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Author Topic: A Flower
JustInProse
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A lot of people have been editing this version. There is a revision below. Thank you.

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It crept upon him as cold creeps upon night, chilling the trees and bones, the terror before the blinding realization that is the sun rising and the soul knowing. As he looked to the east they were two in the same, for it was as the sun rose that he knelt upon the freshly upturned earth. The moment of turn had come. In one glorious rapture the sun beat back the shadows, but it did little to warm the terror of the night. Night could not come soon enough.

He wiped the blood clean from his dagger, slowly letting the tears dry. A smile replaced the weakness of compassion, and he stood a man.

His plastic blade slipped again into his flesh.

------------------------------------------------------------

Haven't been doing much writing for a while, so I'm not too sure exactly where I'm at. This is one of the pieces I am working on, any help would be appreciated.

[This message has been edited by JustInProse (edited March 25, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by JustInProse (edited March 27, 2008).]


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skadder
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This is too poetic for my taste--it is hard to read. Try re-writing it clearer, eliminating any poetic elements (or at least significantly reducing them) and producing something so that the event you are describing is clear and understandable.

This feels like writing that says 'look how clever I am, how beautifully I turn a phrase and cast a metaphor.' But the reality is it is hard to read. Even after re-reading it I am uncertain what has happened. At first I thought perhaps it was about a werewolf type thing, but then there was a mention of a plastic knife.

For me (others may disagree) between the story and the reader, there should be the least separation possible. It should be dimension where the writer weaves his magic as invisibly as possible.

Just my opinion.

You do use words nicely, though.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 25, 2008).]


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JustInProse
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Yeah, its my biggest problem. I'm covered in "purple prose" as I've heard it called.

(Most of my reading has been Hawthorne, Dickens, Faulkner, Bronte...classics such as that.)

I'm still having a hard time putting my meanings into the words the READERS need.


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StephenMC
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I can't help but agree, but rather than remain on that point...


He wiped the blood clean from his dagger, slowly letting the tears dry.I don't understand the relationship between the tears (whose tears. His own?) and the wiping clean. They should probably be contained in separate sentences. Either way, you ought to clarify the possessor of the tears. A smile replaced the weakness of compassion, and he stood a man.Perhaps we'll find this out, but I don't understand why he would stab the man if he were compassionate. I think the long-winded first paragraph prevents us from realizing the nature of this man to any extent that we can empathize with him. Though he seems like an antagonist at this point?

His plastic blade slipped again into his flesh.I can't imagine anybody killing another using a plastic blade, but perhaps that's an eccentricity of this character that we'll grow to appreciate? Killing using plastic utensils?

I think I'm most hooked by the plastic knife--any man who would kill another with a plastic knife (if that is indeed what is happening and not self-injury) intrigues me. That is what would make me turn the page.

[This message has been edited by StephenMC (edited March 25, 2008).]


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Bent Tree
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The prose is bloody lovely, but a little over done. Try introducing us who he is.

I read this earlier but didn't post because I was drawn to into it even though it needs work. I wanted to get my second take.

You can paint, as you do very well. Just do it in the structure of concise sentences.

'As he looked to the east they were two in the same'

I liked this line. It would be a great opener. Then tell us the story.


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JustInProse
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Thank you VERY much for the help, I've been having problems with this opening for far too long. Everyone I knew who said it was too flowery never gave me any advice really on how to fix it :P
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JustInProse
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He dug the plastic blade deeper through her flesh, just under the jaw. His hand tightened around the fragile neck. The Amaranth had only granted her twenty three years of life. Her eyes begged for more.
It crept upon him as cold creeps upon night, chilling the trees and bones. It was the terror before the blinding realization that is the sun rising and the soul knowing. As he looked to the east they were two in the same.
In one glorious rapture the sun beat back the shadows, but did little to warm the terror of his soul. With great pain, he looked over her body, finally finding the mark. He scraped the knife across her forearm, peeling away the encoded skin. He left her in a small garden of deep crimson flowers.


Ok, I tried to give a better idea of what is happening. I didn't want to change some of the lines I had, only because I want to be careful not to throw away something I have too quickly. If it is still too much, by all means tell me.

Thank you to all who have helped. I didn't think I would get help so quickly


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wbriggs
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I could deal with some of the "purple" if I knew, as soon as something is referenced, what it was.

"It crept upon him." What is "it"? "The soul knowing." Knowing what? "They were two in the same": what's "they"? What's a "moment of turn"? That's what made it a little hard to read, to me.


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arriki
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I agree with everyone else. It isn’t working. You have interesting elements but they aren’t clear enough to build a picture in my mind even less, an evocative one, which is what I suspect is your goal. You want me to feel the cold. To feel the moment of realization of (?) what he has done?

