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Robinski

Robinski - Desert Tide v1.0 - 1,515 words - LS

18 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hey there, here's a short that I wrote and edited several times this weekend. 

It's intended for submitting in the near future (I hope!), so I'm looking for anything - thematics, character issues down to the most detailed line-by-lines, if you want. Anything and everything you care to mention.

This includes the title, which I'm in two minds about.

Thanks for considering.

Cheers, Robinski

Edited by Robinski
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Wow, this is kind of ... grim, isn't it, at the end? But it's certainly poignant enough to be powerful.

I like the magic, sorry: majik words and how you made them all using only two vowels and four consonants. I'm not nearly as fond of the word majik itself, though, I don't really see any added value in this to just using plain old "magic". I'll admit this spelling is a bit more in-culture, but it pulled me out of the story.

I don't get how L is going to be T's master in the future. Does she mean that with his mind going she'll be the one in charge from now on? If so, that doesn't really mesh with her claiming to love him earlier.

The title is okay, but I don't really see the connection to the story (apart from the setting), so a different title could be better IMO. I doubt keeping this one would be a handicap, though. Sorry, not really helpful, is it?

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As I go: Aside from using a painfully common expletive to induce first-sentence-shock, it’s a good start. When you mention aged hands in the second paragraph, along with a ‘wizard’ title, my first thoughts go to palmistry and divination, not age. Also, when you mention the ‘mere days’ line, it does little to bookmark the time T and L have spent together, which is implied (later) to be at least a few years.

That aside, the character structuring is good. I’m given a picture of T grappling with getting old age. L’s backstory and motivations are no doubt more complex, as hinted to in the scars (which was a nice touch), but there is a consistent sense of her acting in character, a former slave turned companion-esque character.

Overall: I can’t shake the feeling that the set-up and ending is slightly incongruous. The ending is a sweet and heartwarming sacrifice, very O’ Henry-Gift-of-the-Magi, as it were. The set-up doesn’t match that, it’s a master-slave relationship which is hinted at to be a bit more husband-wife. It’s a good set-up, but I feel a clean ending isn’t a good cap, as it were. I think L might benefit from being a bit more ambiguous at the end, or he relationship established positive at the very beginning.

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I'll second that I really enjoyed the majik words and their pattern, as well as that I didn't see a need for "majik" vs. "magic."

pg 1: "hands somewhat wrinkled"
--hands--somewhat wrinkled

I'd remove the first swear as well. It's not prevalent through the rest of the piece, so it looks like it's there for shock value.

Similar to @aeromancer, I thought the relationship is a little rocky. I was almost concerned at the beginning, with the slave fantasy direction it was going. T reveals the real situation later on in the story, but we don't get his reactions to the way others would think about them together.

If they've been a couple that long, I wouldn't think T could think of L in terms of slavery at all. Or if it's more of a culture clash, then we need some more explanation of why this is either common or uncommon and how T perceives them vs. the rest of the culture.


Title: yeah, could be better. Maybe something addressing the loss of magic?

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As I go:

pg. 1: Holy host of names, batman! While I appreciate the worldbuilding, I almost missed the main character's name in the throng of proper nouns.

pg 4: "The majik, eludes me" remove the comma

pg. 5: "That's love and, like..." should be either "That's love, and, like..." or "That's love, and like..."

I don't quite get the ending. Why is L. T.'s master now? Has she been manipulating him? Are they going to intentionally blind T? Also, what do the words of Majik actually do? We know that they can let you read people's minds, anything else?

 

Overall, this piece left me intrigued, but confused, like there I was missing some key element of the plot.

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Hi everyone! Thanks so much, @Eagle of the Forest Path, @aeromancer, @Mandamon and @Paracosmic_nomenclator, for your excellent comments. I do feel that perhaps I'm hamstringing myself a bit by imposing the 1,500 word limit. I'm hoping to pitch this at Daily SF but at the end of the day, if I'm trying to tell a 2,000 word story in insufficient words then probably I'm not doing myself any favours. Some great comments here. I'm going to try and respond communally, as there are some recurring issues.

