"Mr. Invisible"

Status
Not open for further replies.

Guttersnipe

mortal ally
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
Messages
1,564
Location
Cocagne
Reese Burke was eighteen when he blew out his birthday cake's candles. His wish: to be invisible. Not invisible like he already was, with his parents only going through the motions of caring about him (though his little sister loved him very much), but literally invisible. This wish came true immediately. His family had screamed in horror as they saw him fade away, now appearing as floating attire. He quickly stripped so as to be undetectable, and made up his mind then and there to wander the streets in a mission to paint the town red.

He purchased some foundation to use when he needed to be seen, as when he visited his bank or checked into a hotel room—something he did frequently, as he was always on the run.

Reese's favorite pranks included wrecking fire hydrants, stealing food, and throwing and breaking objects here and there, giving the impression that he was a ghost of sorts.

The next year, he made up his mind to commit his first bank robbery. Purchasing a large sack, he went to a bank not his own. It was a particularly busy day. Some muttered rudely; others shifted their weight and checked their watches.

Sneaking in was easy. He followed a worker to the vault. He watched her twist out the combination. When she left, he set to work. he filled his bag and ran as fast as he could with the burden back out the door. Everyone was too shocked to do much of anything.

Reese sneaked into a bleak little alley. A homeless man gave him a petrified look, as he had donned the clothes that he'd left there.

"G-g-ghost!" he exclaimed, eyes bulging as he recited what he felt to be the right Bible verses for a situation like this.

"Shhh," said Reese, placing his index finger over his lips out of habit. He handed the derelict $500. The latter's face went from one of terror to one of astonishment

"Th-Thanks, M-Mr. Ghost," he stammered in gratitude.

The young man walked back to his suite, trying to avoid eyefuls with little success.

He threw a party for himself—having purchased (paint on) some alcohol from a gas station, he drank himself silly and rolled around in the bed blanketed with $1,000 bills.

The next day, Reese deposited some of the money in his bank and decided to rob another one. He had no grand plans for the money he was taking away, besides keeping his suite; he was a young man of simple taste, and would steal for sport even if he didn't require it.

One day, he was wandering the streets without his clothes or paint on. He spotted a police vehicle up the road, apparently unoccupied. He quick went to a sporting goods store and took a bat. When he came out, he set to town on the car, smashing windows and denting every inch of the skin.

Meanwhile, at the Burke residence, the family was celebrating their Reese's sister's birthday. It was a gloomy day for her, as it had been ever since her brother left. After the birthday candles had been lit, she blew them out and made this wish: that her brother was no longer invisible, and that he could easily be found. It worked immediately.

Reese was visible now, stark naked on the pavement. He had his birthday wish; now he had his birthday suit. The cops came and apprehended them.
The next day, his family found him in the local jail and bailed him out, somewhat reluctantly. His reign had ended.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
14,800
Location
nearly the New Forest
Guttersnipe, you might find you get more attention for your pieces if you format them according to the Guidelines, namely putting a clear line's space between each paragraph. At the moment it looks like a wall of text and is rather off-putting.

It might also help if instead of simply posting short stories in their entirety as you have been doing, you give us some idea of what you are aiming to achieve with these pieces and what help you need. Critiques is a place for feedback, not simply for showcasing work.
 
Last edited:

Guttersnipe

mortal ally
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
Messages
1,564
Location
Cocagne
Guttersnipe, you might find you get more attention for your pieces if you format them according to the Guidelines, namely putting a clear line's space between each paragraph. At the moment it looks like a wall of text and is rather off-putting.

It might also help if instead of simply posting short stories in their entirety as you have been doing, you give us some idea of what you are aiming to achieve with these pieces and what help you need. Critiques is a place for feedback, not simply for showcasing work.
Fair enough. I've been posting my flash fiction because I want to send them into a magazine someday, and want to know what I can do to make it more toward their liking.
 

