king007

Breezes of Text

22 posts in this topic

Hi, I sometimes find myself writing a few lines of text on the spur of a moment, without really coming back to them. Sometimes they're beginnings to a story, or a cool description I thought of, or a witty dialogue piece that came to mind. After I'm finished, I often feel like sharing what I wrote with others to get their impressions. The problem is I don't know where to post these short "breezes of text". And I don't want to open a whole thread or send an email over only a handful of words. So I thought of making a thread where we can all post our own sweet little breezes :D

So, if you want to share little snippets you wrote and see what others think, here's the place for that in Reading Excuses. I think it's obvious that we should keep the lengths of texts we share to a reasonable limit ;)

It should also be said that in this thread we're not expecting careful analyses from readers, your honest impressions are more than sufficient.

I guess I'll lead by example and post my own piece of text in this wonderful spoiler container that I made. Have at it!

 

Spoiler

I almost fell on my face when I entered the next wagon. The train was moving fast and rocking hard. Why is this train still in commission? I lashed out internally. Shouldn’t they be using better trains by now, you know, ones that aren’t trying to flip you over every time you stand up from your seat? That would be nice, I thought. Anyway, I spread my arms like a bird, and moved forward to look for an empty seat. The last car I was in had a loud talking couple who seemed incapable of resting their tongues, or taking a pause between breaths for that matter. I think they’ve developed a secret skill for breathing and talking at the same time. I hoped this car would be less...lively.

 

The first row came to sight, and there, to my left, I saw a woman sitting by herself near the window. I paused. Something burned inside of me. My heart started racing. My eyes twitched. My hands trembled. My knees almost gave up. My whole body came to life. Ok, maybe that’s not how it exactly happened. But you get the point. I was shaken by the sight of this woman. She wasn’t like an angel from heaven, or like a fairy tale princess. What she was though is, so goddam beautiful. Her hair, eyes, and lips, her bust, waist, and legs, all fit together perfectly like in a Mozart orchestra or a Da Vinci painting. I’m no poet, and I’m running out of fancy words, but I think she will give pause even to the greatest poet. It’s like her beauty was a puzzle, and her body parts were its pieces. Yep, I just said that. It probably makes no sense to you, but to me it does. In short, let me tell you this, my eyes had a grand feast that day.

 

As I was intensely gazing at her, she lifted her head quickly and peeked in my direction, before getting back again to her smartphone. What was that? I thought, then I realized I was standing there like an idiot for God-only-knows how long, and probably giving her the creeps. I hurriedly took an empty seat to my right, trying to save whatever dignity I had left.

 

Edited by king007
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That's a nice idea. Writing short little things is how you make it through the dry spells that otherwise could last the rest of your life. But you almost never find a place for those. 

As for yours, I think you need to put specific detail with the allusions and the like. You're talking as an observer but not really telling the reader what your observed or how you felt about observing those things. You have platitudes and those are just one step away from cliche. You gotta make it vivid or understandably affecting because you're working against the assumption you're a creep and need to drive home just how impactful this one person was. That's my hot take. 

My thing is a little second person vignette format I've been toying around with for character introduction. I don't know if they'll ultimately fit in anywhere since they are a bit too stylistic and narrator centric. But they are by far the easiest thing to write and I like doing them for minor characters to work out what they are feeling/doing about things rather than just serving the plot.

Spoiler

Imagine you’re Captain Yaslon. If you will.

Imagine knowing you’re smarter than everyone around you. How do you know? Because they’re out to get you. All of them. Always. But they haven’t gotten you yet.

Imagine being right on that subject enough times to be good enough with a knife. And you worked it out from there. Because you had to.

Imagine believing in nothing. Nothing at all. Not since you were a child when you believed that the wardens dispensed justice and you and your father counted as one of the just.

Imagine running to the door in short pants to find a god waiting with an axe. The wardens dispensed justice. They didn’t hold trials. Neither did they consider the fate of the boy crying next to his father or what that boy was to do with the body of a thief once they had decapitated it.

I never said the wardens were all stories and games. It’s hard to convince enough people to conspire to kill gods they don’t sometimes hate and fear. Not enough to be effective anyways.

