Could use feedback on a creative writing exercise.


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Thread: Could use feedback on a creative writing exercise.

  1. #1
    Member tzebley's Avatar
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    Could use feedback on a creative writing exercise.

    I recently started taking a home based creative writing course and since this course is free there isn't an instructor to give feedback or guidance. I was hoping I could find that here. I am currently tasked with completing an exercise and I would appreciate any help, feedback or criticism on my exercise.

    The exercise is: Write a paragraph portraying a well rounded character.

    I wrote a paragraph and if someone has the time, I would appreciate some feedback or perhaps some constructive criticism. By the way, the paragraph looked much bigger in Word.

    Here is my paragraph:

    Daniel’s heart pounded in his chest like a hammer hitting an anvil. The adrenaline coursing through his system had his hands shaking uncontrollably but he kept running. This was the score he had been waiting almost a year for. Like the good little thief he was, he had kept his head down and his mouth shut for nearly a month, waiting for the opportunity to present itself. He had stalked her to understand her routine, watched her as she put away her