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  1. #1
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    Flash fiction (150 words) - interested in any comments/criticisms

    Hello all,
    I'm very new to the forums and usually only write for myself. I have a simple stream of consciousness piece of flash fiction and I'm just interested to hear what others make of it and my writing style generally:

    Habits

    She assumes that I'm asleep, naive really, but how is she to know I’m lying here turning the facts of my life into a more pleasing fiction? It seems a cruel trick that we can't ever share someone's inner life- especially when we are sold the theory that we can if we only love enough. It's equally naive of me to claim to know her assumptions. This is how I tie myself in knots. This is how I destroy my inner calm, creating parasites to eat away at the foundations of our security. This is why I choose the dangerous habit of recasting reality as narrative. It's why I pretend to sleep rather than face her disappointment.

    She is gently placing clothes into a suitcase. I know they will be rolled rather than folded to use the space more efficiently. Long accepted habits comfort us both.



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by bee View Post
    Hello all,
    I'm very new to the forums and usually only write for myself. I have a simple stream of consciousness piece of flash fiction and I'm just interested to hear what others make of it and my writing style generally:

    Habits

    She assumes that I'm asleep, naive really, but how is she to know I’m lying here turning the facts of my life into a more pleasing fiction? It seems a cruel trick that we can't ever share someone's inner life- especially when we are sold the theory that we can if we only love enough. It's equally naive of me to claim to know her assumptions. This is how I tie myself in knots. This is how I destroy my inner calm, creating parasites to eat away at the foundations of our security. This is why I choose the dangerous habit of recasting reality as narrative. It's why I pretend to sleep rather than face her disappointment.

    She is gently placing clothes into a suitcase. I know they will be rolled rather than folded to use the space more efficiently. Long accepted habits comfort us both.
    I'm not really sure what the point is.

  3. #3
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    Welcome.

    Yes, it's a narrative, but not flash fiction, which is simply a very short story, which, in general, contains the usual three act structure. This is more a statement of philosophy, placed into the structure of an internal monologue.

    As such I have a few quibbles.
    She assumes that I'm asleep, naive really, but how is she to know I’m lying here turning the facts of my life into a more pleasing fiction?In speech, by tone of voice and timing, we know this flows from a thought to a related, editorial comment. But on the page the reader can't tell how you would read it, and doesn't know the state of mind of the one speaking, so they can't guess at how you want them to read it, and the emotion is missing. Better to place a period after the statement and begin the comment with something like "that's naive...". It seems a cruel trick that we can't ever share someone's inner life- especially when we are sold the theory that we can if we only love enough Love enough to? The reader can't tell your intent, so you need to complete the thought. Unfortunatly when we drop in an implied, "You know what I mean," they probably don't. It's equally naive of me to claim to know her assumptions. This is how I tie myself in knots. This is how I destroy my inner calm, creating parasites to eat away at the foundations of our security. This is why I choose the dangerous habit of recasting reality as narrative. It's why I pretend to sleep rather than face her disappointment. This has perfect meaning, and purpose, to you, because you know what drove this unknown person to have these thoughts. You what's going on in the room, where they are in time and space, and everything that gives the narrative life. The reader has only what meaning they take from your words, based on what has gone before.

    She is gently placing clothes into a suitcase. Meaningless to a reader, because we don't know what they are to each other. We don't know why she's packing, or anything to give context. And in writing, context isn't just important, it's critical to a reader's enjoyment. I know they will be rolled rather than folded to use the space more efficiently. This is the way you pack, I'll bet. But why does a reader care how someone we know nothing about packs? What does it tell us about her that's useful so far as moving the plot, developing character, or setting the scene? Long accepted habits comfort us both.
    Okay, it may seem that I was cruel, and saying that the writing has no redeeming characteristics. I'm not. There's nothing wrong with the writing, as writing. It's just that the medium we work in has limitations and strengths, so far as writing fiction, that no one ever mentions in our school years. And because they didn't, we use the general writing skills we all learn in school, and the result is what you posted. A

    That's fixable. you learned those techniques, so you can add the ones necessary for fiction to them, just as easily.

    You write for yourself, so you have the desire and the perseverance. And that's great. You had the courage to post your work, which says you're hoping for feedback that will help you write with more skill. Another plus. What you're missing is what we're all missing when we decide to record our stories, a few of the techniques the pros take for granted. A bit of that makes the job much easier, and better for the reader. So hit the library's fiction writing section. Or, for a very gentle introduction to the craft of the fiction writer, pick up a copy of Debra Dixon's, GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict, from any online bookseller, or a hard copy from Deb's website. It's a warm easy read, filled with things that will make you say, "Why didn't I see that myself?"

    Hang in there, and keep on writing.

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    Welcome.

    Yes, it's a narrative, but not flash fiction, which is simply a very short story, which, in general, contains the usual three act structure. This is more a statement of philosophy, placed into the structure of an internal monologue.

    As such I have a few quibbles.

    Okay, it may seem that I was cruel, and saying that the writing has no redeeming characteristics. I'm not. There's nothing wrong with the writing, as writing. It's just that the medium we work in has limitations and strengths, so far as writing fiction, that no one ever mentions in our school years. And because they didn't, we use the general writing skills we all learn in school, and the result is what you posted. A

    That's fixable. you learned those techniques, so you can add the ones necessary for fiction to them, just as easily.

    You write for yourself, so you have the desire and the perseverance. And that's great. You had the courage to post your work, which says you're hoping for feedback that will help you write with more skill. Another plus. What you're missing is what we're all missing when we decide to record our stories, a few of the techniques the pros take for granted. A bit of that makes the job much easier, and better for the reader. So hit the library's fiction writing section. Or, for a very gentle introduction to the craft of the fiction writer, pick up a copy of Debra Dixon's, GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict, from any online bookseller, or a hard copy from Deb's website. It's a warm easy read, filled with things that will make you say, "Why didn't I see that myself?"

