Untitled Short: Analysis

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Untitled Short

As part of my creative writing, I think I’d like to expand this. I like the idea I started and the direction I wanted to go here, so I’m going to start by analyzing this piece to see what I can do to improve it, as well as improve my writing overall.

John found himself alone again after a long hectic day at work. It was a nice reprieve from the hustle of his post. The cold metal under his bare feet was soothing as he sat on his bunk in his quarters. He spent some time just relaxing, his eyes closed as he took deep breaths focusing on the sounds from outside. Footsteps echoed in the hall beyond his door. Muffled voices filtered through what little soundproofing was provided.

I’d like to break this paragraph up a little, expand on some details. Start with a bit of vague expressions about the first two sentences. Add a simile or metaphor about the way his bunk feels (third sentence). More details in the last few sentences about the sounds themselves, similes or metaphors.

As he opened his eyes he scanned his room. It was just the right size for him. Most others didn’t like how little space they were allocated for themselves but John found he liked the cozy feel. It was his own little slice of heaven. He had just enough space for himself and everything he needed.

Need to go into a lot more detail here. Maybe after the first sentence add in some of the few mundane things he looked at. Or just describe a fairly drab decor! Yeah, like the walls, what they’re made of, add in good details. Cold hard metal, grey sheen, slightly reflective.

Need to add a bit more about how this place made him feel. Maybe some details as to his past and why, or a memory, fleeting, of another place that he loved and was cozy like this. “Reminded him of his old room back home because . . . ” blah blah blah, or wait, even his dorm at school? That could work, an escape from the crowds, that’s a big one. There were always so many people everywhere except here, or his old dorm at school. 

His bunk served as not just a bed, but also a comfortable seat when using his terminal. He looked over at the photos he had on display. He thought about his family back home and wondered if they were thinking of him too.

Totally need more details here, how the terminal looked. Describe the UI a bit as he thinks about using it. He has this terminal, he must use it for something. . . sending messages home? Lack of response? Maybe that is what draws his attention to the photo?

Break it up into another paragraph describing the photo a lot more. Who is in the photo? What do they look like? What emotions does this evoke? Imagine what they’re doing now. . .

Now that I think about it, why don’t I just have him use the terminal again, send another message wondering if he’d get a response? Maybe this is part of his ritual, maybe introduce the idea of him having a “ritual” part of his routine?

I could possibly invert the flow, start with the photo, the emotions, those draw him to the terminal to send his routine message back home, describe the emotions of never getting a response?

John stood up and flicked on a display on the wall. After tapping a few button he was presented with clothing options and after a few more taps had selected his outfit. An empty compartment opened below.

Here he will make a few gestures, barely looking at what’s on display because he’s just going with a default outfit Just gestures here, no display. Maybe explain that while describing his actions. He doesn’t give this much thought because it’s just something he does, like muscle memory.

Describe his actions more, how exactly does he work the terminal? Is it physical or holographic? I don’t like that “flicked on a display on the wall” because it doesn’t flow well. Maybe “with the flick of his wrist, his hand moving through the air” no, that’s not quite good.

I like the idea of a holographic display in the air. The use of “Gestures”, that’s going to be a big thing here, User Experience. I have never liked the idea of just stabbing at the air with those holographic displays though, so how about a specific set of “gestures” that do certain things. The display is just a display, you don’t directly interact with it, instead it acts based on your gestures, which sometimes may appear to interact with you.

This presents a problem though, the terminal, and this display, with this technology they need to be one in the same but they’re not. Why? Or how do I make them the same? Maybe his message back home should introduce the “omnitool”? Instead of typed he speaks it. 

I got it, the desktop is for physical stuff, like drawing, handwriting maybe? drawing in air isn’t really that easy, so then the desk itself is a type of display? not holographic but more like a screen so you can get immediate visual feedback.

He stripped off his work uniform and dropped it into the compartment then stepped into the open corner. A light mist of water surrounded him while a shimmering blue field encapsulated him to keep the water in. Water was such a precious resource. Every drop was collected and recycled.

