Prunty McEaspog's incredible Sandwich

AnRoinnUltra

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Greetings Crons,
Am posting a piece of writing for feedback if anyone has time to take a look (roughly 950 words). It's hopefully the first step in rewriting a short story (The Martian Mutiny) as a novel. The short format missed the beat so I'm hoping more time with the characters will make it work. I know of one big issue to begin with (descriptive passages = ranging from non existent to poor),
All advice appreciated.

Day 467 ...probably chapter 1(ish)

European Space Agency Mission Commander Jurgen Hartnor was feeling anxious. Within hours he will find out that he loves bean stew. Before that can happen he will have to make sure the most important discovery in the history of humanity stays a secret.

'Uh, I am thinking that you will both want to take some time to enjoy the scenery'

Jurgen gestured towards the glass wall of the observation room. He was fortunate that the view from the control block of Guyana space center is spectacular. The jungle canopy extends to within meters of the perimeter fence, and inside of that is a remarkably colourful garden. Three large steel structures mushroom up from the ground:
  1. the launch tower
  2. the landing platform,
  3. and the control block.
The base of all three is carefully designed to make the smallest possible footprint on planet Earth, and every visitor to the center is distracted by the dramatic contrast between science and nature. The Spanish and Lithuanian representatives were no different. They didn't even turn when Jurgen marched to the door.

'Excuse me for a few minutes'

Meanwhile.

54,643,567 kilometers and 18 meters away mission specialist Catherine McGlinchey was watching a tiny finger of smoke float out from underneath a battery compartment.

'Barney?'
'What?'
'I think there's something seriously wrong with the rover'

Barney was only half listening. He was pushing the vehicle far beyond its design specifications. His life, and the life of his passenger, were under threat.

'Barney?'
'Yeah'
'I think there's...'
'I heard ya the first time, I'm sorta busy right now'
'I think there's a fire in the battery compartment'

Barney glanced behind, and accelerated.

'You're not listening to me Barney, there's smoke in the cab, I'm getting out'

Stepping out of a vehicle moving at a speed of ten kilometers per hour in low gravity is not difficult. Even on Mars. Catherine did it so quickly that Barney took eight seconds to realize she was gone.

'There's smoke in the cab Cathy -we're gonna have to ditch'

Ditching was an overly dramatic description for what took place. If the camera on remote scanner M81 had been operational it would've captured an image of Barney Colleary stepping from the rover as it slowly lodged itself into the crater. It did so silently, but if it had made a noise, it would've sounded something like: 'Flump'.

Catherine made it to the top of the crater first. Her spacesuit wasn’t designed for speed. Climbing the slope was heavy work.

‘Barney, I need to stop for a second ...keep an eye out for that, erm, thing, let me know when it gets too close’
‘How close is too close?’
‘I dunno, uh, just make sure it doesn’t sneak up on us’
‘It’s seventy meters tall Cath’

Catherine didn’t reply. A series of rhythmic beeps in her earpiece told her she had contacted the research station. She had a message to transmit.

‘Kevin, you need to alert mission control, myself and Barney encountered an enormous space gorilla at sensor M81 ...and it’s following us back to the base’
‘There’s no signal from the rover Catherine ...what have ye done to it?’
‘Did you hear what I said Kevin?, there’s a gigantic gorilla heading for the station ...it’s probably going to eat us all’
I heard ya well enough, and I’m the only one that did ...you should know that I’ve temporarily placed the station offline -whatever messing the pair of ye are at stays between us, do you understand’

Barney was now within meters of the top of the crater, and flailing his arms wildly.

‘We have to move Cathy, the thing is getting bigger, and brighter, and, uh, I don’t want to look anymore’
‘Hold on, I’m talking to Kev’
‘What good’s that gonna do? ...the man’s a spanner, follow me’
‘How can I?, you’re behind me’

Catherine McGlinchey looked back at Barney as she spoke. Under normal circumstances the most remarkable thing about the view would have been a state of the art space buggy buried into the side of the ancient Martian crater. The only thing Cathy noticed, however, was an enormous creature towering over everything.

