Friday Fiction – The Fraud

It’s Wednesday, so must be time for some FF. I can’t decide how I feel about this one, it’s either clever or terrible, depending whether what I’m trying to do has worked. Let me know what you think. If I get time later in the week, I might come back and have a second go. Until then, no edits this week – basically I wrote the conversation, then added the stage directions, then cut 8 words to make it 100.

Thanks to Rochelle and Lora for the inspiration.


The Fraud

James and Barry watched the video a third time.

“I reckon it’s a fake,” Barry nodded, looking to James for confirmation.

“Course it’s a fake. Who sets a video camera to record flowers? I just wanna know how he did it.”

Barry clicked play again. “Tripod, maybe. Unless there was a table in the…”

“Not the video.” James spat the words like tobacco. “I mean the fake bit: the movement.”

“That’s what I meant,” Barry tried, “the movement. How does he make it look alive?”

James didn’t reply; he was studying the video. He’d forgotten Barry was there at all.


After 12 hours+ of comments, it seems to me that I was right about this being mostly confusing. Here’s an explanation, for those who want it, followed by a slightly tidied up version of the story. I still might write another story on this prompt if I get time, but for now…

James and Barry are friends. In the sense that Barry is a bit slow, but James lets him tag along because he likes having someone to boss around. It’s fair to say James isn’t a very nice kid.

The boys are watching a youtube video which has gone viral, showing a plant moving, “alive”. Barry is trying to sound intelligent; James doesn’t really give a damn what Barry says – and everything Barry does say just cements James’ view that Barry’s an idiot. In truth, James isn’t that intelligent either (otherwise why’s he messing about watching clearly fake youtube videos?), but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.

If the piece is clever, it’s because the video, James and Barry are all, arguably, The Fraud of the title. But I have a feeling it is just not a very good story. I’m not sayingthis out of some fishing-for-compliments false modesty. I genuinely think it should be filed under “could do better”.

Version 2:

They played it a third time. James watched the plant, Barry watched James – both trying to understand.

“I reckon it’s a fake,” Barry nodded, looking to James for confirmation.

“Course it’s a fake. Who sets a camera to record flowers? I just wanna know how he did it.”

“Tripod, maybe? Unless there was a table in the…” Barry clicked play again.

“Not the video,” James spat the words like tobacco. “The movement.”

“That’s what I meant. The movement. How does he make it look alive?”

James didn’t reply; he was studying the screen. He’d forgotten Barry was there at all.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

74 responses to “Friday Fiction – The Fraud

  1. If we are meant to be left also puzzling about how he did it, then it worked 🙂

  2. I like it. I’m not entirely sure what you were going for, but your characters are believable, and I’m left wondering who he is, what he did, and why it matters so much to these two.

  3. Yes, why are they so deeply involved in figuring out the mystery? Is it pertinent to some crime?

  4. Your story meshes well with mine: the flower is not really a flower…It’s alive. (By the way, I love the phrase “spat the words like tobacco.” Great, vivid description.)

  5. It’s not a fake at all… that lily eats people 🙂 Frankly I’m a little confused, but the dialogue and writing is great. So my own fantasy goes on.

  6. Yes. The ending interfered there! A mysterious one…!

  7. I liked that tobacco comparison, too, but David beat me to it! :-/ I’m not sure why these guys are wondering or why the film-maker is taping the flower, but I felt that those were things we were supposed to wonder. I got that the plant is alive and the rest being speculation works. But with the title of “Fraud”, I’m wondering whether the whole thing is a fraud and those getting faked out are James and Barry.

    Or I may have just sniffed to many lilies this morning!


  8. John Hardy Bell

    Put me squarely in the ‘Clever’ camp!!! So good to be reading your stories again. I’ve been away from the fictioneers for too long! 🙂

  9. An enjoyable read! Yeah, I’m not really sure what its point is, but I like it jut the same. Your writing is always enjoyable, Jen.

  10. petronmb

    This dramatic scenario promotes a lot of possibilities . . . I like this approach, emphasis on scene, the haiku fiction.

  11. Dear Jen,

    I am glad to see you giving everyone some time to contemplate your mystery. I liked the ‘tobacco’ bit spit, too. And I am still caught up in the hypnotic vision of a world where everyone is so easily distracted by a video. Reminds me of this era. Mind draining 24/7 video feed. Shape of things to come.



