Author Topic: One Last Day, 1,459 words  (Read 2168 times)

Offline MaryRuth

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One Last Day, 1,459 words
« on: June 27, 2015, 04:06:46 AM »
I'd be very grateful for any feedback on this short story. Thank you!  :)


​   The day that Yann finally calls me, there are no polite platitudes. All he says is, 'I have the papers, Annie, perhaps we could talk.'

​   'Yes,' I reply, my heart sinking, 'I think we should.'

   ​He suggests a country pub a short drive from York, arranges a time and hangs up. ​It's the most civilised conversation we've had in ages.

​   I shove the cat out of the way and collapse into a chair. I see a black and white drawing on the wall opposite, a piece Yann sketched of me shortly after we met. I'm lying naked in a pile of crumpled sheets, my hair splayed out behind me, my face freighted with emotion. Staggering how a few lines in the right places can express so much feeling. Yann's a genius, but it still blows me away. Maybe such a creation is a consequence of love, or was it just lust back then?

   ​'The traffic is shocking,' he moans, when we meet that afternoon outside York train Station, 'Dunno what's going on.'

   ​It is a somnolent summer's day, the kind rarely seen in England now, and it's making me nostalgic somehow, for my childhood of the 70s, when life felt free and summers were always hot.

   ​'It could be that fair. The one everyone's been on about.'

   ​'Hmm,' says Yann, glancing at his watch. 'I guess it must be somewhere on the way.'
   ​He drums his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel while I bite my lip and gaze out of the window, wondering where our 'appointment' figures on his to do list. The roof is down and Ella Fitzgerald is blaring out. ​The traffic is barely moving now, and chirpy teenagers dressed up as clowns thrust gaudy flyers through our windows.

   ​'Yann, this fair looks fabulous, let's go!'

   ​'Sorry, Annie. I've a ton of stuff to do later.'

   ​'One last day. Please.'

   ​In the past I'm sure he would have said no, but now, perhaps recognising the need for an amicable ending, he relents, albeit reluctantly.

   ​'Okay, perhaps a relaxed setting like that would be better.'

   ​ I'm not really sure why the fair appeals so much, maybe it's a desperate wish to cling onto the remnants of my marriage or else a desire to return to the past when such fairs were commonplace. Whatever it is, we leave the city and follow the stream of cars down the winding country lanes until finally we reach the entrance to the fair, where we are directed into a parking space at the end of an enormous field.

   ​'I'm afraid we don't take credit cards, sir,' says the slim, russet haired girl on the gate.

   ​'No cash.' he says, shrugging his shoulders. 'Sorry.'

   I fish around in my bag for a ten pound note and ​once inside, we grab some hot dogs and plonk ourselves down amidst a bevy of giggling children to watch Punch and Judy. Judy whacks Punch over the head with a rolling pin and everybody laughs, everyone that is except Yann, who lies back on the grass and kicks off his flip flops. He has on old, baggy jeans with frayed hems and a faded, half unbuttoned purple shirt. I know he has never given much thought to what he wears but I still find him so damn attractive, even after all this time.
   ​'Could do with a beer,' he says, closing his eyes and resting his head in his hands.

        ​There is a tent nearby with people clambering over each other to get served, so I wander across and buy two drinks; lager for Yann and cider for me. I only drink cider on holiday, and today feels like a holiday, of sorts. I do a quick recce of the place. There's a coconut shy, tombola and swing boats; all those things I used to love, and behind the main field, there's another one, where various shows and performances are taking place. The haunting melody of the merry-go-round draws my attention and I watch for a while. It seems to represent the cyclical nature of my life, which is now for the most part routine. A boy, aged about 6 has his arms wrapped lovingly around the rippled, golden pole of a multi-coloured horse; a garish mishmash of turquoise, orange and mustard yellow. Whenever his horse completes a full circle, the little boy lifts one hand and waves.

   ​'Mum,' he yells.

   ​His mum waves back every time, never seeming to grow tired of it.

   ​The lad reminds me of my Rob, the Rob of years back, of course. Why did he have to grow up?

   ​When I get back, Yann has removed some papers from an official looking envelope and is busy leafing through them.

   ​'They just need your signature,' he says in a perfunctory voice, 'here at the bottom.'

​I take the papers and hand him the paper cup, filled to the brim with beer.
   ​'Sure, but can't it wait, just a little while longer?'

   ​'I guess so,' he says laconically.

