Pace+, 60 Seconds of Combat... 643-words

Toby Frost

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I disagree about the "boots" rather than "feet" comment, as it's a pretty standard English idiom, but I agree that this is rather unwieldy:

After another cheer, Kae waited as their vile comments and shouts for her to spend her money here reached a fevered pitch.
It just feels like too much for one sentence (and it's hard to work out the timing of the action). It could be a short paragraph, as @Matchu says. I would also ditch words like "vile", which feel like the author telling the reader what to think.
 

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Okay, fixed:

After another cheer, Kae waited as their vile shouts reached a fevered pitch. Fury muddied... Vile is left as is, it is appropriate to what they're shouting.
Harvest the crops, lest they
...
With everyone focused on Kae, they packed even tighter. Kae withdrew...
Kae heaved one puck toward the street’s tail end she walked in from, dropped the other at her feet, and began... Unchanged.

K2
 

Brian G Turner

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I think you could benefit from simplify your sentences. At the moment you have a lot of verbs in each sentence, and every single one if fighting to define the sentence - the result IMO is confusion rather than clarity. On the one hand it's potentially a basic overwriting problem - on the other, it's a POV issue, because rather than write the subjective character experience you are trying to objectively list perhaps too much. 2c.
 
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Toby Frost

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Vile is left as is, it is appropriate to what they're shouting.
Okay, but you are telling the reader what to think here. I think writing is stronger where the author lets the reader make up their own mind.
 

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I think you're right @Brian G Turner ; If you read through the thread, you'll note among other things, in the rewrite I tried out lengthening sentences with more clauses to pick up the pace. That said, the biggest problem was phrasing and order (IMO). I really needed to correct that first, rather than in conjunction with pace attempts (and still am altering it). There is some 'overwriting,' (if you mean the more purple prose passages), but past leaning them up, I'm debating their exclusion.

In any case, I'm now shortening sentences, and with the rephrasing, I don't feel it hurts the pace. I'll recheck for multiple verbs each sentence.

PoV is a difficult issue, however. On the one hand, though this chapter is a Kae-close-3rd, in this section of it, we see an odd shift in her mentality. To detach from what she's doing, her emotional/deductive self is occupying itself with nonsensical things (out of place thought passages). Her reflexive/primal portion (rage/fear, fight/flight) is also uncoupled. So, almost robotically, she is working through steps. Sweep, fire until tone sounds, change mag, use free hand after to heave a mine, draw, resume firing. She is not even responding to threats even (why none are mentioned).

Point being, I don't think she is mentally subjective at the moment. That comes a little before and a lot after. I'm not even sure she's objective this moment (weighing events/results/conditions). Kae is just blindly executing a plan, she established earlier. The purp-prose and results of her actions added to simply break up the dry action.

Okay, but you are telling the reader what to think here. I think writing is stronger where the author lets the reader make up their own mind.
Thanks @Toby Frost for helping out. As you'll note above, I edited that sentence (and have again since, as to until).

I don't 'think' I am. Kae's shouts are intentionally vulgar. Here's an excerpt: "Hey *&^#&), ^#$&^$# ***** *%^%," hehe ;) It's bad.
But, there are no quotes/dialogue from the crowd. Without the word 'vile,' we'd only know everyone is shouting, but not what they're saying. In fact, it would be impossible to guess (why I previously had, 'to spend her money here').

So, am I or aren't I? More so, aren't I telling the reader how Kae perceives it? That's a question.

Thanks everyone for your input!

K2
 
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Wayne Mack

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Is Kae listening to the crowd or ignoring it? If listening, provide some of the words or phrases she hears. If she is not listening, then just describe the emotion of the crowd, loud, angry, fearful, whatever.
 

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Is Kae listening to the crowd or ignoring it? If listening, provide some of the words or phrases she hears. If she is not listening, then just describe the emotion of the crowd, loud, angry, fearful, whatever.
Hmm... I've already described the sadistic, celebratory mood of the crowd before this, including in vague terms their shouting and excitement. I'm not convinced the reader needs more explanation past 'they're shouting out vile comments.' If I wrote out ten phrases to eliminate that one word, it becomes a lot of vulgarity just so the reader can make up their own mind (which they should have figured it out by then anyway...it's just Kae acknowledging it).

