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Jeff C
October 7th, 2014, 04:51 AM
This is the first fiction piece I've written in quite some time. I've been primarily focusing on my Poetry, but was kind of inspired by recent happenings to write something. A honest critique would be greatly appreciated, I'm looking to get better as a writer.




She stood mesmerized. Staring off across the street, occasionally catching her reflection in the windows of the cars that sped past.


“What have I done?”, she thought to herself.


Her tears mixed with the rain that steadily beat down around her. This woman, distraught, riddled with grief. Stood shaking, trembling from head to toe.
One might think it was the rain, causing chills to be sent through her spine, no this coldness was deeper. It was apart of her.




A black limosine pulled up, the driver hopped out and quickly ran around to the rear passenger door to open it for this rain drenched woman. She slowly entered the vehicle, carefully thinking through every movement, forcing her body through the motions. The driver gave her a little smirk as he tipped his hat, then slammed the door close.
She watched the rain droplets trickle down the tinted window. The people walking beyond her darkened view were just a blur. A sea of umbrellas, no faces were distinguishable. It gave her a little relief. No one would have seen her.
The limo lurched forward as they made their way into the early morning traffic. She looked back through the rear window. The hotel that she just left stood towering against the skyline.


As they sped through the streets, her thoughts began to worsen.


“How can I just act as though nothing happened? I don’t know if I can handle this.”


Her eyes began to swell again, tears rivered down her face. Worsening her smeared makeup from the night before.


It was just a few short blocks to her apartment, but it felt like an eternity. Morning commuters clogged the cities narrow streets. She braced herself for what was to come. Eyeing her watch nervously.


The limo sharply turned at an intersection and came to stop outside a rundown apartment building. Iron bars covered the windows. The brick siding was cracking giving the place a desolate feeling.


The driver raced around to her door and swung it open.


“Would you like me to walk you to your door?” he proudly pronounced.


“No, I’ll be just fine. Tell Michae...I mean your boss that I certainly appreciate the ride home.”


She clumsily climbed out of the limo. Staring face to face with her demon.


The limo had swiftly taken off leaving Marie staring blankly at the entranceway to the building.


Heels in hand, her bare-feet slowly made their way to the front door. She fumbled with her keys for a moment before unlocking the door. With a deep breath, she made her way up the stairs, passing door after door before finally reaching hers...


“This is it.” she thought to herself.


She threw the door open, thinking she could run straight to the bedroom without being seen.


A few steps into the door she hears a tiny voice call out.


“Mommy, is that you?”


“Marie?” came from a much deeper voice in the other room.


She stood...mesmerized, staring at her reflection in the hall mirror. Drenched head to toe. Her makeup was smeared, eyes swollen, and a bed head of hair. A little girl was staring up at her.


“mommy?”


Tom stepped into the entry way. He was in his plaid robe, with a bowl full of cereal in his hand.


“Rough night, huh?” said Tom, crunching through a mouthful of cereal.


Marie just starred blankly.


“Don’t worry, Kelsey called late last night saying you were probably just going to crash at her place. Your girl’s nights are something else, I swear.”


With that, Tom made his way back into the other room.


The little girl was still staring up at her,


“Mommy?” are you alight?


At those words, Marie fell to her knees. Tears began to fall, again. The little girl embraced her mother.


“It’s okay mommy, are you alright?”


She pulled the child off of her and stood her directly in front of her. She gently brushed the little girls cheek before pulling her back, hugging her tightly.


“I love you. “ spoke Marie softly.


“I love you too mommy.”

sloonzz
October 7th, 2014, 03:11 PM
I like how you put your details so nicely and uniquely, I could only wish to do that with my limited vocabulary. The juxtaposition of sentences from the beginning and near the end was a nice touch, too. The 'show, don't tell' technique you used blended neatly with the subtle clues and mood you set up. You could have added some more details instead of using adverbs like 'clumsily'. But I think that's just nitpicking, whatever. Great work.

