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Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
Commended by EndMaster on 12/11/2017 6:37:33 PM

INTRODUCTION

The way I see it, analysing writing is one way to improve your own. If you can find mistakes, figure out how something can be improved while also consciously commenting on what works and why, you are bound to figure out ways to make your own writing better.

This is difficult. I am no expert, but I can try, I can give it a shot.

So I encourage you to give it a shot as well. Doing this for a storygame, in general, is more difficult due to length and branching, the choices that are given and the impact they have, and everything else regarding the medium.

So I decided to try some analysis on a short story, since it is the writing itself that will ultimately make a story, in my opinion. You don't even have to type it all out, but I find that doing so helps with getting more concrete ideas out there. This way others can also help you out by pointing out mistakes in your analysis, which will further help you improve.

I encourage you to see if there is anything useful you can get out of my analysis, but also to keep your eyes open for stuff you disagree with, that way I can also improve (as long as you tell me that is).

It took a while to get it all structured like this, and there is many ways to go about analysis, this is just the way I chose to use this time.

If you wish to read the short story being analysed, it will be posted in a reply to this post.
Also note that I am analysing the story as is, I'm trying to only look at what is there.

ANALYSIS

CHARACTERS
Characters are important, they are a major part of any story and are a great way to provide engaging narrative.

Initial Response
These characters are somewhat generic. The level of description given to each also varies. Many of the 'Red' group (who are described) have a "red coat". Some diversity in description would do wonders in helping them feel like different characters.
Anyway, some characters also seem to be added for no reason. I don't see why Geo was introduced, rather than just having Serene go help the Red King instead. Heck introducing him earlier would have at least made some sense.

The total size of the Red group is never mentioned directly, and I'd say this isn't necessarily bad, vagueness is something that can work in writing and can help readers use their imagination. I feel it makes the Red group feel a bit disconnected, but I guess you wouldn't want a bunch of characters being introduced all of a sudden.

Also the Red Runner quickly stops being the protagonist, which is a bit weird. Maybe starting the thing with him talking to the Red King would have been better, but I guess that might not fit well with all the exposition the Red Runner needs to delivers at the start.

Character Development
Nothing really seems to happen on the character development front, if you ask me. I'll summarise to show my point.

Red Runner - Looses all personality after the opening "story telling". If anything he becomes worse (character wise).

Red King - Nothing really changes, he just stops smiling a few times. I guess his outfit gets messed up as well, but that isn't really character development.

Serene - Nothing happens, however she doesn't get much scene time (what do you call screen time in written works?).

Geo - I guess he is sorta shown to be inept since it takes him so long to get to the warehouse, but since time is pretty vague (specially with the 'stylistic' perspective changes), I guess that might not be the case. However he clearly takes a different path to what the previous members of the Red group took, seeing as they are going down a side street.
Blue Bodyguards/Runner/Patrol - These people get no development, they don't really feel like characters either. I guess the story is focused more on the Red side, but even the majority there got little development considering how many of them there seem to be.

Blue King, Cane - I'll quickly mention character names are... interesting. Also the biggest development Cane gets is: 1. Getting a name. 2. Becoming angry at the end.

Silver King - I guess he stops being so arrogant after losing a fight? Kinda? Anyway, he gets his ass whooped and seemingly one arm can't be used to summon guns anymore. Does this constitute character development? Maybe.

Yellow King - WHY!? Why add another character at the very end, it is a cliff hanger, right? Seems stupid considering this was meant to be a short story. Anyway no development for them (for obvious reasons).

I might have missed someone, but don't think so. Anyway, I'd say the 'short story' tries to be something else, I feel there are too many characters for any meaningful development to happen. Also all the Kings seem to have similar personalities in the broad sense, the 'I'm so great' personality type. You'd think they'd all end up teaming up if they were so similar.

PLOT
I'm using this term with a pretty broad definition (since I won't google a more specific variant).

Pacing + Flow
I'm no expert on these, but I'd say the pacing feels a bit weird. I'd say the '~' skips are a main cause of it. I guess it can be excused as a 'stylistic' choice.
Flow is alright for the most part.

Setting
Interesting I guess, it could use some more specifics to help bring it all together, and I can't help but feel the whole 'Kings with different colours and powers' isn't that original. I guess props for liking fantasy and using colour to differentiate factions. But really, I imagine there are better ways to do this. Also does the Red group have a name? I don't think it was mentioned. At least Blue has the weird name of Proto.

Also why are they all fighting? Do they just have different colour preferences? The Red and Blue King obviously know each other, but I have no idea what the deal with the Silver one was, seems they came from no where, got their ass kicked and left...

There is a lot of room to go with this setting, and nothing really seems to happen. It all feels like a long introduction, almost.
Also why didn't the Blue King follow the Red King? I guess this can be explained easily enough, but it isn't. Guess readers should use their imagination?

Gimmick
Oh yeah, guess feathers mean something? I mean the Blue King didn't seem to have one, but the other two did. Also each King seems to have a power.
Silver - Guns.
Blue - Magic.
Red - Umm... something?

I do wonder about the intricacies of this power system, but it really isn't explored, like at all.

The more I think about it this doesn't really feel like a self contained story, just like a small happening that ultimately doesn't seem to matter.

Conclusion
I feel there is more to talk about, but I can't think of what that more is (at the moment). Anyway, I'd say this definitely isn't the worst thing ever, but it could be better.

QUESTIONS FOR YOU

What do you think I missed and should have mentioned?

What did you think of the short story? What about my analysis (the part that is here)?

What do you think of the short stories punctuation? Primarily the punctuation regarding the dialogue?
It looks consistent to me, which is good, but I'm still getting used to the way it should be handled so I'm not sure.

Also, if you are up for a challenge, I encourage you to rewrite the story so that it is better!
Would be interesting to see what others can do.

Thank you for reading my thoughts.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago

SHORT STORY

Being a Runner isn't easy. You never know if what you hear is real, or just something fabricated by the enemy.
Honestly, I think we should be called Spies, considering all the sneaking around we have to do.

But yeah, when we get important information, we run.
We run.

You know the abandoned steel factory?
Steely? Yeah, that's the one. I was just stationed in that District.
I was following some amateur patrol. They were so inept, honestly, crazy how easy it was, one would expect better from Proto.
Anyway, heard them use a new report, they were giving it to one of their Runners. An S51.

I knew the 'S' meant 'sighting', but a five after that?
I thought their urgency system only went up to a four. Apparently it has something to do with the warehouse, I didn't wait to hear what, I just started running.

So yeah, hope that book Boss has is up to date, but honestly, I'd bet he is going to go check it out himself either way. Five on the fucking urgency scale-

The story telling session is interrupted by a door slamming into the wall. From within the separated office walks out the Boss.

