Author Topic: 2/28 - jpayne1138 - Only the Dead  (Read 733 times)

Juan Dolor

  • Level 5
  • *
  • Posts: 130
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • stupid LiveJournal thing
2/28 - jpayne1138 - Only the Dead
« on: February 28, 2011, 03:32:51 PM »
This is a short story that I think I would like to publish, but I haven't ever published in speculative fiction.  So I am hoping you all can give me some feedback on (1) how close you think this is to being ready to submit, (2) what I need to do to get it completely ready, and (3) where would be good places to submit it.

Thanks very much!

Juan Dolor

  • Level 5
  • *
  • Posts: 130
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • stupid LiveJournal thing
Re: 2/28 - jpayne1138 - Only the Dead
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 03:33:15 PM »
PS - I wasn't sure if this merited a Language tag, but the S-word does show up one time in this piece.

Juan Dolor

  • Level 5
  • *
  • Posts: 130
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • stupid LiveJournal thing
Re: 2/28 - jpayne1138 - Only the Dead
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 04:26:15 PM »
Also, since this is my first time participating in this group, I put up an introduction, here: http://www.timewastersguide.com/forum/index.php?topic=6244.msg175888#msg175888

LongTimeUnderdog

  • Level 9
  • *
  • Posts: 304
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: 2/28 - jpayne1138 - Only the Dead
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2011, 05:27:08 PM »
Okay, totally feeling guilty about not responding to this earlier (yes, you guilt tripped me) so here it is.

It's a well written, entertaining piece.




For the first half of it.  Then everything just feels whiny.

I enjoyed the beginning, it hooked me well.  I enjoyed the voice, though at times I had trouble distinguishing gender.  It wasn't until "The Ten Commandos," that I figured it out.  The cliched WWII part of the film made me laugh quite a bit, thought not very loudly as people were still sleeping here.  But after that . . . it kinda dies out.

You spend a good deal of time establishing the character and you do it well.  And then along the way I started to realize there was no actual plot.  And while everything felt like it was going to lead to something, go somewhere or perhaps give us something interesting to read about, it just kept going and going along the same introductory voice vein.  And then it tried to end with a BAM ending.  It failed.  It failed because it did not go anywhere.  There was nothing to the story (outside the character sketch, or course).  By the end of it, I felt a little cheated.

There was almost a story there.  Almost.

Juan Dolor

  • Level 5
  • *
  • Posts: 130
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • stupid LiveJournal thing
Re: 2/28 - jpayne1138 - Only the Dead
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2011, 08:32:20 PM »
Thanks for your feedback.  And hooray for guilt-tripping.  :)

fireflyz

  • Level 5
  • *
  • Posts: 143
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: 2/28 - jpayne1138 - Only the Dead
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2011, 11:26:08 PM »
Busy week, sorry for the late reply. 

First off, I liked it.  It was semi-snarky and in parts reminded me of Stephen King when he goes off on a tangent.  The main problems with it were in the prose.  There are a lot of run on sentences.  Sometimes that's fine, but in general, short, crisp sentences = better writing.  There were plenty of times were instead of a comma or instead of and and and, you could have used a period, space, space, new sentence.

The passive voice is pretty bad.  Passive voice slows down the narrative, pulls the reader out, and just doesn't read well. 

"Bugs used to freak me out, and for a while I just couldnít think about all those bugs eating my body. I would just be sitting there, trying to fade out, and all of a sudden in the darkness I would think I was in my coffin and I could feel the bugs burrowing into my blind eyes.  I would scream and scream and the more I screamed the more I believed I could feel them wriggling around inside my squishy rotten head.  Itís not true, though.  I canít feel my body."

Instead of all this I would just, try doing "I couldn't think", "I sat there", "I thought I was in my coffin", "I screamed".

You've already established it's a previous experience with the "used to freak me out" so you don't need to keep reiterating it with the passiveness.


Overall, content-wise, I liked it.  I think for it to work, as it is a very short story with no real plot, you would need to do some trimming.  I think shorter, crisper sentences would help tighten up the prose.  I think some sentences need to be trimmed/removed.  The paragraph with the girl drags on a little longer than it needs to.  You made your point, so move on a little sooner.  I think with some revision it would be a nice little piece, but I'm not sure where you would market it.  Perhaps some flash fiction or something of that nature.  Good job!
Follow my journey from aspiring author to published phenom.  Along the way we'll discover the dos and don'ts of successful writing!

http://twitter.com/ryanvanloan

akoebel

  • Level 5
  • *
  • Posts: 123
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: 2/28 - jpayne1138 - Only the Dead
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2011, 03:20:08 PM »
First off, nice hook! It felt intriguing enough to have the reader go on.

I liked the voice : sarcastic bordering on satire. This voice should make a great character.

This is where things start going not that well : this piece feels more like a character study than a short story, something you would jot down to try out a character's voice. In that sense, it works really well to show the character, but it doesn't go anywhere

My feelings : you're missing either a plot, or a punchline. Seeing that this was going nowhere, I hoped for a witty last paragraph where I would discover something unexpected about the character (I don't know, he's a zombie with only one leg hopping about, unable to get some brains for dinner.). I was sad to discover really nothing in the end.

The sequence of paragraphs didn't make much sense either : you're leading with fear, and then you've got a paragraph on a woman and her regrets, and then, it's about bugs... It feels like random thoughts put together.

As Fireflyz said, the overall phrase length is long, making the piece more difficult to read than it should really be.

I think I also spotted a discrepancy : at one time, the character has been dead for 13 years, but at another place, it was 150.

It was nice to read, don't get me wrong, but I really would have liked the text to go somewhere, especially after that wonderful hook.

Juan Dolor

  • Level 5
  • *
  • Posts: 130
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • stupid LiveJournal thing
Re: 2/28 - jpayne1138 - Only the Dead
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2011, 03:25:59 PM »
Thanks for your feedback, everyone!