She's walked halfway up this street and noted everything (which is how she devised her plan). The reader has been informed of it all, yet not in exacting detail. I don't see much point in describing those aspects beyond stating the brutality in vague terms...of which the point is made. I've also described the crazed excitement of the visitors, making use of that brutality. Finally, their celebrating that.

What you also haven't seen is what Kae said to draw the crowd tight. She's offering more money than most of them have all together, to participate and do X/Y/Z in blunt, vulgar terms (which I'll not post here, even redacted). At that point the crowd cheers again and starts pressing her to spend her money there (which you have seen, that simply). Part of that is shouting out vile comments, that she finds vile.

Is the word that much of an issue? Does changing it to 'ribald' help? Just 'shouting' alone doesn't explain anything...shouting what?

I do understand what @Toby Frost is stating about letting the reader make up their own mind. I'm just not feeling a need to describe the vulgar detail, just so the reader's morality can can reach the same decision... in THIS case.

K2
 

Wayne Mack

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When I read the sentence, I yend to gloss over the word vile. If it is truly important, then something more is needed. If it is unimportant, then keeping or omitting it really does not make any difference.
 

tinkerdan

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My two cents--US, so they might be devalued here.

This is Kae's POV and if Kae sees the shouts as vile, I'm not sure what the point is in trying to keep Kae from expressing that very fact. Kae is not trying to convince anyone except her self here; from the way it reads to me. In fact, this expresses something deep within Kae that might be important to her character.

klink
klink
 

-K2-

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Okie dokie... So, I've rearranged a few clauses, tried to shorten passages as @Matchu suggested, with probably the biggest change being, I've moved the purple-prose (which I want to keep) to somewhere more appropriate, out of the action (as I think @Brian G Turner had issue with).

Past that, I'm moving on past this portion and will get back to it on my next re-read. Thanks everyone for your help. You've improved it considerably!

K2

from: Chapter-26, A Just Harvest, Liberty Stumbled-G8
<60-seconds of combat (between red sections).
After another cheer, Kae waited until their ribald shouts reached a fevered pitch. Fury muddied by despair boiled-up in Kae’s mind. Before she could hesitate, the voice refocused her.

Harvest weeds, lest crops wither in the field. Everyone came here gambling their sins went unnoticed. They risked their lives to impose sadistic cruelties upon the innocent. We all want to die, so here we all gather, and now it’s time. Our lives now forfeit. Wield the scythe, swathe to windrow. Shed sanguine dew, vapor trail winnow. Reap the tare, thresh and harvest...

With everyone focused on Kae, they packed even tighter. Kae withdrew two small pucks, selecting her preferences on each. She tossed up another visual-alert, then shouted, “Who remembers music? Well I like music when I’m spending rits. See how you like these songs.”

Kae heaved one puck toward the street’s tail end she walked in from, dropped the other at her feet, and began counting down. Withdrawing a larger puck from her belt, Kae unfastened the last strap on her jacket. The moment she reached ‘one,’ Kae tossed the puck five feet above her, and dropped to the ground curling tight.

“Reepa!” nearby weeds drove back against the crowd screaming, but confused yowlees and breeders blocked their escape.


Exploding at its apex, shrapnel raced out from the gyroscopic mine, and everyone within twenty feet abruptly dropped outward. Simultaneously, her audible-alerts activated. Digital sirens screamed from each; the thrown alert sounded a debilitating shriek each fall of the siren’s pitch.

Kae surged up, drawing her Lukdai Enforcers. Thrusting them out toward each end of the street, she pulled their triggers and twisted. Kae swept the mob from one side of the street to the other, and a three deep swath of people fell in a wave. Her shoulders compressed and body shuddered; deep hums and grating roars drowned out the rabble’s clamor.

After one second of twist, Kae paused for two, allowing the first bodies to fall, before she twisted back, painting the swarm again. Thin, heavy projectiles tore through flesh and shattered bone, penetrating deep into the crowd. When each row collapsed, those behind flailed against the writhing mass, exposed to her onslaught. And Kae continued to rake the crush of people.

Conservative distributions during bear markets, ensure optimal investment returns….

