Alfisti's Ramblings

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Thu 27 Dec 2012 - 6:02



Chapter 11|White Knuckle Ride now on ff.net


Wherein Genco comes up with the goods,
old stamping grounds are revisited,
and Jethro samples some Italian metal.



Whew, done.

To be honest this chapter has not spent as much time in editing as I would like; but I'm off to Tokyo on Saturday and wanted it out before then. As I've some running around to do tomorrow, this was the last opportunity I was likely to get to give it a proper look over.


For those interested: next job once I return is to do the next chapter of the Olivetti fratello's story. We'll see how it goes.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Wed 9 Jan 2013 - 7:45

Ok, so: posting in response to comments by Taerkitty on ff.net RE:And The Adventure Continues - Chapter01... simply because it's easier to quote etc here.

Running's a good plan. I can do running.
I like running too... plus I've always pictured Jethro's "running away" gait to be one of those arms flailing type runs.

"In hindsight, she suspected that probably explained the number of tourists and lack of locals making use of its services."
That's my rule for good ethnic places: ones that look like one violation away from being closed by the board of health, and with lots of people of that ethnicity eating therein.
Pretty much: eat where the locals eat and do as they do when you get there and there's a resonable chance of coming out the other end unscathed and with a good feed. I've done a reasonable amount of travel, and the only two times I've seen anyone get food poisioning were both in tourist-focused establishments.


"dropping a none-too-subtle hint that if her handler hadn't, he possibly should be."
For a handlee, she seems to be doing more of the handling than JB.
I think by this stage of their tenure together, Jethro is pretty happy to leave the fratello's day-to-day running to Monty, leaving him free to scheme, plot, plan and generally think about the bigger picture. This particular instance is more a case of Monty liking to have some goal to work toward (possibly as a result of being more details oriented) whilst Jethro is a bit happier to roll with the punches and keeps his plans flexible accordingly.

As a side note: I tend to picture Jethro's style of cyborg management to be less direct and a bit more subtle than others (partly thanks to having a girl he can get away with that with); gently prodding, guiding and cajoling Monty along; not to mention giving her some ownership of what the fratello does... it's less stressful for all involved.


Oh, they really were going to Le Metropole? I thought the whole "talking to the book" was where Monty's pointing out key phrases in the text to form a critical sentence while blabbing tourist-speak. Something like, "Man in black hat is listening" or somesuch.
Yeah, they really were. While playing this sort of game is fun, there's a point at which the whole thing starts to get too drawn out and convoluted and needs to be moved along. I'll admit I've never been a great one for having contrived or set phrases with a specific meaning (well, bar a few particularly basic ones "I've been captured" wordings and the like), generally I figure if Jethro or Monty need to say something covertly they'll figure out a way of phrasing it such that the other can work it out knowing what they're up to.


Steed and Peel? Really? Why not something bland like Smith and Jones? There's always a chance they watched the show or movie.
Yeah really... Razz I'm calling artistic license on this one as I enjoy having a bit of fun with their cover names. Notably Monty has already been "Vesper" in Monaco whilst Jethro took his name from mashing "Sean" (Shaun, in this case) Connery's first name and Michael Caine's last name together... and "Archer" at the start of CH01 was lifted from Kate Archer in the "No One Lives Forever" series of video games (which I still need to play).


Hm. For those unfamiliar, what's antifoul? Yes, I can ask you in PM, but this is more a comment to elaborate on it a bit.
Antifoul is a protective treatment applied to to the underside of vessels to help prevent the buildup of marine growth below the waterline; generally either by poisioning it or giving it a surface which it can't hold onto. At intervals the vessel needs to be hauled out of the water and the antifoul renewed, and it's pretty pungent stuff.


Okay, first chapter done, and it was a bit of a slog. It reads more like a work of original fiction than fanfiction, what with the richness of detail, depth of research and general pacing. By original fiction, I mean published, paid for book.

Once my expectations adjusted, it's a smooth read, and more dead ends occur in this than in the canon. Again, in O-fic, that's fine. In the canon, they do a deft job of culling out all the missed steps, all the oversights
I think as I mentioned in chat: I tend to view fancomic/fiction as a bit of a training ground for eventually writing (hopefully) original fiction, so some of that intent probably seeps through a little... almost trying to build the world again as it were; especially as J+M's world intentionally differs somewhat from day-to-day life at the SWA.

As to the canon culling out missed steps and oversights: probably two arguments on that. The first is I think culling those out is in some ways a limitation of the manga/comic genre: there's just not enough space to show all the backtracking and turning about, and it takes to damn long to draw and uses up too much page realestate which could be better spent on other things. I know when I was drawing the Monaco arc there were plenty of things I skipped over simply due to time/pacing/space constraints, though I will admit the canon does do a particularly deft job of it... though part of that could be down to, as we've discussed before, GSG being very much a character-drama, so missing steps in the procedure of the operational side is perhaps not so critical.

The second would be that, the SWA portrayed in the canon I see as very much intended to be the pointy end of the stick, so by the time missions get through the intelligence crowd and Section 01 to the main characters, all that investigation has already been done. J+M were intended to operate outside that support structure (both narritively and in-universe), so much of that big chunk of work which happens "off screen" in canon is very much their job.


The Jethro character are a bit too strong for GsG fanfic. As a member of Her Majesty's Secret Service, that's fine - the level of suspension of disbelief is much higher in the "other JB" world. Also, he seems far more the fool than the foil, which is amusing, but not in keeping with the lethally-serious world of GsG.

Monty is ... well, I know she's a favourite, and I hate to kick kittens, but she seems too competent, too skilled, too savvy for her age. I'd love to read how she came to be this way but...

It's probably best if there were some hints dropped even this early on so readers won't be saying, "Oh, come /on/! How can a teen do this?"
One of the problems I've run into with writing J+M is that, by the time I got around to actually doing anything with them they were already fairly well established characters on the forum... so when it came time to write them I went directly to the pair as they were known (and, frankly, as I knew them); which was Monty being her competent, savvy, grumpy self and Jethro taking a more laid-back approach because he had a cyborg who was bright and mature enough that he could get away with it. I can't remember if I was doing so in early chapters, but I know in later ones I was making a concious effort to make Monty's decisions and comments more based on logic (ie. something more related to personality) whilst Jethro's are related more to experience and gut instinct.

Either way, I'm currently hanging with no "how we got here" story for them... it may have to become a seperate set of words.

A lot of the above issues I'm hoping to rectify with Danilo and C.Raych; writing a more "canon" context and, to be brutally honest: working with characters I'm not quite so emotionally attached to.


As a final note, RE: Grammar - Noted, and I'll be going back to fix. Particularly lose vs loose... which for some reason I can never remember which is which.


Thanks again for the comments and giving me something to mull over, always appreciated.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sun 27 Jan 2013 - 3:03

So, I gave up and submitted Danilo & Raych's story to ff.net:


Meanwhile in Italy


I'll admit, I'm still not entire enarmoured with this one, but the first two chapters are there now. Either way, it's break time before jumping into J+M's next chapter.


Last edited by Alfisti on Sun 27 Jan 2013 - 8:14; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Now with 100% more cover)

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Sun 27 Jan 2013 - 11:58

@Alfisti wrote:So, I gave up and submitted Danilo & Raych's story to ff.net...

I'll admit, I'm still not entire enarmoured with this one, but the first two chapters are there now. Either way, it's break time before jumping into J+M's next chapter.

It is a different writing style from the one I am familiar with (J+M), but it does set the two main characters well.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sun 27 Jan 2013 - 18:10

@Kiskaloo wrote:It is a different writing style from the one I am familiar with (J+M), but it does set the two main characters well.
Yeah, I've been purposely trying to write this one a bit differently, a bit more straight forward and to the point than J+M, so gone is a lot of the atmosphere-building/stylistic descriptive prose. Partly because these two are a bit more straight down the line than J+M, more focused in what they notice and, possibly more to the point, the descriptions either would give of things told from their perspective are far less eloquent than either of the Blackers (particularly Jethro).

Thanks Kisk, glad to hear its coming across a bit to the reader.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 16 Mar 2013 - 22:41



Chapter 12|Cherry Lips now on ff.net

Wherein Jethro makes small talk,
Tea serves coffee...
...and Monty goes clubbing.



