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"Offer" WC 800 - a try with flash fiction

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Old 06-29-2016, 05:43 PM
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Icon7 "Offer" WC 398 - a try with flash fiction


"Offer" (new WC 398)

Keru's darted vision spotted a pond. He rushed.

Huh! Mirage again...

He knew that every time. But miracles can happen in this world... They will. They really will...someday. He fell to his knees. With his blurred vision, Keru looked at the little girl in his arms, coughing and wheezing. Her face reddened, her eyes watered and her grip tightened on her father's ragged shirt.

"Haha! Useless efforts."

A voice touched his ears and the man approached him, laughing. Why was he still there? The man took out a bottle from his knee length white coat pocket. "See, it's here. So easy to get."

Water... Transparent. Shining...

Keru quickly reached out but that man pulled his hand away. "Our bargain first."

Keru shook his head.

"You don't want to pay such a low cost?"

Low cost? Keru stared at him and untied the light leather bottle from his back. Light. Empty. Yes but... He shook the bottle. Just one drop. Please only one drop to sooth Lona's chapped lips and sore throat.

"Ok then you don't need this. Fine." The man opened the lid and Keru saw the shining stream of water splashing and seeping into the sand. He laid the gasping little girl down, raced and cupped the fluid in his trembling hands. But the water had already disappeared in the ground. Keru sat down, holding his head in his hands.

"Pa...pa..." Between gasps and coughs, Keru heard Lona's whisper.

Keru kissed her burning cheek and patted her back gently. Her coughing reduced a little, then she breathed deeply, pulled her father's sleeve. Then her grip weakened, her eyes closed and her gasping stopped. "Lona..." He shook her. No response. Her heart beat went slower and slower. Keru was breathless. What if Lona... like his wife... No, no. Fear surged through his body. He embraced her and tears trickled down his tanned, gaunt face.

The man smirked, "You're the one responsible for her condition. You selfish father." He turned towards his white van with flashing red lights.

Selfish Father?
Yes he was, caring for his own life not Lona's. Keru grabbed the man's leg with tears glittering in his pleading sunken eyes. The man grinned. "So, you ready?" He had a shine in his eyes behind his glasses.
Keru nodded.
"Great!" The man laughed, threw a bottle towards Keru and grabbed his arm. "Now the water's yours and your kidney is mine. "

-------------------------------------------

Hi everyone ☺ I'm a learner of story writing and English language. This is my try with the flash fiction. I need your guidance and encouragement. Please guide me about :
Is this piece qualify as a flashfiction? If not how to convert it into that?
Story beginning. Was it attention getting?
Middle, did you get what's going on?
Ending, good or bad?Your reaction?
Characters, are they understandable?
Was I able to explain their personalities and situations?
What details are missing?
Imagery?can you see that happening?
Emotions. Did you feel something?
SPaG?
Anything else good or bad about the story?
Thanks for taking time to read☺


Last edited by Beginner writer; 07-09-2016 at 11:06 AM.. Reason: Altered the story
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Old 07-02-2016, 04:38 AM
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Keru's skin felt like burning (good, but imagery can be made stronger. You want to make it so that the reader can experience with the character. So for example "Keru's skin burned a bright red under the unforgiving sun". you communicate the surrounding and the state of his skin. Or something like "Keru's skin burnt and the heat that rolled off his bare arms and neck in-prisoned him in an invisible cage." you get the idea. When working with imagery, focus on nouns that can be touched, headed, smelt in addition to sight. Also, verbs are good. For example, it it more powerful to say the heat rolled off his skin rather than just he was hot? You get the motion in the description.). Sweat dripped from his creased forehead and soaked in his ragged shirt. He squinted in the burning sunshine ("sun" will do). Strong big huts in front of him were cool shelters in the stinging sun. Fortunate people.
A heap of mud and many straws (Two things: first, "many" is not needed and "straw" doesn't need the "s". That's just a grammar thing. Second, is this relevant? Was the straw what what was once their home? If so, I don't see it's significance. If it is once their shelter, then it could possibly stay as it creates a contrast with the strong shelters. If it is not, than it's better to remove it. When considering this piece as flash fiction, keep only what needs to explain the story and remove all that are irrelevant. Remember also how we talked about flash fiction needing more space than a short story or a novel.) dispersed before him on the ground. That cruel storm (rather than this sentence and the previous one, I would personally use remove both and in its place do more work in showing the state of poverty of the two so that the choice that the father needs to make becomes more urgent. If you want this to be flash fiction, you can't afford to move slowly. You need to hit the reader hard and as often as possible given it's a short piece.). Keru looked at his little girl lying sweat covered on the hot sand in the shade of a hut, gasping (Good start, try to strengthen the desperation. Create the cause for conflict. Remember previous comments on strong imagery and see if you can apply them here.). She had collapsed again. He ran his fingers in her hair. (This sentence can be joined with the next one. Also, "in" should be "through" You run fingers through hair because the motion makes the hair run across your fingers. Your fingers don't go into the actual strands of hair.) Tears trickled down his tanned, gaunt face and fell on Lona's face (Well, this is not wrong, but using "face" twice so close together makes the sentence awkward to read. See if you can find another word. "dripped onto her cheek" or "dried onto the tip of Luna's nose). She opened her eyes.

