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View Full Version : First Post. Eek. First part of a story. 1000 ish words.



The Rust on the Razor
January 15th, 2013, 11:47 AM
The Street
Esther made her way through the hot, empty alleyway that ran behind the houses in their terrace, shivers of silver heat rising in front of her. The stifling breath of the summer sun lay heavily in the melting pot of the road as she turned the corner and stepped onto the pavement. She inhaled the soft and dreamy street sounds that were so familiar but so long forgotten- her fingers rasping on the wall, a faint radio in an anonymous front room drifting out through an open window, and her handbag slung from her shoulder rubbing against her smart black skirt making its soft rhythmic shwah shwah shwah in time with her footsteps. This last sound had once been the chink chink chink of pocket money in her jeans, but this was many years ago now and she almost laughed at the memory, so strong but so surprising. Esther turned her face upwards towards the sun, absorbing the warmth and closing her eyes for a moment as she walked, letting the light burn red through her eyelids.

She let her hand trail behind her as she walked, allowing her fingers to mould over the crumbling red bricks of the front garden walls that she hadn’t seen in so long. House fronts lined up on either side, identical to the one she had lived in and to each other, the net curtains at each window drooping and tired with battle to keep the cool air inside and the dust from the street out. The busy noises of the high street traffic three roads over were just discernable here, but she didn’t really notice them as her mind skimmed about, playing the game she often used as a timewaster when she had the time to waste. She allowed an idea to pop into her brain and get turned over, noted, examined, considered, and tumbled over a few more times, before a new idea suggested itself and the pattern was repeated or her attention was dragged elsewhere. She liked nearing the end of her journey, and before getting there, indulging in the luxury of working out how she’d arrived at the current notion, tracing back her cascading thoughts like a map of the hot tangle of streets that made up this town she had come back to. The satisfaction at being able to reach the source of the current thought was a small triumph, as pleasing as seeing a neat page of notes made during a meeting, written down and waiting to be transcribed in one go without a single mistake.

As she neared the tiny newsagent’s shop that stood incongruously amidst the flat fronted houses- this wasn’t here when I lived in this street, she mused - the hanging sign outside advertising the presence of an ancient brand of lemonade that wasn’t sold anywhere anymore caught an unexpected gasp of wind and gave a sharp creak in the heat. Esther’s concentration bubble was rapidly dispersed by the sound and, noticing the sign, she longed for a tall glass of iced water with slices of lemon bobbing about.. The shop beckoned behind its wide glass windows and she turned, pushing the door open in search of something cool.

As the door closed behind her, its’ little bell jingling enthusiastically above her, she made out the interior of the shop as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. It was a tiny and dark space, even without having come inside from the bright day, with low ceilings and white glossed wooden shelves of goods that she recognised but brands that she didn’t, a bit like how the whole town appeared to her now after being away for so long. She recognised the streets and alleys, buildings and parks, but it was all so unfamiliar to her now that it was a dreamlike. Out of kilter with her memories, and those had been pushed away for so long that even they could not be relied upon.

A grey scrap of a girl came through the doorway behind the little counter at the back on which a till stood, and smiled thinly at Esther. It didn't touch her eyes. Her ears stuck out through the long unwashed hair that fell limply about her pale face, curling around the lapels of a badly fitting and oversized black blazer which only served to make her look even smaller.

"Hello" she said simply, looking at Esther with suspicious eyes and giving her the distinct impression that she was in the wrong place by the weight of her stare. With that one word Esther realised that this tiny person was an adult, not a girl after all. The voice was strong and confident, belying the size of the speaker, and had the flat twang of the local accent that Esthers’ voice now bore no trace of.

"Hi. Have you got a fridge, you know, with drinks in? It’s such a hot day." This tumbled out of Esther like an apology and she felt flustered now, not by heat, but by the unwavering watch of the shopkeeper and she wanted so much to be back outside in the hot white street, even without the drink she’d come in for. The woman gestured with her head towards a corner, as if she couldn’t be bothered to waste her breath on telling Esther in words, and Esther hurriedly picked up a bottle of lemonade. She wanted to turn and walk fast out of this miserable little place, just as she had done from the town once before, but she paid for the drink with a two-pound coin and without waiting for her change - the woman didn’t call after her to say she was owed any- bolted back through the door and out into the heat and empty quiet of the street.

kc1082
January 16th, 2013, 01:03 AM
This is an interesting story,I'd like to see where it goes.


