Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks

Moderated by: JazzFeathers

8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks is a creative writing exercise for our Storyteller community. The aim of the exercise is to inspire our writers and gather feedback on their work from others in the community.

The rules are simple: everyone interested in 8 Sentence Sunday posts an eight-sentences-long snippet of their writing project right here in the comments. The snippet can be dieselpunk or steampunk, and it can be in-progress or already published. All we ask is you keep your snippet in line with the standard rules on Dieselpunks (keep it suitable for teens and don’t be a dick).

Most of all, you have to engage. If you’re asking for feedback, you have to be constructive about at least one other member’s work as well.

Feel free to post links to your own websites and products on this thread as we hope to keep our corner of the alt-history continuum alive and dancing.



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Comment by Alice E Keyes on November 22, 2015 at 10:58am

Sappy scene time - a kiss in 8 sentences - this bit takes place at 4 am after a night at a bar with artists and people pushing at the edges of society.

    At the entrance, he took her hand from his elbow and started to bring it to his mouth. Olive, in the spirit of the evening, stepped forward and kissed him gently on the mouth. It was such a quick action of pulling his hand down, stepping closer, and popping up on her toes to reach his mouth that her eyes looked into his and she saw a look of surprise cross his face at this blurry close distance. She liked that she surprised him. He didn’t step back but with the hand that wasn’t holding hers, he caressed the underside of her chin and extended the length of the kiss which Olive meant to have only a moment. Their lips softly touching the others. He pulled away slowly and she dropped her feet from tiptoe position.
   He gave her hand a little squeeze and said, “Good night, beautiful inventor.”
   “Good night, Eli.”
   With her words, his hand left hers and he clutched at his heart, walked backwards two steps before he turned and left.

Comment by JazzFeathers on November 22, 2015 at 2:37am

This snippet is from the second section in chapter 4. In the old version Michael and Simon never spoke together. Rather, Michael spoke about Simon with a minor character.
I like the new solution so much more and I had so much fun writing this dialogue. I will have to refine it more, but I’m already quite happy with the feeling.
Hope you’re like it too.

Michael searched Simon’s eyes but only saw darkness.

“You have no power on her,” he said, low and slow. “Any moment she can make any decision and you can do nothing about it.”

Simon jumped up, tumbling the chair. When Michael looked up, he again saw the young man in the elegant pale suit. Simon’s nostrils flared. Muscles flickered on his jaw.

“I should have known you could see,” he hissed down at Michael then flicked a glared toward Blood.

Comment by Alice E Keyes on November 15, 2015 at 3:21pm

@Jazz - The decision that might change everything. I like it. Two points on word choice (and I know yours is as raw as mine); stomach is an odd choice though I get what your are going for - that gut feeling. The other is the double use of small - on one hand the use of it twice can add emphasis to the small smile and small mouth. On the other hand you might want to might want to emphasise one or the other with a more precise word - petite smile and small mouth, or small smile and button(rose bud) mouth. Just a couple of thoughts. I definitely want to sit down with and watch the evening unfold.

Comment by JazzFeathers on November 15, 2015 at 2:30pm

@Alice - I'm quite intrigued with the paintigs. What may be that they can reveal if they are photographed? I'm too curious ^_^
I also like that she speaks in a very formal way (at least this is my perception) but then grabs the bisquits and gow away in quite a tomboyish way. It's an intersting detail of her character.

Comment by lupachi1927 on November 15, 2015 at 1:55pm

I'm working today, so I won't be able to really post until later. A few comments:

@Alice - I wonder how the painting would help the invention, and what answers it might give Olive. I wonder what the painting is of, too.

@Jazz - I like that her knees are wobbling, it's a nice physical detail. You also get her nervousness through the rest of the narration, which is also good.

Will come back more with later when I get outta work.

Comment by Alice E Keyes on November 15, 2015 at 1:30pm

Here's my 8. I'm off for a hike with the family then I'll be back with comments.

“You think it would be beneficial to your invention to take a picture of my painting. The one I did for the slide presentation?”

“Yes, have you thought about my other questions on the practical use for the invention.”