Jesse Harris

Active Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2020
Messages
38
I found the premise of the story interesting. I could identify with the protagonist until he started into all the destruction. At that point I became disconnected and feel like I was reading a story instead of living it, but that is just me failing to project myself into the story. I like the surprise ending, it weaves a morality theme into it, a sort of "what goes around comes around" vibe.

The only sentence I have a hard time with is:
When he came out, he set to town on the car, smashing windows and denting every inch of the skin.
The word skin does not fit for me. I would use body instead.
Also, I use the phrase "went to town" when describing this kind of action, it might be part of where I live in the US though.

Thinking about the sentence more, I rewrote it in more my style.

As soon as he reached the car, he went to town on the patrol car, smashing every bit of glass and covering the body with dents of all shapes and sizes, performing a job so thorough that two hailstorms and a riot combined could not even hope to approach that level of destruction and devastation.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
14,800
Location
nearly the New Forest
As you're well past the time for editing, I've gone in and edited your opening post to separate the paragraphs. (You'll have noticed that the indenting you'd used has been ripped out by the software, which is why you need manually to add in the paragraph break.)

I've been posting my flash fiction because I want to send them into a magazine someday, and want to know what I can do to make it more toward their liking.
Then you need to be looking at the magazines themselves to see what kind of flash fiction they print, but to be frank, I think you're still a way off from being ready to submit anywhere.

For myself, your writing reads too much like a summary of a story rather than a story itself. It's the way we all start in our writing careers -- if you listen to a child, it's all "She did this, then she did that" -- all narrative. To become a storyteller we have to drop that approach and make the tale come to life by bringing in emotion, character, description and dialogue. You're beginning the process here eg introducing the beggar and eg the opening line which shows his resentment to his parents, but you don't develop these points at all.

I think the major problem is you're seeing the character do these things as if you're watching a film and you're writing down what he does. Writing should aim for more than simply being a passive observer of that kind. I think the way to proceed is instead to live the plot, so no longer passive, but active. One way of doing this is the Storyteller approach -- the kind of "Once upon a time" narrator who is active in telling the story. Another way is for you to inhabit the character so instead of watching him like a camera you're there inside his head, thinking his thoughts and smelling/hearing/touching whatever he senses. This, I think, would help with the issue Jesse identified of being disconnected from the story.

What I'd suggest is that instead of putting up another story, you take this or another piece you've already posted and try and see how you can amend it to make it more alive -- one method many people find helpful is to write the story in first person as if they're living it. Play around with it, make changes, and then re-post it, and see if people think it's better.

Also, go through all the past 300 Worders in the Writing Challenge section, and see how the members here approach very short stories. And when you've read a quarter's Challenge then look at the voting, and see which stories got the most votes and try and work out what they did that was successful. For long pieces, have a look at Kraxon magazine's section, and see how members write stories of 1,000 words and again see how votes are cast in the annual poll.

In any case, good luck with it.
 

Guttersnipe

mortal ally
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
Messages
1,564
Location
Cocagne
As you're well past the time for editing, I've gone in and edited your opening post to separate the paragraphs. (You'll have noticed that the indenting you'd used has been ripped out by the software, which is why you need manually to add in the paragraph break.)

Then you need to be looking at the magazines themselves to see what kind of flash fiction they print, but to be frank, I think you're still a way off from being ready to submit anywhere.

For myself, your writing reads too much like a summary of a story rather than a story itself. It's the way we all start in our writing careers -- if you listen to a child, it's all "She did this, then she did that" -- all narrative. To become a storyteller we have to drop that approach and make the tale come to life by bringing in emotion, character, description and dialogue. You're beginning the process here eg introducing the beggar and eg the opening line which shows his resentment to his parents, but you don't develop these points at all.

I think the major problem is you're seeing the character do these things as if you're watching a film and you're writing down what he does. Writing should aim for more than simply being a passive observer of that kind. I think the way to proceed is instead to live the plot, so no longer passive, but active. One way of doing this is the Storyteller approach -- the kind of "Once upon a time" narrator who is active in telling the story. Another way is for you to inhabit the character so instead of watching him like a camera you're there inside his head, thinking his thoughts and smelling/hearing/touching whatever he senses. This, I think, would help with the issue Jesse identified of being disconnected from the story.

