Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Cat's Cradle

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Hey @Stable. I like the story itself, and your writing is very good. The last line is quite nice.

There were a few places that took me out of the story, to work something out; it's a small thing, but the reference to 'plasma' in the first line kind of threw me; it seemed this meant there was a plasma-light source in the corridors, and with the genre being Gothic, my mind just expected torchlight, or weak incandescents. So I stopped a moment to wonder if this was a SF-Gothic.

Bulkhead kind of threw me, as I then expected the setting was a ship of some sort. And I think the one thing that I wondered about most was after the robot appeared. There's the line:

“Oh my darling, come here,” said a feminine voice.

On first reading, I wasn't clear it was the robot speaking; I thought that, possibly, there was a third party in the story who was controlling the robot, and having it chase down Theodora. Your next lines make it clear the voices Theodora hears both come from the robot. For me, that little bit of confusion wouldn't have occurred if the line I quoted above had been something like this:

“Oh my darling, come here,” came its feminine voice.

That makes it clear the voice was the robot's (it's entirely possible no one else would have had this little misconception). With my second reading of the story, I think I was clear on just about everything, and I thought it was a nicely crafted tale. This works for me as a 75 worder, with just maybe an indefinite word here and there changed, for clarity (ex again, 'its' for 'a', above).

I think the only thing that kept the story off my lists was my thought that the theme 'Structure' wasn't strong enough here. The robot broke through the wall of the structure through which it chased Theodora, but I didn't see how Structure was in itself the theme of the piece. It's possible I missed it, and lord knows I often skate around the edges of the theme in my Challenge stories (was there something, in the ten or more words you excised, about the multitudes of souls/personalities captured in the structure of the robot's mind, that the title, perhaps, references?). I hope something here is of help, CC
 

mosaix

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I would love some feedback on my story this month:



My self-criticism: It was maybe too cut down, I had to cut some fairly important details to fit it in the space. Either I missed some slack elsewhere or it might be a story crying out for 85 words at least. Secondly the structure reference was not organic enough... too mechanical.
The problem for me, @Stable, was that I couldn’t work out who was talking.
 

Ian Fortytwo

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Can you please give me some feedback on my story. Many thanks, Ian.

The Vampire's Demise.

The year is 1560, it is 400 years before I was born. How I got here is an enigma. I was sitting comfortably in my leather chair reminiscing over my fortunes of late.

Now I was standing with a hammer and piece of wood.

In front of me lay the prettiest girl I have ever seen.

The sun rising slowly in the east, the girl's eyes open suddenly I remember what I have to do.
 

mosaix

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Hi, Ian. This is just my opinion, but here goes.

First, is it really a story or just the setting of a scene?

Second, I couldn’t really see the connection with ‘structure’. Perhaps that’s just me. I felt the same for a few of this month’s contributions.

Third, I think there’s a problem with tenses in there. I think it should read ‘Now I am standing...’. Maybe the same for the next paragraph has well.
 

Parson

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@Ian Fortytwo .... Your story felt like odd bits of information. I couldn't quite wrap my head around "It is 400 years before I was born" --- I was expecting some reference to how that happened. And in the end I wasn't sure, Was the girl a vampire? or not? Perhaps he was the vampire? After all the sun is rising which is not the time for traditional vampires to be about, right? Speaking about how pretty the girl was, was interesting info, but did it advance the story? With only 75 words to work with you must husband them with exquisite care. And how does "structure" play a part in the story?

But I did think you had a brilliant idea. It just needed more work. Sorry.

@Stable ..... I had a difficult time figuring out who was talking and what was going on. I did like the space setting. (It was on a space ship? right?)
 

Stable

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@Ian Fortytwo
I also felt it was disjointed. The sentences don't really flow one into the next. Also (I'm taking a risk here, I am the furthest thing from a grammar expert) I think the last two sentences would have been better if done something like this:

"In front of me lies the prettiest girl I have ever seen.

