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SarahStrange
December 29th, 2012, 08:57 PM
So, I just revisited this short story piece to spruce up for a writing contest. So far I've only got the beginning scene below. I'm not terribly sure where it'll go yet, but it IS going to go somewhere lol. Brutal critiques welcome!

******

Suzy’s sittin on the porch with me. She’s lookin at her pale white hand and shining her already shiny nails with a handkerchief. Her ankles are crossed all dainty with her skirts folded around them nice as you please. She flips her curly blonde hair and arches an eyebrow at me.

“If I had a penny for every time you said that, Johnny, I’d be rich as an Arab sheik.” She say to me.

“Don’t be silly, Suzy. Arabs ain’t got no money. ‘Sides I don’t say it that much an when I do it’s only cause its true.” I says back to her. I kick up a little cloud of dust just cause I know it’ll annoy her. She waves her little Jap fan at it and it disappears into air so hot it moves in waves over her nice green lawn.

“That’s not true. Not at all. Some Arabs are really rich. They get money from the oil in their land.” Suzy looks at me like I don’t know a damned thing that’s commin out of my mouth. Then she look away toward the garden and fans her pretty powdered face. “My daddy, does a little business with them. He’s thinking of drilling in the gulf himself, you know. Its about to be all the rage in business circles.” She’s know I don’t care bout the damned gulf. She just say it to say it. I ain’t never seen the ocean anyways.

“They live in the sand like lil ole buggies. They don’t got no coin. And yeah I is.”

“Ha! Arabs aren’t like bugs. That’s so silly!” She really laughin’ at me now. She put her hand on her stomach and leans forward like she just can not keep in how damned amused she is. Her chuckle is like a little silver bell tinklin’. I wanna throw mud on her dress.

“I ain’t lyin! Yes they are Suzy. The girls gots a third eye that’ll put the evil on ya. It’s in the back a their heads. That’s why they gotta wear that there sheet on their noggin’.” I know so. My Pa and my brother showed me those pictures in that newspaper they’re so fond of. There was this darky girl all covered in a black sheet. All you could see was her eyes, nothing else. They were real sad eyes, I tell you what.

“That’s absolutely preposterous Johnny. Who in the world told you that fib?” She says to me. Her eyes are all wide. She is just so appalled.

“My big brother, Paul. He real smart. He reads the White Knight every mornin!” I bet her brother don’t read the White Knight. All he can do is ride around in his car and go down to visit the floozies in the brothel. Momma always has to spend double time on Paul’s room when she cleans Suzy’s daddy’s house like she is now. Its probably why she’s taking so long today.

“My goodness! What trash, Johnny! You shouldn’t listen to the like of that. All that those papers do is spread lies and hate. No wonder you think you’re right.” She tries to put her hand on my shoulder, but I move off the step and stand in front of her. She’d probably just get dirt on her hand if she touch me anyways.

“You ain’t got no clue what you talkin’ bout Suzy. You just don’t know what you talkin’ bout.” She really startin to make me mad now. She put her hand out again and I step back. She glares at me. She’s ain’t so pretty after she does that. She ain’t stoppin talkin neither.

“I sure do. Any person that lets their eyes fall on such rubbish is about as good as the dirt on the ground. How absolutely awful! If your brother actually went to class maybe he’d know that. You too Johnny, you’re supposed to use the pages of books for more than paper airplanes you know. Now sit back down and wait for your mother to finish.” She’s really steamin’ me now. I turn around and walk toward the street. Well guess what, missy? I don’t got to listen to your mean mouth no more. I’m leavin.

“You ain’t better than none of my family.” I look over my shoulder at Suzy. Her face is all pinched. Her lips are puckered and her eyes narrow. S’kinda funny lookin. She know she gonna get in trouble with her daddy if I leave, but she too mad to be nice.

“At least I know how to spell my own name, Johnny. That’s more than I can say for more than half of your household.” Damn that girl! I turn round and point at her. My hand is shaking. She standin there with her hip cocked and her hands on her waist like she know juts how damn smart she is. Like I ain’t nothin at all.

“Ta hell with you! With you damned education, you think you better than me. Well you ain’t! I’ll show you. I am right!” I shout at her. I bet everyone in her big white house can hear me I’m so loud. They’re probably comin out real soon too, to see what the ruckus about. I turn tail and run. I’m gonna run so damned fast, she ain’t never gonna catch me. Never ever. Nasty girl.