Are you receiving me Catherine -I want you and Barney back in the station, that’s an order’
‘Uh, Kevin, I’m looking at the creature right now, it’s starting to glow blue ...and orange’
‘Jesus Catherine, were you at the pharmaceuticals again? Are ye out of your minds? ...forget that ...just get back to the station’

Barney drew level with Catherine at the top of the crater. It was daytime, but darkness was following them, and casting the surface around them into shadows.

‘Can ya see the trail Cath?’
‘Just about, hold on a second -I’m talking to Kev ...Kevin, bring up the live feed from my helmet cam’

Barney grabbed Catherine’s arm and shuffled past.

‘C’mon don’t waste your time talking to that flute’
f*ck!’
‘Can you see it now Kevin?’
sh*t
‘Kevin, are you reading me?’
****ing hell’
‘Forget that muppet Cathy, we have to go’

Barney placed two spacewalk issue mittens on Catherine’s shoulder and turned her away from the creature. The pair resumed their jog/ march.

‘Erm, attention all crew -I am, uh, initiating Protocol 9, emergency take off in two zero minutes’
‘What do you mean ‘all crew’ Kevin?, it’s just myself and Barney ...and it'll be at least twenty minutes before we get as far as you’.
‘What’s Kev up to Cathy? The spotlights have just kicked in on the launch site’
‘He's launching the shuttle’
‘Without us?’
‘If we’re not at the launch site shortly, yes’
‘What a prick, didn’t I tell ya he was a bollox’
‘He’s just doing his job’
‘So what?, I’m always doing my job and I’m not a knob’
‘Save your breath Barney, if we’re not at the station within twenty minutes then we’re both gonna die’
 
Last edited:
Hey @AnRoinnUltra!

You certainly have some very funny ideas. The idea of a Martian space gorilla made me genuinely laugh out loud.

Some general feedback - although we can work out who is speaking from the context, it's best to include a few dialogue tags, particularly if this is the first time we've met a character. In the first line of dialogue it isn't clear who was speaking and who "you, both" are.

European Space Agency Mission Commander Jurgen Hartnor was feeling anxious. Within hours he will find out that he loves bean stew. Before that can happen he will have to make sure the most important discovery in the history of humanity stays a secret.

'Uh, I am thinking that you will both want to take some time to enjoy the scenery'

Jurgen gestured towards the glass wall of the observation room. He was fortunate that the view from the control block of Guyana space center is spectacular. The jungle canopy extends to within meters of the perimeter fence, and inside of that is a remarkably colourful garden. Three large steel structures mushroom up from the ground:
  1. the launch tower
  2. the landing platform,
  3. and the control block.
The base of all three is carefully designed to make the smallest possible footprint on planet Earth, and every visitor to the center is distracted by the dramatic contrast between science and nature. The Spanish and Lithuanian representatives were no different. They didn't even turn when Jurgen marched to the door.

'Excuse me for a few minutes'

Meanwhile.

I liked the opening paragraph, particularly the idea that Jurgen would find out he likes bean stew, but only if he can keep the most important discovery secret. That's a fun, Pratchettesque opening line.

However, I think you could have cut this section and started on the Gorilla chase as it gives us a nice hook and some action to draw the reader in. The opening section doesn't give us any exciting information - it's scene setting but nothing happens.

54,643,567 kilometers and 18 meters away mission specialist Catherine McGlinchey was watching a tiny finger of smoke float out from underneath a battery compartment.

'Barney?'
'What?'
'I think there's something seriously wrong with the rover'

Barney was only half listening. He was pushing the vehicle far beyond its design specifications. His life, and the life of his passenger, were under threat.

