Author Topic: Holding a Pose (760 words) Contains casual nudity and some light swearing.  (Read 1031 times)

Offline Tricksy

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I wrote this scene back in February, with the intention of it being an introductory scene. I know I overuse commas, passive voice, and can lean too much on tell instead of show, but I'm blind when it comes to my own writing. Tried to edit it all out but I'm sure there's still plenty left.

I also don't usually write in first person, so please let me know if it's a hit or miss.

Having said that, any type of critique is welcome, and many thanks in advance.


---


I’m naked.

My breathing is low and deep, the air around me flowing in soft waves. I keep my eyes fixed on a mark on the wall - I think it’s a piece of scotch tape - and concentrate on being absolutely still.

There are fourteen pair of eyes on me. They take me in, devouring the shapes of my body, their pencils scratching on their drawing boards.

My breast rises with every breath and my left hand trembles as I keep it at an angle, fingers splayed like a ballerina. I can see heads turn in the periphery of my vision, but my focus sticks to the mark.

I blink. Breathe. Wait.

The scratching turns frantic.

When time’s up I stretch my arms towards the ceiling, then shake them out before stepping off the podium. The teacher, a man in his mid-fifties named Robert, hands me my robe and I put it on. No one is looking at me anymore, most of the students gone from their easels to make use of their fifteen minute break.

“Thank you for coming today,” Robert says. “The other model caught the flu and called me to cancel last night. Without you we would’ve been forced to draw more still lifes.”

I tighten the robe’s sash in a half bow knot and give the man a polite smile. I’ve never been good at the forced small talk teachers expect and today is no different. “It’s no trouble at all,” I say, cringing at my own words. “It’s good to do something with the arts sometime, and for the students it’s... ” I smile with the top row of my teeth visible and nod my head towards one of the easels.

Shoot me.

Robert doesn’t mind, all too glad to have someone to talk to it seems, as he agrees with me. My savior arrives in the form of my darling Kate, best among roommates and at plucking me away from intolerable social situations. She’s standing at the other end of the room, meeting my eyes over Robert’s shoulder. Just under five foot three she’s one of the most stylish and vibrant persons I know, not to mention legitimately talented.

“Ellie!” she shouts, waving both her hands at me. “Come take a look at these nudes!”

I perform my most apologetic smile-and-shrug-helplessly combination at Robert before moving over to Kate. “Please tell me he’s a temp because I can never look him in the eye again,” I hiss the moment our faces are hidden behind Kate’s board.

Kate’s face scrunches up, her nose wrinkling. “What, because he’s seen you naked?”

I cover my face with my hands and drag them down, pulling on my lower eyelids. “Because I literally said it’s good to do something with the arts. Sometimes. That’s the dumbest shit I’ve said since prom.”

Kate laughs, but not in a mean way. “You should hear him when he’s giving instructions.” Her voice drops as she tries to imitate Robert’s way of speaking. “‘You have to feel the creation. Look at your subject through the hairs of your eyes.’ He can’t say eyelashes, it’s like physically impossible for him. Anyway, what do you think?”

She takes a step back, her arms folded across her chest, still holding two brushes in her right hand. I take in the thick paper clipped to Kate’s board. A stark contrast of orange and blue hues greets my eyes, spread on the paper in thick strokes. It’s a close up of my stretched out arm and chest. She even painted the mole under my breast with careful precision.

“It’s amazing, Kate.” I’m not an artist in the least, can’t draw to save my life, but Kate is something different. I don’t know how she does it. She can turn the world she sees into a visual opera.

Kate’s cheeks start to glow. “Thanks, Ellie,” she says. I can tell by her voice that she’s going for nonchalance, but there’s a vulnerable thrill under her words by which I know my praise goes straight to her heart. She scuffs a couple of sketches on the floor with the tip of her shoe, uncaring that she’ll leave unerasable marks on them that way. 

They’re hers too. Delicate lines that show the different ways she planned on drawing me. Even though I can’t tell what they’re all supposed to be, the drawings good enough that I would want to keep them. To her, they’re just practice.

“Ready for round two?” Kate asks.


Offline Simple Things

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lol commas, then bane of writing for no good reason. :)

I'm short on time so I thought I'd just do a bit about your opening.

all in all I think for the first time you did okay.

Quote

I’m naked.

My breathing is low and deep, the air around me flowing in soft waves. I keep my eyes fixed on a mark on the wall - I think it’s a piece of scotch tape - and concentrate on being absolutely still.

gerunds - they have uses but most time they get mis-used or used in a way that lessens their meaning.

ex:

My breath is low and deep, the air around flows in soft waves.

or

My breathing is low and deep, the air around flows in soft waves.

