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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Thirty Minutes Between Life and Death

   
Author Topic: Thirty Minutes Between Life and Death
Brooke18
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This is the first 13 lines of the beginning of a short story I wrote out of nowhere. Let me know what you think.

I canít breathe. I canít let it in. If I do, Iíll die. My head is pounding so hard that I feel like itís going to explode. I want to give in and stop the pain. Something tells me that if I just let go, that if I let it in, Iíll be fine. Iíve trying so hard. I force myself not give in. I have always had a strong will and the determination to overcome my problems. God has seen to that. I canít die here. Not here. Not now. If I just keep going, Iíll get through it. Just a little more and the pain will stop. No. I have to go even further. I open my eyes. Itís beautiful. Itís also deadly. It stretches on forever. This whole thing seems endless, maybe even pointless. How did it come to this? I canít give up. The pain will stop if I let go. I have to stop or Iím going to die! Wait, I canít disappoint my parents. I canít let them down

[ April 09, 2014, 06:12 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Denevius
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Haha, this is *obviously* more than 13 lines. I realize that, and I still don't quite get what 13 lines mean.
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Kent_A_Jones
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On the 'new topic' screen there is a 'message' box. The message box will accept exactly thirteen lines of pasted or written material (Don't count your instructions to readers). Use the scroll slider on the right side to place the first line of your fragment at the top and you'll see what I mean. Cut off the rest and post.

I put my manuscript in Courier New, 12 point font and simply count down thirteen lines, copy and paste them into the 'message' box. They fit exactly as described above.

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extrinsic
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I'll comment up to "I canít let them down", the end of thirteen lines. The comments apply to the remainder as well, though.

This is interior life, thought, introspection. Three principle features are required for sequence, scene, story overall. Anatgonizing event, setting, and character development. I see character thoughts, an event, so to speak. I see antagonism of a sort. I see setting as within a mind, so to speak. I don't see much that interests me, engages my caring and curiosity.

Shortcomings, what doesn't work for me, that I see are I'm within a disembodied mind; no setting anchor, no clear and strong antagonizing event, no external life, no character conflicted by and clashing with a clear moral dilemma; and what for me makes first-person narration alienating: overly self-involved narrator mediation. Most every clause subject is "I" or sometimes "my" ennui and angst.

[ April 10, 2014, 12:02 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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JSchuler
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I am worn down. After the first three (short) sentences, the point has been made. But then it keeps going, stringing the reader along to get an answer to what really should have been stated in the second sentence: what "it" is. The character knows what "it" is, right? And "it" is currently front and center in the narrator's thoughts. So why isn't the reader allowed to know? Why are you keeping me at arms length from the story?
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Brooke18
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Oh, I do see now that it's more than thirteen lines. When I went to preview it, I maximized the screen so, it must have affected the way it would look on here. I didn't go back and check.

Ew, I wasn't expecting that response. I was going for suspense, but I guess that isn't my strong point. I haven't sat down for a good edit on it lately. I should try that.

The rest of the story after this is, in my opinion , more interesting. That's one reason why I despise the 13-line rule.

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Brooke18
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Okay, I shortened it to fit the 13-line rule!
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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No. I shortened it to fit the 13-line rule.
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Kent_A_Jones
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It reads like a few of my old journal entries. In those, I knew someone was reading the journal, so I refused to give away the object of my narrative.

It's the same here. You know the object of the narrative but your audience does not. You know when each of the uses of 'it' refers to the object of your narrative and when 'it' refers to the ordeal that the MC is going through. All I can do is guess, and I'm a bad guesser.

By the way, there are thirty-six pronouns in these 13 lines. Wow.

Anyway, a lack of description has its place. It can leave a reader floating in sensory deprivation, in dream, or establish a character who is not physically bounded in the normal ways. I don't know if it belongs at the beginning of a short story.

'further'
I have trouble with this because the context of surrounding sentences indicates distance to me and not degree.

'maybe even pointless'
If the Main Character has misgivings, so will I. Honestly, I laughed at this and said aloud, "Boy, you said it." I'm sure that is not the reaction that you wanted to evoke. I hope the MC is referring to the life value of the ordeal. If this is the case, it might be better stated in terms of worth and not rationale.

There is very little to learn about setting, theme, character, conflict and plot. This may not be the right place to begin. Since I don't know the object of the narrative, I will not guess whether it might be better begun before or after this sequence. Changing the beginning point is just something to consider.
Kent

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