However, I'd like to point out some corrections in grammar and/or syntax:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

She stood mesmerized. Staring off across the street, occasionally catching her reflection in the windows of the cars that sped past.


“What have I done?”, she thought to herself.


Her tears mixed with the rain that steadily beat down around her. This woman, distraught, riddled with grief. Stood shaking, trembling from head to toe.
One might think it was the rain, causing chills to be sent through her spine, no this coldness was deeper. It was apart (a part) of her.




A black limosine (limousine) pulled up, the driver hopped out and quickly ran around to the rear passenger door to open it for this rain drenched woman. She slowly entered the vehicle, carefully thinking through every movement, forcing her body through the motions. The driver gave her a little smirk as he tipped his hat, then slammed the door close.
She watched the rain droplets trickle down the tinted window. The people walking beyond her darkened view were just a blur. A sea of umbrellas, no faces were distinguishable. It gave her a little relief. No one would have seen her.
The limo lurched forward as they made their way into the early morning traffic. She looked back through the rear window. The hotel that she just left stood towering against the skyline.


As they sped through the streets, her thoughts began to worsen.


“How can I just act as though nothing happened? I don’t know if I can handle this.”


Her eyes began to swell again, tears rivered down her face. Worsening her smeared makeup from the night before.


It was just a few short blocks to her apartment, but it felt like an eternity. Morning commuters clogged the cities narrow streets. She braced herself for what was to come. Eyeing her watch nervously.


The limo sharply turned at an intersection and came to stop outside a rundown apartment building. Iron bars covered the windows. The brick siding was cracking giving the place a desolate feeling.


The driver raced around to her door and swung it open.


“Would you like me to walk you to your door?” he proudly pronounced.


“No, I’ll be just fine. Tell Michae...(Use -- instead of ... for interruptions. Though I think this is just a case of preference.) I mean your boss that I certainly appreciate the ride home.”


She clumsily climbed out of the limo. Staring face to face with her demon.


The limo had swiftly taken off leaving Marie staring blankly at the entranceway to the building.


Heels in hand, her bare-feet slowly made their way to the front door. She fumbled with her keys for a moment before unlocking the door. With a deep breath, she made her way up the stairs, passing door after door before finally reaching hers...


“This is it. (,)” she thought to herself.


She threw the door open, thinking she could run straight to the bedroom without being seen.


A few steps into the door she hears a tiny voice call out.


“Mommy, is that you?”


“Marie?” came from a much deeper voice in the other room.


She stood...mesmerized, staring at her reflection in the hall mirror. Drenched head to toe. Her makeup was smeared, eyes swollen, and a bed head of hair (Use parallelism. You used past participles in the first two details, but the third detail seemed out of place. 'smeared, swollen, tangled' could've worked better. Maybe it's just my OC self talking. No biggie.). A little girl was staring up at her.

(Capitalize 'm'.) "mommy?”


Tom stepped into the entry way. He was in his plaid robe, with a bowl full of cereal in his hand.


“Rough night, huh?” said Tom, crunching through a mouthful of cereal.


Marie just starred (Stared(?)) blankly.


“Don’t worry, Kelsey called late last night saying you were probably just going to crash at her place. Your girl’s nights are something else, I swear.”


With that, Tom made his way back into the other room.


The little girl was still staring up at her,


“Mommy?” are you alight? (Should be: "Mommy? Are you alright?" Your quotation marks are out of place.)


At those words, Marie fell to her knees. Tears began to fall, again. The little girl embraced her mother.


“It’s okay mommy, are you alright?” (I think a repetition of 'are you alright?' doesn't feel right here. Maybe it's just me.)


She pulled the child off of her and stood her directly in front of her. (Two 'of her' reads awkward. I don't know what to replace it with, though.) She gently brushed the little girls cheek before pulling her back, hugging her tightly.


