I've made only one single change in your entire story which is copied below. I'm too tired now to do anything else, but I hope you'll feel it was worth the effort. Even without me saying any more, it should be rather obvious what the only change is, compared to your original. And only now is the piece ready to be properly read and reviewed.
This one change is the most important improvement that can made all at one time. It makes the difference between a work that can be edited and refined more, and one which is impossible until changed in the same dramatic fashion as I've now accomplished.
The short answer is that each speaker must have their own paragraph. Each event, separate from each character, must have its own paragraph. When done correctly, the result is similar to what we now have below. If you study these paragraph "breaks" and where they now occur, you should be able to see and understand the reasons why I made them.
Such breaks happen when there is a change in the POV (point-of-view) which further translates into a matter of through whose "eyes", a scene is viewed as taking place. Or through whose voice, dialogue is spoken, and in whose mind, certain thoughts are expressed. All of these require their own paragraph.
It's not a perfect science, as they say, and some degree of flexibility is allowed. But in terms of learning the basics, my corrected version should serve you well.
Once a piece of writing is broken down and arranged properly, additional editing can combine paragraphs in such a way that differing Points Of View (POV) can be combined, thus reducing the overall number of separate paragraphs.
There's a lot of tools, gimmicks, and styles that a writer can use, but until the proper paragraph breaks are established, the writing itself represents a complex and confusing recipe that is nearly impossible to follow.
Thanks for listening, and let me know if you have any questions. By the way, from what I read thus far, you have a lot to say, do it well, and have the makings of a fascinating tale.
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My gaze watched the rolling mass of people with distaste. They smelled like grease and sweat. I turned to Jordan only to find empty space. I blinked in surprise, than yelled "s***!"
The people passing by stopped and stared at me, obviously startled by my sudden outburst. I ignored them. Jordan had run off again. My eyes scanned the crowd of people looking for black hair close to the ground, only to no avail. I couldn't see him. Instead of panic and fear I felt frustration and anger well up within me. This was the tenth time he had wandered off. He knew better than this, we were in Italy for a reason after all; we didn't have time to sight see. Gritting my teeth in annoyance I snapped my fingers twice.
A moment passed and then there was a small pop.
"You didn't have to call me, I would have come back eventually," said a voice behind me.
I whirled around and sent daggers through my eyes toward Jordan. "We have no time to spare; you know what is going to be happening soon. We have lots of work to do."
He just shrugged lazily and gazed out at the crowd.
Jordan was only seven years old, appearance wise, with black hair and blue eyes. His black leather jacket and red bracelet matched mine.
He turned to me and said, "Amelia, we're in Italy. It's a miracle we even got the chance to come here. We shouldn't waste it just collecting the dead. It's boring."
I frowned at him, resting my hand on my hip. "It's our duty Jordan, don't forget that. Our job is one of the most important ones out there."
Jordan just sighed, seeming to give up.
I brushed a piece of my blonde hair that had escaped my ponytail behind my ear. I glanced at the sky and nudged Jordan with my hand. "The clouds are gathering," I pointed at a mass of dark clouds floating over a building a few blocks away.
His gaze turned serious and he nodded.
Though he sometimes groped and moaned about our job, in the end, he took at as seriously as I did. Well, almost. I snapped my fingers twice and in a rush of wind I was no longer standing among a crowded street but at the top of the building with clouds gathered above it.
Jordan appeared next to me less than a second later.
I glanced down the building to see a crowd gathered at the base of the building.
They were all silent. I glanced at Jordan and asked, "So what's happening?"
He reached into his jacket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. Carefully unfolding it he read out loud, "2036, October 3rd, mass shooting followed by suicides, consisting of more than twenty people. I guess this is where the mass shooting is taking place."
I glanced back down at the crowd of people again. Why were they silent? And that's when I heard it, the sound of gun firing, and screams as terrifying as silence. The calm before a storm I guess.
