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3rd Rock

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posted on Oct, 4 2005 @ 10:22 AM
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The rain drummed on the thin metal roof of the shelter constantly. Vrek stared outward into the grey distance as she mulled the options which had failed them. The waters funneled into grooves eaten into the stones and it was a good thing they had erected their shelter on a bit of high ground.Toying with an artifact she had found 5 sunsides ago, she wondered how long ago it had been fashioned and by what. Behind her she could hear constant grumbling.

"Drayden...", she called out without turning; "How's that drive coming along?"

"The integrity of the drive casement seems to be strengthening" he replied, "The molecules are lining up nicely, but it's taking too long and the colours are still not good"

Vrek turned to him, displaying comfort and said; "Keep at it, you'll get it eventually". She genuinely liked the pilot, even with his angry reds flashing continually. He also had a propensity for the vernacular, which, though it was not fleet standard, proved to lighten her worries a bit with humor.

Drayden flashed deep reds again as he tossed a biotool into the kit, the frustration in his skrill rolling madly.
"These drekking tools are dying as we speak, this Grull-forgotten atmosphere is horrible." he growled.
" Just keep on it, Drayden, "We've got a favourable orbit coming up in 16 units. If you can get that drive protected and we get a break in this weather, we can be out of here by the next sunside."

Vrek turned back to the scene outside. In the distance, she could make out the shape of the lander as it squatted on its tripod. The colours of its skin had deteriorated rapidly in the three sunsides of rain they had sat through. Even making the short trip to it would be more than their skinsuits could handle easily, and, certainly not more than one trip. Things were getting desperate. She had estimated an increasing nightside of .014% each cycle and the temperatures were dropping quickly. She shuddered to think what would happen if the rains turned to ice. She hoped the acidic qualities would decline with the temperature, but held little hope for that.

Five sunsides ago, they had begun their exploration of this strange planet, stumbling upon a cave in a mountainous region on the largest continent. It was there she had found the artifact, a metal tool consisting of plastic handle and metal tube. There were mechanisms between the handle and tube; a trip hammer, a case imbedded in the handle containing lead and brass...it looked like a weapon of sorts, but it was the artwork on the cave walls which had her attention most. Paintings of strange animals festooned the ceilings and flat surfaces. These animals had skeletons, of that she was sure, but what captivated her attention was the bipedal figures brandishing sticks that intrigued her. They looked so primitive compared to the artifact she had found and yet they seemed to be hunting the strange creatures with krill covered skins. They had seemed organized as they hunted, but the weapons were not like the artifact she held in her tentacles.

"The inhabitants of this planet are gone, Drayden, as if they disappeared into thin air. I wonder what happened?"

"Nothing could live for long in this atmosphere, Vrek", he repied with a twitch of his upper tentacle, "they probably left for another rock. This one is totally drekked."

She turned quickly to him. "I doubt they were advanced enough..."

"well, we've seen no sign of them except for what was in the cave. The planet surface was clean of anything like structures and, if there ever was, this acidic precipitation would have long ago destroyed them"

Vrek, forcing calm colours again, turned back to the lander in the rain, noticing the deepening browns aound the ports and upper surfaces. Tapping the communicator, she tried in vain to clear a signal back to base through the orbiting mothership, but it was hopeless, the biocircuits had deteriorated totally. She was counting on base to investigate their silence now.

"I wonder", she said quietly, almost to herself as she stared at the lander, "were the caves the last refuge of the inhabitants of this planet?"




posted on Oct, 5 2005 @ 05:32 AM
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Hello masqua

Thanks for submitting your story to us for comments.

I'd like to start off with the positive aspects of your story. You are quite a visual writer and have a lot of good things here in terms of descriptive narrative. You are also imaginative, which is reflected in your language, the way you are telling your story and the genre you have chosen.

Where I feel there might be a need for improvement is in the awkwardness of some of the 'new' language you are introducing, which I think is too confusing and possibly too much at the start. Especially when you are just unveiling your characters. Even for the 'alien' I still need more human characteristics to understand them and what they are all about. Some of the language obfuscates the emotion and even if your intention is to remain distant, we still need to see more in terms of what you are telling us.

Take the following paragraph (I am placing in bold all the unfamiliar words to give you an example):



Drayden flashed deep reds again as he tossed a biotool into the kit, the frustration in his skrill rolling madly.
"These drekking tools are dying as we speak, this Grull-forgotten atmosphere is horrible." he growled.
" Just keep on it, Drayden, "We've got a favourable orbit coming up in 16 units. If you can get that drive protected and we get a break in this weather, we can be out of here by the next sunside."


