Home > Fiction > Smothering the Flames: Commentary

Smothering the Flames: Commentary

This assignment was to read Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” and then write a similar dialog driven scene.  We were to have between 500 and 1,500 words.  We had 72 hours to write this, but I have family coming in for the weekend and a half-marathon on Sunday.  This morning was when I could get this done. Of course, this means I haven’t spent near as much time on this as I would have liked, and I reserve the right to sneak in edits.

I tried to obfuscate the topic and depict realistic dialog. My word count is 950, so I’m somewhere between the 500 word scene and the 1,500 word short story. I thought about adding more, but it didn’t feel right. Maybe I escalated things too quickly.

I gave the characters names. Bland, generic names. Because of the priming of Hills, I wanted to go with ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ or some such, but then I felt like a supreme plagiarist.

There is a dog and a fire. I think I am over using the fire symbolism and not using the dog enough, but once we get to the shotgun and pillow line, I’m just not sure where else to go with it.  I let the dog drop out after that point.  Obviously, Kevin is trying to change the subject at every conceivable opportunity, which I think works well.

I probably could have added in a bit more description, but again the Hemingway priming and the assignment altogether pushed me towards mostly dialog with a neutral third person narrator.

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