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Old 10-26-2015, 05:47 AM View Post #1 (Link) When Trains Run Late
monthlymuser (Offline)
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September 5, 1876

I hate a Saturday train. I do mean, hate.

Near every gentleman and his lady crowd the cabins, pile the seats and block the windows. It is dark, because no one dares light a candle lest we suffocate and die.

In a full cabin, I stand because I am young. One of the sitting old women says I should stand because I have "good legs". She says, I should be grateful because one day my legs will be weak like hers. I disagree. Her legs would still be strong if she would stand and not sit, I think.

We are almost to Bright Cove when my brown paper sack begins to tear. I panic but cannot react quickly enough. The bright red of an apple shows through like a fresh wound, and the bag's skin gives way. Twenty, perfect, handpicked fruits hit the floor and, on cue, the doors of the cabin open like hell's gates. Suddenly passengers rapidly enter and exit, trampling without remorse.

Tears well up in my eyes. Father's wages are lying there, wasted, in bruised pears, bananas and kiwis. I start to secretly hate that old woman. She should have let me sit with my sack. Yet my hate is unsustainable and immediately I feel guilty for hating a random old woman. She did not make me drop Father's fruits. But then, I think, maybe she did, and I exit the train with a mischievous skip in my step.

Home is east of the station. So I go west, onto the backroads. Eventually, I will return to a fruitless abode. But I will not be empty-handed. With me I will bring the tale of how our treats were stolen, pilfered even, by the conniving of this old woman. The details of her scheming will be unquestionably accurate, perfectly framed. I am innocent. I am a victim. I was accosted. I was betrayed.

And, miraculously, even in all this, I would have still been home on time if the train had not been a little behind schedule.
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~Essay & other formal writing critiques by request.
  
						Last edited by monthlymuser; 10-27-2015 at 02:53 AM.
					
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Old 11-07-2015, 04:09 PM View Post #2 (Link)
Isis (Offline)
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This piece is really effective in creating a character, showing me a time and place, and then making me irritated with that character in a small amount of space. I like that the piece gets it done.

Iím maybe having a hard time imagining where this is. Iím not sure if it matters, because the main study in frustration, pettiness, and character works no matter where this is set. But because I get such a strong sense from the year and the train, Iím trying to get a bigger sense of place as well. I saw a young man going from a city in Britain or the east coast of the US to one of the farming towns outside the city. Makes sense given the place names, the people on the train, and having apples and pears in a paper bag - but bananas and kiwis? Unless the father is an importer of strange fruit rather than a farmer, these seemed out of place to me. I feel like Iím mostly noticing because Iím a broke cook - which means I cook in season, not because itís trendy, but because thatís what I can afford.

Iím also noticing I think because the piece is so short - I feel like every details matters in a flash piece like this for creating setting and character. And when even small details like that seem off, they can color my overall reading of the piece.

Reading it again, maybe the speaker was shopping for the family in the city and then taking the food back to town - makes a little more sense, but still turned me around a little. (And maybe it doesnít matter much either way, but as you can tell - I spent some time re-reading and thinking about this detail).

I feel like one of the overall goals was to show how bitterness and lies can come from frustration, and how easy it can be for some people to put their frustrations and troubles on others. If this was one of the main goals - or just the development of a character like this - I think the piece is effective.

Iíve noticed a couple other flash-fiction-ish pieces like this that youíve posted. Do they all go together?
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Old 11-08-2015, 07:21 PM View Post #3 (Link)
Awkward (Offline)
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My comments will be in blue!


September 5, 1876

I hate a Saturday train. I do mean, hate.

Near Did you mean nearly here?every gentleman and his lady crowd the cabins, pile the seats and block the windows. It is dark, because no one dares light a candle lest we suffocate and die.

In a full cabin, I stand because I am young. One of the sitting old women says I should stand because I have "good legs". She says, I should be grateful because one day my legs will be weak like hers. I disagree. Her legs would still be strong if she would stand and not sit, I think.

