View Full Version : Soft Boiled (244)

September 1st, 2015, 08:43 PM
Downstairs, James stared through the steam coming off his boiled egg at the paternal face propped up in front of him. There was something permanently lank and unkempt about the man who was now stuffing down his third round of buttered toast. James had taken the decision to hate him over his first cup of tea.

Some might think it a little rash to take such a dislike to one’s father in the time it takes to drink a hot beverage – although, it’s perfectly acceptable to take an ‘instant dislike’ to strangers for some reason – this hatred had merely hatched.

The egg had been there for years, its soft fleshy shell had dried out in the long dark nights he lay awake sobbing silently with the effort of repressing his feelings of disgust and rage. She was a beautiful, exquisite bird whose wings could become the sky. He hated the thought of her crushed under the weight of this greasy oaf, too dumb to recognise what he had.

Finally, this morning, it happened. James’ lip curled as he reached for the cutlery. He brought it down sharply, with just enough force to crack the shell.

September 2nd, 2015, 03:23 PM
Hi Tip

This looks like it was a fun exercise, and that final line is .... 'Cracking'....


But it is a great last line, and the piece in general is very good. The characters voice is nice and strong and your choice of words are excellent.

I will say though, that at the moment there is more telling in this piece than showing, which surprises me as there are a good many opportunities to show off your characters feelings. A good example of this is when you explain that James hates his father. Even though you describe the father with 'lank hair' and as pretty disgusting, I admit I was shocked at how much James hates him, so I feel maybe adding another passage focusing on some of the visceral, gooey, disgusting details of this man eating eggs would clearly show this. You could go pretty extreme here so I imagine it could be fun ^^.

One last thing, at the moment your first paragraph is totally superfluous, and actually sets up for a very different tone for the piece. I would suggest jumping straight to the breakfast table, or if you want to stay with starting in bed, add some foreshadowing and some disturbing imagery to set the scene ^^

All the best

September 2nd, 2015, 09:16 PM
This came about as the result of me taking part in a flash challenge with a writing group, it was really an exercise in brevity. I do like to be economic with words, for me it's about finding the word with the right set of associations, building the backstory using subtext or even in some cases allegory (Alice , after. is intentionally allegorical). Inevitably it takes me a long time to finish a piece.

I see what you are saying about the first paragraph. I'm going to take it out but paste it below for anyone else to see should they want.

Removed first paragraph -

'James woke up and shook the sleep out of his head. The thump of heavy footsteps passed by his bedroom door on their way to the bathroom. The sound prompted thoughts that ran around his head but they were too fast for him to catch, besides, it was early.'

Thanks for the crit.


September 5th, 2015, 06:59 PM
Hi Tip. This is a nice piece of flash. I love character studies and here you paint a picture of James' rising hatred and disgust. I agree with MousePot that you could do away with the first paragraph and, by doing that, you have extra words to play with and can build the feeling of hatred even more. If you do discard the opening, though, you should lose the word 'Downstairs' and begin your story with 'James stared through the steam....'

The only other thing I noticed was here: in the long dark nights he lay awake. Sobbing silently
The full stop should be a comma because the final phrase is not a complete sentence and can't stand alone.

Anyway, I enjoyed this - especially the clever ending. I'd like to see more of your work. Good stuff. :)