Alfisti's Ramblings

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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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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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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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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

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

Excellent as always!

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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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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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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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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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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Il Direttore on Sat 14 Sep 2013 - 10:13

Ah, that would explain it. I'm so used to using "Giuse" that I parsed it incorrectly. Sorry Alfi.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Thescarredman on Sat 14 Sep 2013 - 21:01

Just finished Ch. 7. Sterling, Alf. Thoughts:

It's a good thing Danilo was hired by the Agency as a door-buster; he'd suck as an investigator.

It looks like Raych is going to turn into a real girl while her handler's back is turned.

Favorite new fantasy line: "DANILO OLIVETTI, YOU PIECE OF SHIT, YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!!!" (hurrrkkkk)

Love the interactions with the canon characters. You do a better job of it than most. It may sound funny coming from someone who writes so much for Rehabilitation Branch, but it just doesn't feel like Gunslinger Girl without canon characters. The Agency, both in the physical and organizational sense, feels realer when it's you writing about it.

Cheers, mate. Keep writing.
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 14 Sep 2013 - 23:25

Thescarredman wrote:Just finished Ch. 7. Sterling, Alf. Thoughts:

It's a good thing Danilo was hired by the Agency as a door-buster; he'd suck as an investigator.

It looks like Raych is going to turn into a real girl while her handler's back is turned.

Favorite new fantasy line: "DANILO OLIVETTI, YOU PIECE OF SHIT, YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!!!" (hurrrkkkk)

Love the interactions with the canon characters. You do a better job of it than most. It may sound funny coming from someone who writes so much for Rehabilitation Branch, but it just doesn't feel like Gunslinger Girl without canon characters. The Agency, both in the physical and organizational sense, feels realer when it's you writing about it.
Thanks TSM. I'm glad The Agency feels "real" (or at least realer). I know when writing it... how to describe it... I try to make it feel like a big beureaucratic, organisational machine, with lots going on, in which the characters are just very small cogs. They work for The Agency, it doesn't work for them. At the same time though, it still needs to be full of little human factors: differing opinions, odd hours, quirks, egos... and feel like it and the place it currently inhabits have a history.

Blegh, I can't really put it into words, but I think you get the idea. sweat 

And no, Danilo would not make a good investigator. I figure it's not so much that he's stupid, he's no Jethro either mind, but he has very set ideas on how things should work and things that contradict that tend to get mentally blotted out.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Officer_Charon on Mon 16 Sep 2013 - 15:54

Danilo strikes me as an analyst who has had very little interaction with the streets. He reminds me an awful lot of a couple of our officers who are still relatively new. They came to us straight out of college, with little to no life experiences.

It's been... interesting, watching them grow. Or at least start to grow, although after almost 2 and a half years, the one is reverting back to her bad habits.

In any case, his tech-focus (we call them "gear queers, at the risk of sounding shocking non-PC - it's just a rhyme, it doesn't mean anything, FFS! ) shows his inexperience. I'd like to see him do some form of ride-along with one of the more experienced operators, just to show him how important the human element is in police work. A lot of times, logic and what "should" happen don't enter into it.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Tue 17 Sep 2013 - 4:43

Officer_Charon wrote:Danilo strikes me as an analyst who has had very little interaction with the streets. He reminds me an awful lot of a couple of our officers who are still relatively new. They came to us straight out of college, with little to no life experiences.

It's been... interesting, watching them grow. Or at least start to grow, although after almost 2 and a half years, the one is reverting back to her bad habits.

In any case, his tech-focus (we call them "gear queers, at the risk of sounding shocking non-PC - it's just a rhyme, it doesn't mean anything, FFS! ) shows his inexperience. I'd like to see him do some form of ride-along with one of the more experienced operators, just to show him how important the human element is in police work. A lot of times, logic and what "should" happen don't enter into it.
Well, you're right: Danilo has not had a lot of "street" experience... while he's experienced (I somehow doubt the SWA hires rookies... half the reason to have a handler is to make up for the cyborg's lack of experience after all), his Guardia di Finanza career has been as a door-kicker and firmly on the more military/commando end of that organisation's operations. So, I guess, in his defence, his life so far has probably been somewhat more straight forward than it may have been for someone dealing with the great unwashed more closely.

That said: he appears to be pissing you off. I'm glad of that, he was supposed to vex people.

In many ways he owes some of his personality to a few people I know, and at least one mate from highschool. It possibly comes from working around engineers, but occasionally you always get the one who can't tear themselves away from what seems logical, or what the spreadsheet tells them they can do, despite all practical experience pointing the other direction. Turn that up a little with artistic license and you've got Danilo.


On a bit of an aside:
we call them "gear queers, at the risk of sounding shocking non-PC - it's just a rhyme, it doesn't mean anything, FFS!
Oddly enough, most of my gay mates are just as un-PC about the whole gambit as everyone else... and seem to actively revel in the idea that they can wind up people, most of whom thoroughly deserve a good winding up, simply by being themselves.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Fri 4 Oct 2013 - 9:27

This wound up being a little longer than usual, thanks also to Charon and Kisk for running an eye over their characters' parts.

Meanwhile in Italy|CH08 - Keeping up Appearances


I'll admit this one I found a little more difficult to write than others. Seems that, while I like the concept of the VdCO, actually implementing the thing and showing it pan out was not so much my cup of micro-lot, organic, rain-forest friendly robusta. sweat

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 4 Oct 2013 - 10:47

Solidly entertaining, as always. I'm enjoying the "fleshing out" of the policies and procedures of the SWA that folks have been doing.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Officer_Charon on Fri 4 Oct 2013 - 11:53

As Kisk said. It's gonna be interesting to see how this fratello ultimately ends up.

And don't think that I missed that little hook you set with "as long as current manpower requirements stay at this level." *grins*

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by PolosElite23 on Fri 4 Oct 2013 - 20:49

Good Chapter! Twas great! I agree with the two above, I can't wait to see what happens next!

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 5 Oct 2013 - 1:40

Cheers chaps.

Well, those who've read And the Adventure Continues will have a rough idea of what is in store for the near future... I just hope I can make it somewhat interesting from this perspective. sweat

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Il Direttore on Sun 6 Oct 2013 - 12:31

Agh, I'm jealous. You pulled off tension extremely well and made the verifico feel very authentic. Nice work!

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sun 6 Oct 2013 - 22:26

Il Direttore wrote:Agh, I'm jealous. You pulled off tension extremely well and made the verifico feel very authentic. Nice work!
Heh, cheers mate.




On another note, cleaned up the Family Values one-shot a bit, so that's now on ff.net.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 19 Oct 2013 - 8:54

Meanwhile in Italy: Danilo has a new car, and Raych gets her first mission...

CH09|Foundation's Edge is now up.

Thanks, per usual, to Kisk, MP5, Voodoo and Charon for the loan of characters.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Il Direttore on Sat 19 Oct 2013 - 13:37

Ah, poor C. Raych. The taste of "we need you but don't need you" is a bitter sensation that is only dulled with experience, never truly taken away.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 19 Oct 2013 - 16:21

This is so not your father's fratello...

...and that is why I find it so fascinating.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 19 Oct 2013 - 22:28

Il Direttore wrote:Ah, poor C. Raych. The taste of "we need you but don't need you" is a bitter sensation that is only dulled with experience, never truly taken away.
Pretty much. She'd better get used to it though: her combat-biassed role sort of makes her designated backup.

Cheers chaps.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Thescarredman on Mon 21 Oct 2013 - 13:00

Ah, the glory and adventure of life in the SWA. If Danilo was interested in building his cyborg's morale, he might tell her about contingency planning. But he doesn't really tell her anything, does he? Apparently he expected the cyborg techs to hand him a 'unit' that would do everything he wanted without any real effort on his part. It doesn't seem to occur that if the Agency was able to create cyborgs so efficient, they wouldn't need individual handlers. as exhaustively as he thinks he's prepared himself and his 'borg, he still doesn't really understand what's expected of him any more than Raych does. And he'll never accept that he's crippling his cyborg and hampering her efficiency with his self-serving notions of proper training.

Like the Asimov reference in the chapter title. No doubt Danilo's read the book. Too bad he didn't get anything out of it.
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 21 Oct 2013 - 14:28

I've felt much the same, Thescarredman. I fear there may be a serious train wreck in their future...

