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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » The Sky Wept that Night

   
Author Topic: The Sky Wept that Night
Eadwacer
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This story was written as a challenge to myself, so is more than a little odd. It feels like fantasy, but I really have no idea. 1049 words for anyone interested.

The Sky Wept that Night

"The dwarves are marching." The word was out on the street, "The dwarves are marching." The streets and alleyways were wet with salty tears as the world saw its children go to war. The streams of sadness ran down the veinules that ramified throughout the buildings that grew up out of the sidewalk. Down they ran, growing, merging, evolving into a great corpus of lifeblood that ebbed and flowed through the great underground vessels of the city, past the goblin dwellings.

"The dwarves are marching," burbled the brine as it undulated past the city's ribs. "The dwarves are marching," murmured the goblins. They all gathered together and conjoined. Their fluids mixed and mingled through their conduits. The great heartbeat of the city, the very same that forced the tears through the city, moved that brine through the gaps in their souls as the goblin king awoke. He wiggled his fingers, and the street-lamps swayed, he yawned, and the air-vents inhaled; he suffered from morning wood, and the Empire State Building stood a little straighter. The goblin king was awake to defend his demesne; he had only one thought in his mind, "The dwarves are marching."

[This message has been edited by Eadwacer (edited March 30, 2005).]


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wbriggs
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I'm not hooked, because I'm just not that interested in that one line. I suggest: pick a POV character, and show us what he sees/hears/feels/does.

I was also confused. Goblins conjoined? Brine undulated? The goblin-king suffered from morning wood? I didn't know what these statements meant.

[This message has been edited by wbriggs (edited March 30, 2005).]


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Jaina
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I'm confused, not hooked. I would like the repetition if I knew who the dwarves were, whether I was supposed to be happy or scared that they were marching, and what's up with those weird goblins. And the bit about the Empire State Building threw me for a loop--are we in NYC, or do they just have the same name for the goblin king's palace as we do for the building in New York? If we're in NYC, do the goblins somehow run things there?

I don't know that you need to pick a POV character just yet. You can go with an opening like this, just give us something to cling to that will make sense of all the weird stuff you're giving us. Remember, you've created a different world that we don't know yet. You have to introduce it to us in a way that we can understand, or we'll give up and go away because we won't have a clue what's going on.


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Rocklover
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Too wordy, Ead. Verbal overkill. You don't need to impress your reader with vocabulary to make a good story. Sure, slip a well chosen word in here and there, but not so many you pollute the meaning beyond recognition.
Please be willing to try again.
Good luck. Judith

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Beth
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I agree that it's overwritten, but somehow I like this. There's a rhythm to it that works for me.
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Keeley
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By the time I got the second paragraph, it felt like I was reading a poem, rhythm-wise. Not a bad thing, btw.

I agree about the POV character. I have no idea why I should care about dwarves marching and I have no one inside the story that I can latch onto until I get to that point.


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HSO
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Yes. Put away the Thesaurus, please. I really don't feel like looking up every other word in a story. A couple of odd, new words are fine. A story laden with them is unreadable. Who are you trying to impress with these words, anyway?

Sorry. I love words; I play a lot of Scrabble. The more words I know, the better my chances of winning. Yet, when I read a story, I want to be told a story, not be inclined to keep a dictionary beside me.

Take that, you belletrist! I shall carve at your magniloquent prose with my blade of words, fiend! Ha! Have at you, sir! I cannot be inveigled; do not attempt to try.

All right. That morning wood comment better not be what I think it is. If so... hmm.


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Christine
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Hmmmmm...

Hmmmmmm...

This story isn't a story. That is clear to me. It is a metaphor. I think that the previous readers, in their enthusiasms to help, might have missed that point. The significance of missing that point is that the problems with this piece cannot be fixed in the usual manner: with POV. If I was a betting person, I'd wager that there never is a POV character in this short tale.

There are many kinds of stories out there, many kinds of prose, and many kinds of writing. We may not prefer all of them, but I shudder to think we feel that all must succumb to the one true form of fiction: A clear hero's storyline with the hero named right away and his quest named shortly thereafter.

No, I took this story to be a metaphor, and as that seems to be the author's wish I will make my comments with that vision in mind. If I am wrong, then perhaps you will appreciate the previous comments more.

First of all, I believe you said "The dwarves are marching." one more time than you needed. The one I would come, if it were me, is the first one. I would start this story with "The word was out on the street." That initial repetition so quickly and then throughout became warisome and this, to me, is an obvious place to cut it out.

