Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton


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Post October 08, 2004, 12:50:21 AM

Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

I wanted to start this thread so that I can be the first in the Lettercol to welcome Kate back to the fold of Aphelion writers. You've been away for far too long, Kate. Glad to have you back. Writing must be good physical therapy, because you've been making that keyboard *smoke* since you started writing again!<br>And now, for the story itself:<br>Short Form: *This one ROCKED!*<br>Long Form: It is hard to come into an established series and write using someone else's characters. I think Kate should refrain from making it look so easy. The characters are spot-on, nailed, and the reader is left thinking that there must be huge files of background material on them in the Nightwatch writer's bible. No, the truth is that Kate slips into character's heads so well that one would think she created them. "Cardenio" has lots of character development. The Nightwatch lead characters are much richer now. Yet they still read as the same people that Rob M. & Jeff first wrote about. We just know more about them now. The other characters are just as well done, leading the reader thru one fantastic ride.<br>The settings are lush, evoking images in the readers mind that are as clear as day. And the set-dressing serves to bring the individual scenes into sharp focus. Everything is woven together into a beautiful tapestry.<br>Thank you, Kate. Not only are you back, but you're back in rare form. Excellent job.<br>Dan
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Post October 08, 2004, 09:30:47 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

Thank you for your kind words, Dan, it's very good to be back.<br><br>I have been on pins & needles waiting for this one to come out - it's a pleasure and an honor to be invited to write a Nightwatch and I thank Dan and Jeff and Robert for that chance.<br><br>Now someone nitpick for me please! Nate, where are you??<br><br>Kate
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Post October 08, 2004, 10:59:29 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

Now someone nitpick for me please! Nate, where are you??
<br>I'm at work at the moment... I can't steal that kind of time without catching hell. You'll have to wait until tonight.<br><br>And remember... you asked me for it.<br><br>Nate
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Post October 08, 2004, 11:24:13 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

Kate already KNOWS what I think of the story, as I had the opportunity to pick a few nits in earlier drafts while gushing praise over the story as a whole. Nate will be hard pressed to find 'flaws' that aren't a matter of taste (re: style) or differences in the ways we Nightwatchers view the main characters. (It's always disconcerting to learn new things about characters you've been working with -- especially if they conflict with something you planned for them ...).<br><br>So neener neener neener, Nate. You'll have to wait 'til next year for another one of mine to deconstruct.<br><br>Robert M.
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Post October 08, 2004, 10:06:40 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

