Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Forsythia Man!

   
Author Topic: Forsythia Man!
Threebrain
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for Threebrain   Email Threebrain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Man’s next step in evolution began with bang, and then blood. Dr. Zimflat had been shot in the chest. He was shocked at the pain, but realized quickly that he’d be dead soon if he didn’t take action. His experimental chamber was across the room -- could he make it? Blood spurted out of him with every heartbeat, and his vision blurred. He crawled, and flailed his way over to the console with every bit of life he had left. He had no time or strength to program in a plan, so he just fumbled with a random setup, hit start and then exhaled weakly falling backwards into the chamber. His last thoughts were of revenge. The door became electrified and closed slowly sweeping the doctor’s limply hanging legs inside gently as if not to wake him. The console outside processed data and then

Hey, here's a short story I've started. Not sure if it's going to be comedy or horror. I bet it's hard to take a man turning into a bush seriously though -- but he's out for revenge! Let me know your thoughts or if you'd perhaps like to read more or how I could make it more enticing. Thanks!

[This message has been edited by Threebrain (edited May 23, 2011).]

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited May 23, 2011).]


Posts: 18 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Brendan
Member
Member # 6044

 - posted      Profile for Brendan   Email Brendan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The first sentence is great. But the next three make the POV so distant that I find myself not caring about the character - it reads like a synopsis rather than a story. The fourth sentence, in particular, addresses the audience, making it into melodrama, which simply turned me off, sorry. Reading though the rest, you largely keep to that distant POV.

The idea itself just reminds me of "The Fly". So the idea seems old of itself, and doesn't draw me to read. So, after that first really strong sentence, where you raised my hopes, I felt disappointed.

[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited May 24, 2011).]


Posts: 787 | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
NoTimeToThink
Member
Member # 5174

 - posted      Profile for NoTimeToThink   Email NoTimeToThink         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Part of judging this would be about the general tone, and that's hard to do when you haven't decided between horror and comedy.
I agree with Brendan that it seems remote - not really connected to the character.
If you want horror, help us feel the pain instead of just sort of mentioning it in passing - give us the tearing of flesh, the gasping, burning attempts at breathing.
If you want comedy, let us have some more incongruous thoughts - how he'd just gotten that shirt cleaned, or the ballerina piruette he mimicked as he fell into the chamber.

Posts: 406 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jcavonpark
Member
Member # 9508

 - posted      Profile for jcavonpark   Email jcavonpark         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Man’s next step in evolution began with bang, and then blood. Dr. Zimflat had been shot in the chest. He was shocked at the pain, but realized quickly that he’d be dead soon if he didn’t take action.

Ok, let's begin. The first sentence works fine, although I would throw in an "a" right before "bang". The second sentence is fine as well. The third is where the trouble really begins. This is where you start "telling" the reader what the character is feeling. It can work in a first person narrative, but not in third person. "He was shocked at the pain, but realized quickly that he'd be dead soon if he didn't take action." Look at all the telling words. To fix this, just use more concrete language. Instead of saying he was "shocked at the pain", say what it was like for him.

Try to describe the sensations in detail: "The blood pooled out of his chest and down to his sides. It was surprisingly warm and thick, like the sludge that accumulates from rotting food. The smell was intense, like rusted copper. He gagged as he struggled to breathe."

quote:
His last thoughts were of revenge.

What you have here is another telling phrase, but in a different way. For this, we need to see those thoughts, not told. Give us something we can get behind. Show us his reasoning for it, his process. Otherwise we just brush it off and it is difficult to empathize.

Anyway, I hope that helps.


Posts: 86 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Threebrain
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for Threebrain   Email Threebrain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wow thanks for all your feedback! haha man writing is tricky and hard indeed. I need to study up on 'telling' because I was trying to avoid it but still did it anyway ugh!

jcavonpark -- your comments and sample sentence are very helpful. Thanks. I'm going to drink some coffee and take a crack at this again! No where to go but better.