   ​Tentatively, I sit down beside him and sip my drink, allowing its profound sweetness to be in some way absorbed by my consciousness. The warmth of the day, combined with the alcohol muffles my senses and I start to feel relaxed.

   ​'What's next?'

   Yann pulls the programme from the back pocket of  his jeans and squints his eyes - his sight has deteriorated over the years.

   ​'Wing walking,' he says, in a dismissive tone.

   'What's that?'

   ​'Oh, some insane thing, where a nutter walks on the wing of a plane,' he says dismissively. 'I saw it on telly once.'

   ​'Can we watch?' I say, not knowing why I want to.

   ​'Sure,' he says, puffing on a cigarette. 'Then let's get out of here.'

   ​So we meander down to the crowd of people congregating at the end of the field, and wait. We don't speak much. Yann seems distant and distracted, eager I suppose to get things sorted and move on with his life.

   ​After several minutes, the show begins, and even from where we are standing, I can see that the stuntman is tall, with perfect posture that serves only to accentuate his height. He is smiling, a calm, confident smile of determination, which belies the fear I'm sure he must be feeling. He's fit too, with ripped, sinewy muscles and toned limbs. It's hard to gauge his age, but I can tell he's young, no older than 30, that perfect age where death seems distant and life so full of promise. I glance over at Yann. The thick, dark curls I'd always loved are now flecked with white, while laughter lines are etched into a deeply tanned face, which over the years has somehow lost its capricious youthfulness. His eyes display a look of disinterested despondency, as though life has let him down in some way. How and when did that happen?

         The man is in the air now, his head appearing like a jack in the box through the door of the plane. He waves and grins at the crowd, before slowly and with absolute precision, raising himself up to stand on one wing. We're all in raptures; shouting and cheering, but although it's a perfect summer's day, the wind's picking up; the man, however, seems unconcerned.

   'Stupid fool,' Yann mumbles, shading his eyes from the sun.

   As we stand there transfixed, a helicopter flies overhead. It's hovering just low enough for the man to reach out and catch its legs. As he stretches his arms upwards, I reach for my i-phone to take a photo, but when I look back, the man is falling.

   Even after we've heard the thud followed by the screams, do we still stand there watching, what is by then an empty cerulean sky through which a solitary bird is gliding. We don't speak either, apart from one word, 'fuck,' which Yann mutters almost imperceptibly under his breath, then he grabs my hand and clutches it tightly, digging his clipped nails into my palm. I feel their sharpness but don't pull away. Everything is eerily quiet now, apart from the merry-go-round, its poignant melody making a mockery of what we've just seen.

   Still holding my hand, Yann turns now to face me and I look into his eyes; blue, with a sliver of gold, just like mine.

   'I'm sorry, Annie,' he says, his voice quavering. 'For everything.'

   The words linger in the air like the heady scent of jasmine, as suddenly, all around us life begins again; a crazy cacophony of screams, tears and horrendous pandemonium.

   'I think we should go, love,' he says, and puts an arm around my shoulders and walks me slowly back to the car.
--
       
Mary Thompson
https://about.me/mary_thompson

Offline Simple Things

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2015, 09:30:36 AM »
I like your writing but found you go just a bit too far in description. They aren't badly written descriptions, but they did feel like your writing slipped in to dress it up too much. Show and Tell in partnership can save a lot of words. Show and Tell uses the reader, lets them be active in the story. Because of all the topics on Show and Tell, it is hard to find a balance that works for the writer. It is out there.

Quote
I shove the cat out of the way and collapse into a chair. I see a black and white drawing on the wall opposite, a piece Yann sketched of me shortly after we met. I'm lying naked in a pile of crumpled sheets, my hair splayed out behind me, my face freighted with emotion. Staggering how a few lines in the right places can express so much feeling. Yann's a genius, but it still blows me away. Maybe such a creation is a consequence of love, or was it just lust back then?

I like the whole paragraph until the very last line.

Quote
   ​It is a somnolent summer's day, the kind rarely seen in England now, and it's making me nostalgic somehow, for my childhood of the 70s, when life felt free and summers were always hot.

It is a somnolent summer's day, the kind rarely seen in England.

If it is so rarely seen, why draw the reader away from that, to read about internal feelings of memories of a time long before this story about days just like the one they read the mc was experiencing in the now. Keep focus. Everything doesn't need a reflective moment or its own individual stage. Doing this leads to novels 250,000 words or more longer than they need to be.

**

...wondering where our 'appointment' figures on his to do list.