It is dubious comfort to know that I'm now the dark corner of the lettercol that writers seem to feel they have to "make it past" on the figurative road to success. <br><br>I think Kate is a very good writer, and I hope she knows this. <br><br>However, as they say in those online writing workshops, if you haven't found anything wrong with a story, look harder. Every story has room for improvement (especially if they're from Robert. ;))<br><br>My review:<br>In which Nightwatch goes visiting and meets some very bad eggs.<br><br>This added some wonderful depth to Stephanie (even if it did make me do re-writes!), and she is now a much more interesting character to work with. <br><br>Professionalism: Grammar, punctuation, and spelling all hunky-dory. Easy to read and understand, for the most part.<br><br>Setting: Interesting setting, but I’m not sure it felt “real” to me. To say they were in a tunnel doesn’t give a good sense of what it was like. In contrast, Jeff’s tunnels last month seemed much more real. All of the senses were not employed in describing the world. There was a good employment of the sense of smell to go with sight & hearing, but taste and touch were absent. Info dumps (of which we’re all guilty) about Shakespeare, the biology of the Cardenio, and the history of Parumani were used in world building to fill in backdrop, instead of letting the reader figure it out as it went.<br><br>Character Development: Stephanie--guilt vs. killer instinct. Early on, we learn that she carries guilt every day over Simon killing Gryphius. This clearly indicates she’s not into murder, even over a “serial scientist” who kidnapped her for experimentation. Yet later, she’s after Celinde with bloodthirsty intent. Sure, her character could be growing in her arc, but I would have recommended changing the guilt part to match later on, or for her to realize she didn’t feel guilty anymore.<br><br>Plot Credibility: In the conflict-resolution model, this story isn’t a story at all (but I enjoyed it anyway). Simon’s character presents the quest for the missing manuscript as his conflict that needs resolution--except he doesn’t resolve it. He gets caught up in the action, and forgets all about finding Shakespeare's Cardenio. He doesn’t pang over it, or choose to give up the search, or even fight the bad guys over it and maybe chooses to lose it to save a friend. Tom is along for the ride. Stephanie’s past is dragged up and she goes medieval on Celinde, but doesn’t appear to have resolved anything for herself, either.<br><br>Dialogue: These characters seemed to all speak in the same voice, and some distinctive speech patterns would have helped. I mean, the first time I read this, I had a hard time keeping Camacho and Vieira separate in my mind. Helpful young St. John didn’t talk like someone from the (1940s? 1950s?). Even a "gee-willakers" would have helped set him off as different.<br><br>Individual Nits (I'll give the beginning of the paragraph & then the nit):<br><br>He looked at his watch The sentence that begins "this one" seems awkward to me, not automatically referring to "arcane endeavors."<br><br>Simon was seated at "he seldom kept" seems to indicate a POV shift in mid-sentence. Prior to this reads as from Tom's perspective, but from here on as from Simon's.<br><br>About Brazil? Yeah, Info dump. Kills the narrative flow.<br><br>Well stuff just doesn't Why does Tom call Simon, his close friend, Dr. Litchfield?<br><br>Stephanie was better at technology From Stephanie's POV, why would she now refer to him as Doctor, too?<br><br>Simon opened the envelope This is confusing. What does Simon pull out. It says it was a fax, but faxes aren't yellowed and can't show yellowed--just black and white.<br><br>Just the usual - recording What does “understory” mean in this context? It's not in my dictionary.<br><br>The damp sweat everyone Intriguing. What is the difference between Canadian and regular khakis?<br><br>Simon winced. He was The briefing identified St. John as 74, now here he's 79.<br><br>How would it get here? How did the NASA guy find out so much about the missing play? He sounds as if he knows all about it and a few paragraphs later seems to know almost nothing about Shakespeare.<br><br>Stephanie tightened the grip The description when she set out didn't include a weapon. (Glad she had one, though.)<br><br>He attacked me! She goes for her long knife, but Stephanie had already knocked it away with the machine gun. How did it get back on her thigh?<br><br>Tom and Stephanie took the tunnel If they could go back in the tunnel, what were the explosions they heard? It sounded as if the shaft was sealed behind them.<br><br>She didn't hesitate for You mean she was wearing it, not that it was on the whole while, right?<br><br>Carlos Vieira's collarbone had A cast for a collarbone? I believe medical treatment for that is a sling, or possibly a high-tech brace that fits over your shoulders, not a cast.<br><br>Lest anyone think I didn't enjoy this story, let me reiterate: I did. <br>It was interesting, and was very much worth reading. I did feel there was room for improvement, and, no, I don't usually get this thorough (it took me 3 hours to re-read & do this). <br><br>I hope Kate's ego can handle any bruising I might have given it--I was nitpicking as ordered, ma'am. But I'm also looking forward to reading your next Nightwatch bit you want my input on, too.<br><br>Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on October 08, 2004, 10:09:15 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post October 09, 2004, 02:59:49 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

Thank you Nate - that's exactly what I was looking for!<br><br>Let me go on record here thanking Nate for his work - yes, minute editing like Nate's is real and hard work, and anyone who is on the receiving end of it should be grateful and gracious.<br><br>Once a story is up, there isn't any way to go back and fix it except through work like Nate's  - and while I agree with *most* of what he has pointed out to us, it is important for all writers here to understand that you don't have to agree with it all but you do have to have someone who doesn't have a personal stake in not seeing you cry go over your work with honest citique in mind.<br><br>Most places, you have to pay for this kind of service.<br><br>Now for my answers- for the most part, I don't have any and Nate is right.  <br><br>The Canadian khakis refers to Simon's preference in one of the other stories (although it may be an *upcoming* story!!!!) for his Canadian khakis which seem to retain their shape and press better than whatever other kinds he wears.<br><br>But let's talk about the story for a bit - I guess I didn't write a problem-presented, problem-solved conflict resolution story, but then I almost never do. I really like stories where things are not resolved on all sides - and I guss this is partly from my intel background where in so many instances, I played a role where I could never know the ultimate result or ending.  So I guess I tend to write that way, and probably will continue to do so.<br><br>Dialogue - I had a few more characters than I had voices for - this is a problem I need to practice on, and thanks for pointing it out. <br><br>St John being 74 and/or 79 - I shoulda caught that.  Sometimes, you get so wound up in how the story is exciting *as you write it* and the details like that slip.  But good and careful writers need to catch those nits before your beloved readers (or Nate!!!) does.<br><br>Info dumps - I love 'em, but I am wary of them, too - they can seem so brittle.   I am not familiar with the setting in which I wrote this Nightwatch - I have never been to Brazil or the Amazon or in a tunnel (I am claustrophobic) - so I can see how my descriptives needed some more work to make it 'ring true'.  I did a lot of research, though.  What you see and feel in your mind as you write is the hard part of writing: you must make the reader see and feel it too.<br><br>Thanks again, Nate - every bit of your work on this review is much appreciated, and I have an even better appreciation of your regard for the Nightwatch universe.<br><br>And I can exhale now, too.<br><br>Kate<br> <br>
Last edited by Kate_Thornton on October 09, 2004, 03:01:47 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post October 12, 2004, 02:32:18 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