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Il Direttore on Mon 21 Oct 2013 - 15:08

I feel like Olivetti is actually doing a not-completely-bad job of this, despite the general lack of success. He's not exemplary, certainly, but it seems like this is due largely to his expectations and not due to any mismanagement (given the expectations). It seems likely, however, that he would not have taken the job if he had known just what was up with C. Raych's psychology, and I suspect that somewhere down the line there was a miscommunication regarding what, precisely, is happening. Granted, however, that the entire project is rather substantially secret, so that is a bit of a problem. Maybe there should be an attempt to flesh out a User's Manual in the SWA?

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 21 Oct 2013 - 15:30

Il Direttore wrote:Maybe there should be an attempt to flesh out a User's Manual in the SWA?
I believe it was Professor Voodoo who came up with the "Big Book of Voice Commands" for the cyborgs.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Il Direttore on Mon 21 Oct 2013 - 15:55

While useful, I was envisioning something more akin to the Giant Manuals of Checklists that pilots carry around in their cockpits for every conceivable emergency. Additionally, a book of general characteristics and specifications would be useful. 

Humm... that might be an interesting way to approach a fratello. Alternatively, it could be a good way to examine the relationship between Claes and the Boffins.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Mon 21 Oct 2013 - 17:53

While useful, I was envisioning something more akin to the Giant Manuals of Checklists that pilots carry around in their cockpits for every conceivable emergency. Additionally, a book of general characteristics and specifications would be useful. 

Humm... that might be an interesting way to approach a fratello. Alternatively, it could be a good way to examine the relationship between Claes and the Boffins.
You might remember my mentioning a "handover package" earlier in D&R's story, which is sort of intended to fill a "user's manual" role. Like a lot of things that arrive in my writings, it's a barstardisation of something we do in construction: the idea is that, when he gets his cyborg, each handler is given a "handover package", which contains his cyborg's full "as built" spec. records of her previous life, records of any difficulties encountered in her build and how/why they were/were not resolved, any envisaged issues that the medicos think may arise as a result (either medically or psychologically) as well as general guidelines and accrued knowledge for dealing with a cyborg. From my own perspective, I think the girls are so different that you probably couldn't create a standard set of "checklists" to cover all contingencies, but you could at least give some fair warning of previous issues and some guidance as to how to handle them. That said, I also quite like the idea that the Agency still relies on quite a lot of "word of mouth" between the handlers for "best way to managed cyborgs"... a bit like parents discussing how to managed their various offspring.
 
And, of course, Danilo does not like asking questions and being seen "not to know".
 
For the record, Danilo has read the handover package... unfortunately he has one of those personalities which tends to blank out or ignore anything which does not fit into his own view of how the world should work, so some of it is lost on him.
 

 
Thescarredman wrote:Ah, the glory and adventure of life in the SWA. If Danilo was interested in building his cyborg's morale, he might tell her about contingency planning. But he doesn't really tell her anything, does he? Apparently he expected the cyborg techs to hand him a 'unit' that would do everything he wanted without any real effort on his part. It doesn't seem to occur that if the Agency was able to create cyborgs so efficient, they wouldn't need individual handlers. as exhaustively as he thinks he's prepared himself and his 'borg, he still doesn't really understand what's expected of him any more than Raych does. And he'll never accept that he's crippling his cyborg and hampering her efficiency with his self-serving notions of proper training.
Il Direttore wrote:I feel like Olivetti is actually doing a not-completely-bad job of this, despite the general lack of success. He's not exemplary, certainly, but it seems like this is due largely to his expectations and not due to any mismanagement (given the expectations). It seems likely, however, that he would not have taken the job if he had known just what was up with C. Raych's psychology, and I suspect that somewhere down the line there was a miscommunication regarding what, precisely, is happening.
Regarding Danilo, for what it's worth, this is sort of how I picture him/what I'm trying to do with the fratello:
 
Danilo is/will be turning Raych into an effective weapon, but she's a weapon in the same way that a gun is: she doesn't think for herself and needs someone to aim and pull the trigger. That's in line with the very narrow remit that Danilo views as his role in the Agency, but what he is missing is the Agency's need for flexibility. To put it another way, Danilo is quite closed minded, and he sees cyborgs, handlers and fratelli as having very distinct, specialised roles to fulfill: the handler's job is to do the thinking, the cyborg's job is to do the killing (and, for the record, I think my take on Agency operations tends to be a bit more handler-led than a lot of peoples'... Monty is an abnormality), and if the SWA needs a spy job done then sent the spies, which is "not his job". No, he doesn't communicate much to Raych but, the way he sees it, she doesn't need to know the whole plan as he will be there to tell her what to do when the time comes...the last thing he wants is a cyborg thinking for herself, doing something unpredictable and sending his plans awry. He wants an obedient little tool and so he tells her the bare minimum "need to know", and yes, it is probably all going to end in tears.
 
As Il noted: his percieved lack of success so far is somewhat due to his own expectations (see his tendency to forget or ignore anything he doesn't agree with), not any actual "failures" per-se. As Jean noted: despite being, frankly, not the sharpest tool in the shed (nice kid, helpful, but just not real fast on the uptake), Raych has still reached deployment faster than any other gen 02 bar Monty, who was a victim of circumstance. That said, Danilo has only achieved that by again progressing down his own very narrow perception of what his cyborg needs to do, and by cutting those parts of the SWA's programme that would lend her some flexibility. What he was expecting to be given was a war machine that needed training, what he was given was a superpowered teenage girl, however he's still progressing down the path of working with a war machine. Breaking him out of that will require some sort of disaster, and one that leaves him unable to mentally fob the blame off onto someone else.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 16 Nov 2013 - 5:46

Meanwhile in Italy:
CH10|Dog

Christmas in Rome, here's where Meanwhile's storyline converges with And the Adventure Continues.

I was really weighing as to whether to break this into two chapters or leave it as one. In the end, it just was not quite long enough to comfortably break into two. Thanks also to Kisk (again) for running an eye over Michele and Kara's parts.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 16 Nov 2013 - 6:37

Great stuff. Good

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by tremec6speed on Sat 16 Nov 2013 - 11:25

Cool story! Smile
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Mon 18 Nov 2013 - 0:01

Cheers chaps.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Thu 19 Dec 2013 - 6:38

Meanwhile in Italy, Chapter 11: Strangers From a Strange Land - Part 01 is now up.

Be aware: these next couple of chapters will be tying directly into chapters 09 and 10 of And the Adventure Continues, essentially telling the same events, but from Raych's perspective.

Just in time for Christmas shut down too... so I'm taking a break from writing as well as from work. Well, not really a "break", but I'm applying a "no deadlines" rule across the holidays; essentially so I can do some drawing work and party guilt-free.  sweat  Writing may happen, but shall begin again in earnest in the new year.

Thanks to MP5 for running an eye over Allison's parts as well, and to Kisk, Voodoo and Elfen whose characters either take part or get mentioned.


Last edited by Alfisti on Fri 20 Dec 2013 - 6:38; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 19 Dec 2013 - 8:02

It's painful to read what that poor girl goes through.

I think even Elsa had it better.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Vett on Thu 19 Dec 2013 - 8:32

Despite my intentions, I'm not just behind the times, but still getting further behind. When I said in my last review that you'd get the next by christmas, I thought I was using hyperbole, not clairvoyance.

As last time, the huge wall of text is in spoiler tags.

Spoiler:

So... chapter two.

I like chapter two: you again create a very clear sense of place, you keep throwing up mundane problems to vex the fratello, and following their investigative process is as entertaining as ever.

But...

I'm not quite convinced by chapter two. I think all of its constituent parts work fine on a scene by scene basis, but I'm not sure they work as a whole. I realise that it's chapter two and you're setting things up and, by its nature, it's not going to be as suspenseful and with as big a pay-off as the more self-contained chapter one... but if I'm making allowances for it being a chapter two as I'm reading it's a problem.
I think part of the problem is simply chapter length: I'd guestimate it somewhere around 15-20k, which is a lot to read with little peril driving you on. While I like the slow, methodical nature of the story, it seemed to take a long time to get the pay-off and the process there, while not especially easy, didn't really involve any conflict.

Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure how you would effectively short-circuit the process. I'm inclined to say that the issue is the finding the Polo Club rather than the scenes with Rade and Omaturk, but I don't really have any other suggestions. Given that Jethro knows Omaturk's accountant, it seems feasible that he will have a practice somewhere, which would make it easy to stake-out and follow him, removing the tramping around Istanbul element searching for then following the accountant.

On the micro scale, I've not really got anything other than grammar and word choice quibbles. As I said, the individual scenes work, but it just doesn't hang together for me.


"Pieri Lorenzo, chief of Italy's Social Welfare Agency, looked up at the soft tap on his office door. Taking in the room he noted, with some chagrin, that what had once been a sunny Saturday morning was now replaced by the dark of night."

Very efficient scene and character introduction here.

The first scene works well: there's the immediate hook of "what's he doing that he's been unaware that the day's disappeared, and the mystery deepends virtually every other paragraph - why the maid's outfit/what on earth is he doing recieving a telegram/what's in the telegram. I assume "Python" is Jethro poking fun rather than a code?


"Jethro stopped, one foot on the set of worn wooden stairs and turned to face his addressor; a weather beaten, yet still handsome woman in her early fifties.

"Honestly luv I've not managed to even look at the menu yet," he replied, "What's good?"

"Our menemen is particularly good," said the woman, describing a Turkish traditional breakfast foodstuff, "but we used to tourists as well.""

Okay... so, the second piece of dialogue is correct: you've put said in the middle of a clause and it's subordinate clause, so you need a comma after foodstuff because a full stop would be incorrect. The first one, however, is a complete sentence ("Honestly luv I've not mamanged to even look at the menu yet."), so you need a full stop at the end of the dialogue tag (i.e. "he replied.").

A semi-colon is used to join two complete sentences together, which means that a basic test to see if it's correct is to replace it with an and. "His addressor AND a weather beaten..." has a different meaning to what you're intending. As the post-semi-colon clause is a description of the woman, you're explaining the prior clause: you need a colon.


Jethro thought for a second, "Can you give us five minutes? Let me put these down..." he lifted the bags he was carrying slightly "...check with her upstairs and I'll get back to you."

The comma after second should be a full stop. Jethro said, "Can you give us..." is correct - the comma is essentially indicating that he says what follows. As it stands, he's thinking the speech in the space of a second. A full stop turns it into a seperate sentence and preserves the intended meaning, while still indicating that what follows is his speech.


"The fratello's journey from Alexandria had been relatively smooth; their night time border crossing into Libya, and subsequent drive north seeing them roll into the coastal city of Tobruk about mid-morning."

You need either another comma after north, effectively turning the second clause into "night-time border crossing into Libiya (and subsequent drive north) seeing them roll into the costal city of Tobruk...", where the bit in brackets could be removed to leave a complete sentence, or no comma after Libiya.


"Turkish traditional it is then, back in a tick... I've got the key."

Says a lot about the duo that they default to local cuisine when they've no idea what to eat. Though I suppose defaulting to local cuisine is an easy way to gain a few brownie points with the waiter to exploit later. It's also probably better odds on getting something edible.


"Giving a small sigh, the cyborg picked up the red-trimmed case..."

This might just be me, but where has the red-trimmed case come from? A black folio is mentioned, but I haven't noticed a red one mentioned. If it's the same as the folio, I'd pick one or the other as case is too easily confused with suitcase in this context.


"Jethro gave a wry snort, "Guess we might prioritize retrieving some fresh aliases once we hit Istanbul."

Tapping the wads of Euro also laid out on the bed the handler continued, "This also needs dealing with. We could make a trip through Sharjah at some point; but if there's somewhere decently reliable in-country, then getting it clean sooner rather than later would be preferable.""

Nothing wrong with breaking it up like that, but I'd probably just stick "Tapping the wads of Euro..." straight after the first paragraph. It just feels a bit too broken up, but without anything in the second paragraph worth the emphasis of a new paragraph.


"Rade, however settled down there after he finished moving our run of Franklins... "

However is essentially a filler word: the sentence makes sense without it, which means that it needs bracketting commas - you're missing the one on the end.

Have you got a source for the ink discussion? I'm curious. Also, "a touch slightly controlled" comes across as a nice piece of understatement; I assume that was the intention?

The conversation between Monty and Jethro, with Jethro cleaning his gun, is a nicely integrated piece of dialogue/description: Enough to remind you what's going on and avoid 'talking heads'; the description is varied enough to not feel shoved on and repetative; and it's short enough to not get in the way of the dialogue.


"Jethro Blacker! How are you my friend!"

Good start to the scene - I've already got an image of a gregarious person walking toward Jethro with his arms outstretched.


"Monty, now dressed in a dapper grey suit, watched on as the two old colleagues exchanged pleasantries. Janovich looked to be a solidly build forty-something with dark hair and a heavy eyebrow line. He wore an expensive shirt, expensive trousers, expensive shoes and an exceedingly expensive Franck Muller Giga Tourbillion watch on his wrist... in PVD coated white gold. Seemingly the transport business had been kind."

When I read this, I can practically hear the disdain.


"The other indicator of course could have been the stunning blonde standing at his side. The cyborg eyed the woman with cool appraisal, taking in the well filled, low cut dress and tall heels being worn on a regular weekday. Finding nothing she felt might garner a threat there, Monty never-the-less moved herself slightly closer to her handler and into a position to keep Janovich's trophy in sight."

The double meaning works well here. It can comfortably be read both ways and to me it comes across as Monty being wilfully in denial, given the focus on appearence rather than anything meaningful.


"This by the way is Ninochka, my wife"

By the way is a nice little piece of characterisation.


"The wide, open-plan living area was floored in white marble with occasional ornate gold and black fittings or colourful antiquities contrasting against the otherwise minimalist white theme."

Sounds very nouveau riche.


"The blonde woman made for a small bar area, grabbing Monty's elbow as she went. The cyborg however shook her hand away, accompanying the action with a baleful glare."

Interesting detail. Question is, is that a "stay away from dodgy dealings so I'm not implicated" or "we'll have a natter in the kitchen while they drone on" or "this is no place for a young girl" or "stay out of men's business"? Given how Rade's being characterised, I'm imagining it's the latter.


"Once the Arab channel finished, and time permitting, she intended to flick across to the BBC's World Service to get a western media perspective on the same events."

I'm surprised Russia Today isn't on the list too. As an aside, I'd love to watch a video of Monty as she's watching Fox News.


"Suddenly the proprietor was paying her much closer attention. Motioning to the rack of spirits behind the restaurant counter he said carefully, "I'm sorry, but as you can see we have no gin.""

I might show rather than tell the proprietor's interest. You've already set up the fact that somethings off with the 'innocuous' restaurant, and the use of carefully clearly flags the fact that they're exchanging codes. On the other hand, this gives a clear sense of normal-normal-normal-CONSPIRACY, so it's not a bad option.
Is this where Monty gets her liking of Negronis from? If so, I think that it's cruel of Jethro to get his cyborg hooked on Negronis purely to change out their covers when in Istanbul. It's a neat little operation the restaurant owner has going. If it's reasonbly upscale, the large tips are not necessarily that out of the ordinary either.


"If that was all she was to do then she may as well have been one of the domestic drones back at the Agency."

It's interesting to read into this just how much of Monty's self-image is based around being competant. The comment comes across as being catty and superior, which, to be honest, is basically Monty to a T. That said, I think it's also a fair comment. I can quite easily imagine Monty becoming quietly incensed working with another fratello: not because of the other cyborg being incompetant, but because they slot the bad guy then take R&R (relatively speaking), whereas Monty's perspective is that a cyborg should help her handler in all aspects of a job. The fact that they're not means they're being inefficient, 'slacking off', and consequently don't have as good a grasp on the detail as they should... all of which are probably capital offenses in Monty's eyes.

Monty's response to the disk delivery is good. It's also a very clear demonstration of where she sees herself in the SWA hierarchy, namely as a handler rather than a cyborg. I suppose that's Jethro's fault for giving her that level of responsibility rather than Monty having ideas above her station per se. How much influence does Monty have by virtue of being Monty (i.e. competant, mature and trustworthy), and how much is as Jethro's designated gopher?