Magic/majik - there isn't much space to develop it, but mind reading is the only use overtly mentioned. I don't have much room to develop more, but I'll try and drop another use in. I'm glad for expression of the 'majik' found some favour. Maybe I'll try a pass using 'magic' instead, but I like the idea of using the space to introduce more world building, since the word 'magic' is pretty much invisible.

Swears - Yeah, cheap shot. I almost took them out before submitting. They're gone. I started off with an idea and almost instantly changed direction!

'Plot' - This is clearly an issue in everyone's comments. I refer you to the line above. Not point in outlining 1,500 words, so this is what you get. The idea changed as I went through, and then changed again before I edited, so I need to tidy that and go back through with that in mind.

Title - Yeah. I think I'll edit this a couple or three more times and then submit again, if there is a slot available next week. If you see it again the title will be different. I had two title before this one. They were (1) Sand, Blood, Light, Love; and (2) Sands of Time, Light of Love - neither of which really float my boat either. I agree with Mandamon (there it is) that I haven't addressed the age/deterioration (really) in the title - good call.

Punctuation - Ha-ha. Thanks, Para. I was trying to convey meaningful pauses, but punctuation is a minefield, and never sounds the same in two peoples' heads, I feel. So, "The majik... (meaningful pause) eludes me." (yes, maybe it should be ellipsis), and, yes, I'll take the rap for the second one and will change that.

Relationship - Yes, I'll try to tighten that up in the next edit. Clearly, it completely intertwined with the ending, so really needs to be consistent.

Thanks so much, folks. Much appreciated.

<R>

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How the mental magic works seems central to this story. I feel like some opportunity to really see it in action near the beginning would increase the impact of the ideas at the end. Knowing what Le is thinking without diving into her head also feels important to the character, though, so maybe an external use of some sort. Something like looking out a window and reading the mind of a town/city/province crier who's always there in the morning as a way to get daily news.

Some major whiplash between the first paragraph and the second paragraph—from grounded to abstract. The "royally stormed" was a nice, casual intro tone, but the second paragraph starts so poetically that I lost track of what was going on.

Does the end imply that she is going to deafen herself? It's not clear, but the "...hear things not meant for..." part combined with the last few of her lines make me suspect a bit.

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- Okay, I love the first line. I think what I like more than the profanity, is that is uses all these fantastical term and nouns . . . right before instantly subverting that expectation.

- I'm really curious what he has to tell her. The conflict works, and the suspense is really good. 

- I'm also a bit confused by the ending. I feel like we haven't seen enough of this world between these two characters, so I'm a little confused about the situation. I think it needs to be fleshed out a bit more.

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Oooh, a short!

Overall

I'm unsure. I think I need to see the love between these two, instead of being told about it. I'm not convinced they're in love, rather, it seems like for the woman this is keeping a master happy who doesn't beat her, and for him it's a lot of lust. The premise of the story is interesting, I think it might just need some tweaking. The end also left me a bit confused, and seemed a bit on the side of dubious consent. 

Title: I'm not quite sure how it relates to the story. Maybe something a little more tied in?

8 hours ago, Mandamon said:

If they've been a couple that long, I wouldn't think T could think of L in terms of slavery at all. Or if it's more of a culture clash, then we need some more explanation of why this is either common or uncommon and how T perceives them vs. the rest of the culture.

Yes this. I think the relationship needs some work, as it seems more like the master trying to talk away 'sleeping with the slave girl' guilt than anything else.

I think it has promise, just needs some edits!

As I go

- the third and fourth sentences of the first paragraph have a strange flow to them. They might need some editing. The thought is in the right place, and I love the opening line!

- first sentence of the next paragraph has too many adjectives, me thinks

- page two: 'dopey' with sleep sort of kills the imagery you were setting up earlier

- the paragraph that begins with 'queen of the sky', I'm not sure what happened.

