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Skaidon
August 9th, 2006, 02:03 PM
Hi,

A new short story I recently wrote. I wrote this story the day after going to see The Night Listener at my local cinema. Pretty much 10% of this story actually happened, I'll let you decide which parts.

Mr. Observer & The Cinema (http://www.ajroberts.net/Mr-Observer-The-Cinema.php)

I very much look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Thanks!

onions
August 11th, 2006, 09:56 AM
Okay, I ploughed throught this. You're not gonna like it, but maybe it'll help anyway.

1) This has to be the most annoying character I've ever had to read for this length of time. I hope you appreciate that I'm doing this for you. :) Brevity is the soul of wit and this character has neither. This longwinded and repetetive style and his concentration on annoying marginal details could be called style - if your intention is to annoy and bore your readers. It's a pity because underneath this aggravating verbosity is some good situational comedy.
2) Word repetition: The story has quite a few of them. It's like once you hit on a word you like, you use it five or six times in one paragraph. Examples are "enjoy", "of a very (something) nature" and "stick". Check it out.
3) Your character's malaise of not being able to enjoy things is called "anhedonia". It's a very common symptom of depression. I thought you might like to know, since your character obviously enjoys flinging words at the readers. (One of my anhedonist friends says "The nicest thing about that condition is that you get to use the word so often" :D )
4) There were very few parts that made me laugh because you juxtaposed some absurd things in one sentence and you made it a brief sentence and didn't overload the humour. One was the underwear wishing to hide. That one still makes me smile. Another was that long acronym. That was funny. And the third was the cheap freeloading bastard who's let in for free nevertheless. Oh, and I liked the observation that as is natural in the world of parenting, naturally there's kids in the audience too.
5) I really liked the fantastic elements like the walk to the cinema and the icecream scene. They didn't seem to fit into the story, mind you, but I liked them for themselves.
6) You beat some subjects to death with such an intensity that I wanted to kill the main character. The wedgie is funny for about two mentions, then the entire paragraph about it is one of the most annoying passages I've ever read. Also, what the hell are you on about with the Asian passage? Is your character a closet racist? I dunno, what are you trying to express? It doesn't add anything to the story.
7) Sentences are not funny because they're complicated.
"The walk to my local cinema is usually one of a very boring nature" is just one example where your character seems to think that the more fastidiously he expresses something, the wittier he's going to sound. In reality, it just grates.
8) Your character is not consistent enough. So what's he supposed to be? He rarely goes out of the house, yet he gives us a treatise on "the comedy cinema experience". He's doesn't give a **** about stuff, yet he gets genuinely annoyed at the kids being in the cinema and hopes the parents feel bad. (I suspect you just used him to get your own point across.)
9) Similarly, the story is not well defined. What's it about? What are you trying to say? Even a funny story needs some focus to it. You have the fantastic elements. You have the story of that guy's underpants and the story about the ice cream penguins. You have the characterisation of a misantrope, challenged by life outside his own four walls. You have the social criticism all over the place. You have a slapstick murder. You have a weirdly poetic passage about the boozy girls - I really liked that imagery. Where is this story going?

That's mainly it. I hope that was helpful.

BrianC
August 11th, 2006, 11:52 AM
It's, umm, a dry humor. Personally I think the 10% that actually happened was completely expressed in this single paragraph:


My hand descended and twisted to the rear of my body, slowly slipping in between my lax jeans and my pearly white skin. As my hand had penetrated the Bastille of trouser-like clothing, it began to descend further, deeper into the nether-regions of my second most intimate body part. My hand, though my eyes could not see, touch was alerting me of the fact that they had reached the perpetrating clothing, the shorts of boxer. Slowly I began to grasp at the 8% elastane and gave an all-mighty yank. (Not a Yank, as in an American, but yank as in 'a strong sudden pull') The product of that most violent yank was a crushing in the phallus area. This sudden, excruciating pain caused my descent to the floor, but, it also realigned my underwear to a far less rectal position, for which I was glad.

Although that may just be my own rank sense of humor coming to the fore. I can see what you were doing, and it really wasn't going for the belly laugh. BUT the combination of the white-on-black formatting, the miniscule font, and the centered text just gave my head the wobblies!

Skaidon
August 11th, 2006, 03:13 PM
Thank you both for the feedback!

