September 20, 2020, 11:10:02 AM

Author Topic: Short Story - Writing Class  (Read 1908 times)

Offline Matty

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1161
    • MattiesGames
Short Story - Writing Class
« on: January 06, 2018, 03:57:19 AM »
Good Afternoon folks (or whatever time zone you are - me, I'm in the twilight zone! ha ha ha)

I recently returned to a writing class that is in my area. The topic for next meeting is 'Hell' and is to be a 500 word short story or thereabouts.

I've written a story based partially on my own personal experience and also partially fictional....hope you enjoy...

--------------

Hell. 6-1-2018, written for Fernhill Writing Class

'Can one enjoy hell?' the forum had asked.

Max reflected on this briefly before deciding in favour of the affirmative. As a bible study leader he'd been taught that hell was eternal conscious torment.  But the longer Max had been here he'd learned that was not the case.

As Max sat drinking his coffee - one of the delights that had persisted - he deeply breathed in the scent of the coffee beans.  Yes, this was definitely one of the delights that had remained. 

It was early, Saturday, the sun shining, the sky blue.  Those things hadn't changed either.  After three years in this place Max had worked out some patterns.  In his first year he'd spent three months in a psychiatric ward due to the shock of the transition.  But Max had adapted.

There were still questions, Max had expected there would be no good things in hell, but there were. Often they were slightly twisted - or had a barb in the tail.  But good definitely existed here.

During Max's second year he'd had a romantic relationship with an older woman named Rose.  It was a pleasant experience for both of them but for reasons that were not entirely clear to Max it felt scripted and was only temporary. 

"Here come the woman
With the look in her eye
Raised on leather
With flesh on her mind", INXS launched onto the radio precisely as an attractive looking
couple entered the cafe

"Makes you wonder how the other half die
How the other half die" it continued.

A wry smile escaped Max's lips - this place's sense of musical timing was still amusing and sometimes disturbing. 

Over the time he'd been here his friends had become distant.  Almost ghostlike  They responded to texts with one word answers, and never called anymore.

Even his parents had taken a backward step in his life. 

That was the hardest part.  The deepening sense of isolation and loneliness.  He'd had good friends for many years but as if by clockwork they'd started to withdraw. 

Max was puzzled by his time of death.  It was either 2014 or 2015.  Or sometime in between.  He'd had a bloody dream in the December of 2014 - perhaps that was it.  But he also had a vague recollection of nearly falling asleep at the wheel on the freeway in May 2015.

While adapting to many of the changes - it was much like everyday life in some ways - the sense of confusion as to where he truly was, when he got here, how long he'd been here - these and similar questions plagued him daily.

Perhaps hell was the wrong word for this place, perhaps it was purgatory, perhaps it was
an alien zoo, but wherever it was - it was not the Earth he'd known during his youth.  Or was it - perhaps he'd always been here and never noticed before?  Impossible questions with no answer.

Long enough at the cafe he thought, Max walked over to the register and paid his bill. 

"Would you like your receipt?"

"Yeah, why not, thanks, the coffee was lovely."

As Max collected his receipt he noticed the total.

$16.66

Smiling to himself, Max tucked it away and left as Hotel California began to play over the radio.
-------------------

Critiques welcome.

Offline Qube

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2515
  • I mostly code at night... Mostly.
    • SyntaxBomb - Indie Coders
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2018, 05:52:01 AM »
I'm a crappy reader ( my mind wonders too much when reading books ) but after reading it three times I ( in the nicest way ) nod my head and go "huh.. yeah *ponder mode*".. Hope that make sense, I'm not great at literary expression.

OK... Short story...

"It was a dark and stormy night. Two men stood on an island looking out at the ocean. One man said, Matty, tell me a tale. Matty began... It was a dark and stormy night. Two men....".
Mac mini ( 2018 / 2020 ), 3 GHz 6-Core Intel Core i5, 16 GB 2667 MHz DDR4, 1TB NVMe, eGPU Radeon Pro 580 8 GB, LG Ultragear 27GL83A-B 27 Inch
Commodore VIC-20, 1.1Mhz MOS 6502 CPU, 5KB RAM, VIC ( 6560 ) GPU

Until the next time...

Offline Derron

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3168
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2018, 08:59:22 AM »
Strong start (it read well and I hoped for more to come).

Became pretty much "based on my past experiences" - at least I assume so.

Ended without giving "satisfaction" (in one or another direction) to the reader.


I still do not get why you added this couple ... I understood that you wanted to add your broken relationship but the couple - is it there just to justify the INXS texts?
If I would not know your personal history (at least a bit) I would question myself why you add things like "older woman". It is unimportant for the story if something is older or not - you were in a relationship - it broke because of the given reasons. I understand that adding little details here and there makes things more "real" ("he always loved his green Dodge, built in 1984 and financed with the money he earned during the summer jobs"). But here _for_me_ it did not work.

Maybe it is because in a short story you do not have the words to add these "tricks".


