Friday, June 06, 2008

Rod part zero of six

I wrote this seven part series for Burst Fiction. I thought it was a cool idea, and brand new. The idea is really short stories for those with short attention spans. Each story is about 1000 characters. Well, Eric posted my first story, but has been very slow to post part two. So here are all seven parts, about one per day. Eric has put alot of effort into the site. I read it with an RSS reader, and so don't get that formatting. His value add seems to be in picking stories he likes and releasing about one per day. I thought this idea was brand new. But, judging by the quantity of content, ficlets have been around for awhile.

One thousand characters isn't much. If words are on average 5 characters, and you need a space between words, it's only 167 words. That's really constrained. So you get story snippets that remind of a turning point in a story. Further, you get poetry in prose form. For example, each sentence might be purposely written ambiguously, and all meanings are intended. So, far from food for the impatient, these little stories can require significant study. So, AFAICT, not new, and not for short attention spans. Another trick is to play to stereotypes. That way you don't have to explain so much. Pick a Universe everyone already knows. I personally like the unexpected twist for an ending. Harder to do with a story that can be read at a glance.

Eric has also put alot of effort into the site. I read it with an RSS reader, and don't get that formatting. Honestly, i find it annoying. Yet another unique user interface that is barely discoverable.

The exercise is valuable. Write some. Leave them in the comments.

My first draft of "Rod" was from a preface or chapter one. But there wasn't much action. So it got moved to chapter three or four. To save space, the first draft omitted all character names. Without further ado, the story:

The first incoming torpedo destroyed Cruiser Chanuk’s main engine. Inertial dampers went down seconds later. The second hit slammed everyone who wasn’t strapped down into a wall. 90% casualties, including all bridge officers. The Chanuk would likely sit out the battle. Ensign Sook took command. She didn’t have to like it.

"Private Rod, why haven’t you reported to sick bay?" asked acting Captain Sook.

"I’m fine, uhm, Captain. Sir! And I have no biological parts."

"You’re an android? Your dossier says human."

"Yes, but my body rejects transplants. So as bits fail, they’re replaced by prosthetics."

"Not everything can be replaced, can it?"

"I suffered brain death two months before signing up for Earth Defense Fleet. No big deal. Most of it had been replaced already."

"Cyborg, then. Why doesn’t it say Cyborg?"

"There’s been no enhancement. Certified prothestics."

"Well, when did you first start getting replacements?"

"At about seven, my dentist put in two fillings."

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