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Apple Ice
March 4th, 2014, 11:12 PM
Hello everyone, it's been a good while since I've submitted something. I wrote this earlier today. It's quite bare and naked as it is but i am hoping to add to it. I'm not sure what format to do it in yet. This could be the first chapter, anyway. Hope someone enjoys.

Won’t You Dance?

‘John,’

‘What?’

‘Not saying anything isn't going to get results, is it?’

‘What’s the deal, then?’

‘Your son will be here tomorrow, no questions asked, just as he was one month ago.’

‘How do I know you’re not lying?’

‘John, you have my undying word. I promise.’

‘And what’s the negative to this deal?’

‘Well, it won’t be a negative to you, per se. If I give you your son back there will be a sort of deficit. There’s a take one, give one kind of policy, you see.’

‘You want me?’

‘Don’t be absurd. You’re one of the most boring men I've ever met. At 8:00 tonight sit down at the pier, someone will approach you and ask you for the time. It will be this person. It could be a man, it could be a woman, or it could be a child. I don’t know. All you must do is spend twenty-four hours with them. At the end of the twenty-four hours I will ask you what you wish to do. If you ask for your son, I will give him to you, if you don’t, I won’t and the person gets on with their life. Entirely up to you. No strings attached…I found that last part really difficult to say, you know. This is a lovely deal you’re being offered.’

‘I’m not so sure. What if I don’t want to do this?’

‘Ah, well you have to. Oh! There it is! Turns out there’s a string after all. I do love strings. If you don’t, my time has been somewhat wasted and time is all I have, you see.’

‘I feel this has been a mistake.’

‘I feel it has been a massive success. My optimism has negated your pessimism. All is well in the world once more.'

‘Tell me truthfully, will I regret ever meeting you?’

‘John, I’m not a bad person any more than God is a good person. Think of me as a chance, and just with all chances, it’s up to you to make the most of it. The outcome is determined by you alone. You are Jehovah, you are Lucifer. You are the man.’

‘Okay.’

‘I need you to be sure. Are you sure?’

‘Positive.’

‘Good. Pier at 8:00 tonight, don’t forget. I will be watching.’

Just as instantaneous as his arrival, he had vanished.

7:15. John grabs his coat and heads out to the pier.

7:26. John pulls out his wallet and caresses the photo of his son inside, desperately trying to feel his skin once more. What have I done? What will I do? He asks the photo of his son. I don’t know his son says back. John looks around the busy pier. It’s dark now and the amusement arcades are acting as a lighthouse for drifters with time to kill. He stares out to sea and listens intently for the crashing of the waves.

7:43. Nerves are taking precedent in John’s body. His heart is matching the rate of his racing mind and his twitching leg is beating them both.

7:57. Whoever it is, they would do the same. I’m sure of it he thinks. The crashing of the waves becomes inaudible as the tide recedes, leaving a dark blank beach in its stead.

‘Excuse me. I don’t suppose you have the time?’

‘I imagine it’s 8:00.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Positive.’

roscoe
March 5th, 2014, 02:49 AM
Very interesting piece of writing. I read it through more than once, I suppose the title threw me off a bit. This would most definitely fit as an introductory chapter for a short novella, or you could expand on it in several different ways. I understand that these lines are more of a foundation, but they do suggest a great deal of storyline. Is there a reason it's set near the water? Why exactly does this 'opportunity' occur once per month? For something written off the cuff, I thought it was well done, I would be interested in reading the next chapter. Thanks for sharing.

I realize it is quite open-ended at this point, but what is the title suggesting? Being that this piece is so short as is, it is difficult (if not impossible) to tell at this point.

R

Apple Ice
March 5th, 2014, 09:46 PM
Hi roscoe, thank you for your time and feedback, they are very much appreciated.

The water (which will be advanced on later on) is symbolism reflecting how alone he is in this situation and his state of mind. The month has no great significance, It's just it was a month ago since his son died. Thank you, I plan to write the next part soon and will post it up.

The title refers to the phrase "dance with the Devil" although I'm thinking now that "Will You Dance?" might have been a better title.

roscoe
March 6th, 2014, 01:39 AM
I appreciate the information, I feel like I understand this first chapter better now. Looking forward to the next piece...