It is dubious comfort to know that I'm now the dark corner of the lettercol that writers seem to feel they have to "make it past" on the figurative road to success.
<br>That's only because Wishbone doesn't comment more. Wishbone could be a consultant for SSI: Short Story Investigation (a show about a team of crack forensic literary deconstructionists) ...<br><br>
I think Kate is a very good writer, and I hope she knows this.

However, as they say in those online writing workshops, if you haven't found anything wrong with a story, look harder. Every story has room for improvement (especially if they're from Robert. ;))
<br>Ex-squeeeze me???<br><br>I are a paragon of litary verchew.<br><br>Kate knew she was a good writer -- she just needed some reassurance after her enforced time off. Soon enough, she'll be as insufferable as me. As I? Whatever.<br><br>
...
Simon opened the envelope  This is confusing. What does Simon pull out. It says it was a fax, but faxes aren't yellowed and can't show yellowed--just black and white.

<br>I wondered about this, too, but neglected to mention it in my pre-publication notes. In Kate's defense, in the bad old days of thermal-transfer fax machines, faxes DID turn yellow and/or grey (until text and paper were nearly the same color) with time, and might even get crumbly around the edges. Hence if the fax was received on a really old machine (the kind you might still find in any badly underfunded institution?), and was more than a few weeks old, it could be as described. On the other hand, by 2010 (more or less), one would think that all such machines would have been retired because it would be nearly impossible to find suitable paper!<br><br>Nate did pounce upon things that I should have noticed, but I ain't no academic when it comes to readin' and writin' -- I read (and write) mostly for enjoyment, and will let a lot of things slide if the overall effect is as good as it is in Cardenio. (This is, by the way, a plea for mercy when my next story appears.)<br><br>Robert M.<br>
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Post October 12, 2004, 07:53:16 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

I are a paragon of litary verchew.
<br>I've noticed. ;)<br><br>
Nate did pounce upon things that I should have noticed, but I ain't no academic when it comes to readin' and writin' -- I read (and write) mostly for enjoyment, and will let a lot of things slide if the overall effect is as good as it is in Cardenio. (This is, by the way, a plea for mercy when my next story appears.)
<br>It probably had less to do with education or attention to detail and more with an obsessive compulsion with not breaking my word. <br><br>When I joined the secret Nightwatch Society (You should see our outfits--just like the Stonecutters on the Simpsons!) I offered to help any of my fellow Nightwatch authors in any way I was able to. Kate asked me for a thorough nitpicking, so I delivered to the best of my abilities. I did as I would for any fellow Nightwatcher who asked for aid or input, before or after publication.<br><br>[Sorry, there's no society. I made that up. :)]<br><br>Nate
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Post October 12, 2004, 10:22:29 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton


I are a paragon of litary verchew.


<br><br>I ain't no grammatorian, but shouldn't the above sentence read "I *is* a paragon of litary verchew."?<br><br>"Nightwatch: Cardenio" was a real page turner. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I was so caught up in the story that critiquing it as I went along was pushed from my mind. I'm not a good "critter" anyway, even less proficient at readin', writin', and crittin' than Robert falsely claims to be (he's actually a pretty darn good critter).<br><br>Anyways, Nate covered all the bases. I disagree with him on only one point, and even on that point I'm not certain. <br><br>Plot credibility: I saw Simon's primary quest as the search for answers about the vanishing village, which was resolved. I took the missing ms to be a secondary goal. But since Kate didn't address this in her response to Nate's crit, maybe I'm out in left field.<br><br>As to the info dumping, I think Nate is right--if we go by all the advice in the books on writing. But I've been guilty of that, too, and I think it's sometimes necessary to fill the reader in on some details. I guess another name for "info-dump" is exposition, which the writer must never overdo, but must always make sure she has enough. <br><br>Great story!<br><br>Donald<br><br><br>
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Post October 18, 2004, 11:31:16 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