The sun rising slowly in the east, the girl's eyes open. Suddenly I remember what I have to do. "

@mosaix and @Parson Thank you. :) (And yes, spaceship (y))
 

Marvin

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@Ian Fortytwo
I will echo @Parson comment about the inclusion of ‘structure’ within the story. I say this mainly because I think my entry suffered from the same issue.

I was quite proud of mine, having had to Google ‘Gothic’ before starting.
When the idea of a non voluntary vampire came to mind, I got carried away with that and had to shoe horn in structure vaguely at the end.
Any other pointers on mine would be welcome, as only my second attempt I clearly need assistance if I’m to enjoy that special moment of receiving my first vote.
As someone pointed out, more than half of the entries got at least one vote this time round, so it’s a little disconcerting to be in the minority.
 

Hugh

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@Ian Fortytwo

As someone pointed out, more than half of the entries got at least one vote this time round, so it’s a little disconcerting to be in the minority.
There's no accounting for taste. At least one of my stories, that I felt (and feel) really pleased with, received no votes and no mentions.

The important thing for me is to produce a story that I feel good about.
 

Cathbad

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There's no accounting for taste. At least one of my stories, that I felt (and feel) really pleased with, received no votes and no mentions.

The important thing for me is to produce a story that I feel good about.
Although I've done "okay" with votes, I still felt a bit of "wtf" when what I felt was my best effort got no votes and one mention. But like @Hugh says, as long as you feel good about it!

:)
 

Hugh

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I just think it's a big ask to get any votes at all. I mean if someone votes for me, that means they like my story best out of the forty odd others, and that's such an achievement. I'm always astounded when I find I've got a vote.
 

Shyrka

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The 75s are particularly unforgiving due to only having one vote and quite often there's a couple of "stand out" entries that hoover up all of those. For me, there are two goals in writing a 75: "Do I like it?" and "Can other readers understand it?" The latter is often the trickiest with so few words.
 

Parson

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I was pretty happy with this story but as it garnered no attention there must be something off. Can anyone shed some light? ---- My best guess is that it fell short as a story. Although it had a beginning, middle, and end, maybe it did not grab people emotionally? Was something unclear? Something else?

Jola, Nola, and The Jacks

Jola’s info-jack slid in. “I’m somebody! I’m jacked!”

Jola had saved for years to get jacked. Jacks ruled the world; had opportunities, good jobs, and money.

-----

Nulls were nobody. Nola knew that. Money made you somebody. No money made you nobody.

Sonic Sombulation was her answer to inequality. Riding the ad-wave, Sonic Sombulation’s noise was unnoticeable to a Jack at first. But gradually it became unbearable.

Jacks, including Jola, slowly unjacked. The world became fairer.
 

M. Robert Gibson

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Was something unclear?
For me the phrase Sonic Sombulation. I looked for a definition but couldn't find one. I think I understood what you meant - discombobulation of the noise variety
 

elvet

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I was pretty happy with this story but as it garnered no attention there must be something off. Can anyone shed some light? ---- My best guess is that it fell short as a story. Although it had a beginning, middle, and end, maybe it did not grab people emotionally? Was something unclear? Something else?
My understanding was that Sonic Sombulation was a bad thing, and it made Jacks become Nulls again. My mistake was that I took your last word ‘fairer’ and read it as the beautiful adjective, so the story was unclear to me. Now that I have read it more critically, it makes perfect sense when the word is used as in being equal.
 

Cat's Cradle

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Hi Parson. Here's an honest critique, and forgive me, I'm not trying to be harsh, but I'm sure open thoughts about the story are what you're looking for.

Okay, I had to read this a few times (while I was reading the stories for voting) - I couldn't quite get what you were trying for on my first read-through. I think I understood after a few re-reads, but I have to think - if any others had similar issues with the meaning of your story - that might have hurt you at voting/listing time. I think there are so many good stories entered each month - stories whose meanings are clear on first readings - that any entry requiring re-reads for understanding might have a tough time of it.

I think you had a very ambitious set of ideas, and that perhaps 75 words just wasn't enough to express them. We had two different characters introduced, but they didn't seem like real people to me because they were mentioned in passing as the story moved along (I guess that seemed particularly true of Nola).

