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Hey!! What's the story?

Because this is the first prompt I think I’m going to make it a slightly easy one. But it might prove a lot more surprising that I had it mind.

It’s quite a straight forward assignment. This week the task is to write a scene where a character experiences rain for the very first time in their life.  There’re no limitation to the characters (or their age) so it’s up to you to explain why the rain is important. Try to focus on the feelings and emotions of the character specifically, but everything you can imagine is allowed. Other weather effects (thunder/hail) are allowed but rain has to be the primary focus.

I’m still experiencing a bit with the word count but for now try to write a scene around 400 words.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be complete story, a solitary scene (beginning, ending, mid-scenes, prologue) works just as well. If there are any questions or things that are unclear feel free to ask me.

Happy writing

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Hi Pim, thanks very much for the writing prompt, I had a lot of fun writing the following short piece.  It was a challenge to whittle it down to something resembling the suggested word count (it comes in at 457) but that is often part of the fun/learning process :-)  I'm sorry this response is late and I hope you enjoy reading it.  Here goes:

EMERGENCE


"The time is now."
The words came to Beth Harper, blinking insistently through the gloom of that night's deluge.  They filled her with an inexplicable sense of dread.  That message, along with the man whose Isolacar windshield it flowed across, seemed to be following her.  He was strangely familiar to her, but only in the way of having met someone in a prescient dream.
At Beth's request, her protective Isolocar altered course through the busy streets, her attempt to deter the advances of this strange man.  His knowing smile haunted her now, even as she dialled for a more reassuring dose of Valium-19.  Beth looked out at the crowds of Lowborn, condemned to suffer the searing, poisonous rains with little more than umbrellas and strange conical hats to protect them.
The constant stream of public service broadcasts from the Bureau for Citizen Welfare underscored the slow burn death sentence that was Lowborn life; Beth scanned the latest infobursts: M-CLASS CITIZEN! KNOW YOUR PROTOCOLS: STAY IN YOUR ISOCAR!... ENVIRO-HAZARD LEVELS AT ALL TIME HIGH... 4TH WAR DEBRIS FOUND, EXTREMELY IRRADIATED... and then, suddenly: CAST OFF THE SHACKLES OF THE PUPPET MASTERS, WALK FREE FROM YOUR GLASS PRISONS! SEE THE TRUTH, PEOPLE OF THE M-CLASS... THE TIME IS NOW!
Beth felt a cold rush of panic as a red warning light began to flash in her peripheral vision. Messages about unauthorised access and breaches of environmental protocols bleated in the background.

Her Isolacar had slowed to a halt and was about to open!

Beth closed her eyes and whimpered, knowing that soon enough, the hands of the unwashed Lowborn would be upon her, perpetrating who-knew-what manner of atrocious molestations.

She felt the first of them, a surprisingly light touch on her shoulder.  Beth screamed.  And then a man's voice, low and patient. "Open your eyes. Wake. See the truth."
Beth did as she was told.  All around her, she saw Lowborn staring at her, the rain sluicing off their garments and shelters. The rain!
She raised her hands, finding them trembling, useless things, and waited for them to disintegrate in their first exposure to the downpour, penance for her sheltered life.  The realisation that her hands were not melting punctuated her building shock completely.
Beth looked up at the man she had seen so many times that evening.  She stammered, seeking the words to form a question she had never contemplated asking.  In the end, she only managed, "Why?"
The man smiled gently. "Control."
Beth started to ask another question but the man was already walking away, toward another newly hatched M-class.  He called back to her over his shoulder as he went, saying, "enjoy the rain. This is what it means to be alive. Everything changes now."

Thank you for replying Andrew, I enjoyed reading this.

I love what you did with the concept of the rain, making it a dangerous thing. The emotion you tie to the danger are strangely refreshing. People don't often associate rain with such danger and that's what makes the scene interesting. It's not difficult for me to imagine this scene as a chapter in a novel, that's a characteristic I always enjoy. You even managed to include some world building in the scene, this can be tricky in such a scene, well done.

The twist in the end is good, it makes you wonder if all the protective gears you mention in the first paragraph aren't just simple umbrellas and raincoats. It's simple but very effective. The the moment she feels the rain is executed really well. Beth's expected result stays out and the disbelieve dominates her mind.

Still, I get the feeling that the scene could be even better. I didn't notice much sense describing the feeling of the rain. Describing the touch in detail could really add more tension to the scene. For instance, you could describe the first touches of the rain as burning or acidic, raising the tension for the reader by  making them think it's true. Then you follow up with the real feeling of the rain, allowing the disbelieve to fill both Beth and the reader. 

Likewise I didn't really connect with the with the speech the man is giving her. It works for this scene but I just get the feeling that it could be even more. For me the sentence simply don't hold the amount of tension you'd expect from them. maybe even a bit cheesy, but that's my personal opinion. You might want to pick sentences or actions that invoke more emotions, just so that it does seem strange in the scene

Overall it's a good scene. Nice use of the concept and executed with a focus on invoking feelings with the reader. Great and still with possibilities to make it better.