'Barney?'
'Yeah'
'I think there's...'
'I heard ya the first time, I'm sorta busy right now'
'I think there's a fire in the battery compartment'

Barney glanced behind, and accelerated.

'You're not listening to me Barney, there's smoke in the cab, I'm getting out'

Stepping out of a vehicle moving at a speed of ten kilometers per hour in low gravity is not difficult. Even on Mars. Catherine did it so quickly that Barney took eight seconds to realize she was gone.

'There's smoke in the cab Cathy -we're gonna have to ditch'

Ditching was an overly dramatic description for what took place. If the camera on remote scanner M81 had been operational it would've captured an image of Barney Colleary stepping from the rover as it slowly lodged itself into the crater. It did so silently, but if it had made a noise, it would've sounded something like: 'Flump'.

Catherine made it to the top of the crater first. Her spacesuit wasn’t designed for speed. Climbing the slope was heavy work.

‘Barney, I need to stop for a second ...keep an eye out for that, erm, thing, let me know when it gets too close’
‘How close is too close?’
‘I dunno, uh, just make sure it doesn’t sneak up on us’
‘It’s seventy meters tall Cath’

Catherine didn’t reply. A series of rhythmic beeps in her earpiece told her she had contacted the research station. She had a message to transmit.

‘Kevin, you need to alert mission control, myself and Barney encountered an enormous space gorilla at sensor M81 ...and it’s following us back to the base’
‘There’s no signal from the rover Catherine ...what have ye done to it?’
‘Did you hear what I said Kevin?, there’s a gigantic gorilla heading for the station ...it’s probably going to eat us all’
I heard ya well enough, and I’m the only one that did ...you should know that I’ve temporarily placed the station offline -whatever messing the pair of ye are at stays between us, do you understand’

Barney was now within meters of the top of the crater, and flailing his arms wildly.

‘We have to move Cathy, the thing is getting bigger, and brighter, and, uh, I don’t want to look anymore’
‘Hold on, I’m talking to Kev’
‘What good’s that gonna do? ...the man’s a spanner, follow me’
‘How can I?, you’re behind me’

Catherine McGlinchey looked back at Barney as she spoke. Under normal circumstances the most remarkable thing about the view would have been a state of the art space buggy buried into the side of the ancient Martian crater. The only thing Cathy noticed, however, was an enormous creature towering over everything.

Are you receiving me Catherine -I want you and Barney back in the station, that’s an order’
‘Uh, Kevin, I’m looking at the creature right now, it’s starting to glow blue ...and orange’
‘Jesus Catherine, were you at the pharmaceuticals again? Are ye out of your minds? ...forget that ...just get back to the station’

Barney drew level with Catherine at the top of the crater. It was daytime, but darkness was following them, and casting the surface around them into shadows.

‘Can ya see the trail Cath?’
‘Just about, hold on a second -I’m talking to Kev ...Kevin, bring up the live feed from my helmet cam’

Barney grabbed Catherine’s arm and shuffled past.

‘C’mon don’t waste your time talking to that flute’
f*ck!’
‘Can you see it now Kevin?’
sh*t
‘Kevin, are you reading me?’
****ing hell’
‘Forget that muppet Cathy, we have to go’

Barney placed two spacewalk issue mittens on Catherine’s shoulder and turned her away from the creature. The pair resumed their jog/ march.

‘Erm, attention all crew -I am, uh, initiating Protocol 9, emergency take off in two zero minutes’
‘What do you mean ‘all crew’ Kevin?, it’s just myself and Barney ...and it'll be at least twenty minutes before we get as far as you’.
‘What’s Kev up to Cathy? The spotlights have just kicked in on the launch site’
‘He's launching the shuttle’
‘Without us?’
‘If we’re not at the launch site shortly, yes’
‘What a prick, didn’t I tell ya he was a bollox’
‘He’s just doing his job’
‘So what?, I’m always doing my job and I’m not a knob’
‘Save your breath Barney, if we’re not at the station within twenty minutes then we’re both gonna die’

The idea here of being chased by a space gorilla is a good hook. It's funny, gives us some action and gets us to know our characters under pressure. I think you need to delve in a bit more and give us some more description as it reads a bit too much like a script, and without dialogue tags it's sometimes hard to know who's speaking.

