To read this story or to participate in this writing event, you only need a free account.
You can Login with Facebook or create regular account
To find out what this event is about click here

Kate Bosco's picture

An Incident at Winter House 12

By Kate Bosco in Teleport Us

How It Rates

Voting for this event has ended
Once you have read this story, please make sure you rate it by clicking the thumbs above. Then take a few minutes to give the author a helpful critique! We're all here for fun but let's try to help each other too.

Description

The violent death of a guest is the beginning of an unpleasant evening for his roommate, the house supervisor and the surveillance dog.

Comments

Linda's picture
Linda from Sweden is reading Fearful Symmetries March 2, 2013 - 2:15am

Welcome to LitReactor, Kate. I hope you'll stick around.

Excellent story, it's got layers, strong characters and you go just far enough with the world building. At one point, I very nearly got emotional, and that doesn't happen a lot.

You've got one little grammatical typo on page 7: "She would wrap them in the blankets that they were strangled with, and brought them to the hall," but overall this is well written and edited. Single space is a bit straining to read though, so I would suggest double or at least 1,5.

Thumbs up, thanks for sharing!

Edit: I don't know why your bar isn't colored yet but it seems the vote got through so hopefully it will sort itself out.

Kate Bosco's picture
Kate Bosco from Natick, MA is reading The Passage by Justin Cronin March 2, 2013 - 11:28am

Thanks so much for your comments and vote, Linda! I'm glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for the grammar tip as well-- I'm not much of a proofreader, so I'm glad you pointed it out :)

Sorry about the spacing! It's been a long time since I've submitted to a workshop-type thing and I've forgotten the best practices. I know we're past deadline, but if there's a way to reupload it with better spacing, I'll definitely do that.

scifiwriterguy's picture
scifiwriterguy from Chicago, IL is reading Iscariot by Tosca Lee March 2, 2013 - 9:31pm

Kate,

So much pain and grief... Wow. I didn't expect to encounter a story like this as part of the challenge. Packed with nuance, evocative, and willing to let the reader fill in some blanks (just like the characters).

I love the title but think simplifying to "Winter House" would work even better, but that' just an opinion.

As far as the story: I generally think numerous POVs in a short isn't a good idea. You almost convinced me to be more open minded with this one, but I do feel that the story would benefit from being told from Nuria's perspective alone (possibly with a bit of Buddy in there). She has the most developed voice and the most vivid internal world, and she can show us everything that Buddy and Morris do, only with more insight. I know what you're trying to do with Buddy and Morris--I think it would work really well in a Novella or Novel, but not as much in a short. The fact that it's as readable and entertaining as it is with 3 POVs is really amazing.

The story structure and development work. I did want ta bit more of a dramatic arc, as I never really doubt for Morris's eventually safety. I'd like a compelling external threat--it feels you shy away from conflict a bit in the scene between Nuria and the police. I'd escalate that encounter and increase the antagonism--make Nuria risk something substantial to go after Morris.

My few quibbles aside, I really liked this one. Well done.

Kind Regards,

Nathan

Kate Bosco's picture
Kate Bosco from Natick, MA is reading The Passage by Justin Cronin March 4, 2013 - 5:52am

Thank you very much, Nathan! I definitely played with the idea of having it only from Nuria's POV, but I ran up against the deadline and just didn't have time to do it. I also want to add more stakes to the story, but I think I tried to fit waaayyy too much into less than 4,000 words. I'll be keeping your words in mind when I go back to it at the end of the month :)

Rob Pearce's picture
Rob Pearce from Cambridge, England is reading Lots of unpublished stuff and short story collections March 4, 2013 - 4:47am

An interesting story with a lot going for it, but it doesn't quite hit the mark for me.

I disagree with Nathan on the title - it works far better in longer form, although it's suggestive of a detective mystery in the Sherlock Holmes mould, which this isn't.

There are a few places where you say something in the negative ("he wouldn't find out ... in a pleasant manner") where the positive ("he would find out ... in an unpleasant manner") would be much more effective and less misleading.

Three viewpoints is too much for this length. I think Nathan's right that Nuria's is the one to use. Where you write in Buddy's PoV there's also an oddly incongruous mix of language. Every now and then it almost sounds like a dog's thoughts, but mostly it's WAY too human and analytical. Oddly, the "going away message" is phrased just about right, although it's not his thoughts. I think I'd believe it more with no names at all in his PoV.

