Sunday, March 11, 2012

Shapeshifters - Flash Fiction


I stood looking out over the water trying not to panic. I looked up at the giant moon and carefully began climbing the rocks. The stories suggested that the Shapeshifters come out when the moon is full but I think the stories are just to scare small children. I hope. I didn't want to meet one face to face if they are real; they say they are hideous. If they bite you, you would become one of them. I didn't want to find out if the rumors were true. I picked up my pace, slipped and my foot wedged into a crevice.

“How could I be so careless and stupid?” I tried to pull my foot out and bit back a scream.  I was surely doomed now.  If the Shapeshifters didn't get me I was going to die of exposure. I yanked on it again and this time couldn’t hold back a scream.

“Stop it before you hurt yourself further.“  My skin tingling from the adrenaline rush, I looked up at the woman standing straight and tall, with flowing black hair and a mark on her cheek. She bent down and I jerked back. The woman smiled.

“Do you want to stay here or do you want me to help you?” She asked me. I could see now the mark was a small crescent moon.  “Are you going to make us stay out here all night?” She stood looking at me patiently waiting.

“No...”  I whispered unable to make my voice work from the shock of her suddenly appearing. The stranger leaned down and gently pried off my shoe.

“My name is Niah, how have you come to be stuck in this place?” Niah asked.

“I slipped.” I said as Niah continued to work gently prying my foot out and stopped to look at me with a wry expression. My face burned red. “Oh you mean out here. I went to Warren to the festival. There was a musical challenge that I wanted to attend.  They never bring the festival to our town of Curic and I well… I would have won but for the Chesup, they have an unfair advantage with their dual vocal chords." I took a deep breath as she manipulated my foot gently to remove it. "My parents wouldn't let me go because no one could take time off to come with me. I couldn't wait a whole year for the next one so I slipped away when nobody was paying attention." I realized my foot was free. “Thank you.” I tried to stand but the pain shot up through my leg and I nearly fell if it wasn’t for Niah.

“I don’t think you are going anywhere tonight. You will have to come back with me.” A slight frown creased her brow.

“To where, there aren’t any villages close by? Where did you come from, how did you happen to be here?” Niah just smiled.  I heard something and saw two eyes peering out through the brush. “What…” A wolf came and stood in front of us and Niah’s brow furrowed. 

“I told you to wait.” Niah hissed, suddenly the wolf stood before us in human form. It happened  fast; I didn’t see the transformation. He too had the crescent moon on his cheek. I turned and looked at Niah and she smiled.

So the stories are true…” My eyes grew wide, my heart raced.

“Well, we are Shapeshifters but the rest of it is ridiculous.” The young man said. “Well mostly.” And he grinned.


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This is from a writing prompt on Chaotically Yours for her Writing Romp Wednesday that must be posted before Midnight on Sundays. I only discovered this lovely site today and decided to go for it. The picture above was the prompt.

3/16/02 I have made some of the recommended changes as well as a few others. Would love to know what you think of it now. Thank you for your feedback.

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17 comments:

  1. Constructive Criticism is much appreciated.

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  2. Great piece with tons o potential.

    Concrit: The dialogue could use a more definitive structure. I found it difficult to discern who was speaking.

    I personally would also like to see different description for the MC being startled. Not that "My heart nearly jumped out of my chest." is a bad phrase, just seemed a bit cliche. Try something more akin to "My chest clenched tightly to my heart" or even "Startled, I heard my own heart skid to a stop".

    Still, your style is very strong and you've succeeded in bringing a fresh take to the concept. I enjoyed this and encourage you to develop the story further. :)

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    1. Thank you so much for that feedback, I greatly appreciate it. I will definitely work with what you have shared. This story did want to continue. I originally had 2000 words and could only have a max of 500 for the challenge. After I posted it I could see that it could be difficult to discern who was speaking. I too have found cliches in my writing so I thought it was funny that you mentioned that. I will watch for it.

      Once again thank you for your wonderful critique.

      Peace,
      Morgan

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  3. It certainly has a lot of potential, Morgan. I would write it to it's end before worrying about critiquing or editing. It's easy to see the potential for strong character in Niah, but our MC ... I have to confess that she comes off as unsympathetic and a touch whiny. Of course that could be part of the way she/he grows in the story. But at the moment I see a scared and rather angry protagonist that is about to get supernatural powers without having the emotional growth to realize his/her duty to the world.

    Just my perception, of course...

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    1. Forgot to hit Reply instead of comment. You can find my response below. :D

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  4. I think it's a great start. (I'm glad you took up the prompt challenge!)

    I definitely want to know more. The protagonist comes to a festival and ends up trapped by a rocky crag and panicking about the full moon. I'd love to know how she came to be out in the wilds by herself. Especially since she knows about the Shapeshifters.

