Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
molah

2019-06-10 - The day Max Corwell unleashed magic upon Earth (L) - Flash - 998 words

19 posts in this topic

As always, I'm especially interested in the feelings / thoughts the story provoked, and whether there are any continuity issues because part are still in my head and not on paper. :)

Thanks for reading!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @molah

With (exceptions) my page by page comments are done as a dry run and made as I read. 

1
- I'm not a fan of the title. Not because it's long but because a] All The Words Aren't All Capitalized and be b] Spoilers.
- (And c] It's not really accurate. The story isn't about the day itself so much as the how.)

- Do we need it pointed out that the corridor is natural?
- Steel feet. Interesting. Robot?
- ‘Mooom. Are we theeeere yet?’ The robot is her child?
- Is she claustrophobic?
- How does she know it's a huge cavern if she sees only a wall of blackness?
- Why isn't all of D's dialogue italicized? 
- Not a fan of the SW reference. Took me out of the story and it's alienating to people like Gave from the Office.

2
- As a general rule I'm against sound effects but it does help set the atmosphere here. 
- (But it's only used once so now I'm wondering if it's necessary at all.)
- "The cavern was an elongated dome resting on a rise." Huh? I can't picture this at all.
- What's casting shadows?
- Oh stalagmites.
- Why would there only be one column?

3
- "began climbing" to "climbed". I'll only point it out once, but active tense throughout, especially in such a short piece. 
- "Was she even on Earth anymore?" Not feeling this line. Redundant.
- Okay, I'm on page 3 of 7 and only now is there any indication that the italicized dialogue doesn't belong to D. I'm guessing she's having flashbacks or something. This should be clarified immediately on page one.
- Not sure why she giggles.
- Since I just figured out the italicized dialogue is flashback this is confusing because the last line seems to respond to her joke and it also seems to be coming from a different person who isn't her child.

4
- Her outburst feels out of place, like the giggle. Are her emotions being manipulated by the pillar?
- Now there's narrative mixed in with the flashback dialogue. Feels uneven.
- "hearing voices again" So the flashbacks aren't being caused by the pillar?

5
- Wait. So the pillar IS affecting her? I feel the story should pick a concrete lane. Either have the flashbacks be a part of her OR have them be the product of the pillar.
- The flashbacks have started to feel like info dumps at this point.

6
- I feel cheated that there's just a shot to get rid of the voices. Like they were only there as a literary device. Why didn't she take the shot earlier?

7
- Good ending, but I want to know a] why the magic worked and b] how she knew it would work the way she wanted.

Overall:
So I see what you were trying to do. Explore the complex emotions of losing a child and give an example of the lengths a mother might go through to bring the child back in as few words as possible. The first part I think works. Perhaps it is because I have children, but I don't need much for me to identify with that emotion. The lengths a mother might go through part falters because the only risks we see are condemnations from the past for trying what she is trying. There is no immediate risk. No immediate threat. And no obvious consequences besides voices she hears already anyway. It also doesn't seem like she's doing anything anyone else couldn't do.

Your prose are solid. I like that the story is focused and always feels like it's moving forward (minus some of those later flashbacks). And I really like what you're trying to do with the story and with very little revision you could get it there pretty easily.
 

1 hour ago, molah said:

I'm especially interested in the feelings / thoughts the story provoked

Unfortunately, it didn't really provoke any substantial feelings. I felt her loss in that I have children and know how I would feel if I lost one of them, but the story itself doesn't convey these feelings to me. I didn't find myself rooting for her to succeed, which I should have.

I think the bones of a fantastic story are here, but the fat needs to be trimmed away and the meat needs to be meatier. In such a short piece, about such a sensitive topic, I should've felt like I'd been kicked in the balls.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guten tag Molah,

I think there are two prevalent issues here. The first is that I'm having trouble visually picturing the story. For instance, D. D is a robot. Cool! But what does it look like? Tall? Thin? Stocky? What does it sound like? D is a heavy robot with a needle, and that's all we know about it. I'm also having trouble with this cavern. If the dome is resting on a rise, is there a dome within another cavern? The wording of it is just somewhat confusing.