So, if my calcs are correct, there should be about one more chapter left in this, possibly an epilogue before starting on a new "book" for J+M. With that in mind (assuming anyone cares), the current plan is to, instead of breaking things up with another Danilo and Raych chapter, to move straight on to wrapping up And the Adventure Continues. Then I'll have a clear run at getting the other two up to speed before moving back to Jethro + Monty's next/continuing adventure.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 16 Mar 2013 - 22:44

Excellent, something to read while I wait for Melbourne to kick off.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 18 May 2013 - 7:09



Chapter 13|The Spies Who Remained in the Cold and Epilogue now on ff.net

Wherein the adventure continues.

And that's it for And the Adventure Continues. Many thanks to anyone silly enough to stick with me this far, I hope it was worthwhile.



So, where to now? Well, first I intend to take a few weeks break from writing (or at least as long as I last before feeling the urge to tell a story), and quite a lot of me I will admit is looking forward to being able to arrive home from work and not have something pressing hanging over my head. I actually don't mind being perma-busy, but you can't do it forever... its also a chance to clear some of the backlog of smaller projects put on hold to make way for AtAC.

After that? Well, needless to say this is not the end for Jethro+Monty, but first things first: it's time to bring Danilo and Raych's story up to speed and possibly a little further. That will also give me a chance to see how I fare writing shorter chapters... and a chance to evaluate any changes I want to make format wise to how J+M get written: because frankly 20k word chapters are a pain in the posterior. It also gives time to start fleshing out plans for their next story, because the skeleton is already there.


Anyway, thanks again to all those who made it to the end, and especially to those who have commented, crited and let me borrow their characters. It's always appreciated.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Sun 19 May 2013 - 20:40

Been a heck of a ride and best of all, the ending still leaves plenty of opportunities to continue the story later on. Good

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Tue 21 May 2013 - 6:21

Cheers Kisk... and yes, there's certainly plenty of loose threads flapping in the breeze waiting to become continuity further down the track... =P

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Tue 11 Jun 2013 - 6:37

Here's a little bit of drivel I've been toying with the idea of for awhile, but never really had anywhere to fit. Seeing as Jethro+Monty are currently in the UK however, it seemed like a good thing to quickly warm up on before jumping into the next bit of writing proper. I guess it is almost an epilogue to the epilogue as, while it doesn't actually have any bearing on And the Adventure Continues, it takes place almost immediatly after that story ends... call it a week or so.

Family Values

Peeling back one charcoal skivvy cuff, Monty glanced at her wristwatch as the red small seconds hand completed another lap of its dial. Pulling a tight smile she turned back to where, behind the reception counter, a ginger desk clerk all too slowly finished running her card; if they intended on catching the night ferry to Denmark she and her partner would need to get moving.

“Any other incidentals?”

Monty looked back at the young woman. “Not beyond those already listed.”

“Alright, if you could just sign here...” receipt and pen clacked down on marble so the appropriate mark could be scribbled, “...thank you. Here is your copy and card back and you’re good to go. Have a lovely day.”

Nodding quick thanks, Monty slipped the plastic rectangle into her wallet, which was paired with the receipt before in turn being placed inside one breast of a white wool overcoat. Picking up the soft duffle bag which resided at her feet, she headed for the exit; heels of matching white leather boots sinking into thick pile carpet with each step. After near a month of enforced convalescence whilst her handler mended from their Russian misadventure it would be good to get back on the road: even if only to chase another Rome-directed diversion.

Outside remained still cloudy and grey, casting the street and stone walls in soft, muted tones, pavements glistening after a light morning drizzle. No need for sunglasses here and, adjusting in place a white engineer’s cap atop auburn hair, the slender girl stepped out through double hinged doors into Edinburgh’s late-winter cold.

Beyond the building’s protection a stiff breeze whipped about her, setting the coat’s heavy fabric swaying and whistling over exposed ears. Scanning the scene, the girl quickly found her handler, stood next to their half-packed Audi estate, however seemingly now in conversation with another, elder, man and she hurried down the front steps.

Detouring to dump her bag on the car’s rear seat, she took an extra moment to study the stranger: probably in his late sixties or early seventies, salt and pepper hair, now more salt and less pepper, topped by a flat cap; wearing a battered blue nylon bomber jacket over shirt and tie; his arms crossed to lean back against the boot of a silver Volvo saloon. In the space between both vehicles conversation had ground to a standstill, and as she closed the door and moved to join the two men, Monty felt eyes boring into her.

Halting close beside her partner, the girl nodded at his current companion then glanced up. “The room’s dealt with, but we might want to get moving shortly.”

Opposite however, the other man had also pinned the spy in his gaze, eyebrows slightly raised. “And whom might this be Jethro?”

So, someone from the old-days then.

There was a pause, and she felt her handler take a deep breath. “This is Monty. Monty, this is Keith Blacker... my father.”

Oh…

It took an imperceptible heartbeat to re-calibrate, but recovering quickly Monty held out her hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you Keith, and what brings you to Edinburgh?”

Divert his attention.

Reciprocating her gesture, the elder Blacker glanced again at his son. “As I was just telling my absent offspring here, I’m giving a series of guest lectures at the University’s school of economics, so they moved me north for the week.”

“Dad is one of the better known academics in the field...”

“...semi-retired now though, which means when people do drag me back into active service they at least have the decency to accommodate me somewhere nice,” he gestured to the building the fratello had just exited, “though I was under the impression they did not have twin-share suites here.”

Another pause, and Monty was just starting to open her mouth when Jethro cut across her. “They don’t, but the sofa folds out.”

“Does it now? A sofa bed would seem a tad low rent considering the going room rate.”

“I see you didn’t bring Mother with you.”

That got a half smile. “No: one thing about retirement, even semi-retirement, is that you have to take the opportunities to get out of one-another’s pockets as they arise, or otherwise risk divorce. We’ve done alright for the last forty years, I see no reason to break the run now by laying about the house too much... and what brings you two here, with each other?”

The last was directed at Monty.

“Business. We work together, professionally.”

“Is that so?” Now the elder man gave her partner a querying look. “She seems a little young to be taking on a professional position, barely out of high school... if that.”

“It’s work experience, helping her decide on a career path.”

“So she is still in school…”

The younger Blacker managed to squeeze out a “no” before his father’s tone turned hard and interrogative.

“…work experience to a shared hotel room? Overnight? Exactly what sort of ‘career path’ would that be helping her into then Jethro?”

“We couldn’t afford two.”

“My son cannot afford two separate rooms, but he can afford a top of the range Audi.”

As the back and forth continued above her head, Monty grimaced internally: her partner was drowning... being taken apart with embarrassing ease at his own game.

“Just how much are you paying her?”

“I’m not paying her anything, that’s why it’s called work experience.”

“Well then someone is dressing her expensively, perhaps the sort of person who would rather spend his money on toys over hotel rooms… and for your information work experience, as a generalisation, occurs outside school hours: which don’t stretch so far as to allow a weeknight away for those seeking a university education and career.”

Grasping at her handler’s arm to catch his attention, Monty glanced again pointedly at her watch as conversation once more evaporated, and she turned the flat gaze on their current companion.

“Sorry to interrupt, but we really do need to get moving.”

Silence, both men studying the girl between them, until the elder half cleared his throat. “You obviously have somewhere more important to be, in which case I need to be getting up to the university as well.”

With that he started to step away toward his Volvo’s driver door, before pausing to turn back.

“I don’t know what exactly what path you have taken in life to reach this point Jethro Blacker, but you had best sort it out... and you, young lady, should be taking a good hard look to decide if this is really what you want: a pretty face and expensive trinkets do not last forever.” There was a pause, and his attention turned back to the pair’s male half. “In the interest of our collective sanity I do not intend to go informing your mother about this; but for God sakes make my life easier and call her once in awhile would you… and at least pretend to be alright.”

Uttering those final words he was gone, door shutting with a heavy clonk before the Volvo’s engine whirred and caught into a diesel rattle. Edging away, the saloon rolled off down the street, disappearing around its long cobbled curve. As it departed, Monty’s partner draw her against himself, arms crossed over her as he began to rock them both side to side, staring unseeing toward where that silver vehicle had vanished from sight.

Reaching up she wrapped a slender hand around one of his. “Well that was... awkward.”

The rocking stopped, and she felt her partner draw a deep breath, letting it out in a slow, juddering sigh, before bending down to place his head atop hers. “That’s ok luv, it was just bad luck we happened to cross paths. Frankly this is the first time we’ve talked in years... I don’t think I’m even on my folks’ Christmas card list anymore.”

