Improving our 300 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST!

VRlass

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@VRlass I don't have much to say about yours, I can't find any solid critiques. I think it's solid, impactful, and seems to work the way you intended
Be gentle with praising me. I blush and pump easily :D
But I didn't get any sense of layered/hidden stories here, just a mother euthanising her son on a dying ship)
Yeah… I was thinking of ending with ‘only via eyes of a child we can see the hope’ but somehow i felt if I am gonna do this everyone will just get a cognitive dissonance and think it’s crap (i would—after actually reading the 300 i can say I would for sure!!). I have one 2k wonder that has 2 plot twist in the last 2 sentences and one revealed in the middle as you know the previous 2. For some people it was just too much.
But I just placed it in there so that if someone wants - can stretch a muscle, but if no — it is a complete story as well…

maybe changing some of the more repetitive dialogue lines
Yeah the repetition seems annoying abut they do build up the drama in nice quiet way (i don’t remember who said that it had a quiet dramatic tone louder than any melodrama - I LOVED THAT COMMENT :D)…
to outline more backstory at what happened
aww… I could say more about the attack… yeah it would work for both stories…
Dang…
or make the ending even more bleak
The first version had more descriptions showi the state of mother, and the rest Of the family, and the child just appeared at the scene, and was trying to understand what happened. And the mother was… acting to the motherest she could.
if for some the thing they read was too much while gradually building up drama and patios in a way, the previous was suspending the drama and just hammering reader with few lines at the end.
NOPE don’t want people to read this - i thought and I made the first story about mother trying to protect her child, if not from death than from fear and suffering. Fulfilling her duty as a child’s guardian with the last resorts of her dying body. Something beautiful there, and I wouldn’t change it to add more drama…
 

VRlass

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Dang I just realised…
I wanted to write a story about the mother, but because the POV it pretty much only on the child, i made it a story about a child that has a cool mom. And I could say so much about her without breaking the second story, like her face expressions or that she was doing something…
DANG!
In current state it is a story about a seriously unlucky child
DAAANG!!!
Thanks @therapist
 

JS Wiig

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Another point. This could just be me (and i'm curious if it is), but I really disliked the name Captain Spak Jarrow. This set the tone of a comical story, which yours was clearly not.

LOL it’s a play on Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow, a character idea I’ve been toying with for a while now and decided to test out in this challenge. I’ve not been too sure about the name myself but went with it. Thanks for the feedback!
 

Swank

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A lot of great feedback swirling around in here at the moment, so I’d like to throw my hat in the ring, too. I suspect a larger issue was the Extract of a Larger Piece Syndrome that so often plagues me in these challenges. Thanks!
Why does it plague you? What criteria made you choose this snippet of conversation as narrative? Aside from moving through time, is there a beginning, middle and end? Do the stakes change for the characters? Is there something revealed that is going to catch the attention of the reader?
 

Phyrebrat

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I
Submitted for flogging. Thank you for your comments.

Instructables

“Ah; bad art. Looks like old machine emulated crap.”

Voskul studied the Assembler, “You go back to when these were common?”

“Parts of me.”

Both men were politely avoiding the disassembled person distributed through the ConGel tank, staring at the art instead. Voskul was really watching their reflection, trying to peer through the man’s form to what might be inside.

“I’ve brought my own equipment. But I’ll need an Eye with twelve nano resolution to get everything out of this Key.”

______________

Voskul had left the expert seated in front of the painting. Now the cameras showed that he hadn’t moved, but there were two other spectral figures in the lab. One was all glint and lines - the proportions of the seated figure but made of fine wire - operating lab equipment directly through tendrilled extremities. The other within the ConGel: A bloody man-shaped streak of animated translucence. Its hands were gathering the human distaff and weaving it into flesh again.


As always, the Assembler marveled at his ability to decode an image key with all the data to make a person, and labor it into being. Or her, in this case. Artema Glaspol got too close to a curious Hejemi youth, who spent years seeing how she functioned. She had the presence of mind to save her template in durable print form - now guiding the Assembler’s many hands.

He had been destroyed in a similar manner, living again due to another tinkerer. And just as he had learned the craft by living the process, Glaspol would also wake as something far more than human. And, like him, she would never die again.

_____________

Artema smiled, “Mr. Voskul, I can’t express my thanks for your efforts. But I’d like to give you something.”

Voskul ran, hoping she would leave his mortality intact.

I didn’t see this in the submission thread — I thought Ursa had the last entry. Sorry! And you voted for me! I’m out atm so I’ll read and reply properly
 

JS Wiig

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@Swank I found your piece a bit frustrating because it was very compellingly written, but I didn't really understand what was going on.