Next, I would look at your use of the word "great." As an adjective, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of specifics and also, you repeat it three times in two paragraphs, twice in one sentence. (The twice in one sentence being the bigger problem, IMHO)

Now, as to being overwritten. I considered this at first. When I read some of the other comments and saw that pointed out I thought they may have a point, but only a very small one. When a story is a metaphor (still assuming it is) language like this comes with the territory, no matter how much it may feel to me like you used a thesaurus throughout. That said, there are a few word choices that might make this a more penetrable tale and might also lend clarity to your metaphor. Because the biggest problem I see with this is that at the moment, I have no idea what that metaphor is.

I was in the middle of a deatiled line-by-line when it hit me....your second paragraph is describing the city as a living being. It only took me three reads to catch this, somewhow. I think I can even describe why it might have taken me three times to get it. First, I was not expecting such a metaphor. The first paragraph did not prepare me to be launched into the body of a city, although I see now that the metaphor started there, right away.

Hmmmm...well, after three reads I think I got your metaphor. The trouble is it shouldn't have taken me three reads to get it. My suggestion: put it in our face right up front. Grab us by the throat with this and never let us go. You start with a word out on the streets. Well, there's nothing metaphorical in that. Then you have the sidewalks wet with salty tears. I suggest starting with the tears...the city is crying. In fact, that first paragraph is entirely your enemy right now. It doesn't set up a body, it sets up a city in the rain on a very sad day. Past that, I'm not sure I can help you without rewriting it myself, and I refuse to do that. So I have given you my impressions and hopefully they are enough to rewrite this yourself.


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onepktjoe
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Hi Eadwacer,

I was hooked more by your love for what you were writing than by its content, but I think that counts for a lot. I don't have anything to add to what anyone has said so far, but I would read the rest and comment if you'd care to send it.


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Eadwacer
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quote:
This story isn't a story. That is clear to me. It is a metaphor. I think that the previous readers, in their enthusiasms to help, might have missed that point. The significance of missing that point is that the problems with this piece cannot be fixed in the usual manner: with POV. If I was a betting person, I'd wager that there never is a POV character in this short tale.

Yes, it is a metaphor for the city as a living being. (Oh, you'd win the bet.)

quote:
First of all, I believe you said "The dwarves are marching." one more time than you needed. The one I would come, if it were me, is the first one. I would start this story with "The word was out on the street." That initial repetition so quickly and then throughout became warisome and this, to me, is an obvious place to cut it out.

Noted. I'm a big fan of repitition (it comes from being an oral storyteller), but I think that you're right here).

quote:
Next, I would look at your use of the word "great." As an adjective, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of specifics and also, you repeat it three times in two paragraphs, twice in one sentence. (The twice in one sentence being the bigger problem, IMHO)

Once again, noted. And I really should have caught that. It grates (no pun intended) on me when I look back.

quote:
That said, there are a few word choices that might make this a more penetrable tale and might also lend clarity to your metaphor.

I have no problem with making this more readable. I don't mind it being challenging, but it shouldn't require a detailed line-by-line (after already reading it through twice) to realize what's going on.

quote:
In fact, that first paragraph is entirely your enemy right now. It doesn't set up a body, it sets up a city in the rain on a very sad day.

Hmm, ok. I guess that I will need to rework that paragraph greatly.

Thanks, Christine. I tossed this out hoping that someone else would see what I was trying to paint. I wrote this story while thinking of H. R. Giger's artwork and wanted to do in words what he did in paint.


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Humchuckninny
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I am in complete agreement with Christine. Metaphorical writing, fables and poetry, (not saying this is a fable or a poem; just stating I enjoy those as well) are some of my favorite types, and I noticed this as that off the bat. And I think I picked up on your extended metaphor on the first read, although I do have to admit the use of the word great did sound very repetitive, especially considering the wide range of vocabulary used throughout the rest of your "story."

I would challenge you to try and use more literary techniques - I notice some places where alliteration could easily fit in, where parallel sentances would produce a better effect, etc. And also, be careful with your thesaurus. If you really know what a lot of those words mean, then by all means ignore this comment - make sure your meaning doesn't change. A thesaurus has words of similar meaning, not exact. Although I saw no inherent problem in your piece, it is something to be careful with. Make sure your meanings don't change with larger, more enhanced wording.

[This message has been edited by Humchuckninny (edited March 31, 2005).]


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HSO
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quote:
I tossed this out hoping that someone else would see what I was trying to paint.