Olive felt excited some answers were at hand if they photographed one of her paintings.
“I’m not practical by nature. My husband gets quite upset about how lackadaisical way I run the household. Would you please come to my office tomorrow during the noon hour and we’ll set up something about having my painting photographed." She swallow the last few sips of tea and grabbed up the remaining three biscuits on her saucer and left.

Comment by JazzFeathers on November 15, 2015 at 8:13am

I wanted to start revising the novelette today, but I just can't concentrate. Being haunting all news of tv since yesterday. Paris events keep getting into my head. 

Anyway, here's my 8. It's the beginning of a section in the story, a dialogue between Susie, Blood and Michael, the only part in the story where the three of them interact properly. I'd like to make a lot more out of this dialogue, I expect to rewrite this heavily. So this is a good chance for you to shred it to pieces ;-)

Blood’s friend was waiting for them at their usual table and Susie was glad about it. She would claim with Simon she was just entertaining customers, though she actually did it very rarely at their table and so far, she had only done it on Simon’s request.

Her knees were wobbling as she sat on the chair Blood offered her.

Is this a good idea? Her mind asked. Her heart and stomach thought it was.

As she sat, Blood slapped one hand on his friend’s wide shoulder and said, “Michael Red Willow.”

Susie cocked her head, a small smile on her small mouth, wondering whether that was Michael’s real name too, but she didn’t ask.

Comment by lupachi1927 on November 9, 2015 at 10:07am

@ Jazz - I like your fragment too! I don't think it's bad at all.  You've got a lot of good emotional tension in just a few lines, and convey at this is a pivotal emotional moment for both of them. Though I don't know all the story here, Michael's refusal seems noble. Nice!

Also, I know what you mean about first drafts. Everything can seem like utter crap sometimes---but the point is, you work through the crap and finish it! That's the joy of Nano, too: you can worry about polishing it later!

@ Holly - Loved your snippet! I love the idea of The Kingdom By the Sea as a massive city with an angel guardian. Annabel Lee is my favorite Edgar Allen Poe poem---I like it even more than the raven. Your story looks like it's off to a great start. Lemme know when the anthology is coming out!

@ Alice - Thanks for the tip about sentence length, you're right that it's important to vary length/structure and right now my bit seems a bit clunky. Thanks :)

Comment by Alice E Keyes on November 8, 2015 at 3:57pm

Beginnings are hard. I try not to look at mine until I've finished the entire story. The first two paragraph, I think, should contain what the 'truth' of the entire story and a lot of little hints as to what you will encounter while you read the story. I can't possibly accomplish this without having rewritten and in most cases rewritten/edited the book once or twice. And in most stories, it is often the case that I've started them at the wrong point.  Holly, that being said, I think your paragraph gives us a good understand as to what your story will be.

@Lupachi, it reminded me about a flash fiction contest I recently entered. On the form, it said - please no more flash fiction pieces that take place in a coffee shop. Fortunately, mine was not. I enjoyed yours as it was more about old men then a crunchy granola coffee shop. I would watch sentence length to make sure they aren't all similar length.

@JazzFeathers -Yeah, after working on editing and rereading to find typos, it is hard to start fresh. The first 2,000 word of this NaNo were tough. I like the tension in your snippet.

Comment by cw hawes on November 8, 2015 at 3:33pm

Hi gang!

I'm not doing NaNo and I'm not writing dieselpunk at the moment, but I thought I'd stop by and comment on the wonderful snippets.

@Alice - great tension. Very dynamic.

@Jazz - maybe your first drafts suck, but what you posted doesn't. Very good. A lot communicated in a few words.

@Holly - Openings are no problem for me. I just start writing. If I have a problem area, it's the middle. Your snippet has a deliciously quasi-poetic feel to it. Pure yum! :)

@lupachi - wonderful atmosphere here. excellent!

I'm currently typing (I write longhand) and editing my 5th book in The Rocheport Saga series. I'm debating about bringing in the first steam car as a gift to the hero on his birthday. The debate is that if I do so, I will radically change the technological timeline in the book. On the other hand, information I gained since I wrote the original draft tells me such a speed up of the introduction of steam technology is probably likely. But if I do so, then the dominoes fall and I will have to make lots of changes downstream in the future books. Any thoughts are appreciated.