“You come back here this instant! I’m supposed to be looking after you and I intent on doing just that!” I look over my shoulder real quick to see if anyone come out of the house yet. Suzy stands and grabs her pretty pink skirt in her hand and makes to follow after me down the dusty road. But there’s no way she gonna get dirt on the lacey frills and ruffles. Ain’t no way. “Johnny! Come back here now! JOHNNY!!”

ktee
January 15th, 2013, 04:59 PM
I like it! Interesting, well written, and I want to know more.

In terms of where to go with it from here, when I first read this , for some reason I only saw "crime, thriller" in the forum subcategory and thought that your piece was in that genre. So at the back of my mind I was reading this for clues of what crime was about to happen. And it actually works as a thriller.

This is where my mind was going: the tensions between the two of them is building, the class difference is causing resentment.... all leading up to "the event". I was predicting either a) Johnny getting out of control and hurting Suzy, or b) them having a fight, and something happening to Suzy and Johnny is suspected. When I finished the whole excerpt my prediction was that the thriller part would be because Suzy's would go missing as she goes after Johnny and Johnny is the obvious suspect. Because my mind goes at a million miles an hour, I predicted that the reader wouldn't know if Johnny was guilty either: there is a scene cut after Johnny runs off and Suzy follows. Next scene: Johnny is hiding in the trees, upset or heading back to the house. POV changes to someone else so when he returns to the house and Suzy's gone, the story goes to a 3rd person narrative and the two families have to figure out what's happened. It's a bit cliche I know, but that was my assumption based on the build up.

I don't know if any of that is helpful. I'm not sure what other directions your story could go because I'm lacking context. I'm not sure how old these characters are. I would guess about 15 to 16. And I'm not sure of the time and place. Definitely in the US, but as an Australian I go straight to the stereotypes of an African American boy, white girl, small town. And based on her skirt in the beginning, maybe the 1950/60s?

But in saying that, for a short story it's sometimes good to have ambiguity about time/place. Then the relationship and events are more important.

For my critique:
I like the narrator's voice. It works well and is consistent.

But writing in a voice like this is tricky. Sometimes there were ways I thought he would pronounce a word based on past speech patterns, but he didn't (does that make sense?). For example in the first line it's "sittin", "lookin" but then "shining" not "shinin". It's tough to know when to make the call, so a few times when it seemed jarring I've made some notes. But these are just questions rather than suggestions.



So, I just revisited this short story piece to spruce up for a writing contest. So far I've only got the beginning scene below. I'm not terribly sure where it'll go yet, but it IS going to go somewhere lol. Brutal critiques welcome!

******

Suzy’s sittin on the porch with me. She’s lookin at her pale white hand and shining her already shiny nails with a handkerchief. Her ankles are crossed all dainty with her skirts folded around them nice as you please. She flips her curly blonde hair and arches an eyebrow at me.

“If I had a penny for every time you said that, Johnny, I’d be rich as an Arab sheik.” She say to me.

“Don’t be silly, Suzy. Arabs ain’t got no money. ‘Sides I don’t say it that much an when I do it’s only cause its true.” I says back to her. I kick up a little cloud of dust just cause I know it’ll annoy her. She waves her little Jap fan at it and it disappears into air so hot it moves in waves over her nice green lawn.


“That’s not true. Not at all. Some Arabs are really rich. They get money from the oil in their land.” Suzy looks at me like I don’t know a damned thing that’s commin out of my mouth. Then she look away toward the garden and fans her pretty powdered face. “My daddy, does a little business with them. He’s thinking of drilling in the gulf himself, you know. Its about to be all the rage in business circles.” She’s know I don’t care bout the damned gulf. She just say it to say it. I ain’t never seen the ocean anyways. [is this Johnny recounting what Suzy said or Johnny's thought? It wasn't clear to me.]

“They live in the sand like lil ole buggies. They don’t got no coin. And yeah is.”

“Ha! Arabs aren’t like bugs. That’s so silly!” She really laughin’ at me now. She put her hand on her stomach and leans forward like she just can not keep in how damned amused she is. Her chuckle is like a little silver bell tinklin’. I wanna throw mud on her dress.

