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August 2nd, 2005, 10:20 AM
I wrote this for a competition on another forum, and I had literally 30 minutes until the deadline. I decided to enter, and wrote the story, but didn't get any votes.

Now two things -

1) The other entries were truly outstanding
2) The limit was 200 words. My original draft was about 450, so I really had to strip out some good stuff.

So I'm not too upset about it.

However, I'd still be interested in what people think before I expand and improve it, just to see what mistakes I made and what I could have done to make it better.

The rules of the comp were 200 words or less, and the phrase was 'calculator'.

The story is here on my website (http://www.simonberryonline.co.uk/writing.html).

EDIT: I saved it as a story in the community but I don't know how to link to it???

August 3rd, 2005, 12:03 AM
Make sure you've set it to "Published" and not draft. Then copy the url into your post here. Later we'll show you how to do it fancy.

Your story is a great piece of flash fiction.


August 3rd, 2005, 04:23 AM
Aha. Thanks.

Link to story is here (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/728p0.html)

August 3rd, 2005, 06:49 AM
Small thing. You capitalize a few words in the middle of a sentence like so:

"Apparently Sir, the answer is actually Sixteen."
Don't do that.

Ex - "Apparently sir, the answer is actually sixteen."

We'll have to see what you do with a longer story where there's more room for mistakes. ;)

Chris G.
August 3rd, 2005, 10:03 PM
"Show me again, Mr Kenton." sighed the president, still trying to understand what exactly was being explained to him.
First off yoiu failed to punctuate this properly. There should be a comma before quotes for sighed, said, blurtted...things that denote how what was said or simply said. Here's the correction:

"Show me again, Mr Kenton," sighed the president, still trying to understand what exactly was being explained to him.

However, over all, for a 200 word limit, I thought it was damn good. You made my jaw drop.

August 4th, 2005, 09:27 AM
Doh! I should know better about the capitalisation! Obviously missed that one. :rolleyes:

Thanks for clearing up the dialogue for me. I used to know all the little rules but I've forgotten them over time. I've got a good book at home on writing and it covers dialogue etc so I'll have to do some revision!

August 7th, 2005, 05:26 PM
There was a section at the back of my first year calculaus textbook that was titled "Lies My Calculator Told Me." I never actually read it. I mean - it was a calculus textbook and I was my first year of university and extracirricular calculus wasn't exactly at the top of my priority list.

Anyway, that's what your story reminded me of. I've always thought of flash fiction as very difficult. You have to convey an idea in a very small space. I think this story is pretty simple, but makes a very strong social comment. (I also can't help but wonder if there's a little political satire in there as well.)

The idea of 2*8 = 16 is pretty fundamental, and if I had to make any commentary on the content of the story, I'd say that I find it difficult to believe that someone could miss this - regardless of how dumb people in the future get. I would expect something slightly more technical - maybe a truncation error like pi = 3.14 exactly, and no one knowing what pi actually is. Maybe, despite my first year bungling, I'm still a math geek. I mean, I actually knew there was an extra chapter at the end of the calculus book.

August 8th, 2005, 04:58 AM
Some good points there, thanks.

I like writing flash fiction, as one of my main influences is Philip K. Dick. The story was originally a little longer and had a few more things like explaining why no-one knew there was a problem with the calculators, but I had to cut it down to 200 words so a lot of good bits were left out.

I think I'll expand it and change a few things based on comments I've had, and see how it goes.

August 15th, 2005, 06:29 AM
I liked it...

The only thing that grated, was how the president proudly filled in the back story... that was more telling than showing, or rather, it seemed a little forced. It would have been better to have provided those details using a little more dialogue between the characters... although I know you were restricted to 200 words for that competition.

Great job... flash fiction is hard enough, 200 words is REALLY hard to make compelling.

It would be good if you could find a mathematical rule that is a little more complex than the 2*8, as Choppy pointed out... if these guys can build the Spaceship to travel to other worlds they should still understand basic multiplication... maybe they rounded Pi up incorrectly or messed up some basic algebra... dunno... but the two times table should be within our race's future?

August 15th, 2005, 07:47 AM
You're right about the filling in of the back story. I was rading a great article in a writing magazine yesterday about 'infodumps' - either having characters explain stuff to each other that they would both already know, or taking a break in the story to give the reader lots of information.

Reading it again after reading the article, I can see that I did that vut as you said, I only had 200 words to play with.

I'm definitely going to expand it out based on the great feedback I've had so far, taking into account the good criticisms.