Here is the opening of a 3800 word short story entitled Olympus Dot Com. This is my first attempt at humor.
I would appreciate any and all comments on the opening.
If anyone would like the read and comment on the full story please let me know.
I tried to get just 13 lines, but I may have exceeded the linm8it because of the broken lines of dialogue..
Ambrose P. Finster, a fragile man with a jumpy, naturally nervous disposition draped himself comfortably on the bench. Here there were no office commotions. No time clocks to watch. No endlessly whining co-workers to appease. His retreat here each afternoon was his link to sanity. At this time each day the park was empty and quiet. His special bench always waited for him like a trusted old friend. The calm quiet and the intoxicating warmth of summer sun lulled him toward the gentle embrace of an early afternoon nap…. Thud! Ambrose was jolted awake by the sound of two bodies colliding. And then, "You stupid, feather brained imbecile! Why don't you...?” An embarrassed, stammering followed, "I…er… I'm so terribly
All the sentences are way too short for me, or maybe its that there is not enough variety in sentence structure. whatever it was, it felt choppy to read, especially up top before the word thud.
Posts: 6 | Registered: Jun 2012
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This excerpt takes the time to set the scene and simultaneously introduces a story type; that is, a routine interrupted. I like that it artfully introduces a problem wanting satisfaction but doesn't try to shoe horn in the whole ball of wax at once. Craft seems well in hand.
Voice though, a little on the open side narrative distance-wise. The challenge I see is moving into character voice and thus perspective as soon as possible, possibly with the first sentence.
"Draped" almost seems like a way Finster might think of his sitting down action. Seems a little feminine to me, maybe a little vaguely idiosyncratic, but passable for closing narrative distance. If it is meant to, in a sense, it characterizes whoever uses it. The narrator perhaps; perhaps Finster.
An issue with a foreground narrator voice is it creates a layer of distance between viewpoint character and reader, at arm's length from the unfolding action. If meant to be in narrator voice, then narrator identity is what readers identify with. Developing narrator identity is important for a narrator voice.
One craft area that stands out to me is though Finster is a "fragile man . . ." he's able to sit comfortably on the park bench. Seems like a problem solved for the moment. Action stalls. Again when his park retreat is expressed as his link to sanity. Problem solved. Action stalled. What if he isn't entirely comfortable or strongly linked to sanity? In narrator voice he wouldn't be. In character voice he'd believe he is but unreliable, meaning readers can see he isn't, foreshadowing Finster's pending routine interrupted.
There is a touch of farce unfolding from the voice almost mocking Finster's state of being. Too much or too little farce hinting, I don't know. Settling the voice into narrator or character I think would answer which.
Posts: 4379 | Registered: Jun 2008
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I think the first sentence sounds like a little forced, like it's just there to inform the reader about Ambrose. That sounds like something you'd put in a summary rather than the actual story. Rather than telling us what Ambrose is like, show us. Fragile, nervous, jumpy - what would someone with those characteristics do? Maybe have him ease into his comfortable mode, like at first he's acting nervous, to show the reader what he's like, but then have him slowly relax and do what he came there to do - take a nap.
Posts: 286 | Registered: Jun 2012
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Thanks for the nice words on my excerpt. Sorry, I hadn't checked in on that in a couple of weeks. The story is out in submission, tho, thanks. FOr the most part, I'm just looking for first 13 feedback.
Ok - to your excerpt.
The omniscient tone struck me on first impression. Omniscient isn't all bad, it's just less used these days. If the story is going to move into close 3rd person, as it looks like it might, I think it might be better to begin in 3rd person. Other than that, it's evident in the beginning that this is going to be humorous.