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Flaminia Ferina's picture

A Presidential Stroll

By Flaminia Ferina in Scare Us

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There's a hierarchy in Hell. All demons and creatures have peculiar responsibilities they must act on. And all demons and creatures get party time on Earth when they behave.

A tale of leisure and gore. About 3400 words.


Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia--now living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Kindred, by Octavia Butler July 5, 2012 - 2:15pm

I understand from the description that this is set in Hell, and it is indeed a hellish scene. I had trouble with the relationships among all the characters, though. The thing I enjoyed most was the description of all the food, at least until the frog shows up, and the counterpoint of the music playing in the background. I must admit, I don't know why the frog says he's the president or who the narrator with the halo is at the end. I do think you need to revise with special attention to verbs and articles.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff July 5, 2012 - 2:34pm

Thank you for reading and commenting, Jane.

I'll revise the piece with more attention.

The story is not set in Hell, and the name of the location, Spoleto, Italy, is clearly stated early in the story. I assume you read the piece fast, I hope that's also because it reads smooth ;)

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia--now living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Kindred, by Octavia Butler July 5, 2012 - 2:37pm

Oh, sorry, I guess I took your descriptive blurb a bit too literally!

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff July 5, 2012 - 2:47pm

Oh well, sometimes it does feel like Hell where I grew up, especially with these temperatures ;)

Oh no, wrong field ooops.

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne July 7, 2012 - 10:32am

I wish I had time to give you an LBL, but I'm just swamped today. I'll try to write my comment here in real-time along with my reading.

Firstly, just a note, your title in the document and the title of your submission on LR are different.

At the start, some of your language is a bit awkward, which I realize is a general statement, but some of the off-kilter phraseology really works too. I feel like if you simply give this opening section a solid edit and fix some of the errors, there's a strange sense of atmosphere that accompanies the more exotic language. The conversation between Carlo and Umberto just has a strange cadence to it, and while I get what they're talking about, it doesn't strike me as "normal" dialogue. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but it puts me at arm's length from the logic while at the same time drawing me into the scene, if that makes sense. I'm not yet certain if your description meant literal hell, but I almost feel like these are demonic characters speaking (and certainly they're not the nicest of fellows from any perspective).

The descriptions of all the food are sumptuous and wonderful. I'm noticing a number of errors the more I read, but you seemed to indicate that this is just a first pass, so I won't comment much on that stuff. I'm sure if you go through carefully you'll catch most of those small things yourself. But really, the descriptions of the food made me salivate, and I think they really match the tone you're looking for in the piece. Very nicely done.

"... her own obtrusive butt" made me laugh. Be careful of your verbs. I notice "spring" instead of "springs" a few paragraphs above that, and a few other similar instances before that.

I'm noticing that your dialogue has this very otherworldly quality to it, at least the way I'm reading it. Your narrative seems generally more "normal", for lack of a better word, but the dialogue can be strange. "Oh, just. Lookey!" is odd. "Roller bitch" and "the asparagus in a pink bidet towerl" are very odd, though also provocative. But I literally thought you meant asparagus at first and didn't understand this was talking about a woman until a bit later on when you mention the outfit again. The "ain't" Cara says later also doesn't seem quite right for the tone you've established. I'm torn between liking and being confused by the dialogue.

The kiss between Carlo and Umberto made me laugh, especially the "What sort of shit did they put in the wine?" I laughed out loud at that, that was great.

Again, careful of your verb tenses. I noticed "have" instead of "having" and "hit" instead of "hits".

I laughed again when Umberto shoved the fork up his butt. I'm not sure at this point if you're trying to be darkly comic or if you're aiming just for horror, but despite the grotesqueness, I'm finding the plight of these people somewhat amusing, maybe just because they seem so pretentious. The frog saying that he's the President is also both a touch disturbing but quite funny. I love that he's wearing sunglasses. I was indifferent to him at the start, but the more I read, the more I think he may be my favorite part of the tale.

A bit confused at the ending. If I was supposed to have more of an idea about the narrator in the halo, I missed it somewhere.

The story got more gruesome as it went, but up until close to the end I found it to be, as I said, darkly comic, and it kept me reading. I enjoyed the crazy frog a great deal, an excellent and very amusing monster.