It's been about a week since anyone has said something about Kate's story, the latest jewel in the Nightwatch collection. <br><br>(Jeff probably needs oxygen. :))<br><br>I'm more critical about Nightwatch than most because I'm writing my own story. I desire to set the bar high, but just because I said something, doesn't make it true.<br><br>I'm sure Kate would love to hear some more opinions, especially by more people who aren't writing Nightwatch. So, anybody out there feel differently, or just want a chance to say I'm crazy?<br><br>Go for it!<br><br>Nate
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Post October 20, 2004, 03:59:22 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

Add another hearty 'Welcome Back' to your extensive list, Kate. When I finished this remarkable story I also visited your website. . .just to see if there were any more literary jewels where this came from. I recommend this little exercise to anyone (or anything) wishing to further explore the coolness which is Ms. Thornton. It's been my experience that most Aphelionites finish the month's offering by midway, or so, and most of us could use a little more of the same to tide us over. <br><br>Go to Kate's site (which isn't at the end of this story but can be found on others. It's http://www.sff.net/people/katethornton for those of you who don't want to research) and tell me what very hot Sci-Fi Channel babe she looks like!! <br><br>hint: It's the picture where she's wearing the uniform that does it! Wow!!<br><br>As for Nightwatch: Cardenio:<br><br><br>First the raves: <br><br>1. Humor and drama, always a winning combination.<br><br> His black suit and black tee shirt gave him the look of a well-fed vicar until you saw the Wild Turkey belt buckle, not a part of any known ecclesiastical outfit, not even Episcopal, not even in Georgetown. <br><br>2. Style, story flow and mechanics were excellent. I don't recall finding anything that distracted me from the story, itself. And I have to tell you that I always read Aphelion stories on a word processor. I just copy them in and increase the font size so that I can read it leaning as far back from the screen as I can. . .with grammar & spell check on. It's one of the reasons that I tend to be a little more cognizant of both spelling and weirdness in sentences. <br><br>3. I don't remember who said it, but one of the Greats of the Golden Age once wrote that all good Science Fiction is about people—not necessarily humans—and that all the rest was just plot device to get these folks into interesting situations. Along these lines this story truly excels. We learn an awful lot about Stephanie, which in a novella that is part of a series, is just enough. It's always best to just pick one underdeveloped (nothing to snicker at here, gentlemen. . .get back to your reading!) character and fill in some of the blanks. This gives other contributors something to work with and it helps the loyal reader understand some of the earlier stuff, too. <br><br>The omniscient description of her apartment and of her bathroom were more revealing of both personality and of character than anything I have ever read. Perhaps it's just the 'female perspective' but it never occurred to me to try and delimit one of my characters by merely listing the accoutrementia with which she prepares for her day. And it spoke volumes. I fully intend to steal the concept and shamelessly use it at every opportunity. . . . .without credit, of course. <br><br>We also learn a little about how and where Nightwatch gets some of its talented people. Imagine the uses they can put poor little Dr. St. John to over the next few years. <br><br><br>Are we ready for a few nits?<br><br>Along with some of the things Nate pointed out, I noticed little things like the distance of the Manager's house from the mysterious disappearing site. At first, it was one mile from the tower:<br><br> "I mean it can't be found. One of our data analysts, a woman, was at the site manager's station about a mile away when it happened." <br><br>and then it was<br><br> " The tunnel opened into the back garden of Luis Camacho's house, nearly four miles from the disappeared site." <br><br>Now unless his back garden was three miles from the house. . . but as I said, little nits. <br><br><br>I did have a little trouble with the postulate that the fountain of youth plant(s) would ever be used on a battlefield. If you're going to go through that kind of trouble, better to use a little sarin gas or other nerve agent. This stuff could and would be the most sought-after plant since the coco leaf. Think botox on steroids.<br><br>Nope, seems to me that the most likely outcome would be that the 'Gummint' would just scarf this stuff up and we little peons would never hear a whisper. Though we might notice that our Presidents looked younger when they left office than when they entered. If nothing else, from what I've read in the earlier episodes, Nightwatch might have just napalmed the contents of the tunnels to destroy the stockpiles of this stuff. . .after discretly transferring a few bales for study (;=}). <br><br>And turning it over to the Brazilian Government? You gotta be kidding!<br><br>I wrote last month that Jeff Williams' Nightwatch was the best so far in the series. How very fortunate for him that yours followed. He held primacy for about a month. Once again we loyal Aphelionites have been treated to professional-grade writing for the price of a few electrons whizzing about in our computers.<br><br>Again the adventures of our two-fisted techno geeks have provided a tiny respite from the drab and dreary existence which is our lot in life. And at the hand of a Master Storyteller (Mistress? Oh yeah? Then what's the feminine equivalent of: masterful?), we were lifted higher and farther from the muck than we deserve.<br><br>Thank you, Kate.<br><br><br>Bill Wolfe<br><br>
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Post November 16, 2004, 02:02:46 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

