Author Topic: Beginning of a short story, please let me know what you think  (Read 1142 times)

Offline Abigail Lawrence

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Beginning of a short story, please let me know what you think
« on: January 16, 2010, 06:53:49 PM »
The beginning of a short story – The Holiday


There is something about the rain that eases my soul. On those days where my mind is alive with thoughts and fears, it leaves me at peace. Today is one of those days, as so many seem to have been lately, and I am glad for the rain.

My eyes are closed to the world and I face the sky, I enjoy the gentle patter of the water and it lands and runs down my face.

Finally, opening my eyes, I see the river in front, breaking in gentle laps on the bay, and disturbed all over by the thousands of tiny splatters. All of the holiday houses around are closed and boarded up until next year’s summer. All but mine. I need the peace in the surrounding desolation. I need to clear my head; think.

Leaning back against the wall and letting out a sigh, I touch the cold, harsh stone behind me. Every one of my senses is alert, or rather, alive, discovering as though all is new.

“You know, you really shouldn’t be out.” I jump forwards at the sound. “There’s a storm coming.” A pause. “Cigarette?” He holds the packet out to me. I manage a shake of the head. In truth I am dying for one. But the worst thing would be to encourage him to stay. “Why don’t you come under the umbrella? You’ll catch your death.”

“I’m fine.” That came out as more of a snap that anticipated. But I don’t care; he is unwelcome. I don’t want his presence here, invading my peace.

“Not very friendly are you?” He chuckles as he lights up the fag. Rather than leaving, he leans against the wall beside me, puts out his hand and says, “ I’m Tom Wallace.”

“I’d really rather be alone.” I say dryly as I move further away. Without looking back I pray that he is leaving. A minute passes, maybe two. I allow the relief to flow through. He has gone.

“You know, it’s strange your being here.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re not from around here. I can tell.”

Silence.

“I see you down at this spot every day. Why did you come?”

“Why?”

“I’m intrigued.”

“You’re nosy.”

A chuckle and a drag of the cigarette. “Maybe.”

Offline bob414bob

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Re: Beginning of a short story, please let me know what you think
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2010, 08:28:50 PM »
Hi, I'm sorry to say but this didn't grab my attention. I like the first line but the second one sounded awkward to me.

My eyes are closed to the world and I face the sky, I enjoy the gentle patter of the water and it lands and runs down my face. This line also felt a bit wordy, I think it is the repetition of I so close together. How about,
My eyes are closed to the world and I face the sky, enjoying the gentle patter of the rain on my face.


and disturbed all over by the thousands of tiny splatters. This line didn't flow. I know what you are describing so on one level it works but I'd try to word it better.

“I’m fine.” That came out as more of a snap that anticipated. Snap than, not that I think. How about;
"I'm fine." My voice sounded harsher than I expected.

 I was advised that short stories need to get to the point fairly quickly. You need to get into the action because readers will loose interest unless they can see some sort of conflict for your character to overcome.

I hope you find this helpful.

Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: Beginning of a short story, please let me know what you think
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2010, 08:40:52 PM »
Hi Abigail. I didn't really get into this until the guy came along, so I think you should start your story there and only reveal the setting during some action.



There is something about the rain that eases my soul. On those days where my mind is alive with thoughts and fears, it leaves me at peace. Today is one of those days, as so many seem to have been lately, and I am glad for the rain. 
- OK, you've introduced the character as someone with lots of thoughts and fears, that's good. But I'd like to have a clearer image of what it is about the rain. The feel of it, the sound? Show us how it's affecting her.

My eyes are closed to the world and I face the sky, I enjoy the gentle patter of the water and it lands and runs down my face.
- here it seems like she's enjoying the patter before it lands on her face. Instead of telling us that she enjoys it, show. e.g. "the rivulets of rain soothed my face". I haven't said she enjoys it, but you get that idea.

Finally, opening my eyes, I see the river in front, breaking in gentle laps on the bay, and disturbed all over by the thousands of tiny splatters. All of the holiday houses around are closed and boarded up until next year’s summer. All but mine. I need the peace in the surrounding desolation. I need to clear my head; think.
- I was thinking "FINALLY!" too... I just didn't see the point in dragging out the rain thing over two paragraphs. But now she's looking at the river, whereas before she was facing the sky. Also, I think "bay" is the wrong word here, I'd suggest "bank".

Le
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Offline rookie

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Re: Beginning of a short story, please let me know what you think
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2010, 09:48:20 PM »
Hey, Abigail.

I'm going to do some form of in-depth crit in a sec, but I just wanted to stop and agree with bob for a sec first. I'm sorry to say I think you could cut out most of the stuff about the rain without losing too much (unless there's some back-story involving precipitation that we don't know about; then you probably need it more  8) )

The stuff with the creepy dude got me interested, but you have to be careful. You're narrating in free indirect discourse, (which just means that you're conflating the character and the narrator) so when you casually introduce a guy as "he" I expected you to know him. I'll talk about that more when I get there, though.



---'There is something about the rain that eases my soul.'
I'm really sorry, but I think 'eases my soul' is a little clichéd.

---'On those days where when my mind is would be alive with thoughts and fears, it leaves me at peace.'
Again, 'thoughts and fears' is a little bit of a cliché.


I don't usually do this, but I'm going to bring out the green pen (which clashes horribly -- why did I ever chose teal?) and suggest a big change. I think if you want to start with the rain, you need to start with the thoughts that it acts to calm; it just makes it more exciting. You know, something like:

Some days your mind wanders off the beaten path, takes a stroll down a darkened lane. You need something special to snap you out of it when it does, and you just have to hope you aren't mugged by depression before then.