Hope that's useful feedback!
 
Hey @AnRoinnUltra!

You certainly have some very funny ideas. The idea of a Martian space gorilla made me genuinely laugh out loud.

Some general feedback - although we can work out who is speaking from the context, it's best to include a few dialogue tags, particularly if this is the first time we've met a character. In the first line of dialogue it isn't clear who was speaking and who "you, both" are.



I liked the opening paragraph, particularly the idea that Jurgen would find out he likes bean stew, but only if he can keep the most important discovery secret. That's a fun, Pratchettesque opening line.

However, I think you could have cut this section and started on the Gorilla chase as it gives us a nice hook and some action to draw the reader in. The opening section doesn't give us any exciting information - it's scene setting but nothing happens.



The idea here of being chased by a space gorilla is a good hook. It's funny, gives us some action and gets us to know our characters under pressure. I think you need to delve in a bit more and give us some more description as it reads a bit too much like a script, and without dialogue tags it's sometimes hard to know who's speaking.

Hope that's useful feedback!
Fair play @Mon0Zer0 , that's exactly what the doctor ordered -I'm gonna cut the whole Guyana/ Jurgen thing and have it as a prologue instead as a result. The dialogue/ description/ tags thing will be a lot harder to fix and I'm glad ya mentioned it; it's something I need to work on -more time with the vivid description section of the workshop is needed. Great that you thought it was funny, that's nice to read as I wanted them to be in mortal danger but without it being serious ...only in Science Fiction;)

Thanks for taking the time to read through it, one of the down sides to writing is that it can be hard to spot flaws and I reckon feedback is the only way forward -will try return the favour (signed up for a writing class in October with the aim of picking up some critiquing skills)
 
Creature feature on Mars. A classic!

Some impressions:
  1. I felt the shifts in POV were too hurried and jerky.
  2. There was a comic tone through out. If this is intentional, something more needs to be done to position this as a science fiction comedy alien creature story. If this is not intentional then I would suggest revising to have less light hearted dialog, since the characters are running from something terrifying.

Look forward to seeing where this goes!
 
Creature feature on Mars. A classic!

Some impressions:
  1. I felt the shifts in POV were too hurried and jerky.
  2. There was a comic tone through out. If this is intentional, something more needs to be done to position this as a science fiction comedy alien creature story. If this is not intentional then I would suggest revising to have less light hearted dialog, since the characters are running from something terrifying.

Look forward to seeing where this goes!
Nice one @msstice , appreciate you taking the time to have a read -I suppose it is a comedy (peak action is a zero gravity fistfight); it's a big help that you pointed out the POV thing, it ties in with a general problem with description/ dialog and reinforces the need to work on it.

Fair play, thanks for that
 
Ok, that's out there ok.

It was difficult to figure out everything that was going on near the end and not helped by the method of dialogue used and shifting characters. You need a lot more control in how you present you ideas and this will take a lot more work from you. Simply put, you work your socks off and the reader follows along effortlessly, which you don't have in the section above. By the end I was struggling to keep up. Read and edit, leave for a day or so and read again, and I find that when you return to what you've written a day or so later you will see what needs to be changed. If you're your own toughest critic then someone like me will have nowhere to go.

Some seriously good writing flare on show with comedy and jokes that worked, and that is hard to do. More control to present this correctly and you could be one to watch. You as a writer is already on the page so don't lose that voice of yours, and good luck with it all.
 
