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500 words - no title

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Criccieth

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My (very informal) writing group set ourselves a challenge to write a complete piece in 500 words. For once, I actually managed it. I've tried flash a couple of times before and always end up either finished but mutliples of the word-limit over target - or I've reached 500 words and I'm nowhere near finished.

Any feedback/crit is warmly welcomed. Thank you.

Simon stalked away from the grave, the brittle cellophane digging into his palm. Stepping through the solitary gate he lifted the bunch of roses, twisting the heads into his right hand. The thick, sweet scent washed past his face; the bright sunlight mirrored in the yellow petals. As one of the heads fell away, the card slipped between his fingers. “In memory of Marianne.” He’d recognised the handwriting at once. Patrick.

She’d started mentioning him about six months ago. The fitness-fanatic new guy and his witty banter. His mountain-biking and rock-climbing. The charity races and skiing holidays. His diet fads that he suggested she try – Atkins first, then ‘macrobiotics’, then the paleo one. She loved her roast chicken though, so that only lasted a week though apparently Patrick told her she should give it at least a month. That was about the only time she ignored Patrick’s suggestions.

Two months ago, jealousy ugly inside, he’d searched her phone – only one text from Patrick: his address. Unable to admit what he’d done, he’d hedged around the subject. She’d sounded so convincing when she’d said they were just colleagues and that she’d agreed to lift-share because Patrick’s car was in the shop. He’d told himself he was being stupid. It was the 21st century – she was allowed to have male friends!

Then, the day before her birthday, he’d seen a set of minutes beside her briefcase. And scrawled on the bottom: “Marianne – another session after work? Please? Getting desperate! Patrick”. He’d boiled silently for 24 hours and then, at home after her birthday meal, she mentioned getting vouchers for rock-climbing lessons from work. He said it sounded like a laugh and when should they go? She’d seemed…..hesitant, like she didn’t want to go with him. He told her to go and take Patrick rock-climbing as that was obviously what she wanted to do. Told her she clearly didn’t think he held a candle to Patrick, so if she was having an affair she should bloody well have the guts to tell him so they could go their separate ways.

She stormed off. He saw her next in the morgue. Hit by a drunk driver, they said. That was three weeks ago. He’s barely slept since. Not cried once.

This was the place. He hammered on the door until it opened, then threw the flowers in the face of the man who stood there.

“What the….” He was slightly taller than Simon, more muscled but Simon was past caring. He stepped forward, fists clenched.

“I’m Simon Kelly – Marianne’s boyfriend! Wasn’t it enough, shagging her behind my back? I saw the note you left – desperate for another after-work session! But you’re not leaving her flowers and letting everyone else know I wasn’t enough for her!”

Shock and then realisation crossed the other’s face and then…..was it pity?

“Marianne? She was helping him draft a speech! He was running out of time!”

“I don’t….what? Him?”

“I’m David. Patrick’s my boyfriend!”

And the grief hits him.
 
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Joseph Schmol

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Hi, C. Congrats on hitting your word goal. If I were in your shoes I might feel like I was gaining some control over my writing vs. the other way 'round. So good stuff!

The writing is generally solid, with good sentence-making and rhythm. It seemed to gain steam/energy beginning in the 3rd paragraph. Some critical thoughts for you to consider:

* a story needs a title;
* the 1st paragraph did not emerge me easily into the story;
* the ending was not a surprise, felt anti-climatic, but maybe because I had difficulty relating to the pronounced silliness of the MC;

All in all, a nice tidy piece of flash.
 

TexasPoet

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To add to Joe's comments....I think this is a very solid story.

The drunk driver came from out of no where...I was anticipating a fall from rock climbing to be her demise....I don't know if I like the twist away from that..but let's hear what others have to say.

I knew the ending before I read it....the friend turns out to be gay....I've seen it on television shows many times. Doesn't mean it doesn't work...but for me...I saw it coming.

It could have been a wife instead.

Still a great story beginning.

tp :)
 

Hedwig

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Hi Criccieth!

You can find my critique here:

My (very informal) writing group set ourselves a challenge to write a complete piece in 500 words. For once, I actually managed it. I've tried flash a couple of times before and always end up either finished but mutliples of the word-limit over target - or I've reached 500 words and I'm nowhere near finished.

Any feedback/crit is warmly welcomed. Thank you.

Simon stalked away from the grave, the brittle cellophane digging into his palm. Stepping through the solitary gate he lifted the bunch of roses, twisting the heads into his right hand. The thick, sweet scent washed past his face; the bright sunlight mirrored in the yellow petals. As one of the heads fell away, the card slipped between his fingers. “In memory of Marianne.” He’d recognised the handwriting at once. Patrick. This is foreboding; good!

She’d started mentioning him about six months ago. The fitness-fanatic new guy and his witty banter. His mountain-biking and rock-climbing. The charity races and skiing holidays. His diet fads that he suggested she try – Atkins first, then ‘macrobiotics’, then the paleo one. She loved her roast chicken though, so that only lasted a week though apparently Patrick told her she should give it at least a month. That was about the only time she ignored Patrick’s suggestions. You may be able to shorten these details to a single, succinct sentence. The reader can tell where this is going.

