Improving our 100 Word Stories

JS Wiig

“Hello, muse?” “Please hold…” *elevator music*
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Hope there are no objections to having a feedback thread for the 100 Anonymous Challenge.

I’ll go first!

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I appreciate any and all feedback on my May/June entries, reproduced here in their entirety for your convenience. Thanks!

#1
Version 2.0

“What do you mean I won’t live forever?”

“It seems the Alpha-Centurions have new technology. Yours is obsolete. No longer supported. Sir.”

“An upgrade? That’s fantastic! When can we get it?”

“I’m sorry sir, it’s not that simple. The new technology is incompatible with the old.”

“Incompatible? What does that mean?”

“Well, sir, upgrading to the new tech causes loss of all previous memories.”

“What’s the point of living forever if I forget everything?”

“Indeed sir.”

“So, the two options are die or continue immortally and lose everything I know.”

“Yes sir.”

Sigh. “Upgrade it is then.”

#2
Pandemic

Deep in the belly of the bowels of the heart of the center of the Earth, Mother Spirit stirred. She yawned, stretched, rubbed her eyes, shifted her pillow, adjusted her blankets, disturbed by the ache and chill of a rising fever.

On her surface the infection spread, annoying like the sweats of a melting ice age or the nausea of a polar shift, but a normal part of her existence: cycles of comfort and despair that come and go.

In her infinite lifespan it was but a broken night’s sleep. They would be gone soon and she could wait.

#3
Battle on the Mountain

Steel flashed on a mountainside illuminated by bright blue moonlight, two combatants locked in mortal combat. But heed! Neither was mortal and their battle had raged long before the villagers came.

For centuries the simple folk in the valley below sacrificed lambs and goats and virgins in hopes of stilling the commotion, yet on they fought, sending rocks and fire and destruction tumbling below.

One day, the elders prophesied, a hero would be born, a union of God and Man to end the endless. The cry of an innocent babe echoed in the night, and hope was restored.
 

AnRoinnUltra

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Just adding a late reply on this @JS Wiig , and only looking at 2.0 for now if that's okay ...and am only learning the game so this is just some random unqualified musings -I think it's a great idea, and had me thinking of different advances in medical/ cyborg technology for different parts of outer space. The story seems to have a slight repetition in the realization of the protagonists continuity dilemma. It might be possible to pack that into the first few sentences in the exchange, which could then give you a bit of leeway to play out the decision a bit (maybe something random like, 'guess this is a good opportunity to give up the smokes').
Fair play for the class idea
 

AnRoinnUltra

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Some more feedback @JS Wiig ...even if it's fup all use to you, I'm learning about writing;)

Pandemic -I'm not gonna go there, thought it was brilliant stuff, probably veering more the towards a poetry end of things, or 'art', fair play.

Battle on the Mountain -I thought it had a very strong start, but the 'But heed!' line threw me a bit ...the paragraph told me about blades, and blue moonlight, and two creatures trying to batter each other to death while being immortal, I was heeding as best as I could. The 'end the endless' had me puzzled in the third paragraph -I could very easily be missing an important point in your story but it meant I was befuddled. Of course, that might've been your intention, but just letting ya know.

Thanks for the stories
 

Betok_Haney

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Here is my first 100 word story, posted for the September challenge. Thank you for your feedback. I had fun writing this, and if I were to immediately critique my own work, is that it was not really a story, but more of a scene.

Arrested Clarity

I have spent hundreds of hours training for this moment, memorizing symbols, combinations, words, and intonation. Yet, desperate to cast the spell and secure my salvation, I am lost. I run, flailing through the corridors of thought, panicked to find the correct path, a means of escape. I turn toward one solution, a promising canticle steeped in hymnic power, only for it to crumble into a lie. I spin to find another idea leading in an opposite direction, suddenly revealed as false hope. There are too many choices, the answer lost within the shifting maze of my mind.
 

JS Wiig

“Hello, muse?” “Please hold…” *elevator music*
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@Betok_Haney I enjoyed many of the word choices, I felt it lent a rhythmic tempo to the piece.

I think for me, I was unsure what the character needed to accomplish and the importance of that task, which in a way made their wandering ramblings seem perhaps trivial.