Jordan and I watched calmly as people burst out of the building carrying guns and started to shoot the people at the base of the building. One by one they all fell, blood soaking the streets.
Police sirens sounded in the distance. The attackers hopped in a car parked at the behind the building driving away like mad. They left no survivors.
"Well, that's our cue," I said to Jordan. I stepped off the building, plummeting three stories down and landed neatly on my feet.
Jordan was already on the ground eyeing me with slight impatience.
What, he could sight see but I couldn't jump off buildings? I loved the feeling of dropping from high places.
Slowly we moved through the scattered bodies, touching each of them with our hand or feet, nudging them to get up.
Then, ghosts or spirits you could say, stepped out of their bodies and stood still watching us continue until every one of them was standing. Their physical bodies still lay on the ground, abandoned. Single file they walked over to me or Jordan and we took their hands.
I'm not sure what Jordan told them, he wouldn't say, it wasn't my business anyway, and I didn't tell him what I said either. It is tradition to say a farewell to each dead person's soul you collect.
I made it up as I went, not having a constant phrase like "Rest well." It was more like if they had a shirt I liked I would tell them I liked their shirt or if I thought they were beautiful I would tell them that. If they were asses I would tell them to go to hell, not that I know if it exists though. Personally I had no idea where you go when you die. I didn't care really, I was dead but I wasn't going anywhere.
When I told them what I thought would set them at ease the most I would touch their foreheads gently and they would disappear. When I did that I saw their entire lives from start to finish. When I first became what humans might call a reaper, I was uncomfortable with this; it was their life after all. I had no right to look at it, but then gradually I started to realize I had a duty to remember their lives for them, all of their accomplishments and such, because who else would? After I touched them a second before they disappeared I saw a peaceful expression cross their faces which gave me some comfort.
Fifteen minutes later Jordan and I had taken all fifty-four souls. "What next?"
Jordan frowned at his piece of paper, silently scanning the names and places that needed to be taken care of. "The suicides are the last on the list for today."
I nodded and with a snap of the fingers was off to places scattered around Italy. I collected ten souls, Jordan and I had split them between us.
By sunset I was done. I appeared back in the same crowded street we had been earlier and waited for Jordan to finish up his part. I sighed and closed my eyes, leaning up against a building.
I couldn't remember much about being human, just that I died more than two hundred years ago. When I died, my boss, Death, summoned me to him. He decided to recruit me to be one of his Death Minions, for whatever reason he wouldn't say. And yes, I consider Death to be a he, though I doubt he is really any sex at all. I can't remember what he looked like, if he even had an appearance. The memories were foggy.
Fifty years later I met Jordan. We were to be partners. He was older than me, I could tell by his eyes. They looked old, though his physical appearance appeared to only be seven. Jordan was an experienced reaper, I was lucky to have him as a partner at all.
Usually we were, as a rule generally busy, after all death was a common thing. And it's not like we only worked for humans. Animals and plants died too, and to assume that only humans got to be reaped was just plain arrogant and self-absorbed. Yes animals had souls, as did plants.
I heard a faint pop then Jordan's voice sounded beside me.
I scowled and said nothing. This would be unpleasant.
Thunder boomed in the distance and with a crack two figures appeared before us wearing all white. Luckily the commoners passing by didn't notice. We could be invisible if we really wanted to. I eyed them warily and felt Jordan tense beside me.
The White Ones had arrived. They both wore white suits with silver ties.
The one on the right with blonde hair smirked at me and said, "Well well, look at what the cat dragged in, the Death Minions."
We both said nothing.
The one on the right brushed his brown hair behind his ear. He reminded me of Hollywood stars these days, trying to mimic the idea of cool and failing miserably. They both looked to be about my age, eighteen years old, physically at least.
"Mark, we didn't come here to converse," the right one said.
Mark shrugged and said, "But we just had to come visit them Ralph. I've been waiting centuries just to meet them." Ralph frowned at us.
"What do you want?" I snapped, irritation eating at me like a parasite.