Like the line. But those '   '   and don't get me wrong I have used them. But those '   '   stand out soo much in a grammatical way. I can understand that you are using them to point to how everything is on his calender, but without those marks, can it not do the same?

...wondering where our appointment figures on his to-do-list.

Of course did I change one grammatical stigma for another -  -   though in this case the stigma works because it is a recognised attachment to that phrase and so doesn't stand out away from the other words. It can be without the - though.


Very small issues which can be addressed on drafts. Still if you aware of them before the next story it might help.




Offline RamblingRose

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2015, 09:35:33 AM »

Hi MaryRuth. I liked this, it had a good flow to it. I've made some specific (and very picky, so feel free to disagree) comments below. My one general comment would be that I didn't quite follow the intent of the ending. I think it's suggesting such a tragic event prompts Yann to reflect on his life, which has 'let him down', and reconsider what he has, and what he's about to lose or get rid of? Or is he now just more sorry about it than he was? It felt very slightly rushed at the end, so it could be worth expanding that section.

​   The day that Yann finally calls me, there are no polite platitudes. Not sure about the alliteration… although that is a matter of personal tasteAll he says is, 'I have the papers, Annie, perhaps we could talk.'

​   'Yes,' I reply, my heart sinking, 'I think we should.'

   ​He suggests a country pub a short drive from York, arranges a time and hangs up. ​It's the most civilised conversation we've had in ages.

​   I shove the cat out of the way and collapse into a chair. I see a black and white drawing on the wall opposite, a piece Yann sketched of me shortly after we met. I'm lying naked in a pile of crumpled sheets, my hair splayed out behind me, my face freighted Not sure about this word - makes me think of trains - I'm not sure which sort of emotion the picture shows - is it love, hate, ecstasy? Perhaps you don't need this line at all - the hair splayed out on the crumpled sheets conjures enough?with emotion. Staggering how a few lines in the right places can express so much feeling. Yann's a genius, but it still blows me awayBeing very picky, but is the 'but' here quite logical? - would it make more sense to say 'Yann's genius still blows me away' or 'Yann's a genius; it still blows me a away'. Maybe such a creation is a consequence of love, or was it just lust back then?

   ​'The traffic is shocking,' he moans, when we meet that afternoon outside York train Station, 'Dunno what's going on.'

   ​It is a somnolent summer's again, not sure about the alliteration, it's almost a tongue-twisterday, the kind rarely seen in England now, ;and it's making me nostalgic somehow, for my childhood of the 70s, when life felt free and summers were always hot.

   ​'It could be that fair. The one everyone's been on about.'

   ​'Hmm,' says Yann, glancing at his watch. 'I guess it must be somewhere on the way.'
   ​He drums his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel while I bite my lip and gaze out of the window, wondering where our 'appointment' figures on his to do list. The roof is down and Ella Fitzgerald is blaring out. ​The traffic is barely moving now, and chirpy teenagers dressed up as clowns thrust gaudy flyers through our windows.

   ​'Yann, this fair looks fabulous, let's go!'

   ​'Sorry, Annie. I've a ton of stuff to do later.'

   ​'One last day. Please.'

   ​In the past I'm sure he would have said no, but now, perhaps recognising the need for an amicable ending, he relents, albeit reluctantly.

   ​'Okay, perhaps a relaxed setting like that would be better.'

   ​ I'm not really sure why the fair appeals so much, maybe it's a desperate wish to cling onto the remnants of my marriage or else a desire to return to the past when such fairs were commonplace. Whatever it is, we leave the city and follow the stream of cars down the winding country lanes until finally we reach the entrance to the fair, where we are directed into a parking space at the end of an enormous field.

   ​'I'm afraid we don't take credit cards, sir,' says the slim, russet haired girl on the gate.

   ​'No cash.' he says, shrugging his shoulders. 'Sorry.'

   I fish around in my bag for a ten pound note and ​once inside, we grab some hot dogs and plonk ourselves down amidst a bevy of giggling children to watch Punch and Judy. Judy whacks Punch over the head with a rolling pin and everybody laughs, everyone that is except Yann, who lies back on the grass and kicks off his flip flops. He has on old, baggy jeans with frayed hems and a faded, half unbuttoned purple shirt. I know he has never given much thought to what he wears but I still find him so damn attractive, even after all this time.
   ​'Could do with a beer,' he says, closing his eyes and resting his head in his hands.