I enjoyed the fez incident. Threatening the reveal of a covert operation is certainly a new selling tactic, but I'm not sure about it's general usefulness. Jethro's final comment works well, especially putting maximum in italics.


"Further up the Bazaar the accountant, whether consciously or no, had quickened his pace."

You need a comma after Bazaar as it's a subordinate clause, and also another one after now - the sentence is now devoid of her handler's company, so you need bracketting commas around however.


"Sending the waiter off with an order for a Turkish coffee and baklava, Monty settled down to stickybeak."

I've never seen stickybeak before. I'm guessing its Australian? Regardless of where exactly it comes from, I found it rather disruptive and it yanked me completely out of the story. Part of it, I think, is that you've had a fairly leisurely examination of Monty's thought processes, with long sentences and clauses: then you get a fairly short clause with a very sharp verb at the end. The other element is that it doesn't quite fit with my perception of Monty's vocabularly: there's the occasional piece of slang that she's picked up from Jethro (guv and other odds and ends of modern thieves cant), but her vocabularly as almost always 'proper', and "stickybeak" just doesn't sound in that bracket.

On the other hand, if you put rubberneck instead, I don't think I'd object to the same degree, so it may just be down to infamiliariy.


"...whereas going the other way, her sharp eyes allowed her to pick out individual faces in great detail."

Again, going the other way is extra detail, so it needs the comma after whereas.


"That someone was sitting facing away from his observer at that moment, but talking with some animation."

I might go with her rather than his observer here. I don't remember having problems with it the first time I read it, but this time around I had to think who the observer was for a moment.


"the mandarin-suited man. .."

Minor typo, but the elipsis should be ...


"...and suddenly, Monty felt her day had been completely worthwhile"

Contrary to my usual comment here, you don't need a comma after suddenly: the sentence is and suddenly Monty felt her day had been completely worthwhile. You could, if you chose, put bracketting commas around suddenly, but I prefer the extra emphasis and pace without them.


"Seated opposite his accountant, was a man whose face Jethro had drawn for her just the previous night: Omurtak."

You don't need the comma here either: it's all one clause.


"Withdrawing her iPhone, the cyborg activated its vampire app, a modern update of technology pioneered by the KGB, allowing it to disguise itself as any mobile in the area it could lift a number off."

I know I've seen something about this tech somewhere recently. Outlaws Inc.?


"Still dressed in his light grey suit, but with the top button of his shirt undone and the tie loosened, there was one other addition to his outfit..."

I find this a little bit coy. Monty can see what it is, and the reader knows what it is, but you're hiding it. I think it's probably better owned up to: "a red, tassled addition to his outfit", for example. You still keep the impact of the next line, but it's less artificial.

The adult supervision line raises a smile.


"It was only him and his accountant, and going by the standard of dress being worn, it'd be a reasonable assumption that the accountant was the guest"

Next grammar nitpick: the sentence is It was only him and his accountant and it'd be a reasonable assumption that the accountant was the guest; so the comma should be after and as going by the standard of dress being worn is extra information.


"While Bvlgari's Jasmin Noir concentrate was not precisely cheap, it was the only scent she used regularly. On that basis the dark, close wearing perfume seemed like a good investment."

So Monty feels it's a good investment because she uses it regularly? That sounds suspiciously like justification to me rather than any logical reasoning.

The exchange over Jethro's appearence works well: it's familiar and comfortable and faintly, deniably, flirtatious.

"This evening had given her extra reason to be on guard as, unsure of club convention regarding the removal of jackets; Jethro had left his sidearm hidden in the car."

Stray typo: the semi-colon should be a comma.


"Having been welcomed in by the doorman (a different one to whom Jethro had talked) they were directed to the club concierge's desk."

I'm not sure about the bracketted narration. "An unknown doorman" would be cleaner. You also need a comma after the brackets.


"Open doors from the foyer lead through to a combination of members' lounge and bar; a long, low room taking up the entire rear of the club's bottom floor and furnished in a sumptuous mid-century style."

Mid-century being 1950's? The semi-colon should be a colon here: you're explaining the comment and the second clause can't stand on its own as a sentence.


"That however could just mean that they were professionals who knew what they were doing, but the spy had always felt that there was a chink in anyone's armour: if you looked hard enough."

I'd use an elipsis here rather than a colon. It feels like you're looking for a pause between armour and if, and, to me, an elipsis gives more of an... oomph? significant pause? Gives more of that emphasis, anyway.


"Taking his own place, the handler started to gather up pieces and reset them on the board, "I'll take black.""

There's no 'speech' verb here, so it ought to be a full stop rather than a comma.


"Interesting choice, you would forfeit the first move..."

"The first move is an advantage. However, by playing second, one can learn much from how their opponent opens."

"Perhaps, but personally I prefer to be able to take the initiative from the start, so I shall not fight you for the black."

Nicely ambiguous conversation from this point onward.


"However it, like the real Sicily herself, leaves too many holes and leverage points open to strike at more valuable targets"

Sounds like the voice of experience speaking here.


"Well, while the king is the most important piece on the chess board; it is the queen which gets things done."

Should be a comma instead of a semi-colon, as any clause with while at the begining is a subordinate clause, and so needs splicing to the main clause with a comma.


The girl cocked an eyebrow, "Youth does not beget stupidity or incompetence Mister Omurtak, but merely creates an excuse for those incapable or unwilling to make a contribution."

Very telling comment on Monty's part here. Is Monty pushing hard to ensure she's not passed off as eye-candy, or is Monty just being her usual self?


"That needs to breathe; I'd leave it for ten minutes."

Colon here, as you're explaining why you're leaving it for ten minutes.


"Yes and no," started Monty.

Started, or stated?


"But now I believe: dinner is served."

Again, if it's a pause you're looking for, you might be better off with an elipsis.


The last scene works well, gearing up for the next chapter. The last line works, but is possibly a little long: "Now we just need to capitalise on it." is shorter and a little more crisp, but it's a very minor nit-pick.


In conclusion then... you work in some nice character development, especially for Monty, and while there's a lot of information thrown around, it doesn't make me feel like I'm being info-dumped at any point. The setting and percieved realistic details work well: you do a really good job of making everything feel real, whether through mundane problems or scene setting.

The pacing of the chapter as a whole, I think, is possibly a little too slow or the chapter is a little too long or (more realisticly) a little of both. I find myself forcing myself to keep reading when I read it in one sitting. When I made another pass to look at the individual scenes, however, I didn't have any problems with pacing.


In short, it's a good chapter that I enjoyed, but suffered a little through length/pace/both. Fortunately, the characters are strong enough and entertaining enough to carry me through.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Officer_Charon on Thu 19 Dec 2013 - 13:38

Jesus.... I want John to meet Danilo. I really do. *cracks knuckles*

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Thescarredman on Thu 19 Dec 2013 - 18:34

Alf, you're getting very good at managing the feels. Danilo and Raych both stir my emotions as I read their stories ... just not the same ones.
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by PolosElite23 on Thu 19 Dec 2013 - 21:16

Holy. Crap. That was a great, feels filled, chapter.

Danilo...I hate that jerkface...but I love him...ahhh why must his character be so good?

Poor Raych...

Alfisti! More Chapters! Please!

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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 Alfisti on Fri 20 Dec 2013 - 9:40

Regards Meanwhile in Italy:

First up: thanks for the comments and kind words chaps... I'll get the hang of this feels thing yet. sweat 

I'm glad people enjoyed the chapter, and that Danilo seems to be pressing buttons.

Authoring him, I'll admit I find him not so much detestable as interesting. To me at least, he's something of a conglomeration of negative urges we all have from time to time: to rant, to rail, to shift the blame somewhere else or cut loose on someone, but that our own sense of morality/truth to ourselves/strength of character prevent us from undertaking... most of the time. Generally, if a Danilo moment slips past, we wind up having to go and apologise go someone. Danilo doesn't have that filter and, while I think even he realises he's lying to himself at times, that realisation never makes it beyond the inside of his own head, and is quickly suppressed by a somewhat skewed self-preservation instinct.

Raych in some ways is similar, but at the other end of the spectrum, hers are the urges to hide or just follow along/go with the flow rather than stepping up.