- Page five: "That’s love and..." What she's describing doesn't really seem like love. Seems more like wanting to keep the master that doesn't beat you, happy

- page five: I dunno about this. He puts the intonements into her mind then just reaches in and grabs them at will? He'll ask first, right? Otherwise we're getting a little dubcon here.

- I'm not clear how she becomes the master? It sounds more like they are both giving up a sense, which will likely affect her more than him. 

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Hi Vreeah, many thanks for those comments.

9 hours ago, Vreeah said:

Does the end imply that she is going to deafen herself? It's not clear, but the "...hear things not meant for..." part combined with the last few of her lines make me suspect a bit.

Yes, this is exactly it. I will clarify.

Also, I like your suggestion about reading the mind of the crier. The only snag is that The is having trouble with his ability. I'll mull on that. Thank you so much.

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Hi RD, many thanks for reading.

6 hours ago, rdpulfer said:

I'm also a bit confused by the ending. I feel like we haven't seen enough of this world between these two characters, so I'm a little confused about the situation. I think it needs to be fleshed out a bit more.

I'm so glad parts of this are working for you. As to this, yes I really do need to work the ending. Everyone agrees on that :) Fleshing out gives me issues with the word count, but I may just need to swallow that and move on 

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About the title:

I feel like you're trying to convey two things with it: the desert setting, and the loss and sacrifices that come with old age. With that in mind, I'm gonna throw out a few titles:

Dusk over Dunes

His Last Oasis

The Wasteland of the Mind

Sorrows in the Sands

They're a bit generic, but hopefully one of them will either strike your fancy, or inspire you to come up with something better

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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

I'm gonna throw out a few titles:

Excellent!! I love spitballing titles - thank you for these. I like the word 'wasteland' and maybe having 'sorrow' in there is good, because it ain't exactly a happy ending!!

It started out as "Sand, Blood, Light, Love" before it reached RE - that got ditched in favour of "Desert Tide", also now gone. Presently, I'm working with "Slaves of Us All". Thinking about that now, it sounds a bit pseudo-Shakespearean (no doubt because of the line from Hamlet (Thus conscience does make cowards of us all)).

'His Last Oasis' might be my favourite of those 4, I think. "The Memory of Sorrow" pops into my head from a few minutes mulling just now.

Thanks again! :) 

Edited by Robinski
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Posted (edited)

All right, here I go:

 

The dissonance between the Game of Thrones style naming and the vulgar language at the open puts me in sort of a sour mood to start off with. Also, this early out I'm mostly ignoring the appellations because they mean very little to me yet.   

I really read that as palmistry at first, not looking over the hands for signs of age. 

"the curtain’s edge, staining the plaster " The curtain is made of plaster? Dude, that's a serious window dressing! (Unless it's referencing back and it's the carpet that's made of plaster? But wouldn't plaster carpet just be like concrete flooring? Unless-unless this is one of those regional difference things and plaster is not what I think it is? Because i'm totally thinking it's the hard stuff you make molds with and/or slap on walls when you want them to be smooth and white (or you're painting on them wet, like in fresco) and that doesn't really work as curtains....) 

I am already so not on board with this sex slavery thing and I'm just one sentence into it. This looks cliched as all heck. It was boring and overused in the '70s and I'm already ready to skip to the end just to make sure that it's worth my time reading the middle. 

"get hard" the crass nature of this internal monologue is very much at odds with the high fantasy style of the opener. I feel like I've been taken by a bait-and-switch, but I don't know which part was the bait.... 

". Asbaed besada" this unfortunately just sounds like gibberish to me, not magic/ijk, language, prayers, or mantra. I'm starting to dislike the faux mideast thing. It feels very inauthentic and tacked-on, like cheap party decorations. 