“Is that bad?”

Stepping back, Jethro turned his girl around to face him and kneeled down to embrace her again.

“No, not right now.”

Still held tight, Monty lifted her wrist to look again at her watch. “You know, I was not lying when I said we needed make a move shortly: otherwise we really will miss the Esbjerg boat.”

Releasing his partner, the man stood back to throw her a half grin. “Well then, we had best be cracking on hadn’t we?”

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 11 Jun 2013 - 13:07

Michele: "Been there, mate."

Kara: sweat


Brilliant.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Wed 12 Jun 2013 - 4:58

@Kiskaloo wrote:Michele: "Been there, mate."

Kara:


Brilliant.
Jethro: Look on the bright side I guess, at least our cover's solid...

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Thescarredman on Wed 12 Jun 2013 - 13:38

Cringe-worthy. A dozen words from a disapproving parent truly can be more disconcerting than a gun in the face. Very well done, Alf. Where did you ever get the idea that characterization is your weakness?
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Thu 13 Jun 2013 - 6:16

@Thescarredman wrote:Cringe-worthy. A dozen words from a disapproving parent truly can be more disconcerting than a gun in the face. Very well done, Alf. Where did you ever get the idea that characterization is your weakness?
Thanks TSM... there's actually a quote I wanted to start this one off with, but couldn't find again so I couldn't reference it, but it was something along the lines of "Every great man believes, he is but a lesser version of his father". It seemed appropriate.

...and personally I think I've still a long way to go on characterisation.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Vett on Thu 13 Jun 2013 - 9:22

I've been meaning to review And the Adventure Continues for months, but a certain
someone produces chapters that are so long that by the time I'm partway through a review,
out comes another chapter and I wonder if it's worth getting even further behind. It's over
now, so there's no more issues in that regard. As there's only one person it's of any
interest to and it's fairly long, I'm sticking it behind spoiler tags (and I've no idea what's happened to the formatting, either. Apparently the forum doesn't like notepad).

Spoiler:
General impressions of chapter one are good: There's a clear mystery to be solved
and, despite the primarily cerebral storyline, it moves along at a decent clip. Monty and
Jethro very quickly make their personlities known, and the fratello dynamic is a fun one.

Moving on to the actual text, I liked the first line. It's atmospheric and raises enough interest to move me on to the second paragraph.

The rest of the first scene is a well done bit of tell-not-show, but I'm not entirely sure
what purpose it serves, really. If it were visual media, you'd get the shot of the lone
figure out against the prow, but here we've just popped into a character's head for five
paragraphs, and (having read the story through) we're never going to see him again. I'm also
not sure that the two scenes of the Captain need to be seperate really, as they are taking
place at the same time and dealing with the same topic. I found the scene change slowed the
opening right down.

More to the point, I don't believe there's really anything in the two scenes, whether
descriptive or factual detail, that couldn't also be given just as plausibly from Monty's
POV. In addition to getting us into a main character's head sooner, it might also get the
pace up a little on the opening, as well as presenting us with (presumably) Monty scouting
the harbour - introducing the driver for the chapter: "Where's the damn boat?"
Of course, you could stick with Captain's PoV, but give him a bit more to do. Conflict
between him and Monty, trying to get her below decks before she's ready, or maybe just
digging for information on her relationship with Jethro. Monty's not going to take kindly to
either, which would give enough conflict to be interesting, while still keeping the opening
fittingly low key.

The scene introducing Jethro is nicely done.

Inside, her nose wrinkled as the acrid smell of hot plastic assaulted her nostrils, "Christ Guvnor, you wouldn't want to open a window at all would you?"

Jethro Blacker didn't turn away from where he was positioned at the captain's small writing
desk, the hot clothes iron in his hand pressed down hard on something resting atop the
woodwork. Resigned through experience to the idea that her handler was busy right now and
wouldn't be responding until finished, Monty leaned back against the door, folded her arms
and started to give her report.

"Captain Howell has informed me that the ship will be taking an Alexandrian pilot aboard shortly, so we'd best stay below decks till docked. Pity, I was hoping to get a look at the harbour on our way in."
Jethro withdrew the iron briefly then, working steadily across the object in front of him,
started making small circles with the tip. This action however apparently signified the end
of his need to give full attention to the task in front of him.
"Well, Alexandria does have a tricky entrance. It shouldn't be a big surprised that even
smaller vessels need a pilot. Besides luv, if we saw everything before we arrived, where
would all the fun and surprises come from?"
Monty's expression flattened and she fixed her handler with a deadpan gaze, "I'd be
perfectly content without either just right now thank you, we've had plenty enough of both
this month already."
"Monaco turned out alright."
"Monaco ended with Nick and Shamus turning up dead for reasons unknown and their boat
drifting in the Mediterranean. I'm not certain the description of alright is entirely apt
under the circumstances."


This sums up basically everything you need to know about them in a few paragraphs, and Monty
lounging against the door to report to her boss is a nicely subtle piece of characterisation. I wouldn't want to start with this scene, but it's the scene that made me keep reading: the first time around I was about to give-up waiting for the hook at this point and find something else to read. The backstory info-dump is nicely handled too.

The last dregs of sunset were fading into an inky night




Nice line.
Monty looked down at her own outfit; a plain charcoal skivvy top, black leggings and flats.


The semi-colon should be a colon here as the second clause isn't capable of standing as a seperate sentence. The same with the semi-colon after "shrugging his assent", as the second clause is explaining the first.

Jethro picked up his and Monty's heavy suitcase and one of the duffels whilst Monty grabbed the second, lighter bag as befitting a girl of her stature.


Neat piece of foreshadowing regarding Monty's abilities.

"If everything's running on schedule, which I doubt it will be, it'll leave
Felixstowe tomorrow evening," responded Monty


It's a little thing, but the cynical aside is  so quintessentally Monty it makes me smile.

Handing Jethro a scrap of paper, Captain Howell motioned up toward the far end of the
warehouse, "Your transport should be just around the corner there. That bit of paper there's
got the registration number on it just in case."




Unless there's a 'said', or shouted etc., you'd normally use a full stop rather than a comma before the speechmarks.
"Do you want I should run a rooftop recce?"




Is this an Australian English thing? If it isn't, it seems rather common for Monty.
No sounds of people: good, but also no sound of a truck: not so good.




I like the calm understatement, but can you, gramatically speaking, nest colons?

Out of curiosity, why is 'Skipper' Monty's go-to word for Jethro? I can understand Gov., but I can't work out where she'd have picked Skipper up from.
"I doubt we're going to have time to go searching, the dock workers should be coming
off their break any time now. Ideas?"




The comma should really be a colon here as the second clause is explaining the first.
Monty eyed the approach dubiously; a wide stretch of concrete with sparse cover to a
guard station and single vehicle parked beside it, presumably belonging to the guard inside.




This can't be a semi-colon as the second clause isn't capable of being a seperate sentence.
"Ok, but I go first and you give me the heavy bags."
Without waiting for her handler's response, Monty grabbed the large suitcase and heavier of
the two duffels with her other hand to balance herself, lifting both easily with cybernetic
strength.




Again, a nicely shown bit of characterisation of the fratello's dynamic.
Jethro shrugged, it might be possible, but the options for viable distractions
around him were as limited as ways to escape the port itself.




The first comma should be a colon: the rest of the sentence is explaining that first clause.

The reminder of the time slipping away while they're discussing options works well to keep the tension up.
"Plan?"
"Basically? Run."




Dr Who reference? It sounds familiar, but then it's one of those stock situations, so it may just be one of those things.
Jethro was breathing heavily after their flat-out sprint, but his face was split in a
manic grin, "Whew! Well, that was certainly more fun than coming in through the
airport."




The comma before the speech should be a full stop.It's only with said, whispered etc. you use a comma.
extracting from it a carefully rolled and packed YSL Mondrian dress and small, black
pistol.




Missing an "a" between "and" and "small"? Or just a slightly too long final description? Either way, it doesn't quite feel right to me.

Twenty minutes later, a black and yellow taxi dropped the fratello off outside the
Sofitel Cecil Alexandria hotel. Paying the fare they'd negotiated at the port, Jethro
thanked the driver and let the taxi go. Monty however was looking sour.




You need a pair of commas around however here.
For the next three quarters of an hour




I'd hyphenate "three-quarters".

Apparently in a city famed for its abundance of cafés they'd managed to find one
which didn't know how to make coffee.