Imagine living past that day. That anger in your belly that felt like it would never go away. Imagine it never did.

Imagine that anger surviving your gods. Imagine that anger turning into something harder and more horrible because your gods died to a plot you took for foolishness. Imagine sitting on the sidelines with all that hate while better men than you took your vengeance. Imagine the shame. Imagine wondering if you would have made a difference.

And then decades of this and that and men and monsters and afflicted and inquisitions. Good times for a thief as much as any times can be but hard times for a soul. So you push it down and get to work.

And the thing about you is that--more than being smart and angry and ashamed all the time--you’re slick. Slick as can be. Slick enough to never get your legs broken by the guard. Slick enough to go for the smart job and not the risky job. Even if you were hungry. Even if it felt like it might have been impossible for anyone else, but that you were special. They wouldn’t catch you. You’re too slick. That’s the voice that gets you killed. And you never listened to it. And that’s why you’re slick.

You were slick enough to know you weren’t a good enough thief to survive many years past your prime and so you planned that last heist and you cashed out. For good. You spent half the money on a nice civil guard commission where you don’t do much but tell younger versions of the people you hate how to kill younger versions of yourself. All the versions. From the aging thief who didn’t cash out on time to the boy who had no other choices. All of you.

You go to all the hangings.

Sometimes they’re not children, but not often enough. It’s the kind of game that weeds out the unskillful quick. After that, just the unlucky. Could have been you. Sometimes they look like someone else. Someone who deserved it. And you feel better for a bit.

Until you remember that your father didn’t look like he deserved it. He had you fooled with the strong arms and the calm demeanor and the animals he used to carve and put on the windowsill. You believed in him right up until the divine judgment. He didn’t get to be doubted by a peer. He deserved it. A higher power than you killed him and it was just and you never quite imagined being on this side of the table. Making a mockery of the wardens’ justice.

But it beats being on the other side of it.

Imagine that sitting right next to the anger and shame in your gut. But you smile. And the bribes help. And the second half of the coin has gone to make you comfortable even though you have to be a bit discrete now that you have a new name and title and you live in a house that looks worn in but whatever love did the wearing down didn’t come from you. Imagine settling down as one of the just. Because men are easy to fool and all the gods are dead.

Except the one in your cell. Bound. Hobbled. Alone.

Would you be afraid that this one could see your soul?

Would that anger have to go somewhere?

Would the shame come with it?

I don’t know. I’m not Captain Yoslon and I’m not telling you his story. Who knows why people do the things they do?

I’m just saying. If it were me and not Lyan Longfellow who had broken into that cell that night, I might not have been so surprised to find Yoslon hanging the lost warden in his cell. At least not so surprised I gave myself away.

Not that I would be there in the first place. I’m a terrible coward

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I like it, @Yados*, some great lines in there. I felt it a bit choppy around the beginning, but I think you could tidy it up a smooth it out enough for it to serve as a character introduction, as you suggest.

One thing I would suggest is to beware of making these vignettes too interesting if you want them to serve for minor characters (which you note above). In my view, this one would serve just fine as the introduction for a major character, as there is more than enough personal baggage and potential conflict to carry him through a novel, certainly a novelette, novella or short.

Hey @king007*, I thought you piece was interesting but, I did think that it strayed too far into leeriness. Not that it couldn't be fixed up, but I guess that's not the point of these vignettes.

Great idea for a thread. I left my notebook downstairs, but I think I will post one or two as well :)

(Edit: Jeez, I've been away so long I had forgotten how to tag someone!)

Edited by Robinski
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On 1/1/2017 at 0:32 PM, Robinski said:

One thing I would suggest is to beware of making these vignettes too interesting if you want them to serve for minor characters (which you note above). In my view, this one would serve just fine as the introduction for a major character, as there is more than enough personal baggage and potential conflict to carry him through a novel, certainly a novelette, novella or short.

Hey, good problem to have. I'll take it. Thanks @Robinski (Is this good etiquette, to tag someone? I've been away from this community a considerable while.)