Two months ago, jealousy ugly inside, he’d searched her phone – only one text from Patrick: his address. Unable to admit what he’d done, he’d hedged around the subject. She’d sounded so convincing when she’d said they were just colleagues and that she’d agreed to lift-share because Patrick’s car was in the shop. He’d told himself he was being stupid. It was the 21st century – she was allowed to have male friends!

Then, the day before her birthday, he’d seen a set of minutes beside her briefcase. And scrawled on the bottom: “Marianne – another session after work? Please? Getting desperate! Patrick”. He’d boiled silently for 24 hours and then, at home after her birthday meal, she mentioned getting vouchers for rock-climbing lessons from work. He said it sounded like a laugh and when should they go? She’d seemed…..hesitant, like she didn’t want to go with him. He told her to go and take Patrick rock-climbing as that was obviously what she wanted to do. Told her she clearly didn’t think he held a candle to Patrick, so if she was having an affair she should bloody well have the guts to tell him so they could go their separate ways.

She stormed off. He saw her next in the morgue. Love the frankness of this statement! Hit by a drunk driver, they said. That was three weeks ago. He’s barely slept since. Not cried once.

This was the place. He hammered on the door until it opened, then threw the flowers in the face of the man who stood there.

“What the….” He was slightly taller than Simon, more muscled but Simon was past caring. He stepped forward, fists clenched.

“I’m Simon Kelly – Marianne’s boyfriend! Wasn’t it enough, shagging her behind my back? I saw the note you left – desperate for another after-work session! But you’re not leaving her flowers and letting everyone else know I wasn’t enough for her!”

Shock and then realisation crossed the other’s face and then…..was it pity?

“Marianne? She was helping him draft a speech! He was running out of time!”

“I don’t….what? Him?”

“I’m David. Patrick’s my boyfriend!”

And the grief hits him.

I do have some questions:
1. If Marianne's activities were so innocent, why was she lying about them?
2. Related question: what is it about writing a speech for someone that would require her to hide this information?
3. Was she using rock climbing as an excuse to get out of the house, or was she really planning to do that? If the latter, why would she appear not to want her boyfriend there?
4. If she wasn't having an affair, why didn't she correct Simon when he confronted her about it?

General comments:
I have often struggled with flash fiction because I try to make too much "happen" in the story. After reading this piece, and your introduction, I think we feel each other's pain.

You do a great job of starting in-scene, then cutting out briefly to give context, then jumping back in-scene. That really worked. I do think, however, that the scene from the grave to the end moved too fast for flash. What I mean is that I think you were trying to do too much in a short period of time. I also think that perhaps the final revelation was a little too overt. There is much to be said for subtlety, especially in shorter pieces.

I believe that you could tell the same story and increase the emotional impact if you choose to focus on a time period of, say, 5 minutes rather than 30 (or more?).

For example, to condense the action and focus on the character and his emotions, your story could narrate five minutes of the character's life during which he may be reflecting upon the last few months of Marianne's life.

And for example, to be more subtle about the revelation (and possibly increase the emotional impact), the scene you describe could be Simon going through Marianne's things, during which time he sees something (much like the minutes on which was inscribed Patrick's notes) that shows her as innocent of the crime he thinks she's committed.

All that to say, you have a great start here and I would look forward to see how you would develop it.
 

Elenita

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I believe that you could tell the same story and increase the emotional impact if you choose to focus on a time period of, say, 5 minutes rather than 30 (or more?).

I agree, I think you have some good, interesting characters here and it would pull the reader in more with a greater emotional impact in the story.
 

maxfisherb

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Hit by a drunk driver, they said.[/FONT]

Hello C! I am very pleased to read your story. I would like to say that I am new to this board (this is actually my first response). So I hope my feedback is as helpful as I intend for it to be.

Your writing started with some amazing imagery and the development of Simon's character was extraordinary: I really felt the uncertainty Simon was feeling surrounding Marianne's life, and I enjoyed how his uncertainty was even expressed in her death when you wrote the quote above.
I wish you would have used the amazing imagery from the beginning of your story throughout your piece. I was very connected to the scene you were describing at the beginning, but I felt much more disconnected to the scene of the morgue. Simon was obviously angry, but I had trouble feeling that anger through him. In psychology, anger is often described as a secondary emotion, or an emotional reaction to another emotion. Was Simon angry because he was sad that he lost his girlfriend twice (once to Patrick and once to a drunk driver)? Or was he angry because of the guilt he felt for allowing his wife to leave after a fight, which caused her to get hit by the drunk driver and he is taking it out on Patrick? Or is it something else? I feel like if you used your amazing talent in creating imagery to explore Simon's anger, the reader would connect much more to your piece.
Also, why was David there without Patrick? Did he have a relationship with Marianne? The twist ending of Patrick being gay was very clever and innovative, but it felt like a very abrupt ending.
Overall, you wrote an amazing piece of flash fiction and you have a profound way with words and imager. Nicely done, C!
 

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