I'm not quite sure what it is, but this sentence doesn't quite feel right to me. Maybe it's just slightly too long without punctuation.

Monty started, "I don't think that was worth the money."




I'm not entirely convinced by "started" here. It makes me expect an interuption, or Monty to trail off, but
neither happens.

Monty shifted in what she was now apparently paying for; causing the aged bent wood
construction to creak worryingly.




Should be a comma rather than a semi-colon. The on-screen reasoning out of which hotel to use is good, both for the insight into them and just the mundane nature of the little details they need to take into consideration.
It was perhaps that slower pace which caused the hurrying young man to crash into
Jethro. Bouncing off the taller Englishman he bowed his apologies and made to move on.
However he didn't get more than a few steps before finding himself sprawled on the ground,
being offered a hand up by an unconvincingly apologetic Monty, whose booted foot had somehow
got tangled in his legs. Helping the man to his feet and still voicing her concerns, she
used her free hand to quietly liberate her handler's wallet from the would-be pickpocket,
before sending him on his way.




The tone of this paragraph is spot-on. "Still voicing her concerns" is an embedded clause (you can remove it and what's left is still a complete and meaningful sentence), so it needs the comma after "and" before it starts.

Adding to her worries, the fratello had intended to travel back to England after
Monaco rather than continuing on, so spare identities right now were in short supply, which
brought up another uncomfortable concern.




Again, the mundane logistics of being an overseas, deniable(ish) fratello rear their heads.

After their clandestine arrival, the fratello was going to have to pick up their
pattern of mostly legal emigration eventually, and as far as the cyborg was concerned: the
sooner the better.


"As far as the cyborg was concerned" is another embedded clause, so it should be a comma after and, and another in the place of the colon.

"I think we'll need to wait for the car one way or the other," put in Monty, "there's
no-one really handy here to forward it onto us again."




The two bits of speech can stand by themselves as seperate sentences, so I'd use a full stop after "put in Monty".

"Now if you could just sign here, and date that, I'll take your fee and a deposit and
get the porter to show you to your room."


I might replace the "and" after deposit with "deposit, then", as there are several ands very close together. On the other hand, when most people speak they pile up ands like they're five years old, so...

When Monty's checking for bugs in the cornice, would physically lifting Jethro be an option, or is Monty not strong enough for that? Though I'm not sure how practical it would be in any
case.
Jethro paused, and a wry expression coloured his features, "Lets face it; the walls
here are probably so thin anyone who wants to listen in won't need a bug, an upside down
glass on the plaster would be perfectly adequate."




I'd use a full-stop after features. As "lets" is talking about both Monthy and Jethro, it's an abbreviation of Let us, so it should be "Let's". The semi-colon doesn't make sense here, as you can't replace it with an and while retaining the meaning of the sentence. The comma after bug should be a colon, as it's explaining the previous clause.

For similar reasons he'd not been allowed choice of the aisle seat on an aeroplane
since his tenure with the SWA had commenced almost two years previous.




I might use prior rather than previous, as it just doesn't sit right for me.

Jethro, on the other hand had gone the full English,


This puts me in mind of Jethro in an impeccable lounge-suit, tea in one hand, crumpet in the other, speaking in his best BBC voice and Generally Putting on a Good Show. Gone for... well, that would
have been different.

The how; the what and most concerningly; the who, between there and Alex are still a
mystery."




The semi-colon for "the who" should be before the "and", with "most concerningly" between a pair of commas. I like the transition between "We'll buy some binoculars..." and "Well, so much for
that brilliant plan". It works well.

While I think that "like rugby players over a geek who'd accidentally strayed into their locker room" works as a simile, I found it a bit jarring. I'm not sure if it's what was intended, but at ths point I'm seeing the entire scene from Monty's POV, including the narration, and that simile just doesn't feel to me like something Monty would say.

Jethro looked thoughtful again, "Would have been, I'd say, about two or three months
before I met you actually… forgery job. So where do you think we go next?"




I only noticed this particular Chekov's gun the second time through.
Monty let out a heavy sigh, "Foreplay's under guard at the Yacht Club. I didn't see
her yesterday because there were buildings in the way and we've been concentrating in the
western basin because we assumed she'd be at a government facility."
Jethro gave his cyborg a lopsided grin, "Wow. Embarrassing."
"You're telling me," replied Monty who, despite her wry expression, was feeling a lot
happier than she had five minutes previously.




Do you explicitly say anywhere that Monty's checked and it isn't there? I can't seem to find anything. Regardless, the revelation is well handled, and it's not about the search anyway: it's about the process,
and the process was interesting enough regardless of the nicely anti-climatic resolution.
"And you're sure it was antifoul."
Monty nodded, "Ninety-five percent."
"Good enough for me."



A neat and concise way of dodging the "Monty tells Jethro everything she's just done" issue. I'd probably like a little description, as it's a bit too much like a pair of heads talking in a vacuumn. Just 'Monty nodded, . "Ninety-five percent."' would be sufficient.

Jethro on the other hand had something of his own creation, essentially a Vesper
Martini with one shot of gin replaced by sweet vermouth and orange rind rather than lemon as
garnish, lending the normally light Vesper a darker, more mature air. This he had, much to
his cyborg's annoyance, christened the "Monty".


The real question isn't so much what's in it, but did Jethro doing it because it makes him feel like James Bond, because it's the best he could do to express affection for his cyborg, or because it annoys Monty?
Or all of the above.

Was Benipe intended to be a source all along, or was it a case of realising you had a useable secondary character when it came around to it? Unlike the Captain section above, I didn't have a problem with this one, largely due to the conflict involved.


We'll get a gander at what the Egyptians pulled off'f Foreplay


Really nit-picky thing, but, as a general rule, English people would say "pulled off Foreplay" rather than "pulled off of Foreplay".

Caught slightly off guard, the sergeant never the less knew his job, "Identification
please."


I'm pretty sure nevertheless is one word.

malefactions which may have befallen the dark grey Audi A4 Allroad



The description of the car feels a little long. I might think about removing either Audi or A4
Allroad from the sentence, though that would mean losing the detail about the car.
From Sidi Barriani the Allroad was pointed inland, its driver looking to put some
distance between the fratello and Egypt's slightly more populace coast. Settling into a
comfortable high-speed cruise, Jethro allowed himself to relax into the car's rhythm, its
extra suspension travel and plump, rally-bred Pirellis helping soak up the aged tarmac's
imperfections, its interior suffused in the soft glow of dashboard instruments. Beside him,
Monty reached out to let her arm brush briefly against his where it lay on the centre
console. Though she'd never admit it to anyone, these were the moments she looked forward to
and treasured: just her, her handler and the open road; their car a tiny, isolated speck of
light against an infinite night; travelling.




The last two thirds of of this paragraph has got a really good rythym to it and while the clause after the colon would normally have me reaching for the red pen, it works well here. I'm not sure you need the
travelling on the end, as I felt that it broke the atmosphere. If you're aiming for a pause, and then travelling, you might be better off with an elipsis than a semi-colon, and/or possibly putting "travelling" in italics.


Monty's trench and binoculars were returned to the back seat and the fratello retook
their positions. Starting the car again, Jethro left the lights off and crept westward into
the desert: away from the road, away from Egypt and into the relative safety of
Libya.




After you'd repeated away twice, I was looking for a third one. I like the ending, with the car driving off over the desert, but the last paragraph doesn't grab me and make me clamour for the next chapter. While I wouldn't suggest an explosive climax or a cliffhanger, as that's not really what you're going for with the story, the paragraph doesn't quite have the je ne sais quoi (and I literally don't know what, because this is the fourth version of this paragraph and I still can't put it into words properly) that gives a satisfying end and encourages me to come back for more. I'm inclined to think that the problem is "into the relative safety of Libya": it's slightly anti-climatic and dirupts the rythym you've set up with the first two bits. Unfortunately, I don't have a potential solution for you. I might replace it with some pretty description of desert or something similar, probably along the lines small fragile speck vs huge desert. It's a really nice image you've set up, but you don't really capitalise on it.

In summary then...

I really enjoy Jethro and Monty, both for their personalities but also the way you make a point of demonstrating the throught process, right the way down to the little vexations about life wih the support lines essentially cut: maintain cover, or have clean clothes (with dirty clothes also potentially gaining them a closer look). I don't know how much research you've actually done to get all those little details, but it certainly feels like you've done a good chunk. Monty is very competant, which makes her interesting... if you can provide enough backstory to explain it away and have her get hit with significant consequences for her aloof superiority-complex.

