Author Topic: Flash fiction piece!  (Read 372 times)

Offline yaya273

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Flash fiction piece!
« on: October 05, 2018, 09:22:17 AM »
She had that vintage look about her. With her ember-coloured long hair and ruby lipstick. Big blue eyes looking up attentively at her drinking companion - a portly man. At least 30 years older and dressed in a travel-weary cream linen suit. Holding a brandy glass, he lectured down to her, sloshing his brandy about, shrugging. Suddenly another glass smashed. Freezing the beer garden banter. Sending beer surging over the small table once again. The group of friends just roared with laughter. Banter resumed. The three beautiful brunettes in the corner stood chatting. Sipping wine. glancing at who was coming in. Half-listening to each other. Laughing. Checking everyone out. Then there were the twins, sat under the parasol. Wearing dresses to reveal legs and tits. Gossiping. Gesticulating wildly. The early evening sun illuminating their long golden hair.

And then there was Him. In the crowd. It was like everyone else had blurred out and he was in full focus. Standing confidently. Solitary. Casually dressed. Full brown beard and dark eyes. Caucasian. Handsome in a rugged way. Headphones on. Cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. Thick book under his arm. Beer in hand. At ease. He was watching everyone. We were watching him. Then he sat down at the end of the bench. With the glass-smashing revellers. He put his book down while he sat back. Smoking. Sipping. Just being. Suddenly the drunk girl on the table picked it up. Opened a random page and started reading a paragraph to her friends. In a mocking voice. Their raucous laughter spurred her on. He slowly turned around. Like he knew it was going to happen. Surveyed the scene expressionless without reacting. He reached for the book calmly. But snatched it when she tried to avoid his grasp. The group tensed. Watched. Waited for a confrontation. She was exposed and feeling embarrassed and grabbed her wine, snorting, smirking. But her friends sat rigid. Silent.

He silently got up and disappeared inside. The darkness of the bar swallowing him up. Saturday night moved on without him. Moments later he emerged again. Solitary. Surveying us. Standing central. At ease. Who was he? What was he looking for? He kept touching his ear with the headphones in. He wasn’t a bouncer. He carried his thick tome but not once opened it. Kept checking his phone and touching his ear. As if he needed to hear more clearly. A helicopter flew over. He glanced up to look. Was it a sign? He wanted to be invisible but his presence was magnifying. Did he know that?

He strolled over and sat at the end of my bench this time. I could touch him. If I wanted to. His back to me. Elbows on knees checking his phone. His book at his feet but he kept his foot on it. To avoid people taking it. I chatted to my partner. Somehow we suddenly got onto the subject of the local arrest. Terrorism. That would explain the helicopters today perhaps. I stopped talking and said “what?” to my partner. Frowning. My partner just stared at me. Trying to say something with his eyes. Suddenly the man took his book, put his beer down on our table, looking right at me and walked away. I watched him. He looked. At me. Penetrating. Our eyes locked. He looked away and walked off. I felt a chill and I realised the helicopter was circling high up above the beer garden.



It was busy. I knew they were looking at me. It was natural curiosity after all. People are interested in those who don’t ‘conform’. Who stand out. Some people are extremely attracted to non-conformers. Especially women. Women fantasise that this person must be doing this or that or must have this job or must be meeting this person. It’s exciting for them. I get that. Instant judgements are made all the time, every day. Sometimes without thinking. I do it myself but that’s what I do.

It was difficult to hear him properly but I didn’t need to hear it all. I sat down with my beer and people-watched for a bit. People are fascinating. I’ve always found that. I turned around when I heard the laughter though and I saw the girl had my book. I watched her reading from it in a comedy voice. Her friends were falling about. It was interesting. That she thought it would be funny to take another person’s belongings without consent and turn it into a comedy act. But I was running out of time and I wasn’t really in the mood for interaction tonight. I had a purpose. And being the butt of someone’s joke was not ok with me. I snatched the book back after she refused to hand it to me. I didn’t need to converse with her. She knew what she’d done. Perhaps being inside would be better. I’d be able to hear better. 

Inside was quieter. The air was heavy and hot from the summer heat. I found a corner and drank and people watched. I was noticed again. It didn’t bother me being alone. I’m used to it. I have a focus and that’s all that matters. If anything positive comes from my being there, at that time, then that was all that mattered. Suddenly the conversation got interesting but it was fractured. I tried to press the headphone into my ear more. I texted my partner.

I went back outside to the noise and the bustle. It was all as it should be. The chopper passed. My partner messaged me several times and I went to sit over by a couple. I pretended to look on my phone. They suddenly discussed the arrests this afternoon. Of course they would. It was hot news. Current. But she stopped and said “what?”. I knew what was happening. I could feel tension behind me. I decided it was time to leave. There was nothing to report here and it wasn’t sensible for me to stick around anymore. As I got to the pavement, she looked at me and I looked at her. She’d be perfect. Very useful indeed. I made a mental image of her face and then turned the corner. The chopper hovered above and I messaged my partner “Go”.

