Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Parson

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Parson maybe 'the word travels' on the street, spreads, disseminates is what it's trying to say..beats me, poetry is mysterious stuff.
I was trying to say a bit more than spreads or disseminates, although that is the sense of it. I had in mind the buzz going on having a life of its own which kept growing and growing; hence surges.
Gurge. You know you've played too much scrabble when the word 'gurges' appears in your writing.
I would have to agree wholeheartedly on this one. Thankfully I was able to put myself into the readers spot enough to know that gurges was not going to work for more than about 1%, less? of the readers.

Thanks for the comments.
 

mosaix

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

So, my story as was:

Aztec pyramids. Celtic pyres. Dahomey councils. The time-tourists roamed ages and continents. Laughing voyeurs, watching prisoners slaughtered to consecrate temples, retainers slain to accompany kings.

No one interested in history, culture. Only in blood.

Inside the time-sphere, invisible to the men with swords, the tourists joked.

The tours had to end.

No one listened to ethical arguments. Only to blood.

She burst the sphere. Laughs became screams. Men with swords turned.

“Kill us,” she said.



The thing which I noticed? These two lines:
Inside the time-sphere, invisible to the men with swords, the tourists joked and She burst the sphere. Laughs became screams. Men with swords turned.

To my mind it would have been better if they mirrored each other exactly, whereas at present it is sphere-swords-laughing and sphere-laughing-swords. Since the latter needs to end with the men with swords, this means the first should have been changed to Inside the time-sphere, the tourists joked, invisible to the men with swords.

Something which I only changed at the last moment, and which I'm still in two minds about, is the final line. Originally it was "Kill me," she said which was the sacrifice I envisaged. Then I saw her as being a little arrogant in her righteousness and changed it to her bringing death to all of the tourists, a very different thing. Still not sure about that one.
TJ: please bear in mind that anything I say is just my opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

I liked the story but the fact that 'Dahomey councils' was entirely unknown to me put me off a little initially. However I got the 'blood lust' gist of the piece well enough.

I agree that the mirroring of the lines works better but this, for me, would have been at a subliminal level.

"Kill us," is far stronger, especially if the us had been emphasised with italics.

But my overriding feeling about the piece is that I didn't feel the motive for her suicidal-sacrifice was expressed strongly enough. But, I suppose, just setting the scene was going to be difficult enough on its own in so few words.
 

The Judge

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Thanks, mosaix.

I wondered about Dahomey, but I wanted a third and something very different from the others in time, scope and location.

I do understand what you mean about her motives. With another 5 words I'd have certainly pushed her disgust more, but as it is, I'd cut back a lot on the initial scene-setting to get that in. I also didn't work on it as long as usual, as the idea came to me very late, otherwise I might have been able to pinch another word or two from somewhere.
 

HareBrain

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I'd like some feedback on a story I posted a few months ago, when the theme was "disguise":

*****************************

Fúath

It had drowned him, now it copied his face. Made skin of kelp and algae, used limpets for eyes.

In twilight, shell knuckles knocked at the young widow’s door.

The lamp-glow showed the bruises it had watched being given. It would care for her, be a better man.

But its disguise lacked skill. She screamed, and it fled.

Deep in the sea-lough, it gnawed on its mistake. Thought of redress, how to reunite them.


*****************************

My main questions are: how clear is it what's going on? When (if ever?) does it become clear what kind of thing "it" (the first word) might be? I ask because a friend interpreted "it" as being the sea itself, and then the whole thing was doomed to confusion.

Also, I'd be interested to know how people interpret the two sentences in the final paragraph. Plus anything else anyone feels like saying.
 

Mouse

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I thought it was a blokey who hit his wife who drowned himself, then came back? Although every time I've read it, apart from about two seconds ago, I read 'copied his face' as 'occupied his face.'
 

The Judge

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I thought it was all but perfect, which is why I voted for it that month, and if we had a "Best Story in the Whole Year" it would get my vote again.