The plot is a slow burner, but it's interesting enough to absorb. You also have a nack for
regularly sloting minor, but potentially problematic, issues neatly into the narrative to
keep the tension up. I'm not sold on the opening scene, but the first scene with the fratello is very well done. The final line is anticlimatic, but, with this story if you've not hooked them by that point, it's probably not going to work out anyway.

Given how you've improved in later chapters, I'm not entirely sure the grammar nitpicking is
really necessary, but... commas and semi-colons and colons, oh my (god)! Aside from that,
there's a few niggly little things to do with speech.

So... grammar issues, but that's really all I can complain about. You've got a really good command of minor details, both to cause issues for the characters and solve them, and the pacing is good. It might feel 'slow', but a decent amount of things happen and problems get solved... they're just far more internal and solving a small problem now to avoid a bigger one later.

Jethro and Monty are an interesting pair of characters that pull me in, and their dynamic is well drawn. It's lot like Burn Notice, actually: They're going to win, but it's so interesting to watch how they think their way through it you really don't care.

I'd say well done, but I'm reviewing after having continued on to read the rest of the story... I don't think anymore needs to be said, does it?

Also... I know you like to write 20k chapters, but this is ridiculous: I've not gone into huge amounts of detail, but this review is 3, 400 words long. At this rate you can expect the next one... oh... christmas? Maybe?

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Fri 14 Jun 2013 - 6:57

@Vett wrote:I've been meaning to review And the Adventure Continues for months, but a certain
someone produces chapters that are so long that by the time I'm partway through a review,
out comes another chapter and I wonder if it's worth getting even further behind. It's over
now, so there's no more issues in that regard.
Thanks much mate, particularly for the grammar help. As you have probably guessed I'm feeling my way somewhat with that and, if it is any consolation, chapter length is something currently under review for the next J+M story.

Hopefully I should be able to get you some proper responses later this weekend when I have some time to sit down with it.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Vett on Fri 14 Jun 2013 - 8:33

I don't know... I like to read long chapters, but giving them a worthwhile critique is time consuming. Though shorter chapters might help the percieved pace of the story.

Not that I can talk... I'm aiming for 5k chapters and the one I'm doing is sitting at 9k with most of the final third left to write. They just seem to grow of their own accord, and there's only so much you can cut and finish a chapter early before the shape and feel of the story begins to suffer.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Fri 14 Jun 2013 - 8:47

@Vett wrote:I don't know... I like to read long chapters, but giving them a worthwhile critique is time consuming. Though shorter chapters might help the percieved pace of the story.

Not that I can talk... I'm aiming for 5k chapters and the one I'm doing is sitting at 9k with most of the final third left to write. They just seem to grow of their own accord, and there's only so much you can cut and finish a chapter early before the shape and feel of the story begins to suffer.
Hence being under review... because I think the long chapter "episodic" style works well for J+M's story here...

Heh, funny you should mention things running over. I used to shoot for somewhere in the 15-20k mark, but often wound up going over... once it started brushing toward 30k words I started looking for somewhere to put a mid-point break. Quite a few times I wrote two chapters in one go because of this. Might be worth when it comes editing time to leaf back through and try to find somewhere you can break it up closer to what you're aiming for and restructure slightly around the break?

Next story I will be aiming for 5k words as well, I'll let you know how that goes sweat

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Il Direttore on Fri 14 Jun 2013 - 19:44

You know, I've actually always wondered about word count. I've never worried about it myself, but then again I suppose I never write more than about 7k words at the extreme outside. Is 5k about a good baseline as a gauge as to whether you've put enough detail and description into your writing?

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 14 Jun 2013 - 20:05

I think it's as many as the story needs to be told in the way you wish to tell it.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 15 Jun 2013 - 1:54

El Conservatore wrote:You know, I've actually always wondered about word count. I've never worried about it myself, but then again I suppose I never write more than about 7k words at the extreme outside. Is 5k about a good baseline as a gauge as to whether you've put enough detail and description into your writing?

First might I just start by saying: I fucking hate this new thread reply system/box/setup/thing.

Ok, now that that is out of the way.

I don't think a word count really matters in terms of guaging action/detail/whatever. I mean you could equally as easily fit an entire story with little description/detail into 5k words as you could fill it with purple prose. There's a couple of reasons I set myself a word count: the major one being that I work best with a goal and a deadline. So, for example, I know with a moderate amount of effort I can write 20k words in three weeks, which means I can guage how I'm tracking time wise etc. Also, if I didn't have a limit I would just keep writing.

I guess it probably also helps with pacing and consistency a little... go too far past your marker and it might be time to start looking at finding some way to break things up a little. Either way, a story with shorter chapters is going to read differently from one with longer chapters.

20k work arcs worked for J+M (I think anyway) as AtAC tended to be episodic: each chapter forming its own mini-arc inside the arc of the story itself which takes place inside a larger arc again. I'm shooting for 5k words for Meanwhile in Italy as its nature I think will be less episodic/plot driven.


Now, on with the major part of the show:
@Vett wrote:The rest of the first scene is a well done bit of tell-not-show, but I'm not entirely sure
what purpose it serves, really. If it were visual media, you'd get the shot of the lone
figure out against the prow, but here we've just popped into a character's head for five
paragraphs, and (having read the story through) we're never going to see him again. I'm also
not sure that the two scenes of the Captain need to be seperate really, as they are taking
place at the same time and dealing with the same topic. I found the scene change slowed the
opening right down.

More to the point, I don't believe there's really anything in the two scenes, whether
descriptive or factual detail, that couldn't also be given just as plausibly from Monty's
POV. In addition to getting us into a main character's head sooner, it might also get the
pace up a little on the opening, as well as presenting us with (presumably) Monty scouting
the harbour - introducing the driver for the chapter: "Where's the damn boat?"
Of course, you could stick with Captain's PoV, but give him a bit more to do. Conflict
between him and Monty, trying to get her below decks before she's ready, or maybe just
digging for information on her relationship with Jethro. Monty's not going to take kindly to
either, which would give enough conflict to be interesting, while still keeping the opening
fittingly low key.
Thinking back, and it is a quite long way back, the intro was written on the assumption that the reader had not yet been through the J+M fancomic prior to coming to AtAC. Characters a such needed to be re-introduced etcetera: something I prefer to do, if possible, via some other agent and not just by explaining whom the person is. The intention was to get some environment (in this case: romantic adventure), get some outside perspective and then set about bringing J+M into the reader's mind.

That said: I see where you are coming from and, reading through it again, it cold be streamlined down somewhat to hold it from Monty's perspective.


It's a little thing, but the cynical aside is  so quintessentally Monty it makes me smile.
Cheers... and to be honest, Monty is channeling a little of my own cynicism when it comes to the on-time reliability of sea-freight. Things tend to get there (unless, I guess, you're going near New Zealand), but don't be suprised if they arrive a week or so late.


@Alfisti wrote:"Do you want I should run a rooftop recce?"
Is this an Australian English thing? If it isn't, it seems rather common for Monty.
It is just a little, and were I writing it now it would have been phrased differently. J+M's characters I don't think really stabilised properly in my own head until about chapter 04 of this and here Monty still had traces of cockney twang to her speech. These days in my head she sounds more like a female James Bond/younger M (Judi Dench variety) or possibly Emma Watson.


I like the calm understatement, but can you, gramatically speaking, nest colons?

Out of curiosity, why is 'Skipper' Monty's go-to word for Jethro? I can understand Gov., but I can't work out where she'd have picked Skipper up from.
You're asking me? You're the one giving the grammar lesson here! Razz

I have absolutely no idea if you can next colons or not. I have seen it done, but that was in a translation from French to English... these days I  try and avoid it.

Not certain where "Skipper" came from, but it always sounded right in my head. Possibly I was reading some Honor Harrington at the time and it crept in. Also "Skipper" sounds less accented than "Guv" does... "You t'ink you ad it tuff? Wot when I was your age we lived int shoebox int middle o' road, lick'd road clean wid tung ev'ry naght... and you tell kids today and they wouldn't believe yuh! Innit that raght guv?" Incoming!



