denelian: (Default)
[personal profile] denelian
a year and a half or so ago, i wrote a short story.

it is actually very dear to me.

anyway, i somehow ran across it on my computer. i haven't thought of it in a while - i wrote it for a contest (Universe magazine, published by Baen). it didn't win (as evidenced by the fact that the enitire world wasn't deafened by my screaming). i am thinking about submitting it regularly, as opposed to for a contest.

but first, i would really like some feedback from someone other than my dad. my dad fell head-over-heels for it - but it's really hard to trust that a parent ACTUALLY likes something, because (at least my parents) they tend to feel obligated to like something.

so i am looking for victi-er, volunteers. (any writers who ever look at my LJ, if you have time, i would be ESPECIALLY grateful for your input). it is just under 5,000 words (and honestly, i don't know if thats too many or too much or anything). i would prefer to NOT try and post it to LJ, for lots of reasons.
also, anyone who DOES read it, yes yes yes the first part IS incredibly important. look, just trust me as a disabled person who deals with constant chronic pain and who had 4 fucking hip surgeries over the summer and so got eight thousand tons of ACCUTE pain on top of it: the FIRST SECTION IS IMPORTANT. i would be open on suggestions to re-write it, but since every person at the Baen's Bar who read it told me to remove the first section (and the reason is apparently not because it is bad, but because talking about pain is bad. which attitude is bad - if we were able to talk about pain more than i think more things would be treated...)i am saying upfront that i would rather never have it published at all than remove the first section. that first section is... well obviously i think it is important. because this is a story about how people are overcoming their disabilities and pain. the discussion of pain, the explanation of pain, the exploration of pain, is right at the center of the story. in a very real sense, without pain there is no story.

anyway. vic-volunteers?

edit for clarification: 5 people at Baen's responded to this short story. every single one of them said something along the lines of "nice story, but the first section is depressing" AND THAT IS ALL. i got no commentary or critiquing other than "first section makes me uncomfortable". this is why i am asking for people to read and respond :)

Date: 2009-01-29 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
msomega at gmail :)

Date: 2009-01-29 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
thanks! its on the way :)

Date: 2009-01-29 09:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

English Major at your service.

Date: 2009-01-29 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
sending... now :)

thank you! it is sci-fi, just for a warning!

Date: 2009-01-29 01:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
hit me. for sure.

Date: 2009-01-29 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
sent to your gmail. hope that is ok?

Date: 2009-01-29 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you want to sent it to Joe.argonel at gmail, I can give it a read. I won't promise to have a different opinion than the people that read it at Baen's Bar though. I will also try to guess if it needs editing or just needs to be submitted to somewhere that will be a better fit.

Date: 2009-01-29 07:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
the only opinion the people at Baen's seem to have (or at least, that *I* got) was that the first section was depressing or something along those lines. not even sure that anyone really read past that bit :) but thank you, i will be sending it in two minutes! :)

Date: 2009-01-30 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
From a quick first read through it I think it could use a little editing, but is a very good story. With editing I think it would even make a good story for Jim Baen's Universe. The main flaw I see is that the characters seem immature for their standing and place in the story. They also seem a little underdeveloped, but that is probably due to the short nature of the piece. I will try to read through it again sometime in the next few days to see if anything else come to mind.

Date: 2009-01-30 04:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i am not good at making a character seem real. it frustrates the HELL out of me. i think it's because i "know" them very well, so i don't include enough info? not really sure, and i have never had anyone to really talk to about how to make a character seem real. any advice here would be totally appreciated! i know that they come off as a bit stilted to *me*, so i can imagine how they appear to you poor victims :) (i also have this thing about Being Nice; i can't ever seem to make a "bad guy" plausable. sigh)
thank you for reading it, and your input. it is very gratifying that you think it has promise!
Rosemary Edghill has suggested some specific sites for critiquing; i am wondering if you know of anyplace where i might recieve tutoring on characterization?

thank you again!

Date: 2009-02-06 10:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OK, after re-reading and letting it percolate a bit, here are the things that bother me about the story.

The section "Breathing hurts" seems superfulous to me. There is too much telling to establish the back story and relationship, if can rewrite so it's more showing than telling I think it would make the story stronger.

The section "training breath" I can see that you are trying to establish the navy connection, however I don't think it fits with the rest of the story. Rather than training in open water and being stationed on a ship most astronaut training is done in pools. It is safer and easier to control the conditions.

