Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

mosaix

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

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?
Hi TDZ, I read it at least a dozen times during the month (as I did all the stories) and I've just re-read it three or four times. I think it must be option 3 for me. I'm from the UK and, to be honest, I couldn't make head nor tale of it. An explanation would be appreciated. :)
 

HareBrain

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I found it intriguing, and I think I got the gist of it, but i don't know the (presumably American) sayings they seem to be testing for accuracy, and which would have made sense of it. Obviously there's one to the effect that people would brake for a skunk but not a [lawyer, I'm guessing from the third one], but that's as far as I got. Had I known all the sayings, I think it might have made my short list.
 

Ursa major

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

3) it was incomprehensible outside of America. Any thoughts?
I assumed it had some connection to those jokes about replacing lab rats with lawyers**, but that was as far as my understanding went. (Okay, and someone's ticking boxes.)



** - I'm aware of their existence, but don't really know any of them; or about them other than that their aim is to suggest that lawyers will do things that no self-respecting rat (or any sort of other rat) would.
 

alchemist

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Hi TDZ,
As a person (possibly the only one, based on your thanks of me, and me alone) who gave you a mention, I have to say it was probably option 3.
It took me 3 or 4 reads to understand it. Normally, I'd have given up, but I sensed it was worth trying to solve the puzzle, and it did feel a little like a puzzle. Also, by the time I'd worked it out, I already knew it was about lawyers, so it lessened the impact of the reveal.
Either that, or The Judge paid everyone off.
 

The Judge

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Either that, or The Judge paid everyone off.
Not me. Too mean. Cheaper to frighten people...

Hi, TDZ. I'll come back to your alternate later when I've had a good think about it. In the meantime, I did get your story -- as you'll have noticed! -- but I was very puzzled myself on the first read through and only clicked after reading the title again. For anyone unfamiliar with the quote I guessed it might be less than comprehensible as it was so very disjointed -- one reason why I made reference to the quote itself when the story appeared, as I thought it might push people to look it up. Evidently not.

Since I'm here, I might as well show off further -- TDZ's title is The First Thing We Do Let's... (Consult the Manual). The quote is from Henry VI (Part 2). Jack Cade, leader of the Kent rebellion, has been talking about the paradise to come when he is King (hence the relevance to the theme of Revolution) to which the reply is "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" (hence my objection to it!).

I didn't short-list it because it seemed less like a story to me, than an extended joke. And although I like and appreciate the funny stories people post each month, I don't equate them with the deeper pieces when it comes to voting. Very much a personal prejudice, rather than a reflection on your writing.
 

Ursa major

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I never had you down as a humour-ist, TJ. ;):)
 

GreenKidx

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Hello All. As I mentioned in the other thread, I'm very pleased for the mentions I received . I believe there were four and my goal was two. Since this was my first attempt at creating a story in so few words I wasn't positive about how much of a story I should try and tell. Or how to establish my characters without wasting words. So my questions are :

Was my focus in The First Wife (first page of January challenge)too intimate?

Was there too much frivolous dialogue?

Was it clear why I opted to use Lillith instead of Eve?