        ​There is a tent nearby with people clambering over each other to get served, so I wander across and buy two drinks; lager for Yann and cider for me. I only drink cider on holiday, and today feels like a holiday, of sorts. I do a quick recce of the place. There's a coconut shy, tombola and swing boats; all those things I used to love, and behind the main field, there's another one, where various shows and performances are taking place. The haunting melody of the merry-go-round draws my attention and I watch for a while. It seems to represent the cyclical nature of my life, which is now for the most part routine. A boy, aged about 6 has his arms wrapped lovingly around the rippled, golden pole of a multi-coloured horse; a garish mishmash of turquoise, orange and mustard yellow. Whenever his horse completes a full circle, the little boy lifts one hand and waves.

   ​'Mum,' he yells.

   ​His mum waves back every time, never seeming to grow tired of it.

   ​The lad reminds me of my Rob, the Rob of years back, of course. Why did he have to grow up?

   ​When I get back, Yann has removed some papers from an official looking envelope and is busy leafing through them.

   ​'They just need your signature,' he says in a perfunctory voice, 'here at the bottom.'

​I take the papers and hand him the paper cup, filled to the brim with beer.
   ​'Sure, but can't it wait, just a little while longer?'

   ​'I guess so,' he says laconically.

   ​Tentatively, I sit down beside him and sip my drink, allowing its profound sweetness to be in some way absorbed by my consciousness. The warmth of the day, combined with the alcohol muffles my senses and I start to feel relaxed.

   ​'What's next?'

   Yann pulls the programme from the back pocket of  his jeans and squints his eyes - his sight has deteriorated over the years.

   ​'Wing walking,' he says, in a dismissive tone.

   'What's that?'

   ​'Oh, some insane thing, where a nutter walks on the wing of a plane,' he says dismissively. 'I saw it on telly once.'

   ​'Can we watch?' I say, not knowing why I want to.

   ​'Sure,' he says, puffing on a cigarette. 'Then let's get out of here.'

   ​So we meander down to the crowd of people congregating at the end of the field, and wait. We don't speak much. Yann seems distant and distracted, eager I suppose to get things sorted and move on with his life.

   ​After several minutes, the show begins, and even from where we are standing, I can see that the stuntman is tall, with perfect posture that serves only to accentuate his height. He is smiling, a calm, confident smile of determination, which belies the fear I'm sure he must be feelingpossibly a bit over-explained here - the last phrase I think you don't need - the determined smile is enough. He's fit too, with ripped, sinewy muscles and toned limbs. It's hard to gauge his age, but I can tell he's young, no older than 30, that perfect age where death seems distant and life so full of promise The next line makes more sense of this, as I'm now guessing they are fiftyish, but initially I stumbled here, thinking 30 is way past the point where people are dare-devils and careless about their existence (which I tend to think of as around 18) Perhaps something earlier in the piece to signify their age would be enough to smooth this over. I glance over at Yann. The thick, dark curls I'd I've? always loved are now flecked with white, while laughter lines are etched into a deeply tanned face, which over the years has somehow lost its capricious youthfulness. His eyes display a look of disinterestedthis is super-picky - I do prefer disinterested to retain its meaning of 'unbiased', rather than 'uninterested - but I'm aware I'm losing out to the world on this one, so feel free to ignore this! despondency, as though life has let him down in some way. How and when did that happen?

         The man is in the air now, his head appearing like a jack in the box through the door of the plane. He waves and grins at the crowd, before slowly and with absolute precision, raising himself up to stand on one wing. We're all in raptures; shouting and cheering, but although it's a perfect summer's day, the wind's picking up; the man, however, seems unconcerned.

   'Stupid fool,' Yann mumbles, shading his eyes from the sun.

   As we stand there transfixed, a helicopter flies overhead. It's hovering just low enough for the man to reach out and catch its legs. As he stretches his arms upwards, I reach for my i-phone to take a photo, but when I look back, the man is falling.

   Even after we've heard the thud followed by the screams, do we still stand there watching, what is by then an empty cerulean sky through which a solitary bird is gliding. We don't speak either, apart from one word, 'fuck,' which Yann mutters almost imperceptibly under his breath, then he grabs my hand and clutches it tightly, digging his clipped nails into my palm. I feel their sharpness but don't pull away. Everything is eerily quiet now, apart from the merry-go-round, its poignant melody making a mockery of what we've just seen.

   Still holding my hand, Yann turns now to face me and I look into his eyes; blue, with a sliver of gold, just like mine.

