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

   
Author Topic: Shells
baduizt
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This is a short short (about 1300 words). Body horror/fantasy. Tame compared to my most recent post

SHELLS

Tim woke on August 2nd, 2006, at precisely 13:07 GMT. He’d been dreaming, as he always did, of running away to the seaside, eating crab sticks and licking melted ice cream from his fingers. The night before was hectic and his head hurt. But even stranger, his back and neck were embedded with pieces of seashell and grit. As much as he tried to play with the itchy fragments, he couldn’t get them loose without making them weep. Finally he tugged one large piece free with a sharp burst of pain, and he could feel warm blood run down his back. Again, the wound wept, and it sounded like a mewling cat as it did so.

As Tim dressed, he covered his back with a jacket and his neck with a scarf. Then he jogged down the stairs, aware he was already late for school.


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Bent Tree
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This one doesn't stand out to me as many of your other works have. It may have been the whole "Waking up" we have been discussing today in Open discussion, But I tried to look past it because I know how good your writing is. It still lacked something. It apears to me that the waking up at such a specific time is either really important to the plot, or it could be that it was the time he needed to wake up to get to school. If it is crucial to the plot-keep it. Otherwise I would say it is occupying valuable real estate. However it as always is just my humble opinion. BTW you have a standing offer if you ever need a reader, I'll always be glad to.
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Jon Ruyle
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As usual, this is full of nice images, and as usual, it is weird.

IMHO, nothing would be lost if you removed the date and time in which Tim awoke, and I'm not sure why you used your first line to give us that.

Also, I'm left a little disoriented. This guy has shells in his back that bleed when he plays with them, and it's, "ah, well. Off to school." You're giving up plausibility for intrigue. In this case, I don't think it is intriguing enough to make that a good trade.

I'd be happy to read the whole thing, though, and let you know if I change my mind before the end

Jon.



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baduizt
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Cool. I'll send it out shortly.

I know what you mean about the opening, though. I too thought it wasn't one of my strongest.

Let me know your thoughts on how I can strengthen it once you've read the whole thing.

Cheers


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snapper
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Oh Badzuit,

You picked a bad time to submit something that opened with a reference to a dream. Four other submits just got hammered for being cliche for doinf the same thing. Here's my take

Tim woke on August 2nd, 2006, at precisely 13:07 GMT. I definitely don't like that opening sentence, please cut the time and date check He’d been dreaming, as he always did, of running away to the seaside, eating crab sticks and licking melted ice cream from his fingers. consider getting rid of this as well The night before was hectic and his head hurt. why was it hectic But even stranger, his back and neck were embedded with pieces of seashell and grit. As much as he tried to play with the itchy fragments, he couldn’t get them loose without making them weep what weeped? His back or the seashells and grit?. Finally he tugged one large piece free with a sharp burst of pain, and he could feel warm blood run down his back. Again, the wound wept, and it sounded like a mewling cat as it did so. his wound sound like a mewling cat? I can't visualize it

As Tim dressed, he covered his back with a jacket and his neck with a scarf. Then he jogged down the stairs, aware he was already late for school.

That last paragraph has so little to do with your first it almost looks like another story. As everyone before you has been told (by others) waking up from a dream is a cliche opening. Even without that, this isn't hooking me.

Hope this helps.


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baduizt
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The seaside, crab and ice cream line is very important when you read on. But the date and time can probably go.

The shells and grit weep, not his back (hence 'they' and not 'it'). And I was punning on the term 'weep' (i.e., the shells and grit are bleeding, but they're also sobbing and sound like a mewling cat.). I guess it's not very clear though.

I'll go off and rework the opening.

Cheers

[This message has been edited by baduizt (edited March 18, 2008).]


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Evokka
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Ok, so I will have to disagree with your other critiquers (is that a word?) I haven't read any of your other stuff (I'm new here) but I think this is a fantastic opening.
I thought the time and date were fine because it feels like it might have revelance later. You wrote the sentence about the kid's head hurting and the next sentence begins with "Even stranger". What you wrote next is, indeed, very strange, but I can't see how its "even stranger" then having your head hurt.
When you first wrote that the shells were weeping, I thougt you meant weeping as weeping blood. Later on you write that their weeping sounded like a mewling cat (which is utterly weird and shocking and very cool). To me, it just seems to work.
The only bit that didn't work for me was when he threw on his hat and scarf and ran off to school. It seems to me that the kid would be more freaked out by mewling, bloody shells stuck to the nape of his neck then being late for school.
Great job. Very weird.

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baduizt
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How about:

Tim still tasted the seaside; he remembered eating crab sticks and licking melted ice cream from his fingers. Morning sunshine spilled through the blinds and hurt his eyes. The night before was hectic, full of absinthe, and now his head hurt. But even stranger, his back and neck were embedded with pieces of seashell and grit. As much as he tried to play with the itchy fragments, he couldn’t get them loose without making them weep. Finally he tugged one large piece free with a sharp burst of pain, and he could feel warm blood run down his back. Again, the wound wept, sobbed in fact; it sounded like a mewling cat.

As Tim dressed, he covered his back with a jacket and his neck with a scarf. Then he jogged down the stairs, aware he was already late for school.


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Bent Tree
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quote:
Tim still tasted the seaside; he remembered eating crab sticks and licking melted ice cream from his fingers. Morning sunshine spilled through the blinds and hurt his eyes. The night before was hectic, full of absinthe, and now his head hurt. But even stranger, his back and neck were embedded with pieces of seashell and grit. As much as he tried to play with the itchy fragments, he couldn’t get them loose without making them weep. Finally he tugged one large piece free with a sharp burst of pain, and he could feel warm blood run down his back. Again, the wound wept, sobbed in fact; it sounded like a mewling cat.

As Tim dressed, he covered his back with a jacket and his neck with a scarf. Then he jogged down the stairs, aware he was already late for school.


Much better intro~ Nice


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Jon Ruyle
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I agree. The new start is better.

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rickfisher
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Yes. Much clearer--except for one thing. If it's the shells that weep, why is it that when he pulls one out of his back the wound weeps?
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baduizt
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Aha! Thanks Rick!

Adam
xxx


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