"Pa...pa, water..."

Keru untied the leather water bottle from his back. Empty... He knew that, still he hoped a drop would slipped out of its corner into Lona's mouth. Ah, no use. He threw the bottle away and raised his head. That cloudless sky...

"Wat...er..." Lona pleaded again. Her hopeful glance at her father broke Keru's heart. How useless as a father he was, not even able to provide his daughter with water. His legs ached of running for the water mirages in hope of them being real but he had to do something.

"Here, take this." That man stood before Keru with a bottle in his hand. Water...
(the man coming into the story is too abrupt and takes the reader out from the story. Better transition is needed. It can be done with a few words like: after the man speaks "Keru's eyes drifted to the man who still stood waiting for an answer". Immediately, we understand that the man had been there all along and that his presence has something to do with the conflict of the story. We also sense the pressure as we realise that the man had been watching and waiting all this time. Also, this way you save a sentence as you won't need to explain in the next sentence about the offer. You can simply go into Keru's thoughts "no, he couldn't pay the price")
He reached out but quickly pulled his hand away. No, he would not take it. He couldn't pay the price and that man...still standing there from an hour talking about his offer.
"Take it." He (This is for clarity. Since you used "he" in the last sentence to refer to Keru, it would be clearer to the reader who is the speaker in this paragraph if you said "the man" instead of "he" again.) said again. Keru shook his head. What if he demanded to do that?
(not sure what this question refers to. The choice obviously, but at this point we still have no idea what the choice is. It would work however, if you said something like, "what if he agreed to the bargain" because this gives more information to make the story clear. We know from before that there is a question asked by the man, that Keru is pressured to answer, but now, we also know that it is a bargain. The word carries with it then, all the possibilities of a trade with consequences. And so you build up the tension.) Lona coughed hard. Keru took her in (Grammar: should be "pulled her onto") his lap and patted her back gently. Not enough. Her sore throat could only be relived (wrong spelling. Should be "relieved", but I think a better word to use would be "sooth")) by water. He sighed. Not looking straight in (should be "into". Also, here is an opportunity to deepen and develop the conflict. how does he look into the eyes of the man? This will show what kind of person the father is.) his eyes, Keru took the bottle from his hand.

Transparent, shining water.

Ignoring his chapped lips and dry throat, Keru put it to Lona's mouth. She gulped the water. Relieved from the cough and thirst, Lona closed her eyes and slept. Keru watched her anxiously. She was his only reason to be alive in this cruel world after his wife's death. He kissed her burning cheek. Her face was pale from hunger. That barren land, no plants to eat, no animals to capture. Just rodents popping out of the holes, quick enough to escape from his grasp.
They had only eaten recently when a half dead rabbit fell from a vulture's beak. (Double check this, but I never heard of vultures carrying dead animals. From what I understand, they land beside the dead animal and eat from the ground and leave when they're done.) Ah, the hunger, the thirst, the deprivations...harsh life.

That (I would use "this" because it focuses the attention on the man and this is no random man.) man...had the solution.