By all means introduce new concepts and words but have mercy on us. I find myself coming out of the narrative too much to ponder on words like ‘sunside’ and ‘16 units’. I think I know what you mean, but do you really want me thinking or reading your story? You want to tangle me in your narrative – ensnare me if you will, so I will believe everything you say. Anything that pulls me out of that ‘suspension of disbelief’ will detract from your story.

I’m not saying a story can’t be both thought provoking and descriptive, but you want the reader to stay with you and you need to work on doing that by give and pull. Manipulate us subtly, give us a few words, explain a few concepts maybe; make the story compelling so we are dragged along to the next section and the next.

Right now, I’m too hung up on the language. And I am feeling a little frustrated because I don't know what a 'drekking tool' is, which I am certain was not your intention.

A good example of you doing it well is here:



Vrek turned to him, displaying comfort and said; "Keep at it, you'll get it eventually". She genuinely liked the pilot, even with his angry reds flashing continually. He also had a propensity for the vernacular, which, though it was not fleet standard, proved to lighten her worries a bit with humor.


Well done. I feel I understand both characters a little. Notice how the ‘alien’ language is kept to a minimum? More of this is needed. Also, don’t be shy about explaining ‘angry reds’ to us the first time. Next time you make references to it, we won’t feel confused. Eventually we will understand your vernacular.

Be careful with describing too much



Vrek turned back to the scene outside. In the distance, she could make out the shape of the lander as it squatted on its tripod. The colours of its skin had deteriorated rapidly in the three sunsides of rain they had sat through. Even making the short trip to it would be more than their skinsuits could handle easily, and, certainly not more than one trip. Things were getting desperate. She had estimated an increasing nightside of .014% each cycle and the temperatures were dropping quickly. She shuddered to think what would happen if the rains turned to ice. She hoped the acidic qualities would decline with the temperature, but held little hope for that.


I think this is just a case of going in and picking out the best two or three lines. Don’t overwhelm us with description. Yours are good, no doubt about it. But they also tend to overpower your narrative. Think of them as accents or spices – too many and they can really make something good sound cloying and heavy. Be picky with your writing. Don’t give us too much. There is something to be said about teasing and leading your readers on.




"The inhabitants of this planet are gone, Drayden, as if they disappeared into thin air. I wonder what happened?"

"Nothing could live for long in this atmosphere, Vrek", he repied with a twitch of his upper tentacle, "they probably left for another rock. This one is totally drekked."

She turned quickly to him. "I doubt they were advanced enough..."



Your dialogue is good. There is little to critique here. My only comment would be to work on making the characters a little more clear. What are their motivations? What is their relationship to one another? We need to ‘see’ them better. It is necessary if your aim is to make us empathise with them.

I hope that wasn’t too painful. I think you are most of the way there. Please feel free to comment on the feedback and let us know if you agree or disagree or what your intentions were with the story. Good luck and hope you decided to continue writing it.


[edit on 5-10-2005 by nikelbee]



posted on Oct, 5 2005 @ 07:28 AM
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Originally posted by nikelbee Some of the language obfuscates the emotion and even if your intention is to remain distant, we still need to see more in terms of what you are telling us.



Drayden flashed deep reds again as he tossed a biotool into the kit, the frustration in his skrill rolling madly.
"These drekking tools are dying as we speak, this Grull-forgotten atmosphere is horrible." he growled.
" Just keep on it, Drayden, "We've got a favourable orbit coming up in 16 units. If you can get that drive protected and we get a break in this weather, we can be out of here by the next sunside."



My problem here is that I'm trying to convey an alien race and how they see things.

The skrill is like a hairy ring around the back of the aliens neck, as their emotions change, so do the colours, but they are intelligent enough to be able to control it.

A biotool is a tool made up of living material...I wanted to convey the notion that these were aliens in many ways

Drekking is a vernacular term best used in anger and I'd leave that to the reader to interpret.

Grull-forgotten is also a swear word I tried to use as a vehicle to indicate these aliens had a God.

Sunside vrs nightside is just a another way of saying night and day.
16 units is a measurement of time.

The problem I face is the shortness of the story. With more of a set-up, I would be able to slowly educate the reader. This I hope to do as we develop the story.

Be picky with your writing. Don’t give us too much. There is something to be said about teasing and leading your readers on.

good advice... I also felt that I was giving too much out in too few words


What are their motivations? What is their relationship to one another? We need to ‘see’ them better. It is necessary if your aim is to make us empathise with them.


I see them as a scouting party, pilot and scientist, on an exploratory mission to Earth. They do need rounding out, as you say.

Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed critique...this is exactly why I wanted to be part of the workshop. I will rewrite the story tonight or tomorrow (I'm away for the day shopping with the Colonel) and resubmit with your suggestions applied.

I kept this initial story shorter than 500 words because I knew I would have to add to it. That way it won't be a novel by the time it's done.


you rock...here's a wats



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