   'I'm sorry, Annie,' he says, his voice quavering. 'For everything.'

   The words linger in the air like the heady scent of jasmine, as suddenly, all around us life begins again; a crazy cacophony of screams, tears and horrendous pandemonium.

   'I think we should go, love,' he says, and puts an arm around my shoulders and walks me slowly back to the car.

hillwalker3000

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2015, 11:00:31 AM »
You've already been given good advice. A few comments as I read through - and apologies if I repeat what others have already pointed out. It's mostly down to streamlining the narrative.

The day that Yann finally calls me, there are no polite platitudes. All he says is, 'I have the papers, Annie, perhaps we could talk.'
No need to tell us he says something then show us through dialogue what it is he says,

  'Yes,' I reply, My heart sinks. I could make a convincing argument for removing 'I reply' as well 'I think we should.'

  I shove the cat out of the way and collapse into a chair. I see a I collapse into a chair and study the black and white drawing on the wall opposite, a piece Yann sketched of me shortly after we met.
The cat is an unnecessary distraction. And there's a difference between 'I see a black and white drawing' and 'I see the black and white drawing'. The former could imply you've only discovered it now for the first time. The latter suggests it's the only black and white drawing on the wall. It's up to you to decide what's the best fit, I suppose.

I'm lying naked in on? a pile of crumpled sheets, my hair splayed out behind me, my face freighted with emotion. Staggering how a few lines in the right places can express so much feeling. Yann's a genius, but it still blows me away. Why 'but'? This is also a very telling line and a cliché to boot. How do I know it 'blows you away' without any evidence to back up your statement? Maybe such a creation is a consequence of love, or was it just nothing more than lust back then?
'in' the sheets - can we see her nakedness if she's buried in sheets? If not why mention her state of undress?
'just lust' - an unfortunate rhyme that distracts.

  'The traffic is shocking,' he moans, when we meet that afternoon outside York train Station, 'Dunno what's going on.'
He moans - but we already know this from the dialogue. 'that afternoon' - again the reader can be trusted to work out when this meeting takes place from what they have already read.
I'd suggest a tweak:
  We meet outside York train Station, 'Sorry I'm late. Traffic. Dunno what's going on.'

  It is a somnolent summer's day, the kind rarely seen in England now, and it's making me nostalgic somehow, for my childhood of the 70s, when life felt free and summers were always hot.

The conversation about the fair and Yann's response is rather wooden and seemed to break the spell. Unless it's crucial to the plot I'd leave it out until the clowns appear.

 'Yann, this fair looks fabulous, let's go!'
      'Sorry, Annie. I've a ton of stuff to do later.'
      'One last day. Please.'
      In the past I'm sure he would have said no, but now, perhaps recognising the need for an amicable ending, he relents, albeit reluctantly.
      'Okay, perhaps a relaxed setting like that would be better.'

I'd figured out by now that they're meeting up to finalise a divorce. So I'm not sure Annie's behaviour rings true. Especially her opening line - the fair looks fabulous, let's go. The explanatory paragraph that follows might have been better handled as dialogue.
Maybe Annie remembers something more specific. Not the corny plot device where they met at a fair. But something more tangible than this whim that Yann gives in to rather too easily.

  'I'm afraid we don't take credit cards, sir,' says the slim, russet haired girl on the gate.
Do we need this level of detail? It's a short story so every word has to earn its keep. The cash/credit card moment is also rather mundane. It doesn't add a great deal to the plot - no more than the information relating to Punch whacking Judy and the audience response. The story's beginning to meander - a string of events that are only there because that's what actually happened.

This bit is better:
Yann, who lies back on the grass and kicks off his flip flops. He has on old, baggy jeans with frayed hems and a faded, half unbuttoned purple shirt. I know he has never given much thought to what he wears but I still find him so damn attractive , even after all this time.
   'Could do with a beer,' he says, closing his eyes and resting his head in his hands.
   There is a tent nearby with people clambering over each other to get served, so I wander across and buy two drinks; lager for Yann and cider for me. I only drink cider on holiday, and today feels like a holiday, of sorts. I do a quick recce of the place. We know - we can read what you see in the next sentence. There's a coconut shy, tombola and swing boats; all those things I used to love, and behind the main field, there's another one, where various shows and performances are taking place. The haunting melody of the merry-go-round draws my attention and I watch for a while. It seems to represent the cyclical nature of my life, which is now for the most part routine.