He was one of them (Change to either "the men" or "those men") wearing long white coats, who visited Keru's village often, taking a few villagers with them. When those people returned, they had big, strong huts and plenty of food and water. Keru always wondered why. (I think this entire paragraph beeves better after the man spoke for the first time. It helps to give background and create setting. It makes the reader ask questions about who these men are.)

Laughing voices took him out of his thoughts. Two kids came running after one another and disappeared in a hut.
Laz' kids.
He (who?) had accepted that man's offer, how happy his kids were. Keru's Lona would also laugh, run and jump around like them, if he...
But his neighbour Jon...
He didn't return and his little son died of hunger recently (I understand you. But "recently" is too abstract. The effect would be better if you say specifically a day like yesterday or two days ago.). He hadn't even got the hut. If Keru accepted the offer and then could not return.... Lona...Lona will... No, no. Fear surged through his body. Taking the support of the hut wall, Keru stood up. His legs trembled and he fell to his knees. Darkness began to spread everywhere. Water flowed through his dry throat that he drank impatiently.
(clarify, especially the last bit. Is the water his imagination or really happening?)
"Eat this. You can not die like that." Keru heard a voice and as the darkness faded away, he saw the man holding a loaf.

With trembling hands, he took the bread and ate it. As the food reached his stomach, Keru's sleepy mind woke up a little and numbness in his body reduced. He leaned against the side of the hut, staring the (add "at" here) man. Should he accept his offer?
A voice echoed (Think of a stronger word. This is the climax of the story.), "Yes, you have to."
No other option. Accepting the offer could result in his death, but rejecting it means Lona would also... Keru held his head in his hands. The man watched him with a smirk and a shine in his eyes behind glasses. (see if you can make this less wordy and there should be "his" before "glasses")
"You ready?" He asked.
Silence.
The man smiled, "Well then, as you wish."He turned back, looked at Keru out of the corner of his eye, and moved. Keru heart began to pound. One...Two...three... the man's every step was pushing Keru towards his and Lona's terrifying future. He was leaving...Keru's only hope was leaving (should be "to leave". What you have here can work in terms of his only choice is leaving, like the choice has grown legs and is going away. If that makes sense haha. What I believe you are trying to say, is that he has no option except to go with the man, so to leave. Sorry about the extremely bad explanation. Both works and the first is implied by the man walking away, so there is no need to say it again.). He could not leave Lona alone in this cruel world, still he could not see Lona pleading for food. He had to take the risk. Keru reached out and grabbed the man's coat. He stopped and turned. (This is what we call a dialogue gag. It describes the action of the speaker. As this action belongs to that man who speaks and not to Keru, this should be moved down to the next paragraph just before the quotation marks.)
"So finally you decided?"
Keru nodded.
"Great!" The man laughed. "Now your kidney is mine and food is yours." (For better effect, I would switch the last sentence around so it becomes "Now food is yours and your kidney is mine". it just reads more sinister with the minor thing coming first, then the final revolution of what the bargain is all about.)

Ok, good restart. Your imagery is getting better. I would try to keep sentences as not wordy as possible. This is generally a good practice, but even more important with flash fiction. The introduction is good, as it grabs the reader, but the conflict can be established earlier on. I think I would try to tell the exactly same story with less words. This means you would really need to think what should stay and what can go. Flash fiction needs space; this means you need to word things so that the reader can infer what you mean without exactly telling them out right. Also, one thing to look for is my comment on the constant use of "he". Go though the story and see where you can replace 'he" with either "Keru" or 'the man" so that it is clear who you refer to. However, using "he" is also fine as long as at the beginning of the paragraph yo establish who you are talking about. As always, my suggestions are just suggestions and you can use them or just have them as guidance. i hope this helps and ask me any questions
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Old 07-04-2016, 06:46 PM
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Thank you so much for your kind detailed critique, Elisa☺ I've altered the story a little and have tried to focus on the imagery and the space for imagination. I tried not to make the mistakes again that you mentioned. Now what do you think about the story?
does it qualify as flash fiction now?
Removing the unwanted details make the story better or lacking?
Altering and the rearrangement of events make it strong or weak in terms of emotions?
How are the characters?
I had a hard time sequencing the events of the story. Which event should be stated in the beginning and which at the middle or ending? I mean to make the story attention getting and interesting?

