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Flash Fiction x3

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Deathcon7
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Flash Fiction x3 2010-02-01 00:45:52 Reply

Unhappy Santa

The last leg was always the toughest, he thought to himself as he dropped down a chimney. He left these houses for last intentionally. Their spirit was always the lowest of all the others he visited. They never bothered to write, but worse, they never left out cookies and milk. To say he loathed these visits would be an understatement.

"Everyone always expects a 'Ho Ho Ho' and jingling bells..." He grumbled as he shoved presents under the tree. His duty momentarily sated, he walked over to the pantry looking for some snacks; even going so far as to pop open the fridge. As he suspected, there was nothing that tempted his appetite. Numbly, he let the fridge slowly close on its own.

There were no words to express how he felt; he could only stand in place staring into the middle distance. He was not sure when he had begun losing his spirit, only that he no longer felt jolly; in that moment he was no longer Santa Claus. The once jovial man looked towards the counter, a rack of knives calling to him. As he reached for one of them, he imagined the next day's news snippet.

A family of five was brutally slain last night. Witnesses claim hearing jingling bells and a "Ho Ho Ho" at the time of the murders. Police found a note at the scene of the crime, 'All I wanted was some fucking cookies.' There are no suspects at this time.

Romeo Outdated

"I think I'll call you Juliet." It was his best line, which he accentuated by sliding his business card towards the blonde bombshell Hollywood bars were known to attract. Romeo M, the name at the bottom read, his cell phone number strategically scrawled on the back before the start of the night.

The girl's only response was a cursory glance in his direction, a cockeyed expression painted on her face, and a return to her order. He didn't dare push the matter; she was out of his league anyway, most likely going back to a table occupied by B-List actors and professional atheletes. The thought was comforting.

She walked away so Romeo recycled his business card. He hadn't paid much for the few he had printed out, but it seemed like such a waste to let the card soak in spilled tequila and imported beer. He turned back to his glass and realized it was empty so he pulled out his wallet to grab some more cash, but only found a week old receipt.

Unable to leave a tip, he slipped out of his chair and crept out of the bar. Outside he spotted the bombshell, drink in hand, approaching a pasty faced youth with wildly tousled hair and eyes like the dead. Romeo was best lover the world had ever seen and he was doomed to spend the night alone, his left hand the only witness to the quality of his love.

The Reaver

They met in a parking lot, by a nondescript green sedan. As Pierre approached, his superior held out an envelope; his assignment. He took a moment to scan its contents and was dismayed by what he read. "You don't seriously expect me to do this, do you?" He asked as tears gathered at the corners of his eyes, the memory of his recent loss returning to him. His superior's audacity spurred his anger, the last fortification he held against his grief.

"We have known for some time now that you have been visiting her, Pierre. We have reason to believe you have been indoctrinated by the thing you swore to fight. What exists in that shop is a pale shadow of your wife. This is the only way you will be able to let her go."

"I can't lose her, not again Virginia." His anger faltered, his superior's words were too infallible to refute. He had to let her go though, and the only way to do it would be to reave her ghost as he had been assigned.

"By allowing her to haunt, you condemn her to purgatory. Help her find her way to peace, Pierre."

His resolve broke; the tears began to fall like the soldiers of his anger, tossed from the ramparts to meet their death, the final bastion overrun by the warriors of his grief. His superior wrapped her motherly arms around him and spoke into his ear. "You couldn't be there for her when she was killed Pierre. As a Reaver, this is your purpose, you can help guide her soul to its resting place and bring closure to the wound in your heart. This is your chance to be there for her."

What she said was true. It did not however, stop the tears.

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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-02-01 18:48:58 Reply

Great stories with interesting twists! My favorite has to be the depressed Santa short.

The Reaver story reminds me of Joseph Devon's Probability Angels (there's a free ebook available at the site if you want to check it out). Interesting ideas.

TrevorW
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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-05-29 22:25:03 Reply

Very good stuff here. /needed bump


Failure should push you until success can pull you.

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Deathcon7
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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-05-30 00:17:36 Reply

Thanks Trev :)

TrevorW
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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-05-30 00:29:09 Reply

At 5/30/10 12:17 AM, Deathcon7 wrote: Thanks Trev :)

Who said you could talk? (WRITERS these days...thinking they are people)


Failure should push you until success can pull you.

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InsertFunnyUserName
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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-06-09 14:58:45 Reply

Unhappy Santa:

At first, as I was reading it, I feared that you weren't going to close this up right, but you proved me wrong. In fact, I think that the way that you summed up what was not described with the news report was a perfect way to end. It was witty, it showed instead of told and it executed just the right pacing.