The section "Marines on Parade", I think the most reworking is needed here. There needs to be a clear differention between the sttion being a military asset or a civilan station, the entire tone and structure of the section will hang on that difference. If the station is civilian the admiral would still be an honored guest, but would not recieve a military greeting and would not be anywhere in the chain of command. The senator would be the highest ranking member of the visiting party. If the station is military the surgeon would either have a special commision in the medical coprs or would be a civilian contractor, in either case he would not be in the chain of command and even in the case of a civilina station the chief medical officer would probably not be the second in command.

The main problem I have with the characterization of Admiral saud is that she doesn't seem to be charismatic enough or politically savvy enough to hold her position. At that level of service it personell management and being able to make political deals are important skills. It isn't enough to know where to send the troops if you can't get them or they won't follow orders.

And of course this advice probably isn't worth any more than you paid for it, but I hope it helps you sell the story somewhere.

Date: 2009-02-07 04:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
nonono, it is good advice.

Breathing hurts i wrote because so many people don't GET pain. its something that doesn't last long, and we never REMEMBER how bad it is. as a person who is always in high amounts of pain, i am always being brushed off, told i am exagerating, told it can't be what i say, told i am lazy, etc. but i will look the section over more, and see what can be removed.

training. you are right. i went and googled a bit, because i didn't know one way or the other, i just sort of made it up (i don't know why i didn't look it up at the time i wrote it. it only took ten minutes to get a basic background. i feel STUPID for not looking it up when i wrote it originally. i can only guess that it was part of what i was going to revise, that i just threw in what looked best at the time. sigh). now that you pointed it out, i can see it and can fix it easily.

and Admiral Saud... she is supposed to be the antagonist here. but you are TOTALLY correct, in that she has to be charismatic and that she wouldn't be so obvious. this is where i fall down. i need to look at her. do you think if i tried to write, just for me, things for her that it would help? like mock fitness reports for her staff and stuff? i'm kind of flailing around here.

the station is supposed to be a civilian station, but all transportation and supplies and such are supplied by the military, and there is supposed to be a bit of (well, a lot of) behind the scene tussling over who ulitmately is "in charge". that probably needs to be a LOT clearer. this is one of those things, like a civilian shop on a military base, where the shop is a discrete entity that is not part of the military but the military THINKS it is part of the military so there is a sort of constant power game. i should probably introduce that earlier, and talk about it more. besides my desire to humanize disabled people more and to show that disabled people CAN contribute in our society, i want to further push the meme (started by Heinlein, i think) that ultimately, the military may START our expansion into space the future of it must be civilian. grandious, no?

as for Greg being in the chain of command; he is, so long as it is a civilian station, because he in charge of many things. if you can stomach it, watch Grey's Anatomy - the Chief of Surgery is a surgeon, he is in charge of a huge portion of the hospital, and is maybe third in command. while the space station isn't JUST a hospital, Greg has ended up doing a lot more than just hospital stuff, because there really isn't a lot of medical stuff, he is pulling double duty and serves as one of the top administrators, so when the main administrator (and i need to have actual titles for these people. need to figure that out) is off the station, Greg is in charge. if it were a military station, this would not be the case. and you are very correct, i also didn't make THAT clear.

if you have shown me where i need to work - trust me, i would pay for that! i appreciate it. a LOT. i am trying to learn how to do this, and the two best ways are to DO it and to get advice from people and then listen to it. and your critique is very apt :) so thank you thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much!

is there a favor i can do for you in return?

Date: 2009-01-29 08:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Might this be the one that I'd read before? Something about outer space, and handicapped individuals, and gunshot wounds?

Or am I totally off?

Date: 2009-01-29 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
yes, that is it

i totally forgot that you had read it, i don't remember what you said. do you still have that?

Date: 2009-01-29 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's very possible that I have it still on my system, but I'd have to do some serious digging to find it.

Date: 2009-01-30 12:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

i don't know if you are saying you want another copy of it, or if you are saying you do not want to read it again.

Date: 2009-01-30 03:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I wasn't really saying either thing - I was saying that I'll take a look for it and let you know if I can find it or not.


I suppose it would have been better to say that right out front. :D

Date: 2009-01-30 03:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
if it is too hard to find, it's easy to send it again.

erm. except i lost my yahoo address book a few months ago, so i no longer have your email :) that should be rectified!


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