August 20th, 2012, 11:04 AM
Thoughts on/Reactions to my Work?
Hi. My name is Ian Smith. I've posted several very short stories and poems on this site and was wondering if anyone might like to offer their thoughts on them (points of style, perhaps some perspective worth expanding on). Thanks. http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/4521p0.html
Last edited by ILS Adventures; August 20th, 2012 at 08:59 PM.
August 20th, 2012, 11:18 AM
it could be worse
Welcome, Ian. Glad to see you join us here in the forums.
The link you provided goes to a very short conversation/story page for Bute St. Conversation.
What I thought of it: a bit mundane, I guess. Not sure what the point of the story is. It is more of a snapshot of a conversation rather than a micro-story.
I read the Convenience Store. You have the beginning of a micro-story, but again, I'm not sure what the point is nor do I get the reference of the 'death coming to a movie' line at the end. And I am a bit confused by all the images. Outside there's death and destruction, but inside the store is normal? Is that what you are trying to convey?
FYI - both of these have a very literary bent, not speculative at all, in my opinion. That's fine, nothing wrong with literary, but this is a sci-fi/fantasy forum. You might not get the sort of feedback you are looking for from a group like us. Or, at least, me.
I'm not into poetry, so I'm not even gonna go there.
August 20th, 2012, 11:46 AM
Thanks for your thoughts. I linked to the first story assuming people would follow the links to the other ones. I posted 8 stories. Four of them have science-fictional elements, in my opinion.
Bute St. Conversation is kind of a "joke" story. The old man comes to an absurd conclusion (that the young man is the "twin" of another young man he has seen nearby, rather than the genuine article) and refuses to abandon it even in the face of overwhelming first-hand evidence.
Convenience Store was not intended to have sf elements in it. It's a mood piece about someone on the edge. Though it's tempting to take in such a direction now that you bring it up.
August 20th, 2012, 12:46 PM
Forgive us our tristises
I read all your pieces under "stories" and found some of them quite interesting. Not all of them ended with particular finality—so…snapshot-ish, perhaps poetic, I guess—but several of them left me feeling rather well entertained.
Several of these are from the same universe. Should I guess same story? Are they parts of a whole or intended to be separate?
I only read TMSO's response afterward, so I wasn't thinking literary so much as cinematic, but now I agree with her. Of course, having read more, I definitely got the spec fic sense of it.
You do use a script like approach to settings, character and narration. I think that might throw a few people off in their response unless you tell them an intent one way or the other. I have to say, your "Bute St. Conversation" looked a LOT like the first drafts of my stories: just initials and dialogue, bare bones waiting for the real prose to be layered on. In a book, maybe grouped with other fleshed-out pieces, this probably feels fine, but some readers who see only this will think you haven't committed to the work yet.
There were one or two typos (but who hasn't got those). I'm not sure if you need to hear about them. You'll probably catch them, yourself. You write well, which is why I took some of what I initially thought were problems as intentional. However, this makes it hard to critique. Some pieces felt too cumbersome or immature, but you were narrating in character. I can say that each piece felt true to its POV. I just didn't like them all equally.
They're great mood pieces, for sure. I think I liked "Convenience Store" best of its mood (plot? who needs a plot?) and "I've Got Your Number" for its plot—it's mood and characters were rather good, too. However, the latter was missing some explanation a reader could use. You had characters and plot elements that didn't go anywhere, making me think the next draft would be longer and make use of these.
I'm also not all that frightened by the revelation of what frightened Ray. I'd need there to be more in the baby's words that tied to that, or were less friendly, more invasive, perhaps.
Overall, I think your stuff is rather neat. I'd read more of it. I like the grit and the detail and a lot of the mood (I'm not sure that worm will ever leave my head). Not all of it is story, so not all will be appealing to everyone. And some stuff will need to be contextualized for readers of this forum.
August 20th, 2012, 01:18 PM
Thank you. Couldn't ask for a better critique.
I really agree with you that the second half of I've Got Your Number needs fleshing out. I wanted it to kind of just suddenly end with the matter-of-fact abruptness of a nightmare, but I think I sacrificed some depth and explanation there. The general idea is that the development of the baby's brain happened at an incredibly accelerated rate. Given incredible powers of cognition, but deprived of a normal experience in the womb and normal emotional development, his mechanisms of empathy are greatly altered. He sees something that is a source of tension and just wants to foment strife because he thinks it's interesting. Ray is horrified because his deepest insecurity and fear, that his hard-won relationship with the "white world" is a sham, is seemingly being confirmed. I think perhaps I'm going to work on making that more clear.
