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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Skyns, 2,800 words, SF

   
Author Topic: Skyns, 2,800 words, SF
wetwilly
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Feedback welcome, readers wanted. Happy to trade crits.

Eric shifted uncomfortably in his seat and looked across the table at his wife. He was really growing to hate date night.
Denise smiled a perfect smile at him, the shape of her lips and the space between her upper and lower teeth calibrated to a precise ratio of joy and allure. Her dark purple hair drifted in a cloud around her head and faded seamlessly into the artfully placed wisps of smoke that she wore in place of a dress. The smoke drifted around her body and concealed just enough to create a sense of mystery, while revealing enough to whet Eric's appetite. The entire ensemble had a stunning effect, overpoweringly sensual. This digital skyn was called “Alluring Mystique, Number 83.”
“I hate this, Denise,” Eric said. He dropped his golden fork and knife onto his crystal plate with a clatter.

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extrinsic
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A couple meet at a date night.

"Skyn" as a worn glory is a fantastical motif and an inspired re-imagination of fashion apparel not yet seen in science fiction, parallels, but not yet a scenario as full of technological-social science fiction promise.

No clue from the contextue where they meet. The last sentence implies more strongly the meet is at home and combined with the Skyn glory (appearance illusion) an implication the couple are wealthy -- _his_ golden fork and knife and _his_ crystal plate. The effect evokes an image of a gilded age dining room in a mansion: candelabra, chandelier, lavish decorations, servants, ostentatious display of wealth.

However, the date night dined in at home seems at odds with the intent and my and perhaps audience expectations. I have an imagination disconnect due to contradictory presentation and expectation. Do they dine out or dine in? If they dine in, a cue is needed, likewise if they dine out.

Plus, the golden tableware is a missed opportunity to use a strong idiom in an imaginative way to imply a "telling detail"; that is, the proverbial sterling silver spoon and silver platter of the wealthy's sense of privileged entitlement. Born with a silver spoon in the mouth, and what goes around on the silver platter is the greater proportion taken by such. Polished sterling silver shines a golden hue; tarnish takes away the golden luster. Tarnish like Eric and Denise's relationship lost its luster!?

Overall, the language more so tells than shows. The clear and directly stated intent is an "overpoweringly sensual" effect and isn't.

For example: "The smoke drifted _around her body_ and _concealed just enough_ to create a sense of _mystery_, while revealing _enough to whet_ Eric's appetite."

Underscores bracket empty summary descriptions -- tells. The need to avoid lurid and gratuitous sensory stimulus here cripples the equal if not more necessary specificity of causal alluring sensory stimulus.

In short, overall, the fragment forces and rushes Eric's sensory perceptions.

From the start, each sentence tells, doesn't show, Eric's personal sensations.

"Eric _shifted _uncomfortably_ in his seat_ and _looked across_ the table at his wife. He was _really growing to hate_ date night."

"uncomfortably" and "really" are empty adverbs. The fragment's predicates' verbs are, overall, static voice and, overall, emptily summarize vague sensations.

The vague sense I get of the story overall is the intent is to show vanity's vices pride and lust, and the greed of the well-to-do -- their empty satisfactions. A satire about elites' vice and folly packaged in an amatory romance. Eric's complication, as is, is a problem of weariness for how forced and unnatural his and Denise's relationship has become. Naturally then, their want is strong for a more passionate and satisfying romance though Eric and Denise have no clue at the now moment how to satisfy the problem and want.

If the above are the intent, then Eric's reflected and reflexive descriptions of Denise and the tableware could present the complication, through charged expression that shows Denise's forced efforts are shy of expectation and thus show Eric's disappointment.

The premise of the Skyn and its figurative meanings are full of promise though vaguely show little if anything of substance (sic) -- no need to show a wardrobe malfunction, not to that gratuitous extreme of on stage depiction, implied maybe -- substance, like complication and conflict and moral charge contests.

I would not read on, foremost due to the overabundant summary tell I expect will be the sum of the whole, secondmost due to no clear impression what the story is about either on the surface or the figurative meaning.

[ October 09, 2016, 03:18 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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wetwilly
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Thanks, ex. Going to work on establishing setting and selling the sensuality of Denise's skyn. Will have to play with it to find the line between sensual and lurid.

The gold and crystal are also fake, part of an environmental skyn, augmented reality run amok. They're actually in their dumpy kitchen.

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H Reinhold
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I find the concept interesting enough to read on, if you’d like to send me the whole piece.

