Voyages of the Earthship Horus: Alice

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Voyages of the Earthship Horus: Alice

Post by kailhofer »

I was pleased that this intrepid crew finally faced something really dangerous. Their skills, which usually totally outclassed their opponents, didn't help them a whole lot. Alice was a tremendous asset, but one which was unreliable, and was therefore more realistic.

"Realism" I think is an important point to pause at. Unless you're writing really hard SF, we as authors don't need realism. We need to establish verisimilitude, the appearance of truth. That is, this place you're writing about needs to seem like a real place, with real rules about how the universe works, and with characters that behave like real people. Maybe the whole world is populated by disposable pens that talk--as long as the rules are established straight off, the reader will know which areas to suspend their disbelief on.

That false 'realism' is normally revealed through the setting and some of the initial interactions of characters. For me, I like a world that comes alive, described with all five senses. Not everything all the time, mind you, but descriptive phrases worked in throughout exposition, narrative, or dialog. One normally wants to stay away from infodumps, stopping the narrative flow to explain anything, and having characters lecture one another.

In this regard the 1st person of this story does not help. Most authors think 1st person is the easiest voice to write. Wrong! It is the most difficult. Most people say, "How can that be, I'm writing it just as I imagine it?"

When I walk into a room, I don't think "I walked into an 8x10 room. At the far end was a mahogany bar with three stools in front of it. On one of them was my old friend Bob. We went to the academy together. He smiled at me, then pulled a gun." For the most part, I see those things, but I don't think them. Instead, I think, "Stuffy in here. Hey, there's Bob! Why is he pointing a gun at me?"

It's way too easy to stop and explain things, like Plato's paragraph on the Mantizoids. Instead, all he had to think was their name. The audience can infer most of it.

A good rule of thumb is if it doesn't advance the story, add to the setting, or establish character... chop it out. Leave in only what you absolutely need to show the plot, characters, or setting.

"Showing" is the next problem with 1st person, in my opinion. Plato tells us things all the time. He tells us how tall Molly is. He tells us he named the ship Alice. He even tells us how no one knows what rock and roll is. But instead imagine if these things were shown. Maybe he stands on a box to look Molly in the eye or he gets ticked off when she kneels down to talk to him. It's actually in the story that he says "Let's call her Alice." So it was never even necessary for him to think he named the ship Alice. His crew could have just asked him, "Rock and what?" with a blank expression.

The point is, all these ways are more interesting for the reader to gain the required bit of information than to just be told it outright. 'Thinking' it robs the audience of some of the enjoyment they could have felt by 'experiencing' it along with the characters.

We all want people to read our stories. The more the audience is entertained and swept up by the experience, the more they'll keep reading.

Last edited by kailhofer on April 12, 2008, 03:41:21 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Voyages of the Earthship Horus: Alice

Post by Megawatts »

Nice drawing! A story that came from the age of Star Trek. But I like it.
I usually don’t read another’s critique before I post mine, but on this story I read Kailhofer’s and must say that I agree with him.  

I can add little else except the story is a bit confusing, but not to the point of being difficult to understand with one reading.

The names made up worked, and the concrete descriptions good. Nothing too general.

The dialogue not bad and correct word choice Okay.

Not a bad attempt----but room for improvement.
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