Unfortunately I have no clue what he has done. It’s hard to feel regret without knowing regret for what.

Does the “freshly upturned earth” mean he’s kneeling on someone’s fresh grave?

The “moment of turn had come” – I am lost about what ‘turn’ refers back to. I keep wanting to put the word ‘truth’ in its place but I’m certain that is not what you mean.

Nits – crept upon hin as cold creeps upon night – good so far. Chilling the trees and bones – this is where it breaks down for me. I think the trees is what’s doing that. Bones, yeah, I can feel night chilling his bones. Bones and the rocks upon which they press – those two in conjunction would work. Trees is so distant and disconnected.
And I think the sentence ends there with the bones. The rest of it is something else. Another idea.

Maybe cut that and go onto the sun rising so he can see the freshly upturned earth (of the grave?) and thrust his hands deep within it as if to grasp what in the blinding light of day lies forever beyond his reach.

Stuff more along those lines might work better although a bit of story needs to intrude on this moment probably.

Hmmm... you know, “night could not come soon enough” sounds like it should come after slipping the blade into his flesh. It’s such an ending sort of sentence.
I hope this helps some.


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JustInProse
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As to arriki and wbriggs, it felt as though you didn't read the revision. Arriki's mostly because he spoke of the phrase "Night could not come soon enough" which was not in the second version.

Also, did I put the revision in the wrong spot? I'm not sure how that works on here.

Thank you.


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JustInProse
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After reading my original passage about 40 times, I decided I should try and tell you what each of those things mean that you don't understand. I guess it's hard to give advice when you don't know what I'm trying to tell you.

The original sentence, "It crept upon him" refers to the chilling realization. The Sun rising is literal, and the soul knowing is refering to his deeper realization of what he had done. The "two in the same" was refering to both the sun rising and his soul knowing, happening at the same time.

I guess I was comparing the terror of killing and death with the coldness of the night. Futhermore, explaining that they remained until the sun rose (For the night) or the soul knew (for his understanding of his sin). I put the two moments together, so that they happened fully together. The terror, cold, knowing, and the turn of the day.

Apparently I failed miserably, but I hope you can understand a little bit more of what I was trying to do.


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Bent Tree
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quote:
Also, did I put the revision in the wrong spot? I'm not sure how that works on here.

It is best to do as you did. That way latecommers can see your progress and do not get confused by comments that are no longer relevant.

quote:
He dug the plastic blade deeper through her flesh, just under the jaw. His hand tightened around the[her] fragile neck. The Amaranth[Amaranth to me is a plant] had only granted her twenty three years of life. Her eyes begged for more.
[You have to say what it is here]It crept upon him as cold creeps upon night, chilling the[his] trees and bones. It was the terror before [his]the blinding realization that is the sun rising and the soul knowing. As he looked to the east they were two in the same.
In one glorious rapture the sun beat back the shadows, but did little to warm the terror of his soul. With great pain, he looked over her body, finally finding the mark. He scraped the knife across her forearm, peeling away the encoded skin. He left her in a small garden of deep crimson flowers.

The italics is the portion that just isn't working at all. I have a good idea. If you have Itunes Go to the I store and subscribe to pseudopod. It is free and they have hundreds of orated horror short stories. It will give you a feel for the proper amount of prose.


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JustInProse
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Thank you. When I revised it, I knew that those parts were still too heavy, but I didnt' want to instantly throw them out. I'm trying to weed them out while keep whatever benifit they may have had.

As far as The Amaranth goes, check the title, might help a bit


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Toby Western
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Nothing too original to add, but here's here's my take.

The first part of the revised start works well, although the fact the knife is plastic distracts me.

I think I can glimpse at what you are trying to do in the next section – and it would be beautiful! I am not sure that so few words can bear the weight of so much meaning, though.

quote:

It crept upon him as cold creeps upon night, chilling the trees and bones. It was the terror before the blinding realization that is the sun rising and the soul knowing. As he looked to the east they were two in the same.

In one glorious rapture the sun beat back the shadows, but did little to warm the terror of his soul.


As Arriki suggested, your best bet is probably to replace this section with something more focused, perhaps hinting at the mood of your original lines…

quote:

Death crept over her like the chill morning mist as the sun rose.

And then just keep right on moving.

quote:

With great pain, he looked over her body, finally finding the mark. He scraped the knife across her forearm, peeling away the encoded skin.

new line / paragraph?He left her in a small garden of deep crimson flowers.


With great pain is weak. Replace or simply cut?


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kathyton
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I feel your pain--assimilating the classics, only to find that emulating the masters too closely gets you into trouble. (unless you're Suzanna Clarke, maybe). I think you can be "poetic" if you communicate clearly, which good poetry always does. I have a few remarks in brackets -- I don't know how to change the font.