But for me 'breath' is breathing understood. and flows is a harder image than 'flowing'  it shows motion better without the gerund end.

Jo Bannister

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I'd say this is reasonably successful - which isn't meant to damn it with faint praise, more to suggest that you achieved a good bit of what you set out to.

The writing is generally good.  Personally, I have no problem with first person but don't like present tense - it's terribly limiting.  The commas were no problem to me, though you tend to use one to divide a sentence when starting a new sentence would be better.  I struggled with the "soft waves of air" - what, she's in a draught?  Naked?  She'll catch her death of cold! - and there seemed to be a lot of extraneous detail.  Of course, if this is the start of something bigger, much of that detail may not be extraneous; but in that case, I'd feed it in rather more sparingly.

If this is the start of something bigger, my other concern may also be answered.  But on what you gave us, I couldn't quite see the point.  It's more as if you're taking a photograph of a moment than writing a piece of fiction.  Word-pictures have their place, but the function of story-telling is, well, to tell a story.  What's in front of us doesn't amount to one. 

But on what you've written so far, it's probably worth developing.






hillwalker3000

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As an introductory scene, this works well enough and I didn't see much wrong with the writing because I was too focused on the story. But it's a little too drawn out (excuse the pun) for what turns out to be a rather undramatic incident. And there are the occasional phrases that jar - air 'flowing in soft waves' is difficult to imagine unless she's holding a hair dryer on its lower setting, and 'fingers splayed like a ballerina' relies on a physically dubious comparison. I also wondered why you felt the need to describe Kate in quite so much detail. Is her height signficant?

One assumes there's more to come, but the closing line leaves us wondering is there another life class about to take place imminently. If so - how will you manage to take things any further? If not - what does 'round two' mean?

H3K

Offline bailish

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I like the style of writing, if it is to introduce the writer to the topic. I've never taken life drawing, but I could easily imagine the scene. Your ending, however, “Ready for round two?”, suggests more of the same, and I didn't look forward to it. The image wasn't special enough to entice me to read further. Is there a story coming?


Offline Rachael

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My favourite part is the focus on the scotch tape.
I know that feeling of being so nervous that you need to find something small to fix your eyes on, and thats the only way to control yourself.
Getting details like that feels intimate and personal for connecting with the narrator.

My only criticism is that the story feels empty.

You know how when you read a good piece of fiction, and you get lost in it and carried away. Sometimes this happens because of the plot ignites curiosity. Sometimes it's because of the force of personality of the narrator, sometimes it's because the prose glows like there's a fire lit behind it.

In your little story, there was nothing truly driving me to want to read more.

I just think your descriptions need work.
Focus on details.
Hearing
Sight
Touch
Smells
Taste

Try to use all of the senses to add some life to your piece.

For example, you mention that Kate is "one of the most stylish and vibrant persons" your narrator knows.

Try illustrated this by describing what she's wearing.
What does it feel like to be in her presence?

In the scene where you're talking to Robert, try illustrating the details. Where were his eyes lingering while he talked?
What was your narrator doing with her hands?
What does he look like? Sound like? If he touched her, what did it feel like?

I think that you've got an interesting beginning to a story here, and I can't wait to see what more you do.

-rach

Offline writer99

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One like:  She scuffs a couple of sketches on the floor with the tip of her shoe, uncaring that she’ll leave unerasable marks on them that way. 

One dislike:  one of the most stylish and vibrant persons I know, not to mention legitimately talented. (just me in the UK I guess?)

Offline Tricksy

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Thank you everyone who has commented so far. I hear what you're saying, and yeah - I didn't really have a plot thought out behind this scene. I remember mostly writing it out of spite, because I'd just read a piece where someone described figure drawing in a professional setting as a very sensual & sexual setting. As someone who has done figure drawing for 6+ years now, I can assure anyone that the main emotion felt in a figure drawing class is frustration.

But yeah, I should've thought of more plot because it does feel a bit lacking.

I want to reply to each and every one in detail (and to thank you for taking the time with my piece) but I'm feeling a bit under the weather at the moment. Will reply as soon as possible.

Offline Shortcross

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I love 1st PPOV, so am looking forward to this... :)

I wrote this scene back in February, with the intention of it being an introductory scene. I know I overuse commas, passive voice, and can lean too much on tell instead of show, but I'm blind when it comes to my own writing. Tried to edit it all out but I'm sure there's still plenty left.

I also don't usually write in first person, so please let me know if it's a hit or miss.

Having said that, any type of critique is welcome, and many thanks in advance.


