Artists Of Suggestion


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Thread: Artists Of Suggestion

  1. #1
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    Artists Of Suggestion


    I recently read that some psychologists now believe that our dreams are actually designed to prepare us for stressful events in our waking lives - as sort of a warm up exercise, if you will. The following fantasy was inspired by this theory. This is probably the most bizarre story I have ever written and I fear it may be a bit too tedious for most readers. (Requires patience)


    A Midnight Fable

    by

    DATo


    DISPATCH TEAM - Artists: Muriel - Hesiod
    SUBJECT - Amanda Mercer - Age 14
    CASE NUMBER - UVX/18954607/94b
    MISSION - Embed SOR Level #4
    PRIORITY - Immediate


    Hesiod emerged from a milky veil of mist and stood contritely before Muriel.


    “Hesiod, you’re late again.”


    “I’m sorry Muriel. Lothario asked me to consult with him regarding a particularly delicate mission which he must undertake tonight.”


    “Are you adequately appraised of our own mission?”


    “Oh, yes, Muriel. I studied the case file extensively before my consultation with Lothario.”


    “Then you know we have a Level 4 Subliminal Offensive Reflex to embed?”


    “Yes. Yes, I do.” Hesiod shifted uncomfortably as he stood before Muriel with his eyes lowered.


    “What’s wrong Hesiod? Are your sensitivities getting in the way of your professionalism again?”


    “No Muriel. I will be fine. You can rely on me, but you must admit that the Level 10 SOR we embedded in the last mission we worked together resulted in a tragedy.”


    “The tragedy was well deserved Hesiod, or have you forgotten why the Level 10 was ordered.”


    “No Muriel, I haven’t forgotten, but I hate extremes. I am not suited for these SOR missions. You know I have filed for reassignment many times.”


    “Well, you can relax Hesiod. This will only be a Level 4. You know why you have been assigned to SOR duty don’t you? You constantly went overboard with the C/R missions to which you were assigned. When you promote a Level 2 C/R to a Level 8 you do not encourage smiles from Administration.”


    “But Muriel, I like to make subjects happy. We are allowed so few Contentment / Relaxation missions that when I finally get one I want it to be a corker.”


    “DON’T GIVE ME THAT HESIOD! The subject was only supposed to find a one dollar note, plant it among his petunias, and have his favorite chocolate bar tree grow from it. Instead you had the subject win the lottery, become a rock star, and end up as the king of Tonga.”


    “I did go a bit overboard, didn’t I?”


    “This girl, Amanda Mercer, is being bullied by a group of boys at school led by that little sh*t, Bradley Scone. Thus far she has been too timid to respond and our job is to fix that. Correct?”


    “Yes, Muriel.”


    “Did you assign the construction crews?


    “I did Muriel. They have been working all day, but as usual there have been complications. The front of the school looks like a Wal-Mart store and there are palm trees growing from the roofs of the cars in the parking lot and all the shopping carts are baby carriages.”


    “That’s to be expected Hesiod. The construction crews on all the missions have only limited information on the scenes they are to build. We have to do the best we can with what we have to work with.”


    “Are you ready to begin Muriel?”


    “Yes, but the subject is not ready yet. Let’s have a cup of ambrosia while we wait.” The mists parted as Muriel and Hesiod made their way to the canteen.


    Amanda Mercer lay in her bed. Her brows were knitted, her breathing was erratic, and her head turned from side to side on her pillow. Beside her bed on the lamp stand was a teddy bear - a relic of earlier times when the world was kinder and not so complicated. She was not conscious of the humiliations and physical abuse she had been receiving for the first month of her freshman year at Franklin Pierce high school. She was not conscious of anything. Amanda Mercer was asleep.


    Muriel and Hesiod were sipping their ambrosia and discussing mission tactics when both of their beepers went off simultaneously. They both immediately set down their cups, rose from their seats, and sauntered to their Mission Control cubicle.


    “DATA!” Shouted Muriel.


    A mechanical voice responded: “Subject - Amanda Mercer, UVX/18954607/94b, entered REM state 10:06:42 - duration 00:01:34 and counting.”


    Hesiod waved his arm over the free-floating translucent platform in the center of the cubicle and he and Muriel began to closely monitor Amanda’s dream.


