Author Topic: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW  (Read 1079 times)

Offline landmersm

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Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« on: November 25, 2018, 09:18:26 PM »
Here goes: This is a small portion of Chapter 1.


The arrest for public drunkenness and misdemeanor assault was the final straw that broke my parents’ collective back. My grades for the past year had already weakened their waning support for me remaining at University, and a phone call from the city jail at two in the morning was enough for them to completely lose all hope in their child. Several weeks after that fateful arrest and phone call I packed up my belongings and turned my back on the only life I had known for the past three years. The long journey home was difficult, every mile marker another regret, another reminder that I had failed. The occasional tear rolled down my cheek at first, but by the time I was free and clear of the city and found myself alone on the interstate, the sadness was replaced with a deepening sense of defeat. The reality had set in, and I was in full retreat.

I came home with my tail tucked between my legs, licking my self-inflicted wounds. Beaten and alone, there was no one in my home town that I could turn to for solace or even a distant acquaintanceship. Anyone I had known in high school had long since moved on or away. Just as well. I had no real desire to rekindle any teenage friendship seeing as how none of them had been able to maintain relevance during the three years since graduation. The friends I had at University – the remaining few I could call “friends” – had little wish to keep in touch with a failed and disgraced student who now lived more than five hours away. No long distance call was worth keeping in touch with someone who had squandered the chance he had been given.

In response to having nothing or no one to turn to during this period of withdrawal and regroup, I spent most of the day isolated in my room. This kept me away from my parents for most of the time but not altogether. Dinners in the evenings or meetings in the hallway or afternoons in front of the TV were prime moments for them to bombard me with disapprovals of my choices and seemingly endless questions about my future. I didn’t need their condemnation. I had enough of that on my own. The future? I had no idea what mine would or could be, and my responses to their prodding proved as much and certainly did not satiate their desire to know what their son was going to do with his life. Since there was no agreeable outcome – especially in their eyes – they continued asking, and I continued not knowing. Maybe they felt if they maintained the barrage I would eventually discern an answer. I tended to believe the opposite.

Future uncertain, I needed a summer job. Times spent around my parents were tense with arguing and loud voices more often than not, and I needed to get out of the house and find gainful employment if for no other reason than I would be out of the line of their parental fire that showed no signs of letting up. In addition to being away from the inquisition about my future and the dredging up of my mistakes, a summer job would help in two other ways. One – Occupy. I wouldn’t be spending my days and nights alone in my room, my brain a whirlwind of failures and guilt. Two – Money. My parents had eliminated all personal funds once they found out that a higher education was not a top priority for me. The part time job I had while at University supplied a portion of my living expenses there – the part my parents didn’t already cover – and now that it was gone, I had not a dollar to my name.

One morning after both my parents had left for work, I drove to Broad Street and found a parking space just past the third red light. My destination was one block up, so I trudged it past several stores that I recognized: A Christian bookstore; an upscale clothing boutique; a jeweler; a yoga studio; a restaurant named Jenner’s. A couple of new ones on this side and one across the street, but not much else had changed in the few years I had been away. This included the record shop. For all intents and purposes, the front of my Uncle’s store had largely remained unchanged. Posters for new releases; a playbill for the local theatre’s current production (this week: The Outsiders); a flyer for the new place across the street called the Beer House and its lunch specials; the same dark green door wedged in between two large store front windows and surrounded by the tan brick of the building itself. Only two real new items to note. The barbershop next door to my Uncle’s place had closed up in the time I had been gone. Its windows dark and empty, the barber pole no longer spinning. Next door to the erstwhile shop was a new place of business in what used to be a coffee counter and newsstand. Painted green on the glass door was the word, “Pickles”. I thought it an odd name and assumed it was a restaurant of some sort. I would have to ask my Uncle about it.

A flood of memories struck me as I entered the store and stepped back in time to when I worked summers and Christmases, listening to great music, and having the time of my young life – at least until my parents caught us smoking weed in the office and banned me from hanging out with Uncle Ed. (The ban didn’t work, thankfully, as I still found ways to sneak in to see him and his cheeba whenever I could.) While nostalgia was not something for which I longed, being inside the old record shop reminded me of a more peaceful and less stressful time, and I welcomed the flood of memories.
My blog is  https://betterdevil.wordpress.com/  (It's new-ish!)

