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July 23rd, 2005, 06:05 PM
Hey people, it has been quite a while since I posted but since summer I have had a busy life. I decided today to write an idea I had on paper and since I havent written anything in a while I wanted to know what you think of it because I know it needs many more details. However, this isn't all of it, just a piece I have written so far. Sorry for the cursing.

Chapter One

“ Give me directions off of this ****ing street damn it!” commander zero six shouted into his radio. It had been a terrible day of battle in the hot desert sands. This was where the alien cult group Jovagaia had first attacked military defense cannons and troop transports. Following orders from Zero Six was Dak, or in the military code Zero Two Five. His legs were crouched as he held his assault rifle ready to put two shots in the chest and one in the head for any Jovagaia who walked inside their temporary shelter.
“ Zero Six you need to calm down! We will be with you as soon as possible but right now we are helping other squads!” came the voice of an elite soldier through Zero Six’s radio. “ Son of a bitch!” Zero Six shouted removing his gray helmet. Dak sat scared but mostly excited. Looking through his helmets eye visor he watched Zero Six’s helmet fall to the ground with the digital numbers Zero Six above it.
“ Sir the Jovagaia are heading towards us!” Zero Three Nine shouted. Dak swung his head to get a better view of the situation. “ Zero Two Five! Equip your sniper piece and get on the upper floor!” Zero Six commanded. Dak paused for a moment in silent disagreement. “ Zero Seven go with him!” he said shortly after. Dak turned and began to ascend the stairs with Zero Seven behind him. He hit his knees on the floor and pulled a sniper attachment for his gun from his bag. Propping it on the window ledge he took aim.
“ Don’t shoot yet.” Zero Seven told him.
“ Okay.” Dak breathed looking through the scope. Its built in computer chip made aiming much easier as it gave probabilities of a critical shot to a selected target. Dak watched the Jovagaia’s blue streaked purple heads turn to scan the area like a praying mantis. He aimed precisely as sweat dripped from the neck of his helmet. He couldn’t wait to remove his camouflaged armor which was beginning to cling to his wet body.
“ I’m sorry but I cannot concentrate with this helmet on.” he finally said. He put down his rifle and pushed a button that released his helmet from his neck armor. “ That’s a lot better!” he gasped then he turned around to get his rifle. “ Zero Two Five move!!!” Zero Seven shouted in frustration. Dak flinched in unsuspected pain as a plasma bullet zipped through his shoulder. “ Argh! ****!” he cried. Zero Seven grabbed Dak’s sniper and began to fire rapidly.
“ Commander is calling us!” Zero Seven called to Dak. Dak grabbed his helmet and snapped it back on. “ I’m fine!” Dak told Zero Seven as he tried to help.

July 23rd, 2005, 07:09 PM
Neat idea.

However, if you'll excuse the expression, it's a little choppy. This excerpt has a good military feel to it, but as a reader I find it a little tough to follow as you refer to characters by (what I assume to be) call signs. As a writer of military SF, I know that it's difficult to find a balance between codified military talk and what the reader will understand. As a thought, you could try using call signs in dialogue and names as your refer to the characters otherwise.

Dak seems to be the central character here so I found it a little odd that you open with Zero Six.

Generally it's a good idea to start a new paragraph when a new person speaks.

I was a little disoriented too. At first I thought they were in the street, then in a temporary shelter (which I pictured as some kind of lean-to, or trench) and then they were going upstairs, which I generally associate with a not-so-temporary kind of building.

I think there's potential here. Just expand a little and give the reader a few more details.

July 23rd, 2005, 07:13 PM
Thanks for the support, the shelter is an old brick building and its temporary because they might have to move at any time.

July 25th, 2005, 04:38 PM
I thought my call signs were the best way to do it.
My first version was Rogue call signs like Rogue 6, or Rogue 35 but then it seemed to be StarWars so I passed on that one.
Then I thought about last names...too modern for this story during a hectic war. After that I thought heavily upon names like ArchAngel or Shadow7, but I didn't like that because thats all you hear now days in books and movies.
I like the numbers, and the idea of looking through your helmet visor and seeing the person call sign above their helmet due to futuristic technology.

July 25th, 2005, 05:37 PM
Alright, here we go...
For starters, you have basically just assigned everyone numbers whereas in most militaries you have a callsign (unit) followed by a number (position).