Also, the story doesn't make much sense to me. This is a world with intelligent robots and magical artifacts, but the notion of magic is summarily dismissed? Also, how did M find this artifact? What led her there? Why is she convinced of magic in the first place? I think having the story be this short does it a disservice. It deserves to be longer in order to flesh out the tale, and the world. 

Here are my notes from while I was reading: 

pg. 1: 

placing his steel feet carefully on the slippery ground.


 I think that ‘Treading carefully’ would sound better. "Placing carefully" doesn't sound like walking to me. 

 

“He. He. He.”


"Heh heh heh" might make it clearer that that's supposed to be laughter.

 

Water dripped slowly in the distance


At a slow rate?

 

pg. 2:

The ceiling was maybe sixty feet above and full of stalactites reaching out for her, mirrored by the floor, where stalagmites reached up like pale fingers.


There's a repetition of the idea of reaching here.

 

pg. 3:

...her surrounding...


Correct to 'surroundings.'

 

“Have you been putting on weight?” 

She giggled at her own remark. D’s body was as heavy as she’d designed it.


This should be one paragraph. 

 

pg. 4:

“Ah, no. Nevermind."


Change to 'never mind.' 

 

pg. 4-5: 

Look, I don’t want to do this...something new.


Flashback dialogue needs apostrophes to keep it consistent.

 

pg. 5:

This had to be one of the fountains of magic she’d predicted would exist.


I think it would be better to say that she theorized it. 'Predicted' makes it sound like this was prophesized.

 

I am sorry.”


Change to 'I’m.' "I am" sounds a little too formal. 

 

pg. 6:

M stood up and rehearsed her plan


Such a quick recovery contradicts the notion that the drug made her lose her will to do anything. 

 

pg. 7:

“Mommy, what’s taken you so long?”


Okay, I get for what you're going for here—sweet and tragic—but the sheer abruptness of it made it feel more like black comedy to me. (I know, I'm a sick person.) It would work as such, if the tone up until now hadn't been so somber. 

There's also little payoff in this ending—M finds magical artifact, decides it's a better idea to blow up the rocks that are sealing it instead of coming back with better equipment, and technically gets what she wants anyways. Not only that, we didn't get to see what made it so magical! In short, I think it ought to be revised; build it up a little more for a better, more tonally consistent payoff. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not really sure how to split up quotes, so I'll reply inline in bold:

9 hours ago, hawkedup said:

Hi @molah

With (exceptions) my page by page comments are done as a dry run and made as I read. 

1
- I'm not a fan of the title. Not because it's long but because a] All The Words Aren't All Capitalized and be b] Spoilers.
- (And c] It's not really accurate. The story isn't about the day itself so much as the how.)

I've agonized over the title for longer than it took me to write the story, and I'm still not happy. :D 


- Do we need it pointed out that the corridor is natural?
- Steel feet. Interesting. Robot?
- ‘Mooom. Are we theeeere yet?’ The robot is her child?
- Is she claustrophobic?
- How does she know it's a huge cavern if she sees only a wall of blackness?
- Why isn't all of D's dialogue italicized? 
- Not a fan of the SW reference. Took me out of the story and it's alienating to people like Gave from the Office.

Thanks :) I wasn't too convinced, so I'll just scrap it.

2
- As a general rule I'm against sound effects but it does help set the atmosphere here. 
- (But it's only used once so now I'm wondering if it's necessary at all.)

Good point
- "The cavern was an elongated dome resting on a rise." Huh? I can't picture this at all.
- What's casting shadows?
- Oh stalagmites.
- Why would there only be one column?

3
- "began climbing" to "climbed". I'll only point it out once, but active tense throughout, especially in such a short piece. 
- "Was she even on Earth anymore?" Not feeling this line. Redundant.
- Okay, I'm on page 3 of 7 and only now is there any indication that the italicized dialogue doesn't belong to D. I'm guessing she's having flashbacks or something. This should be clarified immediately on page one.
- Not sure why she giggles.

Yeah, considered cutting it. That's the nail in the coffin :) 
- Since I just figured out the italicized dialogue is flashback this is confusing because the last line seems to respond to her joke and it also seems to be coming from a different person who isn't her child.

4
- Her outburst feels out of place, like the giggle. Are her emotions being manipulated by the pillar?
- Now there's narrative mixed in with the flashback dialogue. Feels uneven.
- "hearing voices again" So the flashbacks aren't being caused by the pillar?

