Forums → Art, Music, and Writing → Lamentations
Well, if you know me, then you know that this would be my third thread for my writings. If you don't know me, as in your a new(er) user, than this is my third thread for my writings. This is a fairly akward situation, so I feel the need to explain:
I am making this final thread (and yes, final), because I realised something during my Hiatus. When I 'quit' AG, I was fairly discusted with my works. I absolutely loathed them. And after a while, I realized something: that it didn't matter. Who cares what I thought about them. What matters is what OTHERs think about them. I wouldn't be able to grow as a writer if my angst over my own works led people to assume that they WERE bad.
While some of them genuinely reeked, there were others that were genuinely good. And as I looked back over my first writings, I realized another thing too: that I had gotten better. That my works had gone from a slipshod, unbalanced affair to a generarrly more organized shipshod affair.
So I am not making this thread to be unique in having *3* threads about my work, or for vanity, or anything like that. I am making it so that you, the reader, will look at my works, and will hopefully tell me how to get better.
- 278 Replies
I know, I know, I know the name is a reference to something, but I can't place it (and I knew that before you hinted it, haha). There are like a million Stephen Langley's according to Google but none of them pop out at me.
I know this is horribly wrong, but is it a reference to 9/11? I don't think I can understand it all until I know who this guy is a reference to.
Steven Langley's last name stems from the location of the CIA headquarters. The lawfirm, when you take the first letter of the three names, spells SPY.
I'm so clever. xD
As for the title, it isn't so much a reference in as much as a comment. Who is the terrorist in the story? The man spying on others against their will? Or the man who goes in and brutally kills people?
Would it help if I said it was a work of satire?
This is hard so I'm going to dissect it.
Steven Langley, should you have ever met him on the street, looked like any other white-collar worker in the DC metropolitan area. He had brown hair, neatly cut and parted to the left. A black suit, slightly in need of a pressing, was complimented by a navy tie.
I like the imagery in here. The fact that you started out with his name provides a nice introductory presentation. The only thing that bugs me here is the fact that you put "was" after that final comma. Otherwise it paints a pretty picture.
A bulge in his front pocket indicated the presence of theatest smart phone on the market. His skin was that unique pasty complexion that comes from sitting inside a window-less office all day, and was made all the more noticeable by his dark attire. A bored, worn down look in his eyes completed the look; though he was still in his twenties, he was beginning to age and they foreshadowed a time in the distant duture when that look would spread to his entire body, and he would be regurgitated by whatever corporate monster he happened to work for.
I don't know what "theatest" is but I'm guessing you meant "the newest"? The fact that you took time to point out the contrast between his skin and his clothes shows that this character is meant to be cared for. I really, really liked that. "Duture" probably should say "future". I was thinking about Stephen here and I was trying to insert him into a conventional compartment, because that's what people do. I see Stephen as being your stereotypical office guy who doesn't do much but work, which I think is what you were aiming for. Of course there's also the personality factors of him being somehow secluded, single, maybe even lonely. And I would guess Stephen is probably looking for some sort of recognition or special assignment at work, because I can't imagine why a type of character like him would go to work everyday and not look for that. Or maybe he's just brutally apathetic. I don't know at this point.
Of course, this look was shared by the hundreds of thousands of men working in the nation's capitol, so you probably would have never picked him out to begin with. Which, of course, is exactly how it was intended.
This three-line paragraph is a good assurance to the reader, me. It helps assure that Stephen is meant to be portrayed as the stereotypical guy, and if I was thinking that, which I was, then I need to keep on thinking that. And that last sentence just makes me want to keep reading because of its alluring features.
Steven Langley worked for the NSA. He was a Cyberspace Security Monitoring Officer, Second Class, with a specialization in Counter-Terrorism. He had never actually stopped a terrorist, or even seen one, but that wasn't really the point. What mattered was that he cluld go home to his wife every evening at 6:45, and when she routinely asked how his day was, he could confidently reply that "It was pleasant," secure in his thoughts that he was somehow making a difference in the grander scheme of things.