Offline jkalman

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Re: Flash fiction piece!
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2018, 05:32:51 PM »
Hi. I found your writing style too difficult to read. Too many short punchy sentences, some of them without verbs and thus not real sentences. Perhaps they would pass in poetry. In a story it gives no flow, no dance to your writing and I gave up half way through paragraph 2.

Also, I think that since flash fiction is so short, the hook ought to be right at the start. I hadn't found it before quitting.

Take it or leave it.
 

Offline yaya273

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Re: Flash fiction piece!
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2018, 07:07:20 PM »
Hi jkalman

Thanks for your feedback, really appreciate it.  :)

Offline hillwalker3000

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Re: Flash fiction piece!
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2018, 06:14:57 AM »
Flash fiction is a great exercise in tight writing. Not unlike poetry, every word has to count. Every sentence has to contribute to the plot - to earn its keep. With this in mind, there's a lot of room here for paring down.

Others have commented on your writing style. Sentence fragments. Too many and it reads weird. At times it makes no sense why you break up completely normal sentences.

Quote
Suddenly another glass smashed. Freezing the beer garden banter. Sending beer surging over the small table once again.
could just as easily have been written as
Suddenly another glass smashed, freezing the beer garden banter and sending beer surging over the small table once again.

In other places the style works better - racking up tension

Quote
And then there was Him. In the crowd. It was like everyone else had blurred out and he was in full focus. Standing confidently. Solitary. Casually dressed. Full brown beard and dark eyes. Caucasian. Handsome in a rugged way. Headphones on. Cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. Thick book under his arm. Beer in hand. At ease. He was watching everyone. We were watching him.

The main problem I have with the piece is that it's over-written and cluttered with too much extraneous detail - too many peripheral characters who act like stage props rather than characters who are relevant to the plot. You expect me to spend time reading about their physical appearance and behaviour then you discard them and I'm left wondering what was the point? In a 400-page novel this might be excusable. In flash fiction it's not. What are we meant to focus on? I'm assuming it's the dynamic between the observer and the man with the book.

The denoument, when it came, was rather too inscrutable and didn't really seem worthy of the effort it took to reach there. We're asked to witness a rather unremarkable series of events leading up to this which carries the danger of us losing interest long before reaching the end.

This has potential but you need to take a hatchet and trim away the filler - the adjectives that serve no purpose other than adding to the word-count, and those frustratingly mundane distractions that blur the narrative instead of acting as subtle diversions to keep us on the edge of our seats, desperate to discover what's going to happen next.

Thanks for sharing.

H3K
« Last Edit: October 06, 2018, 06:17:34 AM by hillwalker3000 »

Offline Mark T

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Re: Flash fiction piece!
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2018, 07:18:40 AM »
Hiya yaya - (never knew i always wanted to make that greeting :D)

Your writing style is unconventional, yes, but it's not unappealing at times. Those staccato descriptors cut to the chase, as it were. but there's a bit too much of it and i suggest mixing it up to create more of a balance, and also try and reduce any "telly" elements. 


This is alright for that style.

And then there was Him. In the crowd. It was like everyone else had blurred out and he was in full focus. Standing confidently. Solitary. Casually dressed. Full brown beard and dark eyes. Caucasian. Handsome in a rugged way. Headphones on. Cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. Thick book under his arm. Beer in hand. At ease. He was watching everyone. We were watching him.

Unedited:

Then he sat down at the end of the bench. With the glass-smashing revellers. He put his book down while he sat back. Smoking. Sipping. Just being. Suddenly the drunk girl on the table picked it up. Opened a random page and started reading a paragraph to her friends. In a mocking voice. Their raucous laughter spurred her on.

Edited:

Then he sat down at the end of the bench with the glass-smashing revellers, putting his book down, sitting back, smoking, sipping, just being. Suddenly, the drunk girl picked up the book, opened it and started reading to her friends in a mocking voice; their raucous laughter spurring her on.

Hope this helps.
Mark




Offline heidi52

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Re: Flash fiction piece!
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2018, 05:59:53 AM »
Aside from the short choppy sentences, you write well.

I will second H3K's comment about how you have to make every word count when writing Flash. You could cut half of this and not lose a bit of the story.

The other thing you have to do when writing flash is make every character count. What happened to the girl in the opening? Nothing. So why is she there? What do you think she contributes to the story? She's a throw-away so why start with her? It's pointless misdirection. And wastes precious words you could use to tell the story. Setting the scene is one thing, but details about superfluous people who have nothing to do with the story is a waste.

I really didn't like the abrupt head switch. We go from one person's point of view to another with no break, no explanation.

I think you have the start of an interesting story. Clean this up, get rid of the choppy sentences except for the places where you want to build tension and focus on the two main characters. And figure out a less jarring way to segue from the two POVs.

Just my opinion, so use or lose. But KEEP WRITING!

Offline yaya273

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Re: Flash fiction piece!
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2018, 06:20:13 AM »
Thank you everyone for such great constructive criticisms. Much appreciated. I will take on board all of your comments and re-write the piece. Thank you.