Author Topic: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words  (Read 877 times)

Offline Ande

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The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« on: October 26, 2017, 10:49:24 AM »
All feedback welcome




The fog comes on little cat feet…

Marissa adjusted and wiped her glasses Tuesday morning before taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. She told herself she wanted to return to school and complete her degree. Her recently tuned up Toyota Corolla just had to make it across the sinuous 4.3-mile expanse nearly 200 feet above water.
The car seemed low, gripping the ground. Confidant. This was reassuring considering that when she looked ahead and saw a gray, wet uncertain road conditions. There was no emergency pull off lanes.
The car felt steady.  She was not.
***
Five weeks ago when she was hunched over a bowl of steamy Ramen noodles in her dorm room, Marissa got a phone call. She bounded off the bed, throwing a few mismatched socks, sweatpants and stretched out T-shirts in a backpack and grabbed her keys.
 “Sissy, what’s up?” her roommate called out she brushed passed her in the dorm hallway.
She didn’t answer. Her flip flops snapped across the green tile files, and caught on the graveled parking lot, little pebbles stuck in her heel. She threw the backpack in the back seat and headed home at breakneck speed. Strands of hair plastered her face from the snot and tears.
When she got to her block, police scanners and strobe lights from emergency vehicles reminded her of a street fair. Surreally scripted. “Step right up,” she heard a carnival barker shouting in her head.
When the detectives did speak, their voices were muted. Calm.
 “We just need you to identify…if you wouldn’t mind stepping over here.”
The bodies of her parents and brother were unrecognizable. “From the looks of the door jam, it was a push-in. Probably a crow bar.”
Looked like a close-range execution, they said.
Her 19-year-old brother had dealt with thugs buying and selling mopeds, some stolen, some fenced. They were the wheels of choice for drug dealers, who zip in and out of suburban streets, making their drops. “Petty stuff,” said the detective. “This was brutal payback.”
They assailant tagged the living room with spray paint. Marissa took out her cell phone and snapped a photo of the graffiti on the wall.
***
The bridge winded so that she was not able to see more than a yard a two ahead. She put her wipers on, and the swishing sound made her shiver. She thought about hiring a driver. Crazy but for a fee you could pay someone to make the transverse for you and as a passenger you could close your eyes or lay down in the back seat. Marissa did not take that option.
Gripping the steering wheel, she went it alone.
There some traffic today. Each ¼ mile felt like marker.
***

The three coffins formed an L-shape in front of the viewing room. She only saw their outline, blurry through her tears. She wiped them away.
Each whispered condolence felt like one too many. Each relative, neighbor and classmate wanted to help carry her burden. She prayed for the funeral to be over. She knew what she had to do.
She showed the tag on the streets and found out the thug’s identity.
The burden of being the last one standing felt heavier than the unlicensed revolver in her backpack.
                                                 ***
When the wind picked up on the bridge, light cars swayed.  The extra weight in the trunk provided some protection against an overturn. She emerged from the tunnel mid-span and felt resolved.
Once she crossed over, she would be lighter.    

                  ***

Marissa pulled up to her campus’ parking lot. Faculty parking spots were clearly marked. She opened up the trunk and lifted the black contractor bag out. It was the beginning of the spring semester. Move-in day. Discarded broken furniture, clothes, and books spilled out and around the dumpsters.
She had wrapped the body tight in a rug.
She shook the spray can and marked it, “garbage.”


hillwalker3000

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2017, 12:14:00 PM »
I like the idea behind the plot, but it reads rushed and is ultimately unbelievable. I'll comment as I read through, if I may:

The fog comes on little cat feet…
I have no idea what this achieves. Suspenseful fog?

Marissa adjusted and wiped her glasses Tuesday morning before taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
A weird way to introduce the setting - why do we need to know the day of the week she wiped her glasses?

She told herself she wanted to return to school and complete her degree. Her recently tuned up Toyota Corolla just had to make it across the sinuous 4.3-mile expanse nearly 200 feet above water.
Apart from the bridge, none of these sentences seem connected. It's as if you're trying to establish a number of random facts while introducing the plot, but it doesn't work. You don't even tell us she's driving to school.

The car seemed low, gripping the ground. Confidant. This was reassuring considering that when she looked ahead and saw a gray, wet uncertain road conditions. There was no emergency pull off lanes.
The car felt steady.  She was not.

The rest reads like filler, especially when you then jump back five weeks. Why shouln't the car stay on the road? Again, it's weird.

Then we have the phone call and her rapid escape home. It reads melodramatic rather than dramatic. You focus on inconsequentials - the noodles, the flip flops, the gravelled parking lot - which is fine if you're fleshing out the scene. But you gloss over so much that the style of narrative stops making sense.

