The Cassandra Connection By E. S. Strout


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Post May 16, 2010, 10:34:39 PM

The Cassandra Connection By E. S. Strout

This is an interesting story . . . I don't see ESP stories very often. What I liked best about it was the hard-science approach, with convincing depth and detail concerning the medical aspects of it.

Not all of the characters are well-developed -- and they don't all need to be -- but a couple of them were just names on the page and little else.

The thing that bothered me most was the way quotes were arranged -- separate sentences of a continuous quote were frequently separated by a double line space and put in quotation marks, as though they might be spoken by a different character. That was very distracting, and caused me to have to backtrack and sort out the dialog.
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Post May 16, 2010, 11:28:30 PM

Examples, please...

This might be my fault -- in the editing / formatting process, I sometimes insert additional paragraph breaks when I think the speaker has changed or when a paragraph seems to describe actions by the main character and actions by another character. If I misread the text, and mistakenly believe that the speaker has changed, I may insert inappropriate paragraph breaks in the middle of one character's speech. (Of course, if the character talks that much without interruption, he/she might as well be GIVING a speech...)

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Post May 29, 2010, 06:54:59 PM

was cool how it was written like a scientific report but some of the parts (the parts where she is talking with her brother) didn't quite fit the format. I know those pieces of the story were necessary, but how would the scientists writing about it know about about it if they didn't have a camera in the room or talk to the brother--those parts of the story alone were written more like a normal story and less like a report so it just caught my attention.

but overall very cool story--the way the scenes changed kind of reminded me of an X-files episode (that's a compliment b/c that was a great show). keep up the good work!

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Post May 30, 2010, 09:27:35 AM

An interesting story. I did like the allusions to Greek myth, and the idea of ESP is always an intriguing theme.

That being said, I think the mechanics were a bit off. The dialogue felt choppy and disjointed, and at times it became hard to figure out who was actually talking, especially when it broke down into one line of text for each sentence. It also felt very static when it broke down this way.

I'd recommend tying the dialogue and action together, and try to make it more dynamic and moving. For example:

He added notes to a page on her chart with a ballpoint pen, then nodded.

"Excellent progress, Claire," he said.

"No loss of motor function, and reflexes are normal. The surgery scar has healed nicely."

Could be changed to:

"Excellent progress, Claire," he said, pulling a ballpoint pen from his coat pocket and making a mark on Claire's chart. "No loss of motor function, and reflexes are normal. The surgery scar has healed nicely."

That way it's not just snippets of dialogue floating around, and it's much clearer that all of the dialogue is tied to the one character.

Anyways, that's what I saw. I hope it helps. :)

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Post May 30, 2010, 11:13:07 AM

Excellent critiques, especially regarding the choppy dialog. I'll pay more attention to this in the future. Thank you all.

Been reading too much Robert B. Parker, I guess.

gino
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Post June 17, 2010, 01:50:24 PM

Cassandra Connection

Well, let's jump right in. Lester thinks it was 'interesting'; Tian thinks the story was 'cool': KW Ramsey voted for 'interesting' too. I have one word for this story as well: boring.
Maybe you can get away with boring dialog if you're writing a screenplay, but when the reader has to plow through dialog as riveting as:
"Pancake breakfast after Mass," Mike Rowland exulted. Boring. "You've already had eggs and toast, Michael." C'mon guys. Bobby? Claire? How about you, Claire?" "You only had orange juice." She smiled and gave her brother a fist tap. "Maybe two. with bacon." "Marian?" A sigh. "You guys go stuff yourselves. I'll have coffee."
Just shoot me now!
Even when Claire foresees the accident it's dull. I mean Final Destination took this idea and made 4 movies with it - the last one in 3-D, and all these characters can do is stand around and talk about it in painfully repeditious dialog.
Action verbs: leapt, floundered, revolved, screamed, jumped, fired, gasped - if none of these words are in your story, it might be dull.
Interesting? Cool? booooooorrrringgggg!
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.
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Post June 17, 2010, 02:41:37 PM

Cassandra Connection

Here, E.S., let me show you about action verbs:
"Automatic is for wimps." "Easy now," he cautioned. "Base speed limit is 25 mph. Take a left at the T intersection and stop." The Corvette idled, its engine an urgent whisper. G forces pinned them to their seat backs as the Corvette pounced. ACTION! not dull as warm pail of wet snails.
Who wrote the above? - you did E.S. in Power in 2008. I know you've still got it - make me eat my words with a story that blows me away instead of lulls me to sleep!
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.

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Post June 17, 2010, 07:16:30 PM

Bottomdweller, by my own admission Power was a piece of crap. For that reason I didn't submit it to Aphelion.

gino
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Post June 18, 2010, 09:47:57 AM

Cassandra

Teenager seems to have ESP when they divert a car they’re travelling in from a fiery accident. Final Destination. Enough said.
There's more passion in the two sentences you responded with than the whole of the Cassandra Connection. I'm a fan, E S Strout - please write more stories that I am able to enjoy reading, instead of boring stuff. Thanks.
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.

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