Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Lacedaemonian

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On the sixth day - Reference to the creation of animals and specifically humans who were the oogers in this story. The main character, Briar and the dockor are all rabbits.

It had started with a sniffle. - my attempt to introduce the main characters illness and the illness is the key plot here.

She stretched out on the honey (coloured) slab over third stream. The leaves would be falling soon but the sun still roared fierce in the sky. She could not get warm and her eyes were leaking. - this was meant to introduce additional symptoms of illness and I hoped at the time that the character was an animal.

Sweet Briar had fetched a dockor but nothing could be done. I used herbs/plants names for the rabbits here. Briar the name of her fella. Changed the name of doctor to dockor for creative reasons.

The oogers had cursed her with the Red-squint! This is reference to the spreading of myxomatosis by humans to kill all rabbits.

She limped into the wastelands, away from fennel-hill warrens, where slept her beautiful young kits. This was the main character, a mother, walking away from her children and the rabbit community so she did not spread the Red squint but also to die.

What I hoped to achieve with this piece was to highlight how human activities may be perceived by the rabbits. These evil creatures (oogers/humans) spreading these invisible illnesses that have awful symptoms and lead to horrifying deaths - this quite easily translate to magic as we know it in the fantastical fiction that we all read.

In light of this ^^ does the title make sense now? In my head I kind of saw that passage in the bible as being comparable to that science fiction and fantasy trope of starting such stories with a reference to a historical event or prophesy.
 

Christine Wheelwright

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On the sixth day - Reference to the creation of animals and specifically humans who were the oogers in this story. The main character, Briar and the dockor are all rabbits.

It had started with a sniffle. - my attempt to introduce the main characters illness and the illness is the key plot here.

She stretched out on the honey (coloured) slab over third stream. The leaves would be falling soon but the sun still roared fierce in the sky. She could not get warm and her eyes were leaking. - this was meant to introduce additional symptoms of illness and I hoped at the time that the character was an animal.

Sweet Briar had fetched a dockor but nothing could be done. I used herbs/plants names for the rabbits here. Briar the name of her fella. Changed the name of doctor to dockor for creative reasons.

The oogers had cursed her with the Red-squint! This is reference to the spreading of myxomatosis by humans to kill all rabbits.

She limped into the wastelands, away from fennel-hill warrens, where slept her beautiful young kits. This was the main character, a mother, walking away from her children and the rabbit community so she did not spread the Red squint but also to die.

What I hoped to achieve with this piece was to highlight how human activities may be perceived by the rabbits. These evil creatures (oogers/humans) spreading these invisible illnesses that have awful symptoms and lead to horrifying deaths - this quite easily translate to magic as we know it in the fantastical fiction that we all read.

In light of this ^^ does the title make sense now? In my head I kind of saw that passage in the bible as being comparable to that science fiction and fantasy trope of starting such stories with a reference to a historical event or prophesy.
Interesting. When I first read it, rabbits did come to mind. And foxes for some reason. I wondered if it was some kind of Watership Down fan fiction, but not having read that book I guessed I was missing something important. As others have said, when reading thirty plus stories in an hour or so, things need to really stand out; resonating with the reader, making an impact and being instantly understandable. Its not easy in 75 words.
 

Lacedaemonian

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It was part inspired by the Chronscast episode that discussed Watership Down. But the theme here was the rabbit's interpretation of humans and their activities as being evil using fantasy tropes.
 

JS Wiig

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@Lacedaemonian thank you for sharing your story and opening yourself up for feedback.

I had an inkling what the story was about: a sick animal. Like Christine I envisioned a fox and not a rabbit. I would have never in a million years picked up on the myxomatosis association (never even heard of it until now).

What I’ve learned participating in these challenges is that it is is easy for us as the writer of a particular story to take for granted what we already know and is not explicitly defined by the words we’ve written. Sometimes you have to be fairly on-the-nose about something that seems obvious, because the reader may not have the same context to make the association.

Hope this helps!
 

