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Doug Allan's picture

Flatline and the Beat

By Doug Allan in Arrest Us

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Description

A young woman rescues those she loves from the brink, with a selfless sacrifice.

Comments

Christina Allan's picture
Christina Allan July 4, 2014 - 12:04am

Read this because the author had the same surname as me but really enjoyed the story. The title seems to have changed - I prefer 'Flatline and the Beat'

Good descriptive writing although I sometimes had to read over a bit to follow what was happening (not unusual for me). Sad story that I think could be taken further.

 

Doug Allan's picture
Doug Allan from Fife, Scotland is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn July 8, 2014 - 5:38am

is there anything i can do to encourage more reads or feedback? or is there anything wrong with the format i've uploaded in? the title on the file is different but only because i decided the name was rubbish. it's the right piece. i'd love some feedback. the most brutal you can give me! i really want to improve.

Doug Allan's picture
Doug Allan from Fife, Scotland is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn July 8, 2014 - 5:39am

whoops! double post.

Juice Ica's picture
Juice Ica from Rhode Island is reading The Twelve by Justin Cronin & Beautiful Creatures July 8, 2014 - 9:23am

I did enjoy this - the title drew me in to read it. The issues I had with it were fairly simple, make sure to proofread closely, there are a few grammatical and spelling errors here and there - nothing major though. Some of the language gets a bit flowery (for me). I found it took me out of the story at times and/or just was too much. It's a complicated story, it does not need complicated words to make it a more meaningful experience. 

The other issue I had were the random comments about how "sickening" the lovers story was. It didn't seem to fit into story at all. If it were clearly an outside narrator, sure, it would make sense. But that is not totally clear.

I think my biggest issue was clarity, the section with the accident was very confusing for me and I had to read it more than once to truly understand what was going on. 

Ultimately, I think this is a good, sad story. It would benefit from a throrough proofreading though.

Good luck!

J

Doug Allan's picture
Doug Allan from Fife, Scotland is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn July 9, 2014 - 8:07am

thanks so much for reading. i completely agree with your comments. these are the same things i dislike about my own work. i'd like to be able to adapt to a more casual storytelling style but reluctantly, often end up with dragged out sentences that become hard to follow. i'll continue to try and work on it. thanks again.

Juice Ica's picture
Juice Ica from Rhode Island is reading The Twelve by Justin Cronin & Beautiful Creatures July 9, 2014 - 8:26am

You are on the right path, keep practicing and learning and you'll be awesome!!

Zack McCormack's picture
Zack McCormack from Indianapolis, IN is reading Empire of the Sun July 11, 2014 - 12:24pm

Good story Doug!


You've definitely got something good going here. It was an entertaining, albeit a sad, read. Looking at some of the previous comments, some people have already expressed some concerns that I had regarding the piece.


One, proofreading and editing could be done better. One main critique of my story was to better proofread it so I don't mean to come across like I'm immune to it, but there were some misspellings and grammatical errors that I caught. In addition, the piece seems rather compact in terms of spacing. Maybe just taking some time to make it more aesthetically pleasing could help.


Another note is that the pacing of the crash itself seemed a little rushed to me. Perhaps that's just me but I felt like that went by at a quicker pace than the rest of the story which I felt had an appropriate speed.


Finally, while one main draw of the paper was the diction, at times it seemed excessive. As a whole I did really enjoy the imagery but there were a few instances in which it seemed like you were belaboring the point.


Anyway, great story man. I haven't been able to read too many yet but yours is my favorite so far. Not to shamelessly plug my work but I'm going to shamelessly plug my work. If you get some time I would appreciate any feedback you could give me on my story, "A Christmas Story". I'm just trying make improvements where I can.

(http://litreactor.com/events/arrest-us/a-christmas-story)

Thanks!
Zack

Doug Allan's picture
Doug Allan from Fife, Scotland is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn July 14, 2014 - 3:40pm

Hey. Thanks for giving my wee tale a read. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

The mispellings are disappointing, i'm usually reliable on that front. The grammer on the other hand may well be my lack of knowledge. It's been quite a while since I finished school and i'm a bit rusty. Writing again is quite a recent undertaking after a few years in the wilderness. If you could highlight any of the things you spotted, i'd appreciate it. In relation to the spacing, i'll try to find something a little more forgiving in future.


I read the crash part back and I understand what you're saying. It does seem to pass as somewhat of a fleeting moment. I definitely think i'll go back and rework that bit a little. The slightly exuberant language is something I'm trying to cut back on. As I said to the previous poster, I've been wanting to write with a more casual voice. I think at the moment I'm hiding a little behind it, due to a lack of confidence in my abily to develop a storyline.

I've got your piece on hand, ready to read, so I'll get back to you with my thoughts over the next few days. I also saw you gave me a little shout out on the forum. I appreciate it. Hopefully it gets me a few more reads.

Cheers!

Doug.

 

 


 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 17, 2014 - 1:54am

This is an interesting one. I'm torn. On the one hand your prose is lyrical and beautiful, and your descriptions and style are of a format I love. On the other, there aren't really any characters, just hints at archetypes. I didn't care for the perfect couple, I kept reading as I enjoyed the way you were telling it. I didn't empathise with your characters as there wasn't really anything there to empathise with. After the crash, when everything changed, they still felt vacant and non-existent. As a piece of writing there is so much to praise, yet the characterisation has let you down. They don't need names, they don't need details, but they need to be three dimensional and real, which can be done in the style you use. Great art, just needs a little more craft.