He dug the plastic blade deeper through her flesh, just under the jaw. {Who is he? Who is she?} His hand tightened around the fragile neck. {not her neck? some other sort of neck?} The Amaranth had only granted her twenty three years of life. {Who's The Amaranth? -- maybe a flower? A decision-making flower -- interesting} Her eyes begged for more.

{This scene is engaging, but a bit too mysterious. Are we really watching a murder, or is it something else, being described like a murder? The passivity of "she" makes me wonder if she's a flower, too. It's interesting enough that I want to understand, but I'm working too hard. "Her eyes begged" -- a description of what he sees, what he interprets as begging for more would pull the reader into the scene further.}


It crept upon him as cold creeps upon night, chilling the trees and bones. {cold is a decent simile for his attitude about the killing -- however, he's already killed her, so why is it creeping on him now?}

It was the terror before the blinding realization that is the sun rising and the soul knowing. {"It" stops the reader -- takes us out of the flow. We don't have the resources at this point in the story to guess what it is.}
{I like this parallel structure -- sun rising and soul knowing. Solid, simple words with big denotations}

As he looked to the east they were two in the same.
In one glorious rapture the sun beat back the shadows, but did little to warm the terror of his soul. With great pain, {sadness? regret? tenderness?} he looked over her body, finally finding the mark. He scraped the knife across her forearm, peeling away the encoded skin. He left her in a small garden of deep crimson flowers.

You seem to be starting at the beginning and have an arresting hook. Clarity is the issue. By the time I get to the last 3 lines, I believe assuming this is about a killing is correct. "His" emotional state is muddled, though. I'd suggest saving a back up version so you don't lose any good stuff you might need later, then see how it reads if you go for simple: replace each pronoun with the identity to whom you're alluding. Cross out all the adverbs and adjectives. Think about what you mean by "terror" -- he doesn't seem afraid while killing her -- the "cold" language makes me think "cold-blood murder." The sunrise/knowing language makes me think he somehow gained insight into what he'd done, but the description of the murder had no confusion. Sorry to blab on -- your piece is compelling and should make a fine story.
Kathy


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JustInProse
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By all means blab on!

That was enormously helpful...you have no idea (ok, you have an idea, you've written before). But honestly, thank you. If I had an avatar that people saw of mine, it would somehow say "Comment whatever your thoughts are, and every thought there is". I love getting online to find someone tearing at what I wrote. It's help!

It is late, so I may not work up a new revision tonight, but yes, I always save back up copies of every revision or version.
I have yet to delete a thing. (Thank you computer storage efficiency)


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rickfisher
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quote:
Also, did I put the revision in the wrong spot? I'm not sure how that works on here.
As BentTree said, you did it properly. However, it sometimes helps to edit the ORIGINAL post to say there's an edited version below, to avoid what happened here.
quote:
He dug the plastic blade deeper through her flesh, just under the jaw. His hand tightened around the fragile neck. The Amaranth Hmm . . . yes. My first thought of amaranth is a sort of wheat substitute--the AmerInds used it, as did the Lusitanians in Card's Speaker for the Dead. But it's also several other types of plant, including a mythical flower that never fades. If you're referring to the last, I should think that it would grant immortality, not a mere twenty-three years had only granted her twenty[ ]hyphen needed herethree years of life. Her eyes begged for more.More life, I presume, but could also be read as more pain and torture.
It what? crept upon him as cold creeps upon night, chilling the trees and bones. Yeah, those two don't seem to go together. It what? was the terror before the blinding "THE something before THE something" seems clunky realization seems like "realization" should be followed by "of", not "that" that is the sun rising and the soul knowing. Knowing what? I have no idea what has been realized here, or why it should cause terror. As he looked to the east they were two in the same. This sentence sounds redundant. It tells me the same nothing that I already didn't know.
In one glorious rapture the sun beat back the shadows, but did little to warm the terror of his soul.Sure wish I knew what terror this was. With great pain, why? he looked over her body, finally finding the mark. What mark? He scraped the knife across her forearm, peeling away the encoded skin. Okay, I guess the mark told him where to peel. But I'd rather have had the information in order. He left her in a small garden of deep crimson flowers.

Kathyton said:

quote:
I don't know how to change the font.
When you're typing your reply, to the left of the edit box is a link that says *UBB Code is ON. Click on it while responding (or click on it right here) and it takes you to the instructions for changing font, quoting stuff, inserting links, etc. But be aware that the link does NOT work when you're EDITING your post for some reason, only when you originally type it in. (Likewise, the window at the bottom of the reply screen that you can use to look back at the previous posts is not there when you are editing.)

[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited March 26, 2008).]


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wbriggs
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You're right, John -- I missed your revision by 3 minutes! Here are my reactions to the later version.

