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Thread: Putting it out there

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Guard Dog View Post
    I read it several times, saw 'enemy', but nothing specifically extraterrestrial.

    If this person is in a place where flies and other insects are a major source of discomfort, then they could be the critter being spoken of.

    The only 'alien' sounding stuff was the description of the damage done to the person's face. And I can tell ya, insects feeding on a live person can and will leave the individual looking... less than human... even if they survive.

    Again, we don't know yet.

    Edit: There's also an inference here that the 'enemies' are small... which made me think 'insects', right or wrong.

    G.D.
    There's an interesting point here. An action start works because it leaks information about setting and characters.

    The monitor lady smiled and tousled his hair and said, "Andrew...."
    That tells us the main character is male. Card didn't have to toss in the tousling, but that puts a fairly narrow window on his age. Less certainly, no one seems to be angry at him. Terry wrote:

    Gently he ran his damaged fingers over the curves of his face feeling nothing familiar, only a landscape of knobs and ridges where the flesh had been attacked.
    Knobs and ridges is not the way we normally describe a human face, so it suggests alien.

    Terry could be intentionally trying to lead the read astray, especially if this is a short story. (Andrew could be 18 and Card was deliberating leading the reader astray, but he had no motivation to do that.) So "leaking" misleading information would be perfect and worked perfectly on me.
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  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    You mention it being flash fiction, which would negate a lot of the issues with claustrophobia and heaviness I mentioned before - it's pretty much impossible to write flash fiction and spread anything out. I was thinking this was the beginning of a novel and the topic was mainly on books (as the originating topic had focused on novel beginnings). So the fact it is not changes the dynamic entirely.

    A factor that has not been mentioned (at least I missed it) is the length of the story. The shorter the story, the more impact each line, each word for that matter, has to have.

    If this were a longer piece, even if it was just marginally longer (so a standard length short-story), and this scene was to be progressed at more or less this pace and in this voice, I would personally look at introducing other elements to illustrate the emotive quality rather than focusing on visceral shock. Interweaving inner-dialogue can work if it's a single-character scene. Perhaps a dalliance into first-person, a forming emotions and thoughts, confused ones, hallucinations. All of these things can add a different layer to the construction.

    Slight tangent: It also only occurs to me now that you mention in the first line 'where his eyes had been' and indicating the eyes no longer there and yet in the penultimate line it mentions 'he placed his palm gently over his right eye'. So where is this eye? Is it detached or...? I assumed from earlier that the eyes were gone but maybe read it wrong?
    Sorry for the misunderstanding. In the OP to this thread I mentioned that I wanted to focus on the openings to short stories, with the intent of starting another thread for novel openings because there is such a great difference in what you can do. But you are absolutely correct that another great difference exists between flash fiction and longer form short stories. If I was intending this tale to be longer, say 3 or 4 thousand words, it would start very differently.

    About the eyes; I think the second paragraph would help clarify things. The man's eyes have been eaten, but the lids and the skin around them has swollen to close off the orbits. That's what the protagonist is feeling, the swollen tissue around the eye.

    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Knobs and ridges is not the way we normally describe a human face, so it suggests alien.

    Terry could be intentionally trying to lead the read astray, especially if this is a short story. (Andrew could be 18 and Card was deliberating leading the reader astray, but he had no motivation to do that.) So "leaking" misleading information would be perfect and worked perfectly on me.
    The information included in my opening is not intended to be misleading, just incomplete. The character's face has been disfigured by the multiple bites of army ants, the swelling of his injuries have created a face that doesn't feel familiar. All becomes clear in short order.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

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  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    Hmm, to me it's too prosaic (heh, what do I expect from prose?!). In a short story I need just enough sense of the scene, the time, the area, the person, and not just what is being experienced; if I am to be pinned inside a char's head it needs to be really voicey. There are also a few mistakes and overly-easy constructions. Sorry. I am actually interested in this situation but would say this is too early a draft for me to get yanked in just yet.
    Well... it's not a draft -- yes it is, it's just the final draft. This is the start to a story of just 1000 words, so, to tell a complete story with that limit, I can't really afford the words to get lyrical. Also, the theme of this tale is uncivilized, primal, so the construction is bare-bones. It's supposed to be more Hemingway than Faulkner (not that I'm comparing myself to either. I would be interested to hear what you perceive to be mistakes and over-easy constructions.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  4. #24
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    The information included in my opening is not intended to be misleading, just incomplete. The character's face has been disfigured by the multiple bites of army ants, the swelling of his injuries have created a face that doesn't feel familiar. All becomes clear in short order.
    Terry, this gets back to what I said about the reader's knowledge base and experience; Somebody like me who's spent a few days with a knot of tissue on their arm or leg from an insect bite/sting, or a ridge/welt from an allergic reaction to whatever toxin the critter has passed along will recognize it for what it is.

    ( I got about a dozen stings when I was a kid, from a nest-full of paper wasps. I probably looked a lot like your MC... only I still had eyes. )

    For people without that experience, it's just foreign and confusing. So they tend to see something that's just not there.



    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Sorry for the misunderstanding. In the OP to this thread I mentioned that I wanted to focus on the openings to short stories, with the intent of starting another thread for novel openings because there is such a great difference in what you can do. But you are absolutely correct that another great difference exists between flash fiction and longer form short stories. If I was intending this tale to be longer, say 3 or 4 thousand words, it would start very differently.
    No need to apologize. It just occurred to me while picking through it that my impression of this opener would be entirely different in a flash context than in a short story than in a novel.