Again, really grand writing today!

Comment by JazzFeathers on November 8, 2015 at 2:16pm

@Holly - So nice to see you here! :-)
Yes, openings are hell. That's the truth of all truths.
I like yours... except the first line. 
I know you are going for a memorable line and that is the one, but I think the first line should merge seemlessly with the rest of the opening paragraph, otherwise it becomes disjointed. Which is what happened here, in my opinion. 
Maybe you could keep the hook and just start the moment the two characters meet, introducing all the rest later.
Just an idea. 

@lupachi - I actually like your passage quite a lot. It sure convays a sense of distrust, esecpailly on the side of humans, I'd say. Lou doesnt' seem to be too impressed with the situation. ;-)

Comment by lupachi1927 on November 8, 2015 at 1:20pm

@ Alice - Jazz is right, in this short exchange you've captured the tension of a society in transition regarding women. Nice job! :D  If you wanted a few short copy edits, here are a few (deletions are struck through, additions highlighted in bold):

“Weren’t you listening? They were actually going to let women join a few seminars. And, Huzzah for that! I would have Maggie Randolph a member any day. What a bore to only have men inventors. It would be a simple matter of changing the name and a few words of the doctrine.”
Professor Smith’s face was getting red and he stood with his hands clenched in fists. “Are you daft, man? That can never be!” He stepped toward Professor Jones.

Of course, this is NaNo--so forget editing! :) Hope it's going well for you, and that you're reaching your word counts and such.

As for me, NaNo has been helping me get through writing some new scenes. My snippet today comes from one of these new scenes. In it, Pierce and Lou end up going to a coffee shop in an Armenian part of town to try and get some information. Thanks to the time of day they choose to go to the shop--just as the sun is setting--it offers them a unique opportunity to interact with both Dayfolk and Nightfolk (humans and supernaturals, respectively, who are otherwise socially separated). In this little bit of description, I was trying to capture the distrust and fear felt by both sides. I think I laid it on a little thick. Lemme know what you guys think:

If the smell a the coffee was bad, then the crowd was a million times worse. A dozen sets a eyes peered outta the darkness at me and Pierce, tracking our every move with  a glare a disapproval which woulda done an old Italian grandma proud—except this time, they were a bunch a old men. While some a ‘em sported the otherworldly gleaming eyes a the Fae, the overall crowd looked like Dayfolk—and clearly the kind who’d like to see all a us Nightfolk find a nice, cozy pit in Hell to burn in for all eternity. Sitting in little groups around tiny wooden tables with bone-white dominoes games laid out on ‘em, each clutching tiny white cups a dark, gleaming black sludge that musta been whatever passed for coffee here, and each one sporting a mustache that Mark Twain woulda been proud of, they almost looked like some kinda club—an eerily silent, hostile, righteous kinda club.

As we stepped forward, a few drew out crosses and mouthed some words, glaring at us both the whole time. The only sound was the soft rustle of someone sweeping the floor in the back—an old lady, if her silhouette served me right. Even she took pains not to look our way. It didn’t take a genius to figure out these folks didn’t want us here, sunset or no.

Comment by Holly Gonzalez on November 8, 2015 at 1:18pm

Hi guys, I apologize for not posting in so long. It's been a wild and crazy month here. Good writing-wise, though I'm horribly behind in Nanowrimo :( At any rate, thought I'd stop by this week to say hello and let you know I'm still alive. Here's a snippet from a short story I'm writing for an anthology in December, a decopunk retelling of Edgar Allen Poe's famous poem, Annabel Lee. It's titled "The Envy Of Angels". Really fun so far, though I'm a little stumped on a few parts. Beginnings are always the hardest, don;t you think?


The day I met her was the first day I ever beheld the ocean.

