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hboff
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 2:35 pm    Post subject: Shared Experiences Reply with quote

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Shared Experiences
Posted by Arthur Wellesley (arthur_wellesly@hotmail.com)
16 February 2007, 5:28 am

http://halosn.bungie.org/fanfic/?story=Arthur_Welle0216070528001.html
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Arthur Wellesley
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Joined: 30 Jun 2006
Posts: 306
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a note: this is a one off short story and does not replace Valley of Dying Stars. That will return shortly.

Did something a little different with this one. Let me know what you think.

- Arthur
_________________
Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever. - Napoleon
Current Project: Vestal Flame. Current Word Count: 27,017
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labrack2401
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Joined: 10 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:30 pm    Post subject: Great job Reply with quote

Arthur-
I loved this story, it had the sweet compelling imagery of a poem, but the story and twists of novel. It was really well written for its length. One thing that I enjoyed about it was the innocent nature that you used to play with your audience by enticing us with a romantic sad love story but then completely surprising me at least. I am in the process of writing a Halo related story, and now I have a very good imagery scale to shoot for. Your work is really quite enthralling keep up the good work. If you wouldn't mind I posted my first piece of writing (a poem) "The Calm Before the Storm" today and I was wondering if you could give me some sort of critique. Thanks in advance.

-James
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Chuckles
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Joined: 29 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was different. The Halo tie-in was pretty weak, which surprised me, since this man obviously worked for somebody and a single name or allusion would have done the trick.

I thought this was well written, and you did a good job of blinding the reader with the mundane. My only gripe is the pacing. For me, the supposed "chance" reunion all by itself did not ignite enough sparks to keep me thoroughly engaged. Knowing your writing, I guessed something was coming up (and guessed what it was, although I had my money on the female as the killer) but short of that, there was little to keep me moving forward. Don't get me wrong--the writing was excellent. What was missing (at least for me) was that subtle hint or ominous tone that tells me something is wrong or that something is about to happen. Including something in the memories of the past would have been a nice way to go.

Quote:
For the quality of the hotel the bar was very fine. Situated on the thirty-first floor, it offered a stunning vista of the city bathed in its own light as darkness fell. Faux black leather chairs dotted the open floor space, divided roughly equally between two opposing television screens. One displayed a tennis match being played back on Earth while the other broadcasted a local news station. The former group emitted a low cry of excitement when a particularly good point was won while the latter occasionally broke out in subdued conversation over some headline. No one really paid any mind to the programs or each other, however. People interacted with each other in the superficial manner accustomed to those who know that this would be their first and last meeting. They wanted the comfort of their fellow man without the burdensome attachments that came with time. It was the meaningless companionship of the wonder-weary; interaction without connection.


Nice. It reminded me a bit of Fight Club.

Quote:
Having experienced this very scene so many times that it seemed almost rehearsed, he expressed mild surprise when he saw a woman sit in the seat to his right rather than at one of the empty tables of the lounge.

Ahh, now there's a line that means more the second time through. Once again, nicely done.

Quote:
She had switched to martinis while he had switched to beer, with the effect that she became less intelligible and he more so. She held her liquor surprisingly well, however, and remained remarkably lucid.

Again, you see this much differently the second time around. Can't get too tipsy when you're on the clock, eh?

Quote:
The ride down on the elevator was silent; she pressed the number of her floor without a word. Both sensed their relationship was about to come to a close for a second and probably last time. There seemed no appropriate words to speak until their final goodbyes. When the doors opened, a visible jolt ran through her.

Awkward silence followed them on their short journey down the hall, each careful not the meet the other's gaze. When at last they reached her room, she turned around to face him with a fluttering smile. Her eyes darted nervously when she looked at him; all the renewed familiarity that had been established between them over the past hours suddenly evaporated.

"It's been a tremendous pleasure," he said formally.

"It was so great to see you again, Sam."

They embraced again, and while it was more fluid than their greeting it was somehow no less clumsy. His head rested gently on her shoulder—the scent of her hair was faint, but it replaced the alien smell of the hotel and overwhelmed him. She was soft against his skin, seemed to beckon him to a place he had abandoned long ago. It was with great reluctance that he broke with her.

She kept him close, however, holding onto the lapel of his suit and drawing his face near to her own. Her deep brown eyes seemed to look not into his own but past them. They were imploring, inviting, and enrapturing.

"I gotta ask how drunk you really are," he said as an involuntary grin began to spread across his face.

"Just a bit," she answered coyly.