    Amanda walked into the front door of Wal-Mart and immediately beheld the main hallway of her school. To her left Miss Wheatley was discussing something with the principal. To Amanda Miss Wheatley’s face was the only thing that looked like Miss Wheatley, the rest of her looked like a giant penguin. Amanda fleetingly recalled something about Miss Wheatley once mentioning that she had wanted to become a nun when she was a young girl. The hall had been empty a moment before with the exception of Miss Wheatley and the principal, but now it was teeming with students milling about their lockers and a general pandemonium of activity surrounded her. Amanda was suddenly afraid, but she could place no name to her fear. And then Bradley Scone and his minions surrounded her. The rest of the students in the hall became silent and watched as Bradley and his lackeys began to taunt Amanda. Behind her she felt a tug at her hair. Bradley was coming closer, he was reaching out his hand. At this precise moment Hesiod and Muriel lowered their faces on either side of Amanda’s head and to the uninitiated observer it would appear that they were about to kiss. Instead of kissing they blew gently into Amanda’s ears. Amanda woke up with a start. It was morning and she could hear her mother calling her to get up for breakfast.


    Amanda sat alone during the bus ride. She dreaded high school. She dreaded what she knew awaited her. The front of the school no longer looked like Wal-Mart it looked like Franklin Pierce high school. She walked down the hall to the stairs which led to her second floor locker. On either side of her students were opening and closing their own lockers, chatting, and laughing as usual and then she beheld Bradley Scone and his gang. They had not seen her. Perhaps she could slither past them hidden by other students walking between them. No such luck. Upon noticing her they quickly surrounded her as they had done in the dream. She could move neither forward or backward. She wanted to scream but couldn’t. She felt someone tug at her hair which jerked her head backwards. Bradley Scone was saying something about falsies and reaching out his hand, “I’m gonna find out for myself.” Amanda’s brow was knitted once more, as it was in her sleep, but this time it was not knitted by consternation, but by rage. Amanda let loose with her best soccer kick which she aimed at Bradley’s shin; however, the kick missed and landed higher. Bradley crumpled to the floor holding his groin. Amanda dropped her books and was immediately on top of him pummeling his face with both her fists. She then picked up the formidable history book among those she had dropped and slammed it with both hands repeatedly into Bradley Scone’s face. One of Bradley’s troop tried to pull her off but she grabbed his arm in a vise-like grip and bit down on it with the power of a lioness. Amanda was still pulling Bradley’s hair and kicking him in the ribs when two teachers and the security guard pulled her off.


    As she sat confined in the teacher’s lounge Amanda knew there would be trouble. Her mother would be arriving shortly and her sins would be exposed. It might possibly even result in a suspension. At very least there would be hell to pay. But it would take far more than these minor inconveniences to wipe the enormous smile off Amanda’s face.


    “Hello, Lotherio. What were the results of your mission?”


    “Hesiod, your advice was invaluable. He proposed to her this afternoon. They will be married in May. And your mission - I know you were concerned about it - what were the results?”


    “Muriel and I were summoned to Administration.”


    “OH NO! You mean you were actually summoned to appear before the Administration? They must have been enraged.”


    “Not a bit of it my dear Lotherio. Muriel and I were called to Administration to receive a Golden Citation. You see, our subject cured a streak of malevolence in her oppressor which was destined to result in wife and child abuse in the distant future. Our subject’s oppressor has had, shall we say, a permanent attitude adjustment.”


    “And the subject, Hesiod. What will become of her?”


    “Well Lotherio, I have it on good authority that she is destined to become an American Navy Seal. Muriel is making it her special ambition to see that she succeeds.”


    Hesiod and Lotherio then turned and disappeared within the mists, and the black oblivion of night.

  2. #2
    The idea of knowledge of future events being used to influence present ones is the bread and butter of most of my writing, so I'm on familiar territory here. It doesn't matter much whether the perpetrators are portrayed as gods, angels, aliens, fairies or simply humans. In fact I play with the vagueness of their nature in my own writing. Your treatment of them as being in another, possibly celestial, domain quite separate from our reality is relatively conventional.

    I see nothing wrong with the writing itself except that I did notice one run on sentence below.

    "The front of the school no longer looked like Wal-Mart; it looked like Franklin Pierce high school."

    To avoid the run on include a semicolon as shown in red. These are two complete sentences that are closely associated, so a semicolon between them is entirely the correct punctuation. It's more than a comma but less than a period, effectively partially doing the job of both at the same time. (End of tutorial. I got a little carried away there but I use semicolons a lot myself. They are very useful for linking ideas. I even recently found one in a poem that I wrote at age eleven or twelve a very long time ago.)