Lacedaemonian

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I totally agree with the criticism, certainly not the sort of person that takes things to heart. My initial thoughts when writing this piece were that it should resonate with some people. But now I can see why it didn't. I don't enter these contests to win (though of course it would be nice to win) but to answer the challenge of the topic. I think in this instant there was too big a disconnect between what I hoped to convey and what was ultimately received by the reader. And we don't have time to read so many stories multiple times. I know I don't do this. The story resonates or it doesn't when I make my shortlist selections.
 
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Parson

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@Lacedaemonian, I'm pretty sure that I would have really liked your story if I had understood it. I love stories about personal sacrafice, especially where it comes to the aid of those who are nearly defenseless.

I also think that "kits" was a misleading term. I knew that "kits" were baby fox. But I did not know that it was the name for baby rabbits. I looked up kits and was surprised to read this in Wikipedia:

Kit
 

THX1138

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I totally agree with the criticism, certainly not the sort of person that takes things to heart. My initial thoughts when writing this piece were that it should resonate with some people. But now I can see why it didn't. I don't enter these contests to win (though of course it would be nice to win) but to answer the challenge of the topic. I think in this instant there was too big a disconnect between what I hoped to convey and what was ultimately received by the reader. And we don't have time to read so many stories multiple times. I know I don't do this. The story resonates or it doesn't when I make my shortlist selections.
I do these for the writing exercise and fun. :)
 

paranoid marvin

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We do in the UK.

I do these for the writing exercise and fun. :)

Yes it's important to keep this in context. The Challenges should be enjoyable rather than stressful. And I think most of us would say that regular contributions to the Challenges have improved our short story ability. Having said that, it is always nice to have people vote and comment on our writing, and equally disappointing when this doesn't happen, especially if we have written something that we thought might do well.

But we must always remember that a lack of votes or shortlistings is not an indication of quality of writing. Sometimes an entry doesn't quite hit the mark for genre or theme, it's references may be too obscure or require more in depth thought and reflection, it hasn't hit or reflected the mood of the target audience, or it could be that another entry has written something similar but slightly better.

I would also plug Elvet's 100 Word Challenge here as well, because allowing for several entries per Challenge can allow for some of the more weird and wonderful parts of our minds to come to the fore. Experimentation is less likely to happen when you only get one go per month.
 

emrosenagel

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My silly little plant story fell flat for the November challenge, and I'm curious what put people off of it. I admit the theme and genre were not my favorite (and not my favorite combo) and I really didn't know what to do with it, but once I found my idea I jumped right into it (maybe too quickly). if I were to guess what was wrong with it, I would say the lack of any real story? Maybe it would be better as a slightly longer story with more to build on? Idk, ya'll let me know :giggle:

How to Succeed at World Domination Without Really Trying

Everyone knew the end would come eventually. Zombies or global warming or whatever. But nobody suspected desk plants.

Succulents, cacti, bouquets sent to attractive secretaries – all of them waiting, watching. Learning. Now our botanical overlords rule the world the only way they know how.

"I just need the restroom," I sighed.

"Twelve weeks minimum. Probably eighteen." The Monstera slid over some paperwork. "Lots of hoops to jump through. You get it."

Not much has changed.
 

THX1138

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Hay @emrosenagel For me, it read as business as usual, despite the plant takeover. Which is what you were going for, but if the plants did take over, they would also add in their own unique quirks to the takeover. There would be no restrooms or TP. Communal Compost receptacle and seasonal rations of Lambs Ears for TP, but Poison Oak the rest of the year would make for a fun bureaucratic mess. And what is the plants were more concerned about the sun light?

"Eighteen weeks is nothing, I've been waiting for my Sun Lamp for twenty-four weeks now. Do you have any idea how slow plants move?"

I see a lot of comical potential in your story!
 

Provincial

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Hi @emrosenagel, I enjoyed the premise of your story very much. It was fun, clever, and I thought it original. Where it fell short for me was in the research.

I got the impression that you don’t know what it is like to work in an office. The ‘bouquets sent to attractive secretaries’ line was dated and horribly clichéd as well as sexist, like something out of an old black-and-white ‘B’ movie, so it hit a bum note. I think your last three paragraphs also felt more like a school situation than an office one, and the reality you were trying to construct just fell apart at that point.