I thought these two paragraphs might sound better if they were written a bit differently.


As she neared the tiny newsagent’s shop that stood incongruously amidst the flat fronted houses- this wasn’t here when I lived in this street, she mused - the hanging sign outside advertising the presence of an ancient brand of lemonade that wasn’t sold anywhere anymore caught an unexpected gasp of wind and gave a sharp creak in the heat. Esther’s concentration bubble was rapidly dispersed by the sound and, noticing the sign, she longed for a tall glass of iced water with slices of lemon bobbing about.. The shop beckoned behind its wide glass windows and she turned, pushing the door open in search of something cool.

As she neared the tiny news agent’s shop that stood incongruously amidst the flat fronted houses, she thought “This wasn’t here when I lived in this street”. The hanging sign outside advertising the presence of an ancient brand of lemonade that wasn’t sold anywhere anymore caught an unexpected gasp of wind and gave a sharp creak in the heat. Esther’s concentration bubble was rapidly dispersed by the sound. Noticing the sign, she longed for a tall glass of iced water with slices of lemon bobbing about. The shop beckoned behind its wide glass windows and she turned, pushing the door open in search of something cool.




"Hi. Have you got a fridge, you know, with drinks in? It’s such a hot day." This tumbled out of Esther like an apology and she felt flustered now, not by heat, but by the unwavering watch of the shopkeeper and she wanted so much to be back outside in the hot white street, even without the drink she’d come in for. The woman gestured with her head towards a corner, as if she couldn’t be bothered to waste her breath on telling Esther in words, and Esther hurriedly picked up a bottle of lemonade. She wanted to turn and walk fast out of this miserable little place, just as she had done from the town once before, but she paid for the drink with a two-pound coin and without waiting for her change - the woman didn’t call after her to say she was owed any- bolted back through the door and out into the heat and empty quiet of the street.

"Hi. Have you got a fridge, you know, with drinks in? It’s such a hot day." This tumbled out of Esther like an apology and she felt flustered now, not by heat, but by the unwavering watch of the shopkeeper. She wanted so much to be back outside in the hot white street, even without the drink she’d come in for. The woman gestured with her head towards a corner as if she couldn’t be bothered to waste her breath on telling Esther in words. Esther hurriedly picked up a bottle of lemonade. She wanted to turn and walk fast out of this miserable little place, just as she had done from the town once before. She paid for the drink with a two-pound coin. Without waiting for her change she bolted through the door and out into the heat and empty quiet of the street. The woman didn’t call after her to say she was owed any.

So far that's all i can think of, maybe someone else might see something I missed.

The Rust on the Razor
January 16th, 2013, 01:12 PM
kc- thanks for the feedback. Do the reworked paragraphs work better because the sentences were too long before? I do struggle with that so thanks for suggesting the edits.

One other thing I am aware of is that nothing has really happened yet in the story- there is a tiny bit of dialogue but that's all. I don't even know where the story is going, but that's another skill I need to develop! Starting stories is my speciality, finishing them? Not so much.

dolphinlee
January 16th, 2013, 02:28 PM
This piece demonstrates that you have something many would-be writers never achieve and that is the ability to write really good descriptive prose.

However, and please hold on to what I just said, sometimes your sentences are like packing a suitcase for a holiday. Firstly there is the essential stuff, then the pretty clothing and then lots of ‘just in case’ stuff is thrown in. This makes some sentences wooly rather than interesting. I see from your second post that you recognise that your sentences are too long.

Overall this is an interesting piece and even though it may feel like “nothing has really happened yet in the story” this part is laying the foundations for what happens next.

You have made me feel sympathy for Esther and I want to know why she has returned.

Esther made her way through the hot, empty alleyway that ran behind the houses in their terrace, shivers of silver heat rising in front of her. The stifling breath of the summer sun lay heavily in the melting pot of the road (1) as she turned the corner and stepped onto the pavement. She inhaled the soft and dreamy street sounds (2) that were so familiar but so long forgotten- her fingers rasping on the wall, a faint radio in an anonymous front room drifting out through an open window, and her handbag slung from her shoulder rubbing against her smart black skirt making its soft rhythmic shwah shwah shwah in time with her footsteps. This last sound (3) had once been the chink chink chink of pocket money in her jeans, but this was many years ago now and she almost laughed at the memory, so strong but so surprising. Esther turned her face upwards towards the sun, absorbing the warmth and closing her eyes for a moment as she walked, letting the light burn red through her eyelids.