I got that "It" was some kind of non-human creature at once -- ie in the first line -- and it never entered my head "it" might be the sea. I did look up "Fuath" afterwards which reinforced the story, but I didn't need that knowledge to understand what was going on.**

As for the final sentences, the penultimate one I took at face value, ie that the fuath was simply worrying about his mistake, until someone (Teresa, I think) referred to it and I realised it could be read as the creature actually gnawing the dead man's bones! As to the last line, since -- presumably -- the fuath can't resurrect the dead husband, I read it to mean it intended to drown the wife, the only way it could reunite the couple. (I didn't see the fuath as being malicious, but simply it believes that is the only way it can rectify the problem it has created.)

Only two things niggle me a little in the story, when I read it originally and now, and it's a problem of word count. In the first and final lines I don't like the verbs starting the sentences; I wanted "It" in both. I'd have clawed back the two words necessary by starting line three with "Lamp-glow" and in line four deleting "and" and making it "She screamed. It fled." Alternatively, and perhaps better, for the first line you could have had "Skin made of kelp and algae, limpets for eyes" which actually saves one word. And the last line could have been "Deep in the sea-lough, gnawing on its mistakes, it thought of redress, [and] how to reunite them". (I'd prefer the "and" if you did save the other word.)


** Mouse, the fuath -- an Irish water spirit -- has drowned the wife-beating husband and has come to the wife in what it thinks is a plausible human disguise, but which is hideous and makes her scream, so it runs away back to the lough.
 

HareBrain

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Thanks for the responses, chapesses.

Although every time I've read it, apart from about two seconds ago, I read 'copied his face' as 'occupied his face.'
I'm sure I've done similar in the past. Sadly, there's not much a writer can do to guard against that!

I thought it was all but perfect, which is why I voted for it that month, and if we had a "Best Story in the Whole Year" it would get my vote again.
Thanks! I have to say it's the one of mine I like best.

As to the last line, since -- presumably -- the fuath can't resurrect the dead husband, I read it to mean it intended to drown the wife, the only way it could reunite the couple. (I didn't see the fuath as being malicious, but simply it believes that is the only way it can rectify the problem it has created.)
I can't argue with that reading, but it's not quite the one I intended. In mine, there is malice there, driven by the woman's rejection of it -- the "mistake" wasn't drowning the husband, but its naive belief that it could succeed in replacing him. The "redress" it seeks is redress for the bitter hurt it's been caused, both by her rejection and its own realisation of the futility of its dreams. Of course, with so few words it was bound to be pretty hit-and-miss as to whether that came across exactly, but is there any way I could have done that bit better? I wanted it to be somewhat ambiguous, but maybe less ambiguous than it turned out.

Only two things niggle me a little in the story, when I read it originally and now, and it's a problem of word count. In the first and final lines I don't like the verbs starting the sentences; I wanted "It" in both.
This is one of those wierd things. If I'd had two more words at the time, I'm sure I would have put those "it"s in. But now, maybe because I've read it a hundred times and all the words have taken on a kind of set-in-stone inevitability, I'm less sure. But if I did decide to put them in, your compensating suggestions are good ones.
 

chrispenycate

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

"So where," thought I, "am I supposed to post my alternative choice sacrifice, since discussions are now monthly?"

Aha, set it up as a sacrifice and see if anyone can tell me why it never quite worked…


Promethius Bound​

"Flap off, you stupid carrion eater!"

Not that my liver is dead, or will ever get that way. I'm expected to scream, but a couple of eons of miraculous regeneration and you're used to being chained up as an oversized bird feeder.

I could’ve kept the fire, as some defence; but that would have devalued the gesture against those arrogant damned gods.

See how my Humans will treat them, on their road to the stars.
 