I'd advise you against dropping some 'hidden message' or 'meaning' into the story. It's distracting, intrusive and doesn't allow the story to imply this subliminally. Some readers will 'get it' without having you spell it out. But those who don't should still be allowed to enjoy the story for what it is - a story.

A boy, aged about 6 has his arms wrapped lovingly around the rippled, golden pole of a multi-coloured horse; a garish mishmash of turquoise, orange and mustard yellow. Whenever his horse completes a full circle, the little boy lifts one hand and waves.
This is purple prose at its worst. One of the 'darlings' writers are instructed to kill because it draws attention to itself for all the wrong reasons. Look at me. I'm really writing now.

  The lad reminds me of my Rob, the Rob of years back, of course. Why did he have to grow up?
An internalised question - but also a rather pointless one. All it does is lay on more thickly Annie's regrets that life has to change.

I take the papers and hand him the paper cup, filled to the brim with beer. More pointless detail.
   'Sure, but can't it wait, just a little while longer?'
   'I guess so,' he says laconically.

The dialogue and the adverb seem contradictory. If he was being laconic he'd probably say something along the lines of 'I don't have all day.'

  Tentatively, I sit down beside him and sip my drink, allowing its profound sweetness to be in some way absorbed by my consciousness. The warmth of the day, combined with the alcohol muffles my senses and I start to feel relaxed.
You're trying to be all poetical again. But it's getting in the way of the story now - almost serving as a delaying tactic.

'What's next?'
   Yann pulls the programme from the back pocket of  his jeans and squints his eyes What else would he squint? And if he's squinting we can work out for ourselves he has weak eyesight. - his sight has deteriorated over the years.
   'Wing walking,' he says, in a dismissive tone.
  'What's that?'
   'Oh, some insane thing, where a nutter walks on the wing of a plane,' he says dismissively. 'I saw it on telly once.'

The dialogue has gone flat - and he's being dismissive twice


  'Can we watch?' I say, not knowing why I want to.
     'Sure,' he says, puffing on a cigarette. 'Then let's get out of here.'
   So we meander down to the crowd of people congregating at the end of the field, and wait. We don't speak much. Yann seems distant and distracted, eager I suppose to get things sorted and move on with his life.
   After several minutes, the show begins, and even from where we are standing, I can see that the stuntman is tall, with perfect posture that serves only to accentuate his height. He is smiling, a calm, confident smile of determination, which belies the fear I'm sure he must be feeling. He's fit too, with ripped, sinewy muscles and toned limbs. It's hard to gauge his age, but I can tell he's young, no older than 30, that perfect age where death seems distant and life so full of promise. I glance over at Yann. The thick, dark curls I'd always loved are now flecked with white, while laughter lines are etched into a deeply tanned face, which over the years has somehow lost its capricious youthfulness. His eyes display a look of disinterested despondency, as though life has let him down in some way. How and when did that happen?

Most of this slows the story to a standstill. I no longer know what I'm supposed to be focusing on.

      The man's is in the air now, his head appears like a jack in the box through the door of the plane. He waves and grins at the crowd, before slowly and with absolute precision, raising himself up You can't raise something down. to stand on one wing. We're all in raptures; shouting and cheering, but although it's a perfect summer's day, the wind's picking up; the man, however, seems unconcerned.
Another difficult paragraph to get a grip on. The narrator can't possibly know that everyone is in raptures - and the shouting and cheering is enough to show the crowd's appreciation anyway. Then we have a weather update and the narrator somehow being able to gauge the wing walker's frame of mind as well. It's a bit of a non-event until the accident and I'm not convinced mentioning the wind is enough to foreshadow what happens next.

  Even after we've heard the thud followed by the screams, do we still stand there watching, what is by then an empty cerulean sky through which a solitary bird is gliding.
The bird destroys any sense of after-shock.

  The words linger in the air like the heady scent of jasmine, as suddenly, all around us life begins again; a crazy cacophony of screams, tears and horrendous pandemonium.
Oops - more lyrical overkill.

There are good bits and not so good bits. I think you have the framework for a better story than this with believable characters. But if this was a painting I'd say you have used much too wide a brush.

H3K

Offline MaryRuth

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2015, 01:08:53 PM »
I like your writing but found you go just a bit too far in description. They aren't badly written descriptions, but they did feel like your writing slipped in to dress it up too much. Show and Tell in partnership can save a lot of words. Show and Tell uses the reader, lets them be active in the story. Because of all the topics on Show and Tell, it is hard to find a balance that works for the writer. It is out there?

