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Laura Keating's picture

Regulated Acts of Violence

By Laura Keating in Teleport Us

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Description

For almost thirty years HotTrots has allowed law abiding citizens LIKE YOU to see the world. Contestants will see the WORLD beyond their Ward – practically risk free! Travelling in the past could put you and your whole family in constant danger. According to the Paneurica Center for History, unregulated acts of violence claimed the lives of one in five travellers! Who wouldn't prefer WELL-REGULATED, professional assailment, isolated to individual groups over senseless and random brutality?!

The risk is low, you’ll see the WORLD, and you’ll be giving back to your COMMUNITY while you help to REGULATE TERRORISM across the globe.
HotTrots! Come see what LIVING is like!

 

Comments

Thaddeus Howze's picture
Thaddeus Howze from Earth is reading Jim Butcher: Storm Front February 20, 2013 - 9:12pm

Holy cow! This piece rocks!

It's got it all. Foreboding, pacing, style, cadence, humor, and irony. Clean storytelling, good internal and external dialog; the conversation between Eddie and Hardy had me rolling...

Even with its predictable ending (which in this case, I don't hold it against the piece) everything fell into place so well, I found myself smiling and agreeing with the protagonist who decides, she has had enough captivity. Took me a minute to understand but by the time I did, I agreed with her. Keep yer money...

Yes, I know we are supposed to sympathize with Eddie, but about halfway through, I realized he was just the storyteller, not the hero.

I would like to say there was something you should work on but I simply can't do it.

Well done. I expect to see your work again, Ms Keating. 

Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories February 22, 2013 - 7:05am

Thank you very much, happy readers make my week!
- LVK

Shane Berryhill's picture
Shane Berryhill February 22, 2013 - 5:33pm

Laura, I dig your concept, but I recommend taking a look at Strunk and White's THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE.

Also, most successful writers agree one should stick to using the verb, 'said' for dialogue attritubtion. But many of them--myself included--believe prose pops when one can get rid of dialogue attribution verbs all together.

Example: you wrote, "'The next one?' said Eddie. He lit up his unfiltered cigarette and coughed when a dry spin of tobacco was sucked into his lung."

Try this: "The next one?" Eddie lit up his cigarette and took a drag.

See how that pops a little more? And the dialogue attribution is obvious as 'Eddie' immediately follows it. And the omission of the adjective (unfiltered) just makes the prose hum.

Such are just easy technical fixes that will come with time, etc. You've got talent. Keep at it!

-Shane Berryhill
In a society where owning books makes you an outlaw, literature is kept alive by "burners," those who wage war for books by reciting their pages in rap-style battles called "burns." BURN by Shane Berryhill features "Reader" on the night of the biggest burn in his life. Reader must face off against "Shakespeare" for the title of "Librarian" while the Tolstoys, the Austens, the Wells, the Vernes, and all the other burner gangs look on. BURN is a tribute to the work of Ray Bradbury and a love letter to the written word.
Read, rate, and review BURN here: http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/burn
 

 

 

 

Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories February 23, 2013 - 11:38am

Thanks for the read and the constructive feedback, always appreciated!
Cheers,
LVK

klahol's picture
klahol from Stockholm, Sweden is reading Black Moon February 24, 2013 - 1:05pm

Solid piece of writing! 

Loved this. You are up there on my top five. Going to recommend this on the forum. 

Extremlely cool story, expertly told. 

Great work! 

Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories February 25, 2013 - 8:56am

Thank you very much, and I am very glad that you enjoyed it. I also really liked your story, dark but very absorbing.
Cheers,
LVK

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. March 2, 2013 - 10:25am

Very nicely done!  I can't help but think of Arhtur Dent and Trica McMillan from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Of course, that is completely out of place given the style of this story, but I still can't help but think of them.  It's very easy to see the dichotomy between the two sides of your world, the travelers, who risk death, and the ones who stay at home, and are condemned to obedience.  I liked how you subtly included Eddie's love interest as the blond on the TV show.   It was unobtrusive enough that you had me wondering if it was the same woman right up until the ending.

Excellent work!

Wendy Hammer's picture
Wendy Hammer from Indiana is reading One Night in Sixes March 4, 2013 - 7:40pm

This was a lot of fun.  I particularly liked how well you nailed ad copy.  That was such a perfect chirpy counterpoint to what else was going on in the story.  

I agree with one of the other commenters about the dialogue attribution.  Some variation is okay, but it seems to me that if there is too much variety it calls attention to itself and starts to sound like work. 

Overall, I'd say this was really good.  I like the detail (Cat19, the show, Eddie, etc.).  The ending worked too.  Well done. 