J Riff

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

HareBrain that's a terrific little horror story, and I must have missed it while I was away.
I knew Fuath must be a water-something... and at the end it just felt like it had retreated and was seriously worried about the widow- and was going to come back and try again, once it got looking a bit better.
Poisanally, I'd write this on into a SS mebbe 2K or less and it could be a real chiller.

Chris is Prometheus spelt with an i for a secret reason? He's chained to a mountain.. eventually he gets thunderbolted into the abyss... and Promo, who gave fire to the humans, will exact his revenge via humanity taking a swipe at the gods, who they no longer believe in as much as technology etc. on their way to the stars. Probably missing something... but 'oversized bird feeder' is great.
 

The Judge

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I can't argue with that reading, but it's not quite the one I intended. In mine, there is malice there, driven by the woman's rejection of it -- the "mistake" wasn't drowning the husband, but its naive belief that it could succeed in replacing him. The "redress" it seeks is redress for the bitter hurt it's been caused, both by her rejection and its own realisation of the futility of its dreams.
Oof! The complete opposite of my reading! (Which just goes to show something, though I'm not sure what.) Even knowing your intention, though, I find it difficult to read it that way -- I think it's the "how to reunite them" at the end which to me is a hopeful, loving thing.** Why does it need to reunite them in order to get revenge?

Of course, with so few words it was bound to be pretty hit-and-miss as to whether that came across exactly, but is there any way I could have done that bit better? I wanted it to be somewhat ambiguous, but maybe less ambiguous than it turned out.
I can't immediately think of anything which would have left it ambiguous, but why leave it so? Why not change "mistake" to "rejection" and make it clearer?


** The very end of Pride & Prejudice is, of course, "and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them." -- and I think subliminally I had picked up on that (which was, of course, in your mind all along... :p).




Chris -- I think for me it doesn't work because of the humour in the first two lines seems out of place with the fury of the last two. I know that black humour can and does work, and the fury can be seen behind it, as in Jonathan Swift, but here the two aren't quite gelling for me.

I'm in two minds about "arrogant damned gods" as my first instinct was that you'd put it in the wrong order, but on reflection I did like the idea of the gods literally being damned, by the oddly-capitalised Humans, presumably.
 

HareBrain

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Oof! The complete opposite of my reading! (Which just goes to show something, though I'm not sure what.) Even knowing your intention, though, I find it difficult to read it that way -- I think it's the "how to reunite them" at the end which to me is a hopeful, loving thing.
I think I was going for irony. Always risky without emoticons.

I can't immediately think of anything which would have left it ambiguous, but why leave it so? Why not change "mistake" to "rejection" and make it clearer?
It's not just the rejection, it's the mistake of it ever thinking it might not be rejected, if that makes sense? The mistake of failing to realise that it can only ever be a monster (and perhaps, therefore, might as well behave like a monster, ie drown the woman too). Maybe the plural, "mistakes", might suggest that better. Also, "mistake(s)" allows Teresa's reading of gnawing on the corpse, which I always wanted in there. (Probably trying to have my cake and eat it.)

J Riff, cheers, I might look at expending it one day.
 

TheDustyZebra

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

HB, I understood your story to be about a sea-creature (actually I think for no logical reason because of the word "kelp" I thought of it as a kelpie, which I think is also an Irish water creature?).

I understood the end to be the creature trying to think how he could possibly get the woman after scaring her off like that, because he was desperate to be with her. I thought it was quite clear, and quite an excellent story as well. It would make a great (longer) short story.
 

Parson

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

HB Your story had much more nuance than what I picked up on. I was thinking "Monkey's Paw" when I read it.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I loved your story, HareBrain. Didn't vote for it, but it was very high on my short list that month. I think I liked it better than some of the stories I've voted for other months.*

I knew what sort of creature it was from the first line, but you can't go by that because the word Fúath was already familiar to me, and though there are many sorts of them, your description cleared up any doubts about how to classify it. I did not understand that the creature bore the woman any malice at the end -- although uniting her with her brute of a husband would not necessarily be a kindness. I did think it might be considering drowning her, but not in revenge. In Celtic mythology, being drowned by one of the supernatural sea creatures didn't always mean that the drownee (as you might say) was entirely dead.** The nature of their existence after drowning is somewhat vague, but since they were sometimes able to briefly revisit the land in their own form, either to say goodbye to loved ones or to exact their own revenges, clearly they weren't as dead as they might be. So I guess my knowledge of the associated mythology both helped and hindered my understanding of the story.