We are almost to Bright Cove when my brown paper sack begins to tear. I panic but cannot react quickly enough. The bright red of an apple shows through like a fresh wound, and the bag's skin gives way. Twenty, perfect, handpicked fruits hit the floor and, on cue, the doors of the cabin open like hell's gates. Suddenly passengers rapidly enter and exit, trampling without remorse.

Tears well up in my eyes. Father's wages are lying there, wasted, in bruised pears, bananas and kiwis. I start to secretly hate that old woman. She should have let me sit with my sack. Yet my hate is unsustainable and immediately I feel guilty for hating a random old woman. She did not make me drop Father's fruits. But then, I think, maybe she did, and I exit the train with a mischievous skip in my step.

Home is east of the station. So I go west, onto the backroads. Eventually, I will return to a fruitless abode. But I will not be empty-handed. With me I will bring the tale of how our treats were stolen, pilfered even, by the conniving of this old woman. The details of her scheming will be unquestionably accurate, perfectly framed. I am innocent. I am a victim. I was accosted. I was betrayed.

And, miraculously, even in all this, I would have still been home on time if the train had not been a little behind schedule.
__________________
"They told me I could be anybody... Apparently that's called identity theft."

Rigid formal writer growing into a passionate storyteller. Click-bait specialist. Humor me.

~Essay & other formal writing critiques by request.

The story is well written and I like the general idea, however it is a little vague about any of the setting. Is it modern or in the past? Very little information is given about the character as well as the setting. Other than that I like the story and how you showed some of the internal conflict about what to tell of what happened to the 'wages'
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Old 11-08-2015, 11:34 PM View Post #4 (Link) This post is a reply - don't critique it
monthlymuser (Offline)
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Originally Posted by Isis View Post
This piece is really effective in creating a character, showing me a time and place, and then making me irritated with that character in a small amount of space. I like that the piece gets it done.

Iím maybe having a hard time imagining where this is. Iím not sure if it matters, because the main study in frustration, pettiness, and character works no matter where this is set. But because I get such a strong sense from the year and the train, Iím trying to get a bigger sense of place as well. I saw a young man going from a city in Britain or the east coast of the US to one of the farming towns outside the city. Makes sense given the place names, the people on the train, and having apples and pears in a paper bag - but bananas and kiwis? Unless the father is an importer of strange fruit rather than a farmer, these seemed out of place to me. I feel like Iím mostly noticing because Iím a broke cook - which means I cook in season, not because itís trendy, but because thatís what I can afford.

Iím also noticing I think because the piece is so short - I feel like every details matters in a flash piece like this for creating setting and character. And when even small details like that seem off, they can color my overall reading of the piece.

Reading it again, maybe the speaker was shopping for the family in the city and then taking the food back to town - makes a little more sense, but still turned me around a little. (And maybe it doesnít matter much either way, but as you can tell - I spent some time re-reading and thinking about this detail).

I feel like one of the overall goals was to show how bitterness and lies can come from frustration, and how easy it can be for some people to put their frustrations and troubles on others. If this was one of the main goals - or just the development of a character like this - I think the piece is effective.

Iíve noticed a couple other flash-fiction-ish pieces like this that youíve posted. Do they all go together?
Hey Isis, thank you for the critique!

My original intent for the scenario was a trip to the market. It's in the U.S. but I didn't have a particular destination in mind. With the fruit selection, I was more hesitant about the kiwis, but the idea was that kiwis would have been seen as more exotic and harder to obtain. Like you said, little details like that can make or break a flash fiction piece... I'm considering switching out for a believable fruit.

Also... this and "To the People Who Stare" have similar narrators. My goal is to make each piece consistent with the others while maintaining the ability of each one to "stand alone"... I.e., similar to the Joy Luck Club, but with greater continuity and less character dependence.
__________________
"They told me I could be anybody... Apparently that's called identity theft."

Rigid formal writer growing into a passionate storyteller. Click-bait specialist. Humor me.

~Essay & other formal writing critiques by request.
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