Thanks very much for your comments, SimpleThings. I think I'm starting to become aware that I do describe too much. I had already cut out some description but can see that I need to go further. The comment re the 'somnolent summer's day' was very useful too. I appreciate you taking the time.
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Offline Simple Things

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2015, 01:55:03 PM »
There comes a time in a writer's progression in which it isn't a matter of changing your writing, but more adapting those changes into your way.

When you over colour, it only stands out because it drags away from the focus. It isn't bad writing, just unattached, a background to a background in a way. Rather than take out all instances of this - it will be helpful if you attach the reason way this extension is needed. There are times when it is, when a more detailed pov is required, so you can't get rid of them all. But they all should be there for the story, not for the writer. When in draft(as you are) go over this extended descriptions and see if they are attached. Maybe they only need a tweaking so they belong. They also can be removed. Your writing is strong enough that most initial statements are strong enough on their own. They aren't a whole story, just a passing moment. Maybe believe in your first response more.

Critiques are tools you use to refine those lessons into your way of writing.

Offline voiceoreason82

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2015, 11:17:20 PM »
Simple, that was well said.

I just wanted to add that I think this draft is a great starting point.  Half of writing is learning how to edit.  I'm just discovering that myself, so you're not alone.  I'd like to see what you do with this.  You've had some pretty in depth reviews and anything I would say has already been said.  In general, I'd just say you'd need to do some cutting.  There are a lot of descriptive phrases that can be thrown away without detracting from your story.

Good luck!
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Offline MaryRuth

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2015, 02:38:41 AM »
Many thanks for the in-depth reviews. Before coming onto this site I didn't realise how much detail I put into my stories and really appreciate the fact that this point has now become clear.

Hill walker, I'm grateful to you for pointing out my redundancies and purple prose. I hate reading that kind of stuff so can't believe I was using such phrases myself. I wrote this story a while ago but recently edited it & can see I need to do a whole lot more.

Thanks v much for your review. Rambling Rose. The age comment was interesting as I guess I see someone of 30 as young, yet experienced. To me it's still a dare devil sort of age, but that's probably because I was travelling when I was 30, but can see now that I should probably make him younger.

 I'm grateful for the encouragement, Voice of reason.. Can't wait to kill my darlings!
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Offline MaryRuth

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2015, 02:41:19 AM »

When you over colour, it only stands out because it drags away from the focus. It isn't bad writing, just unattached, a background to a background in a way. Rather than take out all instances of this - it will be helpful if you attach the reason way this extension is needed. There are times when it is, when a more detailed pov is required, so you can't get rid of them all. But they all should be there for the story, not for the writer. When in draft(as you are) go over this extended descriptions and see if they are attached. Maybe they only need a tweaking so they belong. They also can be removed. Your writing is strong enough that most initial statements are strong enough on their own. They aren't a whole story, just a passing moment. Maybe believe in your first response more.

Critiques are tools you use to refine those lessons into your way of writing.
Very well explained, thanks  :)
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Offline nellievg

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2015, 05:19:22 AM »
Hi Mary,

I can see you've had useful feedback already, but just wanted to say that I liked your story. It felt very intimate and emotional and resonated with me.

It could be tightened, I guess, and overall I'd look into all the instances where you are 'telling' us things and giving too much detail. Some can be easily deduced from the dialogue or previous phrases.


​I shove the cat out of the way and collapse into a chair. Do we need this sentence? I see a black and white drawing on the wall opposite, a piece Yann sketched of me shortly after we met. I'm lying naked in a pile of crumpled sheets, my hair splayed out behind me, my face freighted with emotion. Staggering how a few lines in the right places can express so much feeling.Also here, perhaps this could go. Yann's a genius, but it still blows me away. Maybe such a creation is a consequence of love, or was it just lust back then? How about: Was this drawing an expression of his love or just lust back then?


   ​It is a somnolent summer's day, the kind rarely seen in England now, and it's making me nostalgic somehow, for my childhood of the 70s, when life felt free and summers were always hot. You are showing this nostalgic feeling throughout, so no need to tell.

   
   

   ​ I'm not really sure why the fair appeals so much, maybe it's a desperate wish to cling onto the remnants of my marriage or else a desire to return to the past when such fairs were commonplace. Whatever it is, we leave the city and follow the stream of cars down the winding country lanes until finally we reach the entrance to the fair, where we are directed into a parking space at the end of an enormous field.

