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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Untitled Short Story

   
Author Topic: Untitled Short Story
Smaug
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Here's a short story I'm working on--well, the first 13 lines anyway. Give me your worst, give me grief, but give me some attention!!!

Thanks,

Shane

“So it’s possible for one person’s mind to possess another person’s mind,” Professor Naga said, nearing the end of his lecture. “Could I have a volunteer for a demonstration? It won’t hurt.” Several hands raised, including mine. I’d always thought of myself as impervious to such devices as hypnotism, possession, or any similar arts. Professor Naga however was a unique challenge. He’d already proven that he could hypnotize nearly everyone, whether they were willing or not. He’d nearly gotten me.
“Rappleye,” he said. “Good boy. Yes, let’s try it with you.”
I knew he’d pick me as I offered a succinct and credible challenge to his ego. The others in the class sighed collectively. I could almost here their thoughts “here we go again”.
At the front of the room, the Professor closed his eyes, then peaked his fingers in front of his face. He concentrated--his brow wrinkled, his face tight. At first I felt nothing, and then I got the horrible sensation of worms crawling on my skin. I looked and there was nothing. “I am in your mind, boy,” Professor Naga said. “Wait," he said, "you’re not even human, are you?”


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Jaina
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Interesting. I like it, but I'm not wild about it.

The idea of a professor offering to posess a student's mind, even if only for a demonstration, both intrigues and repulses me. Intrigues because I wouldn't normally believe that something of the sort would be tolerated by most students I know, and I'm interested to see what kind of class this is. Repulses because a professor has so much power over his students anyway that posessing their mind seems less harmless than it sounds to begin with. Then again, maybe I'm just paranoid.

A few surface things that distracted me from the story:
"Professor Naga, however..." The comma is important there.

Same goes for this one: "I knew he'd pick me, as I offered a succinct and credible challenge..." I'm also not sure what you mean by a "succinct challenge."

"I could almost hear their thoughts: "Here we go again." You need something after "thoughts" to indicate that the next words are said thoughts--I felt a colon worked best, although there are other alternatives. Also, the period should go inside the quotation marks (that might be a typo, it's just something I noticed).

"...Professor Naga said. 'Wait--you're not even human, are you?'" I took out the extra "he said" because we'll know that he is still talking as long as you don't have a paragraph break in there, and the extra words only mess up the flow of the story.

Well, there's something to get you started, anyway. Are you ready for readers, or were you just looking for comments on the intro?


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BuffySquirrel
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I take it the snake reference is deliberate .

I find hypnosis fascinating, and it's always interesting to see someone writing about it. Personally, however, I'd need a lot more convincing that Naga could hypnotise subjects against their will. It's almost a cliche for villains in stories and on tv, but it's less likely irl. For myself, I don't think the story can get away with it as an aside--it needs to be explained and/or justified to avoid being seen as a cliched superpower.

That said, there's enough here to hold my interest, and the fragment ends at an intriguing point .


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Survivor
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It's interesting.

I don't have a beef with the idea that a person can be hypnotized "against" that person's "will". The entire point of hypnotism is getting a person to do something that person wouldn't normally do. It isn't very easy to hypnotize a resisting subject, but I should think it would be a lot easier than "possessing" someone.

I like the way that you open this at the end of the lecture, when something is actually happening. But you might want to use a term other than "possession", since that implies control over the body rather than contact with the mind, and your character immediately demonstrates control over his own body (by looking to see if he's got worms on him).

I think that wbriggs concerns about surface things are valid. Easily fixed using his suggestions.

Overall, you've got a strong opening with two solid hooks, both the study of paranormal capabilities and the revelation that your narrator isn't human. I'm not sure you're really doing anything important with the first person, and that can play havoc with a story, but what you've got is readable and interesting.


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BuffySquirrel
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It is generally recognised that it is difficult to hypnotise someone who does not wish to be hypnotised, and certainly, for hypnotism to be successful, the subject must be particularly suggestible. It is equally recognised that the hypnotic trance is not a state where the subject does not have voluntary control, but that the situation is more subtle.

It is no coincidence that stage hypnotists select their subjects very carefully, and part of that selection process is the self-selection of people choosing to offer themselves as subjects. There are only a few stage hypnotists--for example, Derren Brown--who are prepared to admit to the number of failures among the successes.

Where the subject is strongly opposed to doing something, they cannot be forced to do it while under the influence of hypnosis, although that they can is one of the most prevailing myths.

They can however be released from conscious inhibitions on their behaviour that are not fully internalised.

This is why I have problems with the treatment of hypnosis in fiction--it's so misunderstood.


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Jaina
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Whoa! I've turned into wbriggs! How did that happen?

Sorry, but it's a very rare opportunity when I can pick on Survivor. So I have to jump on it when it comes.

I don't know enough about hypnotism to comment on whether or not someone can be hypnotized against his will, but I would think that, if this professor has a strong enough mind and perhaps a power that we don't recognize yet, he'd be able to have an influence on any mind with enough effort.


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BuffySquirrel
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Sure, a strange and exceptional power--that's what I needed to see in there . It just felt to me as if that aspect had been passed over.

[This message has been edited by BuffySquirrel (edited September 04, 2005).]


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Smaug
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Thanks--I appreciate all the helpful comments. I'll definitely be using them to strengthen my story when I revise it.

Shane


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Survivor
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What the...I swear I checked that attribution before I posted. I really did
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Jaina
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Don't worry about it, I don't mind. In fact, it gave me a good laugh, which I needed. No harm done.
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Smaug
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quote:
Are you ready for readers, or were you just looking for comments on the intro?

Yes and yes. I'm ready for anyone who'd like to give it a read.


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Jaina
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I can read if it's not terribly long, and if you don't need it back in a great hurry.
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Noctivigant
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I'd like to read it.
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Survivor
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Even though I'm still a little creeped out by having mistaken Jania for wbriggs, I suppose I'll venture.

You should post a rough word/page count, too. That said, I'll read what I read.


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Smaug
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It's not real long--I think it's less than 1000 words, but I'm at work now and have no access to it. I'll post the word count either tonight or tomorrow morning.

Shane


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Smaug
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It's just under 1000 words.
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