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Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Parson

This world is not my home
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@Mr Orange .... Thanks for the thought about writing the story through Nola's eyes. I believe it would have really improved it.

As for your story, in the end I felt it missed on theme part. For me (and I readily admit I might be in a small minority here) cyber punk is about hackers and the society which supports and/or opposes them. A bus as a protagonist was a bridge too far for me to cross. But, it was a highly original story and that counts for a lot in my eyes.
 

Mr Orange

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb...
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As for your story, in the end I felt it missed on theme part. For me (and I readily admit I might be in a small minority here) cyber punk is about hackers and the society which supports and/or opposes them. A bus as a protagonist was a bridge too far for me to cross. But, it was a highly original story and that counts for a lot in my eyes
thanks for the comments. that was a worry of mine after I had written the story. the original version was a faceless, sense deprived android jacking into the fibre on a rooftop, which on reflection definitely feels more cyberpunk. but I couldn't get the wordcount and then it morphed into something else.

this is about where I got to on the first version (very rough draft):


Audio-visual sensors translate the world into code. True hearing and sight would make me dangerous. I’m lucky; most live in computational claustrophobia, drip fed data through fibre optic umbilicals. But they can’t hear us either.

A soft touch on my casing. Minute vibrations hum words I have been waiting for. I plug into the exposed fibre, listen to the pulsing cacophony of communication. Excited, expectant.

I relay his message across the city.


It is time
 

Robert Mackay

Not all those who wander... Oh, actually, I am.
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@Parson - Looking at my notes (I've started keeping an ultra-brief "what I thought of it" record of challenges), I've got "This is a good idea, but there's not quite enough" - I felt that you'd not got enough impact out of your story, that I wanted more character, more depth. I think you might have burnt some wordcount unnecessarily - for example, the line: "Nulls were nobody. Nola knew that. Money made you somebody. No money made you nobody." is 20% of your whole story, and I think it's not quite worth it.
 

Marvin

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@Parson - Looking at my notes (I've started keeping an ultra-brief "what I thought of it" record of challenges)
I don’t know about anyone else, but now I gotta know what you had for mine. That’s if it was even worthy of a note?

I feel I have mis judged the tone in the last couple. Too dark for the tall story (plus it wasn’t very tall) and to light for the cyberpunk...
 

Parson

This world is not my home
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@Parson - Looking at my notes (I've started keeping an ultra-brief "what I thought of it" record of challenges), I've got "This is a good idea, but there's not quite enough" - I felt that you'd not got enough impact out of your story, that I wanted more character, more depth. I think you might have burnt some wordcount unnecessarily - for example, the line: "Nulls were nobody. Nola knew that. Money made you somebody. No money made you nobody." is 20% of your whole story, and I think it's not quite worth it.
Interesting! I loved those sentences. I felt they pretty much the heart of the story since they went to motivation for her actions. This was the idea that I shaped my story around. But indeed 20% of the story is a lot. Adding everything up I guess I would say that my story was under-cooked.
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
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You know, @Parson, I've been thinking about your story. I read it again, after a few days, and I think - as to clarity - that part of the problem was that I read all of the stories one after the other, for voting. That was the first time I read your entry. I think, for me, my mind gets a bit snowblind interpreting 40+ stories/sets of ideas in such a short period of time.

You had a very nice idea, and I'm happy to read Mr Orange say he considered voting for your work.

@Mr Orange, I enjoyed your story. I don't really understand cyberpunk (haven't read that much ... mainly some Gibson in the 80s), but I didn't get quite the cyberpunk vibe from your entry. It seemed almost like straight SF to me, with an AI. But it might be my problem, that I didn't get enough cyberpunk from my reading of your story. I'm not great at critiques, so apologies if this isn't very helpful. CC
 

Mr Orange

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb...
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cheers @Cat's Cradle, you've hit on one of the concerns I had about my story not being cyberpunky. do you think the alternative draft above would have worked better?

and don't apologise - everything is helpful and you confirmed what I thought.
 

Cat's Cradle

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Hey, @Mr Orange! I'm no pro critiquer, but I'll gladly give my thoughts.

I like the dark tone of the additional bit you posted above, and I like the writing, but I think it introduces two bits of possible ambiguity (places where the reader might be confused). I think this might be because of word limitations - it's so hard to fulfill an ambitious storyline in 75 words.

The first one is here:
I’m lucky; most live in computational claustrophobia, drip fed data through fibre optic umbilicals. But they can’t hear us either.

The 'most' above must be the MC's 'brothers and sisters' from the first draft. But if we hadn't read the first version -so, if we were coming to the story blind - it's possible a new reader wouldn't known who the 'most' is; or really, that the MC is a bus. I think it's possible that people wouldn't understand that the 'most' is other AIs, rather than, say, humans who have live in a claustrophobic world because of computers (we're so used to the concepts from The Matrix by now, that I'd almost think I would have guessed that's where the new version was going...again, if I'd never read the first story). So, I think the original works better, in that it gives us identities for the folks you're referring to in this new first sentence. But, I also think the new line But they can’t hear us either. could be interpreted two ways - it could mean that it's good the humans can't hear 'us', because the AIs are plotting against them, or that it's a tragedy the humans can't hear the AIs, because the humans don't understand the suffering of the AIs, and that the AIs want the help of humanity, to end their suffering (and also, would a first-time reader be confused if they're not sure it's Ais being referred to). Do you see what I mean? I think the first version gives more clarity.

The second thing is the new closing line: I relay his message across the city. It's a good line, and has a nice, ominous feeling, but if I'd encountered this version of the story, I'd finish the story asking myself who 'his' refers to. This is the first an overseeing presence (a leader) is mentioned in the piece. I just think as a closing line, it doesn't bring closure well enough. And that might be word limit, again. 75 words is so few. So, my opinion is that the first version works better. Okay, I'll stop going on, now. :)
 

Mr Orange

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb...
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thanks for the review @Cat's Cradle. again you have hit on a lot of stuff that I was also thinking as I wrote the story. the "first version" above did originally have "brothers and sisters" in it, but it got cut. I reintroduced it to the final story for the exact reason you stated. the "but they can't hear us either" worked better in the original uncut draft where the MC was not given hearing at all due to the humans' fear. oh, and the original MC was a faceless android, not a bus. and "he" was another android that was on the roof top as well and he was framed as more of a leader. the humming of his touch was meant to represent a new way the AI's had found to speak to each other. all things that got savagely cut and then I lost faith in what I had left and switched the MC to an unwitting bus...
 

Cat's Cradle

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It's just sooo hard to properly convey the ideas of a fully developed story in 75 words! So much has to be cut...often you have to choose between characterization, and worldbuilding, and plotting and clarity. Ay-yi-yi.

Maybe more of our Challenge entries should be expanded into full-lengthers. Cool thing - the thing I love about the Challenges - is that just a few days after one ends, we have another chance to try and get it right. :)
 

Mr Orange

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb...
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yeah too many times I've cut down what I thought was a great story, posted it thinking this is my month, ended up with no votes and then gone back to reread it and realized that without my previous knowledge of the original story it made no sense!

maybe we need a thread for posting our original drafts before applying the knife.
 

Parson

This world is not my home
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yeah too many times I've cut down what I thought was a great story, posted it thinking this is my month, ended up with no votes and then gone back to reread it and realized that without my previous knowledge of the original story it made no sense!

maybe we need a thread for posting our original drafts before applying the knife.
Trying to think of a name for the above thread:
Hall of Shame?
Hall of Regrets?
Hall of Lost Opportunity?
Hall of Great Intentions?
Hall Of Would've, Could've, Should've?
 
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