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.



You need to be a member of Authors and Storytellers to add comments!

Comment by lupachi1927 on October 11, 2015 at 12:00pm

@ Jazz - I like your snippet today. I find it interesting, too, that they'd both order a drink but not drink it...

@CW - Congrats on publishing/launching your new piece! Will definitely be checking out your sample chapter, especially since it seems to contain the sequence you've been sharing with us.

I've been editing my novel pretty heavily for a week now, and have set myself a deadline of one month to finish the entire process. One of the things I've been struggling with this week is a way to introduce a plot thread earlier into the story, because as the draft currently stands it enters in way too late: Lou's doomed love interest, a prostitute named China that he saved from a sadistic john. So, here's a rough attempt to drop in a tiny bit of that back story earlier into the novel (it's on page 19 at this point). I was trying to go for something a little vague but also intriguing, because the whole story will come out later when he meets up with the "her" this refers to. I don't think it's quite there yet, but I'd love some feedback. What do you all think? Too vague, or not?

I’d never been sure exactly how much the Boss knew about what happened that night, but his reaction had been encouraging. Instead a biting my head off when the murder hit the papers he’d gone to bat for me and then some: he sent me off to Florida then let his police buddies know how he felt about them sniffing around one a his boys. After 'bout two weeks he told me to come back to Chicago, since the coppers had “regretfully admitted” to the press that they were outta leads. And in the midst a all that, he’d never asked me once why I’d done what I done. It was enough to make me think he must’ve approved, which kinda made sense. The Boss never did truck with rapists, after all.

The thought made me think a her, and my stomach clenched. Had she seen the papers? Did she approve, or…?

Comment by cw hawes on October 11, 2015 at 8:15am

I have no dieselpunk works in progress at this point in time, so no post today and probably for the near future. I do have a blog post up with the cover and first chapter for your reading pleasure. You may find it here: http://www.cwhawes.com/2015/10/11/rand-hart-and-the-pajama-putsch-c...

@Jazz - That is quite a change! Need more context to see if it works. Certainly an interesting development. :)

Comment by JazzFeathers on October 11, 2015 at 2:29am

I don’t know why this surprises me this much, but it’s really weird to see how much my characters have changed over the last few years.

It's a very strange experience, because I see my characters as they used to be and, I won't say they are very different... but they are different. I know them so much better now. 

Here's a passage where the characters' attitude changed quite a lot.

Blood shot an awkward glance to Michael. “We can’t sit here and have nothing, now can we?”


Michael leaned back on his chair. “And what else do you plan on doing other than wasting our money on alcohol neither of us is going to drink?”

A smile crept on Blood’s lips.

“I want to dance.” And he turned to the dance floor.

Michael looked too and saw a flash of red darting in the spaces among people crowding around the edge of the dance floor.


Comment by lupachi1927 on October 4, 2015 at 6:59pm

@ Alice - Yeah, the "of" for "a" is a quirk of speech I've got running throughout the novel. And I think you're right, it's kind of a huge chunk right now. Maybe I'd be better off breaking it up into smaller paragraphs, or just cutting some of it out entirely. Thanks.As for your piece, I'd agree with the others: a bit choppy, but the hole is intriguing.

@CW - I like your rewritten bit, and I see you kept the stuff with the cab, which seems to work just fine. Nice rewrite!

@Jazz - Your suggestion about interspersing some of this info with the dialogue and altering Ahmed's appearance is interesting. I think I'll see about revising that once I finish rewriting the whole chapter. It's definitely still clunky as it currently stands. BTW, just so you know I won't be posting any more of these snippets to my blog proper. I ended up telling the agent about my blog and she wrote down the address, so I don't want her seeing any snippets of my MS if I can help it before I've gotten a chance to edit it and query it properly. I have every intention of continuing on here, however, assuming you'll all have me.

Comment by Alice E Keyes on October 4, 2015 at 3:32pm

@lupachi - I'm not sure if it is the white type on this page, but I find it just hard to read. The sentences are awfully long. If it is for a YA audience, they'll skip long paragraphs. The dashes confuse me. There seems to be several places where there is 'a' instead of 'of' -is it a syntax thing? I like the concept of the 'dayfolk' who dabble in magic going off the rails.

@CW - I like the improvements. 

JazzFeathers and CW - you are absolutely right it is choppy, thanks.