Also, training for hundreds of hours then flailing miserably indicates a level of incompetence that may come across as unappealing.

The almost stream-of-consciousness winding through inner thoughts fit well with the theme.
 

Provincial

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Hope there are no objections to having a feedback thread for the 100 Anonymous Challenge.

I’ll go first!

###

I appreciate any and all feedback on my May/June entries, reproduced here in their entirety for your convenience. Thanks!

#1


#2


#3
Hi @JS Wiig, some more feedback for you.

Version 2.0 and Pandemic were both great stories - well written, thoughtful and entertaining, can’t be improved on.

For me, Battle on the Mountain was let down by the last line. It needed to be pithier, more of a punchline. The rest of it was great though. The only suggestions I have for different last lines actually subvert your own storyline, so they aren’t really appropriate, but hopefully they illustrate what I mean by a punchline. Here they are…

Then the Minotaur strolled into town.

They are still waiting.

The advert in The Times read: “Wanted - God, for procreation”, and the queue went round the block.

So they raised every child as if they were a god, and everyone crossed their fingers.
 

AnRoinnUltra

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Here is my first 100 word story, posted for the September challenge. Thank you for your feedback. I had fun writing this, and if I were to immediately critique my own work, is that it was not really a story, but more of a scene.
I agree with @JS Wiig , the word choice and rythm in the story were what made it for me. I enjoyed it. I think that there is something about the ending (There are too many choices, the answer lost within the shifting maze of my mind.) that could be changed ...not sure what that is though, possibly cut 'There are too many choices', and add something else. Fair play, class title!
 

Mon0Zer0

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Hello! Here's my entry into the 100 worder. Thanks in advance for your thoughts / critiques comments.

Re: the above entries, my thoughts have been pretty much covered by the rest of you, so don't really have anything to add!

Beyond the Censor’s Gaze

Every time we meet on the steps of the Capitol, we lose ourselves.

Banal conversation erects a private maze – protection from the omnipresent censor’s gaze. If their technology could see into men’s hearts they’d find us in the labyrinth, dancing the secret ways, weaving deftly round convention and propriety like fall-birds circling ancient smoke stacks.

Meaning navigates the catacombs of our conversation to find itself shining daylight in the sparkle of your eyes.

When there is no more left to not say, we part once again.

There is no sadness. So long as the labyrinth exists, the censors cannot last.
 

Elckerlyc

"Philosophy will clip an angel's wings."
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About @Betok_Haney's story Arrested Clarity I have little to add. But indeed, at some point it lost it's Clarity for me.

As for Beyond the Censor's Gaze, I found the story a bit to obscure or vague to penetrate, as if I were the Censor! And I struggled with a sentence like "Meaning navigates the catacombs of our conversation to find itself shining daylight in the sparkle of your eyes." I read it several times to try to come to a decision whether it made sense or not. If it does, I suppose it is brilliant! I'm still in doubt, though. But that's me, don't know about others.
I do like the original approach of a labyrinthine conversation in which its meaning lies in what is not said..
 

Provincial

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Hello! Here's my entry into the 100 worder. Thanks in advance for your thoughts / critiques comments.

Re: the above entries, my thoughts have been pretty much covered by the rest of you, so don't really have anything to add!
Beyond the Censor’s Gaze was another excellent story from the current crop, poetic, moving and rebelliously hopeful. My only issue with it was that I don’t know what a fall-bird is supposed to be, so the ‘fall-birds circling ancient smoke stacks’ phrase wrong-footed me and kicked me out of the flow of the story.
 

JS Wiig

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@Mon0Zer0 I thought it was an excellent story, well written, fit the theme, it just didn’t tickle my personal tastes as well as other stories did.
 

Mon0Zer0

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Thanks for your comments! This is one of those pieces that I'd like to expand someday - maybe even as a comic. I can lean on bleak scenarios a bit too much, so this was a deliberate attempt to write something hopeful for a change.

I struggled with a sentence like "Meaning navigates the catacombs of our conversation to find itself shining daylight in the sparkle of your eyes." I read it several times to try to come to a decision whether it made sense or not. If it does, I suppose it is brilliant! I'm still in doubt, though. But that's me, don't know about others.
I do like the original approach of a labyrinthine conversation in which its meaning lies in what is not said..

