232 words of new short/novella (weird fic/horror) - too long an intro or...?

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
5,113
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Brief context:

The moon has grown a giant mouth and is silently, madly whispering what experts, lip-readers, etc cannot translate.

The POV is a maths expert (haw haw haw, let's see me try and write that convincingly) who suddenly develops dyscalculia [I'm a dyscalculiac - it's horrid but you get used to coping techniques etc]. He's the only 'survivor'.

It's obvs absurd/weird fic, and I suppose if I had to do a mood board for the story, it'd be similar to a Tim Burton film, and the town Sunburye (based on Swanage, Dorset) similar to the setting of The Music of Erich Zaan (Lovecraft), where tall, skinny, houses lean to the roads, overlapped, forced perspective.

With that in mind, I'm wondering how to start the story. I was going to write it as an omni news-report, or omni 3P, but I find I've drifted into 1st which I don't usually write my longer forms in. I'm not sure if 1st person is the way to go, and I should do old fashioned 1970s omni.

Before I get into the inciting events, I'm following an old-fashioned setting-the-scene this way, seeing as so much of the short horrors I've read lately (old and new) tend to go this way, and I'm a huge fan of M R James who does this well.

Anyway. Simple question, I'm trying to keep this short, but there are symbols and themes that have organically come up in my loose planning, and I'm wondering if this opening is effective.

Thanks.

pH

Watching a bee repeatedly head-butt a window was a marvel to me as a child. I even talked to the stupid things, pointing them to the open window that lay only a foot away. Didn’t it smell the freedom? They had hundreds of eyes, didn’t they, so I never understood why so many ended up blind, insistent on flying through a window as if physics meant nothing.

Sadly, like all children, I became disinterested - and possibly afraid of a sting (therein lay another conundrum: why defend yourself for a mere Pyrrhic victory?) I eschewed saving the bumbling thing and went off, my head turned by some other pursuit cherished by little kids.

That memory’s occurred to me many times as I write this (which is more for company than anything else, but I suppose someone’s got to record what’s happened); not that the throngs of mute people mindlessly walking single file, hand-in-hand, around the odd alleys, streets and lanes of Sunburye - and, I assume, the entire globe - really care.

Matthew, the poster boy for the phrase, there’s none so blind as those who don’t see... springs to mind. If he’s looking down on us from the Pearly Gates he’s probably thinking, Bit of an understatement. Although, notwithstanding your religious bent, I doubt there’s anyone up there remotely concerned with the veracity of our ecclesiastical texts.

Something else, perhaps. Something with a less edifying agenda.



ETA: Sorry, I'd edited the sentence down, thanks @sule - it should make sense now.
 
Last edited:

sule

"What I do is me: for that I came."
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
283
I thought it set the scene well. The bee metaphor worked for me in ways that I am currently unable to articulate effectively for some reason.

Not that the throngs of mute people mindlessly walking single file, hand-in-hand, around the odd alleys, streets and lanes of Sunburye. And - I assume - the entire globe.
This sentence confused me; it didn't read like a complete thought. Did something get left out here? Or is it just something that I misread?
 

luriantimetraveler

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2021
Messages
84
The first three paragraphs worked well for me, but was lost on the fourth para — I'm not familiar with that proverb — but perhaps your readers will have that cultural knowledge!
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
Supporter
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Messages
2,893
I like this - it's a very intriguing start to your story. I like the first person POV - to me it gives this a vaguely Lovecraftian feel (if it were third, somehow I imagine the tone might seem more Wells, or Wyndham; not sure I could explain why). But with this sort of story, I think either 1st or 3rd could work, though the story would feel different, depending on your choice (I do like the 1st).

I always wonder about the weirdest things when I read, so:

About the bee. If freedom can be found beyond the nearby open window, I guess that implies the bee is inside with the MC (freedom for a bee would be in the outdoors). And it's mentioned in the next line that the MC has, evidently, seen this same scenario a number of times. Honestly, in my 61 years I have never once seen a bee inside a home. Many-many flies, but never a bee (and I've lived in the country). And for some reason my mind stuck on that (though it seems like such a small thing). Maybe this is before the common use of mesh window screens? If it is uncommon for folks to have bees inside their homes, maybe a fly would work better? I have seen many flies butting against windows, seeking an exit to the outdoors. Yes, sorry... an odd thing to wonder about.

About this line:
If he’s looking down on us from the Pearly Gates he’s probably thinking, Bit of an understatement.

I imagine someone being at the Pearly Gates if they have just died, so the way this is phrased it made me wonder if Matthew was recently deceased... maybe because of the event that has afflicted the world.
I'd guess that the answer is no, and he's actually been gone for awhile, but for some weird reason the line gave me pause, while I considered whether it was implying he'd just died. What if the line was:

If he’s looking down on us from within the Pearly Gates he’s probably thinking, Bit of an understatement.

But I like this as written, and would definitely read on, good job, CC
 

Saiyali

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
52
Sadly, like all children, I became disinterested.

I think you mean uninterested.

That memory’s occurred to me many times as I write this.

For me the contraction jars a little but there's nothing actually wrong with it!

Matthew, the poster boy for the phrase, there’s none so blind as those who don’t see... springs to mind.

The here suggests he is the only one, and an actual poster boy. Maybe no artcle is what you need: Matthew, poster boy for...