Now I'm pissed off. Great. We're part of an experiment for your authorial pleasure.

Your metaphorical descriptions are hard to miss, as you casually toss out phallic references. (really, morning wood? C'mon. You can do better than that... I expect that talk in the locker room, not a story.) Don't pat yourself on the shoulder just yet -- in fact, they were so blatant, it seemed pointless to comment on it all.

This isn't a story... this is an exercise in wordplay. Nothing more... yet.


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Christine
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Ahhh, HSO, you are perofmring your job of making Survivor seem like a sweetheart admirably.

I would like to think that all fragments/stories/etc. are put out there to see how people respond.Of course he wanted to see if someone else would see what he was trying to paint. That's what the purpose of fragments and feedback is. We're always part of an experiment, in a sense. By the answer to the question: "Does anyone else get what I'm trying to do?" we learn how we can improve.

"This isn't a story... this is an exercise in wordplay. Nothing more... yet. "

If it was so obvious that this was a metaphor then why didn't anyone mention it before I did? Why did you insist upon treating this as if it were a story? If you thought it should be a story, but it isn't now, then that would have been a good thing to say too, even if others disagree that it should be a story at all.

So what if this is a play on words? Seriously. Especially in a piece as short as 1k words, why can[t it just be a play on words? I disagree that ever fictoin we write has to be a story. And particularly in small doses, such as a thousand words, I am perfectly willing to read speculative prose that is nothing more than an intersting metaphor.


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HSO
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quote:
Why did you insist upon treating this as if it were a story?

Because, in the first post, Eadwacer writes:

quote:
This story was written as a challenge to myself, so is more than a little odd.

No other reason, really. He said story, I believed it. Apparently, I'm mistaken.


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Christine
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That's true.
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Eadwacer
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HSO, I'm sorry if you feel that I'm experimenting on you. That is not what I'm trying to do. When I wrote this "story" (and that is how I think of it because it does describe a sequence of events, though perhaps another word would describe it better) I was trying to capture many things including the scene, a certain mood, and a certain writing style.

When I posted the story on the forums, it was an experiment for my authorial pleasure, but I wasn't testing you, I was testing myself and what I wrote. Was I able to convey what I was trying to? Did this piece of writing work?

Finally, yes, I am playing games with language, but I don't see why that is a problem. Language does not need to be just the vehicle of a story, but can be part of the story and a pleasure in itself.

Humchuckninny, thank you for your comments. I will go back and definitely look at using some of those ideas to strengthen the text. This really grew one day with little conscious understanding or will. (And yes, I was careful with my choice of words to make sure that they meant what I wanted. Though no thesaurus was used, I did use a dictionary to double check that a word meant what I thought it did a few times.)

[This message has been edited by Eadwacer (edited March 31, 2005).]


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HSO
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That's all right. Don't worry about it. I gave you my opinion, others gave theirs. It's not a big deal. See? I'm already over it. No long-term damage done.

*twitch*


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Jaina
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My first thought on seeing HSO's post: "It's about time we saw more crispy crits courtesy of HSO." You were starting to go soft on us!

Eadwacer, are you on the official HSO offendees list yet?


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Eadwacer
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Nah, I'm not easily offended.
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Survivor
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"Good Cop", not "Sweetheart"

Anyway, it's clearly the opening to a story, one that makes use of an extended (if rather trite) metaphor, the city considered as a single living organism. I'll admit, I didn't have any particular comment on it because I felt that this brought nothing really novel to the concept and because the critical element of the metaphor, the tears/brine/emotions/blood/whatever of the city, is poorly defined. I suppose that you could have done something with the four humors or with "vital essence", but didn't feel up to suggesting it.

Also, I didn't see that the story was going to go anywhere really interesting. I'm not a betting type (just a gambler ), but I did guess that this reduction of the entire population to...corpuscles, it didn't look like the set up to introducing a real character.


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HSO
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You see, Survivor's only the "good cop" because he's been here longer, has more experience dealing with fragments. I'm the frustrated rookie in comparison.
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Elan
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I confess, I'm intrigued with the story, Eadwacer. Fie, on these naysayers, fie, I tell you! I thought the metaphor was intriguing, and I confess I laughed when I read the bit about the Goblin's wood... although I admit I have a quirky sense of humor. I'd be interested in reading the entire piece if you want, Eadwacer.
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Eadwacer
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I'm going to be taking some of the suggestions made and working on it for a bit before I send it out. Thank you to all who offered.
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