I definitely felt some of the dialogue needed work. It felt a little too unnatural in spots, and I just couldn't tell what tone you were going for a lot of the time. Your overall narrative is better, though there are some rough patches too, and this defnitely needs a solid edit (but as I said, I think you mentioned this being a rough draft, so I'm sure you already intend to do a whole lot more work on it). The idea is solid enough, but at the end I was left wanting a little more motivation. I was wondering why the frog did what it did, exactly what the intentions of the halo-narrator were. But the party characters and the crazy things that happen to them held me fairly well, especially because of the more comic parts.

I hope some of those comments will help you. I enjoyed the read. I think this is a story with great potential once it overcomes some of its more serious flaws.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff July 11, 2012 - 9:05am

Yes it helps very much, thanks Michael.

The characters are not demonic. They're just sick. They all have antisocial issues that ultimately rule their deaths. That's also why the dialogue doesn't feel natural. These are not "normal" people talking (and they're Italian, too). But I'll work on that and see what I can do, for a better reading prose that should however not misrepresent the fucked up nature of the characters. And I'll try to fix the errors.

My stories are always pretty ambitious and I just hope one day I'll be able to convey the chaotic atmosphere I intend to show. It's a real challenge though: like you say, readers need motivations, and I can't give much of it. My stories are very much about loss of control.

Hopefully I'll be able to give it a better shape with the rewrite.


.'s picture
. July 7, 2012 - 2:58pm

I like the hook. 

"Two lines of coke on the mirror he took off the restroom wall are not equal." As it is, this reads weird. Try breaking it up in to two sentences. 

Careful with punctuation. I'd just stick with commas. 

The dialogue needs to be tweaked a little. 

Overall, I liked the narrative and the descriptions but this needs to be ran through the workshop for it to be a workable piece in my opinion. 

Mr. Rizer has some good tips, you should take them in to account. 

Good luck with this story! 

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 7, 2012 - 3:11pm

I really liked the story.

It's an extremely weird story, and the structure of the piece is sometimes difficult to get through, but just when I start to lose interest or find it too frustrating to read, a line or imagery pulls me back in and makes me continue reading.

I thought that a lot of your description and lines through out the story really work, I tried to mark them as I came across them in my LBL.  There's also a lot of awkward sentences and weird choices of words. Sometimes it feels like it's too much, and sometimes the choices feel a bit odd.

Like others have said, the dialogue feels out of place. I really enjoyed it actually, and would like to see it transplanted into another story, but in this one here, it stands out too much and keeps the characters from ever feeling remotely real.

The narration is also kinda weird. It's mostly 3rd person poing of view, but every so often there is an intrusion from the narrator, like 'weirdo sister'. And the ending totally threw me off. Who's been speaking? Is that the same person/thing that has been telling this story the whole time?

I really dug the monster you created in this piece, and the chaos it brings with it. I'm almost left wondering if the story wouldn't be a better fit if you focused more on the monster, and kept the human characters in the periphery. When the story really worked for me, it was when the narration was pulled back slightly, and it sort of just told us what was happening around the monster, rather than bringing us close enough to hear the dialogue/thoughts. of the characters.

Like I said though, i still ended up enjoying my time reading this piece, and there's a lot of grotesque/cringe worhty imagery in it that it can make an excellent horror piece with a bit more tweaking.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff July 11, 2012 - 9:26am

Thank you Hector! I know it can be frustrating to read an unpolished story, and you give me some solid advice.

I'm glad you enjoyed the read anyway, so there's hope I can make it worthy of a public with the next rewrite. Or else, I might need to workshop it thoroughly so that I can shop the piece around cause I'm rather happy with the idea.

I don't think I will focus more on the monster though. The characters' choices are actually what the story is about, so I need to improve the way they show.

Big up.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch July 11, 2012 - 3:51pm

What a fun read! I love it because it's so weird, though I guess I have to say I found it more funny than scary, but in a very messed-up way and very visual, very postmodern movie-like. That's what I liked about it, the grotesque, chaotic feel to it. So saying that I wasn't horrified isn't a criticism, except if the aim is to get people as scared as possible. But you have a great vivacity of characters and scenes, which makes it sometimes hard to follow but I'm ok with that. The banquet is great setting, and very baroque-ish in some ways. If I have any suggestion, it would have to do with clarity.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff July 12, 2012 - 3:04am

Thank you Liana!

I'm glad you like the story. I had fun writing it, I hope I can make it shine with some tweaking. I think the most horrifying elements should be the human characters, not the creature, so I will write em damn ugly.


Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch July 11, 2012 - 3:51pm

Double post, sorry.