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cs2212
April 30th, 2012, 02:50 AM
Just a short bit from the novella I am writing, coming from a more depressive moment for the character than the other piece I posted -

"It's not like I've ever managed to make it through writing a whole book anyway.

Sometimes I would have a flash of imagination; a story, a joke, a provoking paragraph, but never enough. Trying to read the classics to pick up on a style didn't help. I imagined they would offer me inspiration, a framework for my own masterpiece. In the end they granted only the realisation that through imitation I would be nothing more than a shadow of the greatness of those who came before me.

I lost the drive to keep going. I never finished the imitation, I'm not even a shadow now. I am nothing."

Any thoughts would be appreciated. (I hope having such a short extract doesn't make it confusing lacking context or overly expositional.)

LoneWolf
May 2nd, 2012, 06:55 PM
This is very intriguing. Mostly because I can completely relate; it's how I felt for the 3 years when I didn't and felt that I couldn't write anything anymore. So it immediately had me hooked, and the way that you've written it is very poignant and flows well. Thanks for the read, I look forward to reading more of this should you post it!

Skodt
May 4th, 2012, 05:55 AM
Wish there was more to go off of. From what you have I mean there isn't really any major mistakes, but there is really to little to judge from. Write more and come back with a plot line, and some direction. Then I would be more disposed to give a critique to you. Happy writting and may the force be with you.

Daoranje
May 8th, 2012, 02:34 AM
I'm with LoneWolf on this one. It's so easy to relate to--almost as if it could be a piece of many a writer's life. There aren't any major errors aside from commas (i.e. In the end [,] they granted only the realisation that [,] through imitation [,] I would be nothing more than a shadow of the greatness of those who came before me).

To be a bit picky about the last 2 sentences, I think it'd sound nicer if you turned the comma into a period, ending with 3 sentences. Not only does it solve the issue of having 2 independent clauses separated by a comma, I feel that it pushes the idea of not amounting to anything even further.

hossein
May 8th, 2012, 08:20 AM
Hi,

I dont know myself to be a man worthy to criticize others (honestly) but since i see it as a duty i'll say what i think as an amateur (And thats how much its worth); As everyone above said it is a story which I can relate to too. But, i didnt like the depressed language; it made me feel so sad and made a sorry black image in my head which psychologically can tell you how i felt reading it.

Also, i think that if you had made the story longer (chosen a longer part) i, as an amateur reader, wouldve liked it more.

If there's anything wrong in my criticism, criticize it! :P

Meego
May 8th, 2012, 03:03 PM
Just like all the others, I can relate to this piece in one way or another. Question, those quotation marks, was that because the narrator was "speaking" (aloud) or was that to indicate that this was the story? If it was because he was speaking, I think it might be good to elaborate who he's speaking to, why, and maybe the environment/scenery in which he is speaking? If its just to indicate that the story began and this wasn't also a part of what you were say (as you) then I think that that in itself shows how you might need to add a bit more to it so that it feels more like a story and not just someone speaking to anybody. So far the piece is provoking my interest but it isn't allowing me to picture what's going on.

I really hope you add to this piece and post more as I'd love to see where this goes. I think you have a great idea, especially since it's something that a lot of people particularly those who are your audience (at least for now) can relate to.

cs2212
May 9th, 2012, 04:23 PM
Thanks to everyone who has replied and for the nice feedback!

Meego, you were right that it was just there to indicate the beginning and ending of the piece. I could've seperated it better in retrospect, its just an inner monologue rather than a dialogue.

I will post a little more below, but as this piece runs into another I posted a while ago I've avoided just repeating the whole thing.

Hossein, although you maybe didn't like it I'm glad that the piece came across as depressing and left you a bit down as that's what it was intended to do, so your critque was definitely helpful even if I'm maybe going to take it a little differently than it was intended!

Daoanje, I've picked up on your idea of seperating the last part into three sentences instead of two. I've also added in one of the commas you've suggested as I think it flows well with the addition. The other two I'm a little unsure about as I'm not very pro-commas haha (although I use far more semi colons than I think most people may do?)