“I ain’t lyin! Yes they are Suzy. The girls gots a third eye that’ll put the evil on ya. It’s in the back a their heads. That’s why they gotta wear that there sheet on their noggin’.” I know so. My Pa and my brother showed me those pictures in that newspaper they’re so fond of.[about his accent/speech pattern, would he say "fond 'a" rather than "fond of". I'm not sure.] There was this darky girl all covered in a black sheet. All you could see was her eyes, nothing ["nothin'" instead of "nothing"?] else. They were real sad eyes, I tell you what.

“That’s absolutely preposterous, [comma] Johnny. Who in the world told you that fib?” She says to me. Her eyes are all wide. She is just so [I]appalled.[would he know this word?]

“My big brother, Paul. He real smart. He reads the White Knight every mornin!” I bet her brother don’t read the White Knight. All he can do is ride around in his car and go down to visit the floozies in the brothel. Momma always has to spend double time on Paul’s room when she cleans Suzy’s daddy’s house like she is now. It's [apostrophe] probably why she’s taking so long today.

“My goodness! What trash, Johnny! You shouldn’t listen to the like of that. All that those papers do is spread lies and hate. No wonder you think you’re right.” She tries to put her hand on my shoulder, but I move off the step and stand in front of her. She’d ["she probably" instead of "she'd probably?] probably just get dirt on her hand if she touch me anyways.

“You ain’t got no clue what you talkin’ bout, [comma] Suzy. You just don’t know what you talkin’ bout.” She really startin to make me mad now. She put her hand out again and I step back. She glares at me. She’s ain’t so pretty after she does that. She ain’t stoppin talkin neither.

“I sure do. Any person that lets their eyes fall on such rubbish is about as good as the dirt on the ground. How absolutely awful! If your brother actually went to class maybe he’d know that. You too, [comma] Johnny, you’re supposed to use the pages of books for more than paper airplanes you know. Now sit back down and wait for your mother to finish.” She’s really steamin’ me now. I turn around and walk toward the street. Well guess what, missy? I don’t got to listen to your mean mouth no more. I’m leavin.

“You ain’t better than none of my family.” I look over my shoulder at Suzy. Her face is all pinched. Her lips are puckered and her eyes narrow. S’kinda funny lookin. She know she gonna get in trouble with her daddy if I leave, but she too mad to be nice.

“At least I know how to spell my own name, Johnny. That’s more than I can say for more than half of your household.” Damn that girl! I turn round and point at her. My hand is shaking. She standin there with her hip cocked and her hands on her waist like she know juts how damn smart she is. Like I ain’t nothin at all.

“Ta hell with you! With ["wit" instead of "with"? and "ya" instead of "you"?] you damned ["damn" instead of "damned"?] education, you think you better than me. Well you ain’t! I’ll show you. I am right!” I shout at her. I bet everyone in her big white house can hear me I’m so loud. They’re ["they" instead of "they're"?] probably comin out real soon too, to see what the ruckus about. I turn tail and run. I’m gonna run so damned fast, she ain’t never gonna catch me. Never ever. Nasty girl.

“You come back here this instant! I’m supposed to be looking after you and I intent on doing just that!” I look over my shoulder real quick to see if anyone come out of the house yet. Suzy stands and grabs her pretty pink skirt in her hand and makes to follow after me down the dusty road. But there’s no way she gonna get dirt on the lacey frills and ruffles. Ain’t no way. “Johnny! Come back here now! JOHNNY!!”

Brock
January 16th, 2013, 04:26 PM
Sorry, but no critique here, just appreciation. I usually get bored after a while with 'conversation' but this held my attention throughout. Wherever you decide to go with this, I will be eager to read more.

coolcold40
January 17th, 2013, 11:24 PM
I thought it was pretty good, bit confusing because I don't read as many stories with this kinda accent. A few times at the beginning I lost track of what they were saying and got a bit confused. I was thinking of a huge crime that would happen later wondering where it was going to go.

jedellion
January 19th, 2013, 05:26 PM
I didn't mind the accent that much. If there were inconsistencies they did not bother me much I did spot one actually

you ain’t! I’ll show you. I am right!” I thought should be 'I'm right.'

I wondered if the boy was african american, but then I thought again as he sounded more 'poor white'.

I found the difference in world view striking and this is what made the story work for me. I liked the conflict and lack of understanding.

One issue I did have was sometimes you hop from her dialogue to his thoughts in the same paragraph and I found I got muddled with that at times.