 

So, if the focus of this was on this fantasyland Alzheimers, and one man coming to grips with it/telling his partner about it, that would be an awesome story. I really like that idea, and I feel like it could be explored at any length you wanted to try. This piece right now is all snarled up in affectations (majik) and rotten cliches (happy slave girl, really? what purpose at all does the slavery serve beyond being icky fetish fuel. She doens't act like a slave, he doesn't treat her like a slave, everything in the story would be just as possible without the slavery including the need to sneak her in places (which honestly isn't terribly necessary either, imo) ) and I just can't get into it. I'm left wincing at the bad too much to sift out the good. 

One thing for writing short stories -- keep the size in mind, but write as long as it needs to be. You can cut or rewrite to be more concise after you've seen the shape of what you've written. Also, if outlining is what you do normally, why should the length of the story determine whether or not it's necessary? Word count doesn't affect the way a good plot is structured, nor does a small one somehow make the piece easier to do.  Short can often be more difficult, as each word has to carry more of the story, which would make outlining shorter pieces MORE necessary to my mind (if outlining is a thing you usually do). 

For a title, Grains of Memory is all I've got.

Edited by industrialistDragon
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Hi ID, thanks for reading!

7 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I really read that as palmistry at first, not looking over the hands for signs of age.

It goes into palmistry, yes.

It's intended as the sunlight staining the plaster of the wall. The word 'wall' is excluded of course, which maybe is causing an issue, although I think some people caught it.

7 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

the crass nature of this internal monologue

Fair comment. It's not intended as sex slavery, and the 'crass' characterisation of what Thep is feeling accentuates that. I'm going to change that word.

7 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I'm starting to dislike the faux mideast thing. It feels very inauthentic and tacked-on, like cheap party decorations.

Okay, fair enough.

All noted, thanks for reading, ID

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5 hours ago, Robinski said:

It's not intended as sex slavery,

Despite what's intended, as long as you have slavery and sex together "sex slave" is what is going be conveyed to the reader. It really doesn't matter for what reason the slave was bought or how "nice" the master is otherwise, once he decides he's going to have sex with her, the slave literally can't say no. I'm not against writing slavery in fiction, but here for this specific piece it does nothing for the plot and colors the otherwise good interactions between the characters with all kinds of unfortunate implications. 

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Posted (edited)

Hi Robinski

I liked parts of this, and overall enjoyed it.  But there are few things that need attention.  

The first line grabbed my attention, and it didn't mesh with the feel or theme of the story.  I might save that line, the way it subverts expectation for a different story.  

The description in the second paragraph started well, and then you lost me in the second sentence. 

You have the sex/slave resonance throughout.

 I think you wanted to flip that on its head.  The progressoin of the story and how I interpret the ending suggests that you wanted to reveal a true partnership to the relationship. [He's fallen in love with her, but he's unsure if she loves him or only serves him] but you tie in too many slave resonances for me to believe it.  Here are a few examples:

Quote

 

She stirred just then beneath the white sheet, as if on command, more likely from the growing light, since he had not intoned and sought to enter her mind. 

but he’d finally succeeded in training her to informality when they were alone. 

You know I toil harder for you than any slave would. 

She swallowed, the muscles of her neck tightening. “Even the most familiar things must be practiced…”

 

 

I'm confused, and guessing at the ending. I re-read the story a handful of times hoping to find something I overlooked, but it wasn't there.  I'd cut down the number of ways your protag can impress at the start, and add a line to clarify the end.  Becaue of the word cap, I'd consider using contractions too. Also lines like this:

Quote

As his penis became harder so did his heart

have a nice flow to them, but you could shorten it. 

As his penis hardened, so dis his heart. 

There are few place like this that can buy you a few words.  

I hope this helps.  I look forward to see what you do with this!

 

Matt

 

Edited by M.Puddles
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Hey Matt, thanks for those comments - much appreciated. Yes, there is some helpful stuff there and they arrived at just the right time, as I'm planning to have a run at this today for re-submission tomorrow.

Robinski

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