Monday, May 17, 2010

Need the Info

Ok, so I'm working on a project that I would like to consider submitting somewhere.  Problem is the project I am taking this from came from a short story I wrote (and never submitted to anywhere) of about seven thousand words.

I am trying to shorten this work to seven hundred-fifty words or less. I've accomplished this task, but at what cost, I wonder. Is it possible to reduce something down to the point that all the information is lost?

Here is the opening paragraph of this project for your consideration. Read carefully, there will be a test at the end.

Something isn’t right. Alpha Two-Four feels it in his bones; his reactions are off. He gives himself three squirts of adrenaline as he heads into the caves, but feels nothing. Maybe it’s this dismal planet. Just another rock deemed worthy of colonization. No, that’s not it; he’s been on a hundred planets like this one. It’s something else. He felt it in the landing craft, a feeling, or premonition,  something beyond his understanding. Feelings he should not have. He pushes the button on his exo-suit giving himself another squirt of adrenaline. Still no response. The atmosphere permeates his suit, filling his body and soul until he becomes one with the eerie cold blackness of the cave.

Now, I have some questions about this paragraph that beg for answers. I am purposely withholding valuable background information to avoid influencing anyone in their understanding, but will tell you that this is a kind of science/speculative fiction piece. I'm hoping you've already gotten that from the paragraph above.

First off - the name. Is the name "Alpha Two-Four" too impersonal? I want to convey a sense of disconnection, something completely impersonal, but I don't want one to read this and think the main character is a robot or something.

Is there a sense of place, of location in the work?

Does the paragraph, and the last sentence make one want to read on? Is there a sense of foreboding?

Lastly - Does the character seem human? Does one get the sense that this human has been "enhanced" somehow?

Tell me your thoughts.

Now that you've had some time to take in the full extent of my weirdness, I will fill you in on the rest of the story.

The premise of this story is about loss of emotional control and how it affects decisions. My main character is a kind of future soldier, born, and trained specifically for combat. Through the combination of advanced training and chemical enhancement, he is allowed to become a kind of super soldier - devoid of the mechanism of sentient, emotional thought that can stand in the way of ones ability to complete orders. His enhancements also free him from suffering the emotional aftereffects of the things he does, killing, maiming.

Of course, his suit malfunctions and he begins to feel, to empathize, and soon is confronted with the conflict of fulfilling a search and destroy mission or allowing emotion to influence his decisions when he comes across a woman and her child in the cave.

Hope this helps. This is the project I will read at a local writer's group meeting tonight. I just thought I would post this and give others a chance to evaluate as well.