Another thing to add, his “omnitool” (need a better name for it) and what he does with it when he gets undressed. — this might be addressed earlier when he uses it to send another message home.

Need to describe his work uniform some, colors, style, fit. Need to add some detail about the wall, even if it’s just completely plain. There have to be some kind of nozzles or way to spray the water, so where are they? Above most likely, how about they lower from the ceiling based on use.

Add a gesture to activate and deactivate the water closet. He uses this before he gets in, that will start the water, add the blue field. Need a seriously better detailed description of the blue field, it’s interaction with water, and steam. Describe the shape of the field, describe how it feels when he steps through it into the shower.

Maybe it serves a dual purpose of disinfecting his skin or killing bacteria as well as keeping the water in? I like that, “His skin prickled as it passed through the field. He never got used to the sensation of the . . . ” I can’t figure out the rest yet.

John thought about the water closet, an ingenious design. It served so many needs on demand; a shower, sink, head, disposal. It handled all waste quickly and cleanly, everything was recycled.

Need some more serious explanation and detail here. Describe the water closet, this is a big deal, expand on its shape, design, how it functions. It changes shape, describe how it does so. Do surfaces open to use? No, I don’t like that.

Maybe instead the floor raises and lowers and changes shape based on what’s needed? Same goes for the nozzle, sprayer, spigot, whatever when needing water. If I wanted to, this could come into play later if someone dies by being crushed in a malfunctioning water closet.

When John finished, he stepped through the blue field. His skin tingled slightly as it collected the remaining water. The field collapsed slowly towards the floor. It collected the remaining water and sanitized the water closet until it disappeared into the drain.

I see what I did there, but this time the feeling is different, don’t know how, maybe before it was cold and now it’s hot? Need to add a simile or metaphor to describe collapse of the blue field better.

Another door slid open in the wall. His clothes waited for him. It was a simple outfit that he usually wore for social occasions, nothing more than jeans and a t-shirt. He got dressed quickly because he knew Becky would be waiting for him.

Describe the outfit more, colors, how it fit, how it felt on his skin. 

I liked the idea that everyone has all the same near-infinite clothing options available. I’m not sure if I want to describe that here or expand on that in the future; him being chided by someone else, likely Becky about how he always wears the same old plain outfit when he could wear anything he wanted.

At the same time, I would like him to describe in great detail the very eclectic clothing worn by Becky when they meet up. As well as describing the clothing of others he comes across in the hall when heading there, both those in uniform and those who were off work.


I like the idea of gestures, so how about we take some time in this section to describe them. We’ll introduce something, a way of separating gestures and making them stand out in the text. Possibly preformatted text blocks? Add italics? Bold? Let’s compare


I feel like it needs to be different, but not bolded I like Preformatted with Italics I think, the middle one. 

Gestures can be multiple commands strung together, “Display On” “Desktop Mode” “Water Closet On” Maybe we need to separate the different parts of gestures, denote that there are multiple strung together.

Display — On — Desktop Mode
Water Closet — On — Shower

I like using the em dash to separate the parts. That then gets the idea of syntax. Do we use “On” last? I think so. . . 

Water Closet — Shower — On
Display — Desktop Mode — On

Doesn’t make sense to turn the water closet on before setting it to shower mode. Or turning the display on then moving it to desktop mode. With this, he probably then doesn’t even bother to turn on any display for his clothing.

After looking at the way this all looks on the live site, I don’t like it. I need to find another way than using preformatted blocks. I tried verse blocks, doesn’t look great, so maybe just simple paragraph blocks with italics, as below. 

Display — On — Desktop Mode

I do wish I could do a simple indent, but alas, currently I cannot. I’ll have to see how it looks when actually used in writing. But for now I think this will do.

Alright, I think that’s a pretty good analysis! Lots more work to do here though. And I’m not doing it all today. This is actually a lot more than I originally planned to do in one day. 

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