The introduction of dystopian ideas as you go... very nearly works but somehow ends up too much like an onslaught of incidentals - death by a million paper cuts. This may be related to my biggest overall problem, though. I don't believe Nuria's pain. There's an awful lot of it, all the way through, but it's ALL TELL and no show. For example, near the end we are told "She fell to pieces again", but her actions in that very same paragraph are to "whisper" instructions to Buddy and "clandestinely" disable the spy net, both of which feel like the acts of somebody fully in control.

For all that I think you have the makings of a good piece, so I'm not going to thumbs-down it.

Kate Bosco's picture
Kate Bosco from Natick, MA is reading The Passage by Justin Cronin March 4, 2013 - 6:02am

Thanks for the read and your comments, Rob! Your comment on the positive vs negative is great-- I've never thought about that before.

I was having a problem with Buddy's POV. I think I justified it to myself by saying that it was the dog's thoughts reinterpreted so that a human could sympathize and understand how he might feel (does that make sense?) I can see how this fails, though. As I said to Nathan, I think I'll take your advice and stick with Nuria on the next draft. There just wasn't enough time for me to overhaul it again this time around.

I also appreciate your comment about Nuria feeling too in control and the telling-not-showing. I'll keep all this in mind when I go another round with this monster.

gbosco's picture
gbosco March 4, 2013 - 8:38am

As Kate knows, I am no editor or literary expert but I agree that the title should stay as it is.  It clearly indicates that this story is about a single incident in the greater saga of Winter House.  

 

Kate Bosco's picture
Kate Bosco from Natick, MA is reading The Passage by Justin Cronin March 6, 2013 - 7:44pm

Don't I know you from somewhere?

klahol's picture
klahol from Stockholm, Sweden is reading Black Moon March 5, 2013 - 11:32pm

There are a great many stories in this challenge that - a bit on the outside of the rules of the challenge - read like the first chapter in a longer story. Sometimes that is a put-down, but in a few cases it just leaves you with an aching longing to read the entire novel. This is one of thos instances for me. 

I liked the characters, and overall liked everything I read. What I didn't like whas the order and progress in which it was put together. I kind of got confused in the different storylines. Maybe there is a way to separate them just a little and make them a bit more disitinctive? 

There is a sequence with the fleeing mute before the conversation with the cops. Maybe this sequence should come after so that we really, really wonder who the man really is before we change to his POV. 

The cops consult their tablet and find something remarkable about the man. This could have been developed to more effect. Right now its unclear if he's really just a bad shoplifter or some undercover supersoldier with a dark past.

I loved the narrative of the dog. Maybe you could come up with a different way to describe the 'remote control' but an electric shock? Seems like a blunt tool for something that high-tec. 

Liked it. Good work. 

Kate Bosco's picture
Kate Bosco from Natick, MA is reading The Passage by Justin Cronin March 6, 2013 - 8:03pm

Ooo, thanks for the read, rate and comment! I see you post in just about every story in this challenge-- I'm already behind on reading and rating for folks who've reviewed for me. You're a champion reviewer :)

I will say that this is probably leading to something bigger, but I wanted to see if a self-contained story would work as well. I hope that doesn't disqualify me. Hearing someone say that they want more gives me a whole lot motivation.

I like the idea of shuffling things around to make it more intriguing. I had some weird idea that the POVs needed to be in a set pattern for some artistic appeal (a cycle of Buddy - Morris - Nuria), but this isn't a poem. Don't know how my mind gets fixated on weird stuff like that.

As for Buddy's systems, I thought that a combination of super high-tech stuff and more blunt reinforcement was the way to go. For simple commands, a quick shock can produce a desired response without using up a lot of energy or processing capacity. The more complicated, trying-to-appeal-to-your-doggy-emotions stuff is going to take up quite a bit. I probably thought about this more than I should have, especially considering that I am not a psychologist or engineer.

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar March 6, 2013 - 1:42pm

Hey! I really enjoyed this story, especially the way you built up the characters and made them all quite likeable. It has a lot of promise, the only comment I could really make for improvement is that I wanted it to have a more dramatic ending. I either wanted there to be an attempt to escape together, or a real reluctance but positivity about going back together. I also felt that more could be made of their feelings, and the dogs increasing humanity dripfed in towards the end. A really enjoyable piece though, well done :-) Matty

PS, I almost forgot to say, there are a few places where it seems to go bold for a bit and then go normal on my reader. This has apparently happened in my story too - I wrote part in open office and part in word and I think this has caused it! No biggie, but I know to stick to one program in the future!! :-)

Kate Bosco's picture
Kate Bosco from Natick, MA is reading The Passage by Justin Cronin March 6, 2013 - 8:08pm

Thank you for your read and comment! I think that I can beef up the ending if I make more cuts to the rest of the story and/or have more than 4,000 words to work with.

