Improving our 100 Word Stories

JS Wiig

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I have to be honest that I read it a complete of times and I didn't understand it. I've read it again now a couple of times and still don't. It's well written and I love the word 'transcombobulated'.

The idea is young neighborhood kids thinking the elderly neighbor is an old grouch, and the elderly neighbor thinking the young kids are punks, and each finding out their perspective on the matter is incorrect. I also attempted to use each as the POV to play a bit more on the theme.
 

paranoid marvin

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Ah, this makes more sense now, although I do agree with some of the other comments made in relation to motivation of the characters.

Personally I would have made it a bit clearer to the reader what was happening, and have given more of a motive for Tommy to be nice to him.



“That crank is just a crazy old man!”


Here I would have replaced 'crank' with 'professor', so we know that it's the same person as in the second part of your story.

It may also have been worth have been worth dispensing with Selene and her cat. Too many characters does make it a little more confusing. Perhaps maybe

Well, no. But he threatened to transcombobulate Rupert into a pigeon!”


which would tie in with the professor's thoughts in the second part of your story.


Personally I would have gone with more of a motivation for Tommy, and a reward (or otherwise) at the end of your story. So maybe for a motivation, you have Tommy saying that he wants to see inside the professor's house, or laboratory. This way, you could have one of two endings. Either a nice one, where the professor invites Tommy into his home, or a nasty/twisty one where the professor is crazy, and Tommy gets transcombobulated into a pigeon.


I also would have gone with a less explainy, more ambiguous title 'The Cookie Monster' perhaps?
 

THX1138

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Some input on improving this one please. I thought it was good, but it looks like I'm missing something about it.
Thanks again!

The Perspectives

“These plants are grown from artificial goop, injected into the ground by your robots!”

“But Dayna!” He pleaded with her.

“No Father, all of this is fake. It’s not real!” Gesturing to the vegetable garden around them.

“But Dayynnna, Dayna. I, I, I ddddd. Reboot.” He became motionless, slumping slightly forward.

“Father?” She asked concerningly.

“Hello Dayna!”, he stood upright, “Reloading from last conversation. But Dayna, I did all this for you.” Her father said moving caringly forward.

“What’s happing here?” She asked stepping back.

“My dear Dayna. Why can’t you see past this and just enjoy life?”
 

JS Wiig

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@THX1138 overall I liked the story, especially the ironic twist of the artificial garden and the artificial father.

I thought there were some grammar issues that detracted from the piece, my comments are in red below:

———
The Perspectives

“These plants are grown from artificial goop, injected into the ground by your robots!”

“But Dayna!” He pleaded with her. I think He should be lower case here.

“No Father, all of this is fake. It’s not real!” Gesturing to the vegetable garden around them. This seems to be a sentence fragment without a subject noun, maybe add a she said?

I thought the three exclamations were a bit excessive and had me picturing the characters with huge smiles on their faces and waving their arms about excitedly.


“But Dayynnna, Dayna. I, I, I ddddd. Reboot.” He became motionless, slumping slightly forward.

“Father?” She asked concerningly. I think She should be lower case. I don’t think concerningly is a word, perhaps just concerned?

“Hello Dayna!”, he stood upright, “Reloading from last conversation. But Dayna, I did all this for you.” Her father said moving caringly forward. I think there is an extra comma after Dayna!, he should be uppercase and there should be a period after upright. I think there should be a comma instead of a period after you and Her should be lower case.

“What’s happing here?” She asked stepping back. I think She should be lower case.

“My dear Dayna. Why can’t you see past this and just enjoy life?”
———

Thanks for sharing your story and I hope I’ve provided some useful feedback!
 

THX1138

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@THX1138 overall I liked the story, especially the ironic twist of the artificial garden and the artificial father.

I thought there were some grammar issues that detracted from the piece, my comments are in red below:

———
The Perspectives

“These plants are grown from artificial goop, injected into the ground by your robots!”

“But Dayna!” He pleaded with her. I think He should be lower case here.

“No Father, all of this is fake. It’s not real!” Gesturing to the vegetable garden around them. This seems to be a sentence fragment without a subject noun, maybe add a she said?

I thought the three exclamations were a bit excessive and had me picturing the characters with huge smiles on their faces and waving their arms about excitedly.


“But Dayynnna, Dayna. I, I, I ddddd. Reboot.” He became motionless, slumping slightly forward.

“Father?” She asked concerningly. I think She should be lower case. I don’t think concerningly is a word, perhaps just concerned?

