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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Hot Potato (Flash ~925 words)

   
Author Topic: Hot Potato (Flash ~925 words)
psnede
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Hi,

just finished a flash story. Welcome readers or comments on first 13. Thanks.
*******

Harold Darnell was eating a bowl of cereal when it appeared from out of nowhere. His glass of orange juice was knocked over and the newspaper darkened as the liquid spread across the kitchen table. He stared at the apparatus, disregarding the cold drops of juice that were collecting in his lap. Two silver canisters were bound together with duct tape and a green digital clock sat on top counting down the time.

4:52

Four minutes and fifty-two seconds until what? Harold stood up from his chair and examined the contraption. Blue and yellow wires were attached to each cylinder. The wires were tangled together, interwoven along the length of the metal canisters.


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annepin
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I'd probably read on. I really don't like the use of "it" in the first sentence. Why not just say... when the apparatus appeared out of nowhere"?
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MaryRobinette
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I'll second annepin's recommendation to use "apparatus" in the first sentence. At the moment, the unspecific pronoun allows the sentence mean that the bowl of cereal appeared out of nowhere.

You might also watch the rest of the sentences for passive voice. With the exception of "He stared..." and "Harold stood..." all of the other sentences seem to be passive.

Take, "His glass of orange juice was knocked over and the newspaper darkened as the liquid spread across the kitchen table."

What knocked the glass over? The force of the thing's appearance? Wind? Did the thing blossom out of space and knock the glass?

You've got a lot of nice details in here, like the orange juice darkening the newspaper.


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firemonkey
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I agree with annepin, the first sentence needs that rewording, but I'd read on.

If it was me I'd assume it was a bomb, but be looking around for where it came from! Maybe he could not notice it at first, busy reading his paper over the top of the cereal bowl and just notices the orange juice fell over onto the paper? "How did that happen, oh s**t! It's a bomb!" i.e. he doesn't actually see it appear.

But then maybe I'm just thinking about the comedy possibilities, my weakness I'm afraid!

Like I said I;d like to read more.

Cheers,

Andy.


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snapper
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I am guessing that this device was thrown through the window. If it wasn't the suspension of disbelief would probably lose it for me.
If it was thrown through the window then open with that action. We want to hear that thing crashing through and knocking over the orange juice.

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psnede
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Irrefutable replies. I immediately changed the first 2 sentences after annepin's comment. Thank you.

The first sentence is accurate, however. The bomb did appear from out of nowhere. Is that too unbelievable? Maybe. As with all departures from reality, there needs to be a set of rules to avoid the suspension of belief. I'll be honest, my rules are pretty loose.

I wouldn't call this flash a comedy, but it certainly is more on the fun side than serious.

Thanks for the feedback.


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MaryRobinette
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Oh, I was quite willing to believe that it appeared from nowhere. That said, adding an emotional reaction to its appearance will bump up that this was unusual.
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philocinemas
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I like your writing, and I would tentatively continue to read. However, the same points previously made also bothered me. If it "just appeared," then tell me how - with a "poof" or did he just look up and notice it for the first time. It had to make some kind of noise if there was enough force to knock over his orange juice - I can't believe in it otherwise.

Here, here on the passive voice - I am the worst for doing that, and I do that the worst.

One other thing bothered me, which you probably address later - if he has that much time, why can't he just leave?

Hope this helps


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TaleSpinner
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I like its tone and I'm curious enough to read on--so send it over if you'd like, although please note I'll be away for a week and probably unable to get back to you before next weekend.

A couple of probs though.

You asked if appearing out of nowhere is too unbelievable. When things suddenly appear, I always wonder where the air went--the parcel of air that was displaced by the thing doing the appearing. If it suddenly appears, I expect the air to be displaced with the suddenness of an air rifle shot. The displaced, moving air would probably carry more than enough oomph to knock over his orange juice--and give him a headache, not to mention earache. (Um, he is sure it's orange juice collecting in his lap ... sorry, I have that kind of mind.)

Also, it's clearly a bomb, or at least that would surely be the immediate guess of anyone seeing it, so his leisurely examination of it is hard to believe. And how does he know it's four minutes and 52 seconds? It could mean 4.52 pm--unless, of course, he notices it's counting down from 52 every second.

The blue and yellow wires are a nice touch. They'd normally be red and black, or brown, so it's obviously an alien device ...

Cheers,
Pat


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WouldBe
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I thought there was plenty of hook there. I'll read if you wish.
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