“I sure do. Any person that lets their eyes fall on such rubbish is about as good as the dirt on the ground. How absolutely awful! If your brother actually went to class maybe he’d know that. You too Johnny, you’re supposed to use the pages of books for more than paper airplanes you know. Now sit back down and wait for your mother to finish.” She’s really steamin’ me now. I turn around and walk toward the street. Well guess what, missy? I don’t got to listen to your mean mouth no more. I’m leavin.


“I sure do. Any person that lets their eyes fall on such rubbish is about as good as the dirt on the ground. How absolutely awful! If your brother actually went to class maybe he’d know that. You too Johnny, you’re supposed to use the pages of books for more than paper airplanes you know. Now sit back down and wait for your mother to finish.”
[para break here]
She’s really steamin’ me now. I turn around and walk toward the street. Well guess what, missy? I don’t got to listen to your mean mouth no more. I’m leavin.

I think that might work better.

But i enjoyed the read and I am curious to see how it plays out.

James_KirkPatrick
January 22nd, 2013, 03:29 AM
I just want to point out some of the lines I like so far...


"She’s lookin at her pale white hand and shining her already shiny nails with a handkerchief."


I love when people break "rules" like this. "shining her already shiny nails.." I don't know why. There is something playful about it and in this case I think it sets the tone for the "accent" of the narrative.


The other line I liked was...


"She really laughin’ at me now. She put her hand on her stomach and leans forward like she just can not keep in how damned amused she is. Her chuckle is like a little silver bell tinklin’. I wanna throw mud on her dress."


There is something primitive and totally relatable about that impulse to throw mud at someone who is laughing at you. The simple succinct manner in which it's stated here is very pretty to me.


I enjoy the accent of the narrative. Having the characters speak in a broken/slang language gives them personality, but extending that to the narrative really allows us to be immersed in the world.


However, as much as I like the accent, I think it would be a little better if it were toned down some. I remember Trainspotting was written with the Scottish accent and that definitely worked, so I could be wrong about this, but to an extent language is a bit distracting.


At this point the style works to develop the world and characters in it, but I think as the story progresses, the accent may serve to distract from the plot.


Over all I do like this. For as much as people like to read about the extraordinary, sometimes the simple realism can be just as intersting, because it is easy to relate to.


I hope this helps.


Thanks for posting. Best wishes


J

SarahStrange
January 24th, 2013, 03:05 AM
Thanks so much guys! I really really appreciate the honest critiques. I think I will tone down the jargon a bit. After staying away from it for awhile, it was a little difficult for me to flow through.

As for the direction it is going, I was going to follow Johnny after he runs off. He would get into some very lowerclass, trash filled, ghetto area where he runs, wanders and scurries through the dark. He gets really lost and meets some interesting characters. Its going to be a pretty uneventful (though not un-meaningful ending). Its basically him deciding to go back into the light (its really dark in the alleys he is wandering through) or to turn around and go back into the dank alleyways. What he chooses I haven't decided yet :) It's definitively more along the lines of general fiction.

Again, thanks so much!

randomwriting
January 25th, 2013, 09:35 AM
Thanks so much guys! I really really appreciate the honest critiques. I think I will tone down the jargon a bit. After staying away from it for awhile, it was a little difficult for me to flow through.

As for the direction it is going, I was going to follow Johnny after he runs off. He would get into some very lowerclass, trash filled, ghetto area where he runs, wanders and scurries through the dark. He gets really lost and meets some interesting characters. Its going to be a pretty uneventful (though not un-meaningful ending). Its basically him deciding to go back into the light (its really dark in the alleys he is wandering through) or to turn around and go back into the dank alleyways. What he chooses I haven't decided yet :) It's definitively more along the lines of general fiction.

Again, thanks so much!


The jargon seems over whelming, I had a hard time reading the whole thing not because I couldn't understand just didn't want to finish it but I did. If you toned it down I think it would relate to a broader audience.

QBD
February 3rd, 2013, 11:30 PM
Not bad. But still some grammatical and spelling errors that need to be fixed if you're going to write this as a serious piece of literature. It would never make it through an edit.

I like the narrators voice - he holds the readers attention. Perhaps a little more detail on the World as he see's it as it's his eyes we're looking through. You can convey a lot about the character's background and social standing by describing their setting in detail, for example.

All in all, a good read.

indiananajones
February 10th, 2013, 06:57 AM
I like it, looking forward to reading more. However I'd agree with the comment above that this type of writing (the point of view) can be tough to keep clear