That is a line I ummed and ah'd about. My inner critical voice was poking fun at me for crossing the border into pretention. Without wishing to dissect the frog, it means that even though the conversation is banal the subtext still comes across. The way "I" know we're on the same page is through eye contact. I imagined "meaning" dancing down the labyrinth from the protagonist's head, emerging in the other's head and lighting a fire like daylight to signify it got there safely.

It's like when you first feel attraction to someone you realise feels the same way about you. You know they're attracted to you because their eyes sparkle, if that makes sense?

I don’t know what a fall-bird is supposed to be, so the ‘fall-birds circling ancient smoke stacks’ phrase wrong-footed me and kicked me out of the flow of the story.

That's interesting because it's another word that I couldn't make my mind up on. "Fall-bird" was just meant to be an in world term for a type of bird that the main-character knows flies in an erratic pattern. I was hoping the name was evocative enough that a reader could conjure up their own image of a circling bird and fill in the blanks.

Thanks once again for your feedback :)
 

Provincial

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Thanks for your comments! This is one of those pieces that I'd like to expand someday - maybe even as a comic. I can lean on bleak scenarios a bit too much, so this was a deliberate attempt to write something hopeful for a change.



That is a line I ummed and ah'd about. My inner critical voice was poking fun at me for crossing the border into pretention. Without wishing to dissect the frog, it means that even though the conversation is banal the subtext still comes across. The way "I" know we're on the same page is through eye contact. I imagined "meaning" dancing down the labyrinth from the protagonist's head, emerging in the other's head and lighting a fire like daylight to signify it got there safely.

It's like when you first feel attraction to someone you realise feels the same way about you. You know they're attracted to you because their eyes sparkle, if that makes sense?



That's interesting because it's another word that I couldn't make my mind up on. "Fall-bird" was just meant to be an in world term for a type of bird that the main-character knows flies in an erratic pattern. I was hoping the name was evocative enough that a reader could conjure up their own image of a circling bird and fill in the blanks.

Thanks once again for your feedback :)

If you had wanted to suggest a bird which flies erratically, perhaps you should have given it a name like ‘zig-zag bird’? ‘Fall-bird’ suggests it glides like an eagle and stoops upon its prey from a great height, falling out of the sky like a stone. Of course, fall-bird is much more poetic than zig-zag bird, but in the context it is somewhat misleading don’t you think?
 

Mon0Zer0

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If you had wanted to suggest a bird which flies erratically, perhaps you should have given it a name like ‘zig-zag bird’? ‘Fall-bird’ suggests it glides like an eagle and stoops upon its prey from a great height, falling out of the sky like a stone. Of course, fall-bird is much more poetic than zig-zag bird, but in the context it is somewhat misleading don’t you think?

I can see why you'd think that. Good point.
 

Mon0Zer0

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It is cool to see how each of us can envision different things from language. When I read 'fall-birds', I thought of 'birds of the season, Fall/Autumn' so your story immediately had an Autumnal climatic tone to it, which seemed incredibly appropriate.
Yeah, it is interesting how words connote different things to different people. I had Autumn / Fall in mind, too.
 

Provincial

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Here is my first 100 word story, posted for the September challenge. Thank you for your feedback. I had fun writing this, and if I were to immediately critique my own work, is that it was not really a story, but more of a scene.

Arrested Clarity was an accurate description of what it’s like to lose confidence at the last moment and panic, but as you say, not really a story. Other than that, there is nothing negative to say about it.

Since that sort of panicked breakdown is such a horrible position to be in, you might want to consider choosing a different subject for your story if your aim is to win more votes next time, creating a world which is more comfortable for others to live in. I am no expert - I write reviews because it makes me look at each story carefully and try to understand its creative wellspring, not because I have any experience which qualifies me to review stories - but casual observation suggests that amusing poems and humorous entries do quite well, possibly because people like to be cheered up. However if (like many of us) you feel compelled to follow wherever your muse leads, then good for you! Unless you are writing for a living you don’t have to compromise - though you do have to follow the Chron guidelines! Arrested Clarity was an excellent contribution to the competition, an entirely original interpretation of the theme and something you can justifiably feel proud of.
 

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