5
- Wait. So the pillar IS affecting her? I feel the story should pick a concrete lane. Either have the flashbacks be a part of her OR have them be the product of the pillar.
- The flashbacks have started to feel like info dumps at this point.

6
- I feel cheated that there's just a shot to get rid of the voices. Like they were only there as a literary device. Why didn't she take the shot earlier?

7
- Good ending, but I want to know a] why the magic worked and b] how she knew it would work the way she wanted.

Overall:
So I see what you were trying to do. Explore the complex emotions of losing a child and give an example of the lengths a mother might go through to bring the child back in as few words as possible. The first part I think works. Perhaps it is because I have children, but I don't need much for me to identify with that emotion. The lengths a mother might go through part falters because the only risks we see are condemnations from the past for trying what she is trying. There is no immediate risk. No immediate threat. And no obvious consequences besides voices she hears already anyway. It also doesn't seem like she's doing anything anyone else couldn't do.

Your prose are solid. [Glad to hear that! It's something I'm concerned about as a non-native speaker] I like that the story is focused and always feels like it's moving forward (minus some of those later flashbacks). And I really like what you're trying to do with the story and with very little revision you could get it there pretty easily.

Unfortunately, it didn't really provoke any substantial feelings. I felt her loss in that I have children and know how I would feel if I lost one of them, but the story itself doesn't convey these feelings to me. I didn't find myself rooting for her to succeed, which I should have.

I think the bones of a fantastic story are here, but the fat needs to be trimmed away and the meat needs to be meatier. In such a short piece, about such a sensitive topic, I should've felt like I'd been kicked in the balls.

Thanks for your feedback! It's really helpful and confirmed one of my fears: There's still too much of the story not on the paper. :) 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Jordan! I'll reply inline in bold:

9 hours ago, JWerner said:

Guten tag Molah,

I think there are two prevalent issues here. The first is that I'm having trouble visually picturing the story. For instance, D. D is a robot. Cool! But what does it look like? Tall? Thin? Stocky? What does it sound like? D is a heavy robot with a needle, and that's all we know about it. I'm also having trouble with this cavern. If the dome is resting on a rise, is there a dome within another cavern? The wording of it is just somewhat confusing.

Very helpful feedback! I suspected that there may be some issues in my description and you confirmed it.

Also, the story doesn't make much sense to me. This is a world with intelligent robots and magical artifacts, but the notion of magic is summarily dismissed? Also, how did M find this artifact? What led her there? Why is she convinced of magic in the first place? I think having the story be this short does it a disservice. It deserves to be longer in order to flesh out the tale, and the world. 

I agree with you regarding the length. To be honest, I don't like flash fiction as a reader. I only wrote this as a flash because of a writing prompt in the WotF forums. I think I'll make it a short and give it the time and length it deserves. :) 

Here are my notes from while I was reading: 

pg. 1: 

placing his steel feet carefully on the slippery ground.


 I think that ‘Treading carefully’ would sound better. "Placing carefully" doesn't sound like walking to me. 

 

“He. He. He.”


"Heh heh heh" might make it clearer that that's supposed to be laughter.

Heh! Thanks, that's not something I would've noticed myself, I guess. In German you'd write "hehehe" and in Spanish "jejeje", so it looked perfectly fine to me. :D 

 

Water dripped slowly in the distance


At a slow rate?

 

pg. 2:

The ceiling was maybe sixty feet above and full of stalactites reaching out for her, mirrored by the floor, where stalagmites reached up like pale fingers.


There's a repetition of the idea of reaching here.

 

pg. 3:

...her surrounding...


Correct to 'surroundings.'

 

“Have you been putting on weight?” 

She giggled at her own remark. D’s body was as heavy as she’d designed it.


This should be one paragraph. 

 

pg. 4:

“Ah, no. Nevermind."


Change to 'never mind.' 

 

pg. 4-5: 

Look, I don’t want to do this...something new.


Flashback dialogue needs apostrophes to keep it consistent.

 

pg. 5:

This had to be one of the fountains of magic she’d predicted would exist.


I think it would be better to say that she theorized it. 'Predicted' makes it sound like this was prophesized.

 

I am sorry.”


Change to 'I’m.' "I am" sounds a little too formal. 