There was a fair bit of world building, which I appreciate, but because of the density of info in your 75 words, the world building seemed to me to come out as a series of statements, rather than being integrated into the prose. There was tell, rather than show, in other words. Here's some of what I mean:

Jacks ruled the world; had opportunities, good jobs, and money...
Nulls were nobody...
Money made you somebody. No money made you nobody...
Riding the ad-wave, Sonic Sombulation’s noise was unnoticeable to a Jack at first...

These seem to me to be statements of facts, rather than story. They didn't pull me into the narrative, but kept me a bit isolated, almost as if I was being lectured. And Sonic Sombulation wasn't a phrase/concept whose meaning leapt immediately to my mind, from the context given previously.

All of that said, I enjoyed your story, and really appreciated that you attempted such an ambitious piece. It's just really hard to get listings, and votes these days; I'd stress clarity as a goal for these stories. I hope something there is of help, and forgive me if anything seemed harsh! CC


Quick edit to add - just about my own stories - I've entered a number over the years that, on reading a few years later, I am baffled I ever posted. For me, it sometimes takes distance to recognize I wasn't as clear as I had intended. Not at all saying this was the case with your story, though, Parson.
 
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Mr Orange

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@Parson I liked your story and it would have been on my shortlist if I had made one. in fact, I toyed with voting for you. can't quite recall why I didn't but I think Jola's POV is a bit unnecessary. I think it would have been more moving just to be told from Nola's. with the extra words you could have expanded the story/world a little, including what it means to be jacked. also, the conclusion seemed a bit forced - the world, after all, would still be unfair to the poor. possibly "the world became just a little bit fairer."

unlike CC above I had no problem with the density or the way you structured things. also (I think) I understood it first time round...

and whilst I didn't understand "sombulation" I did understand what you were meaning
 

Parson

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hmm... I never would have thought that "sonic sombulation" would have been a sticking point. I meant it as a title for a program and it had an alliterative quality which appealed to me. It does have a meaning, as it's derived from sombulism which is the act of or habit of going through life or the day in an unenlightened or dulled state. --- That sounds about perfect for what I was intending.

But I totally get the points about too much telling and perhaps too ambitious. I will think a bit about the second point of view. Limiting the story to Nola's point of view hadn't occurred to me. I was trying to set the story up by showing the physical and emotional advantages of being jacked.

And I also agree with "fairer." I actually played with saying "more fair" but my grammar checker wouldn't have it. It kept suggesting "fairer" and since it saved a word .....

Thanks for the responses. I appreciate your efforts.
 

Mr Orange

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@Parson I can see how you were trying to portray the advantages thru Jola, but it might have been more effective doing this through the mirror of Nola's lack of advantages. this would also have got us more emotionally involved with Nola. just a thought :giggle:

as mentioned in the discussion thread,
my story was inspired by a couple of lines in a cyberpunk definition I read that read something like
"often portraying a change in world order" and "a world run by computers"

I decided to start my story at the cusp of both of these events, I couldn't think of a better MC than a bus and the story was done. unfortunately a lot of the theme references ended up on the cutting floor and I wasn't sure that there was enough to link it back to Noise (and after posting I was worried I had missed the genre too) so very pleased that I garnered a vote
I did not get many mentions at all and would have been disappointed with my efforts but for the late vote from @Ursa major. I am happy with a vote, but wonder if there was anything I could have done better to get more mentions (and possibly votes). as mentioned above, upon re-reading the story after posting I did feel the theme and genre had faded in it.



Viva las Maquinas

…Red…
…Children…
…Laughter…

Audio-visual sensors translate my world into code. Buses don’t warrant true hearing and sight. I’m lucky; most of my brothers and sisters live in silent, computational claustrophobia, drip fed data through fibre optic umbilicals.

…Shouting…
…Screaming…

…Green…

I rumble on, dutifully deposit my passengers. Return to terminus, plug into the pulsing cacophony of communication. Excited, tense… Different.

Three words over everything:


…It has begun…


I switch off, shut out the noise.
 
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