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MaSmylie's picture

Room Alt.

By MaSmylie in Scare Us

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Cultures collide, to 'La Vie en Rose'.


Daniel W Broallt's picture
Daniel W Broallt from Texas is reading The Emerald Mile July 26, 2012 - 7:36am

Hey Matthew,

So I thought your villian/monster was original, funny, and creepy. His dialogue is the strongest part of your story. I really got a sense of his character - the feeling of superiority, the contempt for the others, the confidence in his power - all that conveyed by how you presented how he spoke. So fantastic job. Very well done! 

I think this piece would do better without the 4000 word limit, if you could stretch it out some. The biggest problem is that I don't know enough about the victims to care about them. I know how they look, what they wear, how they respond to terror, but none of those things really connects me to them. (In fact, not necessarily being current in popular fashion, I had no idea what Navajo shirts were - I assumed they were all Native Americans with a fetish for fancy shoes at first). I also think that it could be stronger if you kept the details of their deaths as part of the story instead of the lists you use now. I agree that lists in a story add a good deal of texture, but here I feel they pull me out of the moment. But, I could be completely wrong on that, so take it with a grain of salt. But if instead of a list you had something like, 'Rick watched as the dark figure stabbed Elle in her chest.... etc. then you could describe his feelings, the brands of clothes, whatever, it could all be in the moment instead of a list. 

And again, this is a space issue, but I would have loved to see one of them argue against the creature about their cultural preferences... you could have had a power play or sorts... where it looked like maybe one of them wasn't so clueless... but then have them slip on some crucial point and the creature laugh... nice try, he'd say and slice them up... just an idea. But the back and forth would be interesting, and the possibility that one might escape would increase the tension/stakes and make it stronger narrative.

Hope this helps! Thanks for writing,



Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Consider Phlebas, by Iain Banks July 27, 2012 - 5:28pm

I think I just don't get enough of the cultural references to get this story. For instance, I don't understand the title at all. I think I could have answered all the Hip-Ster's questions, so on second thought, maybe I wouldn't have been his next victim! But I'm probably just square rather than hip-to-be-square ( so square  that I remember when "square" was an actual insult.) So. My responses may not be very helpful.

Here goes anyway: I too at first thought these characters were actually supposed to be Native American. I was relieved to find out they were wannabes (that word "trainers" gave it away for me-- what were they doing in England?), but I think we should realize that about them sooner.

I guess we don't know what exactly happens to victim #4 except that we know what's probably going to happen, which is fine--and I enjoyed the chilling ending. BUT I also really liked the dossier on each victim, and I wanted one last dossier. You set up this nifty device to keep the story moving (see there? I use the word "nifty"; I rest my case about myself not bring your ideal reader), and then you don't give us the last one we are waiting for.

Another observation: in a perverse way, your monster reminds me of the protagonist of "American Psycho," in that he has absolutely rigorous ideas about what cultural phenomena HAVE to be known and appreciated, or dire consequences will manifest. Your monster is just as arrogant about his particular bits of knowledge as Ellis's protagonist is. The difference is that Ellis means us to realize through these factoids about 80s bad pop music, the "right" grooming products, etc. the whole weight of his satiric point in that novel. Here, I'm less certain about what we're supposed to take away. Do his victims deserve to die because they're so clueless? In other words, where do our sympathies lie--with the victims or the monster? (Again, I may not know this bcause I'm so clueless.) Anyhow, the monster did make me laugh because he seemed so Monty Python. ("WHAT. . . Is your favorite color?")

Ok, enough of that. I really like your writing and enjoyed the story in spite of all of the above.


MaSmylie's picture
MaSmylie from London, England is reading Haunted July 28, 2012 - 7:28am

Hi Wil and Jane,

thanks very much for reading and thanks for your detailed, and considered, responses. To answer some of your questions;

  • The Navajo print clothing that each of the characters adopt is a current mainstay of the popular, highstreet clothing shop of 'Topman'. 'Topman', in my hometown of Milton Keynes, is the main supplier of the majority of local's clothing, hence, the prevalence and overbearing nature of the garish print currently seen throughout the town within certain cultures of people.
  • Wil, very much appreciate your points of improvement for the narrative itself, in a bickering between the characters, but their lack of conversation and moral fibre was altogether supposed to be representative of their vacuous nature and lack of character.
  • The 'Hip-Ster' meanwhile, (hipster being the word utilised to describe those who strive to be 'hip' and 'alternative' and one with negative connotations) is, in his knowledge, spiteful and malevolent. He (or it) proves to be just as vacuous and lacking in any moralistic fibre, in his alternative manner of dress and in his knowledge of the fringes of popular culture. This is highlighted by Rick's unintentional stating of 'Teenage ninja Turtles' which was, indeed, a tent pole comic of the last few decades. The creature, however, cannot accept that Rick may possess this knowledge and, so, symbolically (maybe just gruesomely) takes his eyes.
  • I don't believe that either party are deserving of empathy or of sympathy. This leaves the reader's personal inclinations as to whom they side with, if anyone. 

Hope that clears some story points up for you,


Daniel W Broallt's picture
Daniel W Broallt from Texas is reading The Emerald Mile July 31, 2012 - 8:25am


May I suggest, then, finding some way to help the reader navigate what is hip or not hip. I think working in the first point of your response above about Topman would work. Some way to clue in those of us clueless as to whether TMNT (or the clothing mentioned) is hip or lame. Or, and this might be better, at the end, you could have the Hip-Ster say something to the final victim like 'all will have to answer and those who respond correctly shall live, do you think you can answer correctly?' in a way that the Hip-Ster is speaking to the final victim, but also to the reader? 

Again, fun read.