On her forth pivot, a loud tone warned her right gun neared empty. Ejecting its magazine, Kae thrust her gun into its holster. Continuing to pivot and fire with her left pistol, she withdrew a mag from her waist, and slammed it into her empty gun. Just then, her left gun sounded its tone. Mimicking the steps for her left pistol she had with the other, Kae’s free hand reached to her belt, and she spun.

Throwing a mine deep into the crowd toward the street’s tail end, it barely cleared their heads and exploded. A thirty-foot circle of people fell away from center. A second mine heaved toward the street’s head, yielded another grisly crop circle. A layer of acrid smog filled the gauntlet of crimson splattered buildings, peppered with shot.

Combine three ounces each of tequila, grapefruit and pineapple juice, and one jigger of apricot brandy, spiced rum, and vodka. Add ice, stir, and garnish with…

Straining to draw her heavy pistols, Kae crouched and aimed toward the street’s ends, then fired. Back and forth, she swept the crowd with the same methodical precision. Five passes later, her guns’ tones sounded again. Mechanically as before, Kae replaced each magazine as she walked toward the street’s tail end, assessing her harvest.

For the most part, the short street was already cleared. Bodies covered most of it, heaped where they fell or crawled to before expiring. Forced to scale the dead and dying, each step down onto pavement raised a splash. A scarlet mist hung in the air; everything, including Kae drenched in cherry sweat.

With the calm came the horror (sounds/most-wounded and smells).


Click on image for a larger version:
Slaver-Battle-2.jpg

K2
 
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Brian G Turner

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I think that is better. :)

I suspect you'll find a few more unnecessary words in there - however, we're moving into stylistic difference territory there. :)
 

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I suspect you'll find a few more unnecessary words in there - however, we're moving into stylistic difference territory there. :)
Thanks and yes...now that it's cleaned up, those excessive words reveal themselves. E.g.:

On her forth pivot, a loud tone warned her right gun neared empty. Ejecting its magazine, Kae thrust her gun into its holster. Continuing to pivot and fire with her left pistol, she withdrew a mag from her waist, and slammed it into her empty gun.
Could be:
Her forth pivot, a loud tone warned her right gun neared empty. Ejecting its magazine, Kae holstered her gun. Continuing to pivot and fire with her left pistol, she withdrew a fresh magazine and slammed it into her gun.

If that's what you meant, I'll address those on the next read through. Unfortunately, with all the shuffling and rewording, there comes a point it blurs and I need to quit chewing on it. After some time on other things, I can return to it fresh, and excessive words, unnecessary points, and so on stand out. At the same time I address other issues (excessive 'the's, as, and, that, buts, though, etc.).

Thanks for your help.

K2
 

Brian G Turner

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Her forth pivot, a loud tone warned her right gun neared empty. Ejecting its magazine, Kae holstered her gun. Continuing to pivot and fire with her left pistol, she withdrew a fresh magazine and slammed it into her gun.
It's on the right track, but even that's too much detail IMO. Basically, she reloads a gun, and you take 39 words to tell us that.

Additionally, your focus here is entirely on the visuals, not the character experience. This would presumably be a routine, ie, subconscious, action for her, so she's unlikely to focus on all this extraneous detail.

The result is that you spend a lot of time drawing out an action that might only need a sentence. By making this passage as long as it is, you reduce the pacing and therefore the action and tension.
 

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It's on the right track, but even that's too much detail IMO. Basically, she reloads a gun, and you take 39 words to tell us that.

Additionally, your focus here is entirely on the visuals, not the character experience. This would presumably be a routine, ie, subconscious, action for her, so she's unlikely to focus on all this extraneous detail.

The result is that you spend a lot of time drawing out an action that might only need a sentence. By making this passage as long as it is, you reduce the pacing and therefore the action and tension.
Yes, I see your point. And yes, for her this is all reflex (more so considering the description of how her mind works). That said, this is the only time the steps are described, and I guess I'm torn as to 'which' visuals for the reader I need to describe. As otherwise it's just, the combat starts 'and Kae killed them all,' as far as she would recognize it.

K2
 
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Matchu

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Hi @K2, I liked your revision, I could follow events more closely...and as Mr Turner says 'stylistic difference.' But if it was my book of war fighting...I'd slash....