He is wearing a long, bright red coat, and a similarly coloured, long brimmed hat. A red feather with a golden stalk is attached to the hat. His coat is unbuttoned, he is dressed in a dark grey shirt with black pants. He has two belts, one is thin and at an angle. Both are a faded white. He has black boots and gloves.

He is clean shaven, with a strong chin. Bright blue eyes embedded above prominent cheekbones sweep the room, freezing the men and women within, each of which has at least one piece of red clothing.
Automatic rifles are resting against the faded walls of the office, hand guns are piled on a small coffee table. The previous speaker, a Runner, is dressed in a grey shirt and black trousers. He has a thin red bandanna wrapped around one arm. It appears to be easily removable.

The Boss speaks, "I'm heading out. I'm delegating Serene in command of this Cluster till I get back."
A woman with a red coat similar to his stands up. She has black shades covering her eyes and a black scarf across her face. Long black hair covers her shoulders.

"King, understood. We will await your return," the Boss, or King, looks towards the Runner.

"You, come with me," and with that he heads towards the exit door. The Runner follows him, while Serene heads into the main office.

~

A Runner in a black trench coat is holding out a blue piece of cloth. He is breathing heavily. The man standing in front of him is dressed in black, apart from the cuffs of his sleeves, which are the same blue as the piece of cloth. This man is wearing a black mask which has a tinted glass visor.

The Runner speaks, "S51... contested steel warehouse."

The two are standing in a room with white walls, a door behind each of them. The bodyguard turns to his door, knocking. It opens slightly, beyond it is another bodyguard, dressed the same.

"What is it?"
"S51 at the contested steel warehouse. Tell the King," the door is closed. Faint footsteps can be heard.

The bodyguard turns to the Runner, "You can go. Resume your post."

The Runner virtually dashes out of the small room.

~

The Red King turns a corner along the empty road. His Runner is still following him.

Up ahead, down the long stretch of asphalt, is the steel warehouse. The massive double doors facing this street are slightly ajar. They have countless bullet holes within them. Further ahead of the door is a large pile of crates. Around them are dead men and women, all are wearing grey shirts and black trousers.

"Collateral. You didn't mention this?"
"It's new... I never took Proto for the kind to waste ammo."

The King smiles as he resumes walking, "It isn't Proto."
The Runner goes to follow him, but the King speaks over his shoulder, "No wait here. If you see a guy in a vest, go back to the Cluster, and then get Serene to send back up."

The Runners freezes, momentarily confused, then his eyes widen. He rushes to the concrete houses that make up the bulk of this area, heading for one without a door.

The King runs a hand across the left side of his jacket, dropping his smile.

~

A man is sitting cross legged below a large hole in the metal roof of the large warehouse. Derelict machinery surrounds him on all sides, there isn't much room to walk between them. Catwalks twist around him, stairs and ladders, all rusting.

The man is wearing a light grey suit, with a black shirt and almost silver tie. His shoes are brown leather. From his breast pocket a feather can be seen sticking out. It is silver with a golden stalk. He is loosely holding a handgun in each hand, resting them on the concrete in front of him. His eyes are partially closed.

The floor is empty around him, apart from a few broken screws and pieces of rubble.

He hears a clink past the machine to his left. He raises one arm, gripping the gun tighter, then begins to fire. The bullets begin to eat through the machinery.

Now his eyes are fully open. He ceases firing, then slowly lowers his arm back to it's resting position.

"Paranoid are you?" it is the Red King, speaking from the other side of the warehouse, his voice carries well.

"I just learnt something new, it is unsettling."

"Blah blah, I don't care. Why are you shooting up my neighbourhood?"

"Oh? You are a King? I thought this place belonged to no one. It's what the locals told me, guess they-"

"Why'd you kill them!? What sort of idiot does that?"

"Fuck off," the Silver King unfolds his legs, then begins to get up, "I haven't killed another King yet. Wonder what happens when you die..."

"Another takes my place, obviously, guess you really are an idiot..." a pause, "Oh, and I have to warn you, I don't make a good enemy."

The Silver King is now standing. He raises both arms in the general direction of the Red King's voice. Machinery is blocking his view. His grip tightens, silver light swirls around his guns, then branches away. It solidifies into more guns, like the ones he is holding. They hover fixed distances from the weapons in his hands.

Bullets begin to fly.

~

A man with tinted, square glasses runs a gloved hand through his black hair. He is wearing a black vest over a long sleeved blue shirt with pale blue cuffs. A short cape of the same colour is covering his left arm. He has black pants with white, vertical lines across their sides.

Four Bodyguards are walking right behind him, carrying automatic rifles. The only differences among them are the shapes of their bodies and the hue of their hair, which is all cut short.

The group is approaching a warehouse, the double doors on this side are closed shut, one even appears jammed further then it should be.

"A new King, how troublesome... just hope they don't have a following yet. Or any mastery over their abilities," the Blue King sighs, "But at least this will be an informational experience. Wouldn't you agree, friends?"

The Bodyguards all nod in unison.

The group stops walking when they reach the double doors. The King turns to his Bodyguards, then gestures at the double doors. As two step forward gunshots are heard, a constant bombardment.

Everyone outside drops down low, the Bodyguards pointing their guns at the door, while their King keeps one hand raised towards it, as if to catch any bullets should they break through.

Then deeper shots begin to ring out, over the top of the constant drumming of the other, faster guns.

The Blue King smiles when he hears them, he begins to gesture, then his Bodyguards disperse, two in each direction along the warehouse. All the while the guns continue to ring out.

~

The Red Runner bursts back into the office, panic in his eyes, "Serene!? Where is she? Boss needs reinforcement at Steely, fucking Proto's King is there!"

The men and women in the room begin to grab their guns, after a few seconds Serene walks out the office, "What's happening?"

"Proto Kings at warehouse, Boss needs us."

Serene shakes her head, then raises one arm, as if to cut the room in half, "Listen here. Half of you are to stay. It could be a ploy to draw us out. Geo, you take the other half to the warehouse."

A man with a stained red coat snaps to attention, "Understood!" he turns to those on his side of the room, "You half, with me. Come on!"

He leads the way out of the room. Many follow him. Serene waits for them to leave, before heading back into the office.

~

The Red King is standing below a large hole in the metal roof. One leg is on the arm of the Silver King, who has the other pinned under a large piece of machinery. Shattered guns lie around his free hand, which has a massive bullet wound in it's centre. His suit is stained by much smaller bullet wounds. His face is contorted in pain.

The Red King is pointing a masterfully crafted handgun at the Silver Kings head. It looks as if it is made of silver, but it hardly deflects any of the light pouring in through the roof. The handgun has a dark wooden grip. Red gems line the barrel, forming almost wave like patterns. These waves head in all directions.

