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November 29th, 2001, 05:56 AM

I have finally sucumbed to the urge to show you people some of my stuff and see what you think/if anyone can make any helpful suggestions.

This is only a recent idea, rather than one that's been bugging me, but it insisted on being written down!

This is the prologue-y-type bit and an attempt at a first chapter. No, it doen't have a title yet. And, I appologise in advance for the amount of space my chosen layout will take up!


The Fairy Tale (prologue)

Are you sitting comfortably?
No? Well move over then.
Thatís it, right over, off the box.
Yes, on the floor.
Yes, itís always cold.
Well on my lap then Ė but only just this once.
Yes, both of you.
Ok- now are you sitting comfortably?
Then Iíll begin.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Susan, a beautiful..
Yes, what?
Ok then, her name was Sylvia.
Thatís not a name.
Oh okay then.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl named Alicia. She was pretty, and clever, with lovely long blonde hair. Every morning Alicia used to get the train to schoolÖ
The train.
You know. A train. For travelling in.
Like the ones that used to run in these tunnels.
You know!
Iím sorry.
I know, I shouldnít shout.
Iím sorry.
Now, she used to get the tube.
The tube.
A train underground.
No. NO they werenít all underground.
Mostly they were above ground.
Where were they underground?
In the big cities mainly.
Yes, just like here.
Especially like here, in fact.
London. This is London.

Do you want this story or not?
No, I wonít tell it without the tube.
Yes they did.
Yes they were.
They WERE real.
They were.
I was THERE.
No Iím NOT making it up. It was real, ok.

Where are you going?
Look you havenít got a light.
Youíll get lost.
Come back!

Look, Iím sorry I shouted, but it WAS real.
I remember.

I swear I do.

I swear it!

How could I forget?

Iíll always remember.

Chapter 1: The Dream

I am dreaming of when the tubes used to run beneath the city. In my dream, I am standing on the platform edge, crowded by commuters, buffeting me with their briefcases and umbrellas as they jostle for position at the front. The platform is lit from overhead, and the air is unpleasantly warm and stuffy. A cool breeze hits my cheek and increases in intensity as I turn to face the tunnel mouth and hear the rush of the approaching train. Lights appear in the dark. The front carriage is rushing past me and I donít have a chance to read the destination, but thatís okay because I already know Iím on the right platform. I just like to check.

The train is screeching to a halt now, and my eyes are automatically flicking over the carriages to see where I have the most chance of getting a seat. Then thereís a pneumatic hiss, and the doors slide open before me. I climb in against the flow of people getting off and find a place to sit. I run my hand over the seat before I sit down - another automatic reflex - and I perch on the edge, out of the way of the last passengerís chewed gum.

The doors beep frantically before sliding shut, and we pull away in an electric whine of acceleration. The carriage has a pervading background smell of sweat and urine, but Iím too used to it to pay any attention other than to be grateful that it isnít any stronger.

The tube leans over sideways as it takes the bend before the next station, and I shift my new boots away from something sticky on the floor. Thereís a peal of laughter at my expression and when I turn my best friend is sitting beside me. Of course, she got on the train when I did. I canít see her face clearly, but I know its her and I smile and lean back against my seat. I should be happy, even though itís crowded and the air is unpleasant, and I have leaned on gum in my clean jacket. I should be happy but I am not, and as the train rushes on, a glowing nimbus in the blackness, I cannot escape the growing sensation that everything is wrong.

Now the lights are dimming, until I cannot see my friend, and the carriage around me fades to nothing. I hang alone in a great miserable void of darkness and I know that I can never escape. I scream into the silence, pleading for the people, the crowds, to come back to me, longing desperately to be back on the train, on my way to another boring day. I cry and shout for them to come and save me from this miserable loneliness. They never do. I will scream alone forever.

But it is just a nightmare. The darkness is nothing more than an illusion of the world, seen from behind closed lids. I breathe pure, hard, fast, relief as I sit up and open my eyes - and once again, the same as always, I fail utterly to stifle the tears that roll, unrelenting, down my cheeks. The darkness is just the same.

There are no trains anymore.

[This message has been edited by Sam82 (edited November 29, 2001).]

November 29th, 2001, 01:12 PM
Great ad for British Rail, Sam! http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

Well, I liked it - a lot! The style of the Prologue I thought was very refreshing and certainly compelling, especially the intimated arguments from your audience challenging your protagonist's name!

You should definitely expand this idea, Sam, and post some more in our Story section, where other members can rate your tale, as well as give you feedback through the forums.