And I am irked by the "eat...live...love" line! When wrote it I thought that structure would help show the importantance of love to Lillith, now it just looks scrambled. Should the order read "eat... love...live"?

~~~~~~~

*The First Wife*


"Ssswiftly, tassste it."

"Its forbidden..." The woman whispered to the serpent coiled about her legs. Slowly the
snake writhed upwards, encircling her naked body.

"He isss ssselfisshh, arrogant. Ssshow him hisss error."

"What will happen?"

"Freedom..."

"Freedom?" The woman glanced at the fruit cupped in her hands.

"Live asss yyyou pleassse. Eat asss yyyou pleassse. Love asss yyyou pleasse."

"Freedom." She raised the fruit to her mouth as someone called from far away...

"LILLITH! NO!"
 
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The Judge

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Hi, GreenKidx. Hope you don't mind, but I edited your post to add the story itself. Since you were asking specific questions -- rather than a general "was it understood?" -- I thought it would help with feedback if people could read it without having to cut back and forth to the Challenge.

Anyway, my answers are no, no, not to me, and yes, respectively.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "too intimate" in the first question, so I may be misinterpreting what you intend. To my mind it's right to focus on the individual in a story like this, and I think that worked well.

I don't think any of the main dialogue is frivolous, and it works well to show the serpent's ingenuity and Lilith's innocence -- and I think this would be the same whether or not the story was a familiar one, though the fact that we know the serpent is cunning and taking advantage of her certainly helps.

I liked the story and the "revolution" implication, but a couple of small things which might have counted against you when people are weighing stories of such high calibre, and one -- to my mind -- large miscalculation.

The small things -- punctuation. The comma after "Ssswiftly" would I think be better as something longer; perhaps even a full stop, or an ellipsis. And "Its forbidden..." needs an apostrophe, "It's", though to my mind she should say "It is" in full. And although it's possible you mean "The woman whispered to the serpent..." as a stand-alone sentence requiring a capital "T", frankly it looks as if you meant for it to run on as in ' "Blah," she whispered...' and you've made a mistake. (If you're not sure what I'm warbling on about, let me know and I'll explain properly.) You also need a comma after "Slowly" and I think that would have been better as a new line, not tacked onto her piece of dialogue.

To my mind, the miscalculation is in the final two lines. I think it would have been much more powerful to end at "She raised the fruit to her mouth..." We know what comes next (at least I do if she's called Eve...) and leaving it there is enough. Adding the final line cheapens the ending, somehow. If you feel you need to bring in her name, then "Lilith raised the fruit to her mouth..." as a final line (and a new para to give it emphasis) would have been better. Of course, it may be that you are trying to make another point with the call -- such as the fact God has seen her do this, but it's a bit too subtle, if so. Too subtle for me, anyway.

Hope that helps
 

mosaix

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

GreenKidx, I liked the story. My answers are no, definitely not, no and it doesn't make much difference in my opinion.

I agree with TJ's comments regarding punctuation but, for me, the story fell at the first hurdle as I didn't feel the link to the theme of 'Revolution' was strong enough.

Welcome to the Challenge. :)
 

The Judge

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

TDZ, re your alternative story. I like the idea and I certainly would have thought about putting it in a short list, but exactly as it's written I don't think it would have got my vote. It is certainly darker than the lawyer one, but even if that's not your character, I don't know that's a reason for you to worry about entering it.

I can't think of a better word for an internalised struggle, but I don't like "abounds" for war, and the use of "soldiers fall" doesn't sound at all inward. Though that actually is not a line which would have worried me as much as the others.

Having "Cry" on one line and "Havoc" on the next means anyone who knows the quote will see you are setting us up for the dogs of war -- which in turn means the "And justice fails all" as the third consequence falls absolutely flat. I actually read the piece three times and had started this post before I realised what you had done, which meant that lines I thought weren't worth their place now had to be re-read in the light of your plan. However, notwithstanding that cleverness, I don't think lines like "Dogs and cats abandoned" as a portrait of the apocalypse are helping the story at all. And, of course, anyone who doesn't know the quote won't see beyond that.

For what it's worth, I think if you worked on it to make every line fit then this could have been a real vote winner eg a variant of "And war comes" for the third line would keep the quote-knowers happy until we saw the full picture; eg "Dogs feasting on children's bones" would continue the horror.

I don't know that I understand the ending, where the screen goes black, and exactly what world it is s/he is reclaiming, but that could well be me.