Also, check out my self-published first novel, The Last Time

@ http://a.co/d/hP980yk  (Amazon link)

Offline heartsongjt

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2018, 09:29:45 PM »
landmersm, I could find nothing wrong with the writing. The words flowed smoothly. I  enjoyed the read.
Words are Weapons of Demons and Saints

Offline landmersm

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2018, 09:36:48 PM »
Thank you very much!
My blog is  https://betterdevil.wordpress.com/  (It's new-ish!)

Also, check out my self-published first novel, The Last Time

@ http://a.co/d/hP980yk  (Amazon link)

Offline heartsongjt

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2018, 09:46:04 PM »
You are welcome.        jt
Words are Weapons of Demons and Saints

Offline Everyman

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2018, 03:44:23 AM »
Grammatically I can find little wrong with this. You do have an argument with semicolons, but then, so do I.  However, you seem more preoccupied with showcasing your vocabulary than telling a good story. Your prose is rather stilted and prosaic, at times, almost administrative, and as a result it often falls flat, “that I could turn to for solace or even a distant acquaintanceship.” “Since there was no agreeable outcome”, “My parents had eliminated all personal funds” “...none of them had been able to maintain relevance”,  “...and find gainful employment”, “In addition to being away from the inquisition” e&c. They don't sound like the thoughts of a desolate and heartbroken young man - they read like something you might expect to find on a government pamphlet. I'm not saying you should dumb down your writing, but stylistically, it don't think this rather bureaucratic prose works here. I get a real sense of authorial intrusion. And I feel a distance to the young man, I don't connect with him. He just doesn't swing. He's not alive.

It takes 4 paragraphs for him to arrive home, all the while we must suffer his rather mopish and rigid introspections.

I also feel you also tend to focus on unnecessary details, “Painted green on the glass door was the word, “Pickles”. I thought it an odd name and assumed it was a restaurant of so me sort. I would have to ask my Uncle about it.”, “the same dark green door wedged in between two large store front windows and surrounded by the tan brick of the building itself.” and so on.

As the reader, I have little interest in what itinerary-like details the main character is seeing, I want to be plunged into the flow of a gripping story. And it's vital your first chapter works towards this end, otherwise the reader may drop the book, feeling bored and unsatisfied. You can evidently write very well. My only contention is stylistic. My advice: focus on breathing life into your characters, lose unnecessary focus on small details (until you have at least won the reader over), and get into the head of your characters, step aside, and allow their personality to flourish.

And please feel free to ignore this advice. I'm not a published writer with any experience in the industry. Just an amateur sharing my thoughts.

   Cheers,
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 05:23:52 AM by Everyman »

Offline Tak

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2018, 08:16:16 AM »
That is a lot of narration, I almost felt like I was reading a journal entry; because I was set so far in the background as an observer to someone else's reflections. So, for me, very passive.

I couldn't see why some of those happenings could not have been an active part of the opening. Why did you choose to relate everything?

He gets arrested, changing his life - but that's all I hear about that past life

He gets home, confronting his parents - but that's all related through a one-way mirror.

He goes into town - But that felt like more a tour guide book's promotion of the down     town district.

So for me, yes you can write, but your story telling is faltering the flow forward, and your narration is too set back from the scene. I want to be with the mc at this time.

I'm not against descriptive text when it's part of a story.

I'm sure you'll figure out. You have the proper tools, you only have to learn to use them from outside of the box.

Thank you for the read

Tak

hillwalker3000

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2018, 08:59:12 AM »
Despite a rather long-winded opening, this kept me interested right to the end. Sometimes layers of detail help set a mood.

Only two things made me pause:
That opening line - specifically 'The arrest. . .' - had me thinking one of your parents had been arrested. A simple reword ('My arrest. . .) would ensure we're up to speed right from the start.
Secondly, as others have noted, the language is a little self-indulgent at times. Maybe he's a Literature major but the phrase 'the erstwhile shop' doesn't seem like the kind of expression anyone would use in 2018. It looked completely out of place. But otherwise, an enjoyable read.

H3K

Offline landmersm

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2018, 09:17:15 PM »
Thank you all for the comments.  Exactly what I was looking for.  I'll try to to respond to what I can.

1. Semicolons are the devil's handiwork.
2. The MC is/was a Creative Writing major before university expulsion, so I find myself struggling with what his internal thoughts should be.  How much of a writer is he in his head, and how much of a young adult he should be. The dialogue is never this stilted, as I work very hard trying to capture conversations as they really are - faults, errors, slang, etc
3. I didn't spend a lot of time detailing his past as it comes forward later in the story, but I can definitely see the point some of you are making.

