Wednesday, July 19, 2006

JED's Time Limited

Link to original story: Time Limited - JED

Okay, I just re-read this one, and you know what? I likes it. Especially since I finished in a bloody short bit of time. Of course, now there are things I'd change; words I'd add or delete, images I'd refine, scenes I'd subtract. But all in all it's pretty tasty! If I do say so myself, which I do. Er. Yeah. Occasionally with these pitches, you get an idea, a way of interpreting it that actually seems original. That's harder to do than it sounds. Most of my ideas turn out to be stolen images from TV or songs or books I once read. So you tweak it, and you spin it, but it comes out a derivation of prior work. This one is certainly that, I mean, I'm not the first guy to write a first person narrative of hell. But it's a unique spin on the pitch I think. And I like that.

Other things I want you readers (I use the plural generously here) to know: the narrator is actually in the 4th circle of the 8th pit of hell, that area reserved for false prophets and astrologers, those who try to make prophet (I think JED means "profit" here, but who am I to deny so perfect a pun?-- Ed.) from bending God's law and subverting nature to know the future. Which is, incidentally, really tricky to make into a sin using modern morality. Their punishment is to walk forever around the circle with their heads facing backwards so that they can see only the past. Doug, the suicide, is in a higher level (I think the 7th circle, but don't hold me to that) in a circle reserved for suicides. According to Dante, suicides are punished by being turned into thorny trees and only allowed to speak when their branches are broken and torn by harpies. Nice guy Dante. Vivid imagination.

Now it may just be that I’m a sucker for a good damnation story. “Know what you’re getting into,” I always say. Or it may just be that this is a darn good story. Either way, I’m a huge fan of this one. A very unique look at hell. JED assures me that it’s all very Dante, and I believe it. It certainly has the Dante-an feeling that being trapped in Hell is one’s own doing, and escape is as simple as walking away. But the Damned will never do that; it’s their fate that the door is always in front of them, but they cannot bring themselves to walk through it. I suppose there’s a little bit of Sartre in there as well.

Anyway, I thought this was an excellent story, and clearly JED works best under time pressure. It seems very polished for a two-hour throw together. I’m especially fond of the scene where he rubs dirt into his eyes, trying to see through it to all the moments of his life the are crumbled within. Excellent visual imagery, and very poignant. I also like that the suicide was there as well; each person suffers from their own sin, regardless of what brought them to the point of sinning. And of course, contrapasso, the sin is, as ever, its own punishment. I’ve desperately wanted to write a story on contrapasso for a while; maybe this will inspire me to do that.

Anyway, not a whole lot of critique for this one from me, just some fan mail, I guess. I’m making an active effort to be more critical of JED’s works, a) because it helps him become a better writer, just as he does for me, and b) so it’s not constantly a back-slapping fest here. There are times, however, when I’m just so impressed by what he comes up with, I don’t have much negative to say. This is one of those times.

JP's Time Limited

Link to Original Story: Time Limited - JP

JED sucks. Hard. This time, we gave each other different pitches, so that we wouldn’t have more than the 2 hour time limit to prepare. His pitch happened to include the little proviso that I everything I wrote immediately became part of the story. In other words, I couldn’t erase anything, except to fix typos. And that’s why this monster emerged. I spent about an hour thinking on this one, but since I couldn’t write anything down (or else my notes would have had to be part of the story), a lot of that thought vanished into the open air, and its dried up leavings became this excrement. There’s an interesting idea in here; I think I found where I was going with it when she confronts the whale, but mostly, not so much. I intended the opening and closing segments to look like arrows, by the way. There’s a small chance I might come back some day and whisk this idea away from its drab existence to a fabulous life as a real honest-to-god story, but then again, maybe not.

Occasionally, JP sells himself way short. Okay, he often sells himself way short. I really liked this story. Much like his recent 'Palimpsest' this story displays a nice touch of word play and shaping, and yet contains an evocative and creative soul. I thought this idea was crazy cool. Harpooning an angel/God/whale of time? Neat in anyone's book! It does seem slightly Quantum Leap, but without the high minded morality, and that's also a good thing. I should also mention that I gave the little (he's actually notably taller than I am) SOB (he's not really a SOB - our mother is a very nice woman. Really) a hard pitch on purpose. See, he's getting too talented for our little dabbles. He's hitting proverbial homeruns every time out, and I'm sick and tired of it. From now on, my pitches are going to be balls to the wall hard. Which will undoubtedly lead him to rise to the occasion and produce some truly sterling work. I'd love to see him rewrite this story, give it the polish and extrapolation it deserves. But I'm not going to lambast it here, because frankly, I think it's pretty damn good for the pitch it came from. Pretty damn good flat out. He stays on point and delivers the goods.