Triangulation: Morning After – Stories 204-207

Story 204: Horror 3300 words 3/15/2012

Character wakes up and tries to recall last night. I’m experiencing déjà vu all over again.

That said, there’s some excellent writing here, breezy and confident, with a good balance of internal and external experience. This is one of the rare stories where I’ll say I could use a little MORE context in the opening. I feel as if the characters are discussing the fringes of something I should understand completely, but I don’t have the gist of this world to do so. It’s not false mystery, in that I don’t feel information is being withheld, but I’m drifting disconnected from the character in this early scene. This suggests it would be wise to either open with an establishing shot (objective intro to the world details, zooming into character from there) or, better, find a way to cause the character to divulge more about the situation (not As You Know Bob, etc., but maybe a direct thought about HOW the sister died, or a specific thought of what a Demon-Slayer actually does in this world).

The larger problem, however, is that this really is not a story, but an extended day in the life event with lots of character and world background. That final line is wonderful, but it doesn’t deliver the punch it should. The story opening doesn’t set me up to want that ending. I’m more confused than compelled. If I were to revise, I’d first find an actual story to hang this solid prose on. Motivated character meets obstacle(s), undergoes rising tension, makes decision, earns resolution. Right now the character opens in one state, engages with another character over past events, and switches suddenly to an end state.

Slushy Sez: Banana. A flavor with only a slight bend in the middle.

Story 205: SF 2300 words 3/15/2012

There’s a little bit of confusion (for me) as to who the protagonist represents, and exactly what the conflicting agendas are, but this is easily fixed. Is he with the project or the rebellion? Why is the sample of such importance to the other side? These issues eventually become clear, though I had to go back and reread the opening to clarify. I might not have been so patient as a reader. I like the clean prose, but want a little less withholding through this first 3 pages.  The story itself is good. Nicely paced, good balance of internal and external detail. Also a good balance of emotion and idea. Very little actual action, but the small actions are well described. That was enough for me. It’s also ambitious, which is something we look for. We generally try to include some lighter stories to balance any heaviness, but the core of Triangulation is an ambition to change the way you, dear reader, see your world. I’ll pass this around to other editors.

Slushy Sez: Hazelnut. A rich, textured flavor that lingers.

Story 206: Fantasy 3000 words 3/15/2012

This starts a little confusingly. Is it the house or the school that’s burning? Took me a beat to figure that out. Who is “he”? That pushed my attention away from the story unnecessarily. Why not just name him? Once things get rolling, I do identify with the character and am interested by the situation. I don’t sense a strong character motive (other than to thwart “He”, perhaps), which means I’m getting a little impatient for story movement. Even more so for a speculative element.

When the speculative element does arrive, it’s interesting. The story seems to shift direction there, however. What happened to the fire? To He? Now we’re getting a detailed explanation of the speculative idea. No real story, just explanation. Then we get a resolution of the character, but not of the initial situation (fire / he). I’m not sure how the character earns this ending.

That said, this is a story worth pursuing. I think it will make a very good children’s story with some focus and trimming. To push it into young adult, I suspect it will need another thread to compliment the simple plot, maybe even a romantic element.

Slushy Sez: Pineapple. A citrus flavor that goes well with meat.

Story 207: SF 2300 words 3/15/2012

Character wakes up and tries to remember what happened last night. In this case it doesn’t actually help the story, unfortunately, but places us in a position to have to gradually remember the details of the actual story (which happened last night). The core idea is interesting, but not enough is done with it here, particularly in story terms. The writing is solid and there is a balance of external and internal experience, but the story itself is very minor. Character wants to remember, goes through his day, remembers. I can’t help but wonder how the story might work if it were to begin yesterday with the actual negotiation, the celebration, the merger. Then a short final scene revealing consequences. I do like the final line.

Slushy Sez: Coffee. A popular flavor in the office.

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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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4 Responses to Triangulation: Morning After – Stories 204-207

  1. SRA says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I suspect that 205 might be mine. Could you post a disambiguating detail from the story (or something) so that I can tell if I’m jumping the gun? Thanks!

    And thanks as well for all the work you have put into this blog and the editing. It has been an adventure following along over the past few months. I think the trials of the Triangulation stories, and their evolution from Slushy to published work, is a compelling story in its own right.

  2. Dawn says:

    Hi Steve – thanks for the feedback on 206. Clearly I was too subtle with many things. I appreicate the time you took on the helpful comments. Next year, I’m telling you, you’ll have a story you can’t refuse…

  3. Cabot Green says:

    Hi Steve
    What luck to come across your website, the 25 commandments and links. Got to go download your book. Thanks

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