The Red King spits to the side. A glob of saliva and blood hits the concrete. His red coat and black shirt obscure his wounds, but they are there, and they are numerous.

He speaks, "Good fight... no idea why you picked it," the Red King grins.

"Fuck you... just end it."

"Oh no, I have plans for you," a short pause, "Unless you really want to die? That might explain your actions."

A few moments pass.

"What plans?"

"I take that as your acceptance of utter defeat?"

Metal clanks against concrete, just a small piece. The Silver King's eyes dart to the side.

The Red King whispers, "Don't worry, they'll wait for us to finish," he speaks up, "I won't ask a third time," he shakes the gun lightly.

"Yeah, you win."

The Red King whispers again, "Run when you can," then he relocates his foot to the machinery pinning the Silver King's arm.

He pushes at it, easing some of the pressure, the Silver King tries to pull his arm free, and eventually manages to.

~

The Blue King, crouching behind a crumbling box, raises one arm towards the roof, conjuring a circle of blue light. It shapes itself into smaller circles within circles, parts rotate within. A blast of blue energy flies forth, sparkling as it collides with the metal.

He leaps up and over the box, which creaks slightly as he vaults over it.

His Bodyguards are pointing rifles at the two Kings in the middle, who look so helpless. The Blue King lets out a laugh.

"Guns? Is that his power?" the Silver King twitches his now free arm, as if to raise it.

The Red King spins, landing a kick across his face. The Bodyguards all take a few steps back, raising their guns further.

The Red King turns to the Blue King, "Yes, more useful than mine."

"You sure? Looks like you won?" it is the Silver Kings turn to spit out some blood, eyes filled with hatred lock onto the Red King, but he doesn't move.

The Red King twitches his gun. The Blue King frowns as he speaks, "Both of you, arms up, slowly, otherwise you are getting shot from four sides," He raises one hand towards each.

The Red King sighs loudly, "I always thought of you as predictable, Cane. But this? You got here so fast..."

Both the Red and Silver King begin to raise their arms. The Red King loosely holding his gun.

The Blue King, Cane, smiles, "Proto always aims to improve, something I can't say about your band of trouble makers. However, I will say, you have definitely proved useful today. I suppose your habit of picking fights isn't as detrimental to my goals as I initially thought."

~

The Silver King whispers, "Why doesn't he just kill us?"

"Because of the way inheritance works, shut up."

Cane's face clouds in anger, "No whispering!"

"Sorry, buddy."

Cane shakes his head, or at least he goes to.

As soon as his eyes are off him, in a second, the Red King adjusts the grip on his gun ever so slightly, aiming towards the Blue King and then firing. A large muzzle tinged with red exits his gun. The bullet looks more like a missile in the split second it takes to fly across the room. Yet it doesn't pierce the Blue King, for incantations of blue light form a barrier, catching the bullet and crushing it.

Yet as the bullet is crushed a massive eruption fires outwards, a shock wave of dark smoke spreads throughout the warehouse, obscuring everyone's vision.

The Bodyguards begin to fire, the Silver King moves his good hand within the smoke, conjuring a gun and raising it to fire back as he moves away from where the bullets are impacting.
But before he can pull the trigger, something slaps his hand. He barely hears the single word amid the gunfire, "Run!"

And so he does, weaving around the machinery and crates towards the back door.

Behind him he hears an explosion, blue light colours the fog.

He pushes on.

~

Dark smoke is funnelling outside the broken windows and holes of the warehouse. The sun is beginning to set.

Geo shouts, "Hurry up!" his group begins to sprint down the side street that they are on. The group can hear explosions and gunfire now.

A massive explosion rips large opening in the warehouse's wall, its roof even sags over the opening, from the lack of support.

Yet from the smoke, the Red King leaps forth. He lands heavily, but still on his feet. The rescue team is first frozen in shock, but then begins to rush forward.

The Red King raises his arms, waving them in circles and directing them back the way they came. He mouths a single word, Run!

Then he begins to run, rushing past his followers, who quickly turn and begin to follow him.

~

Amid the devastated warehouse, the four Bodyguards are kneeling with heads down, while Cane stands before them. Everything is painted in the setting sun's colour.

"I won't say that I am disappointed. But..." he trails off momentarily, "But what the fuck was that!? You were selected to be my elite! How the fuck could you take so long to react?"

A Bodyguard with light blonde hair speaks up, "We reacted within seconds, it was unexpected, and the explosion-"

"Shut up! That is no excuse! If your enemy acts before you, it means you failed. It is that simple," he lets out a deep breath, "This program has been a massive failure. It will need reevaluating. Come."

Cane turns around, then begins to walk away. His Bodyguards stand up with hanging heads, but they do as they are told.

~

The Silver King is sitting on the front of an old metal boat as the whole thing slowly moves through the water. The other people on board the small vessel are keeping clear of him. He is holding a package.

He pries at it with his good hand, peering inside. He sees a light grey cloth.

He lets the package go back to it's resting position, then reaches into a pocket. He pulls out a folded piece of paper.

Opening it, he reads the message once more.

Gift. Replacement. We should meet. Friend.

His eyes linger on the signature.

The Yellow King

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
I can't read through this entire thing at the moment, but is this your story? (e: yes it is, reading the rest of the analysis post now. You posted things a little backwards. :P) If so I suppose it was only a matter of time until those of us who enjoy this sort of thing had no recourse but to start doing it to our own work. :D Getting anyone to even read a short story on the forum is pretty difficult I've noticed, let alone getting critical feedback of any kind.

This would be a better fit for the Writing Workshop IMO, but either way looking forward to reading thoughts on more serious attempts at analysis and short stories in general. At one point I'd started an article on this back when the writing prompt threads were more active, but JJJ didn't think the subject was a good fit for the site. If this line of discussion gets any interest I might dust some of that off soon and at least put it in the Workshop.

e: quick take on areas of criticism on a quick reading of the story: you spend too much space describing clothes, there is no clear protagonist and we're never told what the stakes are for any faction or why this matters - - it's just a warehouse. Added to that, nothing of much significance happens or is resolved in the fight itself. It's established they're all being manipulated by the Yellow King, but that's not an Aha! moment when no one matters enough for it to matter that they've been tricked.

Although most of that feeling ties back into not having a protagonist, which is the major flaw here. This feels more like the introduction to a setting in a longer story which may be another reason why it's lacking a sense of completeness. If this were a prologue, chapter one I'd imagine would make up its mind about a main character.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago

Thank you for the feedback, it is very useful (and gives me some clear things to aim for regarding my writing).

CC mentions sharing short stories, so figured I'd just put it here (since it gets less attention compared to the writing workshop, specially considering the contest threads that are all there right now). Altho other than that, I guess it does make more sense in the WW.