Doug Allan's picture
Doug Allan from Fife, Scotland is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn July 19, 2014 - 6:32am

Hey. Thanks a lot for reading. I've taken a little stroll through the charcter development essay's on here and i'll continue to explore this area. Thanks for highlighting it. I'm fairly inexperienced. I knew there was something hollow about my work but I didn't really know where to tackle the problem from, so thanks for the breadcrumbs.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 17, 2014 - 5:12am

I see from your comments you want to know how you can get more reads and comments. I’d say the obvious one is to read and comment on other people’s stories. From the tracking, you’ve yet to comment on a single other story in the contest. The other thing you can do is to format the story a little better. Double spacing would be a good start, because it looks very dense at the moment, and just a little imposing.

Personally I found this very hard to get through. The language at times is almost impenetrable, and whole sections are overwritten. You clearly have a vast vocabulary, and a love of language. Neither of these is a bad thing. The more flowery you make the language in the story, the more you put up barriers for the reader. For some, this won’t matter (noting Seb’s comment), but is it worth alienating some of your potential readership?

I’ll give you some examples:

“The bells had been met with a purposeful rejection of champagne that cornered them into the revelation of an impending birth.”

“Accusations had been bellowed, unretrievable from their utterance.”

“The upwards trajectory of their lives had never wavered and now it threatened to inhabit the stratosphere but the greasy skinned teen, crushed motionless into the earth below the wreckage of his own upturned car, had other ideas for our mister and missus.”

A lot of this comes down to personal taste. I think showing off vocabulary is detrimental to the simple art of telling a story. Overwritten sentences kill flow. Hands up, I used to do the exact same thing. I used to write of illumination, instead of light. Eventually it was drummed into me to write simply. If you don’t use those words in conversation, why would use it in a story? In what way is the first example better than a simple, “When she rejected the champagne at midnight, they conceded that she was pregnant”?

I think this story could have been great, so full of sadness and emotion. It has heart in there somewhere, but I can’t find it amongst all those words. To bring that out, you really need to concentrate on building up these characters, because as it is, we can’t get close to them. Having them be inseparable from nursery age is no substitute for exploring their feelings about each other. Let us get to the know them, and feel empathy when dumb luck tears them apart.

I really would urge you to read more of the contest entries, because there are some good examples of characterisation out there. During last year’s contest I learned so much more from reading other people’s stories, and thinking about what worked or what didn’t, than I did from the comments on my own effort. Your imagination is on show here, and that’s the most important thing. The mechanics of writing can be learned, but you can’t learn that creativity. Keep plugging away. Strip everything back, and just concentrate on the best way to tell your stories.

Best of luck.

Doug Allan's picture
Doug Allan from Fife, Scotland is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn July 19, 2014 - 6:40am

Hi. Thanks for giving my story a read. It seems the language is a bit of a problem for most people. I notice it when I read it back myself. I'm a little under-confident on my ability to develop a storyline at the moment so I guess I might be trying to hide that behind some more elaborate language. I've been reading and rating other stories but if I'm honest, I felt a little unqualified to be critiquing others but i'll give it a try. I wasn't meaning to leech on the community. Thanks again for giving my story a read.

Julie Eileen Hogg's picture
Julie Eileen Hogg July 29, 2014 - 11:36am

Well done for all the obvious hard work. I enjoyed the story but found the same criticisms as others have - spelling and grammatical errors and some overwritten/flowery sentences. Making the language simpler - but not simplistic or dull - would improve the way it reads and make the story and ideas stand out more. Keep on writing and be encouraged by all the comments!

 

Doug Allan's picture
Doug Allan from Fife, Scotland is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn July 30, 2014 - 7:16am

Hi Julie. Thanks for taking the time to give my story a read. It's good to see that people are highlighting the same area's for attention. It gives me a solid idea of to work on, which has been really helpful. Thanks again.

Doug.

Doug Allan's picture
Doug Allan from Fife, Scotland is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn July 30, 2014 - 7:16am

Hi Julie. Thanks for taking the time to give my story a read. It's good to see that people are highlighting the same area's for attention. It gives me a solid idea of to work on, which has been really helpful. Thanks again.

Doug.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 29, 2014 - 2:02pm

This story really got to me. Although I wouldn't exactly classify it as a crime it gets a big thumbs up from me for being so well written. I enjoyed your style, while everyone always says show, don't tell, you told this story perfectly. The beginning reminds me of a sort of bedtime story about perfect innocent love. I was moved by the scenes in the hospital; the husband striving to be as strong as her. The only thing that I will mention is that it is a little confusing when you reveal that they've crashed. You don't tell us that it has happened, although you tell us that it will. At first I thought "the family" may refer to a car that the teen hit, both of the cars being on the road when the boy and girl arrive. Honestly a really great story, I hope that you don't lose reads for going with less of a criminal vibe. Thank you for this read. Good luck.

Doug Allan's picture
Doug Allan from Fife, Scotland is reading Last Exit to Brooklyn July 30, 2014 - 7:14am

Hi. Thanks for reading my story. I'm glad it had some sort of effect. I realise it wasn't strictly a crime story but I was trying to think outside the box and maybe use a topic that wouldn't be used by anyone else. So while the story isn't so much about the crime, the catalyst (drink/drug driving) and the solution (assisted suicide) are both crimes, so hopefully that will qualify me for the competition but I see where you're coming from. I agree about the crash scene. It's a bit disconnected from everything else at the moment. I'll be reworking that bit a little to make it less of an obscurity. Thanks again for reading!

Doug.