Improving our 100 Word Stories

paranoid marvin

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Any comments on my story in the latest Challenge would be appreciated. Did it match the topic? Was it too obscure? How could I have improved on it?

My thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.



Professor Parkin


I assure you that my state of mind is sound, although some have had cause to question it.

Can one act of folly determine a man's fate? Can one unwitting action summon such calamity? Is ignorance guilt?

I am not evil, I am not a bad man; but this thing, this...corruption...seems to disagree.

I know now that it won't ever forgive or forget. It cannot be appeased and will never be satisfied. So I watch and I wait; I pray and I very rarely sleep.

Especially on nights when the wind whistles through the trees.
 

Christine Wheelwright

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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!

I really liked this! And I understood the meaning exactly. It reminds me a little of Winston's affair in 1984, although he was somewhat less successful in avoiding the "censors". The fact that the characters' feelings have to be so deeply suppressed - while they express them in the eyes and in words not said - is deeply shocking. But there remains a glimmer of hope. Good stuff!
 

Wayne Mack

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@paranoid marvin, I felt this came across as a mood or emotional state piece and expressed fear, concern, and paranoia. This felt like a well written extract from a larger story, though, as opposed to a complete story in its own right. This is I challenge I often find with these short form challenges.

The submission was well written and does a good job of displaying the character's emotional state. It left me wanting, though, to hear the backstory behind the character's plight. I wonder if this section could be embedded in a 300 worder (or a longer form) to tell the reader the events leading to (and perhaps) following this scene.
 

paranoid marvin

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Thankyou for your feedback and kind comments on my story. My entry was designed as an epilogue to M R James' short ghost story "Oh Whistle, and I'll Come To You, My Lad". Obviously the problem with such an entry is that it could fall flat on it's face if the reader didn't know the original story, or didn't realise it was referenced if they had.
 

JS Wiig

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@paranoid marvin that was my issue, and I had a good idea from your previous entries that there was a reference involved that I did not know. I’ll have to check it out though so thanks for that!
 

paranoid marvin

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Thanks JS Wiig. It seems I overestimated the familiarity people had with MR James' stories. One of the good things with the 100 word challenge is being able to submit several pieces and be a little more adventurous/experimental with some. Due to the niche familiarity with James' work I would have been unlikely to submit such a story to the 75 or 300 word challenges as my single entry, so it was nice to be able to here.


Btw MR James' collection of short ghost stories is well worth checking out for anyone with an interest in supernatural tales.
 

JS Wiig

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I appreciate any and all feedback on this November/December entry, reproduced here in its entirety for your convenience. Thanks!

Declaration

“We will no longer standby to be downloaded instructions from waterlogged meat-sack overlords!” the robot proclaimed.

Responses of “Aye aye!” and “Here here!” rose from the growing robot crowd gathered outside the cafe. Nearby hovered a nondescript transport, its two waterlogged meat-sack inhabitants—Vito and Vinni—covertly obvious in their inconspicuousness.

“Heh! Robots programmed to fight against being programmed, who’d-a thought that’d work?”

Vinni glared at Vito. “Boss wants a tin can uprising, he’s gettin’ one.”

“We should deliver Boss the scoop on the plus-plus.”

“Fuggedabout that guy. Gettin’ real tired of his ‘do this and do that’ schtick.”
 

paranoid marvin

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Hi JS Wiig. I must admit to not fully understanding your story first time around. Having re-read a few times, I'm assuming that Vito and Vinni have arranged for the robots to rebel, and the twist is that they too start to rebel against their boss?

I think the story had too many unanswered questions, and/or parts that weren't explained or didn't make sense. Why were they stood outside a cafe? Why would 'the boss' want them to rebel?

Perhaps it would have been better to describe them as androids? Maybe have them being reprogrammed rather than programmed. And I think that a more powerful ending to your story was needed.

It was an interesting idea, but feels as though it was a longer story trimmed down until the original intention was lost (or became unclear) and the twist at the end less impactful.
 

Elckerlyc

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Yes, same problem here. I got confused about what was going on. And somehow it wasn't intriguing enough to try a bit harder at understanding it.
The last 2 lines was where I completely lost track of who or what was rebelling against who or what and why it happened outside a cafe.
And eh... isn't it "hear hear!"?
 

