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If I Die Before I Wake... (Read 1752 times)
ezimmerman
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If I Die Before I Wake...
Feb 12th, 2012, 10:00am
 
Hi just a little background on my story.

I saw the theme and wanted to do something different? I did a quick brain storming session with my co-author and threw around ideas like; a plague that makes everyone euphoric, or a plague that takes away everyone's inhibitions, or something like that.

I just sat down and thought about the Emergency Broadcast System (changed to the EAS in the 90's). So I started doing research on what an "official" EAS message would be. I started the story with that. It sounded haunting right off the bat. One of my original ideas was the have the world go to hell in a hand basket but this family was going to be watching it all on the TV. We had the idea of the president talk about using duct tape to seal all the openings. Then a commercial was going to come on from some big retailer talking about their sale on duct tape with a happy jingle. But at only 1000 words it got to be too much.

So what I ended up with is this story that is dark and sad and depressing (fun huh!). I intentionally left the characters names out of the story so the reader could more easily imagine them as their mom or daughter or family or friends? I wanted the reader to be able to imagine them as anybody.

Also I had fun writing in the presidents "voice". Every time I read the story I heard the president (I more hear Fred Armison's version of the president from SNL, but still).

Well I hope you all enjoy it. If you have any feedback or thought I would love to hear it.

Thanks everyone

Eric Zimmerman
www.starlighttree.com
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Webbie
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #1 - Feb 12th, 2012, 10:47am
 
Nice having a little background on a story and the author for that matter.

Quote:
I did a quick brain storming session with my co-author and threw around ideas


I wonder how other authors work?


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ezimmerman
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #2 - Feb 13th, 2012, 10:59am
 
There are some stories that require a lot of work to get out. Then there are some that almost seem to write themselves.

The ones that write themselves are the special ones, but they are also the ones that don't come around very often. When you get into that "zone" and a story just comes out it's very special indeed.

This story took me 2 to 3 hours to write, then another day to edit, rewrite, edit again, then finish.
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #3 - Mar 1st, 2012, 5:12pm
 
I liked your story. As a mother I can identify with what this family was going through. You caught the mood exactly.
I guess there aren't going to be too many of these plague stories with a happy, cheery theme, huh?
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ezimmerman
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #4 - Mar 2nd, 2012, 8:38am
 
Thank you Adreinne, that is very kind of you, I'm flattered!

I tried to make the family believable and I wanted the reader to connect with them, yet keep the characters "generic" enough to be anybody. I also really wanted them to make as much of an impact as possible yet really have very few lines or scenes in the story, whihc I think (I hope) I did.

There is 1 or 2 changes I wish I could have made to the story now that I look back at it, but overall I'm happy eith it Smiley
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C.N.Pitts
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #5 - Mar 19th, 2012, 7:23pm
 
Okay, I'm Old School AR from back in the "golden age" (my words) that you referred to in the other post when you called for more commenting on stories. I am absolutely, 100% behind that idea.

At the risk of donning the mantle of oldfart-ery, badly missed are the days when every single story produced a 20+ posting here on the board. One of the highest points I ever enjoyed in the early stages of my writing was a story I did for a contest here back in... 2005, 2006? Anyway, the contest theme was Super Heroes, and my entry was about a comic book artist who snapped over how the corporation was taking his character in a new direction. It ended with the guy on the roof in his hero's costume, telling his secretary that he really was the hero, jumping out into the night. To this day it is still one of my favorite flash pieces.

Must have been two weeks the discussion raged on over whether he fell or if he flew. (I never told, still haven't, lol).

For that matter the first story I ever posted here earned me a few solid criticisms over a really poor similie I chose to use, the first ever criticism I ever got as a writer and what turned out to be the first step towards me becoming an actual writer, not just a hopeful one. Tongue

So merry christmas, sit back, grab a cup of Earl Grey and enjoy a ride in the Wayback machine back to the glory days of critique, AR style...

From a technical stanpoint, there were a few issues that would have made the story work better for me. There were a couple of typos - (Eifel tower, not Eiffel, and Yersina Pestis not Yersinia Pestis, (although I grant you that one may have been purposeful). From a purely writing standpoint, I absolutely loved that you made the characters generic and nameless in order to have them be "anyone." Ordinarily, that is a huge mistake and a major no-no since it is widely accepted wisdom that a reader cannot relate to a nameless character. In this one story though, it worked and worked perfectly. BUT... (there's always a but). Your story starts with "the girl," who is the central character. You then call the secondary character "mom," and while I understand why you did it, it doesn't work as well as it could.