The description of Denise doesn’t work for me because it’s too analytical – I’m repeatedly told that she’s alluring, but I don’t feel it. It’s too intellectual. This line, for example, ‘the space between her upper and lower teeth calibrated to a precise ratio of joy and allure’, builds, for me, a mechanical and offputting picture of the woman. It feels overly forced, even if we grant that it’s supposed to reflect Eric’s feelings of being manipulated. If the intention is to communicate how Eric finds Denise both genuinely alluring with this skyn, but also hates the fact that she is using a skyn like this (I assume this, rather than something else, is the reason he hates date night), then the description needs to be more subtly alluring, to bring out the reader’s emphathy for Eric’s situation.

I don’t know why, but I assumed on my first read that the golden cultery and crystal plate were also part of a digital skyn, equally illusory. But extrinsic is probably right: some indication of setting would be helpful.

Is there something specific about this date night that triggers Eric to express his feelings? If his discomfort has been growing for a while, what’s different this time to make him suddenly stop and try to break the spell, as it were? Or has he attempted to express his feelings on previous occasions and failed? Why is this date night in particular the beginning of the story?

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
Thanks, ex. Going to work on establishing setting and selling the sensuality of Denise's skyn. Will have to play with it to find the line between sensual and lurid.

The gold and crystal are also fake, part of an environmental skyn, augmented reality run amok. They're actually in their dumpy kitchen.

Curiously rich metaphor of contradiction between the subtext is bleak reality and the surface is augmented run amok. In other words, the literal meaning is instead the figurative and the figurative vice versa. That holds strong appeal for me, though probably a challenge to establish a literal contest to satisfy or resolve congruent to the story's subtext.
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Disgruntled Peony
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quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
Feedback welcome, readers wanted. Happy to trade crits.

Eric shifted uncomfortably in his seat and looked across the table at his wife. He was really growing to hate date night.
Denise smiled a perfect smile at him, the shape of her lips and the space between her upper and lower teeth calibrated to a precise ratio of joy and allure. Her dark purple hair drifted in a cloud around her head and faded seamlessly into the artfully placed wisps of smoke that she wore in place of a dress. The smoke drifted around her body and concealed just enough to create a sense of mystery, while revealing enough to whet Eric's appetite. The entire ensemble had a stunning effect, overpoweringly sensual. This digital skyn was called “Alluring Mystique, Number 83.”
“I hate this, Denise,” Eric said. He dropped his golden fork and knife onto his crystal plate with a clatter.

Okay, first off, sorry it took me so long to respond to this. I've been meaning to for at least a week. XP

Critiquing this was hard for me, because it grabbed my interest very thoroughly and left me with a lot of questions that are probably answered within the next page or two. (Is this a public or private date? If public, is Denise getting a lot of attention or is this so commonplace no one seems to care? If private, why is Eric so uncomfortable?) That said, my thoughts are as follows:

You might want to clarify that Denise is Eric's wife in the first paragraph. I followed the transition from 'wife' to 'Denise' fairly easily, but that doesn't mean everyone will. (It would be as simple as using the phrase 'his wife, Denise' instead of simply 'his wife'. Sometimes, it's the little things that count.)

In the second paragraph, you might want to simplify the phrase concerning Denise's teeth. (I should note that, aside from the first sentence reading as awkward to me due to the teeth thing, the second paragraph is wonderfully descriptive. That's what caught my attention as a reader.)

In the third paragraph, you could probably drop the 'Eric said' bit and place Eric's name at the beginning of the fork-dropping sentence instead to clarify who's speaking.

Feel free to send the story my way. I'll do my best to have a quicker turn-around than my last few critiques. (Hopefully, within the next week and a half.)

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wetwilly
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Thanks, Disgruntled One! I'll send it along to you later. The only reason I didn't send it already is I feel like I'm doing all the taking with crits. [Smile]
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Disgruntled Peony
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quote:
Originally posted by wetwilly:
Thanks, Disgruntled One! I'll send it along to you later. The only reason I didn't send it already is I feel like I'm doing all the taking with crits. [Smile]

That's my fault for not finishing any stories for the last several months. I've got a few projects in the works, though.
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extrinsic
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wetwilly, though you didn't enter the summer marathon challenge, your comments are welcome, and votes too. If you're inclined to give, ballots and comments already extended a week, another day or two held over for you. Please break the two-way tie for second place!
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