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Toil and Trouble (Flash: 499 words)

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Old 09-04-2015, 04:49 AM
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Default Toil and Trouble (Flash: 499 words)


“Did you add it?”

Jay looked up from the table, his brow knit with concentration that quickly morphed into frustration. “What do you fucking think?”

“Alright,” I said, holding my hands up. “It’s just the boss said we couldn’t have any mistakes like last time.

Jay sneered. “Last time wasn’t no mistake, man. You know it and boss man knows it.”

“Hey man, I know. I’m just telling you what I’ve been told. Alright?”

Jay held the stare for a long 10 seconds before bending back down over his work.

My mouth twisted in consternation. I’d been stuck standing for an hour watching this fool creating the base elements for the potion. Jay was good, I had to admit. I wouldn’t have had the patience to do all the cutting and grinding of all those tiny bones and bits of flowers.

“It’s just – . Jay, it’s just that last time the boss turned into a lizard. The committee laughed him right out of the room.” I couldn’t stop myself. When I get anxious, my mouth goes rogue. “He can’t have that kind of fuck-up happening again. The saffron’s gotta be perfect this time.”

My mouth opened again to continue but the look on Jay’s face put me quiet. He pointed a red encrusted pestle at me, jabbing it forward to punctuate every word.

“Listen to me, man. You ain’t dropping this on me. I worked the potion right. And I put the saffron in perfect. There was nothing wrong with my end.”

I put up my hands again and tried to apologize, say I was on his side or something but he cut me off.

“Uh-uh, you listen. I saw what boss man did.”

The look of confusion on my face made Jay laugh so hard he had to back away from the table so he didn’t disturb the cuttings or piles of blue and yellow powder.

“What – what do you mean you saw?”

Jay’s smile was toothy. “I’ve been in this game too long to not take precautions, man.”

“What type of precautions?”

Jay snorted. “Let’s just say I got eyes on my potions. Protects me from clients takin’ advantage of me.”

I crossed my arms, not liking what I was hearing. The boss didn’t like being watched. But I also didn’t like knowing the boss did something wrong. It didn’t sit right with me.

“You know how to take the potion, right pipsqueak?”

“Yeah,” I admitted begrudgingly.

“You take the vial: one circle clockwise and one counterclockwise. Bite three threads of saffron in half, swallowing them while spitting the other halves out an open window, and down the vial.” I grunted. “Mr. boss man didn’t spit out them other halves.”

“Bullshit,” I said, realizing too late the word lacked all conviction.

Jay smirked. “Yah, bullshit. The defenestration’s the most important part to any transformation spell. Wasn’t my fault. And sure as shit wasn’t the saffron’s fault.”

The boss was losing it. What did that mean for me?
Music: Tori Amos

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Last edited by pswgear; 09-12-2015 at 09:35 AM..
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Old 09-04-2015, 08:40 PM
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Hi pswgear.

I'm tickled as I write this. I had a wide smile all the way through though the reading.

And, for the life of me, I'm not sure what I read. But I didn't miss knowing. Your skill here is language and dynamics. Very enjoyable. Excellent dynamics and dialogue.

So, what were they making? I guess it doesn't matter... However I got confused by the music reference at the end. (?)

I had a bummer day but this really cheered me and I can go to bed with a smile. Thank you.

Have a nice writing day.
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Old 09-05-2015, 02:45 AM
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Really good. Excellent flow and short precise dialouge. I felt the opening few lines could be better, a sentence after the first thing you say just to grab our attention. Also maybe change one of the concentrations to another word, don't want to use the same descriptive word twice in such a short space of time but other than that pretty enjoyable couple minutes of reading. Thanks
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Old 09-06-2015, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by wrc View Post
However I got confused by the music reference at the end. (?)
So glad I could help make you smile after a bummer of a day! The music reference is just an indication of what I was listening to as I wrote the piece. For some reason I like to keep track of what I listen to while writing.

