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The Circuit (spec.fiction)


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#1 NerdWitch

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 05:34 AM

It had all been going so well right up until the homeless guys blundered in.

The plan had been flawless; the execution, even more so. Bishop knew because she'd been the key player in this dangerous game. For her 5' 2” frame, coming up through a manhole, climbing to the roof on the fire escape, and sliding down a couple of air vents into the multi-storied car park at St Pancras International had been child's play – even with several pounds of explosives in her backpack. It hadn't been hard to find the cluster of cars belonging to LifeSource Industries; they were all sleek and reeking of money. While Ace was gently tweaking the technology of the entire station – delaying a train here, slowing down an elevator there, sending an email or an announcement hither and thither as if they were all pieces in a board game – she had been laying the charges and setting the explosives into the undercarriages of those fancy cars. By the time the timers were ticking down the last few seconds, Bishop was watching from a fire escape on the building opposite.

‘Great job, Bishop,’ Ace complimented her through her earpiece; a bright earring in the shape of a dragonfly.

‘Not so bad yourself.’ Bishop replied. She grinned smugly, checking her watch. ‘Twenty more seconds and then LifeSource will be receiving our message, loud and clear.’

‘Now they'll be listening!’

Then she saw them. Two guys; perhaps twenty, perhaps forty – with heroin involved you couldn't really tell. 


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#2 Koechophe

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 06:53 PM

Heya, hope my critique will be of some use. 

 

 

It had all been going so well right up until the homeless guys blundered in. (You really don't need this. It feels like you're trying too hard to get me hooked, and it turns me off as a reader.)

The plan was had been flawless;. the execution, even more so. Bishop was knew because she'd been the key player in this dangerous game. For her 5' 2” (Specific number feels very immersion-breaking. People don't often think to themselves, "Yes, I will fit through this door with my 5.2 height. Instead, just say slight) frame, coming up through a manhole, climbing to the roof on the fire escape, and sliding down a couple of air vents into the multi-storied car park at St Pancras International was (Let's just kill the past-progressive here. "Had been" over and over feels extremely passive)had been child's play, even with several pounds of explosives in her backpack. It wasn't hadn't been hard to find the cluster of cars belonging to LifeSource Industries; they were all sleek and reeking of money. While Ace was gently (this is the wrong word. Tweaking already implies that it's light, so you can go ahead and cut this). tweaking the technology of the entire stationdelaying a train here, slowing down an elevator there, sending an email or an announcement hither and thither (a little bit too biblical there)as if they were all pieces in a board game (too much detail here that we just don't need to know)– she had been laying the charges and setting the explosives into the undercarriages of those fancy cars. By the time the explosives timers were ticking down the last few seconds, Bishop was watching from a fire escape on the building opposite.

‘Great job, Bishop,’(you need to use full quotes. "(text here)". I also question the use of italics for words that are actually audible to her.) Ace complimented her said (dialogue tags very quickly end up busy. Stick to the basics) through her earpiece; a bright earring in the shape of a dragonfly.

‘Not so bad yourself.’ Bishop replied. She grinned smugly, checking her watch. ‘Twenty more seconds, and then LifeSource will be receiving our message, loud and clear.’

‘Now they'll be listening!’

Then she saw them. Two guys; perhaps twenty, perhaps forty – with heroin involved you couldn't really tell. 

 

So the writing could use a good proofreader to go line-by-line and let you know about errors and phrasing fixes. In general, I just find myself not feeling very immersed. It seemed like you were trying very hard to write the scene well, and because of this, it ends up feeling stiff, formal, and just a bit busy. My advice would be to relax the prose a bit, and let charactarization come through more powerfully. 

 

Hope that makes sense! Good luck, and happy writing

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#3 lnloft

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 09:42 PM

It had all been going so well right up until the homeless guys blundered in. When I see a line of this sort of structure, I want it to go either one of two ways. Either I want it to go way overboard extreme, where you go, "Yeah, that really would do it," ("The day was going really well right up until the world exploded" -- yeah, that does kinda ruin the day), or I want it so counter intuitive in the other direction that you go, "Huh, wait, that didn't compound things?" ("The day was going really poorly right up until the world exploded" -- wait, the day got better when the world exploded?). But your hook doesn't really do either. You read it, and you go, yeah, I guess there are a lot of situations where some homeless guys wandering in could be a problem. So it doesn't pique my interest the way it should.

