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Velex
May 1st, 2013, 03:02 PM
EDIT: I've got the feedback I needed. This thread can be locked, or at least no one else need read & respond. Thanks everyone who responded!

This is a short story about some skiers. Is the story good? Could I have told it better? What should I think about to improve my writing? All that jazz. Hope you enjoy,
Jon.


As the storm unfolded over the mountains, showering rain onto the valley below, the two men in nylon coats stood holding their skis against the darkened sky while snow fluttered around them, stinging like little flies at every inch of exposed flesh.

“Alright, are you ready, man?”

“Yeah, I’m ready. Let me just fix my boots.”

Gregory kneeled down. The snow crunched where his knees hit the snow. The drop was a steep one and he could see the trees like white and green posts, small, at the bottom of the bowl and the trails of white that webbed out across the mountain.

“This is nothing, eh?”

“What?”

The wind was loud and the two men were wearing tight fitting wool lined helmets.

“I said that this is nothing. You’ve done steeper.”

Gregory knew he had done steeper, but that was almost a year ago. January, or was it Febuary? It must have been January, he thought, because in February he had set the record in the race, and he had then too remembered the steeper slope.

“Yeah, I’ve done steeper. This is nothing.”

“Good. You know, I’ve never done one this steep. You should lead.”

He finished tightening his boots and shivered. He was cold despite the layers. He didn’t feel cold, but he shivered. It must be the cold, he thought.

“Hold on, I’ve got something sticking into me.”

“Hurry up. It’s cold,” said the other man, and he looked around at the vista.
Gregory pulled his hands out of his gloves by holding them between his knees. The zipper came down and he reached into his jacket to his waistband where a tag from one of his flannel shirts was sticking him. As he brought his hand back up it brushed against a hard object in his inner pocket and he paused it there for a moment, then pulled it out and zipped up the jacket.

“What do you got there?”

Gregory didn’t answer. He flipped open the phone and dialed a number into it with numb fingers, then listened.

“Hello?” a voice said. It was a woman’s voice.

“Hello, can you pick me up?”

“...Is this Gregory Donovan?”

“Yes, can you pick me up?”

“...Sure. It’s not a problem. Too windy up there?”

“Yeah. That’s it. Too windy.”

“I’ll have somebody by to pick you up. Thirty minutes tops.”

“Thanks.”

“Not a problem.”

The call ended. Gregory put the phone away.

“Who was that?”

“Ground control. We’re going back.”

“Is it the weather?”

“Yes. The weather’s bad.”

“It seems alright now. Is it going to get worse?”

“I think so. I don’t want to be stuck on the mountain if it does. Did I ever tell you about the two hours I spent stuck under a snow blower?”

“No.”

“I was with my wife. It was a family trip. Nothing strenuous. We were riding the two’s up from midway and the lift got stuck. Couldn’t see anything because of the snow blower. Had no idea how long we’d be there. At first we joked and huddled for warmth, but by the end our lips were frozen shut and we were coated in ice. We were a sight when we finally got up to the top. Must have looked like snowmen skiing back down to the lodge. Went right to the hot-tubs after that. Just skied down and stripped down right outside. The air at the bottom of the mountain was warmer than we were so it wasn’t even cold.”

“Awful.”

“She never went skiing again after that. We separated a little time after.”

“Then you went on to win those medals.”

“Yeah.” Gregory scratched his neck.

“Do you want to win more?”

“Not really.”

“Why not? You could be one of the best. Maybe even the best.”

“I don’t want to get hurt.”

“What? When has that ever stopped you?”

“I don’t know, never. It just came to me one day. I have a lot of good stuff, and it would be a shame if I lost it all on some stupid risk. I’m thinking of investing my money and living off the interest. I think I can make like fifty thousand off just the interest. That’s plenty per year for just me, and maybe a girl. You can get by on fifty thousand. Maybe I’ll work too. Something easy. Ski instruction for juniors. Or not ski instruction. Maybe I’ll get a job doing accounting.”

“What happened to you? Accounting?”

“I don’t know, I’ve just been thinking, you know. I mean, what’s it all about, this struggle? I can get by doing less, so why shouldn’t I. Why should I risk my health? I’m not that young anymore.”

“You’re twenty-seven.”

“I’ve won my medals. I’ve earned my money.”

“What’s with you? C'mon, let’s do this slope.”

“No. I already called the helicopter, remember?”

“So what? Let’s go.”

“You can go if you really want.”

“Maybe I will.”

“You shouldn’t ski alone.”

“Is it my fault if my buddy doesn’t come with me?”

“Yes, it’s completely your fault, because you know I’m not going. And you’re not going either.”

“Just watch me.”

Gregory watched his friend inch towards the dip where the bowl started.

“Don’t do it,” he warned.

“C’mon.”

Gregory said nothing. He just watched.

His friend cursed and sat down near the edge.

“I knew you’d stay. That’s why I like you,” said Gregory.

“Oh, go bleed and die.”

“No really, that’s why I like hanging out with you.” Gregory felt something start inside himself. It was bad and he knew it, but he couldn’t stop now. “You’re such a secondary man. Easy-going, and loyal. You’d do anything with me if I asked.”

“That’s not true.”

“Oh yes it is. Why did you come up here?”

“I wanted to see you ski.”

Gregory laughed and rolled over and saw the sky.

“Helicopter should be coming soon.”

“Look,” said the friend. “Look at me.” Gregory didn’t, but he continued anyway.

“Do you know why I hang out with you? It’s because I feel inadequate. You’re an award winning skier, and I’m nothing. So I live through your achievements and your passions. Before I met you I was depressed. Never did anything. Do you wanna know what brought me out of my room?”

“No. Go on.”

“I was flipping through the T.V. and I saw you there. You were grinning and waving with medals around your neck and a pretty girl on each arm.”