I guess I should add that this story has been "finished" for a little while, but I cannot - for the life of me - bring myself to put "The End" at the, well, end.  I suppose that's why I'm here.

Again, thanks for the input and suggestions.   ;D
My blog is  https://betterdevil.wordpress.com/  (It's new-ish!)

Also, check out my self-published first novel, The Last Time

@ http://a.co/d/hP980yk  (Amazon link)

Offline Il Penseroso

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2018, 04:42:47 PM »
A bit wordy at times, but overall I enjoyed this.

Offline leah.anaya

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2019, 01:47:26 AM »
I do think that this character is "alive," and he makes me sad because he reminds me of my brother.  That could just be a very specific personal tie, but I like how you've written him so far.

I do think there could be some dialogue with his parents to show their disappointment rather than just telling us.

The first line is awkward as well, I think.  What bout just saying the arrest was the final straw, and then the next sentence says what his arrest was for?  Then it's direct and attention grabbing without extra words.  Just a thought!

Overall, I liked it and would like to continue reading it.

Offline landmersm

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2019, 11:32:34 AM »
Thanks for the comments. I appreciate anyone and everyone taking the time to read and respond.

I have since re-worked this and thought about reposting but . . . . . . then I thought not. You know how it is.
My blog is  https://betterdevil.wordpress.com/  (It's new-ish!)

Also, check out my self-published first novel, The Last Time

@ http://a.co/d/hP980yk  (Amazon link)

Offline heartsongjt

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2019, 11:54:34 AM »
Thanks for the comments. I appreciate anyone and everyone taking the time to read and respond.

I have since re-worked this and thought about reposting but . . . . . . then I thought not. You know how it is.

You welcome. I do understand about not wanting to re-post but I hope you can find the time to comment on other MWC members stories. This site is under constant 'invisible' attack by some who once  called MWC home.  It's sad that those who made a home else where returns only to add negative to the boards.     Jan
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Offline MikeAnderson

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2019, 02:25:01 PM »
Pro's

1: The narrator's quandary is realistic and and easy to relate to. Sometimes, you screw up so bad, you have to go to a place to sort yourself out, think them happy thoughts, and get your mind right.

2:Very detailed descriptions of the world he's dwelling in. Too often, writers forget they have to do a little painting in their works, too, and convert those nouns and verbs into colors and pictures.

3: This is a good set-up for a coming of age or redemption piece; a man remembering the good times before navigating rocky seas ahead. I actually felt for this guy, because, I knew some folks who were chronic f-ups that disappoint the kin-folk back home.

Con's:

1: I do have to agree with the point you did drive the scenic route a little too long in the opening paragraphs. It was a bit indulgent, but, hey, who hasn't as writers sniffed their own farts a little too deeply at one point?

2:I did think some of the vernacular was a bit off for this era, but the explanation that the main character is formally trained writer alleviates this complaint. Not saying dumb it down at all; considering we live in an era where communication between people these days consists of acronyms and emoji's, it's refreshing to see writers actually flaunt vocabulary.

Verdict: This was solid work. A little fat-trimming in paragraphs and, like Leah mentioned, maybe some more inter-personal dialogue between our MC and the parents, this is a tight tale of growing up and upwards in the making. Can't wait to see more material from you.

 

Offline landmersm

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Re: Uptown Records (996 words) General fiction - SFW
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2019, 01:58:09 PM »
Quote
sniffed their own farts a little too deeply at one point?

Made me laugh.  Who doesn't enjoy their own bouquet every now and then?


I try to keep spoken dialogue loose and free. I try to make it close to everyday speech with actual grammatical errors and the such. After all, when we're talking with our friends, don't we all use slang, run-on sentences, and improper verbs from time to time? Unless we're all professors of English from Cambridge, I'd imagine so.

Internal monologue, however, is something different.  I struggle with how correct to make it. I don't think it should be as loose but how restrictive should it be? I don't really envision it as a stream of consciousness. More of a memoir sort of context.  It's something I've thought about a good bit. I never knew 1st person narrative would be so challenging.


Thanks for taking the time to read, review, and comment. 
My blog is  https://betterdevil.wordpress.com/  (It's new-ish!)

Also, check out my self-published first novel, The Last Time

@ http://a.co/d/hP980yk  (Amazon link)