“I love you. “ spoke Marie softly.


“I love you too mommy.”

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Jeff C
October 7th, 2014, 06:42 PM
Thank you for taking the time to do that sloonzz! I can always use a fresh set of eyes to help pinpoint my mistakes. I agree with pretty much all your points. I'll do an edit later this evening when I have time.

Riptide
October 7th, 2014, 08:31 PM
Not bad. I liked it, other than all the grammatical issues u have going on. The story wasn't fully developed, in my eyes anyway. You description was good tho, a good picture.

Anyway, grammar you have incomplete sentences just laying around. They need to be attached like: I smiled happily in the shade of the tree, forgetting about the hw due today.

You, instead, put a period not a comma so it looks incomplete.

Also, check ur tenses. One time I read a hears when it should be heard.

I can't go in depth bc it's on my phone but keep at it!

Jeff C
October 9th, 2014, 04:19 AM
Thanks Riptide. I've always had a problem with switching tenses, I don't know why. And I'm not all that great at catching those errors. I definitely need to do a rewrite. I had such a vivid image of what was going on in my mind, but I don't know if all that really made it to the page.

Thanks all!

Apple Ice
October 9th, 2014, 02:17 PM
Hi Jeff, I enjoyed this piece, you done well with few words. The only (very minor) thing that nagged me was the little girl saying "Are you alright?" as it seems a bit old for a child to say. I personally would have put "What's wrong, Mummy?" or something. But again, a very small personal preference point. The others have picked up everything else. Good work.

Jeff C
October 11th, 2014, 12:44 AM
Thanks Apple! I have to agree with you on that. It's hard sometimes getting into the mind of a child, I need to simplify that dialogue.

JamesR
October 11th, 2014, 09:19 PM
I liked it. In particular, the vivid detail and generous use of adjectives, adverbs, and description is something I found very unique. While some people may say that you should use more commas than period dots, I think that provided each of your sentences are complete, it's solely a matter of preference--ie, which tone you would like to set. I like to use the somewhat dry, lots of period dots and short sentences approach when I'm trying to create a depressing, gloomy mood; I then use the long, comma-filled structure for action sequences or when trying to build up suspense. I think that in your particular story, you balanced the two approaches quite well for the different parts. This is exceptionally unique given that most writers are only able to incorporate one style into their stories.

thepancreas11
October 11th, 2014, 10:47 PM
A very sentimental story in a sideways manner. Not your typical, cliched sort of scandal, but in fact, a heart-wrenching, almost heart-warming reaction piece. Very honest and raw, I thought you captured her internal struggle in a very real way, taking her through the steps of grief, it seemed, one by one, using the environment to accentuate them all. A harbinger brings on a new wave of emotion to move the plot along, as if every new character shows a new side of her. Clever use of specifics, if you ask me. I wish I had thought to do something like that.

Perhaps your best maneuver, actually, was to frame the conflict rather than to blatantly state it. The problem swims beneath the surface, doesn't hit the audience over the head with itself, unrolling in a trail of breadcrumbs, each one more enticing than the next until the reader is lured into finishing. A stunning trick, if ever I saw one but one that got me to comment on it, nonetheless. Well done.

I wish you had done that with the emotions themselves. You do a little too much explaining. Writing is like a joke, the more you talk about it, the worse it gets. You have to let the words, the scenes, the dialogue do the legwork, or you'll overdo it. That's what separates this from something incredible, for me. Her reactions, as few and far between as they are in this story, do the most to further your narrative. The mirror effect, for example. Use that to your advantage, and you'll make something worth publishing.

Also, as much as the plot shirked cliche, you had a few in there. I've begun to really dislike things going down the spine because I hear it so much.

Other than that, well done.

Jeff C
October 12th, 2014, 05:05 AM
Thanks for all the thoughts everyone. I'm so bad, I thought I would have had an edited version done by now, but I keep playing with a few other stories. Kind of glad I didn't so I could get a few more opinions on this anyway.

