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Saturated_Brain's avatar

Could I please get some input on my short story?

Asked by Saturated_Brain (5235points) May 31st, 2009

Basically, during English my teacher wanted us to do on short stories. So he gave each of us a random picture. Mine was of a gargoyle. I created it quite quickly and presented it to the class two days after. You tell me what you think of it first and how you think I should improve it (structure-wise, in terms of vocabulary, punctuation blah-de-blah..)

Here it is:
Time in Stone

I stopped as I was walking towards the city square. There was a gargoyle on the crumbling facade of a building. Water was pouring out of its mouth into a basin, overflowing into a hole in the ground which somehow channeled the water back to the mouth of the gargoyle.

I lowered my camera and began to think to myself.

By whose hands did this beast come to being? A genius? Some menial workers who were not paid enough to even buy a loaf of bread? Did the sweat and blood which created it look as pained as the look chiseled onto its face now? Chained to the machinery of society?

By whose plans were the pipes engineered to fit into the vast maze of plumbing existing beneath this city, a whole network explored as much as the moon?

Under which king was this statue created? A iron-handed king? A benevolent dictator?

Was it unveiled to great fanfare, graced by the monarch in all his finery? Or quietly started, the water pouring out of its virgin mouth like a gentle stream, beginning a cycle which would last for centuries?

What happened to this gargoyle as the city was in the throes of revolution, with bullets flying and swords flashing?

Did anybody fall in front of you gargoyle? To be taken away by comrades or to be kicked into the gutter with hatred?

And as the skies filled with the planes of the enemy, what were you doing gargoyle? Did you recoil in fear? Were you afraid that you would be destroyed in a single blast, to disappear forever? Did you think that the water pouring through your mouth would never do so again?

And now… You are faced with a new threat. Will the venom-tinged rain from the skies slowly etch away the fine details of pain in your face? Will you one day be molded by poisonous water into formless rock, a victim of man’s greed for material comfort?

And in the centuries to come, will you still be here, dear creature of stone? Will you be torn down from your perch to make way for the new? Will you be remembered when you are no more? For though you have survived far longer than the short life of a man, you will never last forever: brief in the sands of time.

But do you ever wonder, gargoyle? Do you, as you sit there with water calmly flowing from you? Or do you just exist like the animals, never wondering, never seeking, just being.

As I pondered on this, I lifted my camera up again. And took a picture and carried on walking towards the city square.

There were ten thousand more such gargoyles in the city. That’s what the travel brochure said.

So yeap, improvements tip would be greatly appreciated! And from what I gathered, my class generally liked it.

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11 Answers

Saturated_Brain's avatar

And actually, I was also wondering whether it should even be considered a short story, because I feel that in some ways it delves into poetry (or at least attempted poetry).

cyn's avatar

USE TRANSITIONS! never start a sentence with there was, there is, this was, this is,etc. etc. But do you ever wonder, gargoyle? Do you, as you sit there with water calmly flowing from you? Or do you just exist like the animals, never wondering, never seeking, just being.:-huh?me don’t get it!
too many questions asked, so remind me again why it’s called short story? i agree with Saturated_Brain. Also, the topic on this essay is pretty clever gargoyle reminds me of that cartoon on disney.

Kayak8's avatar

I too am struggling with this as a short story. I guess I still want a plot and a resolution to whatever conflict is introduced. This strikes me as being a snapshot (a specific moment in time) but I want a story to move me from one moment to another. I also can’t picture the gargoyle as you provided very few descriptive elements.

What if you were to change your point of view? For example, you are home after travelling and looking over your pictures from the trip. You go through some amount of digital complexity to make the gargoyle image more crisp and you start to notice things about the image. This gives you a chance to wonder under whose reign it was created, how did it get that scrape, observe the damage from acid rain, etc. and then do your homework (in the story) to answer some of your own questions.

I think the poignancy you are trying to wring from this is the “gargoyle as silent witness” and then to think there are 10,000 more silent witnesses is interesting. I want you to TELL me what the gargoyle has witnessed (if you ask me and I have to do the work, I don’t care as much).

shrubbery's avatar

I think there are too many questions and not enough answers.
Maybe either provide answers of your own, or write it in such a way that the reader comes up with these questions themselves, instead of being bombarded with them. I don’t know. Kayak8’s advice is good, but I’m not sure that touching up a picture on the computer provides any more of a plot, conflict and resolution…. or at least a very interesting one. Then again, I believe that a story doesn’t always have to be linear and have a beginning, middle and end neatly stacked up. It’s an interesting concept though, I like it.

augustlan's avatar

I really like the feelings evoked by this, but I’m not sure it qualifies as a short story, either. More of an essay. Also, ‘A iron-handed king’ should be ’An iron-handed king’.

cricketonastick's avatar

Very interesting subject! It’s very well written.. but personally, all the questions distracted me a bit, and instead of my actually taking them in I skipped ahead to find period-ed sentences. I agree with the comments of it being poetry – and I think that I might enjoy it much more if I heard it read instead of reading it.

Kayak8's avatar

@shrubbery Not a recommendation, just an example . . .

Ria777's avatar

brilliant. you have the talent of a real writer, whatever that means.

I wouldn’t listen to Cyndi’s advice to use transitions. it reads fine already. ditto, lack of plot. it works perfectly well already.

I think you have only three few phrases or word choices that I would correct. I won’t tell you which ones to fix because if you took my advice I will have helped you write your assignment.

cyn's avatar

you’re telling this kiddo to not listen to me, but why are you telling this kid that he/she has the talent of a real writer and say that his/her story is lacking plot and have a few phrases/word choices to correct?

wundayatta's avatar

I think there is a plot. Tourist sees interesting carving, takes picture, wonders a lot of shit about the carving, then says, oh well, and moves on without a further thought.

It’s as if knowledge is temporary and not necessarily relevant; perhaps like a critique of school?

It’s about the process of attention and thought, and as such, it does show, instead of telling. I think it’s good enough. But I’m sort of wondering, why bother? The description of the gargoyle is rather cliche, and so are the questions. I’d like to hear more depth of thought, and see more precise, interesting descriptions. It needs to resonate more; be more powerful, if you are to get away with it. I had the sense that you were making stuff up, and you didn’t really know the gargoyle. I mean, as author, not as protagonist. The protagonist seemed to be echoing the author’s thinking, and critiquing the assignment, and yeah, it’s old hat, that way. You can do better.

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