    Hang in there, and keep on writing.
    Don't worry, bee, he says that to everyone.

    What I gather is that a wife is leaving her husband and he's just going to let her but your attempts to sound "literary" get in the way of making it clear.

  5. #5
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    Is that the best you can do? Tell the poster you don't get it, and then bitch when someone else provides meaningful input? Is your goal to help the people who drop in here or to drive them away with petty squabbling?

    If you see a problem with something I say identify it, point to a reliable source that refutes it, and we'll talk. That's called literary discussion, and everyone benefits from it. Hijacking someone's thread certainly doesn't reflect well on you. I've attacked neither you nor your writing, and won't, because this is a writing, not a flame-war forum. If you can give more accurate and useful advice than what I provide do so. Anything else is a disservice to the person who took a deep breath and posted their work, hoping for a helpful response.

  6. #6
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    Thanks both for your comments- you confirmed some issues I was thinking about and picked up some new ones too.

    Rather succinctly put- the literary getting in the way of clarity

    It was a scribbly exercise written to see what I could do within 150 words so I can completely understand that it holds little interest/point for other readers. I will work on developing events/characters more, even in short pieces.

    As it happens, I don't pack at all like that

  7. #7
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    Is that the best you can do? Tell the poster you don't get it, and then bitch when someone else provides meaningful input? Is your goal to help the people who drop in here or to drive them away with petty squabbling?

    If you see a problem with something I say identify it, point to a reliable source that refutes it, and we'll talk. That's called literary discussion, and everyone benefits from it. Hijacking someone's thread certainly doesn't reflect well on you. I've attacked neither you nor your writing, and won't, because this is a writing, not a flame-war forum. If you can give more accurate and useful advice than what I provide do so. Anything else is a disservice to the person who took a deep breath and posted their work, hoping for a helpful response.
    Not everyone sees the need to excessively dump on every piece and try to force everyone to write to a particular formula. What you don't seem to understand is that your critiques are just your opinion, not the Rule of Law. "Accuracy" is a misnomer because again it's your opinion. You can say it's based on your experiences, but those are your experiences. Other writers have used other formulas and achieved far more success than you. You are not better than anyone here, so just deal with it already.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    If you see a problem with something I say identify it.
    Here are a few of my quibbles with your critique. While I may not know her nomenclature, I gather from the angst of the author she's at least someone special to him. Why does a reader care how a stranger packs? He's been paying attention to her--DUH! Apparently, their stifled emotions and constipated souls are tearing their relationship apart, or something similar. I don't think context is as problematic HERE as is the vague ambiguity of some of the language. Not to hastily jump on the bandwagon of the naysayers, but your nearly clichéd critique makes it sound as though you're essentially enamored with the sound of your own keyboard.
    Last edited by Author Pendragin; 05-31-2015 at 04:06 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bee View Post
    Hello all,
    I'm very new to the forums and usually only write for myself. I have a simple stream of consciousness piece of flash fiction and I'm just interested to hear what others make of it and my writing style generally:

    Habits

    She assumes that I'm asleep, naive really, but how is she to know I’m lying here turning the facts of my life into a more pleasing fiction? It seems a cruel trick that we can't ever share someone's inner life- especially when we are sold the theory that we can if we only love enough. It's equally naive of me to claim to know her assumptions. This is how I tie myself in knots. This is how I destroy my inner calm, creating parasites to eat away at the foundations of our security. This is why I choose the dangerous habit of recasting reality as narrative. It's why I pretend to sleep rather than face her disappointment.

    She is gently placing clothes into a suitcase. I know they will be rolled rather than folded to use the space more efficiently. Long accepted habits comfort us both.
    Yeah, not really much there to judge. This is not really stream of consciousness. Typically, you'll see many more sentence fragments and short tributaries of thought interfering with the main stream. It's overwritten in my opinion. It reads like you're really trying to sound like a writer. All that said, there were no misspellings or grammar mistakes. I understood everything fine, so huge kudos there. There's really not enough there to judge much of anything though. Try 500 to 1000 words next time, and you'll get better opinions.

  10. #10
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    Why does a reader care how a stranger packs? He's been paying attention to her--DUH!
    But the reader hasn't. We don't know who she is, the gender of the one speaking...or their age...or...what they are to each other...or why she's packing...or even whose clothes she's packing. So why should we care if shew rolls, folds, or even tosses them in? It doesn't set the scene meaningfully. It doesn't generate character. And, it doesn't move the plot. and any line that doesn't do at least one of those three things serves only to slow the narrative.

    The problem is that the writing posted is informing the reader about things that are happening, and doing that without having given the reader context. So the line on packing is one of isolated fact that has unknown meaning to the protagonist and none for the reader. But our reader comes to us to be entertained, not informed. They want to be made to live the story, not hear about it in a voice that has not a trace of emotion or life in it. POV is the thing that brings a story to life for the reader. That means a lot more than telling the reader the character is frightened. It means scaring the hell out of the reader. And to do that we can't talk to the reader, because we and they have no common ground that a writer can depend on. The protagonist is our common ground. And placing the reader on that common ground takes knowledge and technique our school days not only didn't give us, they didn't mention that it existed.
    makes it sound as though you're essentially enamored with the sound of your own keyboard
    What can I say? I'm a novelist. I can't say hello in less than 10,000 words. But that aside, I'm not addressing you. I'm addressing the OP, and trying to make sure that what In say is clear in terms of the story posted. Better to err on the side of verbose than leave things out.

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