Another thing that I like was how it managed to be both witty and serious at the same time. There was emotion in it that developed the character and got the reader connected to characters and the situations; the emotion helped emphasized the severity of Santa's feelings. Yet, at the same time, there was an amusingly sly aspect to the way that you wrote and the way that you wrapped up with "All I wanted was some fucking cookies." Furthermore, the balance of the two tones was spot on.

Nice job. I have no complaints here.

Romeo Outdated:

With this one, I don't feel that same amount of impact that Unhappy Santa had. It just sort of describes the scene and doesn't bring as much emotion into it. I'm thinking that it would do the story some good if you were to add just a little bit more to the scene when she's outside of the bar so that you can wrap it up with something that will stir up some sort of reaction from the reader. As it stands, the scene is a bit mundane to be the conclusion of a flash fiction piece.

The Reaver:

Again, I don't feel like this ends in the right place. Right now, I think that there isn't enough uniqueness about the storyline and the characters to give it that necessary punch that has to be there to compensate for the fact that the piece is so short. I do like the writing style and you use some great words; there certainly is emotion in this piece. But, I think that the problem lies in the plot itself and in particular the lack of a stirring conclusion.


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Deathcon7
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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-06-09 15:26:06 Reply

At 6/9/10 02:58 PM, InsertFunnyUserName wrote: Unhappy Santa:

I really appreciate the input and I'm really enthused to find you liked it so much. Initially, the piece was intended as a class joke to get everyone loosened up for group critiquing. I wouldn't have imagined it would have turned out so well.

Romeo Outdated:

I agree with everything you're saying. My biggest flaw with this was that the meaning was way to veiled in popular culture. To further your insight into it, the premise was supposed to be that of the actual Romeo at a bar trying to pick up a girl. To his dismay, he's blown off in favor of a literal "vampire" alluding to the Twilight sensation. Some of the description used for the pasty faced youth is in line with Stephanie Meyer's own description of Edward Cullen. At its root its meant to be a social commentary on how woman, more so these days, look for the unattainable partner, rather than the passionate and romantic one.

But as we both now, if something needs as much explanation as provided above, it's far from being complete.

The Reaver:

Of the latter two pieces, however, I am most disappointed with your response to this one. This was my original flash fiction piece and one that I imagine I put too much thought into. In hindsight, and partially due to your critique, I am better able to locate the weaknesses of this story. In the end I tried to inject too much plot into a piece that should have been simple. The emotion of loss is ultimately what I wanted to express, but instead spent too much time on milieu.

I really appreciate your insightful comments, and if you ever need me to critique something, if I don't spot it on my own, drop me a PM.

RNNR
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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-06-09 16:09:42 Reply

I don't have much to add other than what has already been said.
I am however going to try my hand at at least a few of these, flex those creative muscles.

Is this intended to be your thread and should I create my own, or could this become a thread where anyone can post?


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Deathcon7
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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-06-09 17:03:13 Reply

At 6/9/10 04:09 PM, RNNR wrote: I don't have much to add other than what has already been said.

I appreciate the sentiment none the less.

I am however going to try my hand at at least a few of these, flex those creative muscles.

Is this intended to be your thread and should I create my own, or could this become a thread where anyone can post?

It may be better if you created a separate thread. I don't want to accidentally receive credit for your work. Although I do believe that bringing our work together would provide a good source of comparison and contrast and help generate better critique. It's up to you, I don't mind.

gumOnShoe
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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-06-10 09:24:56 Reply

Good stuff, but I'm going to isolate the weak points for you:

At 2/1/10 12:45 AM, Deathcon7 wrote: A family of five was brutally slain last night. Witnesses claim hearing jingling bells and a "Ho Ho Ho" at the time of the murders. Police found a note at the scene of the crime, 'All I wanted was some fucking cookies.' There are no suspects at this time.

I don't know, maybe Santa killing people was made obsolete after Weird Al's The Night Santa Went Crazy or possibly after Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, but I just wasn't feeling this end. In truth, its because this is such a clean break from the emotions shown in the previous paragraphs. You can't go directly from "underappreciated & a lack of cookies" to pulling out a knife and slaughtering people. Really, it was missing a catalyst to put him in that direction, like maybe a mouse trap in the cookies. You know, something to just tip this guy over. Because when he pulled out that knife the only thing I felt he could run it across justifiably were his own wrists.

Up until that point, it was solid though.

Romeo was best lover the world had ever seen and he was doomed to spend the night alone, his left hand the only witness to the quality of his love.

I felt tossed about this piece between thinking cliche and realistic. And I could have lived with it all until this line here. I'm just not feeling it. Perhaps drop it altogether. It feels like a really cheap joke given the quality of the rest of it, a punch line to a story that already had finished or could have been written in a better way.

They met in a parking lot, by a nondescript green sedan. As Pierre approached, his superior held out an envelope; his assignment. He took a moment to scan its contents and was dismayed by what he read. "You don't seriously expect me to do this, do you?" He asked as tears gathered at the corners of his eyes, the memory of his recent loss returning to him. His superior's audacity spurred his anger, the last fortification he held against his grief.