The first three sentences provide some more background information, which makes me care for this Stephen even more. It makes me want to know more about who he is. Naturally someone might say "well the title is Terrorism so can we assume this stuff?" Yes, we can, but, if we want an enthralling read, should we? If it we don't then it helps us absorb this background knowledge.
The second half of the paragraph goes back to the situation where we wanted to know how to portray Stephen. He likes his routine, but he likes to think he's making a difference. Okay, so he's a mix of the go-getter guy and the brutally apathetic dude. That's another assuring tidbit of information, and it was helpful that it was put in there.
Today, like all days
And we stop here. This is an extremely important transition from presenting background information to the description of the actual story at hand. If you don't have this, your reader will be confused and most likely not want to keep reading. It drives me up the freaking wall when people don't have transitions, especially in situations like this one.
Steven was sitting at his desk in the basement of Sylvester, Papowitz, and Yorokov, PA. It wasn't actually a law firm, but rather a front company owned by some umbrella corporation owned by another umbrella corporation controlled by the government. That's what Steven thought, atleast. He worked in a law office, but he wasn't a lawyer, so it made the most sense for him. And it was probably true, given how it was becoming difficult to distinguish between the government and corporations in the first place...
This adds to that idea of transition. You didn't suddenly jump into situation action or a riveting dialogue. You're easing the reader into a time where more background is being given, but the story is slowly unraveling itself. You also hint towards what the story's actually about by leaving mysterious phrasing around, and that's good, because you want to slowly unravel it.
The basement was small, with two desks occupying it. Steven wasn't sure who actually worked at the other one, just that it was used by whomever worked the nightshift. It sat nudged up against the front of his desk, facing the door. Stev this had his back to the door, but he never really thought much of it. No body ever came down here. Nobody even knew there was a down here. (Except his bosses, but they knew everything.) A security camera was placed directly above the basemen't entrance, so that it had a view of the entire room. This wasn't unusual; all public places were required by law to have security cameras in their property.
Steven Langley thought nothing of any of this.
I'm not going to dwell on this because it would be redundant. You're basically following that same pattern. The only thing that annoys me is the separated line. It feels like it should hold some heft, but I'm not feeling it.
His desk was simple. A lap top sat on it, secured to the service. Wired into this was a small metalic device labeled "MONITOR" in large, unfriendly letters. This was what allowed Steven to do his job. It recieved transmissions from a computer doing all sorts of complex equations and algorithms about what people said on the internet and telephone, or what they were caught doing on camera. It would then send an update to the laptop, and if Steven thought it important, he was to go over to the telephone on the wall, and press the "EMERGENCY" button, which was also labeled in large, unfriendly letters.
Steven knew there was a good reason for such labels, but he couldn't actually think of one. May be some time later, when he wasn't doing his job.
Steven was staring at the laptop's screen, waiting for something to appear on it. Nothing ever had, but he was told to remain vigilant, because he was "fighting terrorists, and defensing this nation from enemies at home and abroad." That's what the instruction manual had said, and it pleased Steven Langley to think about it.
I'm not going to dwell on this because it would be redundant. You're basically following that same pattern.
Steven was jolted from his thoughts by a beeping noise, and a box suddenly appeared on the screen:
AND THE STORY HAS LIFE! Great choice of words. You make it sound like he was pulled out of a deep haziness by something insane, fantastic.
ALERT: KEY WORD DETECTION - RADIO WAVE:// TERRORIST, GUN, KILL:// CAUTION LEVEL ONE:// CONTINUE MONITORING:// NSA, DHS, DOD, CIA, FBI
Choosing not to explain what this meant was awesome because the reader isn't living through Steve. They're living through themselves. The reader takes their own background knowledge and tries to figure out what it means, which subliminally connects the reader to the story through personal experience. It's sort of a hidden gimmick, like when a television special has a cameo of your favorite musician.
A second box appeared, this time showing a black and white footage of a man entering into the lobby of a building, it actually looked like the lobby of the "law firm", but this didn't mean anything since all lobbys were required by law to have the same layout, so that secretaries would have decreased anxiety about switching jobs, and new workplace environments.
