Writing exercise or: The shimmering day of self doubt.

You would think we would have been more shook up by the whole ordeal. But the thing is we started doubting that we should be freaked out at all. I mean, so there were these things of shimmering colours floating above us, some purple in skin others resembled small globes of condensed aurora borealis. I saw one floating in my window that time and it had the texture of what I always imagined dragon eggs would look. I mean I think I did, or maybe I heard about it. I’m not sure.

So anyway, my point was that we were all scared, but then we started talking to each other and the mayor said that, you know, there had been so many books and films about making contact, should we really start screaming and flailing when it finally happened? Most agreed, but we did drag into question the fact that he had been seen the other day out with his niece blowing bubbles in the park. So there was that.

After that we started talking to them, like they were that neighbour you’re straining to keep up a relationship with even though you’re pretty sure he borrowed that thingy that time and hasn’t returned it. But since you can’t remember what it was you sorta let it go. Sorta. So we did our how do you dos and your nice weather today. But all they ever really said was a low, almost like a hissing in bass. “Is it?” and in the beginning you would sorta just shrug and walk away. Alien blobs don’t know anything about spring or nice weather anyway, so you just assumed it was a bit confused about the whole ordeal. I mean, we were.

After that everything escalated very quickly. Did we have dinner yesterday? I could have sworn we had pork chops, but even as I looked down on the scraps of food on the leftover plate, I couldn’t be sure. My uncle started taking his medicine in funny ways, 3 tablets after each other and then nothing for days. When I asked him if he was fine he said that he had been to a doctor the other day, or so he thought, he didn’t recall. He died on the morning of the Shimmer Day.

So we were obviously not sure why they came, and after several attempts of communicating the world leaders got together and said that they had organised a sit down with the blobs. Well, I mean they might have thought about it, but once they got together they all sorta just wandered about in front of the camera saying that “uhm and yeah… so…uh, I think there was supposed to be cake”.  Someone fired a gun, or atleast someone shouted that a gun had been fired, and the camera stayed on the entire time. Trampeling, fires, chaos, the president sitting in the corner eating cheesecake claiming that he had the situation under control.

When later they retold this story to the press outside, someone said there was a shimmering wall stopping them from going outside, another person said yeah, yeah it must have been. I mean it just had to be the blobs! Or maybe not. But to be certain we decided to nuke everything. It might have been a good idea I suppose.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Writing exercise or: The shimmering day of self doubt.

  1. ‘I think there was supposed to be cake’ – haha! I love this!!

  2. Mistakeys. Second paragraph: – ‘should we really start screaming and flailing with it finally happened?’ with should be changed to when.
    Third paragraph: – ‘even though you’re pretty sure he borrowed that thingy that time and haven’t returned it.’ haven’t should be hasn’t.
    Also – ‘Alien blobs doesn’t know anything about spring on nice weather anyway’ should be ‘Alien blobs don’t know…’
    ^_^ this was a fab read, by the way 🙂 ❤

  3. Jolly good short exercise ! Your English is coming along great AC

  4. Just re-read this. As I said before, I really like it, the voice is great and the story you’ve told is interesting and effective. A few points that might be worth considering though:

    “You would think we would have been more shook up by the whole ordeal”
    This is a good opening line, I think, because it immediately has the reader asking questions, which make them want to read on. However, I’d change it to “You’d think we would…” because the repetition of “would” gives the sentence a bit of an odd rhythm and the narrative voice is really informal, so I don’t see anything wrong with using contractions like “you’d”. I don’t know whether you normally read your stuff out loud, but I find it’s a really useful way to make sure you’ve got the rhythm and flow of your sentences working well. If it’s awkward to say, it’s usually going to be awkward to read. That said, in general this piece reads really smoothly, so I don’t think it’s a major problem for you.