The plan had been flawless; the execution, even more so. Bishop knew because she'd been the key player in this dangerous game. For her 5' 2” I really don't care about her exact height, and dropping it in here causes a couple problems. One, it's just distracting, but, two, even more important, this is the very first thing you are telling us about our main character. First thing we learn about a character should be somewhat important, and if you're telling us this is one of the most important things to know about Bishop, then I don't know I want to spend an entire book with her. frame, coming up through a manhole, climbing to the roof on the fire escape, and sliding down a couple of air vents into the multi-storied car park at St Pancras I don't know if this is a real place, but I definitely did just read it as St Pancreas International had been child's play – even with several pounds of explosives in her backpack. It hadn't been hard to find the cluster of cars belonging to LifeSource Industries; they were all sleek and reeking of money. While Ace was gently tweaking the technology of the entire station – delaying a train here, slowing down an elevator there, sending an email or an announcement hither and thither as if they were all pieces in a board game – she had been laying the charges and setting the explosives into the undercarriages of those fancy cars. By the time the timers were ticking down the last few seconds, Bishop was watching from a fire escape on the building opposite.

‘Great job, Bishop,’ Ace complimented Dialogue tags have ended up being a real problem in my writing, so I've become hyper aware as I purge them from my MS, but this one is probably noticeable to other people as well. His dialogue itself is already an obvious compliment, so it feels just piling on to follow it up with complimented as a tag. I would at minimum just switch it to "said", or just connect it more indirectly with an action implying he spoke, something like: " 'Great job, Bishop.' Ace's voice crackled through her earpiece, a bright earring in the shape of a dragonfly."  her through her earpiece;, a bright earring in the shape of a dragonfly.

‘Not so bad yourself.’ Bishop replied. She grinned smugly, checking her watch. ‘Twenty more seconds and then LifeSource will be receiving our message, loud and clear.’

‘Now they'll be listening!< personal preference, but I'm pretty stingy on exclamation points. It makes this line feel chipper, like it's a character from a kids' show saying it.

Then she saw them. Two guys; perhaps twenty, perhaps forty – with heroin involved you couldn't really tell. 

I'm not sure you're starting in quite the right place in your story, if that makes sense. Basically you're starting off by giving us some exposition--of what's happened in the past five minutes, sure, but still telling us what Bishop just did rather than doing something right now. I see two ways around this. One is to start the story a little earlier: show us as she does these various activities and gets into position. The other is cut the plan out, and just start with her in place, watching, and seeing the homeless guys show up. Don't even tell us the plan. Is it important that we know she climbed through a manhole, or just that she planted some explosives? If the plan itself is important, can you fill in the backstory a little later? I feel that either of these options are perfectly viable, it just depends on what you think better suits the story and what you think you can pull off better.

 

The other concern I had was that Bishop is bordering on that line of feeling like a "too perfect" MC. It might just be that she's cocky and this is her own opinion of herself (unreliable narrator), but right now what I see is that 1) she was presumably a bit part of coming up with an awesome plan, 2) she pulled off all this sneaking around, considered it "child's play", and did all these things better than flawlessly, 3) her partner immediately compliments her, and 4) she smiles smugly at the end. If all of this is there because she's really full of herself, then that's an acceptable angle to take, but it doesn't exactly endear her as a character to me. But it's also coming off not so much as her but as you wanting us to know how awesome your MC is. (Ugh, I'm so sorry, I'm really trying to figure out how to say all of this as nicely as possible, but I feel like it's mostly come off as accusatory. Sorry. Critiques of your beloved MC's character are just the worst.) I think the immediate issues of these will be helped out by my previous point about where you start, because then you can show us as she does something, rather than tell us she did a great job, but it will be something to keep an eye out for in the rest of your MS.