It reminded me of an old school TOOL video with beautifully strange imagery that seemed to go over my head. Thanks for sharing!

 

JS Wiig

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Why does it plague you? What criteria made you choose this snippet of conversation as narrative? Aside from moving through time, is there a beginning, middle and end? Do the stakes change for the characters? Is there something revealed that is going to catch the attention of the reader?

As an apprentice story teller, my primary goal in the challenges is to work on various specific aspects of the craft and see how they work for me and the audience.

In this particular piece, my primary focus was the organic sprinkling of information through dialog and description, rather than infodumpy exposition. How did I do in that regard?

As for the beginning and ending, in my mind the initial statement of “this better be one important plant” was answered at the end by learning they were searching for medicine where each had a personal connection to the disease. I figured, and feedback has generally confirmed, this was too subtle, hence the “part of a larger story” assessment.

The good news is, entries where I have specifically focused on beginnings and endings have been well received, so hopefully at some point all these individual exercises can start to come together and make for overall compelling tales.
 
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VRlass

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LOL it’s a play on Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow, a character idea I’ve been toying with for a while now and decided to test out in this challenge. I’ve not been too sure about the name myself but went with it. Thanks for the feedback!
And I agree with @therapist (why do i allways initially write it as 2 words… maby I need some sort of… nevermind…), and I will add to it that this character doesn’t seem like the character… You made a play on the name not the character IMHO.
 

JS Wiig

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Well I didn’t have my, er, stuff together this quarter but still put together a piece I’d like to share here for your (hopeful) enjoyment and feedback. Thanks!

When the Water Comes

:the sea is one of the most powerful forces of nature:

Salvage bot ED416 moved slowly through the rubble. Its task was to collect broken glass using a series of complex scanners, a grabber arm, and a precision vacuum nozzle. Many other salvage bots traveled back and forth over the once thriving ocean front community of retirees, vacationers and beach bums, reduced to piles of splintered wood, scattered personal belongings and bare concrete foundations.

:but they will rebuild here again:

The central database was full of these historical cycles. The storm would come, leaving death and destruction it its wake. Then the sun would return and the work would begin. After the salvage crews completed their cleanup, the survey crews would lay out the new developments. Construction crews would follow, rebuilding the destroyed structures. Then the humans would return. And in time so would the sea.

:stubbornness is an inherent human trait:

ED’s programming didn’t include understanding or empathy. Its algorithms accessed the Central Database to acquire basic information on human behavior for task performance enhancement. Sensors interrupted and the machine stopped. It lowered a vacuum arm through tangled two-by-fours, past a stuffed animal and a sock, to a small pile of glass covering a photograph: a man, woman, and child posed before a fire burst sunset reflected across a serene, flat ocean.

:retrieving scrap…:

ED416 sucked the glass into its storage bin and processed the image of the family into its memory banks for upload to the Central Database. ED’s programming didn’t include assessing their outcome, whether they evacuated or drowned in the storm surge and had been — or would be — found by the cadaver bots. The salvage bot ED416 just reactivated its scanners and motor tracks, then moved slowly on through the sea of rubble.
 

VRlass

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Ok…
I wonder what didn’t work in this one…

The night of harrowing

We call it the night of harrowing.

It is is one night in the year, when flood of the dead comes from the sea. When we block doors, and cluster with families just praying to survive. No one remind’s you, no one help’s. Everyone hopes tragedy touches another house. Another family.

When I saw the glowing green mist i barely managed to draw the curtains, and among all the sudden roaring and wailing I heard… knocking at my door.

I rushed towards it, to save whoever is outside, but as my hand touched the cold iron knob, I stopped.

It was the night of the harrowing, after all.

“Who is it?” I shouted.

“It’s me…” said most familiar of voices.

“Sylvia…?” I whispered, more to myself than to door but in reply I heard a quiet:

“Yes.”

A million thoughts crossed my mind, million words, yet only few quiet, broken ones left my mouth. “When storm took you… I was looking for your body for weeks without rest…” other words died in my throat, as my eyes went wet.

“I know Johny…“ She said, ”I was by your side all along… you just couldn’t see me…” She sounded tired, as if she barely fended off the sleep.

For a while I heard only the wild roars of the harrowing. My heart wanted to blast off the door, not only my chest but my mind was full of fear.

“Have you come to take me?” I asked.

A glowing green hand pierced my door reaching for my head… but froze just before my face.

“No, my love.” she giggled slightly. “None shall take your kind soul… I come to release you… You were mine for too long…”

She touched my chin in gentlest of ways and left.
 