Kae tossed the puck [high into the air]five feet above her, and dropped to the ground/ curling tight. ed to a ball

Exploding at its apex, shrapnel raced out [burst] from the gyroscopic mine, [bodies became a mist :)) something like that, or blood, bits, flesh ]and everyone within twenty feet abruptly dropped outward. Simultaneously, her audible-alerts activated. Digital sirens screamed from each; the thrown alert sounded a debilitating shriek each fall of the siren’s pitch.

Kae surged up, drawing her [Lukdai Enforcers]
. Thrusting them out toward each end of the street, she pulled their triggers... ...on[?] ... [Lukdai Enforcers]and twisted. Kae, swept the mob from one side of the street to the other, and a three deep swath of people fell in a wave. Her shoulders compressed and body shuddered; deep hums and grating roars drowned out the rabble’s clamor.

After one second of twist, Kae paused for two, allowing the first bodies to fall, before she twisted back, painting the swarm again. Thin, heavy projectiles tore through flesh and shattered bone, penetrating deep into the crowd. When each row collapsed, those behind flailed against the writhing mass, exposed to her onslaught. And Kae continued to rake the crush of people.

I'm so, so sorry to cross stuff out :/ ... ...to demonstrate tempo...only.

...

Thinking about it, you don't even have to say where she threw the mine, it is a gyroscopic mine. That's my job as the reader. I think so, writing less here helps me visualise, as a reader...
 
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-K2-

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Thanks @Matchu ; I understand what you and Mr. Turner are suggesting, but I fear too much deletion of detail, leaves too many questions. What's a gyroscopic mine. How can she fire so much without carrying a massive can of ammunition (as was mentioned earlier by another), and so on. Most of all, if 60 seconds of combat reads in 10 seconds, that's a problem too.

What it DOES need for sure are fewer gerunds, taking a hard look at repeated phrases, etc.. That alone will lean it up further along with other reductions.

E.g.: Exploding at its apex, shrapnel raced out from the gyroscopic mine, and everyone within twenty feet abruptly dropped outward.
Could read: The gyroscopic mine exploded at its apex and everyone within twenty feet abruptly dropped outward.
Could even read: The gyroscopic mine exploded. Everyone within twenty feet dropped.

The note of 'shrapnel' is only there to improve the way it reads in the previous order. So, by fixing some other issues, that will lean it up some, and then I'll cut a few words...and so it goes ;) Trouble is with that last version, if I delete aspects like apex, abruptly, outward, then we never learn mines are trajectory sensing, get a sense of the immediacy, and finally, understand that whole crop circle deal. Out of 115k words, this is the only description the reader will get. Next use (of mines), it's short and sweet since I've stated it 22 chapters earlier (here).

I'll chop at it some more.

Thanks again,

K2
 
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Brian G Turner

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I fear too much deletion of detail, leaves too many questions.
This is a fundamental misunderstanding, as It is questions that drive a reader's engagement. There's a thread somewhere I posted about humans being a problem solving ape, and how this applies to writing and reading. The bottom line is, explaining bad, questions good. :)

Make sure you're reading successful modern fiction and look how its done there.
 

msstice

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The bottom line is, explaining bad, questions good.
While true, I do hate the Deus Ex Machina that proliferates a lot of fiction. Harry Potter, especially the later books, are full of convenient, half explained coincidences. I realize it's fantasy, but it was a bit much for me.

In Harry Potter I also felt that this technique of using unexplained mysteries as a trail of breadcrumbs to keep the reader reading was a bit too nakedly done.
 

tinkerdan

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I have to agree with the notion that we can go too far with winnowing away at the scene.

We reach a point where only the writer knows what that scene is trying to achieve and throwing writing mechanics after it all without an understanding of what it is meant to do we throw the baby away with the bathwater.

Maybe the scene doesn't even belong and needs to be thrown out; but then who are we to decide that for the writer?


The bottom line here is that, in my opinion, we have overworked this piece; maybe it needs a rest..
 

Matchu

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I know it has been twenty minutes. But some of us doctors think this patient deserves a chance at life. Just standing there with your hands in your pockets. Grab the paddle switches, dammit.
 
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