Parch – Day 5

One submission today.

Story 1.

Over the sea the memory of my children is as a dream, fled.

Tell me that I am doing the right thing.

I am building a ship, with my bare hands.

This has taken, so far, over two years. It is not complete yet. I make it of metal, and oak.

I am afraid that it will not be done in time, for, like Noah, I have a presumption, a prognostication, a little inkling . . .

Something is coming home to roost.

Some memory becomes entangled Continue reading

Parch – Day 4

I have one new submission for today.

Story 1.

Catastrophe struck on day 14,611 of Koan’s occupation–a significant number because it equated to day one of his retirement and hence the first morning when he’d woken up in legal possession of the flat. It should have been a breakfast of sumptuous liberation. Instead, the roof emptied in and enough water cascaded down to leave Koan wallowing knee-deep and bewildered. He blinked as the T-Mat booth fizzled and shorted out, then thought belatedly to jump up onto his fold-away bed. Water frothed and swirled all around him, swallowing up every piece of low-lying furniture except for Koan’s cast iron bathtub–a retirement present–which now had the distinction of Continue reading

Parch – Day 3

It’s actually the fourth day, but I didn’t receive any subs for a day, which gave me a bit of a break. Batteries recharged, here we go with three submissions today.

Story 1.

This is a rewrite of a prior story. That it arrived barely a day after I asked for fairly extensive changes is a red flag.

Professor Cornelius stroked the crop of the bright golden bird perched on his arm, admiring the shine of the one hundred degree sunlight on its feathers. He heard fast hoof beats and through the shimmering air he saw four men approaching. He put the bird back in the cage and set it inside his Arapaho Miracle Cure wagon. Continue reading

Triangulation: Morning After – Story 208

Story 208: SF 2200 words 3/15/2012

I’m mostly confused early in the story. It drops us into mid-scene, which is good, but does not provide crucial context for me to ground myself. Who is Mister Clark? Up where? What is the character’s goal? Why does this project exist? I don’t need or want an info dump, but snippets of clarification where relevant (e.g. why not call him Ben Clark the first time? Why not give the project name? Maybe the monitors show something to clue us in as to where up here might be).

The main problem, however, is that there’s really no story here. Two characters observe an event and rationalize what it means. A story Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Triangulation: Morning After – Stories 197-203

Story 197: SF 560 words 3/15/2012

An interesting SF satire. Clear prose, enough story experience to carry the piece. I have two issues, however. First, the story ends up being an archetypal “gotcha” rather than a story that opens my eyes to a new perspective. I suspect it will appeal to readers that agree with the conclusion and aggravate those who do not. I would prefer more subtlety in the end game. Also, the final line doesn’t actually make sense when I stop to consider it (which a story like this certainly invites me to do). Presumably it’s even warmer elsewhere, right? A smaller nit is that I thought the harp comment was over the top. It’s certainly Continue reading

Triangulation: Morning After – Stories 192-196

Story 192: Fantasy 2440 words 3/15/2012

I’m afraid this one falls into a common pattern. Character waking up (blame the theme, but remember that if you want your story to stand out, it’s best to find a unique way to connect to a theme, in general), a dose of false mystery (he knows what happened last night, but only refers to it obliquely), then the story moves into back story told through the distancing effect of memory/summary (only a paragraph though, so not so bad). Then we get some dialogue that obliquely references the incident we don’t know, but should (since we’re in the character’s perspective). This is, again, what I call false mystery. We then get some Continue reading

Triangulation: Morning After – Stories 188-191

Story 188: Fantasy 5100 words 3/14/2012

This reminds me of stories I used to write. There’s solid craft here, good characterization, an interesting idea, but the story engine is not compelling the reader forward. The opening scenes feel like a day in the life depiction of the relationship, rather than an inciting incident for story, and the speculative element only comes in much later (hinted at early, but not enough context to make it real). The truth is, especially in speculative fiction, that story is more important than craft or character or idea. Some stories can manage with minimal story arc, but most, particularly at this length, depend upon the story/plot arc to carry the reader through the Continue reading

Triangulation: Morning After – Stories 184-187

Story 184: Fantasy 2600 words 3/14/2012

This is yet another story with a character waking, but it’s a very unique version of the trope that fits the story. It’s also the rare story where (I feel) the framing device actually adds to the experience. The story could work without the frame, but the interleaving of present and past experience adds a dimension to the character relationship here. We get immediate scenes in both timelines; I never feel distant. I do think the invasion can be used a little better to generate tension, but that’s a small thing for final edit.

I like this one for the anthology. It can use a bit of tweaking to perfect the Continue reading

Triangulation: Last Morning – Stories 180-183

Story 180: Fantasy 5900 words 3/13/2012

First person character waking up, though with an intriguing hook. Unfortunately, there’s very little actual story movement after this opening. The idea is explained, background provided, exploration of facets of the idea, some character background given, but no real story until page 18 (or thereabouts) when the secondary character appears and the protagonist must make a decision. That story is actually pretty interesting, but not nearly enough to carry 6000 words. If I were revising this, I’d try it as a third person story and open with the secondary character appearing within a page or two. Main character would resist the choice at first, then after living through another couple scenes in Continue reading