Friday Fictioneers – The Church has the Answers

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Friday Fictioneers is a great challenge to write a 100 Flash Fiction each week. Click the icon to view Rochelle’s Blog and entry to the challenge. friday-fictioneers

Bloggers who regularly write for FF have started to use this icon* scalpel it means concrit – we are open to constructive criticism. Of course, I hope my story touches you and that you connect to the characters, as a writer (and a fairly new one to the Flash Fiction genre) I am more than happy to receive constructive criticism and advice to improve the art of Flash writing. Be gentle though – I haven’t yet grown an extra thick layer of skin!

* Click the icon to find out about the origins of the scalpel.

Copyright -Claire Fuller

They always came to this old Church, Gerry liked to read the visitors book. Gerry stared at the stained glass windows whilst Pip scribbled a hurried note,  finishing with a personal message;

‘Gerry I will always love you. Pip xxx’

She sensed this could be their last holiday. She was right, a few months later Gerry left.

The following Summer Gerry walked up the hill alone, to the church. He looked around then made his way to the back of the Church, to the guest book. Admiring the brand new leather bound book, he opened it and read the messages.

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31 responses »

  1. I like this story, the idea of leaving a message to be found later. For me and my style of writing I prefer to attempt to capture the event (with flash fiction it’s a sliver) in one swift moment. I try to think of the flash as being only one or just a few seconds of whatever is happening. Everything else must be planted or inferred. Does this make sense?

    • Thanks JK I understand exactly what you mean – some of my FF flash attempts have been linear, this story needed a bit of a gap to be told in her narrative voice, unless Gerry walks past the book and reads it and thinks – not on your nelly and finishes it there and then! 😉
      Thanks for your comments.

  2. Neen, A nice story and the concept is awesome of the message. I like that we don’t know if he found it. I really enjoyed JK:s comment, and it’s something I sometimes try to do myself (didn’t this week). Sometimes I cheat by having a gap by using a memory with the person looking back to the last summer.

    Tack så mycket,

    Björn

    • I don’t see it as cheating 😉 it depends on the story you are trying to tell. I have thought about how this could be rewritten based on JK’s comments, I also feel that this was the way I imagined the story being told.

      I don’t think you can cheat – unless you go over 100 words…. 😉 although I know that doesn’t matter to Rochelle – it’s not like I ever bother counting other people’s words… can you imagine how much extra time commenting would take if I did that?!

      Glad you liked the story.

  3. I agree with the comments about flash being a releatively concise moment, and though a historic flow of events can be handled, it doesn’t always work. Better to be in the moment and looking back I think. Also three sentences beginning with Gerry interrupted the flow for me, plus a further two mentions in a piece of this length. Good idea though. I assume that because the visitor’s book was brand new, Gerry never got to read Pip’s message? Seems like a metaphor for their relationship perhaps. Well done.

    • Thanks Sandra. Great advice. Being in the present and looking back may have worked better for this piece. Maybe if I had involved a child who saw Pip leave the message the year before and then not being able to tell her dad.
      Otherwise the narrative voices would still cause problems with the flow of the story.

      I agree with the comment on Gerry repetition – this is one of those times I proof read over it without seeing the glaring problem!

      You assume right about the conclusion – the guest book is new and so Pip’s message is lost.

  4. i love the idea of leaving messages… it’s very romantic and the characters’ relationship is very interesting. this might work even better in a longer piece, since it’s probably difficult to fully express what they have in just 100 words, though the reader can definitely sense something ( a big hindrance) to their relationship 🙂

  5. Dear Neens,

    I liked the idea of the message. I’m mystified as to why Church and Summer are capitalized. I’ll second Sandra’s comment about using Gerry to begin three consecutive sentences. Once you’ve mentioned you’ve established him as the subject we know who it is until you mention someone else.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • As with Doug’s feedback and advise I cannot believe these mistakes were made. I genuinely thought the Church had o be capitalised, I have since looked everything up using the dictionary to confirm the rules. Of course you were right summer and church had no need for capitalised letters.

      Until I read Sandra’s comment I hadn’t realised I’d written 3 close sentences starting with Gerry.

      Thanks for your advice, I should be able to use it to improve the next piece of writing.

      • Those pesky “ing” words were something my editor nailed me on more than once in my short story anthology. It’s all such a balancing act, isn’t it?