Officer_Charon wrote:Jesus.... I want John to meet Danilo. I really do. *cracks knuckles*
Well, John does exist in this universe, so you may yet get your wish should I find some need of it.

In fairness to Danilo, I think he's still trying to make this work... unfortunately his I know best/square peg, round hole, hit it harder and it'll fit personality is ill suited to the environment.

Thanks again chaps.


Regarding And the Adventure Continues:

Vett wrote:Despite my intentions, I'm not just behind the times, but still getting further behind. When I said in my last review that you'd get the next by christmas, I thought I was using hyperbole, not clairvoyance.
Haha, well... I think real life has this habit of sneaking up and stabbing you in the back at times, particularly when it comes to time. Thanks again for taking the time to do an in-depth crit, it's always appreciated. There's not much I can say to the grammatical notes other than thanks again, and that I'm hoping to put some time aside over the Christmas break to use as "fixing stuff Vett found" time.

Spoiler:

I'm not quite convinced by chapter two. I think all of its constituent parts work fine on a scene by scene basis, but I'm not sure they work as a whole. I realise that it's chapter two and you're setting things up and, by its nature, it's not going to be as suspenseful and with as big a pay-off as the more self-contained chapter one... but if I'm making allowances for it being a chapter two as I'm reading it's a problem.
I think part of the problem is simply chapter length: I'd guestimate it somewhere around 15-20k, which is a lot to read with little peril driving you on. While I like the slow, methodical nature of the story, it seemed to take a long time to get the pay-off and the process there, while not especially easy, didn't really involve any conflict.

Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure how you would effectively short-circuit the process. I'm inclined to say that the issue is the finding the Polo Club rather than the scenes with Rade and Omaturk, but I don't really have any other suggestions. Given that Jethro knows Omaturk's accountant, it seems feasible that he will have a practice somewhere, which would make it easy to stake-out and follow him, removing the tramping around Istanbul element searching for then following the accountant.
As you've probably guessed, through the early chapters I was taking an approach of "most spy work is pretty dull and methodical, so lets show that", partly in hopes of building a solid foundation for the rest of the story, and partly to offer some contrast to J+M's generally glamorous image. While that was probably good from a world building perspective and showing how the characters worked day-to-day, it wasn't so crash hot from story telling standpoint. As the story progressed I tried to speed things up a bit though, admittedly, part of that was probably simply a case of the whole thing starting to funnel J+M toward some defined path on inquiry.

I would hazard a guess the chapter should be around the 20k mark... that's certainly what I was gunning for with AtAC and, going by the feedback you and others have given, it is too long. That said, I'm currently writing 5k word chapters, and finding that it's too short for the type of story I want for J+M. My current intention is to next time split the difference around the 10k mark and see how that goes. Hopefully it should be enough to work up a nice flow (both in terms of reading and my own writing), and give people time to immerse in the world, without prattling on for too long.

As to Omurtak's accountant... I sort of pictured him as being attached full time to said dealer's business, so he wouldn't really have a trading front. To be honest, from memory, the major intention of the sequence was to let Monty run off on her own rather than advance the story, which was probably another mistake.


I assume "Python" is Jethro poking fun rather than a code?
As in "Monty Python"... yes, it's Jethro poking fun and figuring someone on the other end will be bright enough to put two and two together.


Okay... so, the second piece of dialogue is correct: you've put said in the middle of a clause and it's subordinate clause, so you need a comma after foodstuff because a full stop would be incorrect. The first one, however, is a complete sentence ("Honestly luv I've not mamanged to even look at the menu yet."), so you need a full stop at the end of the dialogue tag (i.e. "he replied.").

A semi-colon is used to join two complete sentences together, which means that a basic test to see if it's correct is to replace it with an and. "His addressor AND a weather beaten..." has a different meaning to what you're intending. As the post-semi-colon clause is a description of the woman, you're explaining the prior clause: you need a colon.
Noted, on both counts... one of these days I'll actually get this semi-colon thing sorted out.  sweat 


Says a lot about the duo that they default to local cuisine when they've no idea what to eat. Though I suppose defaulting to local cuisine is an easy way to gain a few brownie points with the waiter to exploit later. It's also probably better odds on getting something edible.
Mostly I think it's a case of wanting to get something edible. I think when it comes to food, J+M tend to follow the basic theory of "do what the locals are doing".


This might just be me, but where has the red-trimmed case come from? A black folio is mentioned, but I haven't noticed a red one mentioned. If it's the same as the folio, I'd pick one or the other as case is too easily confused with suitcase in this context.
No... I have no idea where that came from either. If I was going to hazard a guess, I was probably intending for this to be the first description of said case.


Nothing wrong with breaking it up like that, but I'd probably just stick "Tapping the wads of Euro..." straight after the first paragraph. It just feels a bit too broken up, but without anything in the second paragraph worth the emphasis of a new paragraph.
Noted, and I think you're correct too.


Have you got a source for the ink discussion? I'm curious. Also, "a touch slightly controlled" comes across as a nice piece of understatement; I assume that was the intention?
I honestly can't remember, sorry. If I did though, it was probably something I watched/read to spark the idea, followed by random internet searching... or it could have been something I stumbled across whilst looking for more information on printing money, trying to find some opening I could use for the story.

And yes, it was intended as understatement.


The conversation between Monty and Jethro, with Jethro cleaning his gun, is a nicely integrated piece of dialogue/description: Enough to remind you what's going on and avoid 'talking heads'; the description is varied enough to not feel shoved on and repetative; and it's short enough to not get in the way of the dialogue.
Stripping and maintaining firearms I find really useful as a "thing to do whilst talking" in-text. There are lots of short, defined and recognisable actions that someone can go through between sentences. On the flip side, it lets one show a little of day-to-day life and routine without having to dedicate a scene to a process which is, if you're not a gun nerd, incredibly dull.


The double meaning works well here. It can comfortably be read both ways and to me it comes across as Monty being wilfully in denial, given the focus on appearence rather than anything meaningful.
I do like to try and play "double meaning" with Jethro and Monty's relationship where possible.


Sounds very nouveau riche.
That was the intent, yes. I do enjoy making up places like this, and the club, among others, as it gives me an excuse to go nuts designing it in my own head. While not everything I describe is always to my own taste, it is fun to pick a look or atmosphere to shoot for and work toward it.


Interesting detail. Question is, is that a "stay away from dodgy dealings so I'm not implicated" or "we'll have a natter in the kitchen while they drone on" or "this is no place for a young girl" or "stay out of men's business"? Given how Rade's being characterised, I'm imagining it's the latter.
Very much the latter. The way I picture it, Ninochka is used to moving in circles where the major role of women is to look pretty and not rock the boat. She has a comfortable life, and doesn't really want to know how she is provided for so long as it continues... so the concept of a girl getting into the dirty end of the business is foreign to her.

Looking back at the story as a whole, I had a bad habit of writing a lot of dumb arm-candy to juxtapose Monty against.


Is this where Monty gets her liking of Negronis from? If so, I think that it's cruel of Jethro to get his cyborg hooked on Negronis purely to change out their covers when in Istanbul.
I honestly have no idea where Monty's taste for Negronis came from in-story. I picked it for her because, aside from being my own go-to standard, it's a usefully mature and slightly obscure cocktail, suited to sipping rather than sculling. It's also one which I've found, if you're in a decent cocktail bar and particularly if you order it on a good gin, seems to garner a certain a mount of kudos with the bartenders as someone who appreciates their craft and isn't just in there to get wasted.