R

Plasticweld
March 23rd, 2014, 02:06 AM
I got lost reading, having to go back several times to re-read to see how it all fit together. I maybe slower than most but I had a hard time following you. Not much help here I am sorry, I can only offer that maybe more context will make the dialog make more sense

Apple Ice
March 23rd, 2014, 09:19 PM
Hello Plastic,

That's a fair enough point, it is perhaps done a bit hastily and so could do with some cleaning up to limit confusion to readers. Interesting both of you had to read through more than once. That can't be a good sign.

Thank you for your time and feedback, I appreciate it.

Ari
March 28th, 2014, 04:32 AM
Hm!
It is quite different to anything I've read before. Because the beginning is all speech, I feel like I've hacked into a telephone conversation, or maybe picked up a script by mistake. It's intriguing.
You say you know it's bare so I wont point that out.
I'll tell you something else instead.

‘Not saying anything isn't going to get results, is it?’ - to me, this seems a very odd phrase. I had to frown and read it twice, which is never a good thing.
‘Ah, well you have to. Oh! There it is! Turns out there’s a string after all." - liked this! It made me grin.
And, "Time is all I have." He says.
Wow.
Interesting idea. Time is all I have. Time is all I have. So nothing else, not his clothes nor his shoes nor his ideas with strings belong to him. He's not the big man, because there's someone who almost owns him. Backed up by the fact that he doesn't know who will come asking John the time. Yes? No? Sometimes I read too much into a thing.

And, last point. I'm guessing this guy John has had his son stolen or swapped or something, and now is his chance to get him back. Yet he doesn't seem all that emotional. He feels... detached. As if he's been told the kid is his son but has never actually met him. (But then, you wouldn't write 'get him back.')

Dude, can you write more? This one has really caught my imagination! (:

Apple Ice
March 29th, 2014, 12:05 AM
Hello Ari, firstly thank you for your time and feedback, it's always nice to have someone comment.

Certainly one of the more eccentric critiques I've had haha. I will tweak the sentence. As for the actual story the deal broker is the Devil. John's son is dead and the Devil is offering to give him back for an exchange. The Devil is very much in control of his own actions, though. As for the time thing, if you're immortal then time is the one thing you have.

John is calculated and reflective of his thoughts and is not one for outward emotion, which is probably why he comes across as detached.

As for the last part, I wish I could. I've hit a bit of a dead end with it recently. I am determined to finish it, though. I'll let you know know when I post the next chapter. Thanks again, Ari.

ShadowEyes
March 29th, 2014, 02:53 AM
Hey Apple. Thanks for writing this. This'll be my first thing I've read of yours and that makes me happy. I like short things. I'm kind of a perfectionist, so I like to make sure I can get everything right. Cheers!

Stipulation: "You have to. ... Time is all I have, you see." Great motive. It makes perfect sense that the Devil ought to only have time. I hope you put it to use somehow. Maybe some moral about time or how we're given what we're due. Like The Twilight Zone's "Escape Clause" episode. I think, when dealing with the Devil in these kind of stories, he has to win somehow. Or else it would be like a reverse Deus ex Machina. Why would he bother if the Devil couldn't win? The reader has to get some sort of pay-off from the main character: some "deficit," you said, in morals, personality, chance encounter, one's soul... So, maybe you'll want to expand the story. Maybe not. Maybe it's just a nice writing exercise.

One thing that's cool with me is that you /don't/ have to go into the son's backstory. Just knowing that a man wants to save his son (for whatever reason; maybe he's the reason the son died), is enough. The story isn't about the son; it isn't about the Devil; it's about the man, and the choices he makes. The deal is the magical event. The resolution, in this case, the man's reluctance to talk to the person, is the effect. But it might be nice to see how everything plays out, to see if, in bringing back his son, he's really happier. Speaking of emotions, I would like to see more emotional language in the dialogue section. Just a suggestion. :)

Ari
March 29th, 2014, 09:11 PM
Was it eccentric? I am sorry. I didn't mean it to be.
Ohh... I understand now. Sometimes I read too much into a thing. Thanks for saying you'll tell me if you write more! I'd like that.
And thanks for critiquing mine! It was nice of you (:

thepancreas11
March 30th, 2014, 09:58 PM
Daring, for sure. You took a big risk stepping out with only dialogue. I've tried some stuff myself, a very difficult exercise, one I could not master, and I commend you for it. Much respect in that regard. I'm also a big fan of the stakes you've raise here, the fact that everything is so compact: in 600 words or less, describe to us how a man steals a soul for the devil. Brevity is the friend of both intrigue and tension, so bravo there.