But yeah, I keep going for a mosaic perspective with my writing which means that I'm interested in everyone and it's hard to move the plot because I can't make anyone who just serves it or moves it along. Some people just need to be there to guard the doors I guess... I was thinking about dropping these after minor characters die/do something unexpected, but then that's cheating. "Yeah, that random guy there I didn't set up? He had a lot of baggage. He was sad about things and never even told you. Feel bad even though I didn't make him interesting until now."

I gotta work out a balance. 

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4 hours ago, Yados said:

Some people just need to be there to guard the doors I guess...

Lol - yes, I think it's good form to tag people, draws their attention to the reply if nothing else :) 

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Spoiler

The moon was a jewel of light in the high treasure trove of golden, bluish, and fiery-red stars. The fields of grass and wheat lay vast and dark around a brave yellow spot that seemed to imitate the majesty of those above. It was the light emanating from a house in the middle of nowhere. In this house, was a porch. And on this porch, there sat a man on a rocking chair. He was silent, as silent as his aching hair. And weary, as weary as the dying colors of his clothes. And his eyes, they had fever in them. No, they had wonder. No, not that. It was most certainly thirst, or was it regret? It had all of them combined, and he carried them all inside.

 

Edited by king007
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Ooh, interesting. I like the cadence of this passage, and there are some powerful images. I have a decently clear image in my mind, and I see colours and I can hear the wind in the wheat and the grass.

There were a couple of pieces that made me go 'Eh?' Did you mean 'aching' hair? That was weird. And you go from 'his eyes' to 'it had them all' - the plural / singular switch threw me out. Plus, is a porch 'in' a house? And personally, I would say 'in' a rocking chair.

These are tidy-ups though. Most importantly, I liked it. It made me feel something.

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Thanks for your input Robinski. I'm glad you liked it. Description is a weakness of mine, and the fact that I managed to evoke a clear image in your mind, means a lot!

Yes, I did mean "aching" hair. Instead of saying "greying" or "aging", I thought this word would paint the hair as ill and dying, which ultimately conveys the same image but in a different less used way. I'm not too sure now though.

Thank you for pointing out all the small details. As a non-native speaker, you can't imagine how I appreciate that!

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I did a continuation of the previous paragraph, and I'm thinking of sharing it with the members of my English club. I'm doubting that I'm going overboard with metaphors here but I could be just overthinking it. I could use a writer's thoughts on this. Thanks.

Spoiler

The moon was a jewel of light in the high treasure trove of golden, bluish, and fiery-red stars. The fields of grass and wheat lay vast and dark around a single brave yellow spot that seemed to imitate the majesty of those above. It was the light emanating from a house in the middle of nowhere. This house had a porch. And on this porch, there sat a man in a rocking chair. He was silent, as silent as his aging hair. And weary, as weary as the fading colors of his clothes. And his eyes, they had fever in them. No, they had wonder. No, not that. It was most certainly thirst, or was it regret? It was all of them combined.

And with these distant eyes, he gazed into the more distant stars. Sometimes, he’d try to form shapes out of them, often failing but on a few rare occasions he’d manage to draw the outline of a tree, or a cat, or even a tea cup just like the one he’d been sipping from, except it’d have two ears or be too large or too tall. He didn’t really care what shape it was. He just found it funny how such random dots could form such familiar shapes. He’d smile at that from the bottom of his heart like an innocent little child. And then he’d smile even wider at this realization.

Other times, the old man of sixty years old would simply rock back and forth in his chair, and stare at the darkness of the world around him. His chest would rise ever gently, and fall ever slowly. The tension on his forehead would fade, the wrinkles between his eyebrows would soften and melt, his muscles would rest and sigh in a long-awaited relief. His mind would float unperturbed in blissful thoughts, the night with its darkness becoming the endless canvas on which he would let loose the brightness of dreams that could never be true. He’d first color the canvas with yellow eagerness. Then he’d mix it in with rosy hope. And on top, he’d add some icy-blue music, with a tinge of lime elation and a sprinkle here and there of silver fun. Soon enough, the dark shadows would be expelled from the canvas. Soon enough, it would turn into a lively world of vibrant hues.

The old man would spend a few minutes like this, until each time he’d be forced awake by the sinking feeling of his hands losing grip of his precious teacup. This time however, it was none other than the creaking sound of the door opening and his wife Martha stepping out, that drew him off his dreamy stupor.

