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There once was a programmer analyst
Who worked for a guy with a hammer fist


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All the Write Questions / Re: How do you write stronger characters?
« Last post by princessforst on September 07, 2020, 04:11:22 PM »
Thanks for this! This is super helpful for someone like me who is looking into a career in Narrative Design. A professional in the field that I interviewed spoke about the World being his favorite part of a Narrative to build but that the characters are what make the world feel alive and are what make the reader truly feel engaged in your story.

World Builds Character, Characters Build Story, Story Builds the World.

I plan on using this advice for when I make up my own characters, so thank you again!
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The Writers Circle / Quzzister - A Wide Range Of Free, Original And Quality Papers
« Last post by John56832 on September 07, 2020, 12:59:28 PM »
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Review My Poetry / Re: The Tented City
« Last post by Nora on September 07, 2020, 10:14:22 AM »
Thanks Cliff. I had not even thought of that aspect of a "tented city." I guess there is always that possibility, that anything one writes could ring a different bell for someone else. I'll keep it in mind as a good suggestion for a different take on this poem.
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Hey there! Here's my opening chapter to my novel. It has been edited for a few more rounds since I'd last uploaded it, including by a few professionals. I am now seeking beta readers to read and review my entire novel. You can pop me a Private Message on this forum and we can discuss from there.
For those of you that will just have a read here, feel free to leave a reply. I appreciate any comment or criticism.

Chapter 1

I cut myself - off of the extending thorns of the trees in my path, not in the other way if that's what you thought.

Twigs break beneath my feet as the moonlight sets in and shines through the holes of the top of the forest roof. Vast contorted trees - as if they had come straight out of a horror movie - stand tall on my way home on this late evening. (Or early morning.)

I had lost track of time after taking one too many shots of tequila. Yeah, underage drinking, whatever. It was all that I could have, anyway. Super drunk me is not a pleasant person and I have to arrive home on the sober end of the scale. Especially with the typical brown family questions: With who? Where? What time? You know the rest.
I look up at the bits of the black sky that I can see; I didn’t intend to be out this late. Abuela also usually sets a curfew on weeknights. Fortunately, my phone died, so I’m saved until I reach home. A bit of guilt makes its way into my chest. She’s always been there for me after Mom and Dad... She raised me like her own daughter. She’s made me into half the person I am today.

And I, like the other half idiot I am, decided to take the shorter route home through the forest. Like in those cliche horror movies; some idiot girl always takes the forest because she’s that desperate to run away from the murderous killer. Those girls are usually blondes, so what does that say about me?

Thankfully, and very graciously with only one cut from the plants, I finally reach the other side of the forest. Safe and sound - which is rather surprising because I have this feeling like I’ve been watched the entire night.

Crossing the street, I dread opening the door to meet Abuela’s face and see her mad at me. I hesitate at first and consider sneaking up through my bedroom window, but I have to take this like a man - as the patriarchs would say. 
I open the door and it hits me like a truck; The day I first moved in with Abuela. Her sweet face losing tears as she grasped me in her arms.

No, get out of your head.

On the other end of the door stands a sweet face with a big frown and holds a whisk in the air. Next to her, a heavenly smelling bowl of cookie batter.
“Mijita, you better have a good explanation for this. I don’t work my nalgas off for you to be giving me this behaviour!” she says with Latina anger.
 
“Abuela, I can explain,” and my sentence drifts off when I catch the wall clock. 12:15. Just over an hour past curfew.

“I had to start baking to calm myself,” her voice quietens down, “...you know you can’t be doing stuff like this. Y especialmente cosas como esta, I get worried.”

I’m taken aback at first. No massive scolding, no death stares Yeah the angry tone but this is nothing compared to the usual. Strolling towards her, I head into the heaven that is a Mexican’s kitchen. Every time I see her face-to-face I get the urge to bring up memories that make me want to tear up, but truthfully, I’d like to say I’ve gotten used to it..
I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was so excited to see Mom and Dad after I got home from school but all I remember was the yellow tape. After that, things got complicated. I’ve been practically raised by my Abuela and she’s taught me everything I know.

“Abuelita.. I’m really sorry. The movie started late and my phone died and I tried to come back quicker through the forest but I got lost.”

“Segura que fue una película?” She stops in her tracks and looks at me dead in the eyes. Her beautiful eyes stare straight into my soul and burn a fire at my wall. The mix of red and gray hair, the curvy wrinkles, the rosy chubby cheeks and caramel tortilla skin just like mine create a person that I cannot put up to lie to.  I’ve tried before.
She sighs, “it’s okay, mi amor. I was just worried - not angry, otherwise the cookies wouldn’t turn out okay. Just don’t do it again okay. Especially if you run into the police. As long as Leigh was there, right?”