“Hello Dayna!”, he stood upright, “Reloading from last conversation. But Dayna, I did all this for you.” Her father said moving caringly forward. I think there is an extra comma after Dayna!, he should be uppercase and there should be a period after upright. I think there should be a comma instead of a period after you and Her should be lower case.

“What’s happing here?” She asked stepping back. I think She should be lower case.

“My dear Dayna. Why can’t you see past this and just enjoy life?”
———

Thanks for sharing your story and I hope I’ve provided some useful feedback!
Thanks for pointing those errors out.
I just started a free online Proofreading class today, and one of the first rules it brings up is:

“It might be a great story but if the grammar and spelling are off, the reader will take you as being unprofessional and not serious about your writing.”

And you reiterated the same!:)
 

Christine Wheelwright

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I guess I can't complain, because I did well with Range Anxiety in the most recent 100-word challenge. But I had a second story, End of Life, that I thought might do a little better (it got no votes and a couple of mentions). Anyway, here it is. Please feel free to have at it!



End of Life

From my space station, I watched war destroy all human life below. And then I wrote about it. Well, I thought there should be a record.

Lying in my arms at night, Jasmine encouraged me.

“You write with emotion. I could never do that.”

When the book was finished she wanted to celebrate.

“Let’s do that thing you like! I’ll get the handcuffs,” she said.

A few minutes later, immobile, I saw the knife in her hand and understood. I had no purpose now. But what a way to go! The last human, decommissioned by his sex robot.
 

therapist

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@Christine Wheelwright I had this on my short list, so I definitely liked your story. I found the idea provocative. And I liked that Jasmine's dialogue shows that she is a sex robot. But, while interesting, I found the ending slightly unsatisfing. If I had to guess why, I would put it down to Jasmine's motivations being too subtle for me to understand.

After reading it, I didn't know if Jasmine was killing him because it was a robot vs human war, and she was finishing the job. Or maybe because she felt threatened by his emotional writing. Or maybe she just didn't want to be a sex slave.

Or was she keeping him alive just so he could write his emotional record of the war—something she couldn't do? (after thinking more about your story I feel like this last one makes the most sense. But this motivation never occured to me until just now.)

Either way, I would've preferred her motivations being clearer. And I think this would've made the ending more cohesive and satisfying.

Out of curiosity, what was your intent here?
 

Christine Wheelwright

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Out of curiosity, what was your intent here?

Yes, it was the latter (that he would write the story and then his purpose would be complete). Whatever task he was previously performing on the space station would no longer have relevance. In Clarke's 2001 the human crew is seen as superfluous by the AI which reasons that it can complete the mission without them. In my story, there is no mission because humanity has been destroyed. The writing of the book provides a temporary purpose for the human.

I think this could make a good 5,000 to 7,000 word short story, but it flunked the 100 word test. In the longer format it would, of course, be clearer. And some additional aspects could be investigated. Does the AI care about how it is treated and its role? Are there 'laws of robotics' that make the AI care for the human while humanity exists, but dispose of him when he is the last human remaining? An unforeseen loophole in other words. And does he even see the end coming, perhaps welcoming it or accepting it and its means of delivery.
 

paranoid marvin

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Hi Christine, I did think your story had some interesting ideas. But the first part about him writing a book and the robot talking about being unable to show emotion didn't seem to correlate to the second part.

An idea might have been to link the two by having the human suggest to the robot ways of showing emotion. For example:


“You write with emotion. I could never do that.”

"It's easy," I replied, "Think of something you've always wanted to do, and then just do it - whatever the cost. That's emotion."

I'm sure that you could think of something better than this, but it then ties the two halves of the story together.
 

Paul J. Menzies

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@Christine Wheelwright

I think the bot's motivations for keeping the human alive are clear. What's unclear are her motives for actually killing the last remaining human. And where the ability to do so comes from, considering she cannot experience emotion. And finally since the war was human v human (it seems, since the human had kept her around and those non ref to bots warring, only humans) why she's an outlier to other bots---uniquely capable of murder. Or is this actually a common issue? You state above because the human had served her purpose. I'm not sure I find that covincing and there's no ref to 2001 to push my mind in that direction.

If I had to guess, those unexplained questions might be part of why it didn't do as well as you expected. Kind of plot holey. Makes it look like you're forcing the twist.

But, as the story stands...

I think you would have got a bigger twist and more depth if you made one small change... Make the third last word "her".

A she has the capability to restart the human race, and it plays against multiple assumptions. The "he" ending is kind of cliché.
 

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