 

Edited by king007
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Q & M bonus material!!

So, @kaisa made a brilliant point in a critique of one of my chapters, which was that an editor or agent asking for the first 50 pages or three chapters or whatever of TMM, would not actually encounter any of the 'sparkling' (depending on your opinion) interaction between Q and M, since they don't meet until Chapter 7 and don't really interact until Chapter 8.

Ergo, I wrote this scene in response to that latest WE writing prompt (S12, Ep11). I'm thinking of it as a framing scene, which would appear at the start of the story. If you have the chance and inclination to read, I'd welcome your thoughts on this as the first introduction to the 'main' characters in the story.

Oh, and it's written in mock screenplay format - affectation or engaging? Also, certain swears have been replaced to protect the sensitive.

<R>

[Text removed by RCMD]

Edited by Robinski
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I love it ! I found it engaging and wanted to read more.

But just for the sake of giving a good critique, I can notice one thing that could use some editing: 

" Don’t you want someone standing over you in a hundred years feeling some regret? " when I read this, I stopped a bit and reread it twice to make sure I'd gotten the meaning right. What gave me pause was that I didn't quickly figure out who was feeling regret in Quirk's context, and also "regret" didn't quite register with me as the correct feeling to have at a funeral. This feeling seems more about one's self than others.

Well, other than that, everything was lovely to me. This made want to continue reading from where I left off at chapter 2 :D 

Edited by king007
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3 hours ago, Robinski said:

Oh, and it's written in mock screenplay format - affectation or engaging?

Since you want to give agents and editors (and presumably readers) a preview of what they'll be getting later on in the book, I doubt it's a good idea to write this in a completely different style/format. That would be breaking authorial promises, for a start.

And while a short piece like this is fine in screenplay form, I remember reading The Importance of Being Earnest and the format got sort of annoying after a while. (But that's just me, though.)

Edited by Eagle of the Forest Path
thought of something more
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2 hours ago, king007 said:

Well, other than that, everything was lovely to me. This made want to continue reading from where I left off at chapter 2 :D 

Excellent - I'm going to call that mission accomplished. Kind of proves @kaisa's point about engaging readers (and others) early with the Q/M banter.

Also, you make a good point about 'regret' and the lack of clarity in that sentence. Thanks, King - much appreciated :) 

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1 hour ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

Since you want to give agents and editors (and presumably readers) a preview of what they'll be getting later on in the book, I doubt it's a good idea to write this in a completely different style/format.

Thanks for reading, @Eagle of the Forest Path, appreciate your comments. Yeah - it's like a curtain between the reader the characters, isn't it? Good point.

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@Robinski I think this would work better as a regularly written piece. For one thing, you have far too many stage directions in the dialogue lines for it to read convincingly as a play/screenplay (for a snippet that size, one, MAYBE two short directions, max), and for another, as Eagle mentioned, that format can be very off-putting. A third thing would be, if you were planning on using it with the rest of your story, the fact that (from what i've seen at least) no other part of your story is in this format. But as an exercise, I like it! It's snappy, and gets to the heart of the characters.  

 

Also, if you're looking for a good book that incorporates some of the screenplay format, Walter Dean Meyers' "Monster" is one where I didn't mind the screenplay parts too much. 

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1 hour ago, industrialistDragon said:

I like it! It's snappy, and gets to the heart of the characters.

Awesome - that's the most important thing, obvs; the screenplay thing was just spitballing, although I might salvage some bits an pieces from it. I'm not wedded to it by any means. And thanks for the recommendation!

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This is something I wrote the other day on the spur of a moment as I was listening to music. Reading Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, I realized I'm just way off mark when it comes to description. That's why I've been trying to up my game in that department. I hope I've been making progress, and I await your highly appreciated critiques.

*SPOILER ALERT: this contains spoilers for season 6 of Game of Thrones. If you don't want to read that, don't open the spoiler inside this one.

Spoiler
It's Saturday. The sun is almost gone. I'm sitting at my desk. The room is dimly lit, and I can only see the keyboard by the brightness of my computer screen. I'm writing this because I feel a compelling urge to share what I've experienced during this afternoon.
 