The full chapter is now included below (a part of this has already been posted before and this is the revised version with the above incorporated into it as part of some other adjustments):

---

Chapter One

I was always a good writer; I should've done more to make it happen. But then, it's not like I've ever managed to make it through writing a whole book anyway.

Sometimes I would have a flash of imagination; a story, a joke, a provoking paragraph, but never enough. Trying to read the classics to pick up on a style didn't help.. I imagined they would offer me inspiration, a framework for my own masterpiece. In the end,
they granted only the realisation that, through imitation, I would be nothing more than a shadow of the greatness of those who came before me.

I lost the drive to keep trying. I never finished the imitation. I'm not even a shadow now; I am nothing.

Writing a diary seemed like a more natural way to get back into it, but I guess the problem is more that I can't be bothered than that I lack the capacity. Glancing across to the notebook sitting on my desk, alongside a fork and the plastic tray of last night's microwave dinner, I could see it was the words unwritten that were probably the most revealing. The gaps of days and weeks articulate better than I could my lack of motivation for it, or for the repetitive inanity of my life.

It isn't like there is any point in writing chapters about nothing, where "as above" would probably be as appropriate. Although, I suppose a diary would be a nice way to be remembered, something that could outlast me. Not that there would be much to remember.

I shrugged on my jacket, picking up my sunglasses from the sideboard as I made my way out.

As I closed the door to the flat I noticed someone had kindly deposited a stack of catalogues beside me. I’m not picking them up; lest I incur the wrath of the Avon lady like the last time I binned an unsolicited piece of junk mail. If you want to keep something, it would probably be a good idea not to post it through a stranger’s mailbox in the first place. Maybe if the pile is still there when they come back next week with more crap, they’ll take the hint I’m not interested and won’t leave anything else. Failing that, perhaps they’ll trip over them and die. Then the problem would be solved entirely.

It’s a shame I don’t live in Texas. They aren’t exactly friendly on trespassers over there. If somebody with incomprehensible English started ringing every doorbell on my home trying to get into my hallway, I could just shoot them in the face. I’d be applauded as a strong, independent woman defending myself against trespassers. If it was a curry house menu they’d probably chalk it up as another victory in the war on terror as well.

The sound of my boots on the floor tiles echoed as I walked down the hallway to the front door. What is it about hearing your own footsteps that gives you that little feeling of swagger? It’s maybe just because it’s only the expensive shoes that do it. Guys seem to look round, thinking it’s the sound of a stunning woman in heels approaching from the distance. Either that or they think its horse trotting up from the rear.

As I opened the front door I was hit by the constant hum of traffic, voices and humid warmth of summer in Camden. Leaves rustled in the breeze and despite being almost blinded as I stepped out, the sunshine was immediately uplifting. I felt a rush of energy as I slipped on my sunglasses and dragged the door shut by the key.

Just as I pulled the key from the door, I realised I’d once more come face to face with the lecherous workmen digging up my street. They probably aren’t as bad as some; they don’t wolf whistle at indignant feminist columnists from The Guardian. Those bitches really don’t need any more ammunition. But the stare and piggish facial expressions they make at women from behind are bad enough. Somehow just the way they look at people is enough to be offensive. I’m surprised they can hold in the primal urge to stand and grunt as they curl their lip in approval at every tight skirt walking by. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could understand why we are paying them all to stand around the one hole in London they clearly have no desire to fill any time soon.

I found myself grumbling aloud as I walked away.



“What are they even doing? Everyone on building sites just walks around looking at things. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody actually build something. It’s amazing we have buildings at all when nobody ever seems to do anything…”

After noticing my mutterings had probably just been overheard, blatantly deriding the guys opposite; I started making my way down the street as briskly as possible, beyond the range of potential eye contact. Pretty sure my staring builders have gone from hearing a trotting horse to a galloping bitch.

Turning the corner, I couldn’t help finding it a little funny. Approaching strangers, insulting their appearance and professional capabilities then running away could become the middle class equivalent of happy slapping. I should really have recorded it.