Mark chuckled and said to Ralph, "Look, blondies got a mouth on her. I'm scared now."
"Why are you here White Ones? As far as I know you have no business in Italy." I glanced down at Jordan. He was glaring at them, obviously irked that he didn't have all the information on their purpose here. Jordan never had liked the White Ones, but then again, neither did I, no one really did.
Ralph look at Jordan with boredom. "Not all of our business is made public."
I didn't like the sound of that. Any business the White Ones had that wasn't made public couldn't be good. I blinked and suddenly wasn't standing in the streets of Italy anymore. I glanced around but only saw darkness.
A clear, ringing voice murmured, "Kill them, they have no business here. They are traitors, having gone off the path set for them. Correct them. Those are your orders."
I blinked again and was back in the streets with Jordan staring at me with a knowing expression, he had heard the same message.
Ralph glanced between us, eyes narrowed. He had noticed something in our air had changed but his partner Mark was painfully oblivious. Moron.
"White Ones, what is your business here?" I asked quietly.
"Like we would tell you, you Death Minions," he spat. "You are nothing more than mindless tools used by Death to collect innocent people's souls. We don't even have to talk to things like you, consider yourself luck-," he stopped when a knife was stabbed into his back. He made a choking sound and he coughed up blood. His horrified expression matched Ralphs.
Mark raised his hand and touched the hole in his chest, his fingers coming away red, before collapsing onto the ground in a heap.
Jordan stood behind him holding a bloodied knife staring at the crumpled body with disinterest.
Ralph looked at Jordan with fear and disgust. "Why?" He choked it out like a stone caught in his throat.
"We have our orders," Jordan said simply. "You have disobeyed. That is all we need to know."
Then, quicker than the eye could see, I was directly in front of Ralph. I slid my knife out of its sheath on my belt, hidden by my jacket. "I am sorry White One. Jordan is right, we have our orders," and in one quick movement I plunged the knife into his heart.
He let out a strangled cry and crumpled to the ground next to Mark.
I grimaced at the blood on my knife. I crouched down and wiped my knife on Ralph's white suit. A dark stain of red on the pure white suit, it could almost be poetic.
Jordan did the same and we sheathed our knives.
White Ones were creatures like Jordan and I, the Death Minions. They were once humans who had died and were chosen to do something. While Death Minions collected the dead souls the White Ones went around protecting people who needed protection, keeping them from Death. For example Martin Luther King Jr., he almost died countless times before he was supposed to and only lived as long as he did because a White One watched over him.
As a rule, we weren't too fond of each other. When we went out to collect their souls they usually got in the way, disrupting our jobs. Though humans might consider them guardian angels, we considered them to be bastards. They had this whole 'I'm better than you so bow down and kiss my feet' vibe, but in reality we were basically the same. I had no idea who their boss was nor did I care to know.
Mark and Ralph must have decided to protect people who weren't meant to be protected or they could have just abandoned their duties. Whatever the reason it didn't really matter.
Death talked to us sometimes, giving orders to us without explaining the reasons. It wasn't our right to question anyway. "Jordan," I said.
He nodded, understanding without saying anything. He snapped his fingers three times and the bodies disappeared, along with all the spilled blood.
Only Death Minions could kill White Ones and vice versa. As far as I knew, when either one of us died you had no souls left to be collected.
"I hate that nickname," Jordan muttered.
I nodded. These names or titles given to us had always been there. No one knows who came up with them or when, just that they are. "Ready?" I asked. I could tell without asking him to take out the list that some were about to die. When there's a massacre this big the air seems to go cold. Italy was collapsing in on itself this week, right on schedule. Many were planned to die. I didn't know why, if there was a war going on what, nor did I need to know. I had enough on my own plate without thinking about human conflicts.
Without waiting for a response I snapped my fingers and disappeared. I do not cause death, nor am I the result. I am the in between, the minion. I bring you to your final journey, but I do not follow. I do not claim to know all, nor do I claim to understand. I just am. I am a Death Minion.