   ​'I'm afraid we don't take credit cards, sir,' says the slim, russet haired girl on the gate.

   ​'No cash.' he says, shrugging his shoulders. 'Sorry.'

   I fish around in my bag for a ten pound note and ​once inside, we grab some hot dogs and plonk ourselves down amidst a bevy of giggling children to watch Punch and Judy. Judy whacks Punch over the head with a rolling pin and everybody laughs, everyone that is except Yann, who lies back on the grass and kicks off his flip flops. He has on old, baggy jeans with frayed hems and a faded, half unbuttoned purple shirt. I know he has never given much thought to what he wears but I still find him so damn attractive, even after all this time.
   ​'Could do with a beer,' he says, closing his eyes and resting his head in his hands.

        ​There is a tent nearby with people clambering over each other to get served, so I wander across and buy two drinks; lager for Yann and cider for me. I only drink cider on holiday and today feels like a holiday, of sorts. I do a quick recce of the place. There's a coconut shy, tombola and swing boats; all those things I used to love, and behind the main field, there's another one, where various shows and performances are taking place. The haunting melody of the merry-go-round draws my attention and I watch for a while. It seems to represent the cyclical nature of my life, which is now for the most part routine. A boy, aged about 6 has his arms wrapped lovingly around the rippled, golden pole of a multi-coloured horse; a garish mishmash of turquoise, orange and mustard yellow. Whenever his horse completes a full circle, the little boy lifts one hand and waves.Can be tightened.

   

      ​After several minutes, the show begins, and even from where we are standing, I can see that the stuntman is tall, with perfect posture that serves only to accentuate his height. He is smiling, a calm, confident smile of determination, which belies the fear I'm sure he must be feeling. He's fit too, with ripped, sinewy muscles and toned limbs. It's hard to gauge his age, but I can tell he's young, no older than 30, that perfect age where death seems distant and life so full of promise. The description here can be a lot tighter. I glance over at Yann. The thick, dark curls I'd always loved are now flecked with white, while laughter lines are etched into a deeply tanned face, which over the years has somehow lost its capricious youthfulness. His eyes display a look of disinterested despondency, as though life has let him down in some way. How and when did that happen?

       
   Even after we've heard the thud followed by the screams, do we still stand there watching, what is by then an empty cerulean sky through which a solitary bird is gliding. We don't speak either, apart from one word, 'fuck,' which Yann mutters almost imperceptibly under his breath, then he grabs my hand and clutches it tightly, digging his clipped nails into my palm. I feel their sharpness but don't pull away. Everything is eerily quiet now, apart from the merry-go-round, its poignant melody making a mockery of what we've just seen.

   Still holding my hand, Yann turns now to face me and I look into his eyes; blue, with a sliver of gold, just like mine.

   'I'm sorry, Annie,' he says, his voice quavering. 'For everything.' I like this bit a lot...lovely...they way his emotions shift.

   The words linger in the air like the heady scent of jasmine, as suddenly, all around us life begins again; a crazy cacophony of screams, tears and horrendous pandemonium. I like the heady scent of jasmine, but horrendous pandemonium is not saying much and sounds a bit lazy.

   'I think we should go, love,' he says, and puts an arm around my shoulders and walks me slowly back to the car.

As I said, if you tighten this, I would love it.

Cheers,
A
I have not told the half of what I saw. (Marco Polo)

You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. (Maya Angelou)

Offline MaryRuth

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2015, 08:49:35 AM »
Thanks for your feedback, Nellie. I'm definitely going to tighten the story for the next draft. Good luck with yours!

 :)
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Offline theskewbald

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2015, 06:14:10 PM »
All the feedback is great, and I'm a newbie, but I'd just like to say there was a moment in there I loved. It made my teeth ache.

"Maybe such a creation is a consequence of love, or was it just lust back then?

   ​'The traffic is shocking,' he moans..."

For some reason this brought back all kinds of painful memories, and I feel it would for anyone who has been in a death or glory passionate relationship which has subsequently descended into weather and traffic reports! So well done for that. I loved it.


Offline MaryRuth

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Re: One Last Day, 1,459 words
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2015, 01:42:23 AM »

For some reason this brought back all kinds of painful memories, and I feel it would for anyone who has been in a death or glory passionate relationship which has subsequently descended into weather and traffic reports! So well done for that. I loved it.


Thanks very much, Skewbald. Think I've had quite a few of those!
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