“I don’t remember girls there.”

“Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I knew they were there. Behind the scenes.”

Gregory rolled onto his side and looked over at his friend.

“Go on.”

“Well, they asked you what you were going to do now that you had won the race and broken the records. Do you remember what you said?”

“No.”

“You said that you wanted to win ten more and then open your own ski resort with the money.”

“So I did.”

“I saw how much you really meant what you said, and wanted what you wanted. I was jealous that anyone could have that much want. You see, I wanted nothing. Never did. There was always food on my plate and a bed to sleep in and I thought: why did I need anything more?”

“That’s smart.”

“No, it’s not, because it made me depressed.”

“I don’t think I would get depressed if I didn’t have to do anything.”

“You so would.”

“...Go on.”

“With what? Oh, so I went out to find you. After seeing you on T.V. When I found you, you were everything I thought you were, and I adopted you.”

“Adopted me? Am I a puppy?”

“I adopted your passions.”

“Well you can have them now. I’m done with them.”

“No you’re not!”

“Here, they’re yours.” Gregory reached into his jacket and made a motion like he was throwing something.

“I don’t want it!” The friend blocked the imaginarily thrown passions.

“Oh, you don’t? So what do you want?”

“I want my own passions.”

“There’s the helicopter,” Gregory said. The machine was a dot in the distance, but was moving fast.

“So there it is.”

“You going?”

“What?”

“Are you going?” Gregory said, and indicated the slope.

“Not if you’re not going.”

“We just had this conversation. But stay with me. Be boring.”

Gregory turned away from his friend and lay on his side, facing away from the slope. As the helicopter came close and settled overhead, he felt the blowing air from the descending propeller. The nearby snow whipped up in a mist. When the helicopter dropped the rope ladder, Gregory grabbed onto it and climbed up with his skis slung over his back. He didn’t look down.

From inside, the roar of the rotors was deafening, so Gregory couldn’t make out what the co-pilot was saying. The man was holding up one finger.

“JUST ONE?” he mouthed.

Gregory nodded and helped the co-pilot roll back up the ladder. He looked down now at the windswept bowl below and at the tiny specks of trees and rocks, hoping to catch sight of a fast moving friend.

msherman94
May 8th, 2013, 03:54 PM
First and foremost, why is this all in bold?

Was it 100% necessary for them to say "eh?"

"He was cold despite the layers. He didn't feel cold..." What???

The dialogue is choppy at the start, and should feature at least a little bit of description regarding the tones of the characters' voices.

As I continue reading, I can't get over the fact that the dialogue is very weak, and there's quite a lot of it.

The entire "Do you know why I hang out with you?" segment feels forced and a little ridiculous.

Why do you never tell us Not-Gregory's name?

I do rather like the ending, though it feels confusingly phrased.

Overall a good effort, but you need practice, particularly with dynamic relationships and dialogue. You need to place more descriptive text. There was one point at which I forgot they were even on a mountain.
Last but not least, you need to do one of two things when you want to have a revealing conversation like that work. Either a.) Build the relationship through a degree of preceding text, such as the first part of a story, or b.) Build the relationship within the conversation. If we can't feel Not-Gregory's followership as an entity during the talk, we have no reason to care.

Keep writing.

MS

Velex
May 8th, 2013, 05:27 PM
Firstly, thanks msherman94! I appreciate you taking the time to write out a response.

First and foremost, why is this all in bold?
>I don't know. I hadn't noticed. :chargrined:
Was it 100% necessary for them to say "eh?"
>.
"He was cold despite the layers. He didn't feel cold..." What???
>I've always thought it wise to test the reader's patience with contradiction.
The dialogue is choppy at the start, and should feature at least a little bit of description regarding the tones of the characters' voices.
>They both talk in low, husky Australian accents. The friend has one lung, so he gasps between words.
As I continue reading, I can't get over the fact that the dialogue is very weak, and there's quite a lot of it.
>I find nothing builds my motivation like criticism.
The entire "Do you know why I hang out with you?" segment feels forced and a little ridiculous.
>We think alike. It must be the altitude.
Why do you never tell us Not-Gregory's name?
>Bad habit. I do this in real life too; tell a story about a friend's friend rather than letting anyone know Ian's name.
I do rather like the ending, though it feels confusingly phrased.
>That's a relief. It's always easier to fix technique than substance.
Overall a good effort, but you need practice, particularly with dynamic relationships and dialogue. You need to place more descriptive text. There was one point at which I forgot they were even on a mountain.
Last but not least, you need to do one of two things when you want to have a revealing conversation like that work. Either a.) Build the relationship through a degree of preceding text, such as the first part of a story, or b.) Build the relationship within the conversation. If we can't feel Not-Gregory's followership as an entity during the talk, we have no reason to care.
>Good. I can practice dynamic relationships and dialogue. I can add more descriptive text. I take from your critique that I need to make a stronger presence of characters, and do so right from the get-go, and that scenic descriptions need to be more thorough, if I want to capture a mood.
Keep writing.

MS

Jon B.

mdonovan
May 11th, 2013, 09:07 PM
I like your interaction between characters! Lots of dialogue is cool too but...

You started off showing me a scene, but after two lines you went right into an endless dialogue that told me what was going on but didn't really show me much. I've noticed that almost all published works of fiction rarely have a dialogue go on for more than a few paragraphs without pausing to describe the scene, characters, or character motions.

It got a little hard to differentiate between your characters through part of the dialogue. It's hard to get each character to speak with their own voice and style. Maybe it would help if you visualize the character in your mind as you are writing down what they are saying.

All in all a good effort, I think!

Keep at it!

Velex
May 12th, 2013, 06:04 PM
I appreciate the feedback, mdonovan. I agree with what you've said.