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Gloves Off: Round XVI
The stripper takes off a glove, first
Today let’s taken a longer look at The Very Very Wicked Press Machine Files Part One: Early Life by Rabbi-iblis
To read the work as originally published, please click here.
The Very Very Wicked Press Machine Files
Part One: Early Life
Text and images are perfect, on their way to the printed pages. Today’s main article covers the Cash Me Ousside girl’s Harvard commencement speech and sudden vanish. Last week, Quentin Tarantino’s favourite toe shape, girth and length, made front page. The week before, Angelina Jolie’s heroism in leading a celebrity coalition of handing out trucks of toilet paper to starving villages in Africa, cashed thousands of dollars to the Deltron Times newspaper. And helped Jolie get a nobel peace prize, during which she thanked the bold choices of the newspaper.
My comments: Okay… I’m with you. There’s lots of summary here. Would you consider choosing only one headline and going a little deeper on it? Also, your lead doesn’t raise a question, but simply states static things.
You’d ask, what kind of story cooks here? Well, all these celebrities vanished right after the publishing of articles. Detectives fixed their eyes on a certain press machine in the plant. After a long investigation, the press machine appears to have grew sentient. And a killer. Any article about a celebrity, that celebrity vanishes the next day. It occurred three times.
My comments: Okay, now we’re summarizing more. “After a long investigation” robs us of a discovery process. And we need to see the process, and the celebrity vanishing acted out. This draft would make a fine outline, but all of this information needs to be dramatized so the reader will gradually accept these events.
Outside the Deltron Building, in wait for an interview with Abel Leinko. The editor of the Deltron Times. The front door buzzes open, and far back MR. Leinko walks towards us. Hands wide open waving in welcome come inside. No formalities and no protocol. He either has no time to waste, or I’m a waste. Following his footsteps into an overly long escalator, that leads to his 4th office floor. On our way, Leinko points to a locked door to our side. He tightly grabs something underneath his shirt, near his heart. A cross perhaps. MR. Leinko whispers ‘’ That door leads to our former printing plant”.
My comments: Good, great, we’re into a scene. Your verbs are popping.
Can we go there? I gently but, eagerly ask
He inches back, waves his head dismissively ‘’ Not sure if we…uh…after that press machine went mad, everyone is kind of spooked about it’’. He then turns to check his phone, gives us his back to ponder to.
My comments: Great, I sense that this will fall into the form of an interview. A crew here to film a documentary. You can build tension very quickly by asking loaded questions and not giving an answer. In effect, “Have they found any trace of Angelina? Can we see the killer presses?” Just suggest the mystery with questions, and don’t give away the situation in the second paragraph, okay? And don’t answer the questions, just let them hang in the reader’s mind.
A door made from steel, in a common building of a common metropolis. Run by ordinary people who use press machines to make covers. The press machine’s murders albeit extraordinary, they only require ordinary explanations.
Crew member, John ‘’ But, the door looks creepy, man’’
My comments: Step up to the door. Place an open hand flat against the surface. Feel the cold. Is it vibrating? Can you hear the presses run? Lean closer and place an ear against the metal. Smell the air for that gasoline scent of printer’s ink. You can intercut all of these actions with snatches of Leinko’s telephone conversation. Just do everything you can to “show” the door as creepy so that the reader feels the dread and decides “creepy door.”
‘’Hmmm, we’ll see’’ I reply. Then, all of a sudden, a cold tingling of my spine lasts longer than any before. The door moves or am I tripping?
Out of nowhere, I get slap BANG to my head. In Jesus’s name…the great and merciful
I turn, and I find my crew behind me readjust themselves quickly, while holding laughs
I raise both my hands, palm open as if it’s a notebook, and with the other I press my index and thump to mimic a pen, ‘’ Here it is, one to you and zero to me’’. taking an invisible note.
My comments: Good. I liked the miming of the notebook and pen. And getting smacked upside the head is a perfect opportunity to go “on the body” and create a physical sense of the narrator.
Rolling in 3, 2 ,1 John gives me the go
I clear my throat
Yes, a press machine that had one job to do. An aimless repetitive run towards getting broken, then picked up by the metal guy. The devilish piece turned aware…or to phrase it better, Woke up and smelled blood instead of ink. Questions pop up to mind, whenever a serial killer announces himself. How did it turn? Was it, that its DNA code made in a way, left it susceptible to violence? Meaning; No point to this story, no point in why so evil? Further meaning; Just get the fucking guillotine and cut off it’s head. Or, was it a lack of conscience? Lack of responsibility? Bad parental guidance? Ill nurture of its good side? Physical or sexual abuse when assembled then first used?
