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A star is born

by dharker 

Posted: 05 September 2010
Word Count: 260

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The rock waits patiently in the vast expanse of space; will it ever get its moment of glory?

At last, out of the void, a light appears and starts to fill a nearby piece of space. Details appear – first the blues, then the greens, the whites, the yellows and browns. Around the object the thinnest skin of gas glows bright, in places the blue seems to catch fire, mirroring the glow from the sun.

Closer and closer it approaches, for the first time in aeons the rock experiences a pull. Slowly, imperceptably, it starts to accelerate towards this intruder in its waiting game. The object rushes towards it, growing larger, the pull ever stronger. The temperature starts to rise, the terrible cold of space dismissed by this object that now fills the rocks universe.

At last stardom beckons – the rocks time has come. Flashing onto the cosmic stage, a plasma glow surrounds the hot, the red then the white hot core. The objects atmospheric dresser peels away the rocks outer skin. Pressure increases to unbelievable levels then….

The watchers stare entranced at the night time sky. The constellations wheel in the inky blackness; the milky way, a cummerband of palest white across the sky. There! A streak of light across the sky, afterglow trailing behind, and then the flash.

Plasma heat, following a fault, reaches inside the rock and expands trace gasses it finds there. The rocks moment has arrived; from ugly rock to glowing beauty - a million shards of white hot dust. A star is born!

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Comments by other Members

matheson at 13:42 on 05 September 2010  Report this post

it's a difficult business writing about inanimate objects. I keep wantling to enthuse about geological processes in my writing..but things happen only very slowly. Despite being cosmological rather than geological...your piece has the virtue of gravity assisted pace.

It manages the pace well. Having a (somewhat) 'scientific' background I felt that the text itself was undermined by a mixing in of punning ideas and metaphors with harder physical facts, however.

For example:

Flashing onto the cosmic stage

The objects atmospheric dresser

At last stardom beckons

seem to weaken the text compared to the pressing physical reality of the asteroid/comet being sucked into the star.

There is also, I now realise, a sense of inate confusion about subject (rock) and object (sun...but sometimes called the object...which is a star...whereas the rock never will be a star...a meteor storm at best). I thought at first the gaseous atmosphere was on the rock not on the illuminating sun...and now I am not sure.

And the rock waits (it's stationary) and the sun appears (is moving) to fill a nearby space...but it is their co-attraction in play. Being inanimate, stuff actually does just happen to them..so the challenge seems to me (back to my difficulty with geology) to express that 'co-arising' rather than anthropomorphising the rock as waiting (though moving?) and the sun/star approaching
rushes towards it

As I said, in some of the paragraphs the text does have pace and verve...I think it just needs to be more finely worked.

And though the punchline may be the inspiration and scaffolding for the worked idea I don't really think it's helpful at the end of the piece. The title sets up the conciet and bookending seems a bit too pat.

Hope this is helpful

dharker at 15:05 on 05 September 2010  Report this post
Many thanks John! The basic premis was formed around an evening watching the perseids meteor shower a short while ago. One in particular stood out as it shot across the sky and then seemed to explode.

My mind turned to a rock floating in space, until one day it crosses Earths orbit and gets drawn down and burned up by the atmosphere. The process of taking a dirty rock and making something of such enormous beauty seemed so theatrical I decided I would couch it in terms of the stage

A star is born
refers to my particular meteors starring role in an evening of many "shooting stars". Again in theatrical terms the Earths atmosphere was doing the "undressing" - stripping off layers of rock until the meteor exploded.

I really appreciate your insight and honesty and I guess having to explain all of this I didn't do a very good job! LOL! Back to the drawing board!


matheson at 07:35 on 06 September 2010  Report this post
Thanks Dave

so...more basically, I never really got that the light was the earth and not the sun...hence my confusion (after all, the sun would be more noticeable (if I was a rock :? )

So...subject to all of the above, maybe if the earth as an attractor is there (and I now see the blue/green/brown stuff but thought it was a shimmery sort of a star/sun) then the meteoric aspect is more explicit. As it is I thought comet rather than meteor shower (maybe hijacked by the earth en route but that's a much bigger impact...whole other movie).

As I said, I think this is worth persevering with as an exercise in mastering this kind of story...I'll crack on with my faults and overthrusts


dharker at 07:47 on 06 September 2010  Report this post
LOL! Thanks John! In honesty, getting someone else's perspective has been great so thank you!

Becca at 12:23 on 06 September 2010  Report this post
Hi Dave,
as 'A Star is Born' is 260 words, it's flash fiction, and if you'll forgive me for pedantry, I personally just want to critique short stories in this group.

dharker at 13:33 on 06 September 2010  Report this post
I do apologise Becca... A newbie mistake... what's the correct word count for here?


Becca at 13:50 on 06 September 2010  Report this post
Hi Dave,
well there is a thriving flash fiction group on WW, I don't know if you've had a look yet. This is contentious these days with the, what shall I say, 'flash flood,' that is the fashion to write fiction in under 1,000 words which is now well established. Because of it I think everyone has had to accomodate it, or reconsider a reasonable length for a short story, and so I've lowered my sights as well to around 800 words. There are some incredibly good flash fiction writers, mind you. But when I critique a short story, one of the primary elements I'm looking for is the writer's skill in being able not only to captivate the reader, but keep the reader enthralled over a reasonable length of wordage. Flash fiction doesn't require this particular skill, as it's emphasis is on other aspects of fiction writing.

dharker at 13:55 on 06 September 2010  Report this post
Thanks Becca! So 800 words or more for here.... what would say is the upper limit? I'm keen to be a regular contributor and don't want to be a pain!


Becca at 15:28 on 06 September 2010  Report this post
you can find an SS forum thread called 'One word per Metre' that talks about story length.

Becca at 10:04 on 07 September 2010  Report this post
Did you find it Dave? If not, the answer is that if you wanted to have a short story published, most submission guidelines ask for stories under 3,000 words these days. There is such a thing as a long short story, and just a few long short story magazines left in the US.
But much depends on whether or not you want to be a published writer or not. If you do, it's a good idea to start examining publishers' guidelines and then you'll get the picture. I'm in the habit of writing to my natural length which is around 4,500 words, and then if I submit the same piece, I edit it down to the required length, and keep both copies.
I hope this helps.

dharker at 10:20 on 07 September 2010  Report this post
Brilliant! Exactly what I needed.... Thanks Becca!

Heather3 at 00:08 on 10 October 2010  Report this post
Hiya, if you read Terry Pratchett he begins most of his Discworld novels with this sort of scene. Obviously you love writing like this so go ahead and do it as there's nothing better than having a solid background to your stories, just remember though that most people want to know what happens next with the people and the animals/aliens etc etc.

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