    Also, I think maybe you need to be a bit more specific with your imagery in a couple of places. For example: “so there were these things of shimmering colours floating above us, some purple in skin others resembled small globes of condensed aurora borealis.”
    I know you’re being deliberately vague to an extent, because that’s part of the concept, but I think it would be more effective to give a slightly more concrete image. Something like:
    “so there were these things, like shimmering orbs, floating above us, some with solid purple skins, others resembling small globes of condensed aurora borealis.” I think this is easier to picture, because “shimmering colours” could be in any shape or form, whereas as we read on it’s implied that they’re bubbles of some kind, so saying they’re orbs (or similar) right off gives a much firmer image. You then go on to describe specific orbs that tell you they’re coloured, so it doesn’t matter if you lose that part of the original description (I think).

    Other than that it’s all really good, except I would slightly rework the ending. I love the casual, almost throwaway nature of “But to be certain we decided to nuke everything.” But I think there are a couple of problems with the line. First “we” implies a level of personal involvement in the decision from the narrator, while I think it’s better if he/she remains slightly removed from it. And also I think saying they nuked “everything” is slightly odd, as (presumably) it was only the blobs they were trying to nuke. I guess you’re trying to get across the point that the blobs were everywhere by that point though, so it’s a tough one. I think you could maybe say something like:

    “But, to play it safe, it was decided to nuke them.”

    Saying “it was decided” absolves the narrator of any blame and I just think it’s kind of funny to suggest that nuking them is “playing it safe.”

    Either way, I really love “It might have been a good idea I suppose.” as an ending, add to the lovely vague casualness of the whole piece.

    Anyway, I hope all that doesn’t seem overly critical and it is, of course, just my opinion, I’m sure there are loads of other people who’d completely disagree.

  5. Thanks so much for giving me feedback!

    I completely agree on suggest they are orbs, sometimes it’s hard to remember the difference between what I know and what the readers are being told. I do try and read things out loud, but my problem lies mainly in that english is my second language and so somethings will sound “natural” to me where native speakers might find it awkward, which is what happened in your example bascially. I know it’s a bad excuse but I’m working on it :

    I get what you’re saying about the ending, I’ll try not to get into defensive mode about it, but the nuking of everything basically sums up the confusion surrounding the blobs of self doubt. Basically in the confusion the world leaders (we as in the human race basically) decided they would push all the buttons and just nuke everything. I don’t know if it makes sense, maybe it’s me being too vague again, my literary superpower would be vagueness I think…

    I like to think of the narrator as this old man sitting in a post apocalypse pub telling this over a beer or something :p

    • Also suggesting that it was decided to nuke them specifically instead of “everything” would suggest rational thought process from the cake nomming president, which I think we’re a bit beyond at that point in the story :p

      • Hmmmm, yeah, I see what you mean. I don’t know, something about it just jarred a bit when I was reading it. Maybe the problem is the ending’s just a bit too abrupt? Like, perhaps you could build it up a bit more before the “nuked everything” line? Potentially, the more of a preamble you have before the sudden impact of the “nuked everything” line, the more effective it will be.

        Sorry, I know that’s not necessarily very helpful, but there’s this thing, that I think Neil Gaiman said once, which I think is pretty true, that basically, when people tell you there’s a problem with your story, they’re almost always right, but when they tell you how to fix it they’re almost always wrong 😛

        Hope that’s at least vaguely helpful 🙂

    • I think you’ve really hit on something there. The gap between what’s in your mind and what you actually get onto the page is such a tricky one, especially with stuff like sci-fi and fantasy. I have this problem all the time and I think the only way around it is to get other people to read it and ask them to tell you any bits they don’t fully understand.

      • I think the Gaiman quote is very accurate I have the same problem a lot of times. Leaving me to not give feedback most times because I feel a bit dim pointing out something in the text going “this, just no it’s a bit like…just no”.

        Today is Monday and my writing day and I am determined to take this piece and slaughter it a bit, maybe edit it or maybe I’ll wring something completely new out of it. But I’ve never gotten as good feedback as I have on this piece so I feel like I definitely need to work on whats been written here and on mail to me.

        Thanks so much for commenting, and I would love to read some of the things you’re written as well!

  6. No problem. I really enjoy all this, so glad to give feedback whenever. I want to start writing some more short stories now uni is out of the way, so I will probably be looking for feedback of my own soon 🙂

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