The train idea is quite original and I'll certainly be interested to see where you take it. Maybe you'll interweave your medical knowledge into the tale as well? Would certainly make some interesting reading I feel. Well done, but how do you ever find the time to write? http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

[This message has been edited by erebus (edited November 29, 2001).]

James Barclay
November 29th, 2001, 01:18 PM
Sammie, that's bloody good. I enjoyed the opening. Trying to relate a story to (I presume) children who don't really want to hear is a frustration well described there.

And to anyone who hasn't travelled a London tube, then that's what it's like (and I do it every day...). Just one thing - you got the atmosphere about right but how about racking up the oppressiveness by having the tube crammed with people, none of whom will acknowledge your presence except the one laughing light that is your friend.

Put it this way, I'd read on.

Feacus Fidelle
November 29th, 2001, 03:40 PM
Wow. My story must be awful if the same 'impartial' moderator complements another story posted on the same forum so enthusiastically...

James Barclay
November 29th, 2001, 09:54 PM
Imperfect logic there Feacus. And I think you'll find plenty of good positive comment on your story now.

If I might be so bold, a little patience wouldn't go amiss.

And another thing, I don't think a moderator is necessarily impartial. If, like any other forum member, we're asked to comment on writing, surely honesty is best. Diplomatic honesty, perhaps, but honesty nonetheless.

November 29th, 2001, 10:30 PM
Good. Itīs mystic enough to catch my interest and the first chapter doesnīt give many clues of what has happened, so Iīll be glad to hear the rest.

November 30th, 2001, 03:59 AM
I liked it, it was good. Especially the prologue, very original. Your descriptions are quite vivid and intresting, and although it's hard to tell what's going on from such a short piece, what there is is quite well done http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif


November 30th, 2001, 05:46 AM
I really like this Sam.

The prologue is certainly original and definitely grabs the attention.

The chapter drags you to another world and you have me dying to know more.


November 30th, 2001, 07:24 AM
Not bad. Here's what I suggest:
First, the prologue. It's pretty obvious that this little monologue was where the whole idea first germinated for you. If you feel like fleshing it out to make it a true scene, it could make an interesting little short story. But since you have chapters following it, dump it. The first line of the current chapter one is FAR more arresting than the entire monologue. Because now you are starting the story with:

I am dreaming of when the tubes used to run beneath the city.

Now that single sentence has 10x the drawing power than a monologue that the reader has no investment in because nothing of the character has been revealed, and nothing about the world has been made clear. The prologue was obviously important to you-the-writer to get your idea rolling, but it isn't adding to the story from a reader's perspective.

Secondly, about the piece of chapter one that you posted. The remembrance of the tube goes on too long. We're still wrapped up in the first line. What the hell happened to the trains?! After a start like that, you've got two options: tell us where we are and what's going on, or start moving on the exposition fast. If you don't tell us what's going on, you need to start showing us the world we're in, so we place our faith in you the author to give us answers. I would spend no more than two paragraphs on the dream (as Orson Scott Card says, the first two paragraphs you get for free), and I would make them far more sensory. I know the experience of waiting for a train. You don't have to tell me. There must have been something a lot more drastic than a union strike to stop the trains. Given the no doubt world-altering event that caused the trains to cease to exist, why is this memory so important to this unknown person? It needs to make an impact on us like it does on your character. Shortening the description and tightening up the prose will help with that.

Don't get discouraged. If I didn't think it had promise, I wouldn't have commented on it at all. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif Even though the writing needs work, I'm still curious about why the Tube is gone. Which means you're doing something right.

[This message has been edited by cassandra (edited November 30, 2001).]

November 30th, 2001, 11:08 AM
As everyone else, I really enjoyed the story. It was very well written.

I don't quite agree with cassandra's comment about the prologue. In fact I thought that the prologue was rather important for the story. Without it, it would "just" have been a well written train ride. I felt that the prologue was important in setting the atmosphere, especially the last part where the speaker tries desperately to convince the children that the trains were real.

Regarding the length of the train-dream, I think it depends on the length you envision for the entire story. If it is to be a short story of just a couple of pages, then I agree with cassandra in saying that it's too long. But if the whole story is going to be longer, maybe even novel sized, then I think the length of that scene is just fine. Again, it helps to set an atmosphere and give a certain "feel" for the story. The explanations will (hopefully) come later.

Explaining too early, I think, could prove just as bad as explaining too late. The writer needs to build a sense of mystery.
The reader must become interested and involved in the world, must care enough about it, before the writer can go on and explaining the world shattering events that define it.

I actually think that describing such an 'ordinary' event as a train ride, a thing almost everyone knows about and can relate to, is a very smart move to create the involvment necessary for the reader.

So, are you going to post a follow-up anytime soon?