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A Jaunt in the Woods

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#1 Offline Danska: Shadow Master

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Posted Oct 21 2012 - 07:27 PM

A rather rushed entry (for the Ambage Flash Fiction Contest) due to a horrendous lack of motivation this past week, which I eventually got round by basing it very loosely on a real experience I had. "Inspired by real events" rather than "based on a true story".

A Jaunt in the Woods

“Just admit it! We are completely lost!” Jack shouted angrily, adjusting his hood.“Look, we’re a bit off track, but that doesn’t mean we’re lost! Just- give me a minute, ok?” Liz responded, hunched over in an attempt to keep the map out of the rain.“Yeah, well. I’ve heard that before,” Jack grunted, slumping down on a partially dry log.Liz shuffled over to him. “I’ve worked it out, see? If we take the next path northeast, we’ll get to the first checkpoint and from there it’s a straight walk down the open road.”“Oh, and I’m supposed to believe you this time over the last three times because...” growled Jack irritably. “You can’t even work out where we are! How can you decide which direction- in fact, give me that-“ he said, making a grab for the map.Liz pulled back. “Hey! You don’t even know how to read this thing properly-““And you do?”“-we agreed, I do the map work. Now look! We are definitely around here somewhere. Got to be!” She said, indicating an area a few miles across. “Now I know it’s not precise-““You don’t say.”“-but the point is, wherever we are, we keep going northeast, we hit the road and from there it’s easy! Or would you rather sit around complaining all day?”“Fine!” Jack shouted. “Let’s go! Maybe this time we’ll get somewhere rather than turning aimlessly through the middle of nowhere! Wouldn’t that be nice!”“If you’re not going to be helpful then at least stop shouting!” Liz exclaimed. “This isn’t exactly easy for me either, you know!”“Fine. If that’s how you want it,” Jack grunted, dragging his feet as he followed Liz.From their small clearing they descended down a narrow path, thick with branches and roots that lay in wait for the first sign of a false step or careless move. The trees that lined each side were tall and thick with dozens of branches that wormed their way across and over and all around the path, interlocking into a wall as thick and impenetrable as concrete. It seemed only an accident that the path could be traversed at all. An accident the woods seemed determined to rectify.Though the tree cover was thick, it provided no relief from the endless downpour the skies had unleashed upon them. The rain caught on the branches and the leaves and slid, showering the path not in an even downpour, but in heavy cascades that soaked travellers to the skin.The path widened, and forked. Liz scurried to check the map, hoping this might help them pinpoint their location, but found her efforts unrewarding. She shrugged, took a quick compass bearing, and directed them along the right fork.“Just what are we doing here anyway?” Jack burst out.“It’s called hiking! And it’s fun!” Liz barked back.“Fun? Yes! Of course! Walking for hours through the middle of nowhere with no idea where we are, where we’re going, getting completely soaked – that’s exactly my idea of fun!” Jack growled.“And what would you rather be doing? Sitting around watching repeats of trash on TV?”“There isn’t a TV...” Jack interrupted, but Liz didn’t break stride for a moment.“-wander gormlessly down some noisy beach filled with dumb tourists and screaming kids? Well I’m sorry if you want your life to be that dull and monotonous, but I happen-““Hey, shut up a second.”“What did you say?” Liz screamed.“No, seriously, just be quiet a moment and listen.”Her gaze seemed ready to disembowel him at a second’s notice, but she stopped and listened. It was faint, but she thought she heard“Traffic. That’s traffic, right?” Jack said excitedly.Liz had to admit he was right. It did not sound like there was much of it, but the sound was unmistakable.“Which way?” Jack asked.“This way of course, come on!” Liz said, bright eyed, dragging him down the path. “We’ll be back in no time!”A short walk through some brambles, two careful navigations around large, muddy puddles and a hop over a fallen tree later, they came out onto a small, dimly lit but obviously well used road.“So, where are we? You said you could figure it out,” Jack asked, relief showing plainly on his face.“Yes yes, just a moment,” Liz said, orienting the map. She had noticed a sign just across the road, which gave her an easy reference for their location. She placed her finger on where they should be on the map and scanned the area. Seeing nothing, she scanned areas slightly farther afield. Still nothing. After double checking those areas, she turned her attention to the rest of the page.“Well? Have you found it?” Jack asked again.“Yes, I have,” Liz said tentatively.“What is it?” Jack asked apprehensively.Liz showed him the map. “Well, you see here,” she pointed to where they were meant to be. “We’re um, here,” she finished, pointing to somewhere that was very definitely not where they were meant to be.For a few seconds, Jack just stared. He began to open his mouth, but quickly closed it again. He got to his feet and shouldered his pack, ready to leave.Liz stowed the map away in her bag and they were silent for a moment.“So, did you want to say something?” Asked Liz.“No. You?”“No.”They glanced at each other for a moment. Jack shrugged, and they began their long journey down the road.