I just feel some of this language is too direct. Audacity spurring anger, mmmm. Not working for me. I mean crying is just a little too much here. Perhaps if it were more showing and less telling you could do it, but I think if you evoked some memories instead it'd work better to accent the loss, what exactly he's doing, and what it means to the ghosts.

"We have known for some time now that you have been visiting her, Pierre. We have reason to believe you have been indoctrinated by the thing you swore to fight. What exists in that shop is a pale shadow of your wife. This is the only way you will be able to let her go."

"indoctrinated by the thing you swore to fight" again just a little to mellodramatic or over the top. Its breaking the mood. I'd be happier if this weren't presented as a crusade.

"I can't lose her, not again Virginia." His anger faltered, his superior's words were too infallible to refute. He had to let her go though, and the only way to do it would be to reave her ghost as he had been assigned.

"his superior's words were too infallible to refute" why? I'm just not seeing it

"By allowing her to haunt, you condemn her to purgatory. Help her find her way to peace, Pierre."

But this does help, more than your line above. With this you really don't need the other. And perhaps if you had a different setting, where you could see the wife and her faked life or the horrible things that were happening juxtaposed to this thought.

I feel like there is a gem in this, but it needs to be pulled out for the reader. I don't think this really brings closure to the reader because the reader can't really see the problem. You need to present us with a ghost that really is tortured and memories that make the main character feel tortured too. Maybe you can avoid this whole conversation.


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Deathcon7
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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-06-10 12:19:47 Reply

At 6/10/10 09:24 AM, gumOnShoe wrote: ...You know, something to just tip this guy over. Because when he pulled out that knife the only thing I felt he could run it across justifiably were his own wrists.

Up until that point, it was solid though.

Perhaps I got a bit carried away. I think some sort of prank, something malicious, would have been a better catalyst because as it stands, missing cookies does fall short of inciting murder.

I felt tossed about this piece between thinking cliche and realistic. And I could have lived with it all until this line here. I'm just not feeling it. Perhaps drop it altogether. It feels like a really cheap joke given the quality of the rest of it, a punch line to a story that already had finished or could have been written in a better way.

The whole piece was supposed to be the realization of two popular cliches against a realistic background, so I think I accomplished that by your critique. I do agree that the final line was a gimmick, but I couldn't think of a better way of ending it.

I just feel some of this language is too direct. Audacity spurring anger, mmmm. Not working for me. I mean crying is just a little too much here. Perhaps if it were more showing and less telling you could do it, but I think if you evoked some memories instead it'd work better to accent the loss, what exactly he's doing, and what it means to the ghosts.

Tell, don't show, an unfortunate byproduct of over plotting a flash fiction. You're right, the structure to accomplish this does have to change, but again I think that's only to accommodate the overplotting. :-/

"indoctrinated by the thing you swore to fight" again just a little to mellodramatic or over the top. Its breaking the mood. I'd be happier if this weren't presented as a crusade.

"his superior's words were too infallible to refute" why? I'm just not seeing it

There's a disconnect between his superiors perspective of the situation, and Pierre's sensitivity to her. Somewhere closer to the middle, regarding Pierre's reactions, and his superiors treatment of the situation, would have been a lot better, I think.

But this does help, more than your line above. With this you really don't need the other. And perhaps if you had a different setting, where you could see the wife and her faked life or the horrible things that were happening juxtaposed to this thought.

Unfortunately the simplicity I was shooting for had already cast the setting. I do agree with you. The probably then becomes connecting events with emotions. Pierre seems confusingly emotional, his superior overly apathetic, and the situation too simple to support it all. I shoved way too much into 300 words and lost a lot of the connection between them.

I feel like there is a gem in this, but it needs to be pulled out for the reader. I don't think this really brings closure to the reader because the reader can't really see the problem. You need to present us with a ghost that really is tortured and memories that make the main character feel tortured too. Maybe you can avoid this whole conversation.

I agree with you, the Reaver is very flawed as it stands and would probably serve better in a longer medium. I do appreciate your input, I just wish I could have gotten as much out of my creative writing class at the time I had written this, hehehe.

Thanks for taking the time to check this out gumOnShoe. I really admire your presence here in the writing forum so it's great to hear from you. In the span of a single post, you've helped me rethink how I approach these; I'll definitely be putting your advice into place when I work on another flash fiction.

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Response to Flash Fiction x3 2010-06-10 12:30:33 Reply

Hah :D

I love this. Sorry, to give constructive criticism and have an author say "I understand" and then go further is great.

Plus, I really did like all of the basic concepts behind the writing.

I wish you well in your endeavor to make them better. :)


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