"Mr. Invisible" 2.0

Guttersnipe

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At the Burke residence, Reese was presented with his cheap birthday cake. He was mildly indignant over the fact that it wasn't the ice cream cake he'd asked for, but kept quiet lest his parents accuse him of being an ungrateful brat for the umpteenth time.

Miranda, his only sibling, age ten, had a case of the grins. Reese expected this; she seemed to him to be the only member of his family that actually cared about him. Maybe, one day, she'd grow to be the age he was now and recall the fact that he was an academic failure as well as a hothead and re-evaluate him. But, thankfully for him, she was still young.

Reese blew out the birthday candles, which were arranged in a group of eight and one apart from them, rather than eighteen total.

The young man had been making wishes for years, but always awaited the opportunity with some hope that the magic of it would work.

Now he made his eighteenth birthday wish.

For some time, Reese had been wondering what it would be like to be invisible—literally invisible, not the kind he felt whenever he was home, with his parents only going through the motions of caring for him.

So the wish was made. This time, it worked.

His parents and sister screamed in horror as the teen was reduced to floating attire. Reese attempted to examine himself in the kitchen mirror, only to see no reflection. A rush of excitement washed over him and he ran out of the house without quite knowing why; he had only limited access to the emotional insights most possess.

It later occurred to the young man that there were instances in which he'd need to be visible; bearing that in mind, he stole some foundation from a grocery store, applying it once he'd fled from eye-shot with minimal success.

As for money—he'd received five dollars each from both parent. Originally, his grandfather sent him one hundred, though Reese only received half of it. With this money, he rented a room in a cheap motel.

This would not do, as he knew, but didn't like the idea of working for a living, makeup and all. For him, the most favorable option was theft.

He weighed the pros and cons in his head. In the end, the pros won him over; he would be undetectable, and the crime would not require weapons.

After washing off his makeup and leaving his clothes at the hotel, he entered the nearest bank he could find with shaky resolve.

Reese shadowed an employee to the vault as impatient customers waxed furious over the slow service. His heart giddily raced at the thought of pulling off his plan without facing any consequences of lawbreaking. He held his breath and stared at the woman entering the correct numbers, counting the seconds and listening to her hum an unknown tune while salty water dripped from his brow. After she'd drawn out the amount and closed it, he set to work.

He entered the combination and walked in, still sweating and trembling profusely. He needed to start small; with too big a load, he'd lose it and only attract attention ("Look! It's a flying pile of cash!" he imagined people might say). So he took as much as he could hold onto, peeked around at the distracted customers nervously, and fled without looking back.

Reese sneaked back into his room. He had taken more money than he'd realized. With it, he paid for a weeks stay as well as a mountain of junk food. Flicking on the TV, he saw a picture of him on a local news station, and thought he heard his mother crying. He flicked as if to avoid capture. He did, however, feel some satisfaction in knowing that he'd likely been missed. He decided to stay, though, if only to worry them more.

Reese grew more confident soon, having escaped the law. Over the next few days, he repeated his crimes, the money he amassed being used for rent and for various digital luxuries. People gave him funny looks while he wore his makeup, but that was an insignificantly small price for which he had no trouble paying.

One day, he began to realize that it was not wealth that was his ultimate goal, but power. He'd give away all his ill-gotten gains if it meant being in the presence of people who feared him. So he set out to do things that only power could afford.

He went into a sporting goods shop and studied the place for something dangerously destructive. His grey eyes alighted on a baseball bat. He whipped it around in a few practice swings. Unbeknownst to him, the clerk had seen the seemingly possessed bat and screamed. Now his adrenaline kicked up once again, begging for release. Reese began hitting shelves and various products. On his way out, he smashed a window as if to punctuate his attack.

Once outside, he felt feverishly cold despite the warm sun. A police car was parked outside, and he gave a start as the policemen came out, as they could see him. They rushed into the shop, leaving Reese contemplate their vehicle. With a comedic shrug, he began bashing the exterior. The power he was searching for bubbled up into his chest.

Meanwhile, his sister's birthday was being celebrated at his former residence. He'd forgotten all about her birthday, even though they were only weeks apart. When they set down the birthday cake, the kind she'd wanted, she looked at the bright candles in deep thought. Then she made her wish: that her brother would become visible again, and would get home safely.