As I walked down the street I started to notice a reflection in the periphery of my vision. Glancing to the side I paid less and less attention to where I was going, although I guess that’s hardly unusual. My appearance in mirrors or pretty much any other polished surface larger than a spoon is an easy distraction. To some extent everybody must do it, but my observations have always tended to suggest I’m usually the only one walking down the street looking sideways.

Through the faded reflection in a furniture store window only my strongest features were obvious; a slim profile, a slight flare at the bottom of my jeans, a strong jawline party covered by my swooping hairline and a red Prada strip just visible on my sunglasses. It was enough to leave me with a warm feeling of satisfaction and pride that everyone around could see me. Enough even, that I found myself smiling slightly.

I wish Ben could see me looking like this today.

I really need to avoid spending a fortune on anything else to do myself up so I can sit at home doing nothing. It's probably better just not to go in anywhere nice today while all I really need is work clothes. I have enough casuals to look nice when I go out as it is and it's depressing when you see a rare find in the shops and can't have it. It's ridiculous I have to waste my own money dressing up to impress clients when I'll probably be unemployed soon enough anyway. But I've only got about four things I can actually wear to work five days a week. None of which even look right now my one remaining belt buckle has snapped off, so I really could so with getting something to at least look vaguely like I haven't been pulled out a skip in the morning.

The smile from moments ago was quickly taken as I passed a newsagent billboard, a headline sheet mentioning gay marriage fluttered lightly in the breeze. “Destroying centuries of tradition and belief” says some representative of a church that probably has about four parishioners.

When you are young, you see that adults have grown up, met someone they loved and gotten married. It’s the standard structure you see for a loving relationship. Why take that away from someone? Nobody gains from denying them it and nobody is hurt by allowing it. Yet plenty of people are hurt by denying them the same recognition and normal life everybody else leads.

It’s funny how they’re talking about centuries of tradition. Surely the reason there are centuries of tradition behind it is because the church was a homophobic organisation that has been persecuting people for centuries as a matter of tradition.

They obviously wouldn’t have bothered making allowance for people of other religious, ethnic origins or of differing sexuality to enter into the institution of marriage because they weren’t allowed to live in normal society at all. If people had been traditionally accepted into society then they probably would have been traditionally afforded the same rights. So surely, now they are accepted in society, they should be entitled to the same rights as everybody else, if we are really retracting the persecution of the past? They would’ve had the rights in the first place were the church not spreading hate for the preceding centuries.

Anyway, I can feel myself furrowing my face as I think about this. I must have such weirdly animated facial expressions to anybody that sees me coming in the opposite direction…quietly walking along glowering, muttering and showing total indignation at thin air.

I’m not buying the paper. I don’t want to read any more about it than that headline. I don’t really need to know about it. It isn’t going to make any difference. It’s already left me feeling frustrated to the point I’d probably want to crush it into a ball anyway, between that and talking to myself I really will look crazy. You just have to hope they are outnumbered by the people who care about the happiness of others over semantics and the technicalities of history.

I pressed the button on the pedestrian crossing, the “wait” light had been newly spray painted to read “wank”. It made me laugh just a little, though I felt guilty for sanctioning vandalism, it was still pretty funny seeing it light up. I wasn’t willing to wait for the little green man and ran across the road, weaving through the traffic midway across. Just as I reached the tube station, sunglasses off, the crossing started beeping and the cars stopped, for nobody. Sorry.

The overcrowding on the Camden Town tube station really is pretty ridiculous. It’s all tourists as well; it’s never anybody who actually lives here that’s stopping the place up. I found myself glaring towards a group of Americans blocking half the gates trying to swipe their paper tickets over Oyster card readers. In typical Londoner fashion, the natives shuffled past sighing, making discontent glances without offering the assistance required to resolve the problem.