Since I liked your story so much, I really don't think you should change a word, unless you have your heart set on removing the ambiguity of the creature's intentions.




*If we had a best of the year competition in April and there was a preliminary ballot where we each had several votes to bestow -- which is the way I would want such a competition to be run -- yours might well be one of them.

**I am not going to quote from "The Princess Bride," and am most unfortunately unable to think of anything appropriate from Jane Austen to match The Judge in erudition.
 

Parson

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

*If we had a best of the year competition in April and there was a preliminary ballot where we each had several votes to bestow -- which is the way I would want such a competition to be run -- yours might well be one of them.
Although I like this idea, if we used all of the stories it would be likely 500 plus stories. Even at 75 words a story that's not an inconsiderable undertaking. Vote from just winners and ties? Or a story has to be nominated and supported by 2 others? Or maybe just forget it? I don't know.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I think any extended discussion of an end of the year competition would be matter for a separate thread. (And anyone who would like to see such a competition should feel free to start such a thread.) I was just trying to make my point: how very much I like that particular story.
 

HareBrain

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Thanks very much TDZ, Parson and Teresa for your comments. On reflection, I think I'll leave Fuath as it is, but it was interesting to see the variety of ways others read it. The Celtic myth about the drowned being not altogether dead is something I hadn't come across before. (BTW, I chose "Fuath" as the title because one source indicated it also meant "likeness" in Gaelic, which seemed serendipitous.)
 

TheDustyZebra

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I'd like opinions on a couple of things related to the January challenge.

First, about the story I posted -- it was distinctly lacking in mentions, and garnered no votes. Now, I know that a lot of stories I liked (I liked them all, in various ways) got no votes and scarcely no mentions, so that's not necessarily a catastrophe, but it does cause an itch, if not a wound. :) I can think of three possibilities: 1) it was only funny to me, 2) others thought it funny, but funny didn't cut the mustard, 3) it was incomprehensible outside of America. Any thoughts?

Second, about the story I didn't post -- I worked on this sucker for three days and couldn't get it quite right, which is how the other story came to be. There is only one line that really gave me fits, the "war" line -- I wanted to turn its focus toward the internal struggle and away from physical war, and I couldn't find the words for the scansion. The rest of the reason I didn't post it is that a friend told me it was very dark, and not at all like me, and that kept festering under the surface while I continued trying to make the one line right. So here it is, and I'd like to know how I could have made it work, particularly with the "war" line, although if that's not the main problem I'd like to know that too -- maybe I was just too focused on one piece to see the rest. I'd also like to know (although this will rub salt in the wounds) if this story would have been favored any better than the one posted.


Power

Pushing the button, I watch the world suffer.​

Click! Cry, the hungry children.
Click! Havoc: earthquake, hurricane, flood.
Click! And justice fails all.
Click! Let murderers run free.
Click! Slip away, civilization.
Click! The endless dregs prevail.
Click! Dogs and cats abandoned.
Click! Of Hobson's alternatives, choose.
Click! War abounds, soldiers fall.​

Summoning courage against my family's opposition,
I push the other button.​

Click! Flash! The screen goes black.​

I reclaim my world.​

Silent revolution.​
 

J Riff

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

War rages, war ... proliferates... seems Ok as it is.

No, your story was very good, I meant to vote for it, but forgot and voted for Culhwch instead, but yours was tops on my list, hands down. And it was better'n this one, which is a bit... clicky.:)
 
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