NB Hobson's choice is, of course, no choice at all -- so if by that and the idea of war being an internal struggle you are implying his/her own fight to oppose the family, I don't know that it's particularly apposite, since such a struggle patently means s/he can choose.
 

Parson

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Greenkidx,

For me the answers are no, no, and completely. I had no clue what to make of Lillith. I have practically no background in mythology and for my Lillith, is the name of tour of women.

It is undoubtedly what downgraded your entry in my eyes. I lost the ending entirely and I suppose I should have gone and looked up the reference, but didn't.
 

Parson

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Judge,

Now that surprises me. I had no idea it was Jewish mythology. But it clearly comes from the post-biblical period. I now understand why the tour was named "Lilith" tour. As revisionist Biblical myth, I too am surprised I had not run across it before in a context where I needed to know the background.:eek:
 

GreenKidx

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Hello All. Thanks for all the input. (And thanks for posting the story here judge, couldn't figure out how to do that!)

I definitely agree with all the points that were made.

Judge, of the grammar and punction errors most all were complete goofs or ignorance on my part. Thanks for bringing them to my attention. As for "it's" instead of "it is"? Well, I changed it to steal an extra word.:D

Mosaix, as I wrote this I was considering revolution, not as a overthrow of government or as a complete cycle, but rather as a complete change (the second definition my dictionary listed).

Parson, the fault was mine for not crafting the tale so it could stand on its own.

I must admit that while writing this it never occurred to me to make sure the story could stand independent of knowing, before reading, who I was referencing. I guess in my naivety, I forgot to consider all of our varied experiences, knowledge, cultures etc. Now I know better! If I enter again ill make triple sure my story is completely capable of standing alone.

PS - my logic behind choosing to include Lillith was, at the time, because I thought it would make the woman defying God a conscious choice. Whereas in my head Eve was deceived.
 

Parson

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Parson, the fault was mine for not crafting the tale so it could stand on its own.

I must admit that while writing this it never occurred to me to make sure the story could stand independent of knowing, before reading, who I was referencing. I guess in my naivety, I forgot to consider all of our varied experiences, knowledge, cultures etc. Now I know better! If I enter again ill make triple sure my story is completely capable of standing alone.

PS - my logic behind choosing to include Lillith was, at the time, because I thought it would make the woman defying God a conscious choice. Whereas in my head Eve was deceived.
I would not blame you, or your story. I would say the fault was mine for recognizing that Lilith could be important for understanding and I already knew she was a widely known character but couldn't be bothered to look it up.

Now to your theological PS> Would you say that Eve did not make a conscious choice? If she does not make a conscious choice she would be blameless. My picture of Eve's story is very different. She and Adam (and the rest of the Bible talks almost exclusively of Adam's sin) wanted to be like God and so were enticed to reach for the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. The temptation in the serpent's words come from "then you will be like God" not from "knowing good and evil." It was in reaching for what was beyond them that they lost their freedom. They assumed freedom was a given, not something which was given to them by grace.
 

The Judge

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

GreenKidx, interesting idea of the difference between Lilith and Eve. I have to say that never occurred to me, but I'll leave Parson to debate that with you! But yes, it is always a risk referencing things which others might not understand or recognise -- witness TDZ's quote which I should imagine was lost on a good many voters and without which the power of the story was missing. But having said that, I have referenced Greek myth on 4 of my 10 stories and received more votes for them than for the other 6, so who knows.

NB About the adding the poem, I simply copied and pasted -- I can't do fancy technological stuff!

And I forgot to add before, well done for your first story -- it's a real steep learning curve producing something coherent in only 75 words. I am amazed at the quality produced every month! (If you haven't already, take some time and go back through the earlier Challenges -- it's astounding the range we've seen over the last year.)
 

TheDustyZebra

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

TDZ, re your alternative story.

I can't think of a better word for an internalised struggle, but I don't like "abounds" for war, and the use of "soldiers fall" doesn't sound at all inward. Though that actually is not a line which would have worried me as much as the others.

