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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » To Start Over Again (1000 words)

   
Author Topic: To Start Over Again (1000 words)
theokaluza
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I'm looking for some additional critiques on a peice of flash that I wrote the other day for another website. I'm polishing it up, and getting ready to submit it to a zine in my area.

However, I'm having some problems fleshing out the main character's motivation... here are the first thirteen lines. It is 1000 words, total, and is about a murder. First person, present-tense (which is something I've never done before).

I'm looking for someone (or a few someones) to look the whole thing over.

---


No sound in our bedroom but the tinkle of water flowing into a neglected fish tank. Bare walls and blood-stained carpet. Red on white. In the bathroom, cracked linoleum countertop and fingerprint-covered mirror. Bathtub, empty now, sans her body, scrubbed clean, bleached and disinfected. Not just the tub, but her skin as well, the color of snow gently tinted by a red sunrise.

Just like Mother, she couldn’t shut up. But now she was quiet. So quiet, in this room. A sense of peace, like a gentle hum.

A gentle snow outside, pure white, a still blanket on the ground. Reminds me of Christmas. I think of the sound it would make, like a million small cracks, as my boots walk across it. I close the drapes. I focus.


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Omakase
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After reading this twice I can't say it works at all for me as a reader. The sentence fragments and choppy presentation make it hard to read. You mentioned needing to flesh out the character's motivation but in the first 13 you can barely see the character at all.
Too much of the paragraph is like some pseudo stream of consciousness descriptors of the scene.

I think that the second paragraph would work better as the opening, more of a hook.

Linoleum is a floor covering. Maybe you mean formica, Wilsonart, Corian or something else like that.



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theokaluza
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You're the first person, out of a dozen, to say any of that. Bummer. And yeah, I was trying to think of formica. Thanks.
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pixydust
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Well, I really like this one. I voted for it for best hook, cause I like the beginning so much. The short jerky writing fit with the piece. I think the thing that got me was the lack of editing out the misspelled words and stuff. That's easily fixed. Plus, I'm not a big fan of present tense, but that's just personal. I definitely think it's worth polishing up and sending out.

I'd offer to read and give a more detailed critique, but I'm swamped right now. Let me know in a week or two if you still need readers, and I'll try to fit it in.


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Clove
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I have to agree with Omakase. It just doesn't flow well for me. I'm way into fragments for effect, but this doesn't work in my opinion. With a purely helpful intention, I should also add that I would probably not carry on reading a book if too much of it was this stream of consciousness style, choppiness. I could tolerate it for two chapters, max.

My personal opinion is not to do present tense. It only works in rare instances. First person, past tense might work better.

Ultimately, you're the wizard behind your work so it's your call.

Best of luck to you,
Cheryl


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theokaluza
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Have you ever read Pattern Recognition by William Gibson? The entire thing is written in that style, with breaks inbetween. Neuromancer comes close to it a couple of times, too, but really Pattern Recognition is where it's at most.

I wasn't trying to emulate the style, and I only noticed it after I had started writing it, but still... some people like it, some don't. I do appreciate the comments, though, and I'll consider them.

In the re-write I'm doing, some of it got taken out, mostly because of the comments here, so thank you.

And thanks, pixy. Which story was yours?


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krazykiter
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It worked a little better for me moving the third paragraph ahead of the other two. The "still white blanket" of the snow and "the sense of peace" at the end bracket the scene of violence quite well and highlight the juxtaposition of the violence and the serenity.
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wbriggs
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I'm fine with the sentence fragments. But the MC won't tell me what he's thinking, and that drives me crazy.

There's a piece in OSC's Characters & Viewpoint. Something like:

quote:
The sun wakes me, blinding me. The note is still on the pillow. I get up (blah blah blah, details of morning rituals). The water of the shower pours over me, cleansing me; the grief remains. Stale toast and weak coffee await me in the kitchen. ...

It's all surface detail. Even though we're in 3PL, we're getting almost no detail that cinematic wouldn't give; and the two things that really matter, the author won't tell us: grief about what? And what's in that *@#$!! note?

Ditto here. It's cinematic. On TV or the silver screen, I'd be intrigued. In print... I'm just annoyed that the author won't tell me what really matters.


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Silver3
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Ditto.
I have nothing against the style; as a matter of fact, it works really well. But tell me what the MC is thinking when he looks at the bathtub. Give me a reason to care.

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Zoot
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While I agree that deliberately holding back information is annoying. From sifting back through feedback on the fragments here I think Mister OSC's advice on this subject is being taken a little too far sometimes. After all there are only thirteen lines and the first paragraph's free, right? And for what it's worth, I thought the writing was good and set the tone nicely, kinda reads a little like Chuck Palanuik (is that spelling right?). Providing you provide some details in the forthcoming paragraphs IMHO I think this beginning works as a hook.

[This message has been edited by Zoot (edited January 26, 2006).]


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LMermaid
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I'll read for you. I've got some time tomorrow morning if you want to send it over today.
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pixydust
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quote:
And thanks, pixy. Which story was yours?

I wrote Ethel's Garden.


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theokaluza
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I voted for you, pixy. That was a really stellar story. If I were you, I'd try for publication.

And I'll send it on over to you, Mer. I appreciate it.


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pixydust
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Thanks, theo. I was thinkin' on it. I've got some editing to do--it will probably be here in F&F next month.

Good luck with yours, I really did like it.

BTW: I may have time to read by Monday, so if you don't mind the wait just send it my way.


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