It's interesting to read into this just how much of Monty's self-image is based around being competant. The comment comes across as being catty and superior, which, to be honest, is basically Monty to a T. That said, I think it's also a fair comment. I can quite easily imagine Monty becoming quietly incensed working with another fratello: not because of the other cyborg being incompetant, but because they slot the bad guy then take R&R (relatively speaking), whereas Monty's perspective is that a cyborg should help her handler in all aspects of a job. The fact that they're not means they're being inefficient, 'slacking off', and consequently don't have as good a grasp on the detail as they should... all of which are probably capital offenses in Monty's eyes.
I always struggle trying to explain out Monty in words, which possibly explains why people in my stories often resort to a vague waving of arms and statement along the lines of "Monty is... Monty", but I believe you're pretty much on the money here. Monty, I think, tends to view the other cyborgs as blunt instruments: good for being pointed at a target then retrieved later (and you wouldn't want to give them anything requiring extensive problem solving), but essentially useless for the more complex, multi-layered and perpetually dangerous world in which she herself resides... which I guess is just another way of wording what you were saying in your comment anyway.  sweat 



Monty's response to the disk delivery is good. It's also a very clear demonstration of where she sees herself in the SWA hierarchy, namely as a handler rather than a cyborg. I suppose that's Jethro's fault for giving her that level of responsibility rather than Monty having ideas above her station per se. How much influence does Monty have by virtue of being Monty (i.e. competant, mature and trustworthy), and how much is as Jethro's designated gopher?
I think it depends on who you talk to, dependent on how much they have contact with her, the personalities a play etc. I like to think that, two or so years in to her tenure a the SWA, she tends to get away with more because she happens to be Monty Blacker, and word has slowly made its way around the organisation to the point that the old hands don't really bat an eyelid when she's seen doing something generally the real of handlers of staff.

That said, at the end of the day, she is still a cyborg, and there are still limits and rules that even she has to abide by. Moreover, I think if she were to ask for/suggest/seen to be doing something particularly unusual or likely to have roll-on effects, most would still quietly suss things out with Jethro.


I've never seen stickybeak before. I'm guessing its Australian? Regardless of where exactly it comes from, I found it rather disruptive and it yanked me completely out of the story. Part of it, I think, is that you've had a fairly leisurely examination of Monty's thought processes, with long sentences and clauses: then you get a fairly short clause with a very sharp verb at the end. The other element is that it doesn't quite fit with my perception of Monty's vocabularly: there's the occasional piece of slang that she's picked up from Jethro (guv and other odds and ends of modern thieves cant), but her vocabularly as almost always 'proper', and "stickybeak" just doesn't sound in that bracket.
I think it must be an Australianism, as you're not the only one to have picked it out... which means I'll have to get rid of it.

You're right about Monty's vocabulary though. As a generalisation, I try to keep her speech proper, efficient (unless she's being scathing), and if there's an opportunity to use a big word rather than small words I will use that. I try to ensure her speech "tastes" British, if that make sense, too. I certainly don't want her to be a case of "look at how British this British person is!", she (and Jethro) needs to get that across without appearing to try, so there's the occasional bit of slang in there and, if I have a choice of alternative words from other parts of the globe, I will try to use the English terminology.


I know I've seen something about this tech somewhere recently. Outlaws Inc.?
I can't remember where I picked that up from. It might have been Outlaws Inc. as I was referencing that quite heavily for the scenes with the Candids, but I don't actually think it was this time.


I find this a little bit coy. Monty can see what it is, and the reader knows what it is, but you're hiding it. I think it's probably better owned up to: "a red, tassled addition to his outfit", for example. You still keep the impact of the next line, but it's less artificial.
You're right.


So Monty feels it's a good investment because she uses it regularly? That sounds suspiciously like justification to me rather than any logical reasoning.
Possibly. While not Pagani-rich, J+M have a reasonable operational budget, so I figure their view on spending is "if you're using it, buy it". They don't buy a lot of things, but when they do those things tend to be good ones.

Besides, I spent ages picking out a suitable perfume for her, so I'm damn well going to get some story mileage out of it.  Razz 


I'm not sure about the bracketted narration. "An unknown doorman" would be cleaner. You also need a comma after the brackets.
Ugh, yes... those will have to go.


Mid-century being 1950's?
The full descriptor is "mid-century modern", though it is often shortened to "mid-century", and I did the same for reasons of flow. It's used to describe the general style of design and architecture from about the mid-1930s through to the mid-sixties... Usually though it's most commonly associated with the 50s and 60s. Design of the period still influences design today (look up comparisons of modern Apple products against Dieter Rams' work for Braun), and a lot of what was produced have become design classics.

In this particular case I was envisaging low ceilings and low furniture picked out in dark, warm tones.


Very telling comment on Monty's part here. Is Monty pushing hard to ensure she's not passed off as eye-candy, or is Monty just being her usual self?
Bit of both. Sometimes Monty has to pass herself off as eye-candy, in this case she needs to ensure she's taken seriously... though I'm sure she appreciates being allowed to air her actual opinion and be herself for a change.


Started, or stated?
Probably stated... though I wouldn't put it past myself to write "started" either.


In short, it's a good chapter that I enjoyed, but suffered a little through length/pace/both. Fortunately, the characters are strong enough and entertaining enough to carry me through.
Thanks again mate, and particularly for the nit-picky grammatical stuff. I know I don't write much in response to it, but it is appreciated, and I often find myself referring back to what you're written when I'm trying to work out what I should be doing in whatever current project I'm working on.

I hear you on the pacing/chapter length too, hopefully it gets a bit easier as the story progresses (though, I'm afraid, I kept the chapters at 20k words a pop all the way through for the sake of uniformity  sweat ).

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Vett on Fri 20 Dec 2013 - 19:29

Alfisti wrote:As you've probably guessed, through the early chapters I was taking an approach of "most spy work is pretty dull and methodical, so lets show that", partly in hopes of building a solid foundation for the rest of the story, and partly to offer some contrast to J+M's generally glamorous image. While that was probably good from a world building perspective and showing how the characters worked day-to-day, it wasn't so crash hot from story telling standpoint.

I don't think dull and methodical is a problem as far as story-telling goes: It seems to work for John le Carre. For me, at least, it's that attention to dull and methodical that makes the story feel real. Intelligence work does involve spending a lot of effort going nowhere, and it does involve a lot of monotonous drudgery. I think to not show that would diminish the story (and, as an aside, the fratello need to run into mundane problems to avoid turning into James and Jane Bond). Similarly, I don't think length is a problem in and of itself. Chapter one 'suffered' from both of the above, and I don't think its pacing is an issue.

A few other options occurred to me after I posted the review: breaking Monty's long pursuit of the accountant into shorter scenes might help with a sense of pace, and having


Alfisti wrote:I'm currently writing 5k word chapters, and finding that it's too short for the type of story I want for J+M.

I find 5k is too short too. There's never quite enough space to develop a sufficiently complex story fully. I aim for five thousand, mind: I know I'll plan enough for at least seven and probably end up around ten. When I hit fifteen, I look at tweaking the chapter. Short stories are a kettle of fish, mind (though even these end up more as novellas).


Alfisti wrote:To be honest, from memory, the major intention of the sequence was to let Monty run off on her own rather than advance the story, which was probably another mistake.

Nothing wrong with character scenes: if I ever post my ever wip story, the first two chapters are entirely character scenes, but a chapter does need some sense of progression. I improvised a story as I went, and you can tell... but it does provide something to drive the chapter forward.


Alfisti wrote:Stripping and maintaining firearms I find really useful as a "thing to do whilst talking" in-text. There are lots of short, defined and recognisable actions that someone can go through between sentences. On the flip side, it lets one show a little of day-to-day life and routine without having to dedicate a scene to a process which is, if you're not a gun nerd, incredibly dull.

I'll have to remember this.


Alfisti wrote:Looking back at the story as a whole, I had a bad habit of writing a lot of dumb arm-candy to juxtapose Monty against.

True, but, for the most part, those whose arm they were hanging on have, as a stereotype, a habit of picking up exactly those sorts of women. Let's face it, sane people don't date arms dealers and criminals mixed up in things liable to get you killed by a government.


\"Alfisti wrote:I try to ensure her speech "tastes" British, if that make sense, too. I certainly don't want her to be a case of "look at how British this British person is!", she (and Jethro) needs to get that across without appearing to try, so there's the occasional bit of slang in there and, if I have a choice of alternative words from other parts of the globe, I will try to use the English terminology.

You've pulled it off. Neither of them hit stereotype territory, but they are both clearly British. The bits of slang are used judiciously.


Alfisti wrote:I know I don't write much in response to it, but it is appreciated, and I often find myself referring back to what you're written when I'm trying to work out what I should be doing in whatever current project I'm working on.