In your post it seems nothing regarding dialogue punctuation was mentioned, which means focusing on it at the moment shouldn't be my priority, or there are no major flaws in it (that stick out), either way glad that it didn't detract from the whole thing.

Just to share some further thoughts regarding the feedback, I feel that the way I set up the beginning fails to lend itself to the whole establishing stakes thing. If I were to try and rewrite it, I'm not sure how to go about getting it fixed, unless I tried adding in more scenes (potentially). Just not really sure what a good way to go about adding in stakes is. Maybe in the opening part something more could be mentioned regarding why the Runner's report matters.

Would just mentioning stuff like the warehouse being on the boarders of Red/Blue territory, and changing it to not be a steel warehouse but a place where bullets can be manufactured be better (since bullets are supposed to be somewhat rare, which I guess is undermined by having the only two people w/ special guns fight >->)?
Hmm come to think of it, I should just try and get more about the world across, since it seems to me that would help bring up the stakes. I just don't want to be spouting exposition the whole time, which I feel I could do easily enough.

If you got this far (any reader), any advice for avoiding exposition dumps?

I feel part of my problem is that I was trying to rush to some sort of action, but failed to establish any reason for the reader to care about the action, which made it fall flat. However I'm sure that bombarding the reader with constant setup + exposition would also end poorly.
Any advice for planning things out? Storygames obviously require more thought, but any general things for helping set up a good plot?

TL;DR
Ty for the feedback, very useful. Any advice for avoiding exposition dumps? Any advice for planning things out?

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
Oh I'm sure if I look really hard I can find some punctuation to nitpick about, but I just had a few minutes free at work this morning and read through it really quickly. There weren't any technical errors on a level to distract from the story, and anyhow that's not really the focus when trying to do a more in depth analysis.

If my Internet would stop shitting itself literally every five seconds so that I can finish up something else on my computer and get back to this, I want to write something more than a first impressions thing and offer a few suggestions. I quite like the setting and so I might even attempt writing a version of this myself since you invited us to. (Though that will likely have to wait until tomorrow.)

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago

Since I feel I left a lot of things vague/unmentioned, I can't wait to see the way you set it all up and the way you build upon it. Should be interesting!

One part regarding the feedback I forgot to mention was characters. I seem to always try and describe them too much, since I worry if some part of their outfit comes into play later it will be immersion breaking if you didn't know of it beforehand. ie. takes glove off and slaps person.
If you don't know they have a glove, wouldn't that be jarring? (Probably not, and this example might be too hypothetical).

Anyway I really need to pay more attention to how others go about introducing their characters. So it will also be interesting to see how you go about doing precisely this (specially if you keep the characters generally the same).

TL;DR
Can't wait to see your take on the setting, since I'll admit that settings are pretty important to me (tho characters are too... so guess that doesn't say much).
I also definitely need to figure out how to introduce characters well.

P.S. Because I might as well mention it, I've had two attempts at turning this setting into a storygame (before writing this short story), and both times it starts off slow, which might be part of the reason I tried to get to the action quickly (hmm, this is starting to sound like an excuse, what I actually meant to imply is that I got plenty of head cannon for the setting, so I'm pretty glad you liked it (even if not much was revealed all in all)).

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
See even before you confirmed it I could have guessed this was part of a larger setting you had going on in your head. Believe me I have been in that situation enough times, but I've come to regard it as an obstacle more than anything. There's always details you want to include or character backstories you want to hint at to make it *right* and fit into the rest of that world, but the problem is it all becomes a distraction from crafting a short story that's satisfying and complete in its own right.

And short stories are hard enough as it is. Seriously I don't think many people recognize the difficulties with the pacing and etc and trying to create this little pocket universe with a character arc and conflict and the whole package stuffed inside it in ~2000 words, which is about the max you can go in a forum post format and still hope for the off chance of someone reading it.

Anyway mainly just posting to let you know I haven't forgotten this thread, just I'm basically in crunch mode any time I'm physically at my computer now and absolutely everything non essential is getting put on hold. I really really want to keep my thousand points. :(

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
Wait, I'm confused.

Do you want feedback on the story itself? Or do you want feedback only on your analysis of the story? I really want to do that second one because it seems really horrible to do because any comments that disagree with your analysis are in some ways much more personal than just commenting on a story itself.

Or, if you'd prefer, I suppose I could do both, just for fun.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago

Comments that disagree with my analysis are perfectly fine, it isn't horrible to give honest thoughts (specially considering I'm no expert by any means, so it is pretty much a given that there is a lot I need to work on).

Feedback for the story is also great (since improvement will come slow without it), so guess both is best (if you don't mind, since it is obviously also the most work).

However, I will say that I feel just feedback on the story would also work well, since it should be clear enough if parts are going against some of the things I mentioned in my analysis (it would just be less direct than specifically talking about the analysis).

TL;DR
Story feedback will sort of cover analysis feedback as well, so guess it is the best choice (if you don't want to do both), tho feel free to do both if you want. All feedback is greatly appreciated.

P.S. In retrospect, I should have made all this clearer in the opening two posts.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
Ok, awesome. I've gotta go do some stuff, but I'll get to this later today or tomorrow, I think.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
Dang, this is long. I'm working on it, but this is taking me longer than I thought...

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago

If you feel you are spending too much time on it, you can always just post what you managed to get done (unless you have better commitment capabilities than me, and so want to & can finish it).

Any feedback is immensely helpful, as it will (hopefully) shape all my future works/thoughts, as it tends to be pretty universal (ie, have stakes).

I tried rewriting the beginning with what feedback has been provided so far, and while it isn't perfect, it is much better than what I had to begin with.
Just knowing stuff to keep an eye out for (good, bad or even neutral) is invaluable in helping one write better (in my opinion).

TL;DR
Any feedback is great (and appreciated). Don't feel pressured to provide the absolute perfect explanation of everything, since all in all, there is just so much to cover (regarding writing as a whole,) that it would be impractical.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
Commended by EndMaster on 12/13/2017 8:20:13 PM
Review of the story:

Please note: this review is simply a dump from my brain, typed as I read the story. It is not intended to offend, belittle, or annoy, though it might. It is simply the opinion of a single person and likely there is not another who would completely agree with me. Take it simply as one person’s point of view and nothing more. I do note that you asked for an opinion, so here it is. In addition, this is likely worth exactly what you paid for it.

Italics? Why is this in italics? Is it a person’s thoughts? The “You” in the second sentence makes it look like it is not. But wait, as I read it further, based on the “we,” I think it is. Let’s see what they’re thinking. Random formatting interlude: why is “Honestly” on the next line? Why is “Spies” capitalized?