Can I suggest that you make each sentence in the above paragraph a different colour, separate them and then take a good look at their length. Then have a think about how many ideas are included in each one.



Breath of the sun???? This sentence is trying too hard.
To me inhaled is just wrong. I would prefer absorbed.
How can a present sound have once been something else? I know exactly what you are trying to say but you haven’t said it.



She let her hand trail behind her as she walked, allowing her fingers to mould (???) over the crumbling red bricks of the front garden walls that she hadn’t seen in so long. House fronts lined up on either side, identical to the one she had lived in and to each other, the net curtains at each window drooping and tired with battle to keep the cool air inside and the dust from the street out. The busy noises of the high street traffic three roads over were just discernable here, but she didn’t really notice them as her mind skimmed about, playing the game she often used as a timewaster when she had the time to waste. She allowed an idea to pop into her brain and get turned over, noted, examined, considered, and tumbled over (???) a few more times, before a new idea suggested itself and the pattern was repeated or her attention was dragged elsewhere. She liked nearing the end of her journey, and before getting there, (1) indulging in the luxury of working out how she’d arrived at the current notion, tracing back her cascading thoughts like a map of the hot tangle of streets that made up this town she had come back to. The satisfaction at being able to reach the source of the current thought was a small triumph, as pleasing as seeing a neat page of notes made during a meeting, written down and waiting to be transcribed in one go without a single mistake.

In simple terms (this is not meant to replace what you have written) I think you are saying ideas popped into her mind and she thought about them until the next one appeared. As she neared her destination she would trace back the thoughts



These words are not telling me clearly what you mean.



As she neared the tiny newsagent’s shop that stood incongruously amidst the flat fronted houses- this wasn’t here when I lived in this street, she mused - the hanging sign outside advertising the presence of an ancient brand of lemonade that wasn’t sold anywhere anymore caught an unexpected gasp of wind and gave a sharp creak in the heat. Esther’s concentration bubble was rapidly dispersed (1) by the sound and, noticing the sign, she longed for a tall glass of iced water with slices of lemon bobbing about.. The shop beckoned behind its wide glass windows and she turned, pushing the door open in search of something cool.




I like the way you are linking Esther’s thinking (Concentration bubble) to the lemonade. However, I think it might be better written in a different way. Maybe - Esther’s bubble of concentration burst. OR .... sharp creak bursting Esther's bubble of concentration.


As the door closed behind her, its’ little bell jingling enthusiastically above her, she made out the interior of the shop as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. It was a tiny and dark space, even without having come inside from the bright day, (1) with low ceilings and white glossed wooden shelves of goods that she recognised but brands that she didn’t, a bit like how the whole town appeared to her now after being away for so long. She recognised the streets and alleys, buildings and parks, but it was all so unfamiliar to her now that it was a dreamlike. Out of kilter with her memories, and those had been pushed away for so long that even they could not be relied upon.


1) The part after the comma is not necessary.

I do like the way you are comparing her familiarity and unfamiliarity with the streets to the goods.


A grey scrap of a girl came through the doorway behind the little counter at the back on which a till stood, and smiled thinly at Esther. It didn't touch her eyes. Her ears stuck out through the long unwashed hair that fell limply about her pale face, curling around the lapels of a badly fitting and oversized black blazer which only served to make her look even smaller.

"Hello" she said simply, looking at Esther with suspicious eyes and giving her the distinct impression that she was in the wrong place by the weight of her stare. With that one word Esther realised that this tiny person was an adult, not a girl after all. The voice was strong and confident, belying the size of the speaker, and had the flat twang of the local accent that Esthers’ voice now bore no trace of.

"Hi. Have you got a fridge, you know, with drinks in? It’s such a hot day." This tumbled out of Esther like an apology and she felt flustered now, not by heat, but by the unwavering watch of the shopkeeper and she wanted so much to be back outside in the hot white street, even without (???) the drink she’d come in for. The woman gestured with her head towards a corner, as if she couldn’t be bothered to waste her breath on telling Esther in words, and Esther hurriedly picked up a bottle of lemonade. She wanted to turn and walk fast out of this miserable little place, just as she had done from the town once before, but she paid for the drink with a two-pound coin and without waiting for her change - the woman didn’t call after her to say she was owed any- bolted back through the door and out into the heat and empty quiet of the street.