Lack of words isn't a problem: most of my crit is either "this needs fixing", which isn't really something you can respond to, even before you take into account that it's well over a year old, or little odds and ends that, again, don't really need vast amounts of discussion. Most of the stuff that gets discussion going is the "what are you doing next" type questions, and I know and have read what you're doing next Wink Regardless, it's good to know the crit is proving useful.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sat 21 Dec 2013 - 7:11

Vett wrote:and, as an aside, the fratello need to run into mundane problems to avoid turning into James and Jane Bond
That would indeed be the other concern. I did actually later have a go at seeing just how "Bond" I could reasonably push things (Moratti's mini-arc), and the answer was "not very".


Vett wrote:I find 5k is too short too. There's never quite enough space to develop a sufficiently complex story fully. I aim for five thousand, mind: I know I'll plan enough for at least seven and probably end up around ten. When I hit fifteen, I look at tweaking the chapter. Short stories are a kettle of fish, mind (though even these end up more as novellas).
Sounds familiar process wise. Usually if I reached about 27k I started looking to either tweak or split the chapter. That said, I think you get a pretty good feel for roughly how many words worth of material you have planned: I know I usually had a decent inkling ahead of time as to whether I was going to be writing one or two chapters to cover an arc.


Vett wrote:I'll have to remember this.
I hate having people just talk at each other, it gets dull and difficult to track in a hurry. If I can, I like to give them something to do, even if it's merely sipping at a drink or getting dressed, just something to break up the conversation and give the readers a few sentences break from time to time... and it is a good chance to slip in little details without needing to point them out specifically to the audience.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Vett on Sun 22 Dec 2013 - 12:19

Alfisiti wrote:
Vett wrote:and, as an aside, the fratello need to run into mundane problems to avoid turning into James and Jane Bond
That would indeed be the other concern. I did actually later have a go at seeing just how "Bond" I could reasonably push things (Moratti's mini-arc), and the answer was "not very".

True. It certainly felt extra-ordinary, and a shot of martini in a stale beer and cabbage soup story, but it was only ever that rather than a sharp turn of style.

As it was, it was faintly amusing to see Monty and Jethro finally being the James Bond spies the other cyborgs assume them to be: whatever the others might think, it's really not their natural environment.

Of course, I might feel differently depending upon what the actual purpose of that satellite is...



Alfisti wrote:I hate having people just talk at each other, it gets dull and difficult to track in a hurry. If I can, I like to give them something to do, even if it's merely sipping at a drink or getting dressed, just something to break up the conversation and give the readers a few sentences break from time to time... and it is a good chance to slip in little details without needing to point them out specifically to the audience.

Whenever I write a mystery, I tend to hide Chekhov's guns in dialogue tags: people have a tendency to gloss over them.


My issue is that, if I'm not careful, I have a tendency to have a page of:



"Rhubarb rhubarb," said Fred, frowning at Mark.

Mark rolled his eyes. "I don't see why we can't fake a proper conversation for once. The director doesn't care what we do."

"Rhubarb rhubarb," said Fred, looking nervously over his shoulder at the unit two director and his entourage.




It's a question of maintaining sufficient variety, but when you have lots of short back-and-forths I find it easier said than done.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sun 22 Dec 2013 - 19:40

Vett wrote:Of course, I might feel differently depending upon what the actual purpose of that satellite is...
To be honest, I don't currently intend to pursue the satellite as a continuing story line. It was sabotaged, it's offline, job done... it was really more just an excuse to have the two chapter arc in the first place and bring Mary in briefly to remind readers that she's still around. If you're worried it's some sort of space-based super-weapon, you can rest easy. I just don't think that sort of thing fits into the world (at least in a manner in which I can believably write it, drawing is a little easier). For the record though:

Spoiler:
In my head, it really was just a communications satellite with an intelligence gathering package piggybacked on it. At least for my own writing, the intention is to frame things such that both sides are settling in for a more protracted engagement, with the accompanying intelligence war... mostly because my interests lay more there than in blowing things up.


Vett wrote:It's a question of maintaining sufficient variety, but when you have lots of short back-and-forths I find it easier said than done.
I see what you mean. I tend to wing it in that respect I'll admit... if a section of dialogue is getting too long I'll break it up, usually in editing more in writing though. My biggest struggle in writing dialogue is actually defining who is doing the talking at any one moment, without resorting to using names all the time and clogging the passage up, particularly when there are more than two people involved.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Sun 19 Jan 2014 - 3:43

Meanwhile in Italy, Chapter 12: Strangers From a Strange Land - Part 02 is now up and still tracking the events of AtAC.

Usual set of thanks to Kisk and Voodoo for loan of their characters, with the addition of theprodigalson, and particularly Officer_Charon for his help with the various SRT borrowed out of his character stable.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Sun 19 Jan 2014 - 11:33

I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but indeed the familiarity between the Blackers would drive someone like Olivetti around the bend and off the deep end as their mission and personal dynamics are in diametric opposition to his own.

And it's kind of heart-hurting how C.Raych's paranoia at failing Danillo makes her panic every time something doesn't go right, inhibiting her from rationally determining the problem and correcting it. And that failure only infuriates Danillo who then takes it out on Raych, reinforcing the paranoia she feels when something goes wrong.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Mon 20 Jan 2014 - 6:55

Kiskaloo wrote:I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but indeed the familiarity between the Blackers would drive someone like Olivetti around the bend and off the deep end as their mission and personal dynamics are in diametric opposition to his own.
I'll admit, for the longest time I wasn't entirely sure how Danilo was going to view J+M: whether he would have respect for them as they're an effective fratello who get things done, or whether he would hate them for the reasons stated above. It could be argued either way. At the end of the day I wound up just letting the story determine what was needed and rolling with that, then building the case around it.

I'm actually quite glad he wound up disliking them as I've been trying (and, lets be honest, to an extent failing) quite hard not to let this turn into a "look how awesome Monty is" exercise. That's proving somewhat difficult as she and Jethro are essentially being used to juxtapose Danilo and Raych as a fratello, not to mention that Raych is a card-carrying member of the Monty fan-club (one of the reasons we paired her up in a room with Kara in the first place from memory: to help explain some of that)... which is something I intend to continue to cause her problems in various ways.

The irony of the situation of course is that, in many ways, Danilo and Monty's views on cyborgs are not so far removed from one another. The difference being that Monty's are a result of skewed perspective, where as Danilo's are born of pig-headedness.


Kiskaloo wrote:And it's kind of heart-hurting how C.Raych's paranoia at failing Danillo makes her panic every time something doesn't go right, inhibiting her from rationally determining the problem and correcting it. And that failure only infuriates Danillo who then takes it out on Raych, reinforcing the paranoia she feels when something goes wrong.
It is turning into something of a vicious cycle isn't it? I'm rather enjoying that.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 20 Jan 2014 - 10:26

Alfisti wrote:
Kiskaloo wrote:I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but indeed the familiarity between the Blackers would drive someone like Olivetti around the bend and off the deep end as their mission and personal dynamics are in diametric opposition to his own.
I'll admit, for the longest time I wasn't entirely sure how Danilo was going to view J+M: whether he would have respect for them as they're an effective fratello who get things done, or whether he would hate them for the reasons stated above. It could be argued either way. At the end of the day I wound up just letting the story determine what was needed and rolling with that, then building the case around it.

It makes sense that just going off what he heard from other people, Danillo would build in his mind an opinion that Jethro was a competent handler based on the positive view the staff have of the Blacker fratello. And I could see Danillo assuming that, as a competent handler, Jethro would have a similar concept of handler-cyborg dynamics as he does.

Then he is presented with the reality of their handler-cyborg dynamics - which are totally opposite of his own - and I could see confusion as to how the Blackers are successful with such a - in his view - warped personal dynamic while he continues to fail with C.Raych doing it the way he assumes is the “proper way” to interact with a cyborg as a handler.


Alfisti wrote:
Kiskaloo wrote:And it's kind of heart-hurting how C.Raych's paranoia at failing Danillo makes her panic every time something doesn't go right, inhibiting her from rationally determining the problem and correcting it. And that failure only infuriates Danillo who then takes it out on Raych, reinforcing the paranoia she feels when something goes wrong.
It is turning into something of a vicious cycle isn't it? I'm rather enjoying that.