 

pg. 6:

M stood up and rehearsed her plan


Such a quick recovery contradicts the notion that the drug made her lose her will to do anything. 

You're right. I blame the flash format! :rolleyes:

pg. 7:

“Mommy, what’s taken you so long?”


Okay, I get for what you're going for here—sweet and tragic—but the sheer abruptness of it made it feel more like black comedy to me. (I know, I'm a sick person.) It would work as such, if the tone up until now hadn't been so somber. 

There's also little payoff in this ending—M finds magical artifact, decides it's a better idea to blow up the rocks that are sealing it instead of coming back with better equipment, and technically gets what she wants anyways. Not only that, we didn't get to see what made it so magical! In short, I think it ought to be revised; build it up a little more for a better, more tonally consistent payoff. 

Again, thanks for taking the time to read my piece and for providing all the feedback. Very helpful! :)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, molah said:

Also, the story doesn't make much sense to me. This is a world with intelligent robots and magical artifacts, but the notion of magic is summarily dismissed? Also, how did M find this artifact? What led her there? Why is she convinced of magic in the first place? I think having the story be this short does it a disservice. It deserves to be longer in order to flesh out the tale, and the world. 

I agree with you regarding the length. To be honest, I don't like flash fiction as a reader. I only wrote this as a flash because of a writing prompt in the WotF forums. I think I'll make it a short and give it the time and length it deserves. :) 

This was the biggest sticking point for me. I think there are enough ideas here to make a novelette or novella easily. Cramming it all in this space is sort of confusing, and there's no chance to get any reactions out of it.

17 hours ago, hawkedup said:

‘Mooom. Are we theeeere yet?’ The robot is her child?

I was also very confused about this. There's not enough time to explain D's relation ship with M, or why she would build him. As @JWerner points out, we don't even know what the robot looks like, except that he's metal and has feet and a needle.

There needs to be more blocking with the italic phrases. After about page 4 I was mostly skimming to get to the end and find out what the heck was going on.

17 hours ago, hawkedup said:

I think the bones of a fantastic story are here, but the fat needs to be trimmed away and the meat needs to be meatier. In such a short piece, about such a sensitive topic, I should've felt like I'd been kicked in the balls.

I agree completely with @hawkedup. Good idea. Needs to be longer to get the emotional effect. You tell us that M is broken up about her kid dying (somehow), but there's no breathing space to show her reaction.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

This was the biggest sticking point for me. I think there are enough ideas here to make a novelette or novella easily. Cramming it all in this space is sort of confusing, and there's no chance to get any reactions out of it.

I was also very confused about this. There's not enough time to explain D's relation ship with M, or why she would build him. As @JWerner points out, we don't even know what the robot looks like, except that he's metal and has feet and a needle.

There needs to be more blocking with the italic phrases. After about page 4 I was mostly skimming to get to the end and find out what the heck was going on.

I agree completely with @hawkedup. Good idea. Needs to be longer to get the emotional effect. You tell us that M is broken up about her kid dying (somehow), but there's no breathing space to show her reaction.

Thanks for your feedback and for reading my story! :) I'll make sure to make it clearer when she's hearing voices.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@molah If you highlight a specific sentence or words you want to quote a little icon that said use quote will pop up. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, delighted to be reading something new from you :) 

(page 1)

- Ah, jeez. My internal bias is showing, assumed M was a male. Bad bias, go sit in the corner and think about what you've done.

- "metal feet" - Huh? So, DC is a robot, but acts like a child? Hmm. Not entirely clear, but I'll read on for the explanation.

- "little pad" - Wait, so DC is the more senior / 'aged' of the two? I'm a bit disoriented, trying to figure out the relationship between these two.

- The wall of black nothing is a great image, but it could have been worked a bit harder, I think. That sense of not knowing if there is 100 metres of nothing in front of you, or if there is a wall two feet away. I've been in such a situation (not in a cave though) and there's a lovely hesitancy about it, literally the unknown. I feel that could work for sense of wonder here.

- So, it was hard to breathe in the narrow section, now it's hard to breathe because of the humidity. So, it's a different kind of hard to breathe? Which one was harder? Seemed a little odd to go from hard to breathe, to another hard to breathe.

(page 2)

- "mommy" - Yeah, I don't get this relationship, it's confusing me.