Okay, reading onto the third “paragraph,” I’m confused. Is this person talking to themselves? Wait, they just answered themselves. Or are they talking to someone else? It sounded like there is a conversation between two people here, just for a minute, but I’m reading on and it sounds like this is one person. But as I finish up the italics section, I’m honestly not sure at this point if there is a conversation going on, or if this is a single person. It seemed like the story started out as an expose where the reader is getting the thoughts of a runner. But as the italics section went on, it moved to a conversation. At this point I’ve lost whether I’m listening in to someone, or if something else is happening. I’m immediately lost as to the scene and setting. Let’s see what happens when the italics end and where I end up.

“The story telling session?” Okay, now I’m really confused. There was story telling going on? But who was telling the story? And who was listening? Was it two runners? I thought it was for a minute, but at the start the runner was telling the other person (whoever that was – was it me?) about runners. Yeah, I’m really lost and still trying to build the scene in my head. I’m picturing a story telling session. I’m picturing a jail cell with one (or two) people chained to the wall? But there’s an office. With a Boss who is angry. Is the office in a cave with the chains on the wall? I’ll just keep reading and see, maybe.

I like the detailed description of the Boss. I can picture the details and I get the idea that he is wearing the red because he has to, as identification, but has dark underneath for his “real” work. The two belts make me think he has a sword belt. But he’s in an office, so maybe it is a gun belt. Okay, he just froze the men and women in the room. I guess we’re not in a cave with people chained to the wall now. Hand guns are piled on a table? Who does that? No one, that’s who.

The previous speaker? Okay, so now I guess that italics stuff at the start was a conversation. Apparently out loud. Between some guy and either another person, a group, or everyone in the room, I have no idea. If I were writing this, I would want to make that much clearer: instead of italics, I’d just use quotation marks. And I’d have to have some way to identify when a different person was speaking. Do we need names? Is there any reason NOT to use names? Certainly if the story started out, “Bob said,” it would be pretty darn clear Bob was talking and he was talking out loud. It sure would have avoided quite a bit of confusion on my part.

When the person talks (the line starting with “King, understood,) I’m baffled. He’s Boss. He was addressed as King. By someone. Who? I have no idea. I’m going to guess it was Serene, but there’s no indication in the text at all that it was Serene. And King looks at the runner. Who is someone. Is this the original speaker? I really don’t know. Does anyone know? Since the word “runner” has been capitalized throughout the text, it is only logical that “Runner” is a title. And from what I’m piecing together throughout this scene, there is an office full of runners who all have the name of “Runner” except Serene. And they all wear black with red crap. So when I read “The Runner,” I’m completely lost. That looks like a single person, but they’re all runners. Do they have names? Serene does, and she’s at least dressed like a runner, and so does Boss/King. Is he a runner, too? Or is he a Runner? But hey, “Cluster” is capitalized, too, so I’m guessing there’s just some words that get capital letters because they’re nice or something, I really don’t know. But hey, at least “exit door” wasn’t capitalized.

To make this more clear, I’d just put more information around the quotes. When people talk, you can almost always go with the “Serene said,” or “She says,” thing. Sure, it gets old typing it, but I don’t think people mind when they’re reading it. And if there’s a conversation you don’t need to do it with every line because the new paragraphs will indicate a new person speaking. If there’s two people, just identify them at the start. The line with “The Boss speaks,” is really quite clear that way.

Now I see a bunch of tildes coming up. I’m going to guess they are scene changes or time changes, so let’s see where this leads.

Huh. “Runner” is still capitalized. I’m going to guess at this point that is a description and I’m going to ignore the capitalization of that word the rest of this story. I imagine pictures of the story in my head. I see two men. One is a red and black runner, and the man in front of him is a blue and black runner. But there is a door behind each of them. What the hell? Wait, there’s a door behind each wall. BEHIND each wall? So they’re in a metal box with no way out? But one man is standing behind the other. There’s not often good reasons (in a tactical movement, which this feels like) for a man to be behind another. Actually, there’s NO reason unless they are in a confined space. And someone is a bodyguard. Is it the runner? I guess not, it must be the black and blue guy. Okay, so blue cloth is bodyguard and red anything is runner. Got it. Except for the white walls and the strange doors that are somewhere.

I’m baffled now. The two guys are there. They appear to not to have just arrived. The runner (the one in the back, facing the back of the bodyguard) says S51, warehouse, blah blah. The bodyguard picks one of the doors and says the same thing to another bodyguard. And he’s passing a message to tell the King (with a capital K). But the capital K king guy is a runner, who may have just sent this runner to stand behind the bodyguard in the white room. And then the bodyguard tells the runner to go, so the runner, from the red king sent a message to the blue guy to take a message to the red king of S51, which is a 51 on a scale of 1-4. Uh…

Oh crap. The Red King has a runner following him. Since we just now read about the runner running away from the blue guy in the white room, it only seems logical to assume it is the same runner. If it is not, these guys need numbers or something. Maybe a name, I don’t know. Now I’m thinking that the guy who gave the message to the blue guy to give the message to the red king is now with the red king. Why didn’t he just tell the red king himself? Is this some super-elaborate ruse like Mission Impossible stuff? If so, I really need a clue at some point. Oh neat, they’re going to the steel warehouse…the one with the white walls that the runner just came out of?

The description here is a bit off in my mind. I like that you’re describing everything, but I think a massive pile of dead bodies is going to be just a bit more noticeable than a few bullet holes in the wall and a few crates. I’d just describe something with the bodies first, then maybe something about the area around them.

Ah, again with the conversation. Someone said, “Collateral.” I do not know who said it. I’m pretty sure there’s still just king red and runner red there walking along, but I don’t know who is speaking at the start. Does this runner guy work for king? Because he’s not very good at following directions. King was very clear and did not stutter: “wait here.” A moment later he runs to a house without a door. Now I don’t know a lot of people who build houses without doors, but I know even less people who run towards a house without a door when told to wait. Unfortunately, I see a tilde coming up, so I don’t know if the disobedient guy knows a secret way into the doorless house, or if he is going to crash into the wall in a frenzy of trying to escape the red king and the guy in a vest. Either way, Serene isn’t sending any backup.

Man, this is getting long.

I like the paragraph with the cross-legged man. Well, except for one part: twisted catwalks. Catwalks are almost always built in direct straight lines. That’s why they make them. That’s why they are called what they are. So if they are twisted, the first thing that comes to my mind is explosions – and really big explosions to twist long, straight pieces of metal. So at first I thought it was an abandoned warehouse with some zen guy hanging out in the middle of it, but then it was a post-apocalyptic warehouse. Except the ladders are straight and rusting. Now if the ladders are straight, what twisted the catwalks? I’m going on.

