19 August 2009

First Page Game #7

Axis of Garg

Admiral Fleegle stormed about the command center and bellowed, “Qwuk! I’m not in the mood for waiting!” Fleegle was never in the mood for waiting, but that wasn’t the point. The point was he liked how his soldiers writhed with pain at his sonic blasts. “QWUUUK!”

“Here, Admiral,” said Qwuk, who had been at Fleegle’s side.

"Don't sneak, you imbecile. Now, what is that offensive noise?” Fleegle barked. If humans were present they might mistake Fleegle for a soiled, tormented mop, except that mops are not inclined to scream “Qwuuuuk!” or snack on their own soldiers whenever the mood strikes; in Fleegle’s case, the mood struck approximately all the time.

“Monitoring surface broadcasts, Admiral.” Qwuk, not quite a mop, more a soggy feather-duster with mop-ish dreams, flopped an appendage toward the viewport.

Admiral Fleegle took in the light spectrum reflecting off the blue-and-white dappled globe hanging in space. Here it was at last! He shivered with ecstasy. After searching through millennia, his kind could finally behold the Axis and bask in its perfection. How odd that the most sacred site in the universe should reside upon such a foul little hovel. It would have to go, of course.

“Nothing but a trivial conquest, Qwuk, between us and ultimate power.”


Disclaimer: This writer is an acquaintance of mine, but I read without bias. Trust me, I'd reject my best friend if he sent me a crappy story.

That said, I like it. It made me laugh, and I think it's actually supposed to. Score one for the away team. Now, onto Issues.

The silly names strike me as gimmicky. Plus, I get a little defensive, as a spec fic writer, against making fun of the genre. I'm not saying Don't Make Fun. I'm saying that your brand of making fun might not always be my brand. Nothing like humor to bring out the Subjective Hammer of Doom.

With that in mind, I'll be blunt. Most humor I reject suffers from too much telling and authorial intrusion. My brand of storytelling humor relies more on situation and reaction and less on clever clever comments in the narrative. I'm a showing fanatic, but still, I don't think I'm alone in this. Consider a TV sit-com with a narrator who's not as funny as the characters. Just the thought of it makes me squirm.

Mostly, I'm guessing this piece could use cutting. Pick out the funniest bits and cut the rest. I'd trim these lines:

Fleegle was never in the mood for waiting, but that wasn’t the point. The point was he liked how his soldiers writhed with pain at his sonic blasts.


Show that with a reaction from the soldiers on deck and Fleegle's glee. You can even keep "sonic blast" in the description. That kills two birds: more scene setting and showing rather than telling.

except that mops are not inclined to scream “Qwuuuuk!” or snack on their own soldiers whenever the mood strikes; in Fleegle’s case, the mood struck approximately all the time.


Your reader knows mops don't scream and we gather clearly from characterization and action that Fleegle screams and smacks all the time. Again, I think humor and characterization carry a lot more weight by sticking to showing Fleegle in action. Just let the image of the screaming, smacking mop ride without telling the reader "that was the funny bit, in case you missed it." In humor, more than any other genre, I think we must trust our readers to catch on.

This has great potential though. Kudos for landing the story problem front and center and for making me giggle. I'd definitely read on, but I'd keep my laser cutter handy.

Thanks for participating! Keep them coming. We do have a few more entries, and I'll play as long as they come in. :)

7 comments:

lesleylsmith said...

Thanks for playing, Author! We appreciate it. I did not totally agree with Editor Betsy this time. I do enjoy humor; overall I liked this and would read on.

I didn't think the names were gimmicky (they alert the reader to the humor) but their unfamiliarity was a source of confusion. The way Qwuk was introduced was confusing; in paragraph one Qwuk appears to be some kind of curse word or exclamation. When "Qwuk, who had been at Fleegle’s side." talked I didn't get initially that he/she/it was a person--so to speak.

In paragraph three, "Now, what is that offensive noise?” would have worked better for me if the reader could have been alerted to noise somehow before the dialog.

The end of this was very nice. I'm guessing it won't be "a trivial conquest". :) Good setup.
Good luck with this piece.

Dearth of Reason said...

You folks are very kind, finding positive elements to point out, as well as delivering laser-sharp constructive feedback. And just how is it you can disagree with each other, and yet you both seem correct to me?

I'm very happy I played the first page critique game. Thanks for the opportunity!

Ken

Betsy Dornbusch said...

And just how is it you can disagree with each other, and yet you both seem correct to me?

Years of practice.

writtenwyrdd said...

I really liked the voice in this, but I do agree the names were a bit too campy for me. You might consider using really boring names for humorous effect (like Bob; Bob is funny.) Seriously, they're a smidge over the top when they look like spilled cans of alphabet soup.

This just needs some tightening and trimming, so far as I can see. I like funny sf, so rock on!

Mira said...

I enjoyed this - both the writing, and reading the critiques. Fun and educational all around. :)

This is a very cool game that you guys offer.

Humor Sci Fi is a great genre, and I thought you set up the hook really well, Dearth. I'd defniitely keep on reading. I agree it needs alittle tightening, and maybe a touch more background, but what a fun start! I love me a Captain who snacks on his men. Funny.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I love the mop and feather duster descriptions. Very funny.

Qwuk is too close to Quick for me, especially the first time it's used with the ! and everything. Had to stop and look again to realize it was a name.

IMO, The first bit needs some trimming or as Betsy says - replace tell with show. It really started flowing better for me in the second half.

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