Seemingly oblivious to the irritation they were causing, I overheard one of the men in the group laughing loudly and lamenting that technology was going “one step forward and two steps back”. I felt the sudden urge to slap him in the face as he ignored the bright yellow sticker and arrows marked “TICKETS”. I’d rather join the back of the Londoners queue than help that. Even ants have collective intelligence; it seems that phenomenon doesn’t extend to tourists.

As I finally shuffled past the ticket barrier and down the stairs I felt the breeze as a train pulled onto the platform below. The station was always warm and the breeze cool and refreshing. For that I enjoyed it.

On another level I was acutely aware that the extra warmth was probably caused by the body heat, sweat and germs of the people around me. Meanwhile the London Underground breathes out cool air on me like a disease ridden giant exhaling over my face. Being forced to stand in such close proximity to other people always brings out my paranoid side. I feel like I’m going to catch something at any second. My breathing became just a little shallower, in a pointless attempt to avoid inhaling as many germs from strangers.

I never understand why you see the Japanese bothering to wear protective masks to shield themselves from chemicals that could give them cancer in another forty or fifty years. Personally, I’m far more concerned about the skank opposite that could give me the black death in the next ten or fifteen minutes. That would leave the mask looking a little more urgent.

Apparently I’m far from the only person on the tube obsessed with their ill health this morning. Billboards for a digestive supplement lined the curvature of the ceiling as I made my way down the stairs. I don’t understand why the world is so littered with adverts for products to help with your digestion, constipation and incontinence. How can I walk past all three in the space of minutes?

It’s always on the TV too. Apparently everybody in Britain these days is either miserable because they can’t go to the bathroom or because they go too much. The government should include urinary function on its National Happiness Index. Half of these adverts just look like testimonials for the other half…before I felt bloated and unhappy…now I’m smiling in a field and make wet patches on white furniture.

Six minutes. The departure boards are a little bit redundant really, the next one is always in a few minutes or there’s a strike on and it won’t be here for a week. Yet they somehow seem to encourage you to become neurotic and stand there counting down the seconds until it ticks to five.

I stood right on the yellow line by the edge of the platform, gazing just down the tunnel, counting the wires hanging, seemingly casually abandoned, draped down the walls.

I looked down to the tracks and the deep gap below. I could envision myself standing there, still looking expectantly, just down the tunnel.

It’s usually the bigger trains people use like that though, I can’t think of anyone doing it on the tube lately.

Why do they try to slow down when they are going to hit the guy anyway? Surely it’s better to hit them quickly? It would be horrible if it hit me slowly, I remember hearing of someone dragged along while they were still alive. I wouldn’t want the pain of being squished while I was getting slowly run over. Although I do find that idea slightly funny, I’m not sure why.

Maybe it would be better if you lean your head forwards. I’d probably get knocked out the moment it hit.

I began to hear the screeching sound of the train on the rails. Two minutes.

Curiosity grew to temptation as I looked down at the point I’d seen myself standing in moments ago…I could feel my chest pulling closer to the precipice. I could see myself there again standing, watching. I’d want to see it coming face on.

I could see the lights of the train coming into sight at the bend in the tunnel as the sound grew louder. People began to move in towards the platform edge. I shuffled a little further forward, right to the edge, fixated on the flat end of the train coasting closer towards me. I could see the driver looking back towards me.

I was hit by another rush of air as the train swept by me and along the platform, inches from my face. The doors slid open and I stepped on.

TBK
May 9th, 2012, 05:12 PM
It's not like I've ever managed to make it through writing a whole book, anyway.

Sometimes, I would have a flash of imagination--a story, a joke, a provoking paragraph--but never enough. I tried reading the classics to pick up on a style. I imagined they would offer me inspiration, a framework for my own masterpiece. In the end, they granted only the realisation that, through imitation, I would be nothing more than a shadow of the greatness of those who came before me.

I lost the drive to keep going. I never finished the imitation. I'm not even a shadow, now. I am nothing.


'...I would be nothing more than a shadow of the greatness of those who came before me,' is wordy and lacks thrust. Try finding ways to trim down your 'of' use. You can achieve thrust by converting the line to active voice.

cs2212
May 9th, 2012, 05:49 PM
Thanks for that TBK.