In paragraph 1, I would like some names, and to know if my suspicion that "he" is the Amaranth's executioner is true.

Then I have the same issues as before: I still don't know what's creeping upon him, or what he's terrified of. This is closer, but I'm still not sure what's happening.


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JustInProse
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Wbriggs? Lol, If you are refering to me, my name is Justin. That really through me for a loop. Thank you for the help though. John appreciates it as well. :P
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smncameron
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quote:
It crept upon him as cold creeps upon night

How exactly DOES cold creep upon night? This is a great example of a sentence that sounds good but tells us nothing.

quote:
chilling the trees and bones, the terror before the blinding realization that is the sun rising and the soul knowing.

See above.

quote:
As he looked to the east they were two in the same, for it was as the sun rose that he knelt upon the freshly upturned earth. The moment of turn had come. In one glorious rapture the sun beat back the shadows, but it did little to warm the terror of the night. Night could not come soon enough.

I am very, very confused. And not in a "What? She's a robot!" way, I'm confused in a "This story is giving me nausea" type of way, which, suprisingly, does not go over well with editors.

quote:

He wiped the blood clean from his dagger, slowly letting the tears dry. A smile replaced the weakness of compassion, and he stood a man.

His plastic blade slipped again into his flesh.



That last sentence was the best you wrote, in a normal story it would be the most confusing, would raise all sorts of questions like "Wait what's he doing? Who the hell is this man", in this one it's the easiest to understand. At last a concrete action.

I'm not sure, but I think your problem might be that you have an unclear idea of what exactly is happening.


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annepin
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I think it helps too to flag your revision post with a big REVISION and stars and stripes and what not at the top so people scrolling down can see it. I had to really search for it.

quote:

He dug the plastic blade deeper through intoher flesh, just under the jaw. His hand tightened around the fragile neck. The Amaranth ? Do you mean to refer to a type of plant?had only granted her twenty three years of life. Her eyes begged for more.
It crept upon him as cold creeps upon night, chilling the trees and bones. It was the terror before the blinding realization that is the sun rising and the soul knowing. As he looked to the east they were two in the same. Not sure what you're trying to say here. Not sure what "it" is. And what two are the same--the sun rising and the soul knowing? And yet, you've already established they are the same in the previous sentence.
In one glorious rapture the sun beat back the shadows, but did little to warm the terror of his soul. I'm not sure if we're still speaking in metaphor here. Also, it seemed he'd found terror in the rising of the sun. How now is he finding comfort in it? I guess I'm confused as to what "terror before..." means. I read it as dreading the sunrise, but maybe it's terror that's dispelled by the rising of the sun and the soul knowing?With great pain, he looked over her body, finally finding the mark. He scraped the knife across her forearm, peeling away the encoded skin. He left her in a small garden of deep crimson flowers.

Very poetic. Maybe a little too obtuse--I don't really understand the stuff in the middle. Or maybe I'm too literal minded. It's hard this early on since I have no idea what the set up is in the story. Nor do I have any expectations on the character's reactions to sunrise, etc.

Oddly enough this piece feels complete as it's written. Despite his terror, he seems to find the resolve to take whatever he needed, and thus the conflict/ tension has been resolved. Not necessarily a bad thing, I'm just not sure what to make of it.

[This message has been edited by annepin (edited March 28, 2008).]


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annepin
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Ah, okay, I've now read through the other comments--i try not to read before i post, in order to avoid colouring my comments.

Your explanation, of course, makes total sense, and now I can parse out the words. Some of what's happening is syntax related. You have pronouns, such as "it", that want to refer to a specific, preceding, noun, and yet you haven't necessarily provided that reference.

About making the sun a literal reference. What threw me off was the first mention of the sun: "The terror that is the sun rising...", which to me has metaphorical written all over it. So once I was primed to take this metaphorically, I had a hard time when you suggested it might be literal "the sun beat back the shadows..." Whether it can do that in one glorious rapture is another question.

The other issue that arises for me in knowing your intent is that there is no sense that he thinks he's sinning. He's frightened, but that could be from any number of reasons. Without giving us some hint of that, or the source of his terror (Divine retribution? Anathema?) I think its too big a leap for me to conclude the terror he's feeling is from the act of killing her, and hence the link to the rising of the sun and the cold. Maybe a little more set up would help me. When you say that he's realized what he's done, I'm not sure what he's done, and why that realization would bring him terror. You don't have to tell us this, but without knowing it, it's hard for me to decipher the metaphor.


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JustInProse
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Annepin,

Once again, thanks a million. That metaphorical jibberish has got to go lol. If I want to write like that...I guess I will just to it either later on in the book, or some other time :P

I'm working on the beginning from a slightly different angle now, so I hope to get that up very soon.


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