    I agree with Shelton on the dialogue. I think that's mostly just a matter of formatting.

    One other thing. The use of "!?" Double punctuation marks are a technial no-no, even in fiction. Granted, years ago someone gave us the Interrobang, but I'm not sure that's anymore well received. :) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang)

    The advice given is usually to go with the stronger punctuation.

    For me, in the case of a sentence like this: "How could I be so careless and stupid!?" I love italics. Maybe the character screams out the word "stupid." Or maybe they emphasize "careless" and "stupid" is more of a muttered afterthought.


    Just some things to chew on.


    Oh. I also like the mention of a race with dual vocal chords. :)

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thank you for all of your thoughts on this piece. It looks like I am going to be expanding this story so I will be taking all that you said into consideration.

      I love the dual vocal chords! It just came to me at the last minute. Wouldn't it be interesting to hear especially in a singer!

      Regarding her being out there by herself; this piece ran away with me and I had about 2000 words that I had to pare down to 500 for you. I didn't have enough words to explain everything but it will definitely have it in the completed story.

      Thanks for igniting the inspiration for this writing and characters. Loved the pic, it grabbed my attention right away and immediately the story began to have a life of its own.

      Peace,
      Morgan

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    3. "Regarding her being out there by herself; this piece ran away with me and I had about 2000 words that I had to pare down to 500 for you. "

      Totally understandable. My mind'll run way over a word count. Sometimes I can divvy pieces up between prompts I'm responding to. With one idea, though, I was only allotted 100 words, so I turned it into an ongoing (but currently sleeping) blog serial. :)

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  5. Thank you for your thoughts. I guess you missed that this was for a writing prompt. I wrote this as a stand alone/short short/flashfiction. It wasn't something I was going to expand. But I have started to fall in love with the characters so I probably will now. I am entering these writing contests that provide critiquing so that I can improve my writing. I added the first comment above so that people new that I did want critiquing on this piece. I do like your take on this story; doesn't it often happen that way though, our gifts are thrust at us when we have no idea what to do with them and then we have to learn?

    It isn't even something I thought of in regards to the story because I thought it was the end. Just what she was worried about happened. Which is precisely what happens in life; what we worry about we end up bringing to fruition. But it isn't even that I thought of that as I was writing. I just write and what comes through, comes through.

    I love hearing how people see it though because it expands how I see it.

    Thank you so much for your input.

    Peace,
    Morgan

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    1. I understand about her worrying about the Shapeshifters (though, as L.M noted, it would be interesting to know how she came to be alone in such an area then). I found the "unfair advantage" comment whiny. Granted, it may have been unfair, or handled so by the judges, but I would suggest that our mc is blaming the wrong party (I doubt the Chesup can help being what they were born, though the judges could take such things into consideration and have either tiered contests or..)

      And yes, having these gifts thrust upon the mc without her knowing how to handle them could make an AMAZING story. I just pointed out that in this small snippet, I wasn't feeling "close" to the mc. No crime there. a good main character should be human enough for us to relate to personally--human enough to evoke love and disgust in us. After all, we don't always like or agree with everything we see in ourselves or those around us...

      It's too small of a segment to form a "real" opinion. I just gave a reflection on the possibilities I saw. But it's not my story. I would be interested in seeing the direction you end up choosing.

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    2. Okay Eden... Basically she is disappointed that she lost and being a teenager she is having a "spoiled sport" moment (and is feeling a little scared hence the rambling). I have applied some of the suggestions made from everybody's feedback and I do believe I am going to be expanding this into either a short story for the anthology or, depending on whether it grows a life of its own, may turn it into a full length YA novel.

      I can also see how Niah is a strong character and I could actually do her story as well. Maybe this story is only an off shoot that will come from Niah's story. The possibilities are endless and I am loving these characters.

      Thanks for stopping by and giving your feedback.

      Peace,
      Morgan

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  6. I agree the structure needs work and towards the end it says the wolf stood up before them when it should be us. Otherthan that though the story and foundation is good.

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    1. Thank you Bridget,I completely missed "stood up before them" and it is something that I have noticed in the past in my writing.

      Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see again.

      Peace,
      Morgan

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  7. I greatly appreciate all of the feedback from all of you. I made some changes and I would love to know what you think now.

    Thank you,
    Morgan

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  8. I like this. I liked how Niah was so gentle and how she hissed at the wolf.

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    1. Thank you Marcy, you feedback has me thinking about the pulse of this story and where I can take it next. I hadn't looked at it quite that way until you made that connection.

      I greatly appreciate you stopping by.

      Peace,
      Morgan

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Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment. It is wonderful to read your questions and thoughts.

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