As I walk towards the river, my mind can't stop. It takes me to places I wish I'd never had to go, to memories I'd tried to repress. Tears start to run down my cheeks and the world before me blurs.

Above me, the sky claps it hands and unleashes a torrent of rain. Mixing with the tears, the rivulets splash down my face and, somehow, it seems to ease my soul...


It's not the best writing in the world, but I hope you get why it might be more of a hook -- it gives the reader a reason to care about the protagonist; it connects (I hope  :P).


---'My eyes are closed to the world and I face the sky,'
I didn't know that you had your eyes closed, so this came as a little bit of a shock. You could have her closing her eyes and that might work a little better; "I close my eyes and look up"

---'I enjoy the gentle patter of the water and it lands and runs down my face.'
I've got to agree with PG. Show don't tell.

---'Finally, opening my eyes, I see the river in front,'
(please tell us you're lowering your head before you tell us this :) )


---'breaking in gentle laps on the bay, and disturbed all over by the thousands of tiny splatters.'
I think here you've just used...too many words. the first bit's great; I love it. After 'bay,' though, I don't think you add anything. Also, how is a river breaking onto a bay? Seas, oceans, lakes have waves that break onto bays. Rivers tend not to (though I could be wrong)


---'All of the holiday houses around are closed and boarded up until next year’s summer.'
Good sentence, but I think you could make more of it. There's very limited description here -- we have to make up the world ourselves, which is always dangerous. If you describe them later and they're different from what I've already concocted, you're going to make me double take a bit. Maybe "Along the shore, holiday homes had been boarded up, braced for the winter rain." (but you'll do it better) -- at least there's a bit of description as to where the holiday homes are.

---'I need to clear my head; think.'
Maybe just "I need to clear my head and think"

---'Leaning back against the wall and letting out a sigh, I touch the cold, harsh stone behind me.'
Just a couple of tiny things;
1) I didn't know she was walking past her summer house, just that she had one. I think you need to put in a sentence explaining where she is relative to the holiday homes.
2) You don't need "behind me" -- I think the most natural way to lean is backwards, so unless you tell me you're slanting sideways or pushing your face into the stone, I'm going to assume that anyway.
3)I think you've tried to put too much into this sentence. You've got leaning, sighing, touching -- never mind all the prepositions and adjectives.

---'Every one of my senses is alert,'
"My senses are alert"?

'or rather, alive, discovering as though all is new.'
'Discovering as though all is new' another cliché. I'd rephrase, or omit.

---'I jump forwards at the sound.'
"The sound makes me jump. I don't recognise the voice" (or something like that; then we know that you're surprised, it's worrying and that you don't know the man)

---'A pause.'
What sort of pause? Awkward, scary, relaxing ;) ?


'In truth I am dying for one. But the worst thing would be to encourage him to stay.'
This can all be one sentence; just separate with a comma.


'I don’t want his presence here, invading my peace.'
It's a little clumsy -- you don't 'want his presence'? Perhaps "don't like his presence"? Also, 'invading my peace' is quite hard to picture and makes him seem like he's disturbing some form of monastic meditation. "Invading my space," on the other hand, is far more visual -- and makes him seem more threatening.

“Not very friendly are you?” He chuckles as he lights up the fag.
It's a specific cigarette? I'd just go with "a fag."

---'Rather than leaving, he leans against the wall beside me,'
First three words are redundant -- we know he's not leaving as soon as you tell us he's leaning next to you :)


---' puts out his hand and says, “ I’m Tom Wallace.” '
I think you could make more of this;

"Tom Wallace," he says with a smile. He sticks out his hand as if to shake mine, not even bothering to swap his cigarette into his other hand."

Again, not great writing, but it shows how nonchalant his is, how threatening he is and -- more importantly -- how unfriendly his invitation is.

---'I say dryly as I move further away.'
I think dry's a bit too ambiguous to be of any use here - it can mean sarcastic, dull or sharp. Perhaps "I said sharply" would get the point across a little more forcefully.

---'Without looking back I pray that he is leaving.'
Again, you haven't actually told us you're looking away -- just that you've moved further down the wall. I'd also like to know why you turned away from the creepy man who's probably thinking "my what a nice back you have; all the better for stabbing you in" ;).

---'I allow the relief to flow through.'
Flow through what? Through you? I know what you're trying to say, but I'm not sure this is the best way to do it -- I'd rephrase.

---' He has gone.'
Has he? Do you know that? (psst, for a clue, just look below -- he hasn't! ;). "Has he gone?" would be so much more of a tension builder!

---“You know, it’s strange your being here.”
(just some remark here about how he hadn't left and your reaction would be good. Otherwise good dialogue from here on out.)

---“You’re not from around here. I can tell.
(Probably not necessary)

---“I see you down at this spot here every day. Why did do you come?”
(just suggestions; I think "do you come" is more in keeping with the fact that she's there...now.

---'A chuckle and a drag of the cigarette.'
What sound does the drag make? Again, show don't tell.



I actually like it -- from the creepy man onwards. He draws me in and I find myself oddly drawn to his slightly sarcastic manner. (I wonder why  ::) )

I hope this helps,

Keep writing!

rookie
« Last Edit: January 16, 2010, 09:55:00 PM by rookie »

Offline Biola

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Re: Beginning of a short story, please let me know what you think
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2010, 10:52:26 AM »
Your story startedoff with a limp and the reader got interested only after the creep came in. You hinted t him but left us to wonder which was maybe why it was interesting. Does rain patter? You use of words and association made me stumble.I tend to associate the word with active action like that of the patter of tiny feet, you know children, but on your face as you lifted it up to the skyleft me with some difficulty.Thanks for giving us the chance to read and share
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