Having "Cry" on one line and "Havoc" on the next means anyone who knows the quote will see you are setting us up for the dogs of war -- which in turn means the "And justice fails all" as the third consequence falls absolutely flat. I actually read the piece three times and had started this post before I realised what you had done, which meant that lines I thought weren't worth their place now had to be re-read in the light of your plan. However, notwithstanding that cleverness, I don't think lines like "Dogs and cats abandoned" as a portrait of the apocalypse are helping the story at all. And, of course, anyone who doesn't know the quote won't see beyond that.

For what it's worth, I think if you worked on it to make every line fit then this could have been a real vote winner eg a variant of "And war comes" for the third line would keep the quote-knowers happy until we saw the full picture; eg "Dogs feasting on children's bones" would continue the horror.

I don't know that I understand the ending, where the screen goes black, and exactly what world it is s/he is reclaiming, but that could well be me.

NB Hobson's choice is, of course, no choice at all -- so if by that and the idea of war being an internal struggle you are implying his/her own fight to oppose the family, I don't know that it's particularly apposite, since such a struggle patently means s/he can choose.
Ahh, Judge, you're thinking me too deep! :) Another reason that I just couldn't bring myself to post this story is that it was not entirely clear to two out of three people who read it -- however, the two did make a connection to something close.

What's going on is that the main character is clicking through channels on TV, and finding all the tragic and depressing and sad things that go on in the world. He struggles within himself, and against his family's complaints, he turns it off and reclaims his world. As my mother used to say, about turning off the TV when nothing is on, "what a revolutionary idea!" The revolution of silence. I did intentionally make it look like he's pushing the button and making things happen, at the start, but I hoped it would come clear at the end that he was just pushing the button and watching instead.

Two out of three of my original readers guessed computer, clicking the mouse, instead of the "clicker" or remote control. That wasn't a bad idea, either, so I didn't worry too much about that.

The "war" line I wanted to go toward that internal struggle, warring with himself over turning it off. I had worked all the other lines into a good scansion, syllable pattern and rhythm and a slight pattern of rhyme without being a poem (maybe could have been better, but it's hard working with that static first-word pattern), and I couldn't come up with anything that began with "war" and worked with "all" and "prevail" and had 6 syllables and also implied an internal struggle. Maybe I was just forcing too hard and should have replaced the "all" and "prevail" instead. Or I could have dropped the "cry havoc..." thing entirely. That came about from an accident in the beginning, when I found that I had ended a line with cry and another with destruction, and that led me to havoc, etc.

I didn't like the dogs line, either, but it came from a commercial (probably only American) that we get endlessly here, with Sarah MacLachlan singing some weepy angel song to pictures of dogs and cats in cages; I think it's for the Humane Society.

Hobson's choice got in there because it's really hard to start a sentence with "of", and I initially thought that Hobson's choice was a choice of bad things, only to look it up and discover it was "this or nothing", which worked even better!

Anyway, I think this one just tried too hard.
 

TheDustyZebra

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Hi TDZ, I read it at least a dozen times during the month (as I did all the stories) and I've just re-read it three or four times. I think it must be option 3 for me. I'm from the UK and, to be honest, I couldn't make head nor tale of it. An explanation would be appreciated. :)

Mosaix, I was afraid of that, but hoped that "bar association" would be well enough known to make it clear.

The idea was that these people are starting a revolution by killing all the lawyers (barristers? counselors?), referencing Shakespeare (the first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers) as explained below by TJ, and they are using a "lawyer's joke book" as their handbook for revolution. They check each method off after they have tried it.

The three sections are three different lawyer jokes that I hoped were common enough to be known outside America.

"What's the difference between a dead lawyer and a dead skunk?"
"There are skidmarks in front of the skunk."

"Why are scientists starting to use lawyers instead of lab rats?"
"There are some things that rats won't do."

"What do you call 5000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?"
"A good start"

Which is why TJ was insulted and looks forward to the lawsuits filed against me for hurt feelings. :D
 

The Judge

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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Ah, I missed the TV thing altogether, and didn't think computer, either. I saw him as some kind of demi-god, creating the mayhem at his family's behest, so no wonder the last bit escaped me! I have to say the scansion, syllable pattern and semi-rhyme didn't strike me on reading, and I'm not usually slow in picking that kind of thing up, so if you'd dropped it entirely I don't think it would have affected the feel of the piece.

I know what you mean about trying too hard, and sometimes the effort shows. I still think this was an interesting piece, though. Well done.
 
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