"Plan?"
"Basically? Run."
Dr Who reference?
Yes it was. I would be lying if I said Doctor Who, particularly the Eleventh Doctor, had not had some influence on how Jethro in particular was written.

extracting from it a carefully rolled and packed YSL Mondrian dress and small, black
pistol.
Missing an "a" between "and" and "small"? Or just a slightly too long final description? Either way, it doesn't quite feel right to me.
Probably missing an "a". Things like "a", "the", "an" and so on bug the crap out of me when too many start to appear in too close of a proximity to each other... which means I tend to wind up deleting them when I probably shouldn't.


When Monty's checking for bugs in the cornice, would physically lifting Jethro be an option, or is Monty not strong enough for that? Though I'm not sure how practical it would be in any
case.
You know, I had not even thought of that. She could lift him... not certain about balancing him though. Frankly it's that far outside what "normal" people would do it might not even cross the Blackers' minds.


This puts me in mind of Jethro in an impeccable lounge-suit, tea in one hand, crumpet in the other, speaking in his best BBC voice and Generally Putting on a Good Show.
Jethro: And who is to say I was not?
Monty: Don't give him ideas...


While I think that "like rugby players over a geek who'd accidentally strayed into their locker room" works as a simile, I found it a bit jarring. I'm not sure if it's what was intended, but at ths point I'm seeing the entire scene from Monty's POV, including the narration, and that simile just doesn't feel to me like something Monty would say.
Again, I would agree: it isn't something Monty would say. Unfortunately, at this stage, I had not yet caught onto the idea of holding in character with the POV I was using, if that makes sense.


Do you explicitly say anywhere that Monty's checked and it isn't there? I can't seem to find anything.
Not explicitly no: it probably would have made more sense had I given a rough description of Alexandria's layout somewhere rather than let the reader go on a voyage of discovery with J+M. Alexandria itself is a fairly long, skinny city hugging the coastline, and its port is broken up into two segments: the East Basin, which is the original, ancient, harbour which is east of where the Lighthouse of Alexandria once stood, and the West Basin. The east is quite shallow and so is now only really used for private yachts and the like, while the artificial west basin houses the commercial port, customs wharf, naval facilities etc. From memory I had J+M walk the accessible edge of the West Harbour, then back in through town, but at no point would they have been able to see the Yacht Club, which is on the western edge of the East Harbour.

Unfortunatly, by the time I had finished reasearching the city, I knew Alexandria back-to-front and sideways... and forgot that not everyone else did.


The real question isn't so much what's in it, but did Jethro doing it because it makes him feel like James Bond, because it's the best he could do to express affection for his cyborg, or because it annoys Monty?
Or all of the above.

Was Benipe intended to be a source all along, or was it a case of realising you had a useable secondary character when it came around to it? Unlike the Captain section above, I didn't have a problem with this one, largely due to the conflict involved.
All of the above, but mostly option C.

I honestly can't remember if Benipe was intentional or not, but I do have a tendency to purposely leave events and characters flapping in the wind should I need them later.


Really nit-picky thing, but, as a general rule, English people would say "pulled off Foreplay" rather than "pulled off of Foreplay".
Noted.


I'm pretty sure nevertheless is one word.
It is, I've not got around to fixing that one yet. sweat


The description of the car feels a little long. I might think about removing either Audi or A4
Allroad from the sentence, though that would mean losing the detail about the car.
Agreed... from memory this was the car's first introduction and so it was taking the hit to get the detail out.


...the paragraph doesn't quite have the je ne sais quoi (and I literally don't know what, because this is the fourth version of this paragraph and I still can't put it into words properly) that gives a satisfying end and encourages me to come back for more. I'm inclined to think that the problem is "into the relative safety of Libya": it's slightly anti-climatic and dirupts the rythym you've set up with the first two bits. Unfortunately, I don't have a potential solution for you. I might replace it with some pretty description of desert or something similar, probably along the lines small fragile speck vs huge desert. It's a really nice image you've set up, but you don't really capitalise on it.
I think I know what you're saying, because reading it again it doesn't grab me either. It really needed to feel less like an ending, less like they had reached safety, and more like they were heading onto another set of problems, another job or another adventure... it needed to feel like this was just the beginning. Honesly the best option would probably have been to throw in that third "away" you were speaking of and leave it there... or, I guess, make it a "toward".


I don't know how much research you've actually done to get all those little details, but it certainly feels like you've done a good chunk. Monty is very competant, which makes her interesting... if you can provide enough backstory to explain it away and have her get hit with significant consequences for her aloof superiority-complex.
There is a fair bit of research, but most of it tends to go into location... the details of J+M's situation are mostly just a case of "how Alfisti thinks it might go down": based on some casual reading, movies, logic and just stuff I notice when I'm out and about. sweat

As to Monty: I know how I want her backstory to run, I just need to find a place to put it (which may well mean a seperate story all together). Consequences should happen when I find some more excuses to bring her back to the SWA.


Given how you've improved in later chapters, I'm not entirely sure the grammar nitpicking is
really necessary, but... commas and semi-colons and colons, oh my (god)! Aside from that,
there's a few niggly little things to do with speech.
Believe it or not the grammar nit picking and advice is well appreciated, and it's clearing some things up in my own head that is for certain. Unfortunately there's not a whole lot I can say in reply to those comments: other than that I shall endeavor to remember and apply them in the future.


Thanks again for the in-depth review.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Thescarredman on Sat 15 Jun 2013 - 7:42

I've decided I don't want Vett reviewing any of my stuff. Constructive and informative as it would surely be, I don't think my ego could take it.

Alf, I wanted to PM this to you, but, since the new posting system went in, I can't PM anymore. So, like Vett, I'll put my comments in a spoiler so as not to misdirect the thread.

Spoiler:

Keith Blacker paused with a palm on the driver’s-door handle. “In the interest of our collective sanity I do not intend to go informing your mother about this; but for God sakes make my life easier and call her once in awhile would you… and at least pretend to be alright.”


“Tell me, Jethro,” Monty said cooly. “Does your father always assume the absolute worst of you, or is he being especially boorish for my benefit?”


The economist turned toward her, eyes flashing, but she cut him off. “I’m an heiress, Professor,” she said. “I’ve never spent a second in the sort of schools where I assume you teach. I tell my tutors when my class times are, not the other way round. And my mother insists I dress like this, in a manner you seem to think suitable for a whore.”


She took a step towards him. “I don’t need a paycheck from your son. I want what’s in his head that makes him so successful in his chosen field – a job you clearly know nothing about, by choice I’m sure. And while the question of whether we’re sleeping together might conceivably be someone’s business besides ours, it most certainly isn’t yours.” As Professor Black’s jaw opened and closed soundlessly, Monty turned to her handler. “I refuse to believe you sprang from such stock. I think the Professor should go home straightaway and slap your mother.”


Jethro seized his cyborg’s upper arm, opened the passenger door of the Audi, and nearly shoved her inside. “Have to go, Dad, really. I’ll call.”


A mile down the road, he said, “Do you care to explain yourself?”


“I couldn’t help it,” she said to the windscreen. “Conditioning, I suppose.”


“What did conditioning have to do with that performance?”


“Protecting my handler. It seemed a better way than four stiff fingers to the kidney.”


“He wasn’t threatening me, he was … “ He paused, at a sudden loss for words.


Monty turned her head away to gaze at the passenger window. “Skipper, you didn’t seem half as threatened when Nabokov’s men were pointing their guns in your face.”


Alf, this isn’t intended as a serious alternate ending for your story. Monty is completely out of character, and even if she wasn’t your conclusion is much finer. This is a total author-insertion that jumped into my head as I was reading … because Jethro’s dad thoroughly pissed me off. Which means that, for me at least, you did a splendid job of breathing life into him and making him real.


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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 15 Jun 2013 - 10:19

@Thescarredman wrote:Alf, this isn’t intended as a serious alternate ending for your story. Monty is completely out of character, and even if she wasn’t your conclusion is much finer. This is a total author-insertion that jumped into my head as I was reading … because Jethro’s dad thoroughly pissed me off. Which means that, for me at least, you did a splendid job of breathing life into him and making him real.
Indeed somewhat out of character for Monty, but in some ways also not: she has completely missed the sticking point for Jethro's father, which is that his son is seemingly sleeping with a minor. As I think you've picked up, Keith is not that bad of a man, we're just seeing him at a bad time... and of course he really does have no idea what Jethro does for a living.

One nitpick: I think there possibly may be some confusion over the use of the word "school". Over here that reffers to either primary or secondary school, but I have seen people from the US etc. also use it to reffer to tertiary education. I'm used to tertiary education being reffered to as Uni/University or, possibly, TAFE... so Keith's assertion that Monty is still in "school" is also an assertion that he believes her to be a minor.