It worked instantly.

Reese was now in plain view, he slowly realized, naked and holding a bat. People jeered and pointed. The cops were upon him in seconds. He was arrested and brought to the county jail. In a week, his parents reluctantly bailed him out ("Crocodile tears," he thought, remembering his mother's lachrymose appearance on TV). He was visible—and, perhaps worse, was now back at home. His reign had ended.
 

.matthew.

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I think it's both better and worse than version 1.

The first didn't explain much, but had emotion. This one explains it all but loses it's violent glee, which was the characters main 'thing'.

A combination of the two drafts would be a good next step, either as a longer piece that adds more 'outbursts' or something the same length but cuts out some of the fluff you added after the first.

One day, he began to realize that it was not wealth that was his ultimate goal, but power. He'd give away all his ill-gotten gains if it meant being in the presence of people who feared him. So he set out to do things that only power could afford.

If I may be so bold:
He began to exalt in the raw power of his wish, the money now an afterthought. He lusted after the fear he caused, the panic in a crowd. He needed more...
 

Guttersnipe

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I think it's both better and worse than version 1.

The first didn't explain much, but had emotion. This one explains it all but loses it's violent glee, which was the characters main 'thing'.

A combination of the two drafts would be a good next step, either as a longer piece that adds more 'outbursts' or something the same length but cuts out some of the fluff you added after the first.



If I may be so bold:
He began to exalt in the raw power of his wish, the money now an afterthought. He lusted after the fear he caused, the panic in a crowd. He needed more...

I appreciate your suggestion that I use more descriptive language. I'd use it myself if it didn't mean plagiarism and self-destruction. What is it you liked about the first one? Could you point to a certain phrase or passage? Can you tell me where I reveal the character's "violent glee" best?
 

.matthew.

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Sometimes it's like the example I gave, where you can combine a few sentences with a bit of jumbling up the words. In that case I took the subject words you'd already written (power and fear), and just spiced up the description by going through other ways of showing what he was feeling (exalt - thrill - need - want - joy). All it really takes is slipping these others in and out until you find one that you love. Really the whole show vs tell thing.

Other times a simple word removal could help the sentences flow better. Try to imagine speaking the words out loud - or actually do - and then write what feels like a natural rhythm.

Your descriptions are all accurate, but to me, making them so specific just added words that weren't needed.
local news station
Won't everyone understand what the local news is?

various digital luxuries
I crossed out digital first, but changed my mind and removed the various instead (you've got the plural on luxuries so you don't need it and you get to keep the digital that way).

was an insignificantly small price
Sort of the same again, insignificantly could have been cut, but since it's a nice word, if you change it to insignificant you can drop the small since the meaning is already covered.

-

His violent glee was mostly the police car scene, which succeeded in portraying the character's rage and fury, possibly how weak he'd always felt, a resentment of authority, etc.

-

I feel overly harsh and under-qualified for this critiquing business, but I was considering putting one of my own up soon, so you might get to have a swing at me ;)
 

Guttersnipe

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Sometimes it's like the example I gave, where you can combine a few sentences with a bit of jumbling up the words. In that case I took the subject words you'd already written (power and fear), and just spiced up the description by going through other ways of showing what he was feeling (exalt - thrill - need - want - joy). All it really takes is slipping these others in and out until you find one that you love. Really the whole show vs tell thing.

Other times a simple word removal could help the sentences flow better. Try to imagine speaking the words out loud - or actually do - and then write what feels like a natural rhythm.

Your descriptions are all accurate, but to me, making them so specific just added words that weren't needed.

Won't everyone understand what the local news is?


I crossed out digital first, but changed my mind and removed the various instead (you've got the plural on luxuries so you don't need it and you get to keep the digital that way).


Sort of the same again, insignificantly could have been cut, but since it's a nice word, if you change it to insignificant you can drop the small since the meaning is already covered.

-

His violent glee was mostly the police car scene, which succeeded in portraying the character's rage and fury, possibly how weak he'd always felt, a resentment of authority, etc.

