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I love words and the fact that when the page is blank...there's nothing there until words are formulated in my brain. Those thoughts...rushing through my viens and out my finger tips, find "life" on the page.
When people and places come to life...that to me is exciting.
MBCgirl =) My finger nails should look nice while I type - Red works!
Not my cup of tea at all. I had ta force myself to finish it. Not your fault. I just go blank when people start talking about the cia and communists its just all blah blah blah to me. So I'm not comfortable critiqing teh story. The picnic seemed like an after thought tho, like ya just slipped it in there and the main character being able to escape the cell seemed a little too convient. JMO
Gotta agree with some of the above comments, I'm afraid.
Meeting the competition criteria: as Astrid said, the picnic seemed like an afterthought. The 'family reunion' banner reinforced that impression for me. This was a spy/revenge action short with a family picnic drama crowbarred in at the end. Doesn't work for me - 6/10 Characters: none particularly memorable. Too many to really keep track of. Raymond was probably the most interesting - 5/10 Dialogue: Communists, death squads, CIA, demolitions contractors...it's all very serious, isn't it? Very well-trodden ground here - 5/10 Story: see above. How Raymond got from where he was in 1984 to the picnic in 2008 might have been an interesting story, but this is really just a beginning and an end without a proper middle - 5/10 Writing/format: the list of SUPERs at the start takes too long and slows the momentum of the read right down from the off. The writing was generally a bit cumbersome; the repetition of 'mestizo' began to irritate by the end - 5/10
It's an actiony-adventure picnic story. The real issue though is that it's a story without a middle. It begins, runs for five pages, hard cut and you end up at an exposition heavy end where the writer attempts to pad out what should have happened in the middle.
One of the reasons it doesn't have a middle or an adequate transition between the sections is that there are way too many words and the writer ran out of pages for his story. It's a coupling of writing about stuff that is completely unnecessary and overwriting what you do need.
An example of the first is in the second scene: "A MAN in his 20’s sleeps soundly on a mattress setting on the floor in the corner of his one room apartment. A kitchenette adorns one side while the only door apart from the entrance leads into the bathroom." Really? Why do I need to know about the kitchenette and the door to the bathroom or anything else? It's an action scene. It should move. Three or four lines, max, in and out. He's asleep on the floor, they kick in the door, grab him and drag him out. I don't need to know about his decorator or his tailor.
The best example of just how overwritten it is can be found in the scene where Maduro is thrown in the cell. It's a stone cell -- there's nothing to describe. The writer kills the tension and buries the momentum of the escape with lots of words. Twenty-Seven lines of prose to get a guy out a hole in the wall? You really want to spend a whole minute in a four by four box as Maduro struggles with a rock?
I also had trouble with some of the character introductions. Why doesn't Frank get an introduction when we first meet him? Are we too distracted by his exposed penis to notice his face? Why does Maduro start out as MAN and then transition into Maduro? It's the same guy. It's not like he pulls off a latex mask.
Then there's the whole Maduro into Raymond issue. You want to keep it a secret that Raymond and Maduro are the same man. But the "secret" just confuses. Why are we at a picnic? Who are we following? The physical transition between the two sections is jarring. If you're going to do that kind of transition you have to tie it to a character and not to a bunch of trees. We have to follow Maduro through those trees to where he is now Raymond or there's no flow.
The ending is a complete ran out of pages cheat . First you move the character of Elvia on stage and she and Raymond talk. You have a son! I didn't mean to betray you! Important stuff and it has no resonance. It's not layered into the story. It's just forced onto the audience. She walks off stage and then Frank takes her place. Then there's the gunfighter showdown. These two guys talking and telling. Here's what you should have seen if I could have been bothered to write it.
There has been an interesting reaction to this one. Personally, I enjoyed it. I agree with Lakewood regards the character introductions. It was obvious that 'Maduro' and 'Raymond' were one and the same - you had nowhere to go with the story otherwise.
I thought you paced what content you have pretty well, however. The first page is a little too long though, 'cos we get half a page of page-eating description, which we could do without.
The character arc of Raymond is pretty clear, and he definitely has a resolution, but I agree that there is no middle as such. He's gets his payoff - however, I agree with Johnny that the years in between are where the real story is.
I will say that I think this one is better than the response has suggested.
I liked this one a lot, some of the dialogue is a bit iffy here and there but the story itself I thought was cool and it did fit well with the theme and challenge and I could tell that a good effort was put into this. I do think it gets a bit too talky near the end, I think the characters suggesting what they know would have made it a bit stronger and a little more intense, still this is a solid entry that fits this challenge so good job.
Just reread this one. Looks like I missed a few things, so I wanted to apologize to the writer, and make some corrections, and give more detailed feedback.
