Hatrack River Writers Workshop   
my profile login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » A meeting-flash fiction-dystopia

Author Topic: A meeting-flash fiction-dystopia
Stanley Igboanugo
Member # 10466

 - posted      Profile for Stanley Igboanugo   Email Stanley Igboanugo         Edit/Delete Post 
I would need to know your take on the language and exposition of my story. And please, I would also love to have anyone send me an email if they are interested in reading the full work.
6:47 pm
Shades appear in the sky’s edges, like pencil dots on a sketch pad, thickening and playing their way all through the sky, chasing yellow down the horizon, and cloaking clouds shapelessly fat with rain water in the duskiness.
And so, old women traders of Ogui market follow the drowsy sun, hiding their stock-fish and egusi seeds in secret places, scampering for the untarred road in an awkward file led by Mama Rashidat and Mama Rita.
9: 51 pm
For a minute or two, Arimah’s gaze does not waver, and the flood holding it down jagged roadside trenches does not stop running. She is squatting, head bowed, outside a market stall; nothing more can be seen under the motherly moonscape, for now.

Posts: 15 | Registered: Nov 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post 
A storm brews above the horizon, breaks loose.

Though the language is poetic, artful somewhat, the sense is unnatural to me, feels forced, seems rushed. For example, the simile "like dots on a sketch pad" that compares to perhaps distant clouds confuses the weather imagery. Also, imagery's artistic function is at least emblematic if not symbolic expression: motifs that express intangible meaning in addition to tangible meaning, like emotional texture. Weather motifs also, for prose, express foreshadowed circumstances to come: ominous implications.

Flash fiction, due to the form's brevity, demands immediate dramatic action, an immediate change from an emotional equilibrium state at the least. Dramatic action is not per se physical movement, only that action be emotionally charged due to a contest, passionate ideally, of wills, external contest with circumstances external to a viewpoint agonist or internal with moral circumstances or both. I don't see that in that fragment.

Long fiction allows a more leisurely action development than short fiction, and micro fiction even less leisure than short fiction. Yet the briefer the fiction the more crucial action development appear unrushed and unforced.

Flash fiction allows more poetic language than longer fiction, though words must do greater multiple duty in concise expression the shorter the length. Flash fiction generally favors other forms than per se drama, like anecdote, vignette, or sketch. Respectively, they are event, setting, and character emphasis.

Anecdote, for example, details a single event's emotionally charged circumstances, and of one emotional nature: humor, delight, anger, fear, and so on, though with a counter-emotional probability, an emotional cluster of an emotional clash, dual emotions that duel. That's an anecdote's dramatic action. Likewise, vignette's setting's time, place, and situation and sketch's character emotional charge. I don't see emotional development, what the content of the fragment emotionally means. Ambivalence, not ambiguity, is the watch-word for emotionally charged emotional duels' dramatic appeals.

Since this flash appears to emphasize a setting, possibly a vignette, clear and strong emotional texture of setting characteristics are best brought forward. Vague and ambiguous setting descriptions without clear and strong emotional charge leave too much effort to readers' imagination.

The tense of the fragment is overall present tense, though with many, possibly too many progressive present participle verbs and gerunds -- the -ing words. They accumulate annoyance from their ring-rhyme, sing-song bell ring, ring, ring. Simple present and past tenses, one or the other predominant, are generally stronger, more dynamic verbs for prose or any composition. Ten -ing words in the fragment.

Now to a macro view. I assume this story is set in Nigeria -- "stockfish" and "egusi" together are West Africa generally, Nigeria more specifically, and Igbo nation particularly. Most people outside of those locales will not appreciate those words for their setting development intents or otherwise.

They have artful potential; however, they are motifs that best practice require development of their meaning to the narrative. Otherwise, their generic labels are adequate: dried fish, unsalted, cold cured, fermented, and melon seeds. They loosely compare to Western staples dried pork and beef and bread. For the narrative, perhaps not the fragment, they could carry the entire meaning of the story. That the women secret them away in advance of the pendent storm implies much potential though undeveloped and uninterpretable meaning. Of course, to protect their food supply from the wet. Where's the emotional charge though?

Set in Nigeria, and Sub-Saharan Africa generally, challenged writers tend to perpetuate the legend of primitive, savage, and humble civilization colonialism promoted. Yet the region is a dichotomy of advanced, state-of-the-art culture and technology alongside modest culture and technology. Nigeria is one of the more advanced overall developing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and globally: culture, technology, economy, and government, etc. Yet third-world society aspects persist: squalor, superstition, crime, tribalism, corruption; although, not a few of those persist even in developed countries. Such is life.

Anyway, depictions of that type of dichotomy, dual and more, is a trend for emergent African literature award winners, and popularly and critically acclaimed narratives. Western, British Commonwealth, and international readers generally thrill to up-to-date narratives about exotic and at the same time familiar circumstances. Blended exotic and familiar could entail exotic locales and familiar moral human condition contests, for example. Or the other way around.

A Nigerian writer has potential to bring forth shared human experience and unexperienced, exotic circumstances of interest and social, intellectual, emotional entertainment. Revisits to colonialism's past amount to historical fiction, prose anyway. Contemporary socio-cultural-economic circumstances that inform and influence and capture an audience's present-day circumstances are best advised.

Why? Readers, no matter where, want to be transported from their dreary routine, everyday lives, though only so far as narrative circumstances arouse their curiosity and relate to their lives, dreams, ambitions, and problems.

Potentially successful depictions of Nigerian life offered to the globe's readers, therefore, might could focus in on global matters of Nigerian influences. Say, not that Nigeria catches up to the developed world's progress in human virtues or wealth and power or technological or cultural innovations, rather, how Nigerians impact global individuals' personal lives. Currently, those are in matters of international crime, not to mention, internal instabilities of fundamentalist terrorism and widespread crime and corruption, but Nigerian Internet fraud, internationally, bank scams, migration, and a less known though relevant circumstance; that is, Nigerian term paper mills, tied with Ukrainian mills for most problematic academic cheating controversies.

My point is, not that Nigeria is plagued by vice, nor that Nigerians are as prone to vice as much as any country's groups and individuals, though that Nigerian circumstances overall and in particular are ripe for social commentary. The single, if not most and only, function of literature: what people write, believe, know, and share about the human condition.

Offered for consideration, anyway: write about the dichotomy and Nigerian global influence from the specific particulars of focused events, settings, and characters personally, emotionally meaningful to you.

I would not read on, probably, due to what I see as a general shortfall of rushed and forced development, too insider a content unknown beyond a close-to-home niche, and that too much to me attempts and forces imitation of great literature, that dilutes rather than amplifies the originals, whatever they might be.

Edited: By the way, dystopia's customary aesthetic feature is dehumanizing settings and their life-complication situations, not just bleak settings, a social setting's situation that dehumanizes. Dystopia forms need early introduction of their dehumanization features. One of Hatrack's thirteen-lines purposes is to develop skills for introduction of a genre type, dystopia, for example, within a fragment. I don't see one.

[ November 15, 2015, 06:20 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 6037 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post 
There are a lot of -ing words, and the first sentence strikes me as run-on. I find myself intrigued, though. It will probably take me a few days to get back to you, but feel free to send the story my way.
Posts: 745 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stanley Igboanugo
Member # 10466

 - posted      Profile for Stanley Igboanugo   Email Stanley Igboanugo         Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks a lot, poeny. It will be a delight to send you my story, I will do so right away.
Thank you.

Posts: 15 | Registered: Nov 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2