Comment by JazzFeathers on October 4, 2015 at 3:01pm

Guys, just wanted to add: sorry I'm not commenting on your blogs, but I'm having issues with Askimet. It thinks all my comments are spam :-(
I've contacted them, but I don't think they will answer back until tomorrow. Then I really really hope this will be sorted.

Comment by JazzFeathers on October 4, 2015 at 2:57pm

Thanks so much for your comments, guys, it was so helpful!

@Alice - I really like your idea of introducing Susie while she moves towards the dance floor. I'm considering really opening that way.

@lupachi - I'm trying to create a sense of 'routine', not really of bore, but of something very familiar, devoid of surprise, something you expect to continue on in the sam way for a long time... which of course is not going to be. 
Thanks for sharing your impression, it was very useful :-)

Comment by JazzFeathers on October 4, 2015 at 2:54pm

@Alice - I agree with CW, the snippet sounds fragmented to the point that I had a hard time following the action. I think the action itself is good, I'd make the 'earthquake' somemthing more dramatic, so that the reader really gets what's happening, and generally make the snippet flowing more smoothly. But you pinned down a good action, in my opinion ^_^

@lupachi - I agree, that's a lot of info. And yes, it's intersting, but I have to admit toward the end I had a hard time keeping focus. 
Maybe you could give an intro to this passage and then intersparse a part of info thoughout the dialogue? For example, where doas Ahmed fit in here? Is he one of those Dayfalk that lost contact? Or is he on the right side still? You say one's choice manifests on the body of the person. Maybe you could link the info to Ahmed's description? The way he moves? 
Just an idea. 

@CW - I like the rewriting a lot more than the first version, it flows more smoothly and it's more logical, in my opinion. I'm not sure whether we need to know all this details about things that are really quite common in people travelling... but maybe we do ;-)

Comment by cw hawes on October 4, 2015 at 1:24pm

Last Sunday we began Chapter 2 of Rand Hart and the Pajama Putsch. Having received a few comments with suggested improvements, I rewrote the section posted last week and include it today for comparison. Today’s 8 sentences start after “Flamingo Palace”.

I intend to publish the novella October 16th. Here is last week’s revised snippet and today’s:

When Hart checked at the ticket counter in Miami, he discovered the Pan Am flight he wanted didn’t take off until eight the next morning. He bought a ticket for one of the five remaining seats and then left the terminal to find a cab. Two were waiting. The drivers standing on the curb by their vehicles. A big, white General sedan and a brand new, elegant, if old-fashioned, Checker. Hart picked the Checker.

“Where to, Pal?”

“The hotel closest to the Pan Am seaplane terminal.”

“Can do.”

The cabbie took Hart’s suitcase and put it in the trunk, while Hart got in the back seat. The cabbie got behind the wheel and the cab was rolling.

Within minutes, Hart found himself, suitcase in hand, standing before the entrance to The Mango House Hotel. The place was a three story stucco building painted a hideous shade of pink. Hart thought a moment and decided he’d never seen a mango that color and wondered why the owners hadn’t called the place the Flamingo Palace. Oh, well. As long as the bed was comfortable and the water hot, it probably didn’t matter what the name or the color was.

He walked in and requested a room. The clerk told him they had one and, after Hart signed for it, gave him the key. Room 305.

“Any place close by I can get a meal and something to drink?” Hart asked.

“The Highball, three doors down is a decent bar and at the corner,” the clerk pointed in the opposite direction, “Jimmy’s is a good place to get a meal.”

“Thanks,” Hart replied and took the stairs to his room. He wasn’t overly fond of elevators.

To be continued!

Comment by cw hawes on October 4, 2015 at 1:09pm

@Jazz - I agree with Alice and lupachi: more show, less tell. I'd like to feel the scene. And that shouldn't be difficult. You have all the ingredients. Just have them happen to Susie.

@lupachi - There is a lot of info, but it appears to be key info. I'd need to see the surrounding paragraphs to see if it is just a straight info dump or if it makes sense in the bigger picture.

@Alice - The snippet has a staccato feel to it. I think it needs to flow more. The train in a hole is intriguing.