And the most important part: You ask the question if one could enjoy hell. I think it was not properly answered or not. It was no anchor to the story.
Man is in hell
Man sits in a cafe
Man reflects his previous life
Man listens to music
Man pays the bill
Man leaves cafe

so for me the content of the story is: reflecting previous life - and maybe "sense of life" in general.


How do you connect that to "can one enjoy hell"? Is it because it allows to say "here my past life ended, time to reflect it from begin to end" ?


Maybe I just was not able to interpret the story correctly (not my mother tongue, limited brain capacity, ...).


Aside of the content the "grammar" (word usage, interpunctuation,...) seems pretty fine and I see more potential in your stories than your current drawing capabilities. Which is no offense to the drawing ones but a praise to the writing skills. For _me_ I think the stories would be better with a bit less of that raw and nearly unhidden references to your life.


bye
Ron

Offline Matty

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1161
    • MattiesGames
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2018, 09:52:47 AM »
Thanks Derron.  Perhaps you missed some of it or maybe I wasn't focused enough.

It may not have come through clearly and I'd rather not explain the little signposts throughout the story but if you haven't heard the two songs 'Devil Inside' by INXS and 'Hotel California' by the Eagles then you may have missed the subtext.

Offline Matty

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1161
    • MattiesGames
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2018, 10:01:15 AM »
In terms of enjoying hell it was toying with a more mundane version of hell rather than fire and brimstone the monotonous isolation of repetitive life..in a sense and the character was learning to realize that so far drinking coffee every day and enjoying sunshine and blue skies didnt seem so bad...whether he still felt that way into eternity who can say ...

Offline Matty

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1161
    • MattiesGames
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2018, 10:03:50 AM »
Last point for a bit.... question for you to see if you could sense this:

Did he leave the cafe?

There's room to play with either yes or no if you read it closely and know the music.

Offline Derron

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3168
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2018, 11:07:43 AM »
INXS wasn't my kind of music. Hotel California is known to me but I had to check the lyrics (its not my mother tongue so I only carefully listen to the melody, not so much the texts - except they are easy for me to understand (language wise)).

I understand that "cafe" might be his whole day life, that it does not matter if it was sunday ... or not, or if it was sunday all day long. Maybe reflection of life is his personal "hell" (might be a mistake he made, might be as he already reflected his life during "life", maybe ...). Regarding to the song he would not be able to leave the cafe - and even if he would, he would always be indirectly forced to come back (maybe as it adds the "comfort" he needs to survive his personal hell - or as it is needed for the reflection moments he has day for day for day... groundhog calling)
 
BUT ... you shorten your texts by assuming the reader knows the text or at least synopsis of the songs. You should avoid creating "loose ends" for people not knowing these songs. Such hints should just explain things a bit further or create an "ahh, this guy meant.... in addition"-effect. If you think of a thriller movie about viruses, the scientist cannot just say "oh it is like cholera", nope, he also must explain a bit about how it infects others, how many people will die ...
You do not have to explain _obvious_ things (god, god is like a uber-human - similar to common-knowledge you can use them as allegorations, parallels, symbols.... whatever you want).

So reading your text with a kind of "limited mind" hides _too_much_ of the content. I needed your explanation to recognize _important_ stuff.


Nonetheless the things about "too much personal stuff" (_older_ woman) still stays valid for me. The Loose end of the "entering couple" might be hidden in the song texts (only checked Hotel California...as said INXS wasn't in my past playlists that often). I hope that my review helps you to place yourself in the seat of someone without your special knowledge about certain things.


On the other hand: if your target audience knows these songs, then of course you might be able to "shorten" your texts / explanations these ways. It is like movies which explain the "most simple things" to you (especially computer stuff) which annoys you and me - but not your grand parents.


Before I forget to mention things: DO NOT let you demotivate by whatever I say. I just try to be honest and to say what I am thinking about certain things - and if possible, to "help improving". So very often I skip writing the "good boy" stuff and just start kind of doing the critics.

bye
Ron 

Offline iWasAdam

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1887
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2018, 12:36:05 PM »
lets disect....  ;D
Quote
Max was puzzled by his time of death.  It was either 2014 or 2015.

2014 and 2015 are not really times but dates. it is also a question, so there should be a question mark.

Quote
Or sometime in between.
this is not really a new sentence but a continuation of the previous one. But you are very specific it was either one or the other. so it could not be something in-between, and in that case the or (etc) becomes redundant.

Quote
He'd had a bloody dream in the December of 2014 - perhaps that was it.
ok, so was it a dream he didn't like, referring to it as a 'bloody' dream, in the way you could write 'pesky' dream? Or was it a dream filled with blood? Maybe he had awoke and found himself covered in blood? Be careful about saying what you mean and not letting the reader try to guess.

Quote
But he also had a vague recollection of nearly falling asleep at the wheel on the freeway in May 2015.
Again using very specific dates (see the redundancy description above), but the sentence sort of feels 'meh'. It's sort of 'i did this, then I did this, then I also did this.". You really have three (in some was separate) things:
vague recollection
falling asleep
freeway
But don't really give the reader a chance to care or predict what might have happened.