 

Sorry I really went to town on this. I think there are worse pieces of writing I've seen that I've torn apart less. For what it's worth, I think that might be because you actually have enough of a foundation to work on here, whereas some others are just a bit of a shrug and an "I don't even know what to do with this."

 

Good luck.


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#4 NerdWitch

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 05:10 AM

Thanks guys, I've changed it around slightly and I'm actually starting right at the heart of the explosion which I think might make the readers more interested from the get go.

----------

 

The force of the explosion sent Bishop to her knees, grasping the banister desperately to keep herself from falling, one foot slipping between the steps and dangling over the drop. She could not tear her eyes away from the roaring flames of the explosion she had caused. After the first deafening roar, there was only the soft snap and crackle of fire. There were no screams. The silence held her there, breathless, her heart thundering.

‘Bishop.’ Ace’s voice echoed frantically in her earphones.

They were dead. Not even her wildest hope could believe otherwise. Nobody could have survived at such close range. Nobody was supposed to be there! She had planned everything so carefully, but still they had died – innocent, wayward, wandering homeless – the very people she was fighting so hard to protect. The people who had been vanishing in droves from the streets of London, unmissed by all but the select few who'd banded together to make the world care. That included her.

And she'd just killed two of them.

‘Bishop.’

Soon there would be crowds. Reporters. Police tape. People asking questions. Right now there was just Bishop, frozen and gasping with shock.

‘Bishop!’

In the distance, a wailing siren. The noise jolted Bishop out of her horror. She wanted to bring her knees to her chest, curl up and just stay here, but she knew those sirens were for her, and she had to get out of here. Getting a grip, she struggled to her feet and started to bolt down the fire escape.  


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#5 W.P.

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 11:58 AM

The force of the explosion sent Bishop to her knees, grasping the banister desperately to keep herself from falling, one foot slipping between the steps and dangling over the drop. ((I like where you start, but the sentence might be too much? Maybe simplify it? Because it says she's sent to her knees but she's also not trying to fall. but when I imagine her on her knees I assume she just fell? Since we don't have context or know where she is, it's hard to imagine it. Maybe something like "The explosion flung Bishop, who held onto the banister, one foot slipping, the other danging over the drop." not the best example but it shows what I mean)) She could not tear her eyes away from the roaring flames. of the explosion she had caused this. ((it sounded like unnatural exposition, now it sounds like a thought.))After the first deafening roar, there was only the soft snap and crackle of fire. There were no screams. The silence held her there, breathless, her heart thundering. ((I thought that explodes made people go momentarily deaf, but she is listening to everything really well. how long ago was the explosion? or how far away?))

 

‘Bishop.’ Ace’s voice echoed frantically in her earphones. 

 

They were dead. Not even her wildest hope could believe otherwise. Nobody could have survived at such close range. Nobody was supposed to be there! She had planned everything so carefully, but still they had died – innocent, wayward, wandering homeless – the very people she was fighting so hard to protect. The people who had been vanishing in droves from the streets of London, unmissed by all but the select few who'd banded together to make the world care. That included her.  ((this sounds like exposition. is it really necessary now? it's ok to linger in the mystery))

 

And she'd just killed two of them.

 

‘Bishop.’

 

Soon there would be crowds. Reporters. Police tape. People asking questions. Right now there was just Bishop, frozen and gasping with shock.  ((we know so it's a bit redundant. no need for it.))

 

‘Bishop!’

 

 

In the distance, a wailing siren. The noise jolted Bishop out of her horror. She wanted to bring her knees to her chest, curl up and just stay here, but she knew those sirens were for her, and she had to get out of here. Getting a grip, she struggled to her feet and started to bolted down the fire escape. 

 

 

 

I like how it starts right in the aftermath. Certainly intriguing and fast-paced. I think a bit of trimming would get it right in shape. :) For the most part, it was clear, though the few instances where I was a bit confused, I pointed them out inline. :) I hope this helps

 

 

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