- "reaching out for her" - Bit confused. Stalactites will 'reach' towards the floor, straight down. If she's at one end, they can't all be reaching towards her, or she would be at some weird centre of gravity.

- I'm finding DC's voice annoying. A sense of wonder is created, but then it's broken by DC's childlike ramblings. The tone is quite odd. 

(page 3)

- Why is there a path? It sounds like some sort of formal path, the way it's presented, but I'm not sure if that is the intent.

- "Her surroundings felt profoundly alien" - typo, should be plural.

- 'Mrs. Cor...' - Huh? Whose voice is this?

- Wait, she giggles and the robot accuses her of being serious? The tone again is confusing. I'm having a hard time picking a consistent emotional path through the story.

- She's reached the pillar. I didn't see that happening, thought they were still climbing.

(page 4)

“What?” M looked at him confused. “Ah, no. Never mind.” - This is two words. Also, it doesn't help my sense of confusion for the character also to be confused. What purpose is this line serving?

- "she was hearing voices again" - Yeah this is an issue for me. I'm having trouble figuring who's 'speaking' at certain points.

- "turned back to face the path" - But she's at the pillar now, so at the end of the path, presumably.

- So DC, the childlike robot, it in charge of medicating the adult woman?! I'm so confused.

- And there's a room...

- I can't tell the different between the robot speaking and her internal recollections. It's disorienting.

- "Look, I don’t want to do this" - See, this recollection is not in quotes, whereas the earlier one was. Inconsistent formatting isn't helping me follow what's happnening.

(page 5)

- "There would be repercussions for everyone" - typo, should be plural.

- she’d predicted would exist" - How in the name of h**y heck did she do that? I don't know what kind of world this is, so I automatically assume it's a standard word of 2019.

- "knife through butter" - cliché

(page 6)

- "in the dripstone" - What is this? Surely these things are made of calcite / calcium carbonate. 

- "She carried a bit of C-4" - :blink::blink::blink::blink::blink::blink: Really? This seemed to come out of nowhere Also, it's so casual, like she always carries it! I don't know how anyone would do that, or be allowed to do that. Surely C$ is a heavily controlled substance, is it not?

- She was loath to set it off, but then she's not, because the concept is abstract, and doesn't actually worry her. I don't understand what she's thinking. There are contradictory emotions in this same sentence.

(page 7)

- So, she dies? The thing is, I don't really care that much. I've never felt an emotional connection with the character, and basically I've been confused by her emotions for most of the story. It leaves me really not invested in the ending.

- So, I see how putting this ending together with the title, this is how the magic is released, but she does not get to 'profit' from it, although she does in the sense that she is reunited with her child. I just never felt her pain. That's why I don't really feel the ending.

Overall 

One of my biggest problems was that the neither of the two characters had a consistent emotional tone, and their relationship was confusing too, which added to the overall confusion that I felt reading the story. I think there needs to be at least one consistent emotional 'voice' through the story, something for the reader to hold onto, to anchor the story.

One of the short stories in the Hugo voting pack for Worldcon is a slightly similar story of a mother dealing with grief. I've think it's a really good indiction of where the bar is for stories like this (STET - @Mandamon, @kais - have you read it yet? Wow.). I think your story needs a good go-over for consistent of character voice and for emotional buy-in. These are so many threads, and I'm really not sure they come together well enough to form a consistent narrative which is so important for s tory this short.

I would be happy to read another version of this, and I'm really glad you submitted it!

Thanks for sharing :) 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, hawkedup said:

@molah If you highlight a specific sentence or words you want to quote a little icon that said use quote will pop up. 

Oh, that's neat. Thanks! :)

1 hour ago, Robinski said:

Hey, delighted to be reading something new from you :) 

(page 1)

- Ah, jeez. My internal bias is showing, assumed M was a male. Bad bias, go sit in the corner and think about what you've done.

- "metal feet" - Huh? So, DC is a robot, but acts like a child? Hmm. Not entirely clear, but I'll read on for the explanation.

- "little pad" - Wait, so DC is the more senior / 'aged' of the two? I'm a bit disoriented, trying to figure out the relationship between these two.