The last two things to think about are:
1. the name Max. max = matty = max = obvious. maybe write it from a woman point of view with a name that is not interchangeable?
2. $16.66 <-- !!!!! OH PLEASE. cliche, done to death. and doesn't even work! Why not go the whole way and say it was all a dream. or maybe. And then I woke up!

P.S. Using INXS great, only if you know it. if you don't then the whole reference become null and redundant.


Good try.
Here's some thought for you:
Who, Why, Where and What.
Make the reader care :)





Offline Derron

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3168
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2018, 12:55:16 PM »
Do not go with Smartphone-generation 4 Ws ... use 5 Ws - so append the "when". Of course "when" does not necessarily need a fixed date - could also be "Last Sunday"  ... "Previous birthday"...

@ IWasAdam
I did not take care of spelling errors as I am very very error-prone there. Same for grammar. There is also a kind of writers freedom to leave out a subject in a phrase or other essential parts. Especially if that is some kind of "written thought". If you think about things you think in "pieces" not in "phrases". To emphasize such moments of "reflection" I think it is not that unusual to have these kind of "broken phrases" (dunno how to correctly translate what I want to express).


I am dead. Really. Really. dead! I - am - DEAD!
Only the richest were able to afford time with that beauty. Richest, pah, maybe also good looking gals.

Above seems "correct" to me in the sense of "personal view literature" but of course my English teacher would underline many things.


bye
Ron

Offline cpsmith0191

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 73
    • caroleandcarl
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2018, 05:49:44 PM »
A fictional story about a fictional place, nice one. Reading other books on the same subject helps. I've always thought Conrad's take on it IE the one where the U boat commander wakes up on the ship he's about to sink and realises that his hell is a repeat of that day for eternity, is a good one. I suspect that a good hell is like a good prison and resides totally in the mind. Thanks for the read and enjoy your course, have fun cps.

Offline Matty

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1161
    • MattiesGames
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2018, 11:22:03 PM »
Good Morning folks,

I've decided to start writing some short fiction of a form on one of my websites.

It takes the form of dialogue between a pair of hosts on a morning television show and includes a link at the end of each article to the piece of news that inspired me to write these dialogues.

I suppose it could be called a form of 'satire' of sorts. Whether it is funny or not is up to you not me..I like it though.

I have a few articles already. I drew the picture at the top of the page.

http://www.concavetales.com/

Offline Rick Nasher

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 790
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2018, 12:17:14 PM »
I don't usually read works of fiction as I lack the time and when I do I get too caught up in it lol.
Apart from stuff I read as  child and the mandatory stuff at school I've read a couple of classics.
What I've learned from the art-world where I've lingered around a bit is that all great are the ones who are somewhat vague and make you think. I think this qualifies in that area.

Luv INXS (original sin, suic blonde) and The Eagles, Hotel Calif. Also nice: the solo song by Don Henly -
Good lyrics, very atmospheric. Always gives that feel as when in summer holiday it's hot and everybody's gone. Great stuff, so visual.

Lyrics

Nobody on the road,
Nobody on the beach.
I feel it in the air,
The summer's out of reach.
Empty lake, empty streets,
The sun goes down alone.
I'm driving by your house
Don't know you're not home.

But I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun.
You got your hair combed back
And your sunglasses on, baby.
I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone.

I never will forget those nights.
I wonder if it was a dream.
Remember how you made me crazy,
Remember how I made you scream.
I don't understand what happened to our love.
But, baby, I'm gonna get you back,
I'm gonna show you what I'm made of.

I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun.
I see you walking real slow
And you're smiling at everyone.
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone.

Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.
A little voice inside my head said:
"Don't look back, you can never look back."
I thought I knew what love was.
What did I know?
Those days are gone forever.
I should just let 'em go, but

I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun.
You got that top pulled down,
And that radio on, baby.
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong,
After the boys of summer have gone.

I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun.
You got that hair slicked back,
And those Wayfarers on, baby.
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong,
After the boys of summer have gone.




_______________________________________
 B3D + physics + shaders + X-platform = AGK!
:D ..ALIENBREED *LIVES* (thanks to Qube).. :D
_______________________________________

Offline meems

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 310
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2018, 04:06:32 PM »
>Max did this. Max thought that. Max looked up. Max sat down. Max took a sip. Max hung himself..

Less 'Max's in the paragraphs.
You don't need to use a proper noun on the same object if its the only object of that type in paragraph.
In other words : use names only when necessary to introduce it, or discern it from some other object it may be confused with. Or as an occasional refresher when attention had moved to something else.

>Max did this. He thought that. He looked up. He sat down. He took a sip. Max hung himself..

Even then you don't need to use the 'he she' pro-noun every time. The reader will still understand

>Max did this. He thought that. He looked up, then sat down. He took a sip, then hung himself..

Offline Matty

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1161
    • MattiesGames
Re: Short Story - Writing Class
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2018, 07:25:29 PM »
Note maybe i should have begun a new thread...max is old news...i was updating this to mention my somewhat satirical take on mainstream news stories here..

http://www.concavetales.com


 

SimplePortal 2.3.6 © 2008-2014, SimplePortal