      • It is – the main issue I have is I still get so excited writing for FF – my focus is on the slash editing to 100 words and this means that I am so INTO the story by the time I have the final cut that I find it hard to proof read. I cannot see the mistakes. Maybe if I wrote it and left it for a bit before I come back and check!

        I have been told about ‘ing’ before too. There is certainly a lot to remember and cling onto!

  6. Dear Neens,

    Speaking from a strictly constructionist POV, your story has ‘comma’ placement issues. Here’s a cut and pasted version with the correct (according to my meager knowledge) placement.

    …They always came to this old Church. Gerry liked to read the visitors book. Gerry stared at the stained glass windows whilst Pip scribbled a hurried note, finishing with a personal message;

    ‘Gerry, I will always love you. Pip, xxx’

    She sensed this could be their last holiday. She was right. A few months later Gerry left.

    The following Summer Gerry walked up the hill alone to the church. He looked around, then made his way to the back of the Church to the guest book. Admiring the brand new leather bound book, he opened it and read the messages.

    As you will see, I made at least seven changes, wither adding or subtracting commas. Your original story was derailed at the station by this challenge (for me). I hope you will examine in detail what the difference is between the two and let me know what you think.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • Thanks for your help Doug, it certainly reads better with the punctuation corrected. I can see from the Concrit that this week’s flash is actually full of holes I hadn’t even seen! It seems impossible that I missed so much in my proof reading!

  7. Hello Neens, I very much liked the idea of the message book and also wondered if he got to read her comment. I would also like to thank you for using the concrit icon. I learn a lot from the feedback that comes from the input of other writers, and although I continue to make simple mistakes I hope that eventually the kind assistance offered will finally sink in and I will make improvements. I think I will put this icon on my post next week, after all the more of us who invite criticism, the wider the opportunities for learning. Salud! 🙂

    • Gerry never got to see her comment as a new guest book was in use the following year when he returned.
      I think the concrit icon is amazing, I have learnt many ways to improve my work.
      I hope you decide to use the icon too. It is worth it – especially with so many talented writers taking part in FF.

  8. I love the concept of your story, using the guest book as a way to communicate. I would echo the same comments that are already outlined above by better writers than I. Especially with a 100 word limit, saving a few by not resuing names is a big help.

  9. I like the originality of the idea of this. The POV change, from Pip’s thoughts to Gerry returning and not finding her message, doesn’t quite work. (I’ll get back to you when I have a useful fix).
    There’s also more I’d like to know (but appreciate you can’t tell us in 100 words) – why does Pip feel the relationship is at end? I feel sorry for her that her last message is lost, but what would have happened if Gerry had found the message? You’ve left me with lots for my imagination to work with, which is good.

    • Thanks for the feedback. I am glad I used the scalpel icon and got all these ideas for improving the flash. I agree that the narrative voice changing in a flash is a confusing technique to use.
      I am glad I left you with questions – I aim to get the reader working too. 😉

      • Leaving the reader thinking is always good as it means they’ve been able to engage with what’s written. As promised, I’ve tried to giveyour story a more consistent POV:

        Gerry always came to this old church; he liked to read the visitors book. On each visit he or his companion would make their mark. On this occasion, while Gerry stared at the stained glass windows, his girlfriend Pip scribbled a hurried note, finishing with a personal message;
        ‘Gerry I will always love you. Pip xxx’
        The following summer Gerry walked up the hill alone, to the church. He looked around then made his way to the back of the Church, to the guest book. Admiring the brand new leather bound book, he opened it and read the messages.

        This adds more ambiguity about what happened to Pip, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, and takes the focus away from her, which might be the opposite of what you were trying to achieve. However, the reader doesn’t have to put themselves in different heads (Pip’s thoughts, Gerry’s actions) which I think makes the piece easier to read. But feel free to shout at me and say I’ve got it all wrong!

      • Thanks for taking the time to rewrite this – it is clearer with 1 narrative voice. You’re right about Pip disappearing – I would have to add some text there.
        I accept the critique in the way it is meant – constructively (not going to shout at anyone for trying to help improve my writing!)
        Grateful for the support and help.

  10. I’m not so sure about the knife. I just generally say what I like. I’m not computer adept with the copy and pasting of media. To me this story reminds me of codes and spies. And perhaps how now two spies will no longer be meeting to exchange time, but might still exchange information. Churches are full of secrets. And the idea of leaving notes and messages in visitors books is intriguing.

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