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Last hurrah is right. You're either moving forward, or moving back. I must say, this was one depressing tale, and don't know why I kept reading, but i did... and I think this acurate... America's filled with towns and stories like this. I can only hope when we're in the sunset of our lives, the world will be better than the one you dropped "Oscar" in.
Shorts are what they are, just that. I try not to read too much into them. This was a simple, it played out the way you intended, so fair enough... no hiccups with it or the writing... though some will probably say parts of the action is overwritten. Just a question -- when you gave birth to Oscar, did you ever think to drop a line or two about a possible family, or kids?
I like the contrast you made between the "OFFICERS" from 1977 and in the present.
As sad as it was, i enjoyed this. No need to return the read.
THE HUNT FOR D.B. COOPER
GHOSTS OF APPALOOSA
RISE OF THE AMAZONS
THE SLEEPING TIGER
"When I dive... I go deep, only to surface the hub when necessary."
Another good read. I like how you paint your stories, good visuals, good characters....
I like this because sure, it has its morose landscape, yet I feel a sense of progress within your main character... I can't put a finger on it, perhaps it seems he has cleaned himself up and is moving on, or that he has just accepted his lot in life, a decided not let the world make him bitter. I'm not sure but It didn't seem all depressing... perhaps that's just me.
When I was reading and the cops showed up, I was like, oh great here comes the d#ck cops, but then they were pretty cool... but you didn't disappoint with the present day cops, LOL, good job.
America's filled with towns and stories like this. I can only hope when we're in the sunset of our lives, the world will be better than the one you dropped "Oscar" in.
Unfortunately, this is Youngstown today. (and I imagine almost any rust belt city from here to Chicago). I'll be honest... I hate living here. It's violent and ugly. :-) But the decay is oh so inspirational! (If you're a depressing writer. :-)
And yeah, I did try to tell this story more with just one's man actions than with dialogue and him interacting in every scene, so I could see how this could be over-written. I might have to take one more editing sweep through to get rid of anything that's non-important.
Quoted from ghostwriter
when you gave birth to Oscar, did you ever think to drop a line or two about a possible family, or kids?
Although the character of Oscar was very very loosely based on my great-grandfather (whose last name was Burnside), in this story, I always saw him as more of a loner, so I didn't think about the family angle too much. My great-grandfather did work in the mills, but he retired well before they shut down. And as far as I know, he wasn't an alcoholic. (Although, I did notice if he ever did drink, it was always a tall glass of Budweiser during 'Quantum Leap'.)
One of my favorite parts of the story is the difference between police officers when I was younger and the cops now. I had to work that in somehow.
Thank you very much for your thoughts, Ghostie. I appreciate it and I'm glad you enjoyed this.
Yeah. Unfortunately, this one wasn't exactly fiction. Although the story at heart is made up, the events of Black Monday and the mill are all real. (And, just in case you're interested, the first window on the top row farthest from the bridge is actually broken, though it was probably hit with a rock more than most likely.)
Uh-oh. :-) Oops regarding the crowbar. I meant one of the crowbars that has a chisel-end. Crap. I might have to go back and overwrite this some more now!
Hmm. Jack London. I'll take that. I do love short stories, they are my favorite, and I am focusing on them explicitly right now just to build up my resume some, but I'm also hard at work on some features. Can't wait til I have enough money I don't have to work and can write full time rather than just an hour or two a night.
Thanks for taking a look, Gabe. How's the rewrite for Max's Traveling Circus coming along?
Thanks for taking a read. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
I'm glad you saw the part of the story that Oscar wasn't going to let this situation get the best of him. He's been through other bad stuff and coped and survived and moved on and he knows he can do the same again.
At the same time, I know it was a depressing situation, and hopefully the city itself is coming off as the antagonist of the story. (And maybe the banks a little bit. :-)
I almost thought about not bringing the cops into the flashback nor the present day, but they're such an honest portrayal about the changing times, I couldn't resist it.
Again, I read one of your scripts and don't even realize it's over. Although the differences between the cops in the two time periods was interesting, my favorite part of this was when Oscar clearly decided to cheat his way for such a meager legacy. As I'm typing this I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.
Another aspect of this that intrest me is how you blend with the psychological impact of society. I'm pleased you didn't try to force more backstory because you already established the your theme IMO by stating:
OSCAR Why? So we'll have to go through this again in a year? And then in two years?
Mark, excellent job. Story was tailored nicely from one segment to another. Painted a very vivid picture that I could easily visualize in my mind. I think the ending fell a little flat for me, but maybe it was because I was expecting something more to happen, but I think the ending is more like real life. I guess we're all just accustomed to the typical Hollywood ending where everything works out in the end.
Just some quick notes I jotted down which are really minor quibbles:
There's no Fade in: to open or Fade out or The End at the end. Maybe that's why I got thrown off by the ending, because I thought there was something else coming, that perhaps a page was missing off the end. Just need to let us know where you've stopped the story.
Page 3: the banks buildings are "now rented out floor by floor months at a time." I think that's an unfilmable, since there's no way to show it, so maybe you reword that line.
Same page: DISSOLVE TO:
I was just change this to SUPER: 1977. Otherwise, no way for the viewer to know the time frame.
