View Full Version : Inadequate over ex boyfriends [language]

April 28th, 2014, 03:10 PM
This is about how Alex feels inadequate because her ex boyfriends from middle school have become nerds and strange loners. It could be made part of a larger story.
Heinrich entered Aladin, a hookah bar near Central Park early during the dark evening of the fall of 2009 when they were back from college. They were planning to meet several people who one of their friends had met while at community college, but he had not arrived yet. Alex followed Heinrich to the back where they sat down at a table. They were silent for a while before a boy at the table next to them suddenly turned around and blurted out “Alex? Do you remember middle school?”

“Yeah...” She suddenly turned around.
“It's been a long time since I've seen you.”
Alex suddenly recognized him as one of her ex boyfriends from middle school. He was very thin and was hunched over with a very straight laced short haircut and was wearing a large digital watch.

“Robert? I haven't seen you since middle school.”
“It's been a really long time.”
“I know. Everything has changed. It's been five years.” Alex commented.
“I started programming in college.”
“Really? That should be good for finding a job.”
“Yeah. We have an assignment to create an anti virus program that rivals Norton.”
“How?” Alex asked.
“It needs to find as many viruses but it can't use more CPU time.”
“Wow. Do you think you can do that? That's fully developed software.”
“Yeah. I've already been able to do most of it. Only some of the class has been able to.” Robert commented, as he hunched forward.
“So most of the people in the class aren't able to meet the requirements of the assignment?”
“Most of them are, but only a few people were able to get through to Norton to get permission to use the source code.” He said, touching his mouth.
“You're allowed to use the source code from other programs in your work?”
“I got permission from the owners.”
“Yeah, but you're not going to demonstrate learning if you use other people's work. It's like copying and attributing work from Wikipedia for a paper.”
“But we're still making our own program.”
“It's been really hard to make the virus scanner work under the same CPU time with better reliability.”
“I know. I remember I was looking at Norton one time and it was taking all the CPU time.”
“Do you use Norton?”
“I don't use Microshit Winblows. It's useless for hacking, unless you want to be blackhat.”
Robert continued to talk to Alex for the next several minutes about the project that he was working on. Alex listened until he suddenly moved to another table. She leaned on to the table and moaned out to Heinrich “I can't believe that's what he's like now! He seemed so confident back then! He didn't look at all the way he does now!”
“That's kind of superficial...”
“No! He looks like such a loner! How is it that he was ever my boyfriend?”
“Maybe he was different back then?”
“Yeah, but what does it say about me when my ex boyfriend has turned into a total loner? Those are the kind of guys who go for me? I'm only attractive to total loners?”
“Why did you break up anyway?”
“Because he kept spending all his time on the computer and he never wanted to work on anything together! All he ever did were his own projects!”
“It sounds like you broke up with him because he was a loner.”
“Yeah, but I went out with him, and he was the guy who went for me! That means that the kinds of guys who are attracted to me are loner weirdos!”
Alex got over the feeling within the next few minutes to focus on what she was doing with Heinrich and their friends. It was still a problem that she had any time she though about her ex boyfriends, because she questions what they were like and what it meant about her.

April 29th, 2014, 02:17 AM
Something discordant going on here, although I see what you're going for. Long paragraph setting up the scene, then a tightly-packed bit of dialogue. Tasty, but pretty jargon-heavy. Might be a better read (for me) if you dropped little easter eggs throughout that dialogue, taking a pause to ruminate or get a reaction.

I had a hard time followint the rapid-fire dialogue without cleaner speech tags. Beware the 'commented,' 'asked,' or 'moaned,' as they weaken the interchanges. When you have a question mark followed by 'Alex asked,' it reads funky. Try reading it out loud. Might even just be cleaner to say ...'asked Alex' in that instance.

Hope this helps. I sense a great energy trying to roar forth, so keep tearing at the cloth. Thanks for sharing your stuff!

April 29th, 2014, 04:25 AM
I found the entire conversation somewhat awkward. In that Heinrich seems to disappear for its duration, the two not having seen each other in five years, but both throw around computer programming jargin like it's commonplace. I just thought it odd that they both knew so much about a specific subject and neither was surprised at the other's knowledge of it. It also felt odd that not after seeing each other in so long this is what they talk about and not "how's your folks doing?" "What colleges are you looking at?" Or "going to?" For that matter.
It just kind of took on a surreal feel very quickly. I think this could be helped by easing us into their conversation, like "you still into key jacking?" "I dabble in the occasional hack once in a while, you?" "Let me tell you, I'm working on this project now..."

Also, I think another word for 'loner', is needed, it's used 5 times in the span of 12 sentences. I liked Heinrich's smart-ass quips. I would like to see him play a bigger role in this story. Maybe get a view of what he's doing while Alex and Robert are catching up.

April 29th, 2014, 04:47 AM
Ditto what Pluralized and kilroy said. Also, more white space in the form of blank lines between paragraphs makes reading a lot easier for many of us and makes critiquing easier/more frequent.

Good concept here.

April 29th, 2014, 03:26 PM
You have a theme for this scene worked out right from the beginning, which is kind of rare -- or at least it never happens to me. I'd say the roughest parts of this scene are the initial paragraph and the transitions.

The opening paragraph should firmly establish that Alex is the point-of-view character in this scene, and I'd recommend making that happen in the first sentence. Also, it seems that the purpose of the bulk of that paragraph is to get Alex and Heinrich into the hookah bar. Perhaps you could just start with them taking their seats, and let the fact that they're back from college come out in the dialogue.

There is also some pronoun ambiguity in the opening paragraph. The "they" in the first sentence refers to Heinrich and someone yet to be introduced, and the next sentence begins with "They..." It leaves the reader wondering who else makes up "they". Then, in the second sentence, there is a "he" that refers back to "one of their friends." I think it would be a lot smoother if that friend was identified by name so there would be a better anchor for the pronoun. Since the friend and his community college friends are mentioned, I assume they are important for scenes further into the story.

The final problem with the opening paragraph (sorry to pick on it so much) is the part about the boy turning around and blurting out.... It's told to the reader from an omniscient point-of-view, since Alex has to turn around to see who it is. It would be better as an observation made by Alex. Something like
Alex sensed a face at the next table turning toward her.
She looked. It was Robert, an ex-boyfriend from middle school....description..yada, yada, yada....

Oh, and two little nits in the first paragraph: there should be a comma after "Central Park" to set off the parenthetic expression, and "who" in the second sentence should be "whom" (it is the object of the verb "met", even though it is placed before "one of their friends had met..."

I found it kind of weird that Alex never attempted to introduce Robert to Heinrich. It would be a good opportunity for Alex to observe Heinrich's reaction to Robert, and Robert would have a nice opportunity to say something to Heinrich that would make Alex cringe.

The word "suddenly" appears at least 4 times in this piece. I'd suggest deleting it in every instance.

The transition that takes Robert away from the table would be smoother if he told her that his project partner had arrived, so he needed to go, or something like that, instead of Robert just "suddenly" getting up and leaving.

Overall, not a bad read. Thanks for sharing.

April 30th, 2014, 04:11 AM
I'll look through the computer terms again and make sure that I don't make it too intense. This is based on an actual conversation, plus I want to show that Robert is a huge nerd.

I'll get reply to everything else soon. Thanks. I've got a lot but I'm busy at the moment.