What I'd suggest is that instead of putting up another story, you take this or another piece you've already posted and try and see how you can amend it to make it more alive -- one method many people find helpful is to write the story in first person as if they're living it. Play around with it, make changes, and then re-post it, and see if people think it's better.

Also, go through all the past 300 Worders in the Writing Challenge section, and see how the members here approach very short stories. And when you've read a quarter's Challenge then look at the voting, and see which stories got the most votes and try and work out what they did that was successful. For long pieces, have a look at Kraxon magazine's section, and see how members write stories of 1,000 words and again see how votes are cast in the annual poll.

In any case, good luck with it.
Thank you so much for editing it! And yes, I will try to develop the story more and someday post it after the changes have been made.
 

Star-child

Science fiction fantasy
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
479
I think you could keep quite a bit of this intact, if you add/modify some parts to have a more detailed focus. Like Judge points out, it is written more like a summary - and there is nothing wrong with having summary in your writing. But between the summaries there should be "close ups" that takes the reader out of overview and into more personal territory: An emotional memory in detail. The pattern on the sweater of the bank manager that the MC stares at as he waits for a trip to the vault. An anecdote about how he shoplifts when invisible but the item is not, told via the make-up theft.

Overall, those details may not be more that 20% of the story, but they ground it in a "this is happening to someone right now" kind of reality, because they have a personal perspective.

Much is said about sympathetic characters or letting the reader into their thoughts, but that humanizing can happen simply by adding those odd details that come from the goofy way real people observe their own worlds. Put some of those moments in and it will transform the piece.


This is not so different than giving a speech on how to do something, like lose weight. You talk about the mechanics of weight loss, then tell a personal anecdote, then return to instruction. A story can have a similar construction, even though the anecdotes aren't clearly separate from the more overview parts.
 
Last edited:

.matthew.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2020
Messages
1,156
Not sure if I have anything to add other than what's been said, but following Jesse's example I wanted to have a go at that sentence myself :)

One day, he was wandering the streets without his clothes or paint on. He spotted a police vehicle up the road, apparently unoccupied. He quick went to a sporting goods store and took a bat. When he came out, he set to town on the car, smashing windows and denting every inch of the skin.

Barely a week later, he was wandering the streets without his clothes or paint. Spotting a police car up ahead, the lights dark and the seats empty, he bared his teeth with gleeful malice. He'd passed a sporting store on the way and raced back the way he'd come. Sprinting out of the store not a minute later, the stolen bat in his grasp leaving the fat clerk wide-eyed on the doorstep, he could taste the adrenaline. He clambered onto the car, first teeing off against the lights before coating the seats with safety glass. The side mirrors went next, and as the noise of his destruction drew people into the street, two policemen stood baffled at the sight of their vehicle.
 

Guttersnipe

mortal ally
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
Messages
1,564
Location
Cocagne
Thanks, everyone. I am currently working on a new draft. I am adding much more detail and will probably end up being a bit longer than the version I posted here.
 

Cosmic Geoff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2012
Messages
456
The opening is interesting, but it soon becomes a summary of a story. One would like more detail. Why does he decide to leave his family, live elsewhere and behave badly? Why smash up a police car? Does he have a grudge against the police? Where does he get money before he robs the bank? 'The next year' signifies a large jump in time that should probably be accounted for.
I hope that helps.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
14,800
Location
nearly the New Forest
I am currently working on a new draft. I am adding much more detail and will probably end up being a bit longer than the version I posted here.
When you're ready, as it's the same story, you can add the revised version to this thread if you want, or you can start a new thread if you prefer (in the latter case it usually helps if in the new thread's title you mark it "Version 2" or something). In either event, if it comes to over 1500 words -- the limit for individual pieces -- only put up, say, half of it or around 1000 words, whichever seems most sensible. The rest -- subject to the same 1500 limit -- can go in a separate thread after a few days.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top