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#2 Offline Kragghle

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Posted Oct 25 2012 - 10:24 AM

:kaukau: I find this oddly relatable at present because I read this after i just got out of the rain. My socks are wet and miserable. In every aspect, I think I read this story at just the right time.The plot is, of course, very straight forward. They're lost, they argue a bit using words that minutes later neither will remember, and then they encounter a road. I have nothing against the simplicity, and I understand that you had a word limit, so this can't possibly be one of your better stories. However, if I could make one change, there would be just one really snappy piece of dialogue somewhere in there that gave the journey something of a twist, or you could have revealed something about the relationship between Liz and Jack, since I was curious as to who they were. If they were husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, or just really odd friends, I really wanted to know and this was a detail you could have given near the end of the story that would have given it a little more life.This may just be me, but the name Jack somehow doesn't help characterize the male character. While of course a name doesn't have to be connotative anything, I would have gone with something like Greg (meaning "watcher"), just because the way it sounds makes the reading flow in such a way that wold be a little more beneficial to your story.I do have to wonder what you meant when you typed the phrase "wander gormlessly", though. I'm guessing this was a typo, although I'm not sure what you intended to say.


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#3 Offline Danska: Shadow Master

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Posted Oct 25 2012 - 07:15 PM

When it comes to naming characters, I generally just pick whatever name comes to me first. I've never been good at the meaningful or inventive names thing (though I do try and avoid repeating names between stories).I would have liked to put in some sort of twist in as well (or just somewhere for the story to go) and I definitely feel the story could benefit from having a bit more to it, but that just didn't quite happen. Same with the relationship between the two characters. If I'd started earlier/had more time, I could have hammered out better what they meant to each other and incorporated that into the story. As it is, I'm not too sure either. I never did make my mind up. :PDefinitely valid criticisms, all of which I did consider at one point or another that I probably should have tried harder to overcome. I'm definitely not standing by this as one of my better stories, but hey, I managed to write something and hopefully learnt a thing or two from it. My hopes are that future stories will be better.Gormless is essentially another way or saying stupid or dull-witted. So to wander gormlessly would be to signify firstly moving around with no real intent or purpose, and to be doing so in a rather stupid or un-energetic manner. Someone who's just there with no real purpose or interest in being there, no enthusiasm and in a dull and uninteresting manner.Thanks very much for reading! :)

Edited by Danska: Shadow Master, Oct 25 2012 - 07:15 PM.

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#4 Offline Nuile the Paracosmic Tulpa

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Posted Mar 13 2013 - 11:06 PM

[color=rgb(0,128,0);]Nuile reporting with an unrequested review courtesy of the SSCC. Now there's no getting away from us. :evilgrin:[/color] 


[color=rgb(0,128,0);]It began as an amusing scene about two hikers lost in the rain, regaling us with their banter as they sought to find their way home. And then with an inexplicable twist at the end that hints of some mysterious intimation--but what is that intimation? Where were they that they were not meant to be? You give no hint of what's amiss and only a vague hint that something is amiss at all.Instead of leaving your reader confounded, I say, why have a twist at all? You have right here a lovely piece of life fiction that could, with a little improvement, stand on its own. As it stands all it needs is a little point. All that takes is some additional seasoning: a sprinkling more of humor if that's the flavor you want, a shot of action if you want some zest, a dash of romance for a savory sweetness. Or stir in a some simple, homemade conversation for heartwarmth.There's also a lack in information regarding the characters: Who are they? Where are they? Why are they there? The Where is vaguely explained and, perhaps, needs nothing further; the Why--hiking--is not established early on and could use a little elaboration I think; the Who is a question I actually do not mind going unanswered. Especially in flash fiction these characters did not need any elaboration of stated detail.Dialogue is where it's at with the characters; and the dialogue felt a little stiff to me. I believe that this was due in no small part to the melodramatic profusion of exclamation points. It lost a little vitality through its lack of proper tone. I won't deny that two people lost in the rain are bound to be shouting at one another; but it's not enough to append an exclamation point after the words: the words have to have the shouting tone.Grammatically I just want to point this out:[/color] 

[color=rgb(0,0,0);]"So, did you want to say something?" Asked Liz.[/color]

[color=rgb(0,128,0);]That should not be capitalized. This is a common mistake, one I see all the time. Unless it's a proper noun--which this is not--the word following a quotation should not be capitalized because it is, technically, part of the same sentence. Oddly this rule does not apply in reverse:[/color] 

[color=rgb(0,0,0);]Asked Liz, "So, did you want to say something?"[/color]

[color=rgb(0,128,0);]A quotation should always be capitalized.Otherwise you did well.On the whole, it wasn't a great story, nor was it a bad story; it was all right. Without the abstruse twist it would have been better, with more vitality it could be excellent. Whether you take this and rewrite it or up your game by writing something entirely different,[/color] 

[color=rgb(0,128,0);]Keep writing,[/color]


[color=rgb(0,128,0);]Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith :smilemirunu:[/color]

Edited by Nuile: The Wiseguy, Mar 20 2013 - 08:41 PM.

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