Thanks again for the critique. By all means, keep 'em comin'!
August 20th, 2012, 01:32 PM
Also, as far as there being a "universe" linking my stories: there are a number of connections between the stories that i'm interested in developing. More of the "universe" is revealing itself as I work on them. I just turned my hand to fiction this year, so hopefully some interesting things will come of it.
August 20th, 2012, 02:03 PM
Speaks fluent Bawehrf
Hi Ian! You're on the right track, your work is very readable. Is I've Got Your Number a homage to The Small Assassin? I didn't get the malicious intent of the baby from my first reading, I thought it was trying to be genuinely helpful - you've got to spell it out sometimes for us slow-witted readers!
I look forward to seeing more of your work, particularly in the regular flash and short story competitions on the forum (I hesitate to call them competitions, more like a support group).
August 20th, 2012, 02:36 PM
Thanks for the kind words! I don't think I was consciously channeling Bradbury, though I have read him, and the comparison is one I welcome (also that the protagonist is also named Ray is kind of a cool coincidence). The deal with the baby is he is telling the whole story with one crucial omission: the possibility of improvement in the leeway that the privacy of our minds allows. The reason Ray is so jarred is he sees the truth of what is being said, it gives credence to a million things that have happened between him and Peter. Though both men are involved with each other for someone neurotic reasons, there is always the possibility of understanding overcoming the barrier of race. It just has to come from within. They have been building something fragile for years, something made possible by how reserved and private they both are. The baby blows the house of cards over because he wants to see what happens.
It's becoming clear that the second section must be greatly expanded. Thanks for the awesome insights!
August 20th, 2012, 04:15 PM
Can anyone tell me just where any of this is?I'm not seeing a link anywhere.
August 20th, 2012, 06:06 PM
http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/4521p0.html look on the left under the headings "stories" and "poems" for the rest.
Originally Posted by Riothamus
August 20th, 2012, 07:04 PM
Eh.I suppose for a bit of small talk it's okay.I'm not sure where it's going (if it's supposed to be going anywhere.)
Now as for your other work, I'm particularly fond of your poem Invincible Love. Something about the peculiar, almost lovecraftian imagery has a somewhat macabre appeal. Short though it may be.
One possible future could use some work with how the lines are spaced out, but I love the peculiar, at times surrealist imagery. It has a sort of inherent mystery to it. I'm not certain I want a direct answer to it's enigma if only so that my mind might entertain multiple answers. Something that much of your poetry seems to have in common. Though I would try to vary your themes a bit more. Love can be a great muse, but there are many things in this world to write of.
As far as your other stories go, they have their own sort of poetry to them, and in a way, feel like an extension of your poetic leanings. Something I believe to be a high point. It is both simplistic and complex in it's own way. Rare qualities for more modern pieces of writing. It has echoes of various masters from the past century. Though I would be careful with how you say some things, as you seem to have a very slight problem with redundancy here and there.
August 20th, 2012, 08:55 PM
Last edited by ILS Adventures; August 21st, 2012 at 11:45 AM.
August 22nd, 2012, 01:22 PM
I've posted another poem. http://www.sffworld.com/community/poem/2098.html
(Mods: is it alright if I keep posting updates in this thread?)
August 22nd, 2012, 01:43 PM
it could be worse
Well, that all depends on your intention.
Originally Posted by ILS Adventures
If you just want readers, no. That's just plain self-promotion. And, keep in mind, you are self-promoting to other writers just like you with tons of stuff that they want folks to read, too. Doesn't quite make sense to self-promote to folks clamoring to get the same attention that you want.
If you want critiques and feedback, yes, it's fine to keep posting links, but again, remember that we are all writers with busy lives. Take me as an example: I have a full time job. I have a side business. I have a life (somewhere). I write. I'm involved with Critters.org and critique at least one short story for that group a week. I'm involved with putting together an anthology and reading the entries for that. I try to read the monthly contest entries on this forum as well and provide feedback. I also have my own review blogsite and am woefully behind with the reading I've promised to do. Oh, and sometimes I review for SFFWorld.com! Frankly, I have too much to read, and I'm sure that is the case with everyone else on this forum (why am I wasting time here - oh! because I'm a mod too!).
But before I go: if you want feedback, try giving some to get some.