Thanks for the kind words @Bowler1 , appreciate you taking a look. I had a fair idea that the writing is hard to follow, have been told as much in a less diplomatic way. The read/ edit/ leave for a day repeat advice is great to get -it's something practical I can apply to this, and get consistent with.

Will need to work on the critical thing, I've a low standard and often publish a first draft; this forum is sorting that out though -thanks again for taking the time to pass on the advice
 
I can't speak for most AnRoinnUltra, but editing is 70%-80% of my writing with spit and polish time and again. I used t be very keen with my first drafts, but not anymore. There's no rush, when your writing is ready it's ready, take time to make it the best you can and let your ideas shine as they should. Good advice for all in my view, make it the best you can and if that takes time then so be it (years in my case - and even then???).
 
Well that's quite the piece!

Generally I like the offbeat tone and surreal undercutting of what ought to be a fairly serious, real-world scenario, so bravo for that. I also like the slight injection of Irish brogue in the voice, and I read most of this in the voices of those comedy skits you've been posting periodically, which suits it well.

I agree with @msstice - it lacks clarity in places, for example determining exactly who's speaking at which points. You'll have to work hard to make sure the prose is crystal clear, and that the reader can follow it without dampening the frenetic pace. You also need to work on your punctuation, which is erratic and littered with errors. Either get a proofreader, or learn where the full stop key is!

But... I love the tone, the non-seqiturs (the best non-seqiturs are always then try a squirrel), and the bizarro set-up.

And, most importantly, as somebody who works with the European Space Agency on a day-to-day basis in my real job, I can confirm that this is exactly how things would go down in this situation, so extra credit for that. There's even a future Jupiterian mission undergoing an early-stage Phase 0 study called GORILA (Ganymede Orbiter & RobotIc LAnder).*

*May not be true.
 
I can't speak for most AnRoinnUltra, but editing is 70%-80% of my writing with spit and polish time and again. I used t be very keen with my first drafts, but not anymore. There's no rush, when your writing is ready it's ready, take time to make it the best you can and let your ideas shine as they should. Good advice for all in my view, make it the best you can and if that takes time then so be it (years in my case - and even then???).
Thanks again, good advice by all accounts. I took a night course given by a local author earlier in the year who said pretty much the same thing. He made it clear that the more experienced you get at writing, the more you'll want to edit your work. I suppose the flip side of that is that part of the learning curve is to make a pig's ear of things. Am guessing that anyone who learns a new skill has earned the badge of dodgy work at some stage -with the exception airline pilots and surgeons ...hopefully!

Appreciate the comment, fair play
 
Well that's quite the piece!

Generally I like the offbeat tone and surreal undercutting of what ought to be a fairly serious, real-world scenario, so bravo for that. I also like the slight injection of Irish brogue in the voice, and I read most of this in the voices of those comedy skits you've been posting periodically, which suits it well.

I agree with @msstice - it lacks clarity in places, for example determining exactly who's speaking at which points. You'll have to work hard to make sure the prose is crystal clear, and that the reader can follow it without dampening the frenetic pace. You also need to work on your punctuation, which is erratic and littered with errors. Either get a proofreader, or learn where the full stop key is!

But... I love the tone, the non-seqiturs (the best non-seqiturs are always then try a squirrel), and the bizarro set-up.

And, most importantly, as somebody who works with the European Space Agency on a day-to-day basis in my real job, I can confirm that this is exactly how things would go down in this situation, so extra credit for that. There's even a future Jupiterian mission undergoing an early-stage Phase 0 study called GORILA (Ganymede Orbiter & RobotIc LAnder).*

*May not be true.
Whoa, class -respect to you, great job ...had to Google the Ganymede thing! Am planning to put in a bit of spade work researching the story so it reads maybee could be half true(ish). Appreciate the timely punctuation advice, it's never been good and I'd sorta ignored it as if it doesn't matter. Will go back to basics and secretly double up on the kids homework.

Thanks for taking the time to reply, as above hats off for sharing the knowledge.
 
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