Newly arrived to Hosanna with my entire life in a single carry-on bag, and my cherished harp tucked under one arm, I ventured to the elongated viewing window at the shuttle port. In my seventeen years of life, I’d dwelled behind the dreary walls of the workers’ arcology known as Steelbend. Never had I dreamed to be here, in the wondrous Kingdom By The Sea. Dark waves outside crashed against the rocky shore, gray upon gray as the mists receded toward a nearly indecipherable horizon. Awe and elation filled me at finally reaching my destination, and seeing its splendor with my own eyes. The past and all of its misery were behind me, now. It was time to make a new start, beneath the watchful eyes and wings of the blessed Seraphim.


Comment by JazzFeathers on November 8, 2015 at 1:02pm

You know guys? I've always known that my first drafts suck, but because I haven't written one in over five years I had kind of reset that part of the process :-(

I've tryped like a mad woman today because I wanted to type the entire novelette, so to have it ready for revision in two weeks. I'm not sure I'll be done by tonight, but most of the job is done. And while I was typing, I kept thinking, "I really love this story, but goodness, a dog writes better."


I'm still going to share a little bit with you ^_^

“I have thought about this.” She had to rip the words out of herself. “About me and Blood.”

Michael shook his head, slow.

“I thought about the two of us.” Her hands twisted one into the other.

“No,” Michael said softly and her heart sank. “Susie, don’t do this to him.”

Comment by JazzFeathers on November 8, 2015 at 12:58pm

@Alice - So much tention in this short exchange and I like that you create the world in just these few lines. It's obvious that women are marginalised, but things are chenging and that soem scholars are already chinging their attitude. Nice ^_^

Comment by Alice E Keyes on November 8, 2015 at 9:57am

These eight are from the NaNoWriMo novel in progress. It is a darker offshoot of the Miss Winsome tales. Miss Olive Randolph is the main character. Her mother is Maggie Randolph. This eight is an argument between professors about the women inventors being allowed in an inventor's academic Salon.

“Weren’t you listening. They were actually going to let women join a few seminars. And, Huzzah for that. I would have Maggie Randolph a member any day. What a bore to only have men inventors. It would be a simple matter of changing the name and a few words of the doctrine.”
Professor Smith’s face was getting red and he stood with his hands clenched in fists. “Are you daft man? That can never be!” He stepped toward Professor Jones.

Comment by JazzFeathers on November 2, 2015 at 3:00am

@lupachi - When I first wrote the story, all my MCs ended up with two names. I didn't do this on purpose (though it was intersting for the story, in the end), but Blood and Michael are Native Americans and Simon and Susie are both Chinese immigrants, so they all have an Aglo name they use in American society and their own names. 

I found you on the NaNo site. I'm Celebcùen over there ^_^

Comment by lupachi1927 on November 1, 2015 at 8:58pm

@ Alice - Oooh, a wolf! Interesting, too, that your steampunky story doesn't have marriage as a major social institution. That's a pretty big contrast to regular Victorian society.

@ Jazz - I find the fact that Simon calls her "Sue Xie" interesting. Does he have a special name for her, or is that her original name, and she just has everyone call her Susie instead?

No snippet today, but probably will have one next week. Haven't been writing much new stuff lately, just editing old things. Signed up for NaNo, though, to encourage more editing! Any of you guys got NaNo handles and wanna be buddies? :) Mine is Library_Dragon

Comment by JazzFeathers on November 1, 2015 at 2:39pm

@Alice - I'm really intrigued by the kind of society you're creating for you HAG stories. It sounds very intersting and different. 

And good luck with your NaNo. I updated only 300 words today, the ones I wrote on my pc. But I handwrote half of the final chapter of the novella. Will update when I type it out :-)

Comment by Alice E Keyes on November 1, 2015 at 2:32pm

Here is a quickly grabbed 8 out of my HAG story. I need to get started on NaNo. Sunday's are busy family days to try to start NaNo. Those first words are the hardest to write even if I know that they will be changed when I edited.

"Marriage a rare thing?"

"Couples who decide to share rooms or have a child will throw a party. A formal ceremony of marriage is usually only between two old families."

"The wedding in the woods?"

"An anomaly. They were not of old families. They wanted the ceremony and she was a mademoiselle aphrodite." David stopped and motioned her to step next to him. Heather drew in a quick breath at the sight of a wolf, such creatures were an extreme rarity in her time.

@JazzFeathers - I liked that Susie is being strong. 

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