- The wall of black nothing is a great image, but it could have been worked a bit harder, I think. That sense of not knowing if there is 100 metres of nothing in front of you, or if there is a wall two feet away. I've been in such a situation (not in a cave though) and there's a lovely hesitancy about it, literally the unknown. I feel that could work for sense of wonder here.

- So, it was hard to breathe in the narrow section, now it's hard to breathe because of the humidity. So, it's a different kind of hard to breathe? Which one was harder? Seemed a little odd to go from hard to breathe, to another hard to breathe.

(page 2)

- "mommy" - Yeah, I don't get this relationship, it's confusing me.

- "reaching out for her" - Bit confused. Stalactites will 'reach' towards the floor, straight down. If she's at one end, they can't all be reaching towards her, or she would be at some weird centre of gravity.

- I'm finding DC's voice annoying. A sense of wonder is created, but then it's broken by DC's childlike ramblings. The tone is quite odd. 

(page 3)

- Why is there a path? It sounds like some sort of formal path, the way it's presented, but I'm not sure if that is the intent.

- "Her surroundings felt profoundly alien" - typo, should be plural.

- 'Mrs. Cor...' - Huh? Whose voice is this?

- Wait, she giggles and the robot accuses her of being serious? The tone again is confusing. I'm having a hard time picking a consistent emotional path through the story.

- She's reached the pillar. I didn't see that happening, thought they were still climbing.

(page 4)

“What?” M looked at him confused. “Ah, no. Never mind.” - This is two words. Also, it doesn't help my sense of confusion for the character also to be confused. What purpose is this line serving?

- "she was hearing voices again" - Yeah this is an issue for me. I'm having trouble figuring who's 'speaking' at certain points.

- "turned back to face the path" - But she's at the pillar now, so at the end of the path, presumably.

- So DC, the childlike robot, it in charge of medicating the adult woman?! I'm so confused.

- And there's a room...

- I can't tell the different between the robot speaking and her internal recollections. It's disorienting.

- "Look, I don’t want to do this" - See, this recollection is not in quotes, whereas the earlier one was. Inconsistent formatting isn't helping me follow what's happnening.

(page 5)

- "There would be repercussions for everyone" - typo, should be plural.

- she’d predicted would exist" - How in the name of h**y heck did she do that? I don't know what kind of world this is, so I automatically assume it's a standard word of 2019.

- "knife through butter" - cliché

(page 6)

- "in the dripstone" - What is this? Surely these things are made of calcite / calcium carbonate. 

- "She carried a bit of C-4" - :blink::blink::blink::blink::blink::blink: Really? This seemed to come out of nowhere Also, it's so casual, like she always carries it! I don't know how anyone would do that, or be allowed to do that. Surely C$ is a heavily controlled substance, is it not?

- She was loath to set it off, but then she's not, because the concept is abstract, and doesn't actually worry her. I don't understand what she's thinking. There are contradictory emotions in this same sentence.

(page 7)

- So, she dies? The thing is, I don't really care that much. I've never felt an emotional connection with the character, and basically I've been confused by her emotions for most of the story. It leaves me really not invested in the ending.

- So, I see how putting this ending together with the title, this is how the magic is released, but she does not get to 'profit' from it, although she does in the sense that she is reunited with her child. I just never felt her pain. That's why I don't really feel the ending.

Overall 

One of my biggest problems was that the neither of the two characters had a consistent emotional tone, and their relationship was confusing too, which added to the overall confusion that I felt reading the story. I think there needs to be at least one consistent emotional 'voice' through the story, something for the reader to hold onto, to anchor the story.

One of the short stories in the Hugo voting pack for Worldcon is a slightly similar story of a mother dealing with grief. I've think it's a really good indiction of where the bar is for stories like this (STET - @Mandamon, @kais - have you read it yet? Wow.). I think your story needs a good go-over for consistent of character voice and for emotional buy-in. These are so many threads, and I'm really not sure they come together well enough to form a consistent narrative which is so important for s tory this short.

I would be happy to read another version of this, and I'm really glad you submitted it!

Thanks for sharing :) 

Thanks for the feedback and for pointing out the typos! I agree with you that Max is a bit all over the place. :) Will rework this sometime in the future.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Robinski said:

(STET - @Mandamon, @kais - have you read it yet? Wow.)

Not to hijack this thread, but yes. I thought it was really good!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Not to hijack this thread, but yes. I thought it was really good!