A few of the commas and sentences have already been adapted to include your comma suggestions in my revision :).

I think you are right about the "of-s". I am thinking of maybe reducing that sentence to: "would be nothing more than a shadow of those who came before me" to simplify the language used there.

I'm also gonna pick up on your deletion of the "me" before inspiration.

Do you know...is the em dash thing you've indicated an Americanism? I've seen it used on several occasions before, but my own education background would suggest that its 'wrong' and that a semi colon should be used for that purpose.

Not to say that your suggestion isn't correct...its just that until going onto a couple of writing forums I don't think I've ever seen that usage of punctuation elsewhere.

(It may also be because this is the first time I've written anything fictional. All of my study in English was critical writing, non fiction, debating and reviewing other work . I've never written anything other than essays where I could use the semi colon to denote the start of a list.)

Meego
May 10th, 2012, 12:50 AM
I preferred reading it all together, it makes a lot more sense now. I also like the addition of the first line, its a bit humorous.

There were a few things that seemed to be lost in translation (I am not British but American so some of the idioms were confusing but you shouldn't change that). I liked how you mixed imagery of the travel with your thought process, they weren't separate from each other but leached from one another as would usually happen. The piece was not what I was expecting from the small snippet you had posted originally.

One of the things confused me and I do not know if its because I am not familiar with British housing but in one sentence you said "As I closed the door to the flat" and then a paragraph or so later you said "The sound of my boots on the floor tiles echoed as I walked down the hallway to the front door". Is a flat like an apartment? And if so, are all doors to them inside a bigger building? When I initially read it, I thought that you were already outside and I thought you had gone through your front door twice. (This might be due to the fact that apartments here can have a door that is already outside and some are inside a larger building so I had not realized if you were still "inside" a building.) If this kind of difference does not exist in the UK then you don't have any worries I guess lol.

I like how you brought back the sound your shoes make when you walk a few times in the story, it really felt like it made things you were thinking "purposeful" for lack of a better term. Reading through a rambling thought process can get tiresome so when you connect back to it it feels less like a ramble.

One suggestion, or though you did it well enough on your own, the part where you critique the discrimination of homosexuals being a tradition, I kept waiting for you use the point that homosexuality has been around much longer than the Christian religion and was a part of many cultures (i.e. the Greeks). It seems (to me) a quicker and more efficient debunking of tradition than arguing about rights. You went on for quite some time about the rights of homosexuality/tradition of discrimination to the point that I was wondering if that was the point of your piece for it to only be dismissed eventually as something that wasn't essential/important. (which was mildly frustrating/disappointing because I had started to think about how all this would matter later, how it correlated with your story only to end up wondering what it had to do with it in the first place. You pick at/make fun of several small social quirks and then add this as the only controversial subject and then dismiss it as you do the quirks of society.)

I thought the last part of the piece was really interesting when she was intrigued by the spot in front of the train. I was really wondering whether she was going to end up down there or not, good suspense.

All in all I really liked it. :)

TBK
May 10th, 2012, 07:01 AM
Thanks for that TBK.

You're very welcome! If you thank me, though, you might encourage me. Then you'll have problems getting me to leave after you get irritated with me following you around, shoving commas everywhere, and constantly reminding you to use active voice where applicable.


I am thinking of maybe reducing that sentence to: "would be nothing more than a shadow of those who came before me" to simplify the language used there.

Honestly, you can further simplify the language. I don't mean to take liberties or overbear, but, 'I would be trapped in greatness' shadow,' is more concise, even if it bugs the crap out of me because it's passive.


Do you know...is the em dash thing you've indicated an Americanism? I've seen it used on several occasions before, but my own education background would suggest that its 'wrong' and that a semi colon should be used for that purpose.

The em-dash is a form of parenthetical punctuation. You can substitute colons or parenthesis to replace the em-dash, but colons always end things for me. I'm not sure how to break free of a colon, once I've used it.

Example: Gregory likes fish: Big fish, small fish, short fish, and tall fish.