It misses the mark for me, though. The beginning is kind of aimless. It's hard to tell exactly what's happening, and I hate to say it, but I think it would benefit from some setting and description. Writing from solely a dialogue point of view requires a serious amount of detail and attention in the wording, and this just falls a little flat there. The words don't really speak to the intent until we get to that monologue by the devil himself. I'm left a little confused by it all.

Conversely, I'm not sure I'm a fan of the diary-style ending there. It switches keys too fast for me, almost like it's two separate stories. I'd advise doing a mixture of both here.

Ambitious and interesting, but it doesn't quite measure up for me.

Apple Ice
March 31st, 2014, 12:08 PM
ShadowEyes, thank you for your time and effort. I'm glad you enjoyed it. You understand the story well which is nice as it's a bit hit or miss at the moment. As for your suggestion about the language, I will do that. I haven't been happy with what John says whenever I read it back, because it's a bit cliche and not very realistic. You're definitely right there.

Pancreas, thanks for commenting and spending time doing so. It was an impromptu piece and I haven't developed it since writing. I was aware it would be very hit and miss which is clearly the case from the comments. It's not your cup of tea which is entirely alright. I'm pretty sure I can do something good with this first chapter (and the story as a whole) if I just work on it a bit more. So, I'll make you love it yet.

Ari, it's quite alright. Let me know when you post more up as I will be happy to read it for you.

Trygve
March 31st, 2014, 03:21 PM
Your profile bio says "Terrible writer trying to write." That is obviously not true. This is very well done. I do have to agree with Pancreas on the time:event style near the end. There is a place for that, but it took me out of the flow of the story. That may be because I've written quite a few reports in the style of "0745, (Nickname) leaves residence..."

thepancreas11
March 31st, 2014, 04:15 PM
Apple, by all means do. As a first chapter, it might work with a bit more meat to it. Actually, I found it was just about up my alley, there was just something missing for me.

Apple Ice
March 31st, 2014, 08:38 PM
Thanks Trygve, that's nice of you say. Okay, it obviously isn't working for the readers, I will have to amend the time-style bit. Don't know why I threw the story in to an episode of 24 in the first place, actually. I appreciate your time and effort as always.

Pancreas, I will take your suggestions on board when re-vamping it. Thanks again.

Missingtrees
April 19th, 2014, 02:55 PM
Hi, this is my first ever post on this site, so I hope I'm helpful!

An intriguing piece of writing, but a little confusing - I think because it is only a snapshot. There is very little dialogue attribution, and we don't really know who's speaking until you explain in your feedback, so maybe it would be worth a bit more of a clue - how you do this and maintain the intrigue is the big question.

There were a couple of sentences that I think can be tightened:



‘Not saying anything isn't going to get results, is it?’ - this might read better as 'silence isn't going to get results, is it?' For me, the saying and anything plus the not and isn't made it quite difficult to comprehend, and if you're a fast reader (which I am) the meaning can disappear quite quickly.


‘Your son will be here tomorrow, no questions asked, just as he was one month ago.’ I think this doesn't ring quite true with natural speech, I think ' a month ago' would be more real - you've said this in one of your replies which was more natural.

It will be this person. - I don't think you need this.


I like the sentence about loving strings!

I can see why you say 'feel' and why you repeat it, but I don't think the ‘I feel this has been a mistake.’ is a 'real' sentence. The person is more likely to say 'This is a mistake.'

I hope this helps, I'm trying to shy away from feedback that adds nothing to the text!

Best regards

Missingtrees
April 19th, 2014, 03:39 PM
o:unconscious:

Apple Ice
April 20th, 2014, 01:10 AM
Hello MissingTrees,

You used your first post on this site to help me with my story and so you may now consider yourself my new favourite forum member.