  12. Dear Jen,
    The only thing I could think of was that the video, even though there was no movement, Jake is mesmerized. Kind of puts me in mind of restaurants with scads of TV’s on the wall. Usually sports. Even though I could care less about basketball or football, etc. my eyes are drawn to it.
    Believable dialogue, concise writing but baffling story line.

  13. Time lapse photography. Good one.

  14. I think you encapsulated the relationship between the two boys – the endeavour to participate on Barry’s part and the total indifference to his contribution on James’ part. I wouldn’t beat myself up about this – sometimes obscure is good. 😉

  15. I think we all get these ‘I could have done better’ ones. That said, I think it’s rather funny actually. I’d just read David’s ‘it’s alive interpretation’ of the prompt so this kind of linked up (and suddenly it didn’t seem as obscure, too!]

  16. Story excellent, let it stand, addendum unnecessary.

  17. TheImaginator

    I agree with anelephantcant – the story is very clear and not confusing at all.

  18. Hi Jennifer,
    From the dialog, they sounded like two old country codgers who were sitting around somewhere way out in the country with nothing better to do than watch obscure videos and speculate. That’s my interp. I got the plant movement thing and think you hint enough to make the story clear. Ron

    • Long time no see, Ron. Glad you liked this one. I was thinking kids, because of watching a video, but nothing to stop the characters being old guys if that works for you.

  19. I’ve seen that video, it’s not fake. As for the story, I like it without the addendum too.

  20. This is a case where you really need more than 100 words to set the stage 🙂 The dialogue flow is well done if that helps

    • Thank you Carrie. I agree it’s probably a story that’s longer than 100 words to do it justice. Have a look at v2 though if you like, I think it’s slightly better

  21. You can say whatever you wish of the story…I enjoy “b” movies, so I liked this regardless. Besides, I understood it first time through.


  22. I got it the first time too

  23. enjoyed the banter between Barry and James:) a good story

  24. Michael Fishman

    I wouldn’t say this should be filed under ‘could do better’, but maybe under ‘needs to be longer’. 100 words just doesn’t leave any space for character development and this story is all about the characters. I really liked the analogy, “spat the words like tobacco” because it gives a good amount of insight into the James character.

    • Thanks michael. I agree that a longer space would have helped me make things a lot clearer. I’ve tried in version two, but I’m pleased to see that it did make some sense even in the constraints of 100 words.

  25. I caught it without the explanation. Knowing that it was kids helped (a little) some people have too much time on their hands in this day and age and they will watch this stuff. I think you nailed the nature of some (not very inspired ) people

  26. I loved the spitting of the words like tobacco – what a fantastic description.

  27. Jen,
    You can file this anyway you want but I have to say the writing is good as always. That alone is enough of a reason to give it a thumbs up. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time or words to flesh this out. Sometimes an idea doesn’t fit inside the box. No big deal. Besides 100 word stories with a clear beginning, middle and end lack all the good stuff in between. I for one am glad you just let it flow this week.


    • Thank you, Tom. I have in the past thrown out an idea because I couldn’t do it justice in a small space. I’ve also ditched the whole “beginning, middle, end” thing in favour of an interesting scene. I feel this has those three elements, but would certainly have liked more space to give it wings.

  28. Boy, those guys need to get a life. I bet if they searched hard enough they could find a video of paint drying. This was a difficult prompt, Jen.
    Like Tom, I think your story needed more space to flesh out the characters and scene.

  29. I don’t think that it matters if the whole ‘beginning middle and end’ rule is strictly applied. These shorts often raise questions in the reader and provoke discussion. I am not looking for the structure myself, just the entertainment that comes with reading it. Some of the stories tease and intrigue because there isn’t enough information to know what’s really going on, but we can always ask the writer can’t we? And that is why this is such a great community. I enjoyed it. 🙂

  30. Sarah Ann

    I like the first version. I think there is enough in it for the relationship between the boys to be hinted at, if not fully explained. The last line and ‘spat the words like tobacco’ let the reader know what James thinks.

  31. We can always do better, but with 100 words; well they don’t call it a challenge for nothing.

  32. It’s lovely writing – with very easy, realistic dialogue, but the truth is even in the second story I wouldn’t have completely understood what was meant to be going on. But that didn’t spoil either of them for me. Seen as a snap shot they work well, and in the second one you’ve brought out the relationship between the two boys much more strongly. I really don’t think you should be so hard on yourself.

  33. Don ‘t worry it was all a plant…

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