My comments: I like this basic idea. The press appears to be predicting death/disappearance, and we’re chronicling that as if the machine were a human killer. But I’ll go back to my usual crass stripper analogy. No stripper walks out fully naked and says, “Yeah, here’s my junk. Any questions?”
No, the stripper slowly takes off one glove. With that in mind, if you teased out one disappearance, then another, then began a slow discovery process. In effect:
Newspapers the world over write obits ahead of time. Stacks of features, little life stories waiting for presidents and movie stars to kick the bucket, and if someone presses the wrong button, sends the wrong file to the Composing Room, slots it in the wrong column, all hell breaks loose.
A premature obituary that seems to trigger a death or vanishing. But slow things down. Just take off one long stripper glove. Above all, a stripper moves. Physical action will hold your reader’s attention better than anything else.
Also, consider using quotation marks. If this is the character speaking on camera, that needs to be crystal clear.
Let’s jump back to early life. Maybe we could pick up some clues.
All the way to the machine’s early home
Passing through the airport custom
A rubber stamp impacts hard on passports one by one. Then,
A long, long hum ✈✈✈✈✈
Across the Atlantic sea, and here we are at Germany
My comments: I like this, the way you personify the printing press. Consider giving us more details about the video being shot. The camera. Lights? Are we still in front of the metal door? How is this miked? The narrative about the printing press is so general, it would be good to ground it with a very tangible video crew and setting.
Born 16th may, 2000 at the MeinSteigler factory. Made by MR. Thomas Rudiger. The berlin institute of technology professor. He was of Romanian and Macedonian ancestry. Close workers with MR. Rudiger, recall that he always, complained of long working hours, bad air conditioning in the factory. These made his job a tough grind. Subsequently made the machine with less care, less love and no emphatic dedication. Other sources, however, suggest that The Press Machine was doted upon when first assembled. That MR. Rudiger, during the first week of its usage, would obsessively clean it with lavish products. He also used expensive black ink. And would come later, when the factory closes, to cover the machine in plastic, and surround it with four tower ventilators, and four rectangle fans, so that it wouldn’t accumulate dirt.
My comments: I kind of love this strange language. “Lavish cleaning products” in particular. Again, if this is spoken, consider quotation marks. If it’s paraphrased information, never mind. I’d just like to know what’s said and what’s paraphrased.
Back at the the Deltron building, before meeting the newspaper’s editor
We’ve also spoke to a former worker at the printing plant, Robert ‘Bobby’ Beck. A press operator who worked there during its early usage phase. ‘’ Did you see or hear anything unusual with the machine?” I ask.
My comments: Here I’m going to harp about gesture, description, and setting. Names are the least effective way to create a character in the reader’s mind, so why not describe the way the printer himself moves? How he smells. Give us a simple, physical detail that we can hold onto. In the ’80s I read Bright Lights, Big City and still recall the description of an effete young man on a bus. The character had a mustache as thin and faint as two plucked eyebrows. Just that one physical detail creates an avenue for me to recall the entire scene. The character never had a name, but he’s indelible because of that mustache. That’s what I want from Bobby Beck.
Robert ‘Bobby’ Beck’s face freezes to recall his memory and we jump back in time to when…
“…What we’ve seen from the machine, what it committed. A handful of eerie situation occurred, at the time deemed coincidental. On a normal working day, it started acting odd, my Boss, MR. Norbert, assigned me a printing of a Jesus Christ cover. I set up the dyes, made sure It’s in a flattened state, got the material set up, and everything…I glance a tiny black object in the dye. Reaching my hand to it, I got gobsmacked!! A tiny dark upside down cross with the number six hundred sixty six carved on it in red. I stepped back, might be Tom the Satanist pulling a prank on me but, no. I found a threat connected to it which led me to a saying on the wall back there, it read ‘ In protest. Feed me blood’ The saying then quickly vanished. That day, the press machine would stop the moment the Jesus cover gets near it “
My comments: Again, slow down. Now you’ve got an important object — the cross. That’s good. Can you unpack the physical details of it? Size? Compared to what? Was it floating in ink? Unpack the cross, then take us to the wall and discover the saying. Baby steps, please.
As always the goal is to create the incredible using small, tangible details. You’ve got a good start, but please don’t rush. If you can find a copy of the Stephen King story The Mangler, check out how King opens with a grim death, then slowly explores how the death occurred, then escalates to the narrator’s imminent death. In the end, the story — like Through the Safety Net — blacks out at the moment of greatest menace and tension. But to earn that moment you’ve got to walk us through the story with actions and details. You can summarize, yes, but only after you’ve demonstrated. Summary comes later so you can corral the readers who aren’t as bright.
To be continued
My comments: Good. Excellent. Keep going.