As for the formatting, I did mine in the Mac OS equivilent of OpenOffice (NeoOffice) and converted it to an MS word document from there. Definitely a common link there.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day March 7, 2013 - 7:02pm

Hi Kate,

Nice work... thumbs up. See attached LBL for suggestions.

Best,

 

Nick

Kate Bosco's picture
Kate Bosco from Natick, MA is reading The Passage by Justin Cronin March 12, 2013 - 7:37pm

Thank you SO much for the LBL! I wish I had said something before. That's definitely going to be a huge help on future revisions. Your time and effort are super appreciated!

hermes's picture
hermes March 12, 2013 - 10:16pm

I love reading this story, Kat! <3 Much love.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Tana French! March 13, 2013 - 7:03am

Kate,

Nice story, I enjoyed it. With regards to the three different POV, I think they worked well, they didn't feel too squashed in a story of this length, so good job :) I also like your dystopian themes here, the idea of a surveillance dog, and the idea of memory wipes is very interesting. My only teeny-tiny nitpick is that while I like ambiguity I did find myself curious for more information on what had happen to the characters in the past, particularly Nuria's story. If you are planning to expand on this story I think this would be an interesting area to look at. All three characters were easy to sympathize with and I particularly enjoyed buddy's POV.

Thanks for sharing

em

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 26, 2013 - 2:24am

I really liked this. It's a nice self-contained story with interesting characters. I can easily picture a novel made up of short stories set around the Winter House. The changes of POV didn't grate for me really, and I found Buddy to be a really fascinating character choice. My only niggle was that the transition between segments could have been smoother. I can understand completely what Klahol is saying. It jolts a little, and it makes it harder to stay with the story. Overall though, you've done a really good job with this.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations March 28, 2013 - 4:21pm

A few mistakes made it past any proof-reading you did, like this one :

"He knew how to take disable locks"

Do try and catch these, as it does tend to distract!

My main issue with this piece is that it's part of something bigger, but not sufficiently self contained to act as a short story. And I know you're hard against the word limit, so I suspect you might have overreached with this piece. I have a few suggestions - not necessarily for the longer treatment, but to help this stand alone. Take 'em or leave 'em!

Firstly, I'd lose the part from Morris's POV. This is tough, as it's certainly intriguing, but I simply don't think you have space for it. And it weakens the story, in that you end up describing the route from the House to the dome wall twice. So try it without! You may need to add some more to Buddy's section to replace the description of the Hunter from Morris's POV, but I get the feeling he's an inciting incident rather than a major component - so may not be that much of a loss, and if the reader is thinking that Morris DID do it, then the twist at the willow tree (that even the police don't think it was him) is even stronger.

Secondly, I think the climax of this piece could be the reveal that Nuria too has had the same mind and voice treatment Morris had (and has recovered over the years..) . But if that is the case, you would do well to not reveal it to the end, and then it becomes the reason why Morris might feel more secure going back to the house than escaping into the "open road". If you do this, then I think even though we don't fully understand the world, we will have felt it's richness, and be well set up to THEN learn Morris's story (perhaps slowly eeked out of him, as he pieces it together...)

Finally, writing from Buddy's POV is always going to be tricky. He is at least humanised to some degree (is he augmented genetically as well as electronically? Is the zap a little.. unsubtle?) When he's getting his instructions (from where?) use language a young child might understand - "supervisor" for example is a bit long - "pack leader" would put it in canine terms. Play around with this - it is one of the most distinctive parts of your story, and getting it right will pay dividends! But make sure each part works for you - we don't really need to know what his light dreams are, so it slows that first sentence, which is otherwise refreshingly straight into the action!

So, I liked this dystopia, with trafficing and mind wipes and fragile people, am hoping the dog is not just a "non-human" gimick dictated by this competition, but ultimately it doesn't for me work as a short story! But keep at it - there's plenty of good stuff here!

Liam

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. March 30, 2013 - 7:32am

Very well done! An old dog as a care taker, a world where people are scrubbed and sold as property, and a woman who just barely survived. A smooth flow from start to finish as well. About the only thing I can suggest on this one is to give it a couple more editing runs for proof reading.

Excellent Work!