You have some really strange passive voice, like here: "Following orders from Zero Six was Dak"

Maybe you could take this sentence, "This was where the alien cult group Jovagaia had first attacked military defense cannons and troop transports." and make it a little more subtle or something... I mean you can really weave this into the story and expand on it rather than giving us the flat encyclopedic version of where they are.

It seems like you are trying to say some things so hard that you will accept awkward wording, like here: "ready to put two shots in the chest and one in the head for any" Does it matter that he plans to put two in the chest and one in the head? Not really, because that is not going to be his first thought when everything starts swarming out... Why can't he just guard the exit? And he was crouched? You mean like squatting or is he taking a knee? If he is watching one spot and waiting for them to come out then why not just go ahead and get into the prone position?

Everytime a new character speaks, new paragraph.

Why is he taking his helmet off, that makes NO sense at all.

"He hit his knees on the floor and pulled a sniper attachment" well I might be nitpicking here, but one of the first things they teach you about movement is not to drop on your knees (you will mess them up quite quickly); instead, he needs to break his fall with the rifle butt (I don't really know how to explain it).

"blue streaked purple heads" there is just so much in one spot that it gets awkward.

Wow, and then someone else throws off their helmet? Taking off your helmet is no joke, you seriously wear it at all times in a combat zone, it doesn't matter if you get hot and sweaty (that's what discipline is all about, you don't take off your main source of protection because it gets itchy or you get upset, you deal with it). These guys don't sound like the military, maybe more like militia...

I get what you are saying about seeing a callsign on a helmet, but how much harder is it to put a letter or two before that number? Otherwise everyone in the army has to have a different number, you might as well just call them by social security numbers.
Why are last names too modern? Last names have been around for thousands of years, and I guarantee they will be around for another thousand. The problem with first names is that there is a much higher chance of getting two Bobs' in the same unit than there is of getting two Mr. Rogers'.

July 25th, 2005, 05:45 PM
Thank you for your help.
Already someone has said the numbers were a little confusing so I had thought about putting a letter before it but I thought that would make it a little more confusing but I suppose remembering someone with a letter and number is easier then remembering 025 when everyones name starts with 0.

I know this story has some passive voice because I have been on the 1st person narrative for quite a while and coming off of it is proving difficult.

July 25th, 2005, 06:05 PM
Passive voice is passive voice, regardless of tense, pov, or anything else.

July 25th, 2005, 11:24 PM
Subzero, in the military people are called by their position (not necessarily rank), rank and name, rank, last name and call-signs/nicknames.

First names is rare. There's a navy joke that someone's on a first name's basis with an admiral. The admiral calls him 'John' and 'John' calls the admiral 'Sir.'

Names work better than anonymous numbers. Nicknames give color. Look at MASH. You might forget Capt. Benjamin Franklin Pierce but not "Hawkeye". You might forget Cpl. Walter O'Reilly but not "Radar" - or his teddy bear. But nobody could forget Cpl. Maxwell Klinger. Each of them had something that made them unique.

I like your visor HUD - but use it for friend/foe. Red makes a good danger color or enemy identifier.

Read up some more military science fiction. Get an army soldier's manual. Study famous battles and tactics.

July 25th, 2005, 11:31 PM
What expendable said about colors triggered a thought. The Army (and other branches) just LOVE two colors. Red and green. They don't care if you are colorblind as long as you can make out the difference between red and green (red being one of the colors often used at night since it doesn't carry as far as white light, green just means go ;))

To add onto this point, the name thing is true, BUT on a mission you may be forbidden to use names (in case of capture). I have a lot of friends from time in whose first names I don't even remember, one of the first things one guy told me when I asked him what his first name was is "Don't worry about it, we are all going to end up calling each other by the last name anyways." It was true.

July 26th, 2005, 02:57 PM
All you see now days are cool names for seemingly cool characters, I am trying to make my story unique. I agree with putting some letters before their numbers, maybe their first initial and last initial then their call sign.

I understand the helmet problems, but one thing I don't like is the call signs. Hawkeye, ArchAngel, and all of the others are overused now.

In the second chapter ( which will be in the community soon) you'll find out the world is breaking down, the aliens seem to have a never ending army, and worldwide military are having problems dealing with the aliens.

I posted the first chapter in the community, it hasnt been edited with your suggestions yet but it is longer then the one here. http://sffworld.com/community/story/683p0.html