She did not yet want to let go of him; or rather, she did not want to let go of her connection with the last thing that was good in her life. He was tied up in the pleasant memories of the immaculate past and what time was left here she wanted to spend with him. She was not ready to say goodbye to the bliss of reliving a life that no longer existed.

Neither was he.

When I read this the first time, it seemed almost cliche, but going back over a second time is chilling. This man becomes much more sinister and complex. How reluctant was he? What was acting, and what was genuine feeling? Was he really trying to pull away and call it off, only to have Kate doom herself with her own desire? How much of his humanity has actually remained intact?

Quote:
"In four hours I'm gonna have to catch that transport and get back to work."

She sounded miserable. He stroked her hair and breathed deeply so that her head rose and gently fell. "No point in worrying about such things now."

No point indeed! Yet another statement that meant something different and had a deeper impact the second time through.

Quote:
He was sitting on a couch in a dingy basement wearing clothes of similar condition but unfitting class. His tuxedo was wrinkled and disheveled, the top of his shirt was unbuttoned, and his bowtie had been lost. On his shoulder lay the shuddering head of Kathryn as she sobbed uncontrollably, angrily. She looked ridiculous in her puffy black dress, following the conventions of the time and complimenting the attire of some forgotten boyfriend. She tore at the ruffles now in her furious sadness. He tried to comfort her but she both recoiled from his touch and pressed closer to him.

Didn't she know he had to leave? Didn't she know he was coming back?


The relationship between the flashback and his italicized thoughts are not clear to me.

Funny. I liked this more going back than I did reading it through the first time. And while I stand by my initial criticism, I did see additional creativity and thoughtfulness the second time around. This short was very well written and thought out. Still, it seemed to be missing something. Relative to its overall length, the reader had to get through a lot of story before arriving at the first sign of foul play. In my view, you either needed to ignite more sparks in their bar conversation (argument, deep feelings from the past, etc) or you needed some ominous hints and foreshadowing. The former would have both helped pacing and provided you a red herring (that is, given the reader a large enough obvious conflict to throw them off the scent) and the latter would have added suspense and helped pacing as well.

Even so, this was very good--and unlike most fanfics, it merits (and gets better with) a second read.

C.T. Clown
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Arthur Wellesley
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words, labrack.

Thank you very much for the thoughtful comment, Chuckles.

Quote:
What was missing (at least for me) was that subtle hint or ominous tone that tells me something is wrong or that something is about to happen. Including something in the memories of the past would have been a nice way to go.


I avoided ominous hints as I wanted to make the two parts entirely separate: one an innocent meeting and the other the reveal. I did not delve into either characters' heads at all; obviously to maintain the illusion but also to make it more like the reader is viewing the events rather than living it so they can make their own judgments. Also, since his time before was entirely innocent, not much would have come through in the memories. I intimated some damage to him that happened in the war, but beyond that the first part was devoid of hints.

I tried to fill the void with some good old fashioned allegory. Without boring you too much or causing too much eyerolling, I used a lot of converse ideas:

Quote:


Faux black leather chairs dotted the open floor space, divided roughly equally between two opposing television screens.

She had switched to martinis while he had switched to beer, with the effect that she became less intelligible and he more so.

'Permanence is luxury I can't afford.'
'Permanence is about all I can afford.'

The room was small but nicely appointed.




to name a few. This is to show how Kate mirrored Sam; she was his innocent past while he was the sum of his experiences since then. When he killed her he killed a part of himself, a play on "Shared Experiences." Also, I used the events happening in the bar around them to mirror their lives at times. For example:

Quote:


"Instead, the people spoke to each other in rambling, incoherent monologues, parallel conversations that were prevented from merging by mutual inebriation.



This accentuated the separateness of their identities and how their lives were split up by mutual ordeals; his going to war and her mother dying.

A few other such things are there too, to give the seeming mundanity some semblance of meaning.

Quote:
The Halo tie-in was pretty weak, which surprised me, since this man obviously worked for somebody and a single name or allusion would have done the trick.


I felt such details were unimportant. Kate was a nobody, as was the person he worked for. She was killed for whatever uninteresting reason: jealous boyfriend, angry ex-husband. Nothing worth mentioning.

Quote:
The relationship between the flashback and his italicized thoughts are not clear to me.


Kate said before: "'My mom died,' she said at last. 'Just after you left.'" This is to suggest he left suddenly and the flashback revealed it devastated her. Also, that he planned to come back but the war and his line of work changed him.

Anyway, there it all is. Thanks again for the great reply.

- Arthur
_________________
Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever. - Napoleon
Current Project: Vestal Flame. Current Word Count: 27,017
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