Yup, zen guy. Oh, with guns. And a shiny tie. Good stuff here. I’ve got the scene in my mind. He just emptied one gun into a machine. Okay, so he’s not super-bright, but whatever.

Oh yay, speech and I know who’s talking! Works okay, but “Oh? You are a King?” That seems like a strange thing to say. That sounds like a response to, “I am King.” I guess King is a title now…oh hey, look, “Silver King!” I see NOW that king is some kind of title that people around here use. And they’re colored. And I’m guessing at this point you get to be king by killing anyone who disagrees with you. And then apparently everyone else calls you king?

The conversation is good, technically. There is something going on with the tense that I can’t put my finger on. Twice now I’ve seen it. The first time was “Now his eyes are fully open,” and the second is “The Silver King is now standing.” I’m not sure of all the terms here, but there’s a change in tense in those two places. We went from active action to passive. Everything was immediate, but that “now” in there somehow moved it to passive. I think in both cases, just removing “now” might be enough to fix it.

Whoa, silver light swirling into guns? Things just got real. And my entire view of this universe just changed. I do hope that was your intention. Up until this point, in my mind I had built up a world of modern-day, or near future. The laws of physics appeared to apply, and people used guns, so it sounded like anywhere. But now there’s apparently magic (but they still use guns)!

Next section, another man. Honestly, at this point I’m getting tired of all the non-characters. We’ve gotten one and a half names up to this point (Serena and maybe King/Boss). I’m feeling detached at this point because everyone seems to be red shirts. I can get some background information if this is a story leading to something else, but by now I’m wondering who the protagonist might be and if we’ve met them, or if we ever will. Anyway, back to the bodyguard man without a name…hey, I was right, they’re bodyguards!

Why did you say, “the hue of their hair, which is all cut short?” When you started talking about the hue of their hair, I was expecting to read something about that because you mentioned it was different for each bodyguard. But then you talked about the length of their hair. That seems odd to me. You mentioned what was the same, then what was different, then talked about their hair, which was all the same.

“is approaching” – whoops, there’s that jump again. We went from action, in the here and now, to passive. I know it’s hard, I do it all the time. But I also see it when I read it, and it is jarring to move around in time and action like that. I think here, “The group approaches” might work.

Oh my. What just happened? Suddenly this guy is a blue king. Well, I think he is. Actually I don’t know. The blue king started talking, but I don’t know who he is. Is the “the man” from the first part of this section? Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe they’ve just walked up to him? I don’t really know. If “the man” is the blue king, maybe he should be introduced as such at the start here.

Also, I get (now, finally) that you’re working from different places and building a story where there are (at least) three segments happening at once. This is really, really hard to do. And in this case, I’m confused as to why and who. How does this blue king know there’s a new king? He wasn’t with the red king when the red king found the silver king. And the message about S51 I’m guessing means there’s a new king? But that really wasn’t clear. Maybe if this section appeared immediately after the section where the message was passed, that might make sense.

“gunshots are heard” – jumped to passive. And in this case it is extra confusing because I don’t know who heard them. I think this might work better with something along the lines of, “As the bodyguards move towards the doors, gunshots ring out from behind the doors” or something in that direction. “Deeper shots?” What the hell is that? Are they underwater? I have no clue what that means. And what do you mean by “faster guns?” How is a gun fast? Man, look at that gun go. No, it’s not shooting, it’s just fast! But that’s okay, because the guns are playing the drums. Yeah, I’m lost here. I think the guys here can’t see the guns, so how do they know how fast they are?

Wow, this thing is still going. I might not make it all the way to the end. I’m actually going to save this and continue in a bit…whoops, I think I lost something switching computers. No matters, I’ll pick up here with the Serene bit again (I say again because I feel like I already wrote this bit, but maybe I didn’t).

So some red guy runs into the office. Is this the disobedient guy that ran towards the house with no doors? How did he get here? And apparently he’s a moron. He doesn’t know where Serene is? She’s in the same damn office she was in awhile ago. But wait, who the hell is Proto? Is that the silver guy? I thought the kings were colored, but now this one has a name (or is it a name?) Ah well. Serene is going to lead from the rear here, just casually heading back into her office. If she’s expecting an ambush, I guess she’s going to handle it with paperwork. It does seem a bit odd that she’s worried about being attacked, but just sitting in an office.

Reading on… whoa. I’m… Is that an octopus? I like the start with the red king standing below a hole. Then I start to get lost again. The red king’s leg is on the arm of the silver king (who may or may not be Proto, or the leader of a gang of protos). Well, if someone’s leg is “on the arm” of someone else, I’m picturing lovers hanging out, doing a Netflix and chill or something. If someone is pinning someone’s arm, I think they’d need to use a foot or something. But then I get really lost when I read about “the other pinned…” Whose other what? The subject was the red king, so I think the red king’s other something is pinned. His leg, maybe? So now I’m picturing the red king doing a split with one leg pinned and the other resting on the arm of the silver king. Right now I’m trying to figure out where his crotch is, and there’s not a lot of options here that make sense. And there are shattered guns around his free hand. Wait, does that mean one hand isn’t free? And there’s a bullet wound in the center of his free hand. So now I’m picturing the red king doing contortions over top of the silver king who is leisurely sitting on the ground staring at the red king’s crotch while the red king has one hand somewhere while the other one, with a hole in it, is up again the wall…near guns that are floating? Hell, I don’t really know any more. And bullet wounds don’t stain. Blood might stain, but a bullet wound is really just a hole, at least in my mind.

Wait, now the red king is pointing a gun at the head of the silver king (that is in the crotch of the red king, if I remember correctly). I guess that’s his other hand…the one that’s pinned. But hey, it’s a silver gun, so I guess he took it from the apparently uninjured and just sitting around silver king. Maybe. But now we see the red king has wounds that are obscured…but we just saw the bullet wounds leaving stains. Was that supposed to be the other guy? Yeah, in this scene, the way it is drawn out, as you can tell, I have no idea what position anyone is in, and I can’t even tell who is hurt. Maybe it’s just me, but with all the great descriptions, I can’t tell WHO they apply to! Oh, but in the conversation here, you do identify who is speaking, but do it too much! When I see the sentence about the red king followed by “He speaks,” then I know it’s the red king…but the end of that line has “the Red King grins.” No need for that, this time.

“I won’t ask a third time?” Did he ask twice? I didn’t see where he asked anything twice. Maybe that happened during a scene change.

Holy cow, I’m so glad to read that the blue king and his buddies are on the same scene. It just took a really long time for them all to get together in one place, I was starting to feel too disconnected. But the red king was talking about them waiting…did he know it was the blue guy, or did he assume it was his reinforcements (with the disobedient moron)? I guess we’ll see.

