Author Topic: Challenging Expectations - 535 Words - some profanity. - Revised.  (Read 2202 times)

Offline Lena Brennan

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Clarius held onto the rail as the crowded bus stop-started through the city traffic.  He spoke quietly into his mobile phone. His white shirt cuffs bright against his dark skin.  His fake-gold cufflinks matching the large ring on his finger. Next to him a woman mumbled into her phone, head bowed, while a child leaned sleepily against her. The rhythm of the conversations made it seem as if they were talking to each other, except they were mere centimetres apart on the crowded bus. 

As the bus picked up speed, Clarius glanced at his large watch and droplets of sweat appeared on his forehead.  ‘I’m on my way,’ he said into the phone.  ‘Just give me one more chance.’ 

The sleepy child slid down the woman’s leg and she grabbed her arm roughly and pulled her back up again.

Suddenly there was a shout from the driver and the bus lurched to a stop.  Standing passengers toppled back into each other and Clarius landed against the woman, the impact knocking both phones from their hands, while the child fell to the floor. All around them passengers were scrambling to see what had happened.  The driver opened the doors and swung from his seat out onto the street where a crowd was beginning to form. 

The woman shoved Clarius away from her and, taking hold of the child by her arm again, pulled her to her feet as she fumbled for her phone.  Then she pushed her way towards the door and out onto the street.  Clarius was on his knees reaching between the feet of other passengers, before he too followed her off the bus.

Out on the pavement, a man was sitting on the kerb holding a handkerchief against his head.  The bus driver spoke gently to him.  ‘You’re ok, mate.  It’s just a graze.  You’re lucky I saw you in time.’

The phone in Clarius’ hand rang and an angry voice shouted into his ear.  ‘What the fuck’s going on?’  Clarius’ eyebrows furrowed as he stared at the phone.

‘Where the fuck are you?  And where’s my delivery?’  The voice got louder yet none of the words made sense to him.  ‘Don’t you hang up on me again!  I want that child brought here immediately!’

Clarius turned his head this way and that as he searched for the woman.  Then he saw her manoeuvring the sleepy child away from the chaos.  He heard sirens getting louder and louder as a police car approached. 

‘You’ve got my mobile’ he shouted, as he held hers towards her.  But she was watching the police car pull up to the curb and began dragging the child down the street.  Clarius started to chase after her.

‘Please, sir, don’t leave the scene.’  A policeman warned.

‘But she’s got my phone!  She’s leaving with it!’

‘You mustn’t leave, madam.  We’ll need to talk to you.’  The policeman called after her. 

‘Come back!’  Clarius shouted. 

The woman, however, seemed determined to get away.  Suddenly the child squirmed herself free and stumbled, drunkenly back towards the bus, arms flailing, mouth wide open, screaming.

‘Help me!  Help me!’  Clarius caught her before she fell. 

The policeman caught the woman before she fled. 


hillwalker3000

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Re: Challenging Expectations - 535 Words - some profanity. - Revised.
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2015, 10:15:59 AM »
Apart from the game you’re playing with another poster this is marginally better than your first version. But the ending still makes little sense once the police arrive. Why would a police car arrive so quickly following what appears to be a minor incident? Why would the officers insist on the passengers remaining at the scene? Why is the child stumbling ‘drunkenly’ towards the bus?

The premise for the plot is fine but it would be more dramatic if you concentrated on creating a more striking contrast between the shifty (but innocent) man and the caring mother (who is actually anything but). You seem to be in too great a rush to get to the twist ending. The closing scene reads rushed and ultimately illogical once you try to tie everything up neatly. In my opinion the plot would work just as well if the woman simply watched the girl escape then disappeared into the crowd.

H3K

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Challenging Expectations - 535 Words - some profanity. - Revised.
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2015, 01:51:54 PM »
I agree with Hillwalker. Plus I'm still confused about which character is your MC. Because you have given the man a name, Clauris, it feels as if he is to be the MC. On the other hand, a cloud of mystery surrounds the unnamed woman, which makes me with question if she might be the intended MC.

It's fine to have two characters that play off each other in the opening. But if the reader is fooled about which character the story will focus on, they may give up reading soon after starting. 
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Offline Simple Things

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Re: Challenging Expectations - 535 Words - some profanity. - Revised.
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2015, 04:04:19 PM »
hello

first off, well done for incorporating the reviews into your piece. Don't be alarmed if it still has snags - after all, you haven't yet had time to smooth those changes into your writing and how you wish to tell the story. That takes some time before those changes become completely yours.

There are parts in which I preferred the original, but I also like the changes you have made. It shows progress and an expansion of the scene and characters, and yet, retains the original story. Not always easy to do.

As your writing is currently in transition, I'll try to just brush lightly against your words. Please keep in mind, what I mention doesn't need to be changed, but rather is only something to consider perhaps in any writing in your future. These are still only my opinions and so I will not argue their points, should you disagree, that is all good. :)

Quote
Clarius held onto the rail as the crowded bus stop-started through the city traffic.  He spoke quietly into his mobile phone. His white shirt cuffs bright against his dark skin.  