That having been said, your writing style was witty and light, and the basic concept was brilliant. The subject matter just wasn’t working for you.
 

Parson

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@emrosenagel I know this is going to sound really funny coming from someone who reads tons of Science Fiction, but I just could not connect with the story (there was very little story to be honest) because the whole idea of office plants taking over the world when there are so many more likely options struck me as a bridge too far. You score very high points for original thinking because no one else that I can think of has done anything like this. Plants have occasionally been portrayed as intelligent and as having dominated a world, but never that I've read replaced another kind of intelligence. So my criticism is completely personal and so nothing to worry about it as far as writing goes.
 

sule

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This is the one main problem I had with your story: you didn't show how the plants took over the world. Obviously, you're working with a very contracted medium, but giving us some specifics on how the plants achieved their global domination (hostile takeover or some other business-related shenanigans?) might have helped the story stand out. It was a unique situation, but I think you may have undercut yourself by skipping the middle of the story.
 

paranoid marvin

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Anyone who's read/watched The Happening, Little Shop of Horrors, The Triffids or the final series of The Adventure Game (gronda gronda) will know that plants are evil entities just itching to move in and take over the running of the world. So (for me) the 'How's or 'why' was not important.

But I did wonder what 'You get it.' was referring to?

You are a great writer, as you have proven from previous entries to the Challenges, but the main issue was thar what was being discussed wasn't really relevant to plants (as I see THX1138 has already pointed out.) From a plant's perspective we would do our business where we stood, and the ensuing 'compost' would only be a good thing.

There is definite comic potential here, but beurocracy and plant life is a hard thing to attempt to combine.
 

Provincial

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But I did wonder what 'You get it.' was referring to?

Actually, that phrase “You get it” was one of the bits I particularly Iiked - maybe I’m wrong, but I concluded it was the plant pointing out that it was doing what humans used to do, because it learned all its bureaucracy from us.
 

emrosenagel

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Well! I really appreciate all the feedback, these were some excellent takeaways. I suppose at the end of the day, I really just wasn't knowledgeable enough about the subject to create a believable story (and maybe some more words to flesh it all out!) I admit my brain went to the only office-themed pieces of media I've seen, like Mad Men, 9 to 5 and (hence the name) How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which accounts for parts of it feeling dated and cliché. Well, everything is a learning experience so I'm still glad I came up with something :giggle:

Actually, that phrase “You get it” was one of the bits I particularly Iiked - maybe I’m wrong, but I concluded it was the plant pointing out that it was doing what humans used to do, because it learned all its bureaucracy from us.
And you are exactly right @Provincial!

Thank you all very much @THX1138, @Provincial, @Parson, @sule and @paranoid marvin for taking the time to help a girl out!
 

Provincial

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Well! I really appreciate all the feedback, these were some excellent takeaways. I suppose at the end of the day, I really just wasn't knowledgeable enough about the subject to create a believable story (and maybe some more words to flesh it all out!) I admit my brain went to the only office-themed pieces of media I've seen, like Mad Men, 9 to 5 and (hence the name) How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which accounts for parts of it feeling dated and cliché. Well, everything is a learning experience so I'm still glad I came up with something :giggle:


And you are exactly right @Provincial!

Thank you all very much @THX1138, @Provincial, @Parson, @sule and @paranoid marvin for taking the time to help a girl out!

I wish I had seen Mad Men, or How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, because then I would have known the tone you were after. I withdraw my comment about the “bouquets sent to attractive secretaries”, it was entirely appropriate, and your title should have clued me in (or should that be “cued me in”?) Sorry!
 

emrosenagel

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I wish I had seen Mad Men, or How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, because then I would have known the tone you were after. I withdraw my comment about the “bouquets sent to attractive secretaries”, it was entirely appropriate, and your title should have clued me in (or should that be “cued me in”?) Sorry!
No worries! I couldn’t possibly expect everyone to have seen those things and Im glad I got your initial thoughts without my explanation
 

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