Submitted for your approval, a short, short, short story (1.2K) I've been working on. It ain't perfect, but I want it to be, so here I am.
The first thirteen lines, as seen on Word:
I donâ€™t remember my death. Thatâ€™s probably a good thing. It probably means that I went quietly.
But then, I donâ€™t remember much of my life, either. The longer you stay dead, Iâ€™ve discovered, the less important remembering is. The less connected you feel to life. Your own and others.
I tried to get to Heaven after I died. I donâ€™t know if it was supposed to be a metaphysical journey, or a portal or something just opens. I tried the only thing I could think to try: I went straight up, until the ground shrank away, and I was past the clouds, and the earth didnâ€™t fill my view anymore. Until it was a large sphere, then a smaller one, then a dot. I went beyond the moon and towards the stars. No Heaven. Just heavens.
By the time I got back, most everything had changed. Iâ€™d been gone a long time.
I didnâ€™t get into Hell, either. It took me a long time to convince myself to even try, since Hell isnâ€™t a place youâ€™d strive for, Iâ€™ve heard. And anyway, it wasnâ€™t there. I tried going down into the ground, and only ended up seeing the core.
The hook's there fer sure, exploring the afterlife, but I lose interest quickly. It's summary, and vague summary at that. Narrator can't tell us about his (her?) death. Or life. Doesn't know about Heaven. Doesn't know about Hell. Doesn't take us into the moment of his exploration. I get the impression he's bored with it. I don't think I'd be bored with flying through the Earth's core -- it sounds fascinating! -- but the narrator doesn't bother to give us any hint what it felt like, how he knew where he was, whether he could see anything, whether he could feel the heat . . .
I'd also be fascinated to see Earth after "much time had passed." Are there flying cars? Do people still have 2 arms and 2 legs? What happened to his family? What does a 32nd Century (or however far it was) city look like when you're a ghost hovering over it? What a treat it would be to see this!
Anyway, I would like better something with concrete detail, sensory information, showing not telling.
[This message has been edited by wbriggs (edited February 17, 2005).]
This is really intriguing. I didn't look at anyone else's comments so I'm not going to let them influence me. Simple truth is: I'd love to read this for you.
Now I'll go check out the peanut gallery:
I kinda see their points, but I'd still keep reading. I *think* it may just be the very last paragraph went a step too far for them, because the real intrigue in this opening is what the world looks like after XXXXX number of years. At least, that was my assumption. I'm also still curious about what a dead guy wants to tell us about his death. I assume it's about his death since he can't remember his life.
On the other hand, having him check out hell tells us both what kind of person he is as well as how desperate he is to find something after death to hold onto. In that sense, I was willing to wait out that one more paragraph before the meat starts.
The thing about first person point of view is that a certain amount of lead-in narrative summary is not only all right, it's almost expected. It's a key difference between first and third. I usually prefer third, but I am coming to appreciate first in my old age (27 ). From some of the comments I've seen, I'm not sure this site as a collective whole has much patience for first person. (I'm not trying to discredit their feelings on this...they have all given perfectly valid points that I could not fault.)
Anyway, if you want to send me the rest of this I will give it a read and perhaps keep an eye to a possible compromise solution that does not kill what hooked me but maybe gets to the action sooner. (Until I know what that action is, I can't make any suggestions.)
I get what you're saying, wbriggs, but that's kind of the point. My character is bored with the afterlife, and that's why what happens happens.
quote:By the time I got back, most everything had changed. I'd been gone a long time.
I understand how misleading this sentence is. It implies that he died recently, and came back in some distant future. Not so. he died just over one hundred and fifty years ago, and is around today. I'm wondering how to fix it.
Maybe "I'd been gone a long time. Most everything had changed. Now, instead of horses and wagons, they drove cars and rode trains, flew in the sky, and people talking to themselves weren't crazy, but busy, productive members of society. I hardly saw any Injuns (or Reds, maybe), anymore. So I guess we won."
Christine and GZ, I'll send the story momentarily.