Me too. Very innovative, and being about transport, it was very much in my professional wheelhouse.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall, I like the concept. However, it is lacking emotion for the kind of story it is. There are the voices, which the narratives voice says are hallucinations even though they just seem like she is remembering things. I'm not sure why they have to be hallucinations or labeled as voices. I think they would work better as a narrative device if they weren't. Then there is lots of description, which could potentially convey more emotion than it does. 

If you really honed the prose and the way things were described, and let the italics be more of a narrative device than hallucination, this could work as flash. However, it could also be a fantastic short story if you slowed down and dug deeper into the character. 

The last line is perfect if you do decide to keep it flash.

I never quite figured out who or what D was. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I think they would work better as a narrative device if they weren't.

Seconded

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for pointing that out. They started as memories but then I switched to voices :D 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: For demographic information, keep in mind that I am a white male nearing his thirties, married, with two young children, and come from a background of being LDS, conservative, and with a long history of chronic depression, so these things may color what I say during review. I try to be as open-minded and unbiased as possible.

Another flash fiction! Neat. I haven't read anyone else's feedback yet, so I'll amend my critique later as it becomes applicable.

Nitpicks:

Spoiler

Pg. 2 - "Plink." << I'd italicize this to differentiate that it's something external to our MC.

Inconsistencies/Concerns:

Spoiler

Pg. 1 - "Suddenly faced with a wall of blackness" << void works better than "wall" here--wall implies impassibility. You can't go through a wall, but you can go through a void. Void also carries a subtle tone of menace, which fits well with your succeeding lines.

Pg. 1 - "padawan" << This is a term exclusively associated with Star Wars. Even when used colloqueally, it's understood that it's a Star Wars reference. Probably better to find a different word to mean "apprentice."

Pg. 1 - "He. He. He." << I'm assuming this is supposed to be a laugh? Proper phonetics would be "Heh. Heh. Heh." to carry a short e, instead of the long e, since "he" is read and pronounced "hee".

Pg. 2 - "The cavern..." paragraph << I feel like this could be reworded to be better descriptive/showy and less telly. I'm not sure what you mean by "elongated dome resting on a rise. Something like:

Quote

M stood at the bottom of a slope, the cavern yawning above her, the eerie shadows cast by her flashlight making the stalactites and stalagmites seem like fingers reaching out to grab her.

Conveys the same meaning in shorter words, while adding to the sense of menace and terror she feels. In this case, the cavern being sixty feet high seems like extraneous detail.

Pg. 2 - I'm not really sure what D is. A robot? A guy/girl in an armor suit? The text could stand to give some better clues. If it's a robot, then it's dialogue should reflect that in some way.

Pg. 3 - "Her surrounding felt profoundly alien. Was she even on Earth anymore?" << Seems a bit hackneyed. These types of columns exist on Earth--there needs to be a better descriptor/identifier to give us a reason to think it's alien.

Pg. 3 -

Quote

 

"“Have you been putting on weight?”

She giggled at her own remark. DC’s body was as heavy as she’d designed it.

“Not. Funny.”

 

This completely throws me out. Your tone until this point is one of menace and tension, and this is absurdly out of place within that setting. Comedy is a perfectly executable thing in horror and tense pieces, but you haven't built the tension enough to warrant the release on the pressure valve here. Also, is DC a robot? Why then would DC "up her dose" if she designed him?

Pg. 3 -

Quote

Her fist slammed into the white pillar next to her, imagining it was the face of L, her former colleague. She immediately regretted it when pain exploded in her knuckles, making her hop in a circle, shaking her hand wildly.

Again, with the abrupt comedy of the preceding lines, this is too sudden to be effective. I feel like this piece would work much better with a solid, singular focus on tone. The "hopping in a circle" bit is also a little too cartoonish for simply punching a rock. I've done that before--it hurts, but most people couldn't put enough force behind a punch to properly warrant that severe of a reaction. Clutching that fist to your chest and swearing, or shaking the pain out, however, are perfectly suitable reactions. Also, it's a bit weird to write that her fist slammed into it of its own accord, rather than her deliberately punching the pillar to relieve the stress.