I didn't know what a Deuce and a Half was. Maybe because it wasn't capitalized it didn't register with me? I don't know, but that's why I thought the writer forgot to intro a vehicle of some kind. My bad.
Also missed the 2nd Super, somehow. Looking back, it may have to do with the "Anywhere USA" thing being something that didn't stick with me...not sure. I think there definitely should have been an actual city or whatever name used. Could have had to do with the fact that the Super comes in a bit late? I don't know. Again, my bad.
I originally said that this didn't make sense. It makes more sense after an adddiitonal read, and would probably continue to make even more sense after numerous reads. I think there are too many characters here, and the fact that they are intro'd with different names, and a 24 year gap, makes it tough to stay with things and immidiately know who's who, or who they were 24 years ago.
This is a big story here with grand designs. I think it's too big for 12 pages, and for me personally, the subject matter was difficult to follow. As a few have already commented, the writer could have bought himself a couple extra pages by taking out unneccssary description in the first half.
A better effort than I originally gave it credit for. My apologies to the author here.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
This is pretty well written. A feew problems with descriptions - I really didn't like the He looks like a typcial mestizo, like 90% of the country - but most of that could be easily cleaned up in a second draft.
I think my biggest problem was the ending was pretty obvious. There was no real suspense.
I can see how this story is hit or miss. Although the genre is not my flavor of choice, for the most part I liked what I read on the page. This is no picnic story, however.
The design is straight forward: A setup in 1984 and a payoff in 2008. I don't feel you need the middle story for this short, because it would have no bearing on the ending. Maduro is betrayed/wronged and gets revenge. The mid-story becomes more important if you want to expand and flesh out. Your writing as some suggested, could be more economical.
On page 3, when Maduro is shown in the cell, you tell us the door slams. I'd drop that and just open with him resting in the cell, maybe formulating a plan.
I didn't care much for his escape. On first read, I thought the guy was hallucinating -- kind of a take on "An Occurrence at Owl Creek" by Ambrose Bierce. It had that feel. When I realized Maduro actually broke out of the cell, it seemed off. Too easy. And he seemed to make it home pretty quick. I think it was just the quick cuts from jail cell to forest and then forest to home.
I think it was Dreamscale who mentioned not liking the Super: Anywhere USA. I too would like a specific location. Because Maduro/Raymond has waited 24 years for this opportunity, let this be in a specific city. Miami?
The secret I think is that Maduro is the father of Elvia's son. Correct? After learning this news, there wasn't much reaction on Raymond's part. I think this secret should impact the ending. As is, Raymond just proceeds with his revenge plan. Something feels amiss. Instead of all the chit chat between Raymond and Frank, how about some kind of encounter between Raymond and his now-grown son?
The interplay between Frank and Raymond was performed too much for our sake. It would work better if Frank denies knowing Raymond and his past. And I didn't care for the ending. It seemed predictable and routine. Again, I'd like the son to play a part in all of this.
With that said, I commend you on undertaking a huge story. It does need more pages to stretch its legs, but your writing is quite solid. I had no problems with the split story: setup and payoff. I just think that the motives and reactions should be reworked.
I've just finished reading this and I don't agree with many of the comments. I enjoyed this a fair bit, found it easy to follow, even if it's a bit over descriptive at times. The writing was clear, easy to understand and made a difficult story easy to read for me anyway.
This is a big story, maybe too big for 12 pages but I think you pulled it off. It gets a bit crammed at the end with the big blocks of dialogue filling us in on everything but I liked the last few lines of dialogue before the gunshot. It left me with a smile on my face.
The story was fine. The cell escape was far too easy (or was it meant to be that way? Now my head's spinning!). Raymond's lack of reaction when he finds out he's the father was starnge, but then again, he does kill for a living. Communists and CIA matters are heavy subjects handled very well in the 12 pages. I will be sure to give this another read soon, I think there's something here I'm missing but as it is, I don't think it's getting the credit it deserves on here.
This is definitely better than most of the earlier comments made it out to be but still far from perfect. What's off is the flow and to me it felt like I was reading two seperate stories.
While I understand that you wanted the character reveals at the end to be a surprise I still think you should've kept them consistant because it added unnecessary confusion. Take for instance when he goes to Elvira's house after escaping the prison and sees a man and a woman in bed. You could've told us who these two were or atleast that the girl was Elvira. When I read it I thought he was looking for someone but wandered in on two people he didn't know (wrong room, wrong house, the guy's nuts, something?). I also think Raymond and Gerald's conversation could be trimmed. Who cares that they both have gym memberships? Gerald says on the next page that he met Raymond at the gym so that should be enough.
Overall, another really ambitious story that wasn't able to be fully executed in 12 pages. It looks like a solid story and conflict though, just expand it out some so that the audience actually sees some of the stuff the two merely talk about at the end.