    The climax and resolution in the story are somewhat subdued to my mind although I'd stop short of calling them tediously so. Maybe they are just a little predictable. Yes, when two people interact often both their futures are affected, much like balls colliding on a pool table. If this is as bizarre as your writing gets then you may have to push the envelope more to get a really interesting story, although your hints at possibly ludicrous consequences that won't happen make it well balanced. I think this is an important factor in fantasy writing and do it myself. Readers can feel disoriented if you appear to be willing to allow absolutely anything to happen but if, as you have done here, the story points out potential scenes that won't happen because they would cross your self-imposed boundaries, then the reader feels reassured that you will maintain a sense of proportion and not allow total chaos to ensue. Fantasy only needs a little freedom from the conventions of reality to open new vistas to be explored.

    A good effort then, but maybe spread your wings a little more in this, to you, unfamiliar domain of writing. It's familiar to me because it is my reality, my having apparently been inspired to write a novel by the events that would happen later in my life. Whether they manifested themselves as dreams I don't know as I never remembered having any dreams at the time. Instead I just awoke each morning with this continuing story buzzing around in my head and felt an irresistible urge to write it down, even though I had never written any fiction before and had no previous intention to do so. Therefore the idea of something of unknown origin within a person's mind changing their behaviour with significant consequences is all too familiar to me. It is in fact why I am here in WF and I am still somewhat mystified as to how that came about. It may seem like fantasy but reality itself can be stranger than some imagine. If you wonder what the odd straps that I am wearing in my avatar picture may be, I will tell you that they are genuinely a parachute, maybe to enable me to bale out of here should my fantastical life in the domain of so-called fiction ever become any more bizarre.

    P.S.
    Our next door neighbours' son was bullied at school when he was young but, as in your story, the worm turned. He learned a defensive martial art, became the regional champion in it and in turn taught it to other potential victims. He also developed his physique and became a fireman on the front line of avoiding tragedies in other people's lives. Nowadays it is difficult to imagine that this imposing self-confident man was bullied in the past. Yes, these things really do happen.
    Last edited by JustRob; July 20th, 2019 at 09:36 AM.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  3. #3
    Looks like some good dialog to practice on. A potentially fascinating story there.

    But you gotta add a little more character illustration. Right now your characters are complete blanks, differentiated only by their names.
    You may consider starting with a character intro for Hesiod.
    Then segue that into him meeting Muriel, and introduce her through the eyes of Hesiod.
    THEN start all the dialog.
    And once the dialog starts, add continual brush strokes to illustrate your characters: mention things that speak to the nature of your characters (or the scene around them).

    Dialog is for more than just talking.



    PS: Velo posted some great dialog the other day, you should check out his threads. He has almost no white space in his dialog, and paints his characters well.

  4. #4
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    JustRob and Ralph Rotten,

    Thank you both for your suggestions, all of which were of great interest to me. I must confess to JustRob that punctuation is not my strong suit but you are entirely correct about the semicolon. Ralph Rotten is also correct in mentioning that there was very little (or no) character development in the piece - a sacrifice which I often incur when trying to keep a story very short. I will not address every item but please be assured that I have taken all of your opinions seriously. I copy these posts to a file which I include with my work and I review them before each re-write. I will certainly consider all of your suggestions when I polish the story up.


    JustRob - From what you have mentioned about your writing interests I thought perhaps you might like this story. I posted it back in 2015. Not exactly fantasy; it has perhaps more of a Twilight Zone feel to it. https://www.writingforums.com/threads/160432-Causality

  5. #5
    she grabbed his arm in a vise-like grip
    Spelling 'vice like', unless US English does it differently.
    I fear it may be a bit too tedious for most readers. (Requires patience)
    Why are you trying to put us off? I found it a nice little tale, and easy enough to read.

    Edit, if you do want to comment it can be better at the end when readers have already formed their own impression.
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  6. #6
    DATo, where have you been, man?

    This, as it stands, is a little dialogue heavy. However, the idea is crystal clear and I really like it. I feel that if you developed your descriptions, characters, and plot-line a little more (perhaps by expanding on each and then filtering it down through editing to get it to where you want to be) that this could be a spectacular piece.

    Thanks for the read!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    Spelling 'vice like', unless US English does it differently.
    Why are you trying to put us off? I found it a nice little tale, and easy enough to read.