As opposed to being able to continue: Gregory likes watching fish--big fish, small fish, short fish, and tall fish--inside aquariums.

Grammar Girl : Dashes Versus Colons :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™ (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/dashes-grammar.aspx)

I'm not sure if it's an Americanism. I picked up on it when studying modifiers. I fell in love with it, and can't quit using it every time I write something I think is 'definitive'.

Example: The sun--a glowing ball of gas most scientists say will explode, eventually--pounded its fists against the asphalt.

The sun is the subject, the, '...glowing ball of gas...' is definitive. That's saying, the, '...glowing ball of gas...' line adds definition to, modifies, and ultimately clarifies, 'The sun...'.

'...A story, a joke, a provoking paragraph...' clarifies '...flash of imagination...'. After the clarification, you've chosen to continue the sentence. Therefore, I used parenthetical punctuation instead of the colon (or semicolon, as you said you use).

Here, semicolons are used to separate complete sentences that tie together.

Example: Jack sits; Jack stands; Jack waves both hands.

I read upcoming readers would rather read two different sentences than one sentence using a semicolon, but I have an affinity for them.



Not to say that your suggestion isn't correct...its just that until going onto a couple of writing forums I don't think I've ever seen that usage of punctuation elsewhere.

If you're afraid it's incorrect, you don't have to use it. They're my favorite punctuation, so I throw them in everywhere! I over-use them, as a matter of fact! I like to add my modifiers in the middle of sentences, and that's what -- is good for.


...use the semicolon...

I use colons for that! My American fingers only know how to do American things. I'm sorry!

I guess I need to start looking over the rules of English--English-English, not American-English--composition.

D1flyinggoose
May 11th, 2012, 01:59 PM
I 'm new to the forum so if i'm off topic my apologies- Write - Write about nothing- write about something- prompts are the best way to go to keep you writing-Hemingway wrote 500 words per day...Write -Write-Write

cs2212
May 11th, 2012, 03:54 PM
D1flyinggoose: Although the piece I've posted is written in first person, it isn't me. I'm not a woman, a londoner or currently intending to jump under a subway train lol.

Thanks Meego :). I did wonder how well some of it would translate. I didn't think that things like 'happyslapping' are really a phenomenon in the US in the same way that they are over here. A flat is basically a more downmarket term for an apartment. In the UK most flats are inside a larger block with access through a secure internal corridor. Some properties are as you've described but they are relatively rare and tend to be in very rough areas where seventies towerblocks and social housing developments were put up. In those places the doors to flats are on the outside in a concept that used to be described as 'streets in the sky' but really 'ghetto' is probably more appropriate lol.

TBK, yeah, I can see why you'd like that use of punctuation actually. I sometimes find my semi colons are a bit awkward in places (such as this particular instance!) and the dashes could be better! I'm probably going to end up being a geek and spending ages researching this now until I work out if its only used in American English or if I am just being ignorant! lol.

Thanks to everyone for all the positive feedback on this piece, its nice it doesn't just seem like I've written total crap! :P

Meego
May 11th, 2012, 11:08 PM
Thanks Meego :). I did wonder how well some of it would translate. I didn't think that things like 'happyslapping' are really a phenomenon in the US in the same way that they are over here. A flat is basically a more downmarket term for an apartment. In the UK most flats are inside a larger block with access through a secure internal corridor. Some properties are as you've described but they are relatively rare and tend to be in very rough areas where seventies towerblocks and social housing developments were put up. In those places the doors to flats are on the outside in a concept that used to be described as 'streets in the sky' but really 'ghetto' is probably more appropriate lol.

Ahhh I see. That makes a lot of sense. There isn't such a drastic distinction in the US. I'm glad I was able to read your piece, it really helped me expand on the cultural differences. :) Thanks for sharing!!

pitchmid06
May 16th, 2012, 03:27 AM
I just enjoy the relatability of this piece. I think as writers it is easy for a lot of us to relate immediately to this feeling. There is a tremendous amount that can be done when you find something your readers can relate to and run with it.