“Yeah, Leigh was there,” I say. Abuela has always been so fond of Leigh. Appreciated that I had made a good friend this time. “The party was pretty shit.” That’s a half-lie considering Leigh left about halfway through.

“Hey,” she takes her whisk and holds it up towards me letting some of the batter fly, “watch your language.”

“Lo siento,” I say wanting to die of laughter at her version of a knife threat

“It’s alright. Here help me. Get the chocolate chips.” We’ve been baking together since I was in diapers. I have this great memory of when the entire bowl of batter ended up on my head and dripped down all over my face. It was not lumpy at all and the peaks were stiff - so that was a plus side.

"Okay all done," I say pushing the last form of cookies into the oven. "Let’s get to bed, Abuela." Hopefully my version of an apology helping her with the cookies sits well.

"Sí. Let’s go. Do this one more time and I’m going to freak.”

“Yeah yeah, I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.”

“And it’s a Wednesday. School night, ¡idiota!”

The night slowly creeps in and as I lay in bed I notice how, when the light from the hallway shines, the door frame actually needs another paint job, and so does the window frame and so do my walls. I go on like this until procrastination is not in my mind anymore and I can finally fall off to sleep. Everything is peaceful.
Obviously that doesn’t last long when the urge to pee hits me.

As I enter the bathroom, I hear it.

“Don’t freak out,” a voice pierces the air.

If I tell you, I am literally going to lose all my shit because I jump and turn around frantically looking for the voice.
“Hey head, that’s not you right?” I shake it off and relieve myself.

Entering my room again, except this time with little to no footsteps, I can’t help but feel something in the air. I’m not one to usually get scared from such minimal things, especially when they throw words around me like ‘PTSD’ or ‘therapy’, but this time it's different.
I go to look outside the window. Slowly, I crank the glass up and the cold wind already starts to make its way through my clothes and cements itself deep into my bones. I can feel my heart wanting to rip through my sternum as fear slowly builds.  Standing several feet above ground, I stick my head out and watch the San Diego darkness with the hopes to just get some air and calm myself down. I’ve had one hell of a night but I can’t help but wonder why I feel like I’m being drawn outside. “Stop it. This is why those blond girls always go out in the horror movies. What’s that sound? I better go check it out and die. Did you hear that? We should go check it out and die... Just no.”

“When we’re done with this, remind me to figure out what a movie is. Sounds interesting.”

“Abuela!-”

“No, no, no, no, keep it down,” the voice hushes. I can barely make it out but it sounds human. I turn around without hesitation but I see nothing… and only hear the voice that cut me off instantaneously as if I’d done it without knowing. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and clench my fists. If I’m dying tonight, I’m making sure I punch the living demon out of whoever might be here. “I won’t hurt you. Just follow me outside so we can talk.” the voice drifts off. I don’t hear the window closing, I don’t hear any footsteps, I hear nothing. When I open my eyes, I see nothing out of the ordinary.

Damnit,.

Why can’t I be normal? And why on Earth am I actually going outside now? I definitely heard a voice that wasn’t mine. In fact, I can even make it out to be a guy.
“Well… here goes nothing.”
As if I’m drawn to the outside unwillingly, which is why I slip my pocket knife under my sleeve, I climb down through the window , and plop off the roof landing in the street. Right between the house and the forest that I just came through.  I gaze up to see that the light in Abuela’s room is out.

The air temperature has dropped and the icy wind strikes me as if subtly dull needles stab my skin leaving the tiny goosebumps that race across my skin in its wake.
Darkness surrounds me and I use my hands to try to move leaves out of the pathway. Doing this allows some moonlight to poke through which gives me just enough to see what’s ahead of me. With every foot forward, I make sure I step very lightly to ensure no echo comes with it.
I let my hand feel to the left side of my jean into the pocket when I want to kill myself more than anything out here; I didn’t put my phone on charge.
A movement to the right of the tree line catches me and I turn to face it. I walk slowly deeper into the forest until the street lights can no longer illuminate my path and I’m deep into the woods - again. My heart is racing. Deep breaths. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. I try to calm myself down.

They say you have two natural responses in a fearful situation; fight or flight. For me, a third one kicks in: freeze. I’m just standing here. Helpless. I’m not one to scream so this death would go unheard but I’m sure as hell I’ll go down with a fight.

“I really don’t want to get eaten today.”

Strength builds in me. I let the knife slide down into my palm and my fingers firmly grasp the handle. Adrenaline becomes indifferent to the blood in my veins. It pumps through me giving me the energy and ferocity of a wolf - a fitting animal noting the setting that I’m in.

“Hi,”

My arm swings without me even looking and I’m waiting for the impact or even a scream. When that doesn’t happen, I open my eyes faster than I’ve ever recalled myself doing so. Nothing.