Spoiler
It all started when I was lying on my bed, re-watching the last episodes of my favorite TV show: Game of Thrones. I watched once more how Khalessi burned the ships with her dragons and defeated the slavers once and for all.
I stared unblinkingly at the screen, and had my breaths taken away as Jon Snow was fighting his way out of that horrifying stampede. My tears, fought their way out, as well, when Lady Lyanna united the northern houses under Jon’s command. I, too, pledged allegiance to the Lord Commander that moment, and although my mouth uttered no sound, my heart screamed "Long live Jon Snow! Long live the king in the north!"
I also sat and smiled when Cersei obliterated the high sparrow and all the noble lords that dared oppose her. I knew things would only keep becoming more awesome with her ascending the iron throne, Jon marching his army, and Daenerys crossing the ocean with her countless ships.

 

The last episode ended, and with that came the ending theme song. And right then,when I would usually hit that close button, I found myself listening to the song, unable to quit, my brain alarmed and overheating, sending signals through the millions of neurons everywhere, unable to come to grips with how such vibrations could ever dream to be this beautiful.
The music ended too quickly and I was left with an unstoppable crave. Luckily I had an extended version of the song on my laptop. But before I played it, I made sure to fix my lying posture. I re-positioned the pillow under my head, straightened my clothes, and slightly adjusted my ear plugs. Nothing was going to distract me.
Finally, I was ready to begin. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and clicked play. The stream of ecstasy rushed through my ears, down my spine, reaching every cell of my body. I felt the music taking over, like a tsunami, cleansing everything in its path. First, drawing all the water towards it and then hitting the shore with all its might.
My head bobbed left and right, my eyebrows stretched through the highs and lows of the melody, my heart throbbed and wept like a newborn child tasting fresh air for the first time, my hands and feet danced in a well synchronized choreography, and even the hair on my skin rose like sharpened spikes.
I listened to the end, and through that all I had numerous emotions surge inside me following the changing trends of the music. Sometimes it was fierce and angry, others it was tired and weak, almost vanishing. At times it was compassionate, understanding, but then, wrathful, it would turn, and so I followed suit, and so it showed in the gestures of my body. A sight, I would imagine, would be, to an ignorant onlooker, similar to that of a twitching dead man, while in truth I couldn't have been more alive.
The song finally came to an end. My insistent urges of hearing more, however, did not. And so I found myself searching for some other heavenly piece that could quench my ravenous thirst. It was then that I remembered the theme song for the Star Wars Awaken movie trailer. I hurriedly started playing it and returned to my optimal listening position.
If the previous song had managed to evoke that tornado of feelings in me, then this one transported me entirely to a whole new world. The music started peacefully and along with it, the tension seeped away from my jaw, and shoulders, and limbs. But this did not last long, as this music was not telling the story of a small boy in a small quiet farm, rather it was about to embark on an impossible journey.
The beat accelerated. Even more instruments added up to the mix, more than I could ever distinguish on my cheap ear-plugs that I had just bought earlier this day.The music had just begun and I could already see the huge amount of effort and dedication that went into crafting it.
The tides of the song began to rise gradually reaching for a fateful climax, and with this I experienced yet another musical effect. My eyes were shut closed, I was supposed to be in the realm of darkness, and yet here I was seeing scenes unfold in front of me as if I was right then and there: giant ocean waves slamming violently, pit against each other by the rage of an angry storm, thunder and lightning picking sides and cheering them on, mobs of somber clouds watched silently, moving in a threatening motion.
The beat grew faster, and right on cue, the imagery in my mind changed, the scope of the story widened, it was greater than the mere confines of one single ocean and one petty storm. I was seeing the earth now, along with the moon. How beautiful they were, just like a perfect couple.
The beat shifted once more, and the scene zoomed out further away. We zipped past the sun and its riotous flames. The music churned, rising higher still, until we finally reached the destined climax. And here, I found myself viewing the whole galaxy. Everything was within my sight and grasp. The scope was endless, but just as you thought you had reached the end, the instruments turned wicked and bared their hidden sinister sides. They called forth new soldier-like sounds to the battleground, sounds with an edge too sharp, and a grip too firm, destroying in their wake all the weaker ones.
The scenery in my mind changed accordingly to that of a smoldering spire of scorching fire, too hot it consumed itself, and was rapidly losing its flame, becoming darker than ocean depths. And that is when the music returned to its previous docile state. And that is how I spent this Saturday afternoon, rediscovering something I seem to have forgotten for a long time: that music is truly and utterly powerful.

