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

   
Author Topic: The Bargain
easterabbit
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He saw a truth in suicide that day, when he watched from shadows as the young man looped the rope around the dark oak beam with cold, mechanical precision. Suicides were empty shells: broken people with ideas that failed to match up to the reality that ground upon them each day. When he sensed the young man's mind, he saw a richness he was unprepared for--a gifted, eager mind.
"You don't want to die." He had not meant to whisper the words, but they bounced round the empty barn like icy blades all the same.
The young man paused, glanced at the dark end of the barn, then set the wooden chair below the swinging noose. "No? That's true. But to draw you here, my intent had to be true. I would have done it, you know."
"I know."

[ February 03, 2013, 03:08 PM: Message edited by: easterabbit ]

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Bruce King
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I am guessing you are looking for some feedback.

Love the prose, but it doesn't seem sequential. In the first sentence he sees a "truth in suicide" then in the next sentence he says suicides are "empty shells". It seems to conflict.

I like the story question. Someone willing to die to draw the onlooker.

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RyanB
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I love the hook. And I especially like how you say so much with so little in the last two paragraphs.

But the first paragraph isn't doing much for me. Like Bruce, at first I saw a conflict with the "truth in suicide." I guess in the second sentence "suicides" refers to the people that commit suicide. It's interesting that the suicide turns out to be a ruse.

It doesn't make sense that the would-be suicide is resolute in his action (cold, mechanical precision) if he was ground down slowly each day when his ideas conflicted. He should be conflicted about suicide.

Unless he had some sort of epiphany that suicide was the answer and then he never doubted himself. But I don't buy that.

Of course, this guy tricked himself into really intending to commit suicide, so it makes sense that he's resolute.

But if the MC has seen many attempted suicides he should understand something is off.

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axeminister
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Yeah, love this one.
The first sentence did trip me up.
This strikes me as a strong character/character piece. I have a real sense of this guy right away. Thus, I'd like the first sentence to be more introductory about *him* instead of the situation. The situation is introduced very well in the last two paragraphs, and the "twist" is revealed. Granted, you need us to believe as the MC does that the suicidee is going to go through with it, but I'd just like to see it more from the MC's perspective.

Man, I'm having a hard time describing this.

OK, here's what I'm thinking. "He saw the truth in Suicides." That opening sentence focuses on the MC, tells us his gift, and makes Suicides a noun. It ends, and a new sentence regarding the man in the barn can begin. Character then situation. Right now they're mashed together with a comma and "that day", which leads me to thinking he saw the truth just the once, but later I learn that's not true.

Anyway, long story short. I definitely want to read more.

Axe

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Grumpy old guy
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I understand the intent, the POV character is watching this man(?) about to commit suicide and he finds a truth in what he is watching and feeling. But it's all a ruse, and he's fallen for it.

The problem is, the opening line might work better if you added two words:

He thought he saw a truth in suicide that day, when...

Then it would work for me, I think. I really want to know more.

Phil.

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SR Dev
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He saw a truth in suicide that day, when he watched from shadows as the young man looped the rope around the dark oak beam with cold, mechanical precision. ((mechanical precision is kind of a tired phrase, but more importantly it feels empty, inhuman, and then in the next paragraph you say that most people were empty shells, but he wasn't.))


Suicides were empty shells: broken people with ideas that failed to match up to the reality that ground upon them each day.

When he sensed the young man's mind, he saw a richness he was unprepared for--a gifted, eager mind.


((First you have him sensing which is more of a vague kind of verb, and then you have him seeing. IDK, for my taste these two verbs feel a little contradictory.))

"You don't want to die." He had not meant to whisper the words, but they bounced round the empty barn like icy blades all the same.

I have a hard time imagining whispers bouncing, and I have an even hard time imagining icy blades bouncing.


The young man paused, glanced at the dark end of the barn, then set the wooden chair below the swinging noose. "No? That's true. But to draw you here, my intent had to be true. I would have done it, you know."

(the lack of contractions puts me at a narrative distance from the narrator.)

"I know."

I'm getting vague shapes and shadows here, which keeps me at a distance from the story and from being involved. It also feels like we're starting at the end. Not a problem, perse, just my feeling.

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