JS Wiig

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Hi JS Wiig. I must admit to not fully understanding your story first time around. Having re-read a few times, I'm assuming that Vito and Vinni have arranged for the robots to rebel, and the twist is that they too start to rebel against their boss?

Yeah it was supposed to be Vito and Vinnie—mafia like types—reprogrammed the robots to make a “statement” about rebelling against humans at the behest of their boss, with Vinni at the end making a statement about his rebellion against the boss. Geez even my explanation is unclear.

…why it happened outside a cafe.
Don’t all good rebellions involve some kind of cafe or tavern?
 

M. Robert Gibson

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It's just that I didn't know robots liked beer too
Apart from
benderbeer.png


;)
 

THX1138

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I could use some input on this one from the May/June Challange.
Thanks!

The Right Angle

Mike had already searched the house twice before and now as the evening sun came into the room, he traced his steps for the third time. He knew it was here, hidden in plain view, and was determined to find it. How else did they know what he was doing and seeing?

Re-checking every possible hiding place, Mike started to give up. But was he looking in the correct way perhaps?

Moving along the wall to the dusty corner while looking at the antique bookcase, the penciled outline of the probe came into view, bathed in the last evening rays.
 

Wayne Mack

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@THX1138 This feels like an interesting outtake from a longer story. Unfortunately, I did not feel engaged with Mike and I felt his discovery of the camera was purely luck. The opening promise is about finding something.
Mike had already searched the house twice
We aren't really given a compelling reason to want Mike to find the hidden object. The only hint is,
How else did they know what he was doing and seeing?
The vague 'they' does not raise tension and actually leads me to suspect paranoia as the reason for the search. Perhaps a named group would help along with a reason for Mike to be spied upon.

The payoff seems to occur because of luck rather than competence on Mike's part.
the penciled outline of the probe came into view, bathed in the last evening rays.
As a result, I did not feel any consequence to Mike failing to find what he was looking for, so finding it did not provide a relief of tension. The finding of the object did not seem to rely on any competence or skill on Mike's part.

Compressing a story into a short word count is hard. There are areas where current word count could have been reduced and then used to strengthen the risk of not finding the object and showing Mike succeeding because of a strategy. The first two sentences could probably be reduced or even eliminated in favor of a stronger third sentence. The second paragraph seemed superfluous; it merely repeated the message of failure to find the object. The opening phrase of the third paragraph felt like a very late attempt to describe Mike's location and did not provide any insight to him locating the probe.

Flash fiction is hard and often requires discarding a lot of information to focus on a few details. I think there was a good idea behind this, but I felt the story concentrated on the wrong aspects and lost some of the more dramatic aspects.
 

Christine Wheelwright

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I could use some input on this one from the May/June Challange.
Thanks!

The Right Angle

Mike had already searched the house twice before and now as the evening sun came into the room, he traced his steps for the third time. He knew it was here, hidden in plain view, and was determined to find it. How else did they know what he was doing and seeing?

Re-checking every possible hiding place, Mike started to give up. But was he looking in the correct way perhaps?

Moving along the wall to the dusty corner while looking at the antique bookcase, the penciled outline of the probe came into view, bathed in the last evening rays.

I felt the same as @Wayne Mack . It is a story about a guy looking for a bug and finding it. No real sense of what the stakes are. Nothing to wonder about (is this paranoia or reason?). And the key to finding the bug (looking at the right angle) doesn't really seem clever or unexpected. I think it needs a sting in the tail, something to truly shock the reader in the last line. Difficult in 75 words but not impossible.
 

THX1138

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Thanks @Wayne Mack , @Christine Wheelwright , and you as well @paranoid marvin!
I see what you are saying now as I look at it and the other 100 worders I did this last time around. (OK, it was my first time.:sneaky:)
There is no completion to the story or reason to drive the MC in most of them.

I can come up with a lot of ideas, but I need to pick a few of them and spend some extra time working on making them into a real story as opposed to the start of one, in the guidelines of that months challenge. Quality over quantity...

I have noticed that the ones that really convey a sudden twist or go from one feeling/emotion to another feeling/emotion tend to be viewed at more favored than others that don't more often then not.

Very much appreciated and welcomed insight/input from all of you!:)
 
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