Okay, finally got to this one. (Yes, I'm waaaaaay behind). The good thing about adding a comment after everyone else is that everyone else has done most of the work. ;)<br><br>I thought it was a good story. Great pacing, nice delve in the characters' psyches. However, I am confused about the sequence of events. At first I thought it was another time fluctuation (thanks a lot, Jeff, for conditioning me!). Here's how I read it:<br><br>1. Stephanie comes upon Tom in a bag being dragged by Celinde.<br>2. Stephanie saves Tom by choking Celinde and subduing her.<br>3. Tom watches over Celinde as Stephanie goes down the hole.<br>4. Kevin and Simon arrive, seeing Tom struggle with Celinde. Her bruises on her neck seem to indicate this occured *after* Stephanie had subdued her.<br>5. Stephanie arrives in the tunnel and suddenly meets Simon, who I thought was above with Kevin and Tom.<br><br>Did #4 occur before #1? Or did Simon find a faster way down, passing Stephanie along the way?<br>
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Post November 17, 2004, 11:54:57 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Cardenio by Kate Thornton

Okay, let me first reply to Bill Wolfe. <br><br>Bill, that's a very old picture on my website which is why I display it there, but thanks so much for the compliments! I *used* to look like that, anyway...<br><br>The very cool thing about fiction and even more so with science fiction - is that within the limits imposed by the editors, you can pretty much make it up as you go. Then you come nose to nose with readers, who are a picky bunch (I know, I am one) and who all want some kind of versimilitude in their fantasy. That's where all the exhaustive research (yeah, I actually *read* the Shakespeare and researched the site and the Brazilian research programs!) comes in.<br><br>But some of it we just make up anyway. I think you're right about what the government would have really done with cardenio - they would have destroyed most of it and kept the rest in secret stashes. The Brazilians would have been given the usual BS and short shrift and the indigenous peoples would have had their customary poke with a sharp stick.<br><br>"Think Botox on steroids" - I love that! Perfect! Yes, of course, you are right about what would really happen to the stuff. Sometimes writing just gives me an opportunity to have my government take the high road instead of the usual rut - I play out the war and this time the good guys get to win....<br><br>The part about distance is spot on - I shoulda caught that! I have no idea how a mile can turn into four miles, even in Brazil...<br><br>Again, thanks so much for your very nice comments. It was arottten day at work yesterday when I read your letter and it popped me right back into a good mood!<br><br>Jaime, let me answer your concerns, too. <br><br>First, thanks for reading the story with a good eye. I have to admit, that was the first knock-down drag out action scene I have ever written. I tend to go in for quiet little murders or slapstick adventure, and that was the first time I ever tried to choreograph a physical conflict for real. <br><br>Here's what I think happened, but who knows - it all happened so fast!<br><br>(Oh, hell - I just re-read the part and I am as confused as you are)<br><br>Well, there was a fight. Tom got bagged, Tom got saved, Celinde got choked up, Stephanie went down the hole, and I have no idea how Simon got down there, but I needed him to be there, so he was.<br><br>Thanks so much for reading the story - Jaimie, I got a kick out of your comments and will be smiling all day at how I don't remember what I was doing with all those sweaty adrenaline-soaked bodies at the edge of a hole in the ground.<br><br>The things I do for these editors.<br><br>Thanks to you both for you very kind words.<br><br>Best regards,<br>Kate<br><br><br><br>
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