I'm taking what everyone says into consideration and will hopefully have a first edit done by next week. :)

MousePot
October 15th, 2014, 12:13 AM
Hi Jeff

Lovely short story here, and I know it's been mentioned already but you do have some really lovely turn of phrases in there (I imagine your poetry is quite splendid)

One or two things jumped out at me, all of which are just personal preference so please take with a pinch of salt. Firstly, you give us some great insight to Marie's internal struggle, but it would be nice to see this affecting the physical world and her actions. You do this with the driver smirking, and Marie fumbling with her keys, but I feel you could take it further if you wanted.

For example, you could have the driver call her the wrong name, and by having Marie not correcting him, we can see how pathetic she is feeling. Or you could have the daughter pulling away from the Marie a little because she is smearing her make-up on the little girl (you could even add "You're getting me dirty Mommy" or something else like that)

Also, I personally feel your sentences are a little too short and choppy at times. I do know that this has been done for effect (a nice way to show how Marie isn't thinking like her usual self) but it will have a much stronger impact on the reader with a little contrast in there. A three word sentence can be devastating, but particularly after a paragraph of flowing prose. (A great writer who does this is Stephen King of all people, some of his short stories almost rely on using techniques like this (Like the Gingerbread Girl, well worth a read))

Finally, I would take another look at a few of the cliches in there (in particular the 'felt like eternity'). Cliches certainly have their place, but I do feel they should be a last resort ^^

Hope that helps and I haven't overstepped my bounds (if so please do feel free to tell me to buzz off) and really looking forward to the next draft ^^

Jeff C
October 15th, 2014, 07:29 PM
I definitely agree with you, MousePot. I could probably ad in something to show a little more of her emotions from physical actions.

The short choppy sentences were done to effect. I'm still on the fence as to whether I want to change that or not, I've gotten feedback suggesting to change it and that it is great as is...so I don't know haha.

I agree with you on the cliche part, I already changed the "chills to be sent through her spine". I'll have to reword the eternity line or find a new way to describe it. Actually I just had a thought for some dialogue between the driver and Marie to show the slow lapse of time.


No one can overstep bounds with me. I'll take every bit of advice and consider every opinion I can get. Thanks again!

MzSnowleopard
October 25th, 2014, 07:51 PM
Great story, excellent character portrayal, vivid details, I got the sense that this woman had done something that she regrets.

I agree with Apple Ice, most children would ask "What's wrong, Mummy?" or "Mommy, what's wrong?"

The husband's appearance was a bit comical in a sad way, compared to the rest of the story. It's clear that he is clueless about what she's done.

On specific words: I'm big on the traditional use of words. Ones like Alot = a lot and alright = all right.

Her eyes began to swell again, tears rivered down her face.

While I know what you're saying- 'streamed' or 'flowed' are the traditional words used.

Pet Peeve of mine: she thought to herself

'to herself' is unnecessary

That said-

My big advice is to watch your gerunds- words that end in either ING or LY, these words can effect tense and some of them are unnecessary- a simpler tweak in phrasing can eliminate them. A teacher once suggested this phrase to help remember this "be guarded about gerunds".

And keep writing, it'd be nice to know what it is that fills Marie with such remorse and regret. The classic scenarios are an affair, cheating on taxes, corporate mishandling, etc. At this point, since you did not disclose what it is- (although impressions are there) it could be anything. Maybe she knows something that will change the world and save lives but she's being coerced to keep her mouth shut because "the money is in the medicine, and not the cure"? So many possibilities.

I do hope you keep up with this one.

kenkenkenu
October 31st, 2014, 07:41 AM
I, in particularly, liked MousePot's critique. I thought the sentences were short and could of used commas or no periods at all. Also I was a little disappointed in how you kept re telling things. I got it the first time that she was drenched in the rain. But it was nice and I enjoyed reading.