Short Story The Fate of the Socratic Method

Discussion in 'The Writer's Corner' started by Ninva, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. Ninva

    Ninva Анна Ахматова

    This is another one of my little Gogolian prose experiments. I was trying to work with suspense in a horror story format in a dream-like setting. I wasn't working with descriptions too much, but they're there to criticize if you find them difficult to follow.


    The glossy eyes of Stuart Pete stared at that black box TV. Lines of black and white static were dripping across the screen as the buzz of the electric-wave ocean ripped through the empty room of 506. But before the lines of static, before the empty room, there was life still here, somewhere. For a brief five seconds, life was on the screen, and it was speaking to Stuart: “Please, leave your homes; you're all in danger here; get out or die.” Then this, this flickering and the sound of a crumpling newspaper echoed out of the black box TV. Leaving him, with this static.

    Stuart left the apartment and headed towards the stairway; some doors were partially opened while others were closed. He escaped the fifth floor and descended, not turning back to hear the static that haunted him – the static of that room: 506.

    Upon entering the first floor, he had to begin to wonder where the world had gone. There was a dingy, dim saturation and a hue of light gray and blue painting itself across the bare, blank hallway walls of the building. Stuart could not believe it, but he saw the bodies.

    He dared not to count them or to see which one. There were just bodies, bodies that he knew, but he dared not to know them. He vomited, and staggered out of the emergency exit – dizzy and sick from the static in his head that ripped through his senses like an electric-wave ocean. Stumbling now, he felt the drips of blood ooze from his forehead. His pores were bleeding! Bleeding!

    “Oh god,” he muttered, “oh god! Oh my god!” He began running, dazed and in shock. A figure, at full gallop, was now approaching him from beyond an open field. Stuart couldn't hear it coming as he cried with the pain and the static splitting his eardrums. He shouted: “Oh my god! What have I done!?! Oh my god! Please!”

    The figure made contact with Stuart as was leaving the apartment building parking lot. Stuart collapsed and died as his heart, arteries, and lungs were shredded from his body and devoured. A man then came out from the nearby church, seeing this entire episode, laughed and killed himself with a gun that he meant to use on the figure. His name was Socrates.
  2. Fatmankev

    Fatmankev Chef, Writer, and Midnight Toker

    Alright. I need to start by telling you that there is too much depth to your writing. I have to think too hard about it, and it ends up pissing me off every time because I know I'm going to interpret it incorrectly. It's not necessarily a bad thing, and is definitely a very good thing in certain situations (mostly pertaining to school, I'd imagine), but man does it make it rough on me. Now, bitching aside, here's what I've got to say about it:

    First three paragraphs were really quite well done, I thought (although I have a creeping feeling that you'd disagree, for some reason). The dripping lines of the electric wave ocean and the static and all was so descriptive that I was hurled into that world, into the bleak and unfamiliar room 506. I could hear the static as it broke and crashed back when the person had flashed on the screen telling him to escape, I could feel that sickening sense of dread weighing Stuart's stomach down, and the surreal quality of the building and its lifeless walls. I was definitely getting movie-esque scenes going in my head, imagining this all with a thrilling, horror-twist.

    The bodies seemed odd, out of place even, but I guess not given the way the story goes. I think what my real problem was here is that the story is taking a turn in a new direction, heading for that unusual, mystifying and confusing sort of tone that your stories tend to take (no offense intended there, truly). It seems like you're racing for the abstract after this point, completely changing the way you describe the surroundings and Stuart without much in-between.

    And I've got to be honest, I don't understand the end, or the figure in the field. I really don't. You're gonna have to explain that one to me. Still, I appreciate you sharing, and I was serious about the vivid imagery towards the beginning. It really put me somewhere else for a minute. I'd recommend that you be more aware of what you're writing as you're making your transitions from one scene to the next, or even from one thought to the next. Perhaps if it weren't so abrupt at points it wouldn't have jostled me out of the moment like it did. Then again, maybe if I knew what your point was, or what Gogolian prose was, it would all make perfect sense to me.

    Keep on writing, man. Good stuff.
  3. Ninva

    Ninva Анна Ахматова

    Thanks for the sincere criticism, man! I really do appreciate you calling me out on my sudden transitioning -- especially where you indicated it. What is quite sad is that this often happens to me in regular conversations too. I'd be talking very eloquently until suddenly an unspoken transition occurs, and the conversation sours downward into a super-surreal portrait that should only belong in the New York Modern Art exhibit.

    I've been going through some rough times emotionally and mentally, living on a campus where a lot of pressure is being put on me. And my life thus far hasn't been less than complicated, so I feel like all of that twists around in me and is embedded into my language -- creating this terribly distorted tone.

    I think this trend should end, and with more practice, I will be able to produce less surreal pieces and more gripping and flowing shorts/novellas. I'll keep your advice in mind while I'm writing my novel this summer and make sure to check myself at all times. I guess I'm a bit worried that perhaps this can't be reversed and that I'll be cursed to spend my life writing odd transitions from good prose to nightmare.

    Thanks for reading, always.

    P.S. I hope one day I get a sack full of money, so I can write just terrible novels that college kids would waste their time reading because it's useless and unique -- "true art."
  4. Fatmankev

    Fatmankev Chef, Writer, and Midnight Toker

    I can only hope that that very thing happens for you. I didn't mean to offend, btw - keep in mind that I smoke cannabis every day, many times a day, without exception. Although I don't often point out the downsides to weed, it can make you less willing to use your fuller and deeper cognitive processes, including trying to critically analyze others' literature. That's why I said what I did, and that's why I personally have some troubles with the occasional piece you release. Knowing that, and considering that positive criticism is fairly worthless when it comes to anything, writing included, I want you to know that I did enjoy reading this. And there's no 'ifs, ands or buts' about that.

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