I think that if you copy this piece and then go through it colouring the descriptions in one colour and the adverbs in another you will see just how much is made up of modifiers.

I believe you have a talent for description, however I think that it could be used a little less.

kc1082
January 16th, 2013, 08:12 PM
I think dolphinlee cleared up a lot of what i was trying to say in my post along with adding some stuff I hadn't thought of.

enchantedsecret24
January 19th, 2013, 01:23 AM
I like your story about Esther so far, it is very interesting. You have a way of showing people what is happening instead of just telling...which is awesome. I wish I could write like that, it is def. a great tool you were blessed with! Hopefully you keep working on it so you can update this soon with anything you may have added or changed. I would love to read on about Esther and find out what her deal is and why she has gone back home. Keep writing!

The Rust on the Razor
January 24th, 2013, 02:22 PM
Dolphinlee, thanks for taking the time to feedback with such constructive and helpful comments. This is the first thing I have written “publicly” (there haven’t been that many in private either!) and your comments are incredibly welcome. Your points all make sense, I will need to go and have a bit more of a think about how to weave some of the sentences. One thing would help me- I am not sure what you mean at the end by a "modifier"- could you give me an example so I can make sure I understand it properly? (sorry for my ignorance, this is all very new!)

Thanks too enchantedsecret24. I'm glad there is enough interest in the couple of paragraphs I've posted to make a reader want to know more.

What is the etiquette around how I approach this next? Is it best to take the advice I’ve received on this piece, make my edits/continue the story off-line and put them away in a “things to remember” file, before moving on to the next piece of writing where hopefully I will use the lessons I’ve learned? Or should I make the edits and re-post? Am conscious that I don’t want to bore you all to death with different versions of the same thing!

(something else I am struggling with as a new writer is that I have started so many stories in my head, but have actually got my pencil out and written the grand total of 1 finished piece. I get an itch that I need to scratch and once the initial irritation of the story has been put down on paper, in a few pages of longhand, another itch comes along…)

dolphinlee
January 24th, 2013, 04:00 PM
Let me tell you that I haven't used the term modifier since my school days, which were a long time ago. It is something that a lot of people use on site so I started using it again. My bad! I should have written more clearly. I could give you my definition but instead here is a link.

Grammatical modifier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_modifier)

Some examples
hot, empty alleyway

As she neared the tiny newsagent’s shop that stood incongruously amidst the flat fronted houses

A grey scrap of a girl came through the doorway behind the little counter at the back on which a till stood, and smiled thinly at Esther. It didn't touch her eyes. Her ears stuck out through the long unwashed hair that fell limply about her pale face, curling around the lapels of a badly fitting and oversized black blazer which only served to make her look even smaller.

Okay you could delete the original and put the new version up instead. What a lot of people do is take time over the edits and the start a new thread. In the title they would mention that it was the second or edited or totally reworded version. Leave it a couple of weeks and it should be okay.

What really irritates people in not resubmitted work but flooding. That is putting several pieces up at the same time.

Hope this answers your questions.

randomwriting
January 25th, 2013, 09:11 AM
Without writing more of the same, I think there is a lot of detail and adjectives. Not that its entirely a bad thing I just think less experienced writers try too hard to toss in unneeded adjectives and it takes away from when you really want to express something. Sometimes more is less in my opinion.

It does seem to get slightly simpler towards the bottom as far as that goes.

The Rust on the Razor
February 3rd, 2013, 09:00 PM
Thanks random. You've put it clearly for me- I've been thinking about description since these posts and trying a few things out in other pieces I am working on. I recognise what you say- and what dolphinlee pointed out too- that I need to declutter.
I think that I am worried about readers not getting what I mean, and so the extra words cover all bases! But if they don't achieve clarity, just cloud an already overlong sentence, I need to get the scissors out.

I am really interested in what my characters don't say. Of course, what they DO say is interesting, but getting something across without a flow of dialogue is something I'm working on. Along with a gazillion other things :)

Thanks all for helping me out.