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for The Centurion Program

8/13/2021 c1 9taerkitty
This opens smoothly, aside from the first sentence. That sentence is too close to “It was a dark and stormy night” which distracted me out of the scene. Otherwise, the opening is almost cinematic – sweeping to show the room, zooming into the general, then back out to show everyone else exhausted.

The two colonels serve as the wind-up. I’m not sure I would have spent so much time on their descriptions and background, as it appears they exist only to stage the combat footage.
Unsure how the docs and videos got on the table w/o the committee either not noticing it, or not reading it before the colonels’ entrance.

New speaker, new paragraph. “And I assume your proposal is some form of countermeasure?”

“Correct, Sir.”

The conversation about the proposed copycat program isn’t satisfying. In addition to the mix-mash of speakers sharing paragraphs, many spoken lines are delivered back-and-forth without anything to indicate the speakers. Finally, it is a strain on my suspension of disbelief for the colonel to respond to the general in such a flippant manner in front of the Executive Committee.

Chapter ending is weak. It _seems_ to want to drop the mic on the name, but “The Centurion Program” doesn’t carry enough oomph for that for me. Ending it with the general declaring the meeting is adjourned seems a more natural coast-to-a-stop chapter break.

As the first chapter to a continuing work, I’m sorry to say that I would not choose to continue reading it. Aside from the confusing dialog presentation and the weak ending,

-This doesn’t present anything new in the scenario. The setup doesn’t have to be 100% original, but I would like to see some hint of the unexpected.

-This doesn’t give me a character to cheer for, to be invested in. Woolf represents the underdog nation of Comeria, but his power move with his stars puts him in a negative light in my eyes. Joyce is likely going to be the driver for the Centurion Program, but I also have a dimmer view of him because of the “he would’ve found his way into the room sooner or later” from Woolf’s mental exposition.

-The perspective shifts between the third-person narrator and Woolf’s own thoughts within the same paragraphs, too. This is primarily in describing the colonels: Woolf’s inner voice wouldn’t mention their appearances because he knew them very well, so having Woolf muse about their past relationship, then describe them is jarring.

-The dialog doesn’t work for me. Twain’s preface is unnecessary. Joyce’s “Which means most of you have already seen it” comment is very unprofessional. It would be unthinkable in any senior leadership meeting. Also unthinkable is to interrupt a general, especially in front of civilians.

In the end, creating a story is all about the fictive illusion – lull the reader into the author’s world, get them to invest in the characters, to empathize with them. This story is easily salvageable:

-Tease your ace-in-the-hole a bit. You don’t have to show it, but give the reader some hint that there is something they haven’t seen in the upcoming chapters.

-Reformat the paragraphs so each speaker gets their own paragraph. Same with each perspective shift.

-Look at each bit of tell-not—show and ask, “Is this essential for this scene to work?” Woolf’s power move with his general’s stars? No. The long day, the exhausted committee, the losing war? Definitely needed. The colonels’ descriptions? Probably not. The colonels’ background experiences with the general? Not in this context.

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