Dankeating's picture
Dankeating March 6, 2013 - 3:12pm

Very nice Laura. Detailed, almost overly so. I agree with previous commenters about wording. Sometimes the effort to paint a picture disallows for the reader to do so for themselves.  Just a thought. You have a great talent, and you are clearly getting better and better and better!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 8, 2013 - 6:24am

Cracking concept, and a natural extrapolation from the current obsession with reality shows.  It’s well written as well, confident and easy to read.  My only negative is that I didn’t feel much about the characters.  Eddie has little conflict to deal with, and while he has a great voice and presence, there is no tension there.  His loss is well dealt with, and his interactions with Hardy are strong.  The conflict here is on screen, but there is no particular reason to care whether or not Allison lives or dies.  I don’t know if she’s meant to be Janet, though I presumed from Eddie saying she wasn’t there to the Cat that she is not.  Presumably Eddie is projecting onto Allison at the end, and there was meant to be meaning in her choice, but I didn’t feel the meaning.  Eddie being the counterpoint to the eventual choice is a nice touch though.

Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories March 8, 2013 - 4:09pm

Thanks for the read and feedback, Adam! I'm glad you mentioned the sympathetic connection to the characters and the presence/absence of it therein. I feel you are spot on: Allison is just another player on a new season; whether she lives of dies is of little consequence to the audience, but her choices at the end are what are ultimately important.
It was sort of a hope of mine that readers might be able to relate more with Allison (the player) rather than Eddie (the viewer); Eddie, afterall, is always hoping that the surviving players will decide to come home and thus justify his own choices. He is in the stasis of safety, while the players are the face of living/demanding to live.
Of course, how the readers-of-the-tale intrepret the characters and their motivations is always of importance to me. So thank you again for the read and the feedback. Cheers!
- LVK

Linda's picture
Linda from Sweden is reading Fearful Symmetries March 28, 2013 - 10:27am

I really enjoyed you story, Laura. Great flow to the language, and solid work on the dialogue. I'm also impressed by your "invented" lingo, and the ease with which you make it feel like a natural part of your world. It really does a lot for the story. A final note on the technical side of craft, I love the mix of narratives, you managed to hook me with the reality show stuff even though it was only a couple of paragraphs (and you got skills when it comes to writing action).

To be honest, I'm not sure what the cat added to the story, although I liked it as a quirky detail. It's just a thought though, it certainly didn't do anything to harm the story either. 

Thanks for sharing, thumbs up!

 

Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories April 8, 2013 - 6:22am

Hello Linda, thanks for the feedback and sorry for the delay in replying! 
Always happy to hear that someone has enjoyed a story, makes a lady's day. 
In an original draft, Cat 19 had a little more backstory and significance, but as I began snipping down the word count the little guy's role began to shrink. One day I might expand on the story, but perhaps not.
Again, thanks for the read. Cheers!

Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories April 8, 2013 - 6:23am

Hello Linda, thanks for the feedback and sorry for the delay in replying! 
Always happy to hear that someone has enjoyed a story, makes a lady's day. 
In an original draft, Cat 19 had a little more backstory and significance, but as I began snipping down the word count the little guy's role began to shrink. One day I might expand on the story, but perhaps not.
Again, thanks for the read. Cheers!

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations March 29, 2013 - 4:45am

Good piece, fun, though needs to work the depths that it has to be a truely stand out work.

Make each word work for you :

Nah,” replied Hardy. “Guess some dumb shit ...

I'd lose the "Guess" - Hardy then goes onto explain exactly what happened, and though some people might use Guess as a figure of speech, in this case it jars!

Similarly, "It had been nearly thirty years since Eddie had put a vegetable that came out of the ground in his mouth" is fine, but you don't need to then explain he couldn't remember the difference. It's implicit, I think!

Some minor typos that a proofread should catch :

"He considered going to his own bed found himself reaching for the remote" ("but" missing? )

These are minor issues. Deeper, you need to show just how bad living in the ward is, and you don't, not quite, certainly not bad enough to still be worse even with 10m credits to your name. (Are there not some rich people living in warmth and comfort? Or is it that even then, everything is on record?)

One thing I didn't really get : "Travelling in the past" - is this necessary? How would the violence be regulated, if it really was the past?

I think the shooting of Janie Grey is a tad too lucky/easy. Make it tenser, the flukey single shot is a bit deux ex machina? (Maybe allow Janie to unload a whole clip into the body of the other hostage, and to be reloading when Alison takes the shot?)

You don't fully explain what a HapPer device does? Please do! (Does it record everything therefore eliminate crime? Or something else?)