I felt the opening few lines could be better, a sentence after the first thing you say just to grab our attention. Also maybe change one of the concentrations to another word, don't want to use the same descriptive word twice in such a short space of time but other than that pretty enjoyable couple minutes of reading. Thanks
Cheers; some great advice there. Very much appreciated.
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:57 PM
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Nice work. I like the dialogue. The characters are well thought out too. I like that there's no physical description of anyone, or anything really. It's admirable.
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Old 09-07-2015, 12:52 PM
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The writing was great as usual.

Even for a flash piece, it still felt a little incomplete to me. I felt like the little piece of plot you showed wasn't quite enough to carry the story; the characterization carried the story instead.

Maybe reveal a little more plot, so character and plot can share the weight of the story a little more evenly.
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Old 09-08-2015, 12:30 PM
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Love the dialogue and characterisation. I do feel as if this is more of a scene than a flash piece as the ending is a bit too abrupt. It would be interesting to see this developed into a long piece.

The only other comment I have is that the constant use of :"smirk" on Jay's part and "hold up my arms" on the narrator's part is a bit annoying after the second time. Try to vary action so that characters is less one diminutional.

Had me grinning all the way though. Thank you and keep writing!
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Old 09-08-2015, 04:55 PM
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This reads more like a script piece - it is very dialogue heavy.

However, you handle the flow of dialogue fairly well. There are some flabby bits in there - particularly where the MC appears to parrot back what Jay has said (e.g. -- "I took precautions" -- "What type of precautions?").

Dialogue needs to be direct and you have to cut out the repetition of normal speech, but still make it sound authentic (that's the rub).

I also agree that as a flash piece this does not work. There is no context at the beginning that is explained anywhere throughout the piece. Then, as Elisa/Win suggested, the abrupt ending leaves the reader feeling a little cheated, with too many unanswered questions.

Best of luck with you writing.
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Old 09-09-2015, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by risk10 View Post
There are some flabby bits in there - particularly where the MC appears to parrot back what Jay has said (e.g. -- "I took precautions" -- "What type of precautions?").

Dialogue needs to be direct and you have to cut out the repetition of normal speech, but still make it sound authentic (that's the rub).
The parroting is actually quite a common trope of human speech and interaction. However, it's typically imbued with sarcasm. Perhaps it would have come off more naturally if the parroting had been surrounded in italics?

Originally Posted by risk10 View Post
I also agree that as a flash piece this does not work. There is no context at the beginning that is explained anywhere throughout the piece. Then, as Elisa/Win suggested, the abrupt ending leaves the reader feeling a little cheated, with too many unanswered questions.
I'm quite bored with pieces of flash that are entirely self-contained. So, I'm experimenting quite a bit with dynamic pieces of dialogue and action to see what works and what doesn't. (Here I tried less dialogue and more action: You Can't Eat That)

Fundamentally, Flash can't answer every question in the span of 100 to 500 words - at least in my opinion. However, to suggest there's no context for the piece is not true. There's a problem requiring a reworking of a potion. There's assigned blame that's reassigned over the course of the story.

Of course, me? I'm happy with unanswered questions unless it's due to laziness. I realize that isn't true for everyone.

Thanks so much, y'all, for reading and sharing your thoughts!
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Old 09-09-2015, 07:01 AM
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The structuring and word spacing is pretty good, but I'll leave the ultimate judgement of whether or not the writing style fits the story to others.

Nice work.
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Old 09-10-2015, 07:52 PM
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Hi,
I really enjoyed your piece! It did leave me wanting more background and context, but I believe that within flash fiction that can be expected. However, you seem to have a strong grip on portraying a realistic dialogue, with each character having it's own voice, so kudos to you!
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Old 09-11-2015, 05:36 PM
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back away form the table

Aaargh!
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Old 09-12-2015, 04:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Nick Pierce View Post
back away form the table

Aaargh!
*confused head tilt*
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Old 09-12-2015, 05:51 AM
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[QUOTE=pswgear

The look of confusion on my face made Jay laugh so hard he had to back away form the table so he didnít disturb the cuttings or piles of blue and yellow powder.

[/QUOTE]


Do you see it?
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Old 09-12-2015, 09:35 AM
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sonofabitch.

Cheers for pointing it out.
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Old 09-12-2015, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by pswgear View Post
sonofabitch.

Cheers for pointing it out.

Helping out.

It's what we do.
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