So let’s see…we have a blue ball with blue rotating balls in it. Sounds like a machine. But no, it explodes, blasting something metal with sparks. Was that dangerous? Dunno. But hey, the blue guy jumps over a box, which makes it creak. Why would a box creak when someone jumped over it? If they stepped on it, sure. Now I haven’t vaulted over a lot of boxes, but I’ve never seen one make noise that I jumped over unless I missed jumping over it completely.

The punctuation around the “Guns” line is confusing. The blue king laughed, so I assumed it was him speaking. But “the Silver King” after the quotes makes it look like he was speaking. But he’s twitching his free arm. I wonder if he is still staring into the red king’s crotch. Now wait, the red king just kicked somebody. I think it was the Silver king, but because I’m confused around the speaking part, I’m not quite sure.

“Twitches his gun?” Is that a thing? Usually when you “twitch” around a gun, it goes off and someone gets shot. Holy crap, there’s a name! Someone is named Cane! I’m pretty sure that’s the blue king. Ah yes, there it is, a couple sentences later. But he’s talking about Proto. I thought Proto was the silver king’s gang. Okay, now I have no idea who or what Proto might be. Hopefully that was intended.

Okay, next section of conversation: there are three people here, so you really, really have to indicate with every single line who is talking. For example, with the “Sorry” line, there’s absolutely no clue and no way to know who said that.

How do you “at least go to shake your head?” Either you do or you do not. Maybe he could start to, or he could turn his head, but the way it’s written is weird. “As soon as his eyes are off him?” What? Who is “his” and “him?” In that sentence, they would be the same person. Is he looking in a mirror? You’re really going to have to identify people here. Maybe, “As soon as the red king took his eyes off Cane,” or something like that. But I’m confused by Cane and Blue King being used back and forth here. I’d stick with one name throughout the scene.

Oh cool, a new kind of weapon! This gun shoots muzzles. Because his gun just shot out a muzzle. Is it a muzzle-loading silver pistol gun? ‘Cause I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a muzzle get shot through the air like that! (Pro tip: when you shoot a gun, only the bullet goes through the air). But hey, the bullet is a missile. Seriously? Have you ever shot a gun? Bullets don’t look like missiles. They are tiny and super-fast. That terminology just throws me off even more. But hey, the blue guy crushed a bullet. The tiny bullet. That if you crushed it really wouldn’t get any smaller because it’s already compressed lead. Yeah, I’m almost not reading at this point because the words here just aren’t going together at all for me any more.

Hey, more gunfire. The blue guys are shooting assault rifles, apparently at point-blank range. And they’re hitting nothing. Not the guy sitting on the ground bleeding, staring at the red crotch, not the half-dead red guy. Nothing. From at least four guys that are firing from four directions at point-blank range. Someone needs some new bodyguards. Yeah, I know there was smoke, but geez, they were standing right there. And if the smoke is so thick that no one can see anything, these morons better not be shooting because they’re going to shoot each other (since they were on four sides before).

I almost skipped the rest of this scene, but I couldn’t. The silver guy “crates” towards the back door. I don’t know what this is. Maybe this is some slang the kids are using today, but I don’t know what this is. Maybe it’s related to that box the squeaks when you jump over it. But hey, at least the blue guy exploded in the fog. That’s what happened, right? That’s what I’m imagining that happened.

Now why is there a scene change here? Since everyone is back together, I would just assume a natural flow of text and the story. But there’s a little tilde there, so I’m expecting a new scene. Nope, just heading outside with the fleeing red and silver guys. But hey, suddenly there’s smoke filling the entire warehouse. Is that the blue smoke from the blue guy exploding? Did his guys blow up with him? Oh wait, it just dawned on me that maybe the red or silver guy pressed a button and set off a depth charge in the middle of the blue guys. I wonder what color the smoke is.

Geo? For the love of God, who is Geo? He’s some guy yelling in the street, that’s who. I don’t know him from Adam, of course, but hey, maybe this is the protagonist that I’ve been waiting to make an appearance. I dunno, but he is sprinting and suddenly there’s a group there. Wait a group? What is this, the local girl scouts selling cookies at the old warehouse? Holy crap, I’m lost. But hey, suddenly the group of girl scouts can hear the explosions that they didn’t hear when they were big enough to fill the entire warehouse with smoke. Oh, and there’s someone shooting a gun nearby. I’m guessing it’s a local gun range because the guys with the guns in the warehouse were blown up by the secretly hidden bomb that the red and silver guys exploded on them. Oh wait, that’s neat – the red king is now back inside the building and emerging from the second explosion. I guess this is an old ammo factory or something with crap apparently randomly exploding for no reason. I bet the red guy (with the hole in his hand like Jesus) looks cool coming out of the smoke towards the girl scouts. I think the girl scouts team wants to sell him cookies. But hey, he tells them to run. Oh wait, they’re his team members! I thought they were girl scouts.

Let’s go back in the warehouse. The warehouse that had an explosion, tons of assault weapons firing, massive amounts of smoke filling the entire warehouse, a second or possibly third explosion, too. I think that during the last tilde the fire trucks arrived, the police arrived, the ambulances showed up, and the firemen put the fire out. Then the inspectors came in, cleared the grounds, and investigated the source of fire. The police put up some yellow tape and went away. And apparently they all missed the five guys dressed in blue that were standing in the middle of smoke-filled multiple-exploding warehouse who are now on their knees, apparently surrendering to their own leader, who is standing bathed in the light of the setting sun, which can be seen because there are no walls because the damn place just exploded more than once. I think MacGyver might be headed out the back door, or the A-Team, or some other 80s TV show drama, because after all that, not one person died.

Onto the last section. It seems kind of pointless to mention that the whole boat moves through the water. I’m not really aware of any boats where only part of it moves through the water. But hey, he’s got a new grey cloth, so I’m ready for him to join up with the red king whose crotch he liked. No, of course not. It’s the yellow king. Who apparently exists. Look, I don’t know squat about these other three kings, so why do I care about the damn yellow king now?

So hey, you know what? Overall, I really like the idea. I think there’s some good ideas for a plot here, but as you might be able to tell, I have no damn clue what’s going on most of the time. Some of it is sentence structure, but so much could just have more information. Mizal mentioned that you have too much detail on the clothes, but I can work with that – if there is more information about the story and the setting. It took me to halfway through before I had a clue about where I was, and even that was kind of murky. In general, I don’t have any reasons for anything that happens. Why should I care about any of these bums? Who the hell are they? Please tell me, and even something as simple as names would be huge in my mind. But more than that, three guys are fighting. They have gangs with colors. Why? Are they rival drug dealers? Are they fighting for resources hidden under the streets? Are they fighting over access to economic trade routes? I just don’t know.