    Edit, if you do want to comment it can be better at the end when readers have already formed their own impression.
    Greetings Olly,

    You are entirely correct. Here in the States it would be presented as viselike. I am sometimes prone to defend criticisms directed at the storyline itself, but I have no ground to stand upon with regard to errors of punctuation or spelling. I thank you most sincerely for pointing out this gaffe. - Our faults no tenderness should ask, the chastening stripes must cleanse them all; but for our blunders, oh in shame, before the eyes of Heaven we fall." - E.R. Sill

    With regard to "putting people off": Olly, every time I post something - short story or poem - I become paranoid that in my work I will present myself as a fool. I am mindful of the fact that I am probably not as well educated as most people who post here and in the past this has caused me to react defensively to severe criticism. Later I feel ashamed of caustic or flippant rebuttals I have made to people whose criticisms I found unjustified as condescending or patronizing and remind myself that their criticisms are precisely why I have posted my work in the first place. The issue you refer to in my preamble to this piece was intended to defend myself in advance - as it were - which is silly, I know. Once again I thank you, for reminding me that this is unnecessary and not to prejudge those who are kind enough to take the time to read my work.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bard_Daniel View Post
    DATo, where have you been, man?

    This, as it stands, is a little dialogue heavy. However, the idea is crystal clear and I really like it. I feel that if you developed your descriptions, characters, and plot-line a little more (perhaps by expanding on each and then filtering it down through editing to get it to where you want to be) that this could be a spectacular piece.

    Thanks for the read!
    Hello Bard_Daniel !!! Yes, I have been gone for awhile, but I remember you well. As I recall you were always good for my ego. You are always generous in your praise and gentle in your criticism (though you make your points of disagreement emphatically clear). I am reminded of that definition of a 'politician" as one who can tell you to go to Hell in such a manner that you actually look forward to the trip ~LOL~ Now, I hope you know that I am only kidding. Yes, you are right. The dialogue was a bit overboard at the beginning of this piece. Actually I was somewhat aware of that which was why I mentioned in my introduction that some readers might find it "tedious". Also, all of the SOR and C/R allusions might put people off as they are only explained gradually as Muriel and Hesiod's discussion continues. And this is in part why the dialogue was so long - to explain those terms. Many thanks for your post. It is encouraging to know that you still remember me and that you liked the story.

  9. #9
    I become paranoid that in my work I will present myself as a fool. I am mindful of the fact that I am probably not as well educated as most ...
    Don't confuse fools with the uneducated, one is the way one is, the other what one has become so far. Reading across the board will dismiss a lack of education, it will do nothing towards changing a lack of intelligence. The other confusion people make is between education and qualifications, you can be well educated and never take an exam. Another point I always make is that you can be as thick as two short planks and still leave every other species on the planet standing, why do people love their dog or cat and hate a human for not being very bright? Never made sense to me.

    'I yam what I yam' as Popeye said, I am reasonably intelligent, but not as bright as some, I lack formal education, I am the only one in my family without a degree, and I have read and read and read, for years and years and years. Sometimes the lack of formal structure is inhibiting, but it is there in the books and one becomes aware of it, more often it is liberating and I have "One of Olly's wild ideas". They often don't work, but the ones that do make it all worth it. Have faith and keep going man!
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    Don't confuse fools with the uneducated, one is the way one is, the other what one has become so far. Reading across the board will dismiss a lack of education, it will do nothing towards changing a lack of intelligence. The other confusion people make is between education and qualifications, you can be well educated and never take an exam. Another point I always make is that you can be as thick as two short planks and still leave every other species on the planet standing, why do people love their dog or cat and hate a human for not being very bright? Never made sense to me.

    'I yam what I yam' as Popeye said, I am reasonably intelligent, but not as bright as some, I lack formal education, I am the only one in my family without a degree, and I have read and read and read, for years and years and years. Sometimes the lack of formal structure is inhibiting, but it is there in the books and one becomes aware of it, more often it is liberating and I have "One of Olly's wild ideas". They often don't work, but the ones that do make it all worth it. Have faith and keep going man!
    Your comment is duly noted and appreciated. It is also an inspiring confidence builder. After reading many of your replies and critiques of other posters over the years I would not have been surprised to learn that you were a professor of literature at the university level ( I am being perfectly serious). You would have made an excellent writing coach and lecturer.

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