I hope this feedback as been of some use to you and I'm looking forward to reading more of you work

Pim



Andrew Flood said:

Hi Pim, thanks very much for the writing prompt, I had a lot of fun writing the following short piece.  It was a challenge to whittle it down to something resembling the suggested word count (it comes in at 457) but that is often part of the fun/learning process :-)  I'm sorry this response is late and I hope you enjoy reading it.  Here goes:

EMERGENCE


"The time is now."
The words came to Beth Harper, blinking insistently through the gloom of that night's deluge.  They filled her with an inexplicable sense of dread.  That message, along with the man whose Isolacar windshield it flowed across, seemed to be following her.  He was strangely familiar to her, but only in the way of having met someone in a prescient dream.
At Beth's request, her protective Isolocar altered course through the busy streets, her attempt to deter the advances of this strange man.  His knowing smile haunted her now, even as she dialled for a more reassuring dose of Valium-19.  Beth looked out at the crowds of Lowborn, condemned to suffer the searing, poisonous rains with little more than umbrellas and strange conical hats to protect them.
The constant stream of public service broadcasts from the Bureau for Citizen Welfare underscored the slow burn death sentence that was Lowborn life; Beth scanned the latest infobursts: M-CLASS CITIZEN! KNOW YOUR PROTOCOLS: STAY IN YOUR ISOCAR!... ENVIRO-HAZARD LEVELS AT ALL TIME HIGH... 4TH WAR DEBRIS FOUND, EXTREMELY IRRADIATED... and then, suddenly: CAST OFF THE SHACKLES OF THE PUPPET MASTERS, WALK FREE FROM YOUR GLASS PRISONS! SEE THE TRUTH, PEOPLE OF THE M-CLASS... THE TIME IS NOW!
Beth felt a cold rush of panic as a red warning light began to flash in her peripheral vision. Messages about unauthorised access and breaches of environmental protocols bleated in the background.

Her Isolacar had slowed to a halt and was about to open!

Beth closed her eyes and whimpered, knowing that soon enough, the hands of the unwashed Lowborn would be upon her, perpetrating who-knew-what manner of atrocious molestations.

She felt the first of them, a surprisingly light touch on her shoulder.  Beth screamed.  And then a man's voice, low and patient. "Open your eyes. Wake. See the truth."
Beth did as she was told.  All around her, she saw Lowborn staring at her, the rain sluicing off their garments and shelters. The rain!
She raised her hands, finding them trembling, useless things, and waited for them to disintegrate in their first exposure to the downpour, penance for her sheltered life.  The realisation that her hands were not melting punctuated her building shock completely.
Beth looked up at the man she had seen so many times that evening.  She stammered, seeking the words to form a question she had never contemplated asking.  In the end, she only managed, "Why?"
The man smiled gently. "Control."
Beth started to ask another question but the man was already walking away, toward another newly hatched M-class.  He called back to her over his shoulder as he went, saying, "enjoy the rain. This is what it means to be alive. Everything changes now."

Hi Pim,

Thanks very much for taking the time to read and give such detailed feedback.  This piece is a bit of an odd one, as I was trying to get some sense of setup and resolution within, or close to, the 400 word guideline.  It's an interesting challenge, and one which encourages different approaches to writing than the ones I would ordinarily use.

I originally had more description of her sensory response to the rain, along with emotional transition.  Some of that was taken out back and shot during editing down from 600 words(ish).  That said, you're absolutely right, the piece could use more of that.

Reading your comment on the man's parting line, I see what you mean.  It's definitely not all it could be.  Quite clunky.  Editing and posting so close to the writing of the story often means I'm too close to it to catch things like that.

I'm glad you enjoyed it overall.  I hope to be able to post again in response to one of your prompts.  Thanks again.

Now then, I'm wondering: are you planning to post stories inspired by your prompts?  Would this be another way of you enjoying this process?  Whatever you decide, thanks for forming this group.  May it go from strength to strength.

Andy

I have thought about adding my own stories to the prompt, but I simply haven't had the time so far. I have some great ideas for it obviously. But I'm close to finishing the draft of my full novel so my focus has been on that the last few weeks. But hey, these prompt aren't going anywhere, I can always use some distractions.  

What you've set up here is a really interesting world. It feels very sci-if apocalyptic and hyper-regulated, from both sides of the conflict, even. You expect it from the government, which seems to be using militaristic force to uphold a segregated society, but the protesting is just as loud and forceful. I can feel Beth's confusion in being bombarded by so many voices.

The first bit of advice that comes to mind is watching your word choice. I appreciate the rigid, fear-mongering tone you're trying to get across, and it works for this piece. A lot of your verbs are strong, like "punctuating," "sluicing," and "stammered." However, some of the adjectives and adverbs do too much telling. You don't need "strangely" because the line about being familiar in a dream describes it in better descriptive detail. "Smile" in "knowing smile" works fine alone, since we get the sense from the whole piece that he and seemingly everyone else knows something Beth doesn't.

Read for lines that you can edit or cut completely. The one that pops the most to me is the art starting with "Beth closed her eyes and whimpered..." I feel like you can do without the rest of it, especially since the next part about the Lowborn touching and frightening her really shows the dread she's feeling. Have you considered maybe ending the piece with "'Control'"? Pim's suggestions overall are great, so definitely think about those. Personally, I feel like that single line sums up the whole conflict and piece without the rest of his speech.

Overall, neat take on the prompt. Nice way to break in the group!

Hello Ashi,

I'm sorry for the late reply, illness has kept me away.  Thank you for your feedback and thoughtful critique.  I think you are definitely on to something with the idea of ending the piece on "Control".  It would have addressed the niggling concern I had felt re. the ending.  Much better.  Good call.

As to reading for redundancy and use of adverbs/adjectives, these are certainly things I would consider when editing my writing.  While I'm aware of the received wisdom on these sort of points, I find I enjoy writing a little more when I just get in there and don't worry about them too much, almost writing on instinct.  Maybe this will change over time.

Thanks again for your time in reading and offering such helpful feedback.  :-)

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