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>>>>I know that when I'm asked to critique someone else's stuff, it's very hard for me to be honest, even if they're only a faceless entity on the Internet. Some people can be scathing, but I don't think it's in our nature to alienate and hurt people we have no beef with.

Hook: I understand completely. It's hard for most of us to intentionally say something that someone else would find hurtful. I'm as thin-skinned as the next guy, but as a technical writer I'm used to people changing my writing or suggesting that I rewite an entire section of a document. I don't necessarily agree with the suggestions, and I don't always like having my "deathless prose" mangled by plebians <g>, but I usually can recognize when something is an improvement over the original. I am all for constructive criticism. It's the "This is the worst tripe I have ever read" type comments that I can do without. <g> As long as the comments are couched as suggestions for improvement I'm all for them.

I'll have to think about some of your suggestions to see what I want to do with them, but I do have responses to a few:

>>>>“My G--“ Sparks began, then choked up. He put his hand over his mouth.
>>>>Much better -- show the reaction, don't tell us about it. Why is he covering his mouth?

You've never seen anyone put their hand over their mouth when they're grief-stricken? I'm not sure I can explain *why* someone does that, but I have seen it happen. It seemed like a natural reaction to me.

>>>>Personal bias, but I'd ditch the explicit stammering. The complexion thing doesn't flow and isn't active enough.
>>>>"What happened?" Tom asked, the color draining from his face.

I was trying to avoid saying that the color draimed from his face because I had already used that phrase earlier (in another chapter).

>>>>“Oh, sweet Jesus,” Sparks said under his breath. Tears ran down his face, unnoticed.
>>>>Unnoticed by whom? Presumably by him, but I'd just ditch that word.

That actually should have said "unheeded". He was aware of the tears, but (unlike most situations where men are gathered together) he didn't care if anyone saw him cry.

>>>>Decent, I'd rewrite it a bit mostly because I kept using 'look' too much in my own edits.
>>>>I thought I saw a moist glint in Cap's eyes as well.

I agree. It reads better that way.

>>>>“We go home,” Cap answered heavily. “We go home.”
>>>>Feels cliche. Repetition of something in a heavy voice is overdone.

Perhaps so, but it's the only time I use it in the entire book.

>>>>Cap exhaled sharply. "We go home," he said. He turned and walked back to the lift, glancing back at the platform's edge only once.

Better. Thanks. I'll mull over your other comments. I appreciate the feedback!

Mark.

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