I haven't been writing for long and am still trying to find my feet. I liked that character on the basis that I could get my dry humour and opinions across without it being me and everyone getting angry at me lol

The Asian spliel was something that was brought about by the varying degrees of Asian that worked at the cinema when I was there, you had your ones that were born 100%, your ones that were half and half and then the white girls that wished they looked Asian, was a poor joke that I ran on too far with.

My intention for this story wasn't to be balls-out, laugh out loud, Will Ferrell, not subtle somedy. It was more of a muted Monty Python, subtle comedy, that obviously, failed to make anyone laugh. Oh well, you live and learn lol

Thanks again for taking the time to read it, Ive since lost the first person story perspective and moved on to better things.

The webiste I do intend on increasing the font size! Any other suggestions on that front? And any other comments on the writing is also welcome, even if it is just more negative :)

BrianC
August 11th, 2006, 03:27 PM
Hey, I laughed! Well, I chuckled . . . a bit; but like I said it was a dry humor. Not everyone's bag.

As for the excrutiating font/color/centering, I find that a light grey color is better againsta black background than pure white. And please, no centering of prose.

Skaidon
August 11th, 2006, 04:55 PM
As for the excrutiating font/color/centering, I find that a light grey color is better againsta black background than pure white. And please, no centering of prose.

I've increased the font sized and muted the colour to be more grey. Thanks for the suggestion, I think it is more readable now.

A.J. Roberts (http://www.ajroberts.net)

onions
August 11th, 2006, 06:47 PM
You know, I have the feeling you could write some gloriously funny, dry, absurd stuff if you got rid of this *terribly annoying character*!
Some of the things I liked best were those where I got the distinct impression it was you talking, not the Observer. :)
I think you have a good instinct for the absurd in life and I'd like to read more of *your* observations. Keep going. :)

Skaidon
August 11th, 2006, 07:01 PM
You know, I have the feeling you could write some gloriously funny, dry, absurd stuff if you got rid of this *terribly annoying character*!
Some of the things I liked best were those where I got the distinct impression it was you talking, not the Observer. :)
I think you have a good instinct for the absurd in life and I'd like to read more of *your* observations. Keep going. :)
Thanks! I enjoy writing a lot, I'm working on something completely different now, that doesn't have that character at all, nor does it have the same style.

ALOT of that story was my observations of that night and/or general observations of things associated with cinemas/movies.

How people brought in a five year old girl into a movie about a young boy being abused and raped by his parents. I mean, I'm not the only one that thinks that is insane?

The people a row behind us truly argued with the screen and its quiz answer.

Unfortunately, nobody laid a smack down on any of the people that talked all the way through the movie, still, its bound to have happened somewhere in the world before.

Thanks for the honest detailed feedback, I really appreciate it. I'll be sure to post my next story here in the hopes of getting a similarly detailed response.

Thanks Again
Adam

Jacquin
August 12th, 2006, 04:24 AM
Hi,

It's an unusual story, I like the formal voice you give your character, but you let it slip a number of times throughout the work. A person who says "I shall continue then" doesn't seem to me, to be the kind of person who asks "am I weirding you out?" You chop and change a number of times between the character's formal voice and what I assume is your own turn of phrase.

Also there is a lot in here that is utterly irrelevant to the story, but as has previously been mentioned, we don't actually know what the story is. It is quite fashionable to write a snapshot of life with no real beginning or end, but this normally only works when the focus is on the absurdities of life. You pick up on this but seem to spend much more time trying to tell us how strange and alien your narator is. Is it really necessary?

Also you start by telling us you don't get excited by anything much unless it is very special indeed and later go into raptures about ice cream.

One last point before I stop, it is never a good idea to start your story by telling us it isnt going to be interesting. If I hadn't already decided to read the whole thing to offer you a quick crit I would have stopped then not bothered with the rest. If you don't think it is interesting then why the heck should I?

J

Skaidon
August 12th, 2006, 04:13 PM
Thanks.

I've noticed my slips from the narrator's language to more slang/free language too, stupid really.

I intended this piece to be a sort of "radio host" story, like the old scholl radio hosts would tell on late night shows. Funny stories, that were largely irrelevant.

The message in this story is simple, don't talk in the cinema, ever.

Thanks for all the feedback, it is truly helping me to spot my mistakes and to improve my writing and to stop me from falling into the pitfalls of forcing my ideas/feelings on my characters :D

A.J. Roberts (http://www.ajroberts.net)