 

Edited by king007
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8 hours ago, king007 said:

had my breaths taken away

breath

8 hours ago, king007 said:

left with an unstoppable crave

I would suggest 'unsatisfied craving', or maybe something around 'insatiable'. But it's a craving, not a crave.

9 hours ago, king007 said:

following the changing trends of the music

themes of the music

9 hours ago, king007 said:

but then, wrathful, it would turn, and so I followed suit, and so it showed in the gestures of my body

Grammar's off here. I noticed before but didn't comment on the commas 'but then turning wrathful', for example. Too many commas.

9 hours ago, king007 said:

A sight, I would imagine, would be, to an ignorant onlooker, similar to that of a twitching dead man,

Commas again.

9 hours ago, king007 said:

My insistent urges of hearing more

'to hear more', or 'for hearing more' perhaps

9 hours ago, king007 said:

Star Wars Awaken

The Force Awakens

9 hours ago, king007 said:

not telling the story of a small boy in a small quiet farm, rather it was about to embark on an impossible journey.

'on' a quiet farm. Also, what is 'it'? The music? And Force Awakens is not about a boy, it's about a 'girl', woman really.

9 hours ago, king007 said:

The beat accelerated.

I would say tempo, personally. Also, I would say it's rare for music to accelerate. Fairly common to have a shift in tempo, but not to' accelerate' through a number of increasing  tempos, as I imply from this description.

9 hours ago, king007 said:

my cheap ear-plugs that I had just bought earlier this day.

earphones, surely? Maybe that's a North American thing. And I would say 'today'. This day sounds rather high fantasy archaic.

9 hours ago, king007 said:

pit against each other

pitted, I would say

9 hours ago, king007 said:

but just as you thought you had reached the end

This is a hard shift in viewpoint, I found it uncomfortable. Why not 'I'?

9 hours ago, king007 said:

too hot it consumed itself

so hot

There's some good description there, without doubt, and I think it's clear your language has come on a huge amount in the time I've read your stuff on here. As to the piece itself, there were a couple of place I felt some repetition between the pieces, when there were fighting / battleground references, for example. I was certainly moved in places. It's difficult reading description which is just that, but I could see the arc in the piece, in terms of rediscovering the power of music. Maybe a tad disjointed in the fact that there is something of a pause in the middle when you change pieces of music.

This is some good work, I think, as an experiment / exercise, and I look forward to you applying to some writing that we can see on here. What I would hope for is a subject and / or characters that have a strong original streak in it / them.

Happy writing! :) 

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I haven't poked about much in this thread, so excuse me for barging in. I'm considering entering a shorts contest (max 300 words, theme: 'Renewal', and specific to queer work. Must be speculative fiction based). I've never written any type of short, and certainly nothing this short. 

I'd love some thoughts on this... whatever it is. Attempt? It's a lot like TWD, because that is where my headspace is right now. I think I like it? I don't know. Three hundred words isn't a lot to work with.

Spoiler

Deleted, because I subbed it!

 

Edited by kais
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I didn't get the response to the question. it took me a bit to get that pov was saying that it was her hand that had caused the slip, not the lathe.

Otherwise, nice piece of work. I can see the arc, the element of renewal, and I like how you bring in the forgiving nature of wood. I've done a little very amateur woodworking in my time, and I have some idea (very unaccomplished) of what you're on about there. There's even some sweet description in there with the likening of the curl of the wood shaving to the curl of K's hair. Good job. Nicely done. It's a comfortable and enjoyable read.

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4 minutes ago, Robinski said:

the slip, not the lathe.

Thank you for the feedback! Would it work better if I said 'My mistake' instead of 'my hand'? 

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Yes, 10,000% better :) 

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