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Thread: A REALLY short story (78 words)

  1. #1

    A REALLY short story (78 words)

    I'm gunning for a short story contest and was looking for a little help in making it better. It's a mere 78 words long, but the goal is to communicate some bigger picture. Here's my snapshot:


    Esperanza takes a ballpoint to every cigarette. She writes prayers. She jots cheesy jokes. She draws dynamite so the fuse ashes shorter with each puff.

    When Esperanza wants revenge, she makes voodoo caricatures. When she wants more canvas, she rolls her own. If she's out of ideas, Esperanza scrawls nonsensical patterns until each smoke carries a surprise: each pack, a shuffled visual playlist.

    She only recently began sharing these personal fortune cookie cancer sticks with her steady boyfriend.


    My question is this: How may I improve the ending? Give it more punch, more of a lasting impression? I've got a great character with a great quirk, but she needs a way to use this quirk to make the jump from an anecdote to a story.

    (sorry about the link, btw, forgot about that rule... It shouldn't happen again. I would have said never, but I'd rather keep the mods on their toes)
    Last edited by krymsonkyng; 10-02-2011 at 10:57 PM. Reason: URL
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  2. #2
    Registered User zoolane's Avatar
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    Sound great so far but no ideas at moment. I am struggle to write myself.
    English my native language and have characterizes of dyslexia.

    Copyright (C) 2011, Zoolane

    I have pass by English Exam.

  3. #3
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    I'd say you need to find a killer closing line - a particular message she wrote on her boyfriend's cigarette that leaves a lasting impression on the reader...

    As for what that line might be that's for you to work out.

    h

  4. #4
    A message for her boyfriend may be just the idea I'm looking for! Thanks a million Hill, I now have a more clear direction to take.
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  5. #5
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    I find the numerous sentences starting with 'she' distracting if that is any help.
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

  6. #6
    That is a help. Thank you. I wanted to use repetition to focus on her, but I think I'll shift things around a bit for the next draft.
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  7. #7
    Here's the newest:

    Esperanza takes a ballpoint to every cigarette. She writes prayers. She jots cheesy jokes. She draws dynamite so the fuse ashes shorter with each puff.

    When Esperanza wants revenge, she makes voodoo caricatures. When she wants more canvas, she rolls her own. If she's out of ideas, Esperanza scrawls patterns until each cancer stick's a fortune cookie: each pack, a shuffled visual playlist.

    This morning's camel carried a surprise, an unknown love poem. Last night, Michael swapped cigarettes with Esperanza.


    Better? Worse? Cheeeeeeeeesy?
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  8. #8
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    Better in that we get to learn more about Esperanza...
    but 'an unknown love poem' is rather a let-down and it switches the focus to another writer - presumably Michael, who hasn't been introduced until right at the end.

    I know 78 words doesn't give you much scope to develop a plot. It's a shame you can't mention Michael's relationship with Esperanza earlier and make her latest message to him more potent... something along the lines of 'I'm late' or 'I'm expecting'...?

    H

  9. #9
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    I think your latest post holds more interest. As the reader I want to know more about Esperanza (great name) but as Hill says, her relationship with Michael needs to be outlined. Keep writing. I really enjoy your efforts and potential.
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

  10. #10
    Esperanza takes a ballpoint to every cigarette. She writes prayers. She jots cheesy jokes. She draws dynamite so the fuse ashes shorter with each puff. Some become love notes for her boyfriend.

    When Esperanza wants revenge, she makes voodoo caricatures. When she wants more canvas, she rolls her own. If she's out of ideas, Esperanza scrawls patterns until each cancer stick carries personal artwork.

    This morning's camel carried a surprise. In red it said, "Will you marry me?"

    ===
    How's this? I want to break up Ranza's routine and I figured a nice surprise buried in the pack would be best, so I mentioned she shares with her boyfriend early in, and had him pop the question through the device. It's kind of a cop out, kinda sweet, and I'm not sure if it's got the punch I'm looking for for the amount of words I can spend.
    Last edited by krymsonkyng; 10-05-2011 at 04:53 PM.
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  11. #11
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    It's fine but do you see that its part of a larger story which you must write?
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

  12. #12
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    It's a better ending - not a cheesy cop-out in my opinion. But the reader needs a clearer signpost that this particular note is from Michael.

    H

  13. #13
    Esperanza takes a ballpoint to every cigarette. She writes prayers. She jots cheesy jokes. She draws dynamite so the fuse ashes shorter with each puff. Some become love notes for her boyfriend, Michael.

    When Esperanza wants revenge, she makes voodoo caricatures. When she wants more canvas, she rolls her own. If she's out of ideas, Esperanza scrawls patterns until each cancer stick carries personal artwork.

    This morning's camel carried a surprise. "Will you marry me?" read Michael's handwriting.

    ---
    There we go. How's that for clarity? Also, thanks a gajillion for bearing with me as I hash this out.
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  14. #14
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    Da-dah!

    Good luck with your entry.

    H

  15. #15
    My only enemy is time Trever J Bennett's Avatar
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    The first post was the only good one, and it was very good. You just changed a tension-filled portrayal of a talented girl with trust issues for her boyfriend, as she warms up to a potential let-down into a lame "the notebook" story. I came in here, read the first post, was about to applaud you on a movingly great piece, something I'd hope to see developed into something bigger, and then I read how easily you let someone talk you into making it cheese. The changes are lame. Your first post was brilliant.
    Last edited by Trever J Bennett; 10-05-2011 at 05:09 AM.
    All works copyright 2011 Trever Bennett

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