Then she arrives home. Her inappropriate first impressions are spot on - but again they're not enough to salvage the plot which rapidly becomes ludicrous. The police ask her to identify three 'unrecognisable' bodies (How?) at the scene of the crime (?) while explaining how brutally they were attacked. . . then she wanders off to take photographs of the living room. Really??

Then we're back on the bridge and it's more filler. She has a body in the trunk but had considered hiring a driver?

The snapshot of a funeral and the way she identified the killer before capturing him and killing him is lazy plotting. You haven't a clue how she pulled this off, yet expect us to believe it happened.

Well, I'm afraid I didn't. You have an idea for what could turn out to be a thrilling story, but this isn't it.

H3K

Offline Jack of Hearts

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2017, 04:28:54 AM »
Had to start out laughing because it's a suspenseful story called 'The Bridge.'

The first bit is the opening line to Carl Sandburg's poem 'Fog.' It's purely flash, though. A cursory image given for the sake of itself.

Probably the voice and the subject matter sounded meaningful or impactful to you, as the writer-- but there's more to it than that. It's as though you have (almost) nothing concrete to express in the story, and you have no interest in reaching out to the reader.

... which are symptoms of it being undercooked.

In that way, maybe what you have here is more notes or a draft, rather than a finished product. Would you consider sculpting up from this?

You might ask yourself, upon reading this:

1. What am I really saying? (Short piece about murder revenge? It seems you really want that heavy moment of putting the murderer's corpse in the trash. It's actually a bit absurd when we say it that way, though).

2. How can I present this in a more considerate way to my readers? (Cut out the heavy handed styling/mood, make it more readable, etc).




J


Jo Bannister

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2017, 10:58:55 AM »
Not well enough written, I'm afraid.  I found other things to do when I came across "There was no emergency pull off lanes."

Offline Ande

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 04:24:29 PM »
Ouch.

Glad you found better things to do.

Offline Jack of Hearts

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2017, 02:42:15 AM »
Ande,

The actual response was 'other things to do.' It's interesting how you changed it-- not necessarily an invalid interpretation, but somewhat contorted.

It's probably true that the piece doesn't hold interest as-is. No one is trying to shut down your desire to be creative or expressive, but three people are telling you that this particular artistic experiment failed. And two of them told you for what reasons they thought it went wrong.

You most certainly want to write good stories. And we want you to write good stories for us. In that way, we're on the same team.




J

Offline Ande

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2017, 11:20:37 AM »
Thank you Jack of Hearts...

Better things - other things: splitting hairs. Interpretation is the reader's domain.
As a teacher of creative nonfiction, I understand constructive criticism because I give it all the time to my graduate students. Yours was not.

I do appreciate your insights. Some writing-- like bad soap opera scripts -- is silly and laughable, like The Bridge, an obvious farce. Other writing is serious and insightful and frankly moving.

This forum needs all writing. Even silly "artistic experiments," that didn't catch the interest of 3 people on this forum.








Offline Jack of Hearts

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2017, 11:46:32 AM »
Parts of your response were not completely clear to this reader.

Regarding Jack of Hearts' own input, and whether it was constructive... it seems to provide an assessment of the submission as it is, as well as recommended next steps should you choose to draft.

Sometimes submitters seek some sort of emotional nurturing. 'Ouch,' you replied, which seems to imply confusion about what the critique is about (it's about the piece as posted, not the person who posted it).

And finally. It's immaterial to this reader (and most likely others) about what you do in your daily life, has no bearing on what you're actually able to present. You either deliver something, or you don't. So maybe best to leave appeals to 'identity' out. But that's personal choice.

Didn't detect that this story was 'obvious farce.'



J


Offline Shortcross

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2017, 12:01:59 PM »
Quote
Even silly "artistic experiments," that didn't catch the interest of 3 people on this forum

It has been very quiet in here lately. Not sure what happened.

Quote
I understand constructive criticism because I give it all the time to my graduate students. Yours was not.