I agree with everything you've said and whenever I read this piece back there's lots of things I know I should correct and I will change a lot when re-writing, especially the early dialogue because there's a lot I'm not happy about.

Thanks for your time and effort Trees, it's really appreciated. let me know when you post some work up and I will be happy to have a read through for you.

Missingtrees
April 20th, 2014, 12:39 PM
Thank you, will do! And let me know when you re-write/continue - I'd like to know what happens!

Missingtrees
April 20th, 2014, 04:24 PM
Hi

I've posted something (scared) at http://www.writingforums.com/threads/146750-Criticism-invited!-First-story-post-on-this-forum!?p=1722908#post1722908

It's not nice though......

Thank you so much!

W M Gardner
June 3rd, 2014, 05:59 AM
The dialogue between the characters seems a little unrealistic. Try to show a little more emotion between the two characters.

DCG
June 20th, 2014, 07:15 AM
So this seems like more a script to me. I think the concept is interesting, but I feel like the importance of John's son is not really emphasized very much. If his son is truly high value collateral, I would imagine that he would do this without hesitation. His indecision is interesting, but if it's not justified in the work following this, then it's out of place.


‘Your son will be here tomorrow, no questions asked, just as he was one month ago.’

So, I'm an actor. In acting on a proscenium stage, it's very common that an actor will 'cheat out to the audience'. It's basically where someone will tilt their body and gestures toward the audience to become more visible, and communicate emotion, or whatnot more effectively. It feels very unnatural, but on a proscenium stage it looks razor sharp, and no one in the audience will find it unnatural. If you were to do this on film though, it would look kind of awkward and everyone can tell. I feel like what you're doing here is 'cheating out to the audience'. Ok, so this guy's son has been gone a month. I think that there are other ways of communicating this, which might also give us more incite in to how John is feeling at that moment. This is where narrative should come in.


‘I feel this has been a mistake.’
This is a specific example. It's indirect, but it leads me to believe that John is not crazy about finding his son.

I think most of the issues I see here are directly related to the lack of narrative. That said though, I would keep reading if there were more. It sounds like a very interesting story!

Apple Ice
July 6th, 2014, 11:13 PM
Thanks for the comments, Gardner an DCG. Sorry I missed them.

Gardner, yes I know what you mean. I have re-written it and so hopefully it comes across as a lot more natural now.

DCG, thank you, that was all very good advice and commentary. I've been working on this story recently and I think I've done a much better job of it now. Thank you for your enthusiasm too. I will get rid of the stage-acting bits

The Bruce
July 15th, 2014, 03:32 AM
I liked it, I liked the dialogue and the tension.

Until reading your explanation, I was unclear about exactly what was going on here. When Jon asks "You want me?" and the other party responds "Don’t be absurd. You’re one of the most boring men I've ever met," I got the impression that Jon thought he was being asked for sex. If Jon asks "You want me instead?" or "You want to take me?" I think the situation would instantly be a lot clearer.

My favourite line was "I imagine it's 8:00", that was great, and it made me like Jon.

My least favourite line was "What have I done? What will I do? He asks the photo of his son. I don’t know his son says back"; other than the fact that it needs additional punctuation, it just felt a bit heavy-handed. I think Jon's dialogue with the man of wealth and taste and the description of his physical discomfort is enough to tell us that Jon is feeling conflicted, without having hear him think it.

On trivia and proofreading:

1. Personally, I think pieces read better if you write out numbers as words, particularly in dialogue: so, "eight" or "eight o'clock" or "8pm" rather than "8:00".

2.
I’m sure of it he thinks.

I'm sure of it, he thinks. OR 'I'm sure of it,' he thinks.

qwertyportne
July 17th, 2014, 08:53 PM
You leveraged my curiosity from the title right into the story. Despite my intellectual "need" to understand what's going on from the get go, I liked the suspense, the not knowing. I'm not trying to negate all the other feedback. I'm suggesting you not make it too clear in the beginning. Good stories grab our attention, hold our attention and so forth. And the possibility that "one month ago" is a cycle, not a one-time event is very intriguing. That might not be where you are taking this guy, but wherever you take him I want to follow along. Look forward to your next step.