I’m conducting a test of my revision skills, and I need your help! I’ve re-written a short story called “Android” and I’d like your input to see if I’ve actually improved anything. Below I have two versions, #1 and #2, basically the first ~250 words of the original version, and the revised version. I’m not telling you which is which. Read through both, and then answer the questions below. Feel free to email me your answers at iapetus999 at gmail dot com. By the way, feel free to read either version first, just note which one it was.
The harsh tone tore through my head. I dropped my tools and turned towards the window of my store. There, over in the town square, the procession dragged the struggling figure through the streets. My hands shook as I hustled out my customers and locked up my store.
Not another one. Not so soon. Not another android.
The crowd assembled in minutes. Anyone within the range of that tone would come running. The figure screamed and struggled as they pulled it up onto the Stockade, clamping its arms and feet to the metal beams. The sun shone high in a deep green sky, casting few shadows and warming my neck. The crowd buzzed with anticipation and dismay. I stepped closer, wondering whom the androids had stolen this time. I stopped in my tracks. Nancy Perkins? She was one of my regular customers. A wife, a mother—I considered running away, unable to stomach the thought, but this monster up on the stockade, it had to pay. They had to be stopped, one way or another. We had to remain ever vigilant against the android invasion.
I pushed my way up to the front. I wanted to know: how did an android completely replace Nancy Perkins down to the last detail? This thing in front of us, this awful, soulless creature was created to deceive us. But I knew underlying that soft, human exterior lay the cold metal of an unfeeling robot, simply programmed to subvert our community and our way of life. What had become of Nancy? Was she killed? Tortured? I shuddered to think about it.
The throbbing notes of the town bell pummeled my heart like a jackhammer. I snatched my jacket as I rushed out of my store to observe the horrible spectacle. The town square hummed with anticipation and dread. A quick question confirmed my worst fears: a horrible android had been caught, and would be dismantled. The faces around me echoed my fear and anger. This time the androids stole Nancy Perkins. I shook my head in dismay. The crowd erupted into rancorous shouts and curses as the android appeared. In the center of the town square the android clone of Nancy Perkins screamed and protested hysterically to the stern constables escorting it to the stockade. They handled it roughly, fearful of its android mechanical power. I had barely known Nancy. A mother of two, rarely frequented my store, but I had always thought of her as a kind, beautiful woman. The men cuffed its wrists to the arms of the machine, and firmly strapped its kicking legs to the base. They clamped its head to the back, until its only possible movement remained the rapid heaving of its chest and blinking of its eyes. The android’s protests and tears didn’t fool me. It was an android, how could it feel anything? It was just an act, an attempt to create pity so we might spare its life.
Ever since I could remember, I had hated androids. They were a blight on the world, an evil presence so profound I relished and celebrated their deaths.
- Which version did you read first?
- Which version interested you more in reading the whole story?
- Which version would you say is better? Why? (briefly)
- Which do you think is the revised version?
- Any other thoughts? Ideas for improvement?
- Would you be willing to critique the whole piece (8000 words)? Send me an email offline.
Thanks for your time! I’ll tabulate the results and post them soon!
1. Read in order... #1 first.ReplyDelete
2. #1, mos def
3. #1, for staying in the head of the protagonist more.
5. Forget about phrases like "I wanted to know" because clearly, since it's a 1st person narrator, what he states is what he wants to know. Same goes for "I knew" statements.
And, re: the comments in 5., take with a grain of salt, as with all crits. :)
Cool experiment, good sir!
Read them in order.ReplyDelete
I like #1 the most.
I would say #1 is better.I felt like I was in the story.
#1 is the revised.
No, really like #1.
3. #2 because it was more emotional. The narrative flowed more smoothly. “The throbbing notes of the town bell pummeled my heart like a jackhammer.” I think this first sentence really sold me.
4. Honestly; I don’t know. Both have their merits. I think I’d have to read either version in context with the entire chapter; and if this is the beginning of a chapter, I’d have to read the chapter before to know if it had the info I needed. They basically say the same thing, just worded differently.
5. An excerpt is too hard to judge on its own; unless it’s a first paragraph, page, chapter. This has a strong voice, but the POV isn’t solid yet. Even though he makes I statements, the narrative really reads in omni to me. The narrative is a bit choppy, but I’m getting the feeling that’s how your MC thinks, and if its sustained throughout, then its fine.
6. Yes. Soon as I discover your e-mail address.
1.Read them in order.ReplyDelete
3. I felt like I was in the MC's head more. #2 felt overwritten.
5.You have a couple of good lines/descriptions in #2 that I might like to see in #1. :)
6. Well, I don't normally read this genre but I'd be happy to take a look if you need another opinion. As long as you remember... it's just my opinion.
3. #1. Reads better, more engaging and interesting.
5. Scratch #2
1. I read the first one first. I'm a teacher and I always follow directions (*cough*)ReplyDelete
2. I was a lot more interested in the first version. I just felt more connected with the characters and curious about what was going to happen to them.
3. I thought the first version was better. The second one seemed like it was trying too hard to be literary (some of the word choices looked like they'd been taken out of a thesaurus). I also liked how you used the structure more effectively in the first one (having a one line paragraph, for example, gave that one line inherent emphasis).
4. If I had to guess, I'd say that #2 is the revised version, although I hope I'm wrong because I kind of feel like a jerk saying that. #2 certainly tries harder to be literary, but as I said before, it almost tries too hard.
5. I'm very curious about the backstory, although I assume that comes later. Also, I tell my students all the time that you can accomplish just as much (if not more) through dialogue than with description and telling ... although this might be a premature criticism since this is only the very beginning.
6. I'd be happy to : )
1. The first one.ReplyDelete
2. Definitely the first version. No question.
3. I'd say the first one is better because there's more of a human connection with the character, and not just a recitation of facts. It also makes us sympathize with the narrator.
4. Number one. Definitely.
5. I agree with Simon -- don't say "I wanted" or similar constructs when we're clearly inside the first person POV.
6. Sure. You've done enough critiquing on my posted sections. And I like critiquing stories.