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for Agent Foxtrot

5/15/2010 c2 48Michael Panush
Well, this was very interesting. You seem to have an almost obsessive hate of New Jersey. Beyond that, I think some of the problems from the first chapter persist. The problems are in the writing, plot, and characterization, as well as the concept.

The writing had the similar 'drop the F-word randomly into sentences thing,' that plagued the first chapter. I did notice a lot of outrageous statements and very clever descriptions of New Jersey and its natives. These were good, pretty clever, and made me smile quite a few times, so good job. However, I think you might have overused them a little. I get it - New Jersey's bad - you don't have to keep harping on that. Some more descriptive details and metaphors would have been nice, though I noticed some good descriptions about David Dunn and his camerawoman. Some of the stuff like mentioning his clothes and his 'normal shit-eating grin' was pretty clever. Good job there. Focus more on the sensory details, and it'll be good.

The plot had some problems, as there really wasn't much of a resolution. You get some idea that Dunn was making a vampire to drum up ratings, but it never really reaches a conclusive note on that. The fight just kind of ends, and then the story ends. I'd really like if there was some kind of debriefing he goes through, or something to sum everything up. The fight and sneaking in to Dunn's hotel were cool, but I would have liked to draw the mystery out, maybe have Agent Fox do more investigation and research, before coming to the correct conclusion so easily. So, a pretty good plot, but that's something to keep in mind.

The characterization of Fox was the biggest issue, I think. He's just a pretty unpleseant person. I get that he didn't like New Jersey, but he came across as a kind of whiny bitch, and pretty mysoginist too, especially with that last line (even though he does a throw-away line of 'I don't normally hit girls' before hitting a girl'). I don't know if you intend this, but he seems like the kind of guy who's anti-social for the sake of being cool, and goes on and on talking about how everyone is 'degenerates and not good enough for him.' I don't know if you've ever read Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, but he has a chapter about a kind of Punisher-parody character called 'The Beard Hunter' that really gets this across. Basically, if it starts sounding like parody, you're not doing your job. Try and make him more likeable.

The concept continues to be kind of non-unique. The mix of tech and magic is cool, but not really unique. Try and work on that a bit too.

Besides a few typos, and some sentences that were in present tense, those are all the problems. Like I said earlier, this had some really good writing in it, and I'm sure you can keep it up and improve it.
5/15/2010 c1 Michael Panush
I can see some real improvements in this, and avoidances of your usual problems, but there are also some other issues that have cropped up in your other stories, and have cropped up here. Let's talk about the plot, the writing, the concept, the characters and then a few other details, maybe.

So, the plot is actually pretty good. The alien thing was a nice twist, the outlaw being a nice guy was also good, and the battle with the alien device wasn't one-sided and had some great tension. Good job here! Keep this kind of thing up, please.

The writing was not so good. It was an improvement from some of your third-person writing, like the Zietgiest series, and the agent did have some personality. However you seemed to think randomly inserting the word 'fucking' into certain setences makes him sound unique. This is not true. If you're gonna make him a potty-mouth, have him swear creatively. Have him use other curses beside the F-word, and have him employ them in creative ways. Try and think of gross turns of phrase and profane and outrageous statements, and use those instead of just the F-word. Also, I could have used a lot more figurative language. You really need to be more evocative about what the agent is smelling, feeling, hearing, and that kind of thing. You had maybe one metaphor, something about pedophile priests, and that's really hyperbole, more of an outrageous statement (which can be good) but isn't really a metaphor. This is what you really need to work on.

The concept also could use some work. We've all seen the 'Government Agency or Agents fighting supernatural or sci-fi threats' a million times. The X-Files, the B.P.R.D., Atomic Robo, and plenty more stories have used this. You need to find some angle that makes it unique, and I just don't see it here. I'm not sure how you could turn this particular series into something more unique, but there must be some angle that hasn't been explored yet. Maybe you could play up the crime angle and have him infiltrating vampire bands, and do some kind of 'The Departed' but with monsters thing. I don't know, but it needs something more than this.

The characters were pretty good. You got across the sour FBI agent pretty well, though he did seem a little whiny and not too likeable. Be sure to show he has a good side, and give us some reason to root for him in the future. The outlaw was also a good character, and you did the Old West dialect pretty well, though it seemed a little too much at some parts. Overall, good job. Except for the swearing thing.

So overall, it wasn't bad. I did notice some clumsy re-use of phrases (sweating bullets twice in the first two paragraphs) so maybe it could have used some more editing. One thing that pissed me off was the use of TVtropes at the bottom, though. What was the point of that? Please don't tell me you're building stories by taking things from TV tropes instead of letting the story come organically. This is like a magician revealing his trick at the end of a show. You're basically saying, "see all these ideas I had, they're not original. Care to read about other places where they've been used?" It's not good. Try and work on those, and this will be nearly perfect.
5/7/2010 c1 J.A. Fletcher
This was very interesting, actually. I liked the narrator's attitude. Very different from most ghost stories.

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