---


I’m naked. <-I bet 8 out of 10 shorts that I come across begin with a broken out short sentence. It always makes me roll my eyes a little (despite being guilty of it myself) as it's so cliche'd.

My breathing is low <-how do you breathe low? Slow? and deep, the air around me flowing in soft waves<- difficult to visualise. I keep my eyes fixed on a mark on the wall - I think it’s a piece of scotch tape - and concentrate on being absolutely still.

There are fourteen pair of eyes on me. They take me in, devouring the shapes of my body, their pencils scratching on their drawing boards.

My breast rises with every breath and my left hand trembles as I keep it at an angle, fingers splayed like a ballerina. I can see heads turn in the periphery of my vision, but my focus sticks <-odd choice to the mark.

I bBlink. Breathe. Wait.

The scratching turns frantic.

When time’s up I stretch my arms towards the ceiling, then shake them out before stepping off the podium. The teacher, a man in his mid-fifties named Robert, hands me my robe and I put it on. No one is looking at me anymore, most of the students gone from their easels to make use of their fifteen minute break.

“Thank you for coming today,” Robert says. “The other model caught the flu and called me to cancel last night. Without you we would’ve been forced to draw more still lifes.”

I tighten the robe’s sash in a half bow knot and give the man a polite smile. I’ve never been good at the forced small talk teachers expect and today is no different. “It’s no trouble at all,” I say, cringing at my own words. “It’s good to do something with the arts sometime, and for the students it’s... ” I smile with the top row of my teeth visible and nod my head towards one of the easels.

Shoot me.

Robert doesn’t mind, all too glad to have someone to talk to it seems, as he agrees with me. My savior arrives in the form of my darling Kate, best among roommates and at plucking me away from intolerable social situations. She’s standing at the other end of the room, meeting my eyes over Robert’s shoulder. Just under five foot three comma she’s one of the most stylish and vibrant persons people I know, not to mention legitimately talented.

“Ellie!” she shouts, waving both her hands at me. “Come take a look at these nudes!”

I perform my most apologetic smile-and-shrug-helplessly combination at Robert before moving over to Kate. “Please tell me he’s a temp because I can never look him in the eye again,” I hiss the moment our faces are hidden behind Kate’s board.

Kate’s face scrunches up, her nose wrinkling. “What, because he’s seen you naked?”

I cover my face with my hands and drag them down, pulling on my lower eyelids. “Because I literally said it’s good to do something with the arts. Sometimes. That’s the dumbest shit I’ve said since prom.”

Kate laughs, but not in a mean way. “You should hear him when he’s giving instructions.” Her voice drops as she tries to imitate Robert’s way of speaking. “‘You have to feel the creation. Look at your subject through the hairs of your eyes.’ He can’t say eyelashes, it’s like physically impossible for him. Anyway, what do you think?”

She takes a step back, her arms folded across her chest, still holding two brushes in her right hand. I take in the thick paper clipped to Kate’s board. A stark contrast of orange and blue hues greets my eyes, spread on the paper in thick strokes. It’s a close up of my stretched out arm and chest. She even painted the mole under my breast with careful precision.

“It’s amazing, Kate.” I’m not an artist in the least, can’t draw to save my life, but Kate is something different. I don’t know how she does it. She can turn the world she sees into a visual opera. <-nice

Kate’s cheeks start to glow. “Thanks, Ellie,” she says. I can tell by her voice that she’s going for nonchalance, but there’s a vulnerable thrill under her words by which I know my praise goes straight to her heart <- awkward. She scuffs a couple of sketches on the floor with the tip of her shoe, uncaring that she’ll leave unerasable marks on them that way

They’re hers too. Couldn't work it out at first? Delicate lines that show the different ways she planned on drawing me. Even though I can’t tell what they’re all supposed to be, the drawings good enough that I would want to keep them. To her, they’re just practice.

“Ready for round two?” Kate asks.



Solid writing, not much wrong with it at all, but as someone else said, not much happening either.

Thanks for posting.

Shorty

Offline dawnpowell

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Re: Holding a Pose (760 words) Contains casual nudity and some light swearing.
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2017, 11:27:30 AM »
I enjoyed reading it because it was evocative and you set the scene. In general I liked the writing style but thought you could have, been, well, as you said, a little less passive. thanks for sharing...

Offline writer99

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Re: Holding a Pose (760 words) Contains casual nudity and some light swearing.
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2017, 07:02:56 PM »
Flash submission I guess? I love the opening but then it dissolves ....

However, it forced me to read to the end. I think maybe too much dialogue and not enough inference.

Good stuff ..... keep it going (thumbs up)