Same page: "Steps out his pick-up" s/b "steps out of his pick-up". You then say "and look at how empty it is." I assume you mean the parking lot, but by the way it's phrased within that sentence, it appears you're talking about how empty the truck is.
Page 4: "JOHN WEBSTER, 40's, steps out and calls." To whom? Edward? Oscar? Someone on the phone? I know you're talking about Oscar, but need to just make that clear.
If there was anything else, it didn't jump out at me. Great work here.
Hmm. Some insight. I'll probably have to explain most of this in PM as it could drag on a little bit exactly where this story came from and the deeper thoughts I had while writing. A great deal of it is based off real life, of course, and listening to the older folks I come in contact with complain about how much the city's changed since back in it's hay day. Young folks complain too, but in a different way. They were never around to see the city flourishing, so it's total negativity, while old folks's complaints are just negativity for the present and past couple decades.
:-) I guess I put a little of myself in Oscar. When things aren't going good, I just like looking for the small wins in life, and it helps keep me positive. I love it when it's sprinkling outside. It's my favorite weather. That's why Oscar smiled when he realized it was raining. Him breaking that corner window was his own little victory to remind him not to become bitter at everything happening around him. I don't go around breaking windows with vodka bottles, but I do find my little victories that abide my depression when it hits.
Hopefully, that explains Oscar sort of cheating his way to a meager legacy. (It's not really cheating if there were never really rules in place. :-)
Thanks for the read, Johnny. I'll be talking to you in a few.
Thanks for checking it out. And thank you very much for the compliment.
Yeah, I don't really pay too much attention to slugs while I'm writing, as long as the picture gets across clear. Honestly, I don't even concentrate on them like I should when I go back and do my rewrites. Usually, it takes the help from somebody here at SS to remind me to go back and brush up the slugs as well. You're that lucky person to have to remind me this time. :-)
Again. Thanks for the read. I'm happy you liked it.
I can't believe I forgot the FADE IN:! You don't know how pissed I am at myself right now! I seriously went back to check to make sure you weren't effing with me. I can't believe I never noticed it in any of my rereads, either. I just took it for granted.
In a couple of my stories, one thing I like to do is open it up in mid-conversation, and I purposely leave the Fade In out and jump right in mid-sentence. This story, though, I did want the FADE IN there. Thanks for catching that for me.
And thanks for the other mistakes you pointed out as well. I should've caught them myself. They'll be brushed up on my next rewrite.
I did put the one unfilmable you mentioned in there on purpose, though. While the 'months at a time' part is a true unfilmable, there are real estate signs hung up in quite a few of the windows. You are right, though, I should go back and take the little bit of time to directly say 'realty signs in the windows'.
I also left the SUPER out on purpose for the flashback. I'm experimenting with if it's totally necessary to put SUPER: in if the words are already bolded and highlighted as the time frame. Myself, I like not seeing the word SUPER: in there, as long as it makes sense.
Thanks for pointing out the things you saw, Gary. I was hoping not to have to come back to this one and fix it up anymore, but I'm starting to realize that's there really is no such thing as a final draft.
And thank you for the compliments, too. I'm glad you liked it.
I cracked this open because of the title - I wondered if someone was writing a story about DCI Burnside, the no-nonsense cop who featured in a short-lived UK television series of the same name.
Well, I was totally off the mark. But upon seeing your name attached, was happy to jump in and give it a read.
It's a good, yet depressing read. The real winner of the story here has to be the declining town which you've captured magnificently, and how it affects the population. It takes me back to the 80s when the steelworks were all closing down in Sheffield, not that I was old enough to fully appreciate what was happening to these workers at the time. To then look back through the comments and see this is actually a reality makes it even more depressing but I guess this type of situation is happening in a lot of towns around the world today.
Oscar's a sad but likable character and I guess this was a sort of little victory (the breaking of the window I mean) when everything else seems to have gone against him although I couldn't help thinking that he cheated and whether it would have been a bigger victory to have him accomplish it from the bridge.
The use of police in different generations was a nice touch, showing the almost lack of hospitality in today's society.
The writing's good like always although a few things could have been tightened up for a quicker read. Little niggles: Is it Ernie or Ernest? I know it's same but he's introduced as Ernie and Oscar calls him Ernie at first but then changes to Ernest. Think it's best to be consistent.
Oscar fills up the duffel bag at the beginning with the crowbar (chisel) and hammer. He then throws them away after chiseling his name into the pavement so why did he carry on struggling with both bags?
Like I say, niggles and nothing really to worry about. I enjoyed the read.
So i'm off work sick, with kid coughing over me all night and I was in the mood for a comedy to cheer me up. So after reading your short i'm about to put my nuts in a blender
This flowed very easily and you know how to paint a very vivid picture. I like how Oscar felt justified at breaking the window.
Obviously Oscar was the only character you really get involved with, as the others all played very minor roles, but you captured his mood really well and kept the tone throughout and I never once felt it was overplayed.
Just a nitpick, but Oscar was in his 30's when he was fired and he waited until his 70's before he broke the window. First of all, wouldn't he find another job, he is only in his 30's. I could see it, if he was 55 or 60.
What was he doing for the next 40 years? squatting? maybe I missed something.
Either way, your writing is excellant and I should read some more of yours... any recommendations?