Comment by lupachi1927 on October 4, 2015 at 12:36pm

@ Jazz: I don't think it's THAT bad! I agree though that you could probably drop the "Susie looked" bit from your first sentence and shorten it, maybe to "everything looked the same tonight" or something like that, because her viewpoint can be assumed initially---we know. If you feel it's kind of lacking, maybe you could add in a few more sensory details. What's the lighting like? What's the atmosphere of the crowd? What kind of music is the band playing? What kind of stuff are people wearing? (I love the little bit at the end where it says that people are wearing the same kind of stuff she's wearing) Then maybe pick out a few of those details to highlight. Right now all we really get is the place is packed to the gills, and that detail is repeated in both the second and third paragraphs. After the sensory details, I'd add something to indicate how Susie feels about the crowd/the speakeasy/that night/whatever. You say all of this is "familiar." Is that a comforting sort of familiar, or a boring one? Saying that people are dressed "just like her" could mean that again, she finds that comforting---or possibly really boring. Maybe you could add a line or so to give an idea of her attitude right from the get-go. Anyway, I really don't think it's as bad as you say: you've certainly gotten the idea that the place is crowded and popular, it's a bit upscale, and Susie's a regular, and for all I know that's all you need (this is the first eight sentences, after all). Can't wait to see more posts of this as you keep rewriting! Am I correct in thinking this takes place in the same speakeasy as in your novels?

Here's my bit for today. Since I finally finished my night classes (!!!), I can start editing my book for real now. Here's a piece of the rewritten version of Chapter 5, where Lou explains a bit about how magic-based Moonlighters like Ahmed work (in my setting, a Moonlighter is a catch-all term for humans (Dayfolk) who interact heavily with supernatural (Nightfolk) or have a supernatural aspect to themselves, such as those who use magic in some capacity). It's a total info-dump and it's kind of clunky and rough, so if any of you have any suggestions for cutting it down or rephrasing or clarifying that'd be awesome:

Most Moonlighters who dabbled in magic like him—‘specially the occult kind—tended to go off the rails after a while on account a spending too much quality time with That Which Man is Not Meant to Know. See, Dayfolk who use magic are kinda like that little Dutch boy what used his finger to stop up a dam. They start out by learning to see the cracks in the universe and figuring out how to gather up the trickles a magic that leak into our side and shape it to their will through rituals and mumbo-jumbo and the like. But doing all that comes with a price: each time they use magic, they make  the invisible wall between ‘em and the universe a little bit weaker. Most a the time that wouldn’t be a problem—your average cheapskate Moonlighter can stretch a decent shielding spell along for weeks, for example--‘cept for the fact that every so often one a ‘em gets greedy and tries to make the cracks bigger…and that causes a whole new set a problems. See, opening themselves up to that much magical energy all at once takes a real toll on the body and mind a your average Dayfolk.  When it gets to be too much their minds just snap like a twig, letting the magic wash over and through ‘em like a raging river and taking whatever’s left a their brains with it. That’s when stuff around ‘em starts to go real screwy—the whipping fireballs down Main Street kind a screwy...

Comment by Alice E Keyes on October 4, 2015 at 12:26pm

@JazzFeathers - Since it is the opening, I wouldn't talk about how Susie sees it has being the same as it is on the weekend, instead give us the atmosphere that it's crowded and Susie is familiar with navigating through and around the crowds. For instance instead of saying - People crammed every inch of the club - have her being jostled by the crowd as she makes her way from the dance floor to her seat. She could want a drink but decides to wait even though she knows the crowd won't thin around the bar. Or start the whole scene with -The dancers of the speakeasy took their places on chairs lining the dance floor wearing red frocks, white feathers in their hair, black bobs. Just a few ideas :-)

Comment by Alice E Keyes on October 4, 2015 at 12:11pm

I chose this 8 because of the train in the last 8. I have a feeling that I'll be changing it a lot.

Daisy and Rudiger left the coffee shop and were walking to their bikes when the ground shook beneath them. Rudiger caught Daisy when she stumbled. People stream out of the buildings, looking up and down the street.

A boy came running from the train station and said to the townspeople, "The train is in a hole."

Daisy, Rudiger and the people around them started to run toward the train station.

"Please stay here," Rudiger asked Daisy when they reached the station. Two railroad workers walked the tracks trail towards them. Rudiger approached them.

"A boy said the train is in a hole!?" said Rudiger to the men.

Comment by JazzFeathers on October 4, 2015 at 8:47am

So this is the opening of the rewrite of Give in to the Feeling. I know, it sucks. So please tell me what you really hate about it. 