Brendan - Not sure what "POV so distant" means, but I'll look into it. The audience address in the 4th was actually supposed to be him thinking to himself but I see what you mean for sure. Yeah, it is too much like the fly. Perhaps I'll have him inject himself with some concoction instead or some such.

NoTimeToThink -- haha thanks I like your examples. Also Thanks for teaching me what incongruous means! I had to look that up. You and Brendan says it's distant from the character so I'm going to have to read up on how to fix this. I think I saw that OSC has a book on character writing so perhaps I'll start with that.

Okay I'm going to get some coffee and try again with the same story line -- basically a man that turns into a plant. This also might be too much like Swamp Thing come to think of it :-\ Swamp Thing rules if you have never seen it fyi.


Posts: 18 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Threebrain
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for Threebrain   Email Threebrain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
hey haha NoTimeToThink your incongruous comment about the guy being concerned about his shirt reminded me of this hysterical joke in the movie Blazing Saddles where this guy is getting dragged in the mud by a horse and he goes, "Well, that's the end of this suit" hahaha
Posts: 18 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Threebrain
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for Threebrain   Email Threebrain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I took another crack at it using all your feedback. I didn't get a incongruous statement in there yet though but I'll try that soon. Thanks! and let me know if this is any better.
quote:
The hypersonic bullet came as if from nowhere – a window broke thinly, followed by an explosion of blood and flesh from the doctor’s chest. His eyes bulged big and white, as thick red glop spurted out him puddling on the floor below. He slipped on it, and fell hard on to his back causing him to wretch out more blood; and his lung popped like a water balloon. He rallied though, and flailed his half-dead body across the room to where he’d been working. Reaching up to the metal counter above, he grabbed a large quart sized syringe, which had glowing contents and was labeled “Forsythia Bush Extreme”. He stabbed its needle deep into his neck and his thumb pressed the plunger all the way down. His eyes quickly became bright yellow and he moaned; and his legs went crazy as if running a sprint, but then they became stiff like chopsticks and cracked loudly.

[This message has been edited by Threebrain (edited May 26, 2011).]


Posts: 18 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jcavonpark
Member
Member # 9508

 - posted      Profile for jcavonpark   Email jcavonpark         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's an improvement, but I still see a few issues.

quote:
The hypersonic bullet came as if from nowhere

Stay away from "as if" when you write. It just sounds off-putting. We're experiencing things that the character experiences, so just say it came from nowhere and leave it at that.


quote:
a window broke thinly, followed by an explosion of blood and flesh from the doctor’s chest.

I'd take out thinly. For starters, it's an adverb, and adverbs are evil. Second, it's a weak word, and you don't need it anyway.

quote:
His eyes bulged big and white, as thick red glop spurted out him puddling on the floor below.

I don't think you need the "big and white," stuff. Just saying his eyes bulged implies they got big, and white doesn't add anything because we all know eyes are white.

quote:
Reaching up to the metal counter above, he grabbed a large quart sized syringe, which had glowing contents and was labeled “Forsythia Bush Extreme”.

The wording here is a little weird. Maybe you can fix this by saying "Reaching up to the metal counter above, he grabbed a large quart-sized syringe. It was labeled "Forsythia Bush Extreme" and it glowed a pale yellow in the faded light."

quote:
He stabbed its needle deep into his neck and his thumb pressed the plunger all the way down.

I think you could leave out "all the way", or even half of the line itself. You could say ""He stabbed the needle deep into his neck" and just leave it at that. If not, then just take out "all the way", because it's an akward phrase.

quote:
His eyes quickly became bright yellow and he moaned;

I'd replace "quickly became" with "grew". It just flows a little better.

quote:
and his legs went crazy as if running a sprint,

Rework this image a bit. I don't know what this means, exactly. If his legs are going crazy and he's not standing up, how can he run, or even look like he's running? Maybe you could say they spazzed or flailed uncontrollably instead.

quote:
but then they became stiff like chopsticks and cracked loudly.