Thanks again for your guidance☺
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Old 07-05-2016, 09:20 PM
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It's much better, in my opinion. It is much more focussed and the tension is coming along well. There is still more you can do to get rid of to make it flow better. Do you want me to do an edit like before and tell you how to make it smoother or do you want to try yourself first? The story is gripping yes, but there is still space for improving transitions. With writing you never stop learning

Now, since I am not an expert in flash fiction, I'd like to know what the people from where you first posted the story said. Maybe I could work off of some of what they say and try to help you improve. We will learn together
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:47 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement ☺ I think I will try myself first and if I could not, give me some hint☺

Also I wanted to ask, I removed the intro of the man. So did it affect the story? Or it wasn't necessary?
The knee length white coat explains something about the man?
Is the story little better because I reduced the inner monologue of Keru and tried to show his thoughts through his actions?

Last edited by Beginner writer; 07-06-2016 at 08:55 PM..
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Old 07-08-2016, 04:08 AM
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Ok, with this edit, I focused on the comments you received and I marked places of opportunity to add in what the comments suggested. I also make more grammar corrections, but this wasn't my focus this time. If any of my comments sound confusing, just ask and I will clarify.

Keru blinked, clearing his blurred vision and looked at the gasping, sweat covered little girl lying on the ground in the shade of a hut. Lona had collapsed again. (This will make a very strong beginning. I suggest this as first sentence. Also, to make the sentence itself stronger, I would make it more active in voce like so "LLola collapsed again". Right away, the reader is faced with a problem and mystery; as this is a short piece, you must hit the reader hard as often as possible.) Keru ran his fingers through her hair. Her eyelashes shivered and she opened her eyes, coughing and wheezing badly. (I also agree that it will be wise to focus more on the girl as it is emotional. Describe with one or two sentences her state, let the reader experience her suffering. Don't worry, when the draft is done, we can remove unneeded words and so the length shouldn't be much changed. In my view, the paragraph would be quite strong if constructed like that: Sentence 2 as 1. Sentence 1 as 2. Sentence 3 unmoved. Add 1 or 2 sentences of Lola suffering. End paragraph the sentence of her opening her eyes. This will then link nicely with her words.)

"Pa...pa wa...ter."

Keru quickly pulled her onto his lap, patting her back. No use. Keru untied the leather water bottle from his back. Empty... He knew that, still he hoped a drop would slipped out of its corner into Lona's mouth. Nothing. He threw the bottle away.

Keru squinted around the dry, barren land in the burning sun, raised his head towards the clear sky and sighed. No hope. Tears glittering in his sunken eyes rolled down his tanned, gaunt face. He grabbed his aching legs for (I think this should be "from" sorry i missed it the first time round.) Also, perhaps a slight rearrange of words would make the sentence smoother "He grabbed his legs; they still ached from running after the water mirages.") running for the water mirages and turned a pleading gaze on the man who still stood there waiting for an answer. The man smiled, taking a bottle out of the pocket of his knee length white coat. "Take it." (Somewhere here would be good to give a bit more information that hints at what the men in white coats are, since you mention the white coat here. Again, half or one sentence will do. The idea is to plant an idea in the reader's head about who these men are. The reader don't need to agree with what you think they are; the important thing here, is to suggest that these men are somehow dangerous.)

Transparent, shining water...

Keru quickly reached out but then pulled his hand back. What if he agreed to the bargain. (This is a good place to make suggestions of the risk Keru may face if he made the deal.) The man laughed, "Why? You don't need this?" Keru heart pounded. "Okay then." (As this is a new speaker, it was the man before and now it's Keru, it should be in its own paragraph) The man opened the lid and Keru saw the shining stream of water from the tilted bottle seeping into the ground. No... Keru cupped the fluid in his trembling hands and poured to (Change to "it into" grammar.) Lona's mouth that she swallowed with a gulp. Relieved, (Grammar. This should be "gulp, relieved.".) Lona closed her eyes and slept. Keru took a deep breath. He kissed her burning cheek. What if like his wife Lona had.... He shook his head. The man watched them with a shine in his eyes behind his glasses.
"So you decided?"
Keru gulped. No... He wouldn't. (Here is another place where you can include the risk Keru would face if he made the deal. If you use this opportunity, then it should build on the previous time when he thinks of the risk. Perhaps the first time he considers the smaller consequences and here he considers the much bigger one.) Cradling Lona, he dragged himself up against the wall of the hut, moved his heavy, numb legs and ran, staggering. Suddenly his legs trembled, his body felt weightless and he fell to his knees. Lona... (Should this be in quotations?) He whispered. The burning sensation of his skin, the stinging sun, the blurred sky screaming vultures and the man's warning calls, all disappeared in deep darkness.