Because of the pov you have to be conscious of pronouns. Too many, and the story becomes seemingly passive, or almost told in 2nd. When writing, and until you have trained yourself - don't concern to overly. But when editing, this is when you need to look a little harder.

Clarius held onto the rail as the crowded bus stop-started through the city traffic. He spoke quietly into a mobile phone, his white shirt cuffs bright against his dark skin.

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I am just lessening an occurrence. If you go through this and find others, overall it will help. It doesn't mean you have to erase every one of those, but just enough to balance. The trick when to, is by monitoring the sentences around - what was said previously, what is going to be said later. This helps with the now. You also use your reader's assumptions to help. It isn't a far stretch to believe that phone is his. He is after all talking through it. What you can also take into consideration is the focus on what you wished to show. Unlike his white shirt cuffs and dark skin(which are something which draws him in and his character) his phone is just a tool to show 'him talking' and so the focus is more directed towards his speech - at that time. Focus is very important if you wish your story to stand above others.

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Quote
His fake-gold cufflinks matching the large ring on his finger. Next to him a woman mumbled into her phone, head bowed, while a child leaned sleepily against her.  

fake gold - the reason this jumps out for the wrong reason is because it is mentioned and yet lays unattached to anything, and so becomes a fact with no value to the story. It isn't built upon - why is it noticed? How is it deemed to be fake? By whom? If you want to keep it, simply attach it better, make him conscious of it, or perhaps have another occupant of the bus jest at it's apparent worth.

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Next to him a woman mumbled into her phone, head bowed, while her child dozed off and on.

*

The child's location can be assumed for now. As for the possession of the child - since it is the mc's pov, he also would assume it would be her child - so say it is for now. This way, when the truth comes out, it strikes a bone. The location of the child is expanded on later, when the child moves and she pulls him back roughly(this then should be noticed by the back burner of his mind - not many would roughly pull a child up, so though he believes still at this time it is her child, he is beginning to notice more of their relationship, or at least more than one normally would in a crowded bus.  People interact even without words, we observe, log, file away, this is what helps us complete the world around us. Even though this is a flash it requires these things because Empathy needs to be shown - this is when you use the past/present/future of the story to fill in an image over a period of time - this stops data dumps, and builds empathy.

Quote
The rhythm of the conversations made it seem as if they were talking to each other, except they were mere centimetres apart on the crowded bus.

Let the reader participate in your story. They don't need to follow your exact footsteps, but just need to be in the general area, this way it doesn't take much to pull them towards what needs to be shown. If you point and shoot at every image, the readers can't become involved in the story, can't use their own experience/imagination to fill out the scene with you. Any reader's imagination is far better than any writer's words. This is why they need to be used together. Active.

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The rhythm of their conversations probably made it seem as if they were talking to each other, since they sat so close.

*

Keep in mind the pov. It should be kept on him, but allowed to drift temporarily to an assumed probability, this is what Clarius assumed, mused/etc. Again, the actual truth will be expanded later. I could suggest to involve their conversation, so it does seem like it through dialogue, but since this is just a flash, with limited words, I don't believe it is required.


**

So these are a few things to think about.

Well done for working on the piece. Don't get lost in revisions so much that you end up discouraged by writing. Remember it takes time for something new to meld into your own words/way of saying.

« Last Edit: August 15, 2015, 04:15:34 PM by SimpleThings »

Offline Lena Brennan

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Re: Challenging Expectations - 535 Words - some profanity. - Revised.
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2015, 08:25:12 AM »
Thank you all for your feedback.

SimpleThings i'm very grateful for the effort and time you have invested in this piece.  Your encouragement is much appreciated.

Offline Emery

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Re: Challenging Expectations - 535 Words - some profanity. - Revised.
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2015, 12:02:46 PM »
I feel like you've trimmed a lot of the fat and left the bones, but now is time to add a bit more meat.

The ending, and the piece in general, felt rushed. You've relegated your climatic event to a few lines of dialogue. Take your time, linger over it. Let me, as the reader, wonder for a moment what will happen before you answer it.

As h3k said, the piece would also benefit from a clearer picture of Clarius and the woman. Build the contrast more.

And finally, echoing ST, the POV needs to be ground a bit firmer in Clarius. It's cool to bring the camera out and in, but when it's in and making direct observations try to do so from the MC POV (If this is the style, which here it should be I think). ST example of the gold watch is perfect. As is, it's a random observation from the author detached from the story or the main character's thoughts. Just having him pull his cuff down to hide the watch, embarrassed of it's fakeness. Or scratch at the rash underneath. Something to have the object play some sort of role, flow organically within the story.

Anyway, I do like it better and it definitely warrants a few more drafts from you.
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Offline Lena Brennan

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Re: Challenging Expectations - 535 Words - some profanity. - Revised.
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2015, 02:02:30 PM »
That is such encouraging advice, Emery. Thank for taking the time to read and comment.