“Surely my alcohol tolerance is a lot more than this.” I tell myself. I shrug it off and lift my leg up to make the next step back home when a sudden laughter fills the air. It’s so distinguishable from the background sounds of the dark and mysterious forest. The laughter is eerie with a sense of mischief behind it. El Diablo - first thought that comes to my mind. My heart starts racing again. Pounding actually. I can feel the blood rushing through my body this time which shortens my breaths. Contrary to what I normally feel, I’m absolutely terrified.

“You’re not drunk, Chelsea Valentina Pérez,” the voice says again. Someone around seventeen or eighteen years old.  A voice not too deep. Light and definitely male.

“Okay, it’s not my mind because ‘it’ will definitely know that I go by as just Chelsea.” A sudden silence fills the air creating a dreadful tension between my breathing as I try to look for the source of the voice.

“Over here.” I turn to look at the edge of the opening where the darkness meets the moonlight.

Slowly, particles of light start to gather together and cascade down taking form as they fall to the floor. It reveals a leg’s shape first. Then an arm’s next to it. My eyes trace the body parts until they all join into one solid body of light that gleams and glitters under the moon.
The bluey white fades out leaving a translucent silhouette of a boy. I stare blankly and watch as his eyes form and shine grey as they stare directly at me. As he moves, light particles dust off him and reform again creating his body form. He nonchalantly whisks his left hand back and forth between the dark forest area and the bright lunar opening and I see as his body disappears without the presence of light and reforms when he pulls it back in a truly mesmerizing sight. The thing slowly floats towards me without even setting foot on the ground.

I rush forward and hurle my fist for him but the knife goes right through leaving my arm looking mutilated as it passes right through his torso. I stare up in terror - and wonder because now, I don’t think my un-sobriety has anything to do with this..

“Un...fantas...you’re a ghost,” I say in shock and disbelief.

“Yeah, and you’d be surprised what other names I have but sure, let us proceed with Ghost.” This time, I catch almost an accent of a high, polished English. Not British, but just fancy.

“...What?”

“Well I’ve never actually met a human before but-” he says and pauses for a minute before continuing, “I need your help.”

“...What!” I shout this time. “Ay, Chelsea, qué me pasó? How much have I had to drink?” I whimper out and stumble a few steps back.

“Please listen,,” his voice gets stern and worrisome as he turns back looking at something beyond the trees, ”you need to come with me. Now. I’ll explain everything on the way but I fear they may have found me and I desperately need assistance in finding my-“

“No, no, no. This is all just in your head, Chelsea,” I try to calm myself down by closing my eyes but it doesn’t work and I snap them open to get a look at him again to make sure I’m not dreaming. “What do you mean you need my help? Who’s they? What the hell is going on?”

“Chelsea,” his face frowns and he rushes towards me floating through the air without laying a foot on the ground. I dash backwards without lifting an eye of the marvel that I’m seeing.

“Dude, stop. This is really freaking me out!” It feels odd saying that to what seems to be a form of PTSD that my psychologist warned me about.

“Chelsea, we don’t have time for this! I fear we may already be too la-“ his voice cuts off and the sound of the forest filters back in and the first beam of moving light wanders this way accompanied with a low buzz. “Hide!”
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Hi there!

As a reply stated before, you seem to know what you want. I love how you build the events in a seemless flow that made me continue reading. However, some sentences are too verbose at times. It loses me and I have to go to the next sentence to move forward. Try taking one or two sentences per paragraph and making it a lot more concise. Also try giving us a lot more character. Sidney is wafer thin. Bring out a lot more of the flavour in her personality and you'll have an awesome opening chapter.

With that said, your writing is beautifully structured. Keep on! If you're seeking beta readers, you can pop me a private msg and I'd love to beta read.
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Review My Poetry / Re: The Knowledge of Potatoes
« Last post by Cliff Sombito on September 07, 2020, 06:02:17 AM »
Yes, there is knowledge in everything. Even potatoes knows something that you don't even know that's why the answer to the riddle is also a secret.
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Review My Poetry / Re: The Tented City
« Last post by Cliff Sombito on September 07, 2020, 05:52:51 AM »
This poem reminds me of nomads, their home is where their feet take them. It tells of simple living without the influence of modern technologies. It's a nice poem. Thank you for sharing.
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Review My Work / Re: Beginning of a Story
« Last post by Nora on September 06, 2020, 07:51:12 PM »
It's too hard to read: lots of continuous text with no paragraph breaks
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Welcome Board - START HERE! / hi, I'm new here
« Last post by Nora on September 06, 2020, 04:51:02 PM »
I have a bunch of poems and a couple of prose pieces, would really appreciate specific feedback whether negative or positive. And will be looking at other people's work too!
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