Either way, I did enjoy it.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by tremec6speed on Sat 15 Jun 2013 - 12:27

Great story Alfisti. The detailed description of the settings, the Russian soldiers, the workmen, equipment. Then as the arms deal suddenly goes awry, and danger appears in full force, the pace quickens and the reader's mind shifts towards an internal 'oh no, how the hell are they gonna get outta there with the terrible cold all around? As in any well written tale, the seemingly impossible is not, for those who are quick witted and remain calm in the harshest circumstances. 
Monty's über powers are cool to read about as we'll, not indestructible, she had to 'weather' (sorry) the harsh environment to complete her mission. Two thumbs up. 
GoodGood
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Vett on Sat 15 Jun 2013 - 17:33

Re: Chapter length... as per the general consensus, it's horses for courses.

Generally speaking, I have a set of goals to accomplish in a chapter, and once they're done, the chapter is done. The problem arises in that when I write I have a goal and a few scenes. The getting from A to B to C comes about organically, and the scenes I write to get from A to B have their own repercussions that need to be shown etc. Some of those get rolled forward into future chapters, but some need to be dealt with as they arise.

As Alfisti said, I can (and have) told the same story in 500, 1000 and 3500 words... I tend to use description and detail like a camera lens, with more detail producing a longer shot (at some point, I'm going to write a story with matrix-style 'slow-mo', using description to achieve the same effect as the faster frame-rate). Basically, description and detail controls the pace and atmosphere of my stories (or, rather, the pace and atmosphere I want determine the amount of description and detail).

The net result of all of the above, is the 5k long chapter that contains fifteen thousand words.

That said... when I'm writing for posting online, I do aim for a certain amount of consistency. I aim for 5k, because it's a decent length and provides a 'worthwhile' update (which means, in practice, about 7 to 8k). Rebecca and Edward's story is more a set of inter-connected shorts (I'm more or less trying the Buffy structure) and, consequently, the chapter lengths will vary based on the story. Or not, as I'm finding that the more I flesh out the arcs, the more it's turning into a novel rather than the post-a-story, post-another-one-when-it's-finished work I intended... slowing progress further.

In short... horses for courses.

@Alfisti wrote:Characters a such needed to be re-introduced etcetera: something I prefer to do, if possible, via some other agent and not just by explaining whom the person is. The intention was to get some environment (in this case: romantic adventure), get some outside perspective and then set about bringing J+M into the reader's mind.

Given the undercover nature of the fratello, starting with an outside perspective on them is probably sensible, plus you get a bit more of a gradual reveal, which is more in keeping with the story. In which case, I might open with the Captain watching Monty on the prow from the bridge, worrying about his illegal immigrants being seen from land and needing to get Monty undercover. Then he could go and tell Monty to head inside (politely because you don't want to upset someone being free enough with money to hire his cabin, plus I imagine both of them clearly give off vibes of being potential repeat customers). I can't see Monty being willing to move while she thinks she's still safe, so you've got conflict to get people interested. The need to do politeness judo on his part, plus the constant visual clue of land getting closer ought to make it reasonably tense.

@Alfisti wrote:These days in my head Monty sounds more like a female James Bond/younger M (Judi Dench variety) or possibly Emma Watson.

That's slightly unnerving, as in my head she does sound like Emma Watson. Emma Watson does have one of those voices, doesn't she?

Unfortunately, at this stage, I had not yet caught onto the idea of holding in character with the POV I was using, if that makes sense.

It does make sense. I wasn't quite sure whether you were head-hopping or not, as, up until that point, I'd not picked up anything that jarred me out of my default tight-3rd person POV.

@Thescarredman wrote:I've decided I don't want Vett reviewing any of my stuff. Constructive and informative as it would surely be, I don't think my ego could take it.

I'm glad you think it's constructive, as I'm always concerned that it might be interpreted purely as a hammering rather than pointing out things to make the next chapter even better. One of the reasons I always try and suggest a potential solution to something I complain about is to soften the blow a little.

I'm aware that my reviews are something of an acquired taste... there's a reason I've never properly reviewed anything on FF.net. I do try and adjust them to the audience, though: They won't listen to you if you get their hackles up, which means I've written a bad review. I've 'reviewed' eight year olds' work, and I don't believe any of them have cried. Depending upon the person (and how familiar they are with me), I run from the 'three stars and a wish' (yes, I know it's a way to mark work for Primary schools, but front-loaded praise and a general suggestion gets people to listen to the criticism rather than blanking it), to entire word documents covered in red. Based on what I've seen in the forum, I was reasonably confident Alfisti'd take it in the spirit it was intended.

But I do know what you mean about the ego. Being given back a piece of humorous poetry and being told that it a) doesn't scan, b) doesn't rhyme properly and c) isn't funny... not good for the ego, no matter how useful the help given. When I'm on the receiving end, I try and remember that if someone's tearing it to shreds, I've succeeded because they're clearly invested in the story or else they wouldn't be doing it, and the more petty the criticism, the better the work, as that's all they can find to complain about. Doesn't always help, though...

And Tsm... if I get around to actually reviewing your Elsa story, I'm pretty sure you've got nothing to worry about other than minor nit-picking. And when the author of a character-piece has such a good handle on the characters, there's nothing else left to criticise.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 15 Jun 2013 - 22:25

Thanks Tremec, glad you enjoyed it.

@Vett wrote:Basically, description and detail controls the pace and atmosphere of my stories (or, rather, the pace and atmosphere I want determine the amount of description and detail).
Pretty much this. Adding detail and spending time on description/atmosphere is a good way to slow things down, or give a "calm before the storm" feeling and so on. They're not things which really have a huge place in a fast paced-action sequence though.


@Vett wrote:The need to do politeness judo on his part, plus the constant visual clue of land getting closer ought to make it reasonably tense.
"Politeness Judo"... that is possibly the best thing I have heard (read?) all day. That I shall have to remember.


@Vett wrote:Emma Watson does have one of those voices, doesn't she?
She does... just tempered with a little Bond dryness.


@Vett wrote:I'm aware that my reviews are something of an acquired taste... there's a reason I've never properly reviewed anything on FF.net. I do try and adjust them to the audience, though: They won't listen to you if you get their hackles up, which means I've written a bad review. I've 'reviewed' eight year olds' work, and I don't believe any of them have cried. Depending upon the person (and how familiar they are with me), I run from the 'three stars and a wish' (yes, I know it's a way to mark work for Primary schools, but front-loaded praise and a general suggestion gets people to listen to the criticism rather than blanking it), to entire word documents covered in red. Based on what I've seen in the forum, I was reasonably confident Alfisti'd take it in the spirit it was intended.
I know in Cadets we were told to "build, break, build": so say something positive to get their attention, give the crit, then give some possible ways to make it better. I still try to apply it today, at least when I think the person on the other end will, as you've stated, take the crit as it was intended.

As to receiving crit, we always used to say at Uni that there are only two reasons that you don't get crit: the first is that you have covered all bases so thoroughly, hit every point so precisely, and done everything so perfectly that there is nothing left to say. The other is that you have fucked it up so completely that no-one knows where to start... and guess which is the most likely?

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Fri 28 Jun 2013 - 11:01

So, after a bit of a hiatus whilst And the Adventure Continues was squared away, and I then took a break, Danilo & Raych's story is finally starting to wind back up again.

Chapter 03 of Meanwhile in Italy now posted on ff.net.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 28 Jun 2013 - 11:23

Looking forward to how D+R's dynamic compares to J+M.

Seems like a bit of a swap - D+R is grumpy handler and nice cyborg, while J+M is nice handler and grumpy cyborg. Smile

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Il Direttore on Fri 28 Jun 2013 - 11:57

That is an INTERESTING combination of personalities, Alfisti. Kinda scary, actually, in its bipolarity. I forsee both great triumphs and great tragedy in this fratello's future....

Still, Danilo seems like a decent enough guy. Overly type A, in my personal opinion, but he knows how to get the job done. It's clear that he doesn't blame Raych in the slightest, but at the same time the lack of communication between Handler and Cyborg is a recipe for difficulties. Given his organization levels, it seems to me that you've set up a fratello that will be able to perform well in the face of combat, but won't be able to succeed when things go awry.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 29 Jun 2013 - 4:58

@Kiskaloo wrote:Looking forward to how D+R's dynamic compares to J+M.

