Ok. Since one of my goals in signing up here is to get back to writing I have been trying to write a bit here and there. I came up with this over a couple of days on the subway into work and tried something a bit different in my approach and style. I'm experimenting. One of my other goals is to get decent and critical feedback to improve me as a writer. I look forward to any replies on the first 13, and would be happy if anyone has the time to review the full short story. A spelling caveat: I use English spelling (Canada and England use the same spellings). Thanks for taking the time with my first attempt on here!
First 13: -------------------------
Bluth had never been the same as the others. All through his junior grades he was bullied and prosecuted for being different. His eyes were too small and close together, his hair grew thick and full. Worst of all Bluth showed no signs of having webbed fingers or toes. In swimming class he was always slower than the others, like a fish out of water.
By now in his late teens Bluth kept mostly to himself. He’d left school, anything to avoid their bruising assaults and hearing their deep, throaty laughs. He worked in the local library to make ends meet. It was quiet work; blessfully the locals didn’t read much.
While the opening is pretty heavy with “telling” us about who Bluth is, I really like the subversion of expectations that comes with “…no signs of having webbed fingers or toes”. If you could keep that concept while working a more active opening, I think the story is going to be effective. The idea for the story seems to be there, it’s just a matter of involving the reader.
Most of the opening feels like background info and I’d suggested that perhaps you need to enter the story later? I’m sure you can expand the story (653 is very short unless you’re aiming for a specific flash market) so that you can insert us into a scene that illustrates that Bluth is different and that he is teased for being so.
I’d also get closer to the point where Bluth’s life changes (for whatever reason). Anyway, if it's only 653, I can look at it overnight.
I'd be very interested to hear what you think of the whole thing. I had a couple of thoughts on how it ended and went one way, but it could easily have gone another. In experimenting I have also kept an open mind about aggressively changing. I also intentionally avoided dialogue just to see how things turned out.
Oh, and your comment about it being heavy on the telling. I had a bit of a feeling that might be something I heard during feedback after re-reading a few times. I just don't have the experience many here have so I appreciate you backing up my gut feeling. Once I get feedback on the whole thing I'll go through an edit.
I'll send it to you. Be ruthless I have a thick skin and want to improve Thanks again
[This message has been edited by Monk (edited November 18, 2008).]
We've got a situation but no story yet. Opening with a telling can work; it frequently lends a sort of fairytale-ish feel. Here, though, I just found it slow. I do like that you slipped in the bit about the webs, but I'm not quite sure that's enough to carry me through the narration. And then you skip ahead a few years. Where is the story?
What is the moment of change? Start there, or as close to there as you can. No need to set up the entire back story. Drop them in like breadcrumbs, leading us deeper and deeper into the story.
Fairytale-ish is good in this case. It was something I wanted to try. That kind of feel gone slightly wrong. I'll get Nick's feedback and any others and incorporate your feedback as well. Both of you have commented to move closer to what I want to tell in the first 13 so I'll see if I can manage it.