Triangulation: Morning After – Stories 109-113

Story 109: SF 4350 words 2/16/2012

This opens interestingly. I’m hooked by the situation. The story then shifts into backfill, however, and my interest dims. The prose is straightforward and effective, and the action clear. This is to the good. The problem, for me, is that the protagonist feels ill suited to the story. The story basically happens to her, and she does nothing to speed or impede its flow. She becomes an observer of this idea playing out in the world. The idea itself is interesting, though not particularly new. The main twist is potentially interesting too, but not well fleshed out. I see in an intellectual sense why the core idea leads to the boy being killed, but the two parts of the story actually seem rather disconnected emotionally. The ending feels tacked on rather than a natural resolution of situation. I’m afraid (for me) this story would have to be rethought at the character level. I do like the prose and basic situation, but that’s too much change for me to ask for a rewrite.

Slushy Sez: Lost me on 5. The story doesn’t seem to be escalating from the promising opening. Strawberry Banana. Two flavors that don’t seem to mesh, yet taste pretty good.

Story 110: Horror 1011 words 2/21/2012

An interesting core concept, but the story tells too much and shows too little. There needs to be a better balance between interior and exterior detail. Right now I feel trapped in the head, with everything filtered through the protagonist’s perspective. Basically, it becomes a tour through a twilight zone stage. With greater character development it could work well, I think. There needs to be a reason why this character needs/wants this experience and a better sense of what he pays for his decision in the end. Here, he doesn’t actually make a decision, but the horror happens to him. Not that this isn’t done fairly often in horror, but it’s not what we look for. We look first for story experience, then atmosphere and technique.

Slushy Sez: Lost me after first scene. Too much internal summary, too little story movement. Fuzzy Navel. An introspective flavor.

Story 111: Horror 3500 words 2/18/2012

Well, this is a difficult one. On the one hand there are some absolute gems in this one, and it’s ambitious in its reach. The lack of general clarity, however, pushed me out too often. I felt trapped in an unreal world with moments of lucidity. I realize this is an unreliable narrator, but the lack of balance between internal and external detail stifled my experience too greatly. The undescribed “thing”, in particular, set me off on the wrong foot. Additionally, the protagonist is mostly passive here. The story happens to him, and his only choice is a simple one that doesn’t release the flood of emotion that would make the story resonate for me.

That said, there’s something powerful at work here. A few more revisions should bring it out. I would recommend focusing on external clarity to balance the internal uncertainty a bit better. And maybe a little better transition to the phone conversation would help. It seems staged to me now.

This feels like too much change to request a rewrite, especially since we’ve seen so much darkness already. Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t “Morning After” suggest dawn and light after dark? (just saying…)

Slushy Sez: I read through, though I was having difficulty staying involved. Almond. A flavor that has overtones beyond the ice.

Story 112: SF microfiction  2/18/2012

This can be read two ways. Read literally, it’s a one liner SF micro. Or it can be read as an unreliable narrator being treated for psychosis, in which case there’s no speculative element. Either way, it’s too slight for the anthology, though it may well find a home elsewhere. I like it, but I don’t like-like it.

Slushy Sez: Read with interest. Lime. A simple flavor with a bit of a kick.

Story 113: SF 3100 words 2/22/2012

It’s clear right away that this will be an experiment in technique. That’s okay, provided the story delivers a story experience too (see last year’s “Ezekiel”)

Unfortunately, this one doesn’t. In fact the technique largely prevents any immediacy in the story. I’m basically told about a story while observing a scene. It’s difficult to build emotional involvement with those elements working against story. I’m left with an idea being described to me, third person, in essence.

Slushy Sez: Lost me after two pages. The technique felt cumbersome. Coconut. An experimental flavor.

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About Stephen

I live in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania with fellow writer, Susan Urbanek Linville, and a herd of reformed feral cats.

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