The sudden change to a new image in the same sentence is a little too fast. I'd slow it down a bit. Separate the two thoughts by making this its own sentence. "Cracked loudly" is an interesting image, but maybe you could switch it up a little. "Loudly" is an adverb, and I don't think you need it here. Try saying something like "His legs went numb and rigid, like rigomortis setting in. Then there was a crackling sound, like tires passing over dead leaves."


Hope that helps. Overall, you've made an improvement over the last version. Keep it up.


Posts: 86 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Threebrain
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for Threebrain   Email Threebrain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
wow thanks! This is great

Feedbacks:

1. Interesting. I wrestled with the "as if" and did take it out for a bit, but then felt like if I took it out people would say I needed it there. It was tricky, so I pictured myself saying it haha and I think I would actually say it like, "The bullet came as if it was like from nowhere" -- but that's even worse lol.

2.I wrestled over using thinly in that sentence too, and also tried quietly and subtly in there both of which might be a little more effective -- but still adverbs. I guess I need to read up adverbs! haha. I am ignorant as to why they are bad so I'll check it out. I was trying to describe to the reader that the window broke but that it was very soft or subtle and not like a big crash of glass -- perhaps that whole thing is irrelevant. So I guess I need to learn the difference between describing stuff and using adverbs?

3. haha but I wanted the reader to picture big white eyes from him being shocked -- instead of just saying he was shocked. I was trying to get away from telling. Man this is tricky.

4.Yeah thanks. That sentence was messing with me. I tried it several ways -- I'll work on it more.

5.I did try it without the plunger going down but then it seemed not graphic enough. I wanted the reader to imagine this crazing glowing stuff going into the doctors neck and not just think of it as a simple injection. Tricky again.

6. grew is interesting. I'll try it, or perhaps turned or something. hmmm i wanted to express how fast they changed -- is this all stuff that I want the writer to imagine unnecessary? I'm seeing a pattern now haha. Perhaps what you are saying that it's better to leave all this kind of stuff out and the reader will still get it? :-\

7.Yeah haha I was trying to explain that he was doing like a sideways bicycle motion -- remember when you were a kid and you would lay on your side and do a sideways air-bicycle?

8. yeah I'll work on that one too. Man I'm going to read up on adverbs and then take another stab.

Thanks so much for the detailed feedback. I'm learning tons here!


Posts: 18 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Threebrain
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for Threebrain   Email Threebrain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
ha! Wow I just found a funny and interesting article about in sci-fi. Check this link

http://io9.com/5437610/seriously-whats-so-bad-about-adverbs

still reading...

hahaha holy crap! You know maybe it's because I grew up reading what this guy calls "pulpy sci-fi" so when I have been writing I have always thought that the adverbs belong there and it's actually wrong no to have them haha this his nuts. It's like I'm going to have to learn to write from scratch.

[This message has been edited by Threebrain (edited May 26, 2011).]


Posts: 18 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jcavonpark
Member
Member # 9508

 - posted      Profile for jcavonpark   Email jcavonpark         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you want some grade A advice on adverbs, read Stephen King's On Writing. It details exactly why adverbs fail and how to get around them. Give it a read when you get some time.
Posts: 86 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Threebrain
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for Threebrain   Email Threebrain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
thanks i'll go get it :-O
Posts: 18 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jcavonpark
Member
Member # 9508

 - posted      Profile for jcavonpark   Email jcavonpark         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No prob, just skip over all the lame info about his childhood. The book is half of his life story, but then he gets into the writing and it's great. You just have to trust me!
Posts: 86 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Threebrain
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for Threebrain   Email Threebrain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey! This book rules! I skipped the bio junk in the beginning (but looking forward to reading it later) and got into the knitty-gritty stuff on writing and it's the jam -- already learned a ton. Thanks for telling me about it.
Posts: 18 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2