Christine Wheelwright

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@VRlass I think you mentioned that English is a second language for you. Taking that into account, I think this is an excellent spooky story worthy of Halloween month. The problem is there are a number of grammatical errors. Small errors, but several of them. I think if it wasn't for that, you would be picking up more votes in these competitions. I'm always in awe of anyone who can write so well in a second language, and I don't think the errors would be important other than in the context of a writing competition.
 

Jo Zebedee

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@VRlass I think you mentioned that English is a second language for you. Taking that into account, I think this is an excellent spooky story worthy of Halloween month. The problem is there are a number of grammatical errors. Small errors, but several of them. I think if it wasn't for that, you would be picking up more votes in these competitions. I'm always in awe of anyone who can write so well in a second language, and I don't think the errors would be important other than in the context of a writing competition.
I second this - and they are only around dialogue punctuation and apostrophes, both of which have clear rules so I think are very solvable. Otherwise, the prose etc was very clear.
i think you also ran foul of a few too many stories of a similarish spooky feel which always makes it harder to be memorable. But it was a good story with nowt much wrong in it
 

Parson

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@VRlass, I found nothing to pick at in your story. I'm not the author that @Christine Wheelwright or @The Judge are, so the grammar and punctuation went unnoticed by me.

Mostly, I thought the story was a little obvious when I read it, seems like something that's likely been done quite a bit before (And this comes from someone who avoids Horror stories like they were the plague so maybe that's fair and maybe it isn't.). Secondly, I was unsure of the ending. She released him? What does that mean? Did she protect his life? Did she begin his life as one of the living dead?

In the final analysis I would call this an excellent story, which didn't fit my taste. --- And there's nothing wrong with that at all.
 

Jo Zebedee

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@VRlass, I found nothing to pick at in your story. I'm not the author that @Christine Wheelwright or @The Judge are, so the grammar and punctuation went unnoticed by me.

Mostly, I thought the story was a little obvious when I read it, seems like something that's likely been done quite a bit before (And this comes from someone who avoids Horror stories like they were the plague so maybe that's fair and maybe it isn't.). Secondly, I was unsure of the ending. She released him? What does that mean? Did she protect his life? Did she begin his life as one of the living dead?

In the final analysis I would call this an excellent story, which didn't fit my taste. --- And there's nothing wrong with that at all.
Ooh, did I get a promotion. Fear me, TJ!
 

VRlass

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@VRlass I think you mentioned that English is a second language for you. Taking that into account, I think this is an excellent spooky story worthy of Halloween month. The problem is there are a number of grammatical errors. Small errors, but several of them. I think if it wasn't for that, you would be picking up more votes in these competitions.
Awww you are just adorable :)
Thank you
I really liked this story and was sure it would go through slush. Now everything makes way more sense. Thanks :)
I'm always in awe of anyone who can write so well in a second language, and I don't think the errors would be important other than in the context of a writing competition.
It’s harder but also way more fun ;)

Edit.
Weird thing my post got posted with the most recent cashed version not the actual one I wanted to post.
 
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VRlass

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i think you also ran foul of a few too many stories of a similarish spooky feel which always makes it harder to be memorable
I was actually trying to reuse trope and flip it upside down.
She released him? What does that mean? Did she protect his life? Did she begin his life as one of the living dead?
He couldn’t forget her. He was still loving her even after her death. She told him to go on with his life.
 

THX1138

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@VRlass I just want to share with you that my father was a Magyar, so I understand your second language issue. But like others have said, you are doing great!
I enjoyed your story, but I would try adding more emotional aspects to the characters thoughts/feelings, words and movements. I only say this because I'm working on the same for my stories too. You can find a thesaurus and emotion thesaurus online. I use these all the time when I write.

If you want, add aspects of your own culture to the story now and then.
I like to experiment and have fun. It makes these challenges more enjoyable for me.

Given what everyone here has said to you, play with your story again and resubmit for critique again.
your doing great!
 

Swank

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the once thriving ocean front community of retirees, vacationers and beach bums, reduced to piles of splintered wood, scattered personal belongings and bare concrete foundations.
The beach bums have been reduced to concrete foundations? ;)

This type of story usually hinges on some sort of twist that makes the predictable chain of events disturbing. I guess I'm pleased you didn't do that - reveal everyone is actually dead, or that the robots have become nostalgic, etc. But you didn't really replace the twist with something more unexpected.

So the final effect is either an illustration of the pointless rebuilding of the American Gulf coast after every hurricane cycle, or some unresolved hints about how an AI evolves into something unexpected. Those hints are interesting, but their individual details are maybe a little wooden.

There aren't many people attempting this sort of "hard" SF, so I like it. It just needs to either be more immersive or have a stronger hook at the end.
 

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