You're keeping the excitement roll while the reader's tripping over their own thoughts and your words, most likely because they're rushing to see what happens. Feel the adrenaline!
Steven Langley thought this was awfully considerate of the government, and was glad someone was watching out for all the secretaries.
This funny because of his ignorance. I think I know what's going to happen, but I won't allude to that yet. :P
The man walked towards the lobby desk, and pulled something out of his pocket. Steven thought it was a type of gun called a "pistol," but wasn't sure since the only guns he had ever seen were pictures in his instruction manual. The man shot the secretary, who fell to the floor, and proceded to walk off screen. Another beep, and another message:
His inexperience is just pure comedy gold. It's mean, but it's sort of self-referring to society, I think.
ALERT:// IMAGE DATABASE SCAN:// FIREARM DETECTED, HOSTILITIES DETECTED:// VIDEO LOG INBOUND, UPDATES AS APPLICABLE:// CONTINUE MONITORING:// NSA, DHS, DOD, CIA, FBI
Steven watched as the video changed to show the same man descending down a flight of stairs. He was beginning to become nervous, but also a bit exited. Nothing like this had ever happened before. May be the man was a wanted criminal. May be he was even a terrorist! Perhaps if he turned in a terrorist, Steven thought, he could get promoted to Cyberspace Security Monitoring Officer, First Class!
Steven watched again as the video changed. This time it was the man olening a door into a room. There was a moment of glare from some light source in the room, but it diminished as the man's body moved between it and the camera. Steven could just make out someone sitting at a desk, peering at a computer. A beep, and another message:
ALERT:// TERRORISM DETECTION COMMITTEE - DOMESTIC:// TERRORISM DETECTED - DOMESTIC:// ALERT SUPERIORS:// NSA, DHS, DOD, CIA, FBI
You added to the excitement again and again here. Details become skimmed over, pictures get painted, hearts race, and so forth and so on.
Before Stephen Langley could jump up and race to the phone, his brain had just enough time to register something cold and hard being pressed against the back of his head before it was blown out onto the desk and wall before him.
And with that final clause, the excitement freezes. You grip the audience.
The man began to speak into a radio attached to his lapel.
"This is Crawford. I've successfully infiltrated the building, and have killed the operator I found inside. It looks to be some sort of listening post for the feds."
"Good." Came the response. "Other teams are reporting similar finds. It would seem that our fears were well founded - this seems to indicate an operation far more intricate and sinister than we could have possibly imagined. But this is only the first day, and we have many more before us. Long live the revolution!"
"Long live the revolution!" The man echoed, and left the room.
With these paragraphs the reader goes "aaaahhhh I know what's up!" The excitement fades and the reader is left begging for more.
And that ends my extremely quick skim-over. I couldn't culminate all of my thoughts into one post, so I hope you enjoy the read.
I will eat the entire world,
And remain empty on the inside.
And then what?
We all fall down.
Sometimes the World is a Little Complicated
Yeah the world seemed a little to quiet that day.
And silly me, didn't realize you had gone away.
And I walked with a swagger, got shoved in a cage,
But even tin can bars don't bend to the rage.
You know I'm just a man with a susceptible mind.
And I'll sometimes take hookah breaks with the other kind.
Often times I see strange things in other's eyes;
If you're not Rinehart, why wear a disguise?
I walk up to my father, since I'm so glad to meet him.
And to his chagrin find I never drunk gin.
Only lizards shoved in bottles shoved down other peoples throats
And on the dry land, fish go sailing in boats.
Oh my god, love, you seem so confused.
Funny thing hearts do: they bleed when they're bruised.
Men are things of flesh, but we return to the mountain.
And stop and go and stop and go like a Versailles fountain.
But sometimes I wish I was a goldfish;
With a mind so small, the world would be large;
And evey turn round would be a new journey;
And I wouldn't have to worry so much.
Do you think that your Fathers are watching us?
From somewhere up above, Keeping score in God's Ledger Book?
But there is no Book! And there is no God!
And your Fathers lie dead in the ground.
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