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#10
I'm not sure whether this is the first chapter of what you're writing or if it's a latter chapter but I suggest that you not include so many details at once. The entire time the POV character is thinking to themselves and there is very little action or dialogue. Overall I like your idea and the story has a lot of potential.
 

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