-

I feel overly harsh and under-qualified for this critiquing business, but I was considering putting one of my own up soon, so you might get to have a swing at me ;)

Much appreciated. I don't think you come off as harsh at all. I'd love to read a story by you if your prose is anything like the ideas you had for this story.
 

BT Jones

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Hi, Guttersnipe.

I didn't read version 1 and just skipped straight to this. It's an interesting piece of whimsical fantasy. I like that start of it and the technical quality of the writing, although, for my tastes, it jumps too quickly into the 'invisible' part, and the crime spree that follows. I'm not sure if this is an established world yet where magic is possible, but it seemed Reese wasn't as amazed as he should have been to be able to turn invisible.

The practical aspects of the crime spree also seemed a little unlikely. People would definitely notice a flying bag of money (assuming his unclothed during the heist). They might also be suspicious of a guy wandering around in only make-up and (presumably) sunglasses, and even more so after an extended spree. Wouldn't the landlord wonder?

Anyway, this may not be relevant to what your aim was.

The only other thing I would suggest would be a change to the ending that could make it more dynamic / amusing: that Reese could be living out his ultimate fantasy of smashing a police car, only for the policeman to apparently see him and ask what he was playing at. Reese would be horrified to realise he could be seen, and THEN that he was naked. But the reader could be left to wonder why all the way to the closing line when Reese is nailed out, still unsure of what happened. The closing line could then be from his Mum, saying 'well, it's not just YOUR wishes that come true...' You must have forgotten it was your sister's birthday last week, and she's not had a brother for X weeks, so...

That would leave the punchline as the last line in the story. I felt the way you revealed his sister's wish BEFORE he'd become visible sort of spoiled the surprise / shock.

But, of course, that is just my opinion. And I definitely liked the flow of the writing.

Hope this helps, in some way.
 

sule

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I think I prefer the first version, specifically because the narration in this one feels very distant--it doesn't really get inside anyone's head and so the whole thing feels like it's being related to me by an unconcerned observer with a droll sense of humor. The narration also feels a bit awkward, mostly due to switching back and forth between past and past perfect. The only part of this that feels close to the main character's point of view is the first few paragraphs during his birthday party. In your first version, you dip into the main character's head a few times, and that gives each of those scenes a bit more immediacy by bringing the reader into the scene rather than just telling them what happened. I didn't like the part where the narrator refers to Reese as 'the young man' because that really swung into "someone distant from the story relating it to someone else" territory. To me, this doesn't feel like a story that should be that distant from its main character. As a reader, I want to experience this story alongside the main character and as close to his point of view as possible.

I think what I would like to see is for the story to really get into the main character's head, experience his emotions and his line of reasoning that leads him into his crime spree.
 

reggiesaun

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Interesting. I didn't see version 1...

I like the piece. I like the concept. Just needs tightening up. You have a lot of THINGS happen, but I don't know 'why'. All of a sudden this kid turns invisible and then I'm jumped almost instantly to a crime spree. WHY???? I don't know anything about this kid and so it's a jarring stretch. His parents don't love him enough. Cool, but WHY would that make him rob a bank? Did he already have these tendencies? I want to know!

If I may, I'd suggest moving a version of the last paragraph to the very beginning. Start with him holding a bat, surrounded by cops, after robbing a bank. End the paragraph with him being naked to setup the intro for his invisibility. That way you readers immediately know this ain't no boyscout we're following. And now we have invisibility to look forward too (which obviously ends badly). Now I have INTRIGUE to guide me through the events you describe.

Hope that makes sense. Cheers Bro.
 

Bren G

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Hi @Guttersnipe

I like the story, particularly ending (more below.) It plays with the themes of morality and temptation that are the bedrock of our human condition. In this regard, you've captured a timeless story.

I'm not sure if you envision this as short story within the story, but if it is meant to stand-alone, I think there are two areas where you might consider augmenting.

First, there's a lot of telling and less showing. Second, I think there's an opportunity to bring the reader into the psychological tug of war that the character surely faces.

One example : So the wish was made. This time, it worked. I'm with @BT Jones on this. If this were to occur, it would be the most profound of experiences. The lead up to the wish would itself be something grand, and even grander, was that it was granted. Perhaps bring the reader into Reese's mind as he makes the wish - what is he thinking? What is he saying? And more so, how his senses handle the immediate period after it is granted. 'A rush of excitement' is a level downgrade or three from what you would actually feel. I don't think one would know how to describe their feelings even - but that's your job :)

This line I think has great potential if 'showed'.