Susie looked about the speakeasy and everything she saw was familiar.

People crammed every inch of the club as always in the weekends. Every table was taken, every corner was jammed of little groups of people standing, drinking and chatting.

The bar was particularly crowded. In the weekends, it never really cleared until closing time. From where she sat, on a chair by the bandstand, Susie couldn’t see the bartenders behind the two rows of customers.

The dance floor had been packed until a couple of minutes ago, but just like her, people knew it was time for the show and had started clearing the floor even if the band had not paused yet.  Other dancers were taking place on chairs lining the dance floor, red frocks, white feathers in their hair, black bobs, just like her. 

Hey, I've just see I'm starting with "Susie looked"

That's BAD!

Anyway, I haven't finished the rewrite yet, but I'm really enjoying it. I'm not really sure why this kind of surpricis me...

Comment by JazzFeathers on September 28, 2015 at 1:45am

@lupachi - Oh my goodness, that's such an exciting news!!!!

I knew from you blog that you were at a conference. I hope you'll tell us all about it ^_^

Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. Always appreciated!

Comment by lupachi1927 on September 27, 2015 at 9:55pm

Finally on here! Sorry it took so long---I've been at a writing conference all weekend. I even pitched my novel, and the agent was interested and wanted a query letter! Since I didn't expect much beyond pitching practice, I'm super excited! :D

I don't really have 8 sentences for today, unfortunately, but I'd still like to contribute if I can. Here are my two cents for all of you:

@CW - Personally, I don't mind the stuff about the cabbie as much, though I'd still get rid of the "the cabbie informed him" sentence. That way is more of a segue to the hotel. I suppose as Jazz says the details are a bit superfluous, but if you wanna slow stuff down it's not bad. I like the description of the hotel---it sounds rather hideous! ;)

@Alice - Sounds like Daisy considered human-powered things to be natural. I like that the other guys consider trains to be connected to nature in some way. Never thought about them like that myself.

@Jazz - I like your bit, though I agree with CW that you should change "stanched" to "stank" or something similar. Other than that, I think you should change the second "nearly argued back" to something else. One of the lectures I went to on character and dialogue this weekend said you should avoid "echoing" in dialogue passages, meaning that characters shouldn't repeat one another's lines exactly, especially one after the other.  Wouldn't Michael phrase that differently from Blood, anyway? Maybe something like "I can't believe I actually tried to argue with him" or whatever. Just a thought.

Comment by Alice E Keyes on September 27, 2015 at 6:31pm
Good afternoon. It's been a busy Sunday for me.

@CW - I can picture the hotel. It gives a nice flavor to this group of sentences.
@jazzfeathers - The -blood dropped his gazed - sentence, I feel, should be a separate sentence because he is not the person speaking.
Comment by cw hawes on September 27, 2015 at 2:56pm

@Alice - That last sentence is quite the teaser!

@Jazz - I've made note of your observation. Thanks!  I have one more read through before it goes live. :)

Comment by JazzFeathers on September 27, 2015 at 1:44pm

@Alice - This argument about 'natural and unnaturla' sound very intersting and full of expectation ^_^

@CW - I really like the second part of the snippet, with the musing about the hotel. It give out part fo the setting and part of Hart's personality.
The first part instead...
I think you could delate all this part "Two were waiting. He picked one and, after the cabbie put his suitcase in the trunk, told the fellow to take him to the nearest hotel by the Pan Am seaplane terminal. The cabbie informed him he could do that and off they went." because it's easy fo rthe reader to infer it. You don't really need to spell it out for them, and doing it, slows down the pace quite a bit, in my opinion. 

Comment by Alice E Keyes on September 27, 2015 at 11:44am

I'll quickly post my 8 and come back after morning errands to comment.

"There is a small gap between the western mountains, but it would only take the train to the uncivilized world," said Rudiger.

"A train track that just ends and goes nowhere else seems a bit unnatural," said Daisy.

Flint appeared suddenly and announced his arrival by saying, "There’s nothing natural or unnatural about a train. It is a mechanical marvel."

"A bicycle is a natural way to move," said Daisy.

Rudiger smiled."Steam is natural and steal is made from materials from the ground."

"Steam, steel, and metal are not alive," said Flint shaking his head.

Daisy stared at Flint not sure how to put her feelings about natural and unnatural and how her ideas had nothing to do with alive nor mechanical.

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