I know the Cat 19 is probably mainly there simply because of the remit of the comp, but didn't get why a mechanical would hog the warmth, nor why something that solid would still be a likeable pet? 

There's a danger people will assume Janie is in fact the oft mentioned Janet - change one of the names? And though it is good that Janet is "lost" to him, you may need to explain more why she left (freedom is one thing, but freedom from HapPer AND Ed?)

P.s. Love the fact the HJ's don't want to wear masks in order to get their moment of fame!

Good work though, hope this and other feedback help tighten it up!

Liam

Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories April 8, 2013 - 6:46am

Sensational feedback, Liam! Always looking for ways to make the craft a little tighter!

Let me hop right into the questions you had first. As to the living conditions in the Ward, they aren't necessarily bad - you just can't leave, unless you become a "contestant." Life goes on in the towns and cities much as it goes on now, save for the fact that you are limited to the boundries of your ward forever and that is it. Perhaps that seems super horrible to me and not necessarily everyone; I travel far and often, the claustrophobia of static living would tear me apart.
With "travelling in the past" what I meant was travelling freely, as most people in the world are able to now. That's all that was meant there.
I sort of thought about having a major shootout-everybody-dies-hamlet situation, but then I sort of loved the idea of this one lucky shot. A little affected? Perhaps, but I love the role of small luck in any story (too much and you're absolutely right, Deux ex All over the place).
For the HapPer clips I once had a big description of their function - but then found I was explaining to much (ah, the dreaded info-dumps) and felt that the implied functions were enough. You're close; it records where members of the Wards are every time they enter a new building so that they are constantly accounted for and "logged in" to the security system. The only way to remove it without consequences is to be a "contestant."
And with Cat 19, I just sort of thought he might want to warm his mechanical joints to limber them up a bit (he's an old model, after all). As for being too solid . . . my cat's sort of a monster, I think one morning he'll finally snap one of my ribs after jumping on my chest but I still like him lots! ;)

To the technical stuff (the missing "but", the removal of "Guess") good call. I like this story and will likely do a re-write/touch-up down the road; feedback like this is perfect.

Thanks for the read, cheers!
Laura

Joseph Nassise's picture
Joseph Nassise from Phoenix is reading Too many books to list May 13, 2013 - 9:31am

Laura,

Several of the other reviewers commented on some of the basic issues I would focus on to tighten up the story (dialogue attribution being one of them) so I won't rehash those here.  I would suggest that you go back through the story and take out all the passive language - had gone, had been, etc - that detracts from the readers immersion in the text.

My biggest issue with the story, however, is that it isn't really a story.  It is a decent slice of life, but doesn't have the requisite element of conflict to make it a story.

There aren't any circumstances or issues driving the actions of your main character, Eddie.  He makes his choices, goes about his day, but that's about it.  Nothing forces him to rise above his present circumstances.  Nothing challenges him to do anything.  Nothing actually happens to him.  We get a glimpse into his life, into his emotions, but that's it.

That's not a story, unfortunately.

You delivered on the three criteria of the assignment - it was easy to recognize the dystopian theme, the science was certainly plausible, and Cat 19 was your token non-human character (I say token because, again, the cat didn't add anything to the story.  Take it away and you have the same slice of life moment, just without the cat.  It is non-essential) but that isn't enough to make this piece a success in my view. 

-Joe Nassise

 

 

Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories May 20, 2013 - 8:12am

Hello and thanks for the feedback Joseph.
To address the issue of nothing really happening to Eddie, the way I wanted to approach his role in the story was to make his lack of conflict his conflict. He's stuck, too nervous to do anything about it, and knows it. He has just become a viewer of things and is trapped in the mundane cycle of day-in-day-out. It is in Allison that I wanted to demonstrate the growth, struggles, real tangible conflict, etc. In many ways I thought of her as the actual protagonist; Eddie is just the sad POV.

However, that said, I always appreciate when people take the time to read my stuff and give me feedback/constructive criticism. Thank you very much, and I will certainly be keeping an eye on the passive voice problems!
Cheers,
Laura

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations May 20, 2013 - 9:55am

Hey Laura, I get similar comments for some (lots!) of my characters. One opportunity is to up the chance to escape - that he chooses not to, is still a choice, and the conflict is in that decision (and/or living with it afterwards!). Perhaps if Janet tries harder to convince him to go, perhaps if he weakens for a short while - all of this then means his current state is very much his own doing, and having made his choice, what is there left?

Alternatively, you could have him make a bargain with himself, that depends on the outcome and therefore the survival (or otherwise!) of Allison.

Liam