His parents and sister screamed in horror as the teen was reduced to floating attire. Reese attempted to examine himself in the kitchen mirror.


I don't think this line does justice to what that scene would be like. Bring the reader into it that scene vs telling them about it.

A few other items -> The decision to rent a motel seemed quick and haphazard. Why? Wouldn't he want to go back to his family? Is there some conflict there?

This line -> he didn't like the idea of not working -> This is a great opportunity to bring out the mental interplay, every person alive wants to know what it would be like to be invisible. What power! But would you use it responsibly? This is a moral question. Have the temptation to become a criminal play out and not just a foregone conclusion simply stated. Now, I see that the temptation plays out near the end in the sporting good store. Have that be the culmination of this inner turmoil but the slippery slop of this inner battle that starts here.

The ending is very novel and was not what I expected (in a good way.) I thought it was clever, and brings it back full circle to his family. Well done.. I think if there is family conflict to begin with, the ending may be even more tragic. Another thought I had here is - what manifests the wish? Maybe think about connecting the wish to something - say a talisman - say he received a chit with a magical saying written upon it at a carnival fortune teller machine, or maybe something his deceased and beloved grandpa gave him that he ignored up until his first wish and that his sister discovers later by chance. This might make the sister's wish being granted more believable and possibly more suspenseful.

I think you've got something here. Writing is editing, and editing (among other things) involves the addition of layers. This is a solid foundation to build upon.

I hope this helps

BG
 

Guttersnipe

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Hi @Guttersnipe

I like the story, particularly ending (more below.) It plays with the themes of morality and temptation that are the bedrock of our human condition. In this regard, you've captured a timeless story.

I'm not sure if you envision this as short story within the story, but if it is meant to stand-alone, I think there are two areas where you might consider augmenting.

First, there's a lot of telling and less showing. Second, I think there's an opportunity to bring the reader into the psychological tug of war that the character surely faces.

One example : So the wish was made. This time, it worked. I'm with @BT Jones on this. If this were to occur, it would be the most profound of experiences. The lead up to the wish would itself be something grand, and even grander, was that it was granted. Perhaps bring the reader into Reese's mind as he makes the wish - what is he thinking? What is he saying? And more so, how his senses handle the immediate period after it is granted. 'A rush of excitement' is a level downgrade or three from what you would actually feel. I don't think one would know how to describe their feelings even - but that's your job :)

This line I think has great potential if 'showed'.

His parents and sister screamed in horror as the teen was reduced to floating attire. Reese attempted to examine himself in the kitchen mirror.

I don't think this line does justice to what that scene would be like. Bring the reader into it that scene vs telling them about it.

A few other items -> The decision to rent a motel seemed quick and haphazard. Why? Wouldn't he want to go back to his family? Is there some conflict there?

This line -> he didn't like the idea of not working -> This is a great opportunity to bring out the mental interplay, every person alive wants to know what it would be like to be invisible. What power! But would you use it responsibly? This is a moral question. Have the temptation to become a criminal play out and not just a foregone conclusion simply stated. Now, I see that the temptation plays out near the end in the sporting good store. Have that be the culmination of this inner turmoil but the slippery slop of this inner battle that starts here.

The ending is very novel and was not what I expected (in a good way.) I thought it was clever, and brings it back full circle to his family. Well done.. I think if there is family conflict to begin with, the ending may be even more tragic. Another thought I had here is - what manifests the wish? Maybe think about connecting the wish to something - say a talisman - say he received a chit with a magical saying written upon it at a carnival fortune teller machine, or maybe something his deceased and beloved grandpa gave him that he ignored up until his first wish and that his sister discovers later by chance. This might make the sister's wish being granted more believable and possibly more suspenseful.

I think you've got something here. Writing is editing, and editing (among other things) involves the addition of layers. This is a solid foundation to build upon.

I hope this helps

BG

Thank you so much! Yeah, there is definitely more telling than showing here; I think people thought the first draft was better for this reason. The talisman idea has me thinking...
 

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