Cool (Grammar, should be an "A" before "cool") stream of fluid wetted Keru's chapped lips and sore throat and he opened his eyes finding himself leant (change to "leaning" to make it active voice, unless, yo mean the man had put him there. If so, ignore this moment.) against the side of a hut.
"You fool, running away from your bright future?"
(After what the man says here, you can add in what yo mean by the bright future. It can be as short as "choosing this life over one where yo will have no shortage of food and medicine for your daughter?" it can be shorter than this even, as I just made it up in a second, so it's not the best possible way to put it. But you understand what I mean.)
Keru's eyes drifted towards the man's angry face. Lona... Keru looked around. She was lying besides (Grammar, no "s" at the end) him, sleeping. He took a deep breath.
"Here eat this, you cannot die like this." The man gave him a loaf. Keru stared the bread and looked at Lona's pale face. He turned his head where a few dry bones were dispersed here and there. Ah those cruel vultures, not leaving anything. Keru took a bite from the loaf. Soft, sweet and tasty, slowly fading away the numbness of his body. He tied the remaining loaf in his torn shawl, ignoring his stomach pleadings. The man watched him with a smirk.
"Ready?" He asked.
Keru stared the ground. What to choose? His daughter's pleadings for food or his own death.
"So, you don't want to accept? Alright." The man turned, looked at him from the corners of his eyes and moved. Keru was breathless. He grabbed the man's coat and pulled. The man stopped, turned and laughed, "Great! Now the food is yours and your kidney is mine."
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Old 07-09-2016, 10:54 AM
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Thank you so much Elisa ☺ I've rewritten the story. What do you think? Was I able to provide the missing details? Is there still something missing? I'm having a little trouble introducing the man. Is it clear now who he is?
I've now focused on a single moment, removing the rest. Is it qualify as a flash fiction now?
I began the story by show Keru's anxiety then showed Lona's pain. Was that powerful enough?
Did I explained Lona's pain properly as you suggested?
I feel the ending a bit lacking. What do you think?
Also Keru's reason for rejecting the offer is clear or not?
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Old 07-09-2016, 09:48 PM
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I think the man's role can be introduced more, for example, maybe Keru reads something written on the van's side.

The emotion is much better, so definitely keep that. The introduction also show the situation well.

I don't know if this would be considered flash fiction or a scene. Maybe post it in the other site and see what they say? Then also let me know.

But I think it's much better, and you cut out lots of unneeded things.
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Old 07-09-2016, 10:37 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement☺
About the man, I thought about the words written on van but Keru doesn't know how to read so, I didn't add the point.
I'll post it there, let's see what they think about it☺
A question ☺ why do you think it can be a scene instead of flash fiction? I mean because it's not telling a complete story?

Last edited by Beginner writer; 07-09-2016 at 10:58 PM..
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Old 07-10-2016, 02:30 AM
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Yes, that's right. In addition to my previous comments, in flash fiction, you really need to work on strong nouns and verbs to get the idea across. This will not only save you words, but also make the story hit the reader harder.

Here is a link of a a journal that specialises in publishing flash fiction and I think they captured the essentials. You will see that my comments about stronger nouns and verbs is also mentioned by them.

http://flashfictiononline.com/main/2...flash-fiction/

And yes, do send me a PM about what they say. You are improving, and the good thing about writing is that you can only improve not get worse. So keep at it

oh, also, I was thinking how to suggest who the man in the white coat is. Keri cannot read, but perhaps he sees something poking out of one of the man's pocket. You can describe it so it's clear that Keru has no idea what is it, but the reader will immediately recognise it as something that belongs to a doctor or scientist, which ever the man in the coat really is.
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Last edited by Elisa/win; 07-11-2016 at 06:10 PM..
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