    When I see relentless heavy-pressings of imagery and description in the early passages of a novel, its usually off-putting initially because I feel like the entire novel (several hundred pages of it) is going to be like that. Which, of course, may or may not be accurate, its more of a reflex reaction, a sense of 'do I really...want to carry on?' When it occurs in something I know is short and sweet, its an easier swallow. Kind of like eating a spoonful of Tabasco sauce as opposed to a whole bottle.

    Anyway, good work. If you want to post it in the workshop I would be happy to give it a more in-depth critique...
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  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post

    He prodded gingerly at the skin surrounding his eyes, or, more precisely, where his eyes had been, with the tip of one finger. Each touch sent ripples of pain through his face. The skin was tight, swollen, and sticky with fluid leaking like pus from his orbital sockets. Gently he ran his damaged fingers over the curves of his face feeling nothing familiar, only a landscape of knobs and ridges where the flesh had been attacked, tested, fed upon and then abandoned in search of softer feeding grounds. His enemies were lazy creatures, [<- comma splice - they ~can~ work but not sure this is the voice for it] they would eat almost anything, but they preferred their food soft [repetition of "soft" very soon] and wet. He placed his palm gently [<- gently is used twice too] over his right eye. The skin pressed back against his hand like a warm, rotting plum.


    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Well... it's not a draft -- yes it is, it's just the final draft. This is the start to a story of just 1000 words, so, to tell a complete story with that limit, I can't really afford the words to get lyrical. Also, the theme of this tale is uncivilized, primal, so the construction is bare-bones. It's supposed to be more Hemingway than Faulkner (not that I'm comparing myself to either. I would be interested to hear what you perceive to be mistakes and over-easy constructions.
    I see the "plumb" has been fixed, so, let's have a look. I blued out one or two omissions that I saw. In the main the idea is fine - I'm interested and invested - but the biggest thing, for me, was probably the number of "He [verb]'ed the [noun]" constructs: "He prodded gingerly at the skin", "He ran his damaged fingers", "He placed his palm" that set too much unchanging rhythm for my taste. I like a measure of syntactic variety, and there are some repetitions here, as per the italics. Also "Sent ripples of pain" seems a little too shopworn for me but it could work in moderation. "Gently ran damaged fingers" - I would ideally like more sensory verbs - "Damaged fingers tickled the curves of his face".

    Don't get me wrong: in and of themselves these are all absolutely fine and the writing really has no issues (standout phrases are: "landscape of knobs and ridges", "sticky with fluid leaking like pus","the curves of his face"), but for an opening paragraph, I tend to expect something: bedazzelement, maybe, a statement piece of sorts. I suppose I expect a little context too. What is the mood of this area or this moment in time? What is around us? If the theme is primal, the words "more precisely" don't seem to fit, particularly in the opening sentence. For that sort of vibe I would imagine there might be a number of sentence fragments. Or you might go straight in and say "He prodded gingerly at the sockets where his eyes had been" otherwise readers could feel they've started in the middle of a moment, not in an in media res way but as if everyone had started without us and assumes we already know what is what. Why not build out the scenery? Invoke senses. Drop us in. Use one or two minor devices maybe, as you do with "each touch". "Beneath the heat of Pangaea's burning sun he prodded the tender sockets where his eyes had been." I mean, that's not perfect but see if you can't zing us with that opening line.


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  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    I see the "plumb" has been fixed, so, let's have a look. I blued out one or two omissions that I saw. In the main the idea is fine - I'm interested and invested - but the biggest thing, for me, was probably the number of "He [verb]'ed the [noun]" constructs: "He prodded gingerly at the skin", "He ran his damaged fingers", "He placed his palm" that set too much unchanging rhythm for my taste. I like a measure of syntactic variety, and there are some repetitions here, as per the italics. Also "Sent ripples of pain" seems a little too shopworn for me but it could work in moderation. "Gently ran damaged fingers" - I would ideally like more sensory verbs - "Damaged fingers tickled the curves of his face".

    Don't get me wrong: in and of themselves these are all absolutely fine and the writing really has no issues (standout phrases are: "landscape of knobs and ridges", "sticky with fluid leaking like pus","the curves of his face"), but for an opening paragraph, I tend to expect something: bedazzelement, maybe, a statement piece of sorts. I suppose I expect a little context too. What is the mood of this area or this moment in time? What is around us? If the theme is primal, the words "more precisely" don't seem to fit, particularly in the opening sentence. For that sort of vibe I would imagine there might be a number of sentence fragments. Or you might go straight in and say "He prodded gingerly at the sockets where his eyes had been" otherwise readers could feel they've started in the middle of a moment, not in an in media res way but as if everyone had started without us and assumes we already know what is what. Why not build out the scenery? Invoke senses. Drop us in. Use one or two minor devices maybe, as you do with "each touch". "Beneath the heat of Pangaea's burning sun he prodded the tender sockets where his eyes had been." I mean, that's not perfect but see if you can't zing us with that opening line.
    Points well taken. Thanks for the well considered input.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  8. #28
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Terry... Don't worry too much about the 'Plumb'... 'cause the fellow could'a used a plumber, ta help with that nasty drip he had goin' on.



    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guard Dog View Post
    Terry... Don't worry too much about the 'Plumb'... 'cause the fellow could'a used a plumber, ta help with that nasty drip he had goin' on.



    G.D.
    Fairly certain G.D. is my spirit animal. haha
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  10. #30
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hill.T.Manner View Post
    Fairly certain G.D. is my spirit animal. haha
    Then your ancestors must be a bit more than a half a bubble off'a plumb, ta send you a crazy old dog like me as a spirit animal.

    ...damn, there's that word again.

    G.D.
    Last edited by Guard Dog; February 11th, 2019 at 07:09 AM.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

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