Holy cow, I just wrote a pile of words. I really should have saved this for story-writing. Oh well. Hope this helps a bit and maybe was a little fun for you to read!

TL;DR: Bite me. If I’m going to write all that if you want to know what it says, you go read it.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago

Wow, you weren't kidding when you said it was long (in the other post).

Since I'm pretty sure me responding to every question isn't what you want (after all, it would mostly just sound like excuses,) I'll try to keep this short.

This is immensely helpful, since it points out some major flaws with my writing that I was pretty much oblivious to. There is a lot I can get out of this, so it'll give me plenty of things to work towards improving.

(100% necessary) TL;DR
I seriously appreciate this, thank you for taking the time to write it all up.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
I am glad it helps. I have fun writing them, but sometimes people get offended and annoyed. And my mind likely doesn't really work like anyone else's... ever.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
Glad the thread got commended, this is a good and useful topic and not just because I'm studying it all so hard for the secrets of getting people to read the things I write.

Opening with a critique of my own story will be a useful tactic for the future, I guess it works like putting a tip jar out with a few dollars already in it to encourage more.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago
Ok, next challenge, the rewrite. Well, I suppose the next challenge was to critique your critique, but as you mentioned, if I reviewed the text of the story, I’d cover it. I would say that I did, so I’m not going to attempt that. At the same time, the biggest challenge for the rewrite is that, as you might be able to tell from my story review, I was pretty lost throughout the story. So any rewrite would include me making up a whole bunch of extra crap about the story that might not actually be part of the original story. But hey, I’m writing, so clearly I’m making up extra crap. That’s kind of what I do. So why not?

Also, realize this is me and my style of writing. I’m not saying it is better than yours, and I’m pretty darn sure we can find some people who could hack and slash everything I write up as well. Here on this site I’ve found more than a few people who really, really don’t like my writing style. That’s fine, everyone is different. So I’m not attempting to present this as better than yours, just something different. And once again, it is worth no more than twice what you paid for it:

Tom leaned on the desk, half-sitting, and half standing. The old office was still intact and most of the lights still worked, but one in the corner was still flickering. In addition, one window was broken and the wind could be heard howling outside. Tom looked around at the group and he felt in charge again. He knew he wasn’t, but it always felt good when he was the focus of attention. He looked around at the group and considered the collected runners. There were six of them listening to him and another six or so milling about the abandoned office space. They were all dressed in grey and black, but all also had the mark of the Bano gang: red. One had a red bandana around his arm. Another had bright red socks. A third showed a red shirt under her black coat. All had red somewhere on their body for identification. Without it, they were likely to die in the streets.

“You know,” Tom said to the gathered group, “Being a runner isn’t easy. Of course I’m not telling you guys anything you don’t already know. But some days are just harder than others – you just never know what is real and what is lies.”

He got a few nods from the group as he continued, “Heck, you know, we should probably be called ‘spies’ instead of runners, what with all the sneaking around we do.”

One fellow snorted in agreement as Tom said, “But yeah, when we get important information, we run. It’s what we do. It’s why we’re runners.”

Bill, the guy with the red bandana on his arm, piped up, “Oh yeah. You know that abandoned steel factory?”

Tom replied, “You mean the one we call Steely?”

“Yeah, that’s the one. I was there, checking things out, you know, listening.”

Tom nodded wordlessly.

“I was there and I saw some blues on patrol. They must have been rookies, they were loud and easy to follow. They never even made and attempt to watch for me. But hey, that’s all the better for me. Anyway, I followed them a bit, and I heard them report in. What really got me is that their report was an S5.”

“S5? That’s not…wait, how can that be a report?” said Tom.

“Yeah, I know! Sure, the S was for ‘sighting,’ we all know that, but followed by a five?” said Bill.

Tom laughed and said, “Maybe you just heard him wrong. They’re only supposed to go up to four.”

Bill shrugged, “No, I know I heard him right. They’ve got a five, but I don’t know what it means. I heard it and I started running.”

Tom started, “Maybe you did…” but he was interrupted by the slamming of a door.

The group turned and looked, and the boss was coming out of his office. When the door slammed against the wall, it turned slightly and looked like it wasn’t going to close again. That was one of the hazards of taking over an abandoned, slightly ruined office space. The boss paused a moment before speaking. Every eye in the room looked at him, waiting to hear from him.

The boss looked over his group of soldiers with bright blue eyes. He had on a long, bright red coat over his dark pants and shirt. No one would mistake him for anything other than the boss of the Banos. His black boots shined in the flickering light of the office. Finally he spoke to the assembled group, “I’m heading out. Serene is in charge.”

As he spoke her name, Serene stood up. Her long black coat hung off her thin frame. She had a bright red vest on under the coat. Her eyes were covered with dark sunglasses, but she nodded to the boss in agreement. She said, “Understood.”

The boss pointed at Bill and said, “You, come with me.” He walked towards the door without waiting for a response.

~

Meanwhile, across town, a man dressed in black but with a blue bandana around his wrist heads to the door of a small white building. He looks around as he approaches the building carefully. He keeps his hands out to his sides, showing that he is unarmed and making sure the blue bandana is clearly visible to anyone watching him from inside the building. He walks up to the door to the building and quietly knocks. A hidden slot in the door slides to the side revealing nothing but darkness from inside. The man speaks, “S5 confirmed. Steely.”

The slot in the door slammed shut. The man turned and ran back the way he had come.

~

Damn. That was another thousand words I won’t get back. I really should save all this for the story I’m supposed to be writing for that contest thing. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this and see some differences between what you wrote and what I wrote. And I’m sure mine is nowhere near descriptive enough in many areas (that’s a part that I often fail at). Good luck with your story.

Short Story Analysis Attempt

4 months ago

I have a feeling that this is a lot more useful to me than you seem think. Sure writing styles can vary, but there is still plenty they share in some regards.

Just to mention one overall point, it is interesting to see how you improved the start without actually changing the general 'story' (as in, still starts in same place, with a lot of the same information being covered, and same characters).
Goes to show pretty much anything can work if written properly.

I find it interesting since when I tried rewriting the beginning, I sorta just assumed it couldn't work and changed things drastically (well, drastically in comparison).

Yet it seems it didn't need as much things getting changed to work.
Granted, given my initial minimal information sharing approach, it would be pretty hard for you to rewrite the scene in a majorly different way without potentially changing the story/setting too much. However, I'm still somewhat surprised to see, essentially, the same beginning, just actually good.

Also thanks for taking time out of the contest to provide all this feedback. I should probably avoid making posts during contests, as it isn't like I am in any sort of rush (and some people might not have time to respond if I do, which I just realised).

TL;DR
This is more useful than you think (probably). Good luck with the contest, and thank you for spending your time(/typed words) on helping me out.