01 December 2008

aaaand another...

Worms

Cameron tapped out a few more words and then paused to adjust the beam. He chose a large bold font for the header: Conclusion. He took a deep breath and then tapped the next two paragraphs without pause.

Done. He turned off the beam and leaned foward onto the desk, resting his forehead on his interlocked hands. It was another half an hour before he could leave: not enough time to start up anything new but too much time to sit staring at his desk. George walking into his office was almost a relief.

"Check this out, you'll love it," he said, pulling over a chair and sitting next to his desk. Cameron's relief at the distraction was shortlived as the white wall was covered with young barely clad girls twisting and gyrating in tandem. BGK was pretty liberal as far as big
business went but this definitely was beyond the occasional personal use of the net that might get ignored.

"The hell, George?" Cameron stood and waved his hand to cancel the scene.

"Wait, look. It's approved." Sure enough, it had a green tick in the corner, marking it as approved for standard office access. "There's no text so nothing for the admins to spot." George licked his lips. "S'long as everyone keeps it quiet, we can have a wee look when we're stuck at work." One small blonde girl, with big, blue, innocent eyes that made
Cameron feel dirty even looking from afar, shook her shoulders and then minced her way off to the side.

"See that?" George beamed. "Someone's just paid for some one-on-one attention. She's gone off to a private cam. It's real girls, doing real dances. Isn't that hot?"

"Yeah, hot." Cameron began packing up his stuff. By the time he got rid of George, it'd be time to go.

"Check it out, Cam. How can you resist?" His face was flushed.

Cameron realised that he'd been specifically targetted as having the biggest white space. "Did you get those figures from the Kaymar project?" Usually the fastest way to shut George up was to mention work but he was too busy leering at the pixels on the wall.

"Yeah, uh, 50 year return, sociographically sound, one environmentalist worried about some worms, don't think it'll be a biggie." He rattled off the data without bothering to look away from the screen.

There are some issues. Everyone should get their own paragraph, for one. Tag all dialogue with names early on so we stupid readers can keep track of the characters we've just met. Compound sentences separated by a conjunction need a comma. "Beam" threw me, but I was willing to go with it because I'm hoping its a speculative element. "White space" also threw me--why not say "white screen" or "white wall"? Also, that's classic passive structure. Switch that around to say something more like: Cameron realized George had specifically targeted him because his big white wall made a perfect spot to project the dancers. That's still rough, but you get what I'm trying to do.

In general, I like this. There's tension between the two players and Cam being slightly victimized by his lurid coworker helps with the sympathy factor. I'm guessing by the title that the Kaymar project will be the story problem, and since I have no idea what "worms" means (Like DUNE-sized or the intestinal variety or what?) (And, btw, it's a GOOD thing that I'm wondering.)

If they're as different as I suspect, then the story relies on speculative elements, so that's a major plus. I'm curious enough to keep reading.

9 comments:

lesleylsmith said...

Thanks, reader, for playing! Kudos!
I was intrigued with the "beams" too. I generally agree with Editor Betsy on her thoughts for this one. The "worms" were intriguing; I also was thinking of Dune.

However...I'm probably the most "feminist" of the editors...strippers at the office is sending up a warning flag for me. They better be integral to the plot and not gratuitous. I would keep reading to find out about the beams and worms, but I wouldn't be enthusiastic.

fairyhedgehog said...

I found the first paragraph confusing but after that I was drawn right into this.

I didn't mind the strippers because the main character (as he seemed to me) was feeling so uncomfortable about them. I was very intrigued by the worms and I was deeply disappointed that I couldn't read any more of it.

sylvia said...

Hi, author here. :)

The tagging clearly needs work - rereading it, I can see the issues. I think the characters each do get their own paragraph so it's down to making sure it's clear who is speaking when.

I wanted to try to gently introduce the hardware of the future and clearly I didn't succeed. Over time, it sort of becomes clear that a lot of peripherals have been done away with - so he has no keyboard, just a laser beam that watches his finger positioning and so he "types".

I'll work on that.

I see the feminist angle but I'm relieved that Betsy and FHH saw the point: Cam is being victimised by his lecherous co-worker and is deeply uncomfortable with it.

Yes, the throw-away comment from from George is integral. As it happens, they are earth worm sized worms.

I've not finished the story but I'm glad to see that you'd get past the first few hundred words - despite my heavy handed opening. :)

laughingwolf said...

sorry, not close to my cuppa :(

David E. Hughes said...

I agree with most of the comments of my fellow editors. I would add that I felt that more specific descriptions would have benefited this story. "Desk" or "white wall" "chair" or even "beam" does not place me in the world or setting.

The only other caution I would give is that we get lots of genre stories in office settings. My theory is that many people write these stories as a cathartic experience. The problem is, office settings usually are not that exciting for the reader, even if protagonist gets to turn his or her boss into a troll.

Thanks for sending us your first page!

six blocks east of mars said...

I had trouble picturing what was going on. I couldn't quite get a sense of what Cameron was doing, nor could I get a sense of his office space.

I did like the term "white space" because it seems like that trendy (and annoying) office speak I hear too much of everyday, so it seems authentic to me.

The interactive dancing girls intrigued me a bit, but I would want it to be more than just gratuitous show of tech.

writtenwyrdd said...

A couple of vague pronouns ("his desk," for example), but generally this is very nice. I think the first paragraph needs a bit more clarification, too, and the discomfort of Cameron with his co-worker's pornfest is great stuff. I agree it should be related to the plot and not gratuitous, however.

Perhaps for the first paragraph you might edit to say something like, "Hands in the reader beam [or term of your choice]Cameron tapped out a few more words and then paused to typeset the header. He then took a deep breath and tapped the next two paragraphs without pause."

The deep breath gives the feeling of "in for a penny, in for a pound" and made me question whether you should refer back to that in the following porn display section, such as being a bit nervous of his co-worker seeing the article he's writing or some such.

sylvia said...

I was trying for "generic office" without throwing too much information at the reader at once and I overbalanced the wrong way.

The strippers on the website aren't gratuitous but as clearly that sounds a warning note with a lot of readers, I am thinking the scene with George shouldn't be at the start.

I really appreciate the comments, it's so helpful to get an outside view!

writtenwyrdd said...

I don't think this is a bad place to start if the porn and the article become part of the problem. One might be a complication of the other, though.