Something else, perhaps. Something with a less edifying agenda.

I'm not sure edifying is the word you need? But maybe it is, because I can't think of a better word! I'm just struggling with an agenda being edifying, does an agenda edify? Maybe instructive?

Anyway, minor things. I like it!
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
12,145
Location
West Sussex, UK
I liked the first three paragraphs very much. The fourth niggled at me, and I think that might be because breaking the rule of three means it has to work harder, but actually it doesn't really tell us anything more. And because it's less striking than the imagery in the third, it feels weak. If you need it in, I would try to reverse the order of three and four; otherwise I would lose four, I think.
 

Wayne Mack

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2020
Messages
699
Location
Chantilly, Virginia, US
I suggest listening to your internal voice. It's trying to tell you something. Both the thread title and the fact that you felt the need to write an extensive set up before presenting the into is trying to tell you something. Some more specific comments.

The fourth paragraph seems to be repeating what was expressed in the first paragraph.

The first paragraph suggest that observing bees occurred multiple times while the second and third paragraph seem to indicate that the observation only happened once.

Without seeing any more of the story, my gut feel is that the first paragraph by itself is sufficient to set a mood and foreshadow the story to come. If I saw more, though, I might express a completely different opinion. I suggest getting the rest of the story written and then circle back and refine the intro.
 

thisreidwrites

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2021
Messages
31
Can I just say that "The moon has grown a giant mouth and is silently, madly whispering what experts, lip-readers, etc cannot translate." grabbed me before I even realized that was just your explanation, not the story itself? That's a DARN good line.

mute people mindlessly walking single file, hand-in-hand - holy cow, WHAT? Are they under something's control? Zombies? Gone mad?

This looks really good to me. I enjoy this voice very much, and I can't help feeling that if you end your introductory bit with that line about the moon whispering ("You see, it all happend when" etc.), this opener would catch ANYONE'S eye. You've already gotten a good foot in the door of characterization; world-building with questions is hinted at; and the moon thing would make anyone read on to find out just what in pickles is going on here.

Solid stuff!

P.S. Dyscalculia sufferer here. I feel you.
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
5,113
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Awesome Chronners to the rescue. Thanks people.

About the bee. If freedom can be found beyond the nearby open window, I guess that implies the bee is inside with the MC (freedom for a bee would be in the outdoors). And it's mentioned in the next line that the MC has, evidently, seen this same scenario a number of times. Honestly, in my 61 years I have never once seen a bee inside a home.

Very interesting, and yes you have a point. I think I'll remove the window section and have him try and tap or something.

The here suggests he is the only one, and an actual poster boy. Maybe no artcle is what you need: Matthew, poster boy for...

The quote is from the Gospel According to Matthew although it was appropriated in popular culture and altered. Matthew is the one who said it, hence the poster boy IMO

I'm not sure edifying is the word you need? But maybe it is, because I can't think of a better word! I'm just struggling with an agenda being edifying, does an agenda edify? Maybe instructive?

It was going to be elevating, but as buildings/structures are symbolic later on I went for edifying.

the rule of three

Eek, Rule of three. Now I'm going to have to research something new. I now about that in terms of dance and art, but not writing.
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
12,145
Location
West Sussex, UK
Eek, Rule of three. Now I'm going to have to research something new.

Oh, no, don't bother on that account. I just find that if something feels like it can be expressed in three things (clauses, sentences, paragraphs) and there are four (clauses, sentences, paragraphs, bullet points), it feels a little out of kilter. But at the risk of repeating myself, that doesn't mean any possible fourth introductory paragraph in your piece would have felt wrong; it just means that for me, it has to work harder to justify its place.
 

Timebender

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2020
Messages
137
Location
The lovely state of Denial
I'm really interested in your vision for this story! I think I would enjoy getting a glimpse of that moodboard.

I think the opening anecdote about the bee is really good. It's vivid and relatable.

My only issue, personally, is that I think this paragraph:
"That memory’s occurred to me many times as I write this (which is more for company than anything else, but I suppose someone’s got to record what’s happened); not that the throngs of mute people mindlessly walking single file, hand-in-hand, around the odd alleys, streets and lanes of Sunburye - and, I assume, the entire globe - really care."
just feels kind of forced. It feels like the two thinks aren't really connected that well, and we're only transitioning from one to the other because the story needs to.

But other than that, I like it! Good luck with this story, I think it might turn out to be something really cool!
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
5,113
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
My only issue, personally, is that I think this paragraph:
"That memory’s occurred to me many times as I write this (which is more for company than anything else, but I suppose someone’s got to record what’s happened); not that the throngs of mute people mindlessly walking single file, hand-in-hand, around the odd alleys, streets and lanes of Sunburye - and, I assume, the entire globe - really care."
just feels kind of forced. It feels like the two thinks aren't really connected that well, and we're only transitioning from one to the other because the story needs

thanks TB, that’s exactly how I feel about it - something a bit contrived or forced - now you’ve identified it too I’ll have a tweak.
 

msstice

200 words a day = 1 novel/year
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
237
It is ok as an opening, but not great. There is one question you raise - the line of mutes - but the rest is not that captivating to me. I probably would keep reading a few more paragraphs out of inertia but not more. Your preamble to the actual writing was more catching. I wonder if you shouldn't open with something like that. The philosophical musing could come a little later.
 

Similar threads


Top