Indeed it is, and yet I see it as much a failing of Danillo as a handler - due to his, as you note, pigheadedness - as it is of C.Raych as a cyborg.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Tue 21 Jan 2014 - 4:34

Kiskaloo wrote:Indeed it is, and yet I see it as much a failing of Danillo as a handler - due to his, as you note, pigheadedness - as it is of C.Raych as a cyborg.
Agreed: I don't think the fratello's current failings can be directly attributed to one part or the other. That said, I think Danilo probably has to take the brunt of the responsiblity as his decisions are, to a greater or lesser extent, conscious. He has set out a pre-determined path and is doggedly sticking to it... partly because he still believes at his core it's the right thing and partly because of ego. I sometimes wonder what happened in his past to shape him that way.

Raych I've described before as essentially being a "nice kid" (which, frankly, isn't really a compliment  sweat ), and she tries hard, but she's not real bright, she's a follower/obeyer rather than a do-er, and lacks the self-motivation, initiative and drive to really push forward under her own steam. I think it was TSM noted in one of his stories that the cyborgs will be whatever their handlers want and, right now, Danilo's little tirade about cyborgs being incapable of planning, reasoning, observation etc. seems to be exactly what he is receiving.

Basically, I don't think Raych really has a personality suited to being a cyborg (and, who has to shoulder the blame for that? Who knows), or at least one under this particular handler, and she's responding badly as a result. That said, she will still give it her best but, as Monty would point out: sometimes your "best" is not good enough.

Either way, I don't believe you can really treat handler and cyborg as separate entities (in any fratello). Each feeds into the other, and the relationship is too close, to intertwined, to assess one without referring to their counterpart. I've noted before that Jethro would probably be a very different handler had he got someone who wasn't Monty... in fact I think we've got a thread stashed around the place somewhere which centres on that premise of seeing how the relationship changes by changing a fratello's mix.  Razz

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 21 Jan 2014 - 11:53

She really does strike a chord with me, because the way you're writing her is almost a textbook example of an abuse victim. Nervous, skittish, afraid to say the wrong thing around everyone, the furtive, almost-desperate attempts to make a friend, but unsure how to do that, or even if she feels worthy of having one... and the dogged determination to defend or stand by their abuser, because she feels that he's the only one who "loves" her,  in this case due to the conditioning...

Yeah, you're writing her well. Damn you.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by PolosElite23 on Tue 21 Jan 2014 - 13:11

I hate you Alfisti... torturing poor little Raych....

As for Danilo...




Its such a good story....I hate Danilo though... -_- Why u write so good?

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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.
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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Alfisti on Wed 22 Jan 2014 - 7:13

Officer_Charon wrote:She really does strike a chord with me, because the way you're writing her is almost a textbook example of an abuse victim. Nervous, skittish, afraid to say the wrong thing around everyone, the furtive, almost-desperate attempts to make a friend, but unsure how to do that, or even if she feels worthy of having one... and the dogged determination to defend or stand by their abuser, because she feels that he's the only one who "loves" her,  in this case due to the conditioning...

Yeah, you're writing her well. Damn you.
Huh, I was not aware of that. Guess who didn't take shrink class.  sweat  

Cheers mate.


PolosElite23 wrote:Its such a good story....I hate Danilo though... -_- Why u write so good?
Umm... practice, being willing to put the time in rather than just churn something out for the sake of having something for people to see, and a bucket load of editing? I dunno. Frankly there are far better writers on this board.  sweat 

Speaking of writing: what happened to your own story? You were chugging along all right there for a bit.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Vett on Wed 22 Jan 2014 - 8:26

Officer_Charon wrote:She really does strike a chord with me, because the way you're writing her is almost a textbook example of an abuse victim.

Glad to know I'm not the only one seeing their relationship through that lens.

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 22 Jan 2014 - 11:33

Officer_Charon wrote:She really does strike a chord with me, because the way you're writing her is almost a textbook example of an abuse victim. Nervous, skittish, afraid to say the wrong thing around everyone, the furtive, almost-desperate attempts to make a friend, but unsure how to do that, or even if she feels worthy of having one... and the dogged determination to defend or stand by their abuser, because she feels that he's the only one who "loves" her,  in this case due to the conditioning...

Yeah, you're writing her well. Damn you.

An interesting observation and I can certainly see the parallels once you point them out.

I feel that Danillo views Raych as a machine more than as a person. The impression I get so far is that he doesn't really think of her as having emotions or a sense of personality, but more like a "Hollywood cyborg" like the Terminator. So when he vents his frustration at her verbally, he does so like he would yell at a computer that had crashed or a lawn mower that will not start when you pull the cord.

I see Raych as someone who just has no confidence in herself - both because of her own failings and Danillo's reinforcement of her failings through his words and actions. And I don't sense love in Raych towards Danillo, but more obedience / respect. She believes Danillo is always right because he is a handler and her conditioning tells her a handler is always right. 

She wants friends because she is still a human and humans are social creatures by nature, but as she assumes she is the only cyborg who is not "working correctly", this makes her nervous around the other cyborgs because she she fears what might happen if she "messes up" in front of them. And not for protecting her self-image, but for how it would reflect on Danillo in the eyes of the other cyborgs and handlers.  

It would be fascinating to listen into Danillo and Lauro discussing their cyborgs over drinks...  Evil

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 22 Jan 2014 - 13:15

She reminds me so much of a case I rode a couple years back. Like I said... she strikes a chord.

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"The two loudest sounds you will ever hear from your weapon are the *bang* when it's supposed to go *click* and the *click* when it's supposed to go *bang*." -Unknown

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Re: Alfisti's Ramblings

Post by PolosElite23 on Wed 22 Jan 2014 - 16:07

Alfisti wrote:Speaking of writing: what happened to your own story? You were chugging along all right there for a bit.

Oi! I'm working on it! Slowly, school makes things difficult.

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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 Alfisti on Thu 23 Jan 2014 - 6:03

Kiskaloo wrote:An interesting observation and I can certainly see the parallels once you point them out.

I feel that Danillo views Raych as a machine more than as a person. The impression I get so far is that he doesn't really think of her as having emotions or a sense of personality, but more like a "Hollywood cyborg" like the Terminator. So when he vents his frustration at her verbally, he does so like he would yell at a computer that had crashed or a lawn mower that will not start when you pull the cord.

I see Raych as someone who just has no confidence in herself - both because of her own failings and Danillo's reinforcement of her failings through his words and actions. And I don't sense love in Raych towards Danillo, but more obedience / respect. She believes Danillo is always right because he is a handler and her conditioning tells her a handler is always right. 

She wants friends because she is still a human and humans are social creatures by nature, but as she assumes she is the only cyborg who is not "working correctly", this makes her nervous around the other cyborgs because she she fears what might happen if she "messes up" in front of them. And not for protecting her self-image, but for how it would reflect on Danillo in the eyes of the other cyborgs and handlers.  

It would be fascinating to listen into Danillo and Lauro discussing their cyborgs over drinks...  Evil
Pity Lauro isn't around any more...

Kisk has pretty much nailed Raych as I consciously write her here, and yes, when he's yelling at her it is generally as one would yell at a computer or other inanimate object... particularly in the early days. He certainly buys gear for her in the same manner that you would buy upgrades for computer or a laptop bag. The flip side of that of course is that he doesn't expect her to do anything she was not "designed" for.

I think as they've spent some time together I think he has developed some awareness that she is capable of emotion, especially as he has become increasingly vexed by her perceived lack of progress, which has started feeding the afore-mentioned vicious cycle. In his previous chapter's tirade he mentions Monty as someone Raych has annoyed; since he really doesn't consider cyborgs worth caring about, the only reason for him to have mentioned her (apart from mechanically needing some means by which Raych, and consequently Mari, could believe appeasing Monty would somehow help as part of the AtAC tie-in) would have been to find another way in which to wound and ad weight to his words.

So far, I'm honestly not 100% sure how Raych views Danilo: whether if it's with love (or if she believes he loves her... probably not though, more that she needs to make him love her), or with respect, or something else. There's certainly obedience in there, and fear, and of course something which makes her believe he can never be wrong... I know what feels right with writing their interactions, but nailing down what that's made up of is somewhat more problematic. Either way, the perspective of abuser and victim has certainly given me food for thought, as it was not an angle I had previously considered.

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