Pg. 4 - These italicized dialogues confuse me. First, it was her kid, and now it's a colleague? I feel like, especially in this short of a piece, that you could find a way to differentiate those voices (bolding, underline, bold italics?) to make it easier for the reader--especially since you start adding in M's own thoughts in italics here. Visually, it's difficult to read and differentiate (the average reader isn't accustomed to having their eyes scan for single quotes to distinguish between internalogue and dialogue. You can use them, but you need some other way to distinguish as well from a typefacing/visual standpoint.)

Pg. 6 - No need for a scene break here.

Critique:

Overall, I feel like it's an interesting premise that falls short on its delivery. It lacks the focus that absolutely vital to flash fiction, with the tone starting off with this sense of menace and tension, this apprehension of the unknown, which just suddenly vanishes as she starts climbing the slope and is replaced by really sudden back and forths that break the tension, rather than contribute to it. I never got the sense that the voices were something she was hearing, just something she was recalling. This idea at the end that they were hallucinations didn't really come through at all--I thought they were memories she was trying to avoid.

I also don't understand what this story is trying to convey--and I think this is partly due to the lack of focus. With the limited scope of flash fiction, I think more attention really needs to be paid in the descriptions--focus less on describing its dimensions, and more on painting the image. I think that will help.

The opening bit was the most intriguing to me--I love a good horror, and the tone presented seemed to be setting me up for that kind of tense, not-sure-what's-around-the-next-corner atmosphere. Especially the bit about the stalactites looking like fingers reaching for her--body horror is an extremely effective tension-building description. But I'm not entirely sure now that that's what you were going for. I also didn't really feel like there was missing information until the very end--

That, I felt needed a lot more build up. There wasn't nearly enough tension, and I didn't understand how the runic sphere being blown out of the column suddenly equated to the child's voice moving from memory (hallucination) to real. It was just too sudden to properly be effective--and honestly, if this is a piece about a mother seeking magic to bring back a lost child--then that should be a heavier focus. We would need more information about her life leading to this discovery, rather than just voices talking to her about it.

I feel like a solid revision is in order, but also that it's a very workable piece and idea--it's intriguing, and with a little more TLC I think it could really pop from intriguing to interesting and driving, the kind of short idea that leaves one breathless and wanting more.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with most of what has already been said here. With flash fiction, it's especially important that everything in the story point in one direction towards the purpose of the piece. Like the others, I feel like this piece lacked focus. What is this story about? Is it about the restoration of magic? Is it about the woman and her grief? Is it about the robot and why it was built? Is it about the science community and the woman proving them all wrong? Is it about the cave and the device and why they exist? Any one of those things would make a good flash story, but they're all touched on here, and they're all treated with equal importance. 

I don't necessarily need the story to be longer, however. I think ~900 words is more than enough to tell a complete, well-illuminated story. Not everything needs to be a short story or novel to be fully-realized or good. However, the less space there is, the more a story needs to be focused on the overall theme of the piece. I feel like there's just not room in flash for side plots or explanations that don't directly feed into the primary theme, so if all those multiple themes are still desired in the piece, a longer format would probably be required. I do think this could slim down easily, to one or two of the most salient ideas, and then those themes could be expanded on to fill out the word count again without needing to add any extra.  

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Thanks @Alderant and @industrialistDragon Very good point regarding the lack of focus. You're right, I think I tried to achieve too many things at once and lost focus. :)

Edited by molah
mention not working
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Playing catch up

Overall

Generally, I was really confused. There were a lot of themes and voices and I'm not really sure what the through line was supposed to be. You might consider reading this out loud and see if you can follow it spoken. I'm not really sure what to suggest since I don't know what your goals were for this piece. I agree with the others about the lack of focus and think you should pick just one or two themes to carry through the piece. I'd be very happy to read a revised version.

 

On 6/10/2019 at 0:04 PM, Mandamon said:

This was the biggest sticking point for me. I think there are enough ideas here to make a novelette or novella easily. Cramming it all in this space is sort of confusing, and there's no chance to get any reactions out of it.

Agree completely

 

As I go

- pg 1: might be a copyright thing with using 'padawan'

- pg 3: okay I don't know who is talking anymore. There's a woman, a robot(??) and a memory?

- pg 4: wait so the robot is also her doctor? I am so confused

- pg 6: so she is in a cave to get a magic thing to do science on, and she killed her brother????

- pg 7: she died at the end?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.