Have to disagree there. JoH gives some of the most insightful crits on here, though they're rarely sugar-coated. Anyhoo, I'll have a crack at it if ya like :)



Quote
Marissa adjusted and wiped her glasses Tuesday morning before taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. She told herself she wanted to return to school and complete her degree. Her recently tuned up Toyota Corolla just had to make it across the sinuous 4.3-mile expanse nearly 200 feet above water.
The car seemed low, gripping the ground. Confidant spelling. This was reassuring considering that when she looked ahead and saw a gray, wet comma uncertain road conditions. There was were no emergency pull off lanes.
The car felt steady.  She was not. Either 'She DID not' or 'The car WAS steady'.
***
Five weeks ago when she was hunched over a bowl of steamy Ramen noodles in her dorm room, Marissa got a phone call. She bounded off the bed, throwing a few mismatched socks, sweatpants and stretched out T-shirts into a backpack and grabbed her keys.
 “Sissy, what’s up?” her roommate called out as she brushed passed her in the dorm hallway.
She didn’t answer. Her flip flops snapped across the green tile files ?Dunno what a tile file' is? , and caught on the graveled parking lot, little pebbles stuck in her heel. She threw the backpack in onto the back seat and headed home at breakneck speed cliche. Strands of hair plastered her face from the snot and tears.
When she got to her block, police scanners and strobe lights from emergency vehicles reminded her of a street fair. Surreally scripted. “Step right up,” she heard a carnival barker shouting in her head.
When the detectives did speak, their voices were muted. Calm. Repetitive
 “We just need you to identify…if you wouldn’t mind stepping over here.”
The bodies of her parents and brother were unrecognizable. “From the looks of the door jam, it was a push-in. Probably a crow bar.”
Looked like a close-range execution, they said.
Her 19-year-old brother had dealt with thugs buying and selling mopeds, some stolen, some fenced. They were the wheels of choice for drug dealers, who'd zip in and out of suburban streets, making their drops. “Petty stuff,” said the detective. “This was brutal payback.”
They assailant tagged the living room with spray paint. Marissa took out her cell phone and snapped a photo of the graffiti on the wall.
***
The bridge winded so that she was not able to see more than a yard a two ahead. She put her wipers on, and the swishing sound made her shiver. She thought about hiring a driver. Crazy comma but for a fee you could pay someone to make the transverse traverse for you and as a passenger you could close your eyes or lay down in the back seat. Marissa did not take that option.
Gripping the steering wheel, she went it alone.
There some traffic today. Each ¼ quarter mile felt like a marker.
***

The three coffins formed an L-shape in front of the viewing room. She only saw their outline, blurry through her tears. She wiped them away.
Each whispered condolence felt like one too many. Each relative, neighbor and classmate wanted to help carry her burden. She prayed for the funeral to be over. She knew what she had to do.
She showed the tag on the streets and found out the thug’s identity.
The burden of being the last one standing felt heavier than the unlicensed revolver in her backpack.<-I like that
                                                 ***
When the wind picked up on the bridge, light cars swayed.  The extra weight in the trunk provided some protection against an overturn bit unbelievable. If she was in a truck, then maybe.... She emerged from the tunnel mid-span and felt resolved. What tunnel?
Once she crossed over, she would be lighter.   

                  ***

Marissa pulled up to her campus’ parking lot. Faculty parking spots were clearly marked. She opened up the trunk and lifted the black contractor bag out. It was the beginning of the spring semester. Move-in day. Discarded broken furniture, clothes, and books spilled out and around the dumpsters.
She had wrapped the body tight in a rug.
She shook the spray can and marked it, “garbage.”

It wasn't a bad story. There were too many missing words, typos and punctuation errors for me to get past the technical stuff and concentrate. I'm ignoring the fact that you said you taught this stuff :)

Shorty

Jo Bannister

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2017, 05:19:07 AM »
This person is teaching writing?  Dear God in Heaven - is it any wonder new writers turn up here with no idea how to proceed?

Offline Simple Things

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2017, 03:33:33 PM »
There is no depth in your characters, there are only matter-of-fact emotions - so read just like that. If developed more it will become a story.

Offline Matthew Hughes

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2017, 11:56:32 AM »
Here’s my honest response to reading the story.  I didn’t enjoy it, mainly because it didn’t read as though care had been taken with it.  It came across like a very quick first draft that had not been re-read and edited.  There are lots of easily corrected mistakes here.  Missing words and jumbled sentences. I often write in this rushed way when I’m doing a first draft, but then I try to self-edit.  This doesn’t feel like it’s been through that process. Sorry to be negative but I hope this helps in forming the next piece you write. 

And, having read the thread, I think it is best to take the criticism in the spirit in which it’s given.  Positively and constructively.

Offline dawnpowell

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Re: The Bridge (suspensful short story) 650 words
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2017, 11:00:12 AM »
I agree with a few other people in that the work appears rushed. I know I'm guilty of this as well. Your work might benefit by simply doing a few more edits before you present. I like the intent behind the work, I like the ideas you're playing with; I simply think they could be better organized.

Shorty certainly provided some excellent editing, I'd take advantage of that. And good luck.