Seems like a bit of a swap - D+R is grumpy handler and nice cyborg, while J+M is nice handler and grumpy cyborg. Smile
Well, Danilo's a bit stressed at the moment, and focused on getting his cyborg up to speed with minimal distraction...

Oddly enough, I actually sat down for a bit to make sure he would not be too much like a second version of Monty. While it has not been shown just yet, he's actually sociable and quite happy to go for an after-work drink and the like. As El noted though: he's something of an A-type personality, so he's a bit of a know-it-all and has to be right which probably makes him a bit of a pain in the arse to be around for extended periods.

As to the rest: we shall have to see.

Thanks chaps.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by MP5 on Sat 29 Jun 2013 - 20:44

Well done, Alfisti! I was amused at Allison's description by Kara as 'bad ideas' girl.

Poor Raych, so hard on herself...

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Fri 19 Jul 2013 - 6:03

Only way to deal with a tough week? Friday night drinks.

Chapter 04 of Meanwhile in Italy is up: I, Cyborg

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 19 Jul 2013 - 6:50

Well done. Nice to see a detailed account of how a new fratello comes into service.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Fri 19 Jul 2013 - 9:01

@Kiskaloo wrote:Well done. Nice to see a detailed account of how a new fratello comes into service.
Cheers Kisk. Well, we'll see how detailed it winds up being sweat

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Thu 8 Aug 2013 - 7:42

The problem with muddy training? It generates muddy washing. Could be worse, imagine washing for Giorgio and Amadeo's cybernetic football team...

Chapter 05 of Meanwhile in Italy posted: Foundation

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 8 Aug 2013 - 9:08



Last edited by Kiskaloo on Thu 8 Aug 2013 - 18:41; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Officer_Charon on Thu 8 Aug 2013 - 11:41

I love seeing how our wee waif interacts with the other girls... I like how you've shown how motherly Triela can get, and Henrietta's little snit is fantastic.

I can't help but feel terrible for the poor girl... I wonder how some of the more paternal of the SRT guys might feel about how hard she's being worked... John and Fausto would probably feel more than a little sorry for her... which might probably be counter-productive...

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Fri 9 Aug 2013 - 7:41

Cheers chaps.

@Charon: I shall keep in mind what you said about John and Fausto...

Speaking of the SRT, I'll likely need to borrow them/it in whole, or in part, if I may, at some point; I will certainly need to borrow one to do Raych's VdCO (since I currently picture it as being a subjective assessment, probably Giorgio, just to make her life harder). After that though, once the reader has had a chance to get bedded in, the intention is to let the story become a little broader, taking in the SWA as a whole, with D&R serving as an anchor point, so...

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by tremec6speed on Fri 9 Aug 2013 - 20:00

Cool reads, Alfisti! lt's fun learning about the new cyborg, C.Raych.
You have a real skill for writing, I find myself going slow to savor the goings on, which is to me a sure sign of an enjoyable story. head bang
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by PolosElite23 on Fri 9 Aug 2013 - 21:25

Very Happy Loved it Good! Keep um' coming!

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In the fell clutch of circumstance
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My head is bloody, but unbowed.
----
It matters not how strait the gate,
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Fri 9 Aug 2013 - 21:44

Cheers guys...

@tremec6speed wrote:Cool reads, Alfisti! lt's fun learning about the new cyborg, C.Raych.
She's certainly a different experience than writing Monty is... takes a lot more concious thought that's for sure.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 24 Aug 2013 - 1:18

Off to Sydney tomorrow to watch a mate kick people in the face (or possibly watch him get kicked in the face. As a spectator, I figure I win either way), so there's been a bit of a push to get this one done.


Meanwhile in Italy|CH06 - Cyborg Dreams

Special thanks to Kisk on this one for running an eye over some of Kara's part.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 24 Aug 2013 - 3:37

Good stuff!

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by tremec6speed on Sat 24 Aug 2013 - 17:27

Very enjoyable read. Little C.Raych is coming along, what with her daring to call her brother (oops, sorry Danilo) er, handler by his first name. This, despite her being restricted from referring to her sisters as 'girls', only fellow cyborgsNO
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 24 Aug 2013 - 21:45

She is someone I do feel like cheering for.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Mon 26 Aug 2013 - 7:05

Cheers chaps.

Heh, I'm glad people seem to like Raych. She's a nice kid, not real bright mind, or a leader and pretty overawed by everything, but a nice kid. You know, they sometimes say one child makes up for the deficencies of the other... I wonder if the same goes for characters Razz

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by PolosElite23 on Mon 26 Aug 2013 - 17:23

Can't wait for you next installment! Smile 

You got me hooked Alfisti, Raych is just such a lovable and innocent character, and very very naive, looking forward to what you have in store for our little cyborg here. I'll be looking forward to see what blunders she brings about on herself. Razz

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In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
----
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Tue 27 Aug 2013 - 6:14

Cheers Polos. I'll admit: Raych is an interesting and fun change of pace from writing Monty... and I'm sure she'll have plenty more opportunity to put her foot in it.

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Alfisti

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by PolosElite23 on Tue 27 Aug 2013 - 17:23

I wouldn't doubt she's fun to write lol.

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In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
----
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

-Stanzas 2+4 of Invictus by William Earnest Henley
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Thescarredman on Tue 27 Aug 2013 - 20:42

Just read chap 6. What a marvelous description of the cyborg psyche in its early stages of development.

Danilo's no surrogate father, but at least he tries to take care of his 'equipment'. Raych could do worse. Maybe he'll deserve her love someday, but I doubt it.
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 28 Aug 2013 - 3:11

I really do love C. Raych's character, and while Danilo is a fucking tool who needs to be dog-piled by the SRT in it's entirety, I like how you're developing him as a character too.

I can come up with some specifics later, but as a whole, I love how you're playing this fratello and bringing them up from a cold start.

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Si vis pacem, para bellum

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Wed 28 Aug 2013 - 7:26

Cheers blokes.

No, Danilo certainly does not feel any urge to create a relationship on a personal level with Raych, but he does recognise that she needs to be cared for (at least physically) in order to operate effectively. Writing him always seems to feel like a balancing act between having him trying to keep her in tip-top working order/at peak performance by keeping her in good condition, and having him try to force her into a mould she is perhaps not 100% suited or ready to take the shape of.

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Alfisti

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Fri 13 Sep 2013 - 8:45

Meanwhile in Italy|CH07 - Off the Main Sequence

Bit of a time jump with this one... there's only so much training I can deal with writing before feeling the overpowering urge to move things on a bit sweat  Hopefully it's not too jarring.

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Alfisti

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 13 Sep 2013 - 9:18

Excellent as always!

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What? I like donuts! - Betty Suarez
If I die before my time, go on Oprah and tell the world 'I liked kittens'. - Veronica Mars
Scissors of victory! - Yui Hirasawa
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Il Direttore on Fri 13 Sep 2013 - 14:12

Yeesh, the tension in the air is freaking palpable in Bianchi's office. Excellent, as usual, Alfisti, although I think you got Jean and Giuse mixed around.

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"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 14 Sep 2013 - 2:16

Cheers chaps.

@Il Direttore wrote:...although I think you got Jean and Giuse mixed around.
How so?

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Alfisti

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Il Direttore on Sat 14 Sep 2013 - 2:26

@Alfisti wrote:Cheers chaps.

@Il Direttore wrote:...although I think you got Jean and Giuse mixed around.
How so?
In the chapter on FF.net, you reference "Jean" but the cyborg you refer to is "Henrietta". For example, when Raych has her Performance Degradation Moment, the text says that Jean and his cyborg entered the range, but then the cyborg in question is Henrietta.

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"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

- President John F. Kennedy
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 14 Sep 2013 - 2:33

@Il Direttore wrote:In the chapter on FF.net, you reference "Jean" but the cyborg you refer to is "Henrietta". For example, when Raych has her Performance Degradation Moment, the text says that Jean and his cyborg entered the range, but then the cyborg in question is Henrietta.
I'm fairly certain it's "Jose" all the times I've referred to 'Etta (just ran a word search to check). His brother's referred to a couple of times, but never in relation to Henrietta.

I'm still using that spelling, rather than "Giuse" as it's what I started on, and I'm far too lazy to go back and change six issues of comic, 14 chapters of AtAC and what I've written so far of MiI.

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Alfisti

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