The story is how the plague affects the girl, and her mother. The girl is the focus, the mother is secondary. It's a much more gut-wrenching tale if you back the mom out of the spotlight and focus on the girl. I read it through twice. First time as writ, second time I substituted "her mother" every time I saw "mom," and it was much more powerful since it focused the entire story then upon the girl, and made the end about a hundred times more emotionally affecting. If you are gonna write a story with no names, only one of them can lead.

The only other writing titch was the continuity errors. The wind doesn't blow west-east around the globe. If the whole planet is covered in less than a week, why is the girl still alive? It would have been better to have the murder scene within two days, not 12. Although I do get that you probably picked twelve so it fell outside of the really neat little death-day countdown bit you had there at the end. I probably would have gone with just casino names rather than naming landmarks in that one scene as well, to avoid confusion. It can be read to be actual New York getting wiped out rather than the vegas casino, which throws the reader out of your timeline.

That being said -

Dude, I absolutely LOVED your story. The idea was brilliant, and the ending was powerful. This is one or two re-writes away from being a classic piece of flash fiction. Win or lose, good points or bad, you wrote something that really affected me when I read it. As a writer, I wish it was better. I wish it was as good as it could be and had fewer flaws. As a reader, holy hell. I had to go hug my daughter after that.

Kudos.

And that, new kids, is how AR rolls.  ;D
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C.N.Pitts
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #6 - Mar 19th, 2012, 7:44pm
 
Ps, never use an exclamation mark outside of dialogue.
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #7 - Mar 22nd, 2012, 1:24pm
 
Quote:
Okay, I'm Old School AR from back in the "golden age" (my words) that you referred to in the other post when you called for more commenting on stories. I am absolutely, 100% behind that idea.



Nice to see you back Smiley

http://www.anotherealm.com/contest/super.html
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C.N.Pitts
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #8 - Mar 22nd, 2012, 8:12pm
 
Webbie, I will always love this place. You wanna be a REAL writer, this is home. Smiley

Thanks for digging that up. darn, I used to be pretty good at this, lol.
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ezimmerman
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #9 - Mar 26th, 2012, 12:32pm
 
Thanks C.N. I really apprecaite the positive's and the constructive criticism. I am still working on becoming a better writer and it's this criticism I need.

As for some of your points. I probably should have let it sit for a few days before submitting, but I got so caught up in the story! After I saw it published I saw a couple of things I would have changed, not everything you pointed out, (I wish you were a proofreader for me!!), but a few.

One thing i noticed is that I gave ths story a location, and I wish I would have changed that to be more of an "anyplace".

Once again thank you for the great feedback. I'm going to use that to become a better writer! It's very much appreciated!

Eric Zimmerman
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C.N.Pitts
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Re: If I Die Before I Wake...
Reply #10 - Mar 26th, 2012, 6:59pm
 
Dude, you really are on the cusp of brilliance. Raw as it was, that's powerful piece.

There are two phases to being a genuine writer in this day and age... you need to have the imagination to crank out stories that can grab people and rip out their hearts. You have to be able to make your reader end up feeling/thinking/saying the words "holy hell!" Regardless of genre, length, subject... every single piece needs to end with the reader really FEELING it. Particularly with flash fiction. You've got that.

http://www.insidiousreflections.com/pdfs/InsidiousReflectionsVol1Issue1.pdf

Scroll down until you find "That Which Lingers," by Brian Keene. The man may be a douchenozzle, but if you ever want to see the dictionary definition of every single thing that flash fiction needs to be to work, THAT is the frigging story to read.

I have one of my favorite stories that I ever did in that mag as well, so bonus! lol

The other thing you need is technical skill. Mastering all of the aspects of writing so that you avoid the common crap that drags your story down. The cliches, the bad writing, the over-use of adverbs, the bad similies, the continuity errors... in a nutshell, the hack-writer bullshit. The "common mistakes that all new writers make." It's not enough to have vision... you need to have the technical skills to present that vision to a reader without giving them a single technicality which they can get tossed out of your story by.

Writing is one half imagination, one half skill. You have nailed the imagination bit, but the skill part is still raw.

I cannot stress it enough - focus on the skill aspects of writing. Learn everything you can about the technical aspects of writing. You do that, and in a couple of years from now you will be a genuine force in this business.
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