Ash

Ash - 093014 - The Taste Testing Cure 1156 Words

14 posts in this topic

Short story...nuff said.  I hope you guys enjoy it and appreciate you taking the time to read it :D

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Well, I have to say, while it was short, it got pretty dang enjoyable.

 

Strengths

You took an well-worn phenomenon--that "one" roommate everyone has had--and delivered them a just-desserts in a funny (if predictable way).

Decent characterization given the length.

 

Opportunities

I'm going to be a total hypocrite here, but brevity is key when doing short fiction. There are more than a few instances of run-on sentences (last line, first paragraph) or places where verbal economy would make everything a lot tighter (first full paragraph on p. 3). Luckily, this is one of those things that (I'm told) comes with time and practice.

 

Similarly, your narrative style leans more towards telling than showing, but as above, this is one of those things that comes with practice. King, Gaiman, and Chesterton also have involved narrators and it seems to work just fine for them.

 

However, the beginning is rather weak--perhaps this is a side-effect of my reading choices, but I prefer big openings. Sergio Leone openings (where you leave the camera running for fifteen minutes before any dialogue comes in) can work, but usually not in something this short. Again, the length inhibits any amount of tension (dramatic or comedic) that you can build.

 

In fine, a laudable introduction to your portfolio. I look forward to your next submission. 

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Before I follow up with my typical review, I wanted to mention what I though on a quick read, and these are the strongest and most important comments:

 

I noticed no real fault in your writing itself - but then again I am probably not a good enough writer to be an indication.

 

I felt that no affinity with these two loafers. And the moment they commit manslaughter (and yes, I believe that it is manslaughter), I profoundly dislike them. And then they make things worse by limiting Chad's chances, as they are delaying going to the hospital. By the last sentence, I was all "Yeah, the food will stay uneaten - but only because you killed him". I do not know if that was your intention, but that is how I saw the events.

 

 

 

I like your beginning, how you describe the day.

 

I missed you mentioning they were three the first time I read it. Probably just me, though.

 

When telling us Todd can converse at all times (which I just decided to try myself ;)), you accidentally say Mark is the person who talks while sleeping. Or it was otherwise unclear to me who you were talking about.

 

"A herd of children" - Finally! Someone understands! I have been referring to them that way for years now, as they tend to bunch together and run everywhere as a group, but nobody seemed to understand my use of the term, nor did they want to. But finally, for the first time in a long time, I hear somebody who understands that they are a herd!

 

As a metric person (from Israel), I have learned to deal with books mentioning feet or inches, but when someone says "ounces" it feels like the wrongest thing in existance. Especially since there are like at least seven ounces in use today. America, I fear, is hopelessly stuck with the worst system currently in use, just because it is historically accurate.

 

So they are worrying over the bathroom when they are basically killing a person? 

 

 

 

Wow, this is a really low comment count, compared to other reviews I made. I guess that is a good sign, eh?

Edited by Tal Spektor
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Thanks you guys for taking the time to read my little ditty and offer your opinions.  Actually, this was never intended to be a deep story. Basically, I was wondering what a couple of practical jokers would do if someone kept eating their food.  The replies actually made me go back and reread the story.  

 

First of all, I have to apologize for the errors, there were many I'm now realizing.  I think that I forgot to include in the story that they spiked his food with a laxative, not to say that they did not put too much.  But I have know people, and still do :D, who would actually do this sort of thing and feel like if no one died then it's all good.  I'm not saying that I agree, just that those peeps are out there.

 

There was a fair bit of sarcasm with them worrying about the toilet more than their roommate.  He is not currently their favorite person during the story.  Again, not defending the behavior just that I can see it happening.  There is a very good reason that practical joking is not a very good, or sensible, idea.

 

Thanks again for the replies.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Ash 

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I thought this was endearing and cute - to the point that such a thing can be said of a story involving uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting.

My only real structural issue with it was tha on the second page you use the phrase "the guy" three Times in on paragraph. That and you never actually say what they put in the food. It's not hugely relevant and I think we all assume it's laxative, but I'd spell it out

Other than that, good stuff and I don't really have much critique. Very enjoyable.

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Yeah, the laxative was clear. It was also clear, at least to me, that because of the extreme amount, he was going to either die from being poisoned, from the acids pumping through his whole digestive system, or from some other result of the laxative. This really is dangerous - here is a link about the dangers of an overdose (and it seems to be talking about doses twice to five times in size, not the super-extreme overdose you have here):

 

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002586.htm

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I read it more as a piece of fiction than as a realistic assessment of the power of laxatives - I would classify this as comedy, and within comedy I would probably classify it as slapstick... a subgenre that does not always have a grounding in physical reality (In a realistic world, Wile E. Coyote would not have survived his first cartoon). Hence, based on the prose, I think we can safely assume that the author does not intend to kill Chad - and more importantly it is implied that he not only doesn't die, but doesn't suffer lasting health effects. The ending implies that this really was a harmless prank.

 

That said, reading through this, I did think the dose of laxative might have been strong enough to cause lasting damage - that's easily remedied with ten minutes of research on laxative doses, but at the same time I think that slapstick generally allows for suspension of disbelief when it comes to dropping anvils on people's heads, having them fall off cliffs, survive explosions, etc. 

 

So, coming at it in that sense - without expectations of realism - I thought it was a well done little comedy. 

Edited by CommandanteLemming
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I enjoyed the read. It was brief and a short story, most of my thoughts have been covered already, particularly regarding some refinement on the word usage in some spots. I had to double back on a few areas because some parts were just a little odd. The fact it was laxatives was clear. I was previously unaware of laxative overdose being a thing (haven't used it ever and I don't think I know of anyone who has used it), but that's just a fact update where you could change the quantity without really impacting the story, but satisfying the part where it doesn't end up being lethal.

Those minor comments aside, it was a fun read for my lunch break.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this story. My only gripe was at the very beginning. Something about chirping and singing birds always puts me off, like the author is trying to bludgeon into my head how happy things are. 

 

Other than that, it was just really enjoyable. Maybe Chad dying is over the top, and it's funny how it's always a Chad, right? Bloody Chads. The casual conversation between Mark and Todd while Chad was... relieving himself, was hilarious. I loved your descriptions too. 

 

I know it isn't exactly a lengthy critique, so I'm sorry about that. But I did really like it. Keep up the good work, hope to read more!

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Hello Ash,

 

Let me start with the things that worked for me:

  • The conversation seemed really natural to me
  • Especially in the second half, the reading flowed nicely
  • I was able to imagine easily what was going on
  • I really liked your easy-going / lighthearted style of telling the story

 

Now to what did not work for me. I'm trying to concentrate on the mayor things:

 

I did not really connect with the story. I did not feel identified by any of the characters and I was not invested in them. There was no twist or surprise revelation in the story, so it was pretty clear what was going to happen when the story got to the food stealing. To be honest, I was a bit bored.

To me, it felt like you wrote the story in one go. Especially in the first half, overly long sentences and (for me; not a native speaker) unnecessarily complex words made me "stumble" a lot. The reading did not really "flow". It seemed to me that you needed warming up and in the second half the flow was a lot better - even though the sentences were still quite long.

 

Cheers,

Helge

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Trying to get more review time in up here on RE, but I'm still slow.

 

I think you have an interesting piece here, but I think you need to grab us sooner and cut out a lot of "extra" stuff to punch it up.

 

This first paragraph made my eyes glaze over a bit. It was happy sunny joyous and festive. Ok, so where's my interest? What's the conflict? Why should I care? If the sun is shining and everything is awesome, then we don't have a story. 

 

You have a lot of adjectives. This is something I'm learning more about. Back when I started I had people say this to me and I was like "but adjectives describe things!" so I figured I need to have at least SOME.  And some is fine... but you should work very hard to avoid them when you can.  Try to find words that sum up both your action or noun AND your adjective in one shot. This, btw, will also help you with the show vs. tell thing.

 

I suggest reading through this and looking at each sentence and asking yourself "Does the reader need this? Does this support what I'm trying to accomplish?" Anytime you say to yourself something along the lines of "Well, no, but I love this!", cut it.

 

Also, try to think of your piece as an argument. What point are you trying to make? Where are you trying to bring the reader, and how far do they have to go from where they are now to where they need to be? Does your piece start from where the reader begins and smoothly build them up to the point where your statement hits home?

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Welcome to Reading Excuses. Sorry for the delay in my comments, I’ve got another writing project going full pelt at the moment, so I'm struggling to give RE my usual full and detailed attention. So, belatedly, here are some comments that I hope you find useful. (I haven’t read the others’ forum comments yet, so forgive me if there is any repetition here, but I like to keep a fresh perspective when commenting.)

 

I found the opening wordy. I think there is scope to polish it down so that it flows better. As a first paragraph, it wasn’t long enough to be off-putting, but it did make me wary.

 

Last para Page 1, I find the POV confusing. Firstly, I'm not sure whose we are in. I thought it was Mark, then it seemed to be Todd, but the narrative describes Mark as being able to converse while dozing, but Todd is the one who is dozing, confusing.

 

Some of the phrasing tripped me up when reading. Couple of examples and suggestions;

 

“...ability to cull nothing...” > “...inability to cull anything...”

 

“...their limit of tolerance...” > “...the limit of their tolerance...”

 

“...shambled nonstop across the room...” – you wouldn’t expect him to stop, so the word is redundant.

 

“...had failed to notice...” > “...had noticed...”

 

Okay, in general, I thought the story flowed well enough. I have to say I was expecting an SFF theme, as that is the nature of the forum, but put that to one side. I didn’t get a ‘wow’ from reading it. Three students in a flat (UK speak, sorry), one mooching food, the others play a practical joke, it feels familiar, it doesn’t present anything to make the reader surprised or intrigued.

 

I thought the characterisation was decent. I felt I got a good sense of Todd in particular, and of Chad – Mark was maybe a bit blank, but in don’t think that’s a bad thing for the narrator, especially in a short piece.

 

I think if you’re going to write a story like this, one a theme or idea that is unlikely to ‘wow’ many readers, the writing needs to be really good, perhaps in a style that the reader haven’t seen before, or with some kind of stylistic quirk or device, but it don’t really get that. With polishing, it’s a mildly amusing distraction, but I would put it down wishing I had been surprised more.

 

Post comments having read the thread: I wouldn't mention the laxative - it's obvious - let the readers make that connection for themselves. Good point from Manheim (welcome back!) about adjectives - very good point. I speak as a (hopefully former) offender and adjective junkie. I hear what Tal says, but agree with Lemming, I took it as a (rather dark) comedy, and had no sense that Chad was in any danger. But neither do I wish to belittle Tal's point - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL, kids.

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Thank you all for taking the time to read the story and giving feedback.  I think that I will stew on the comments for a while and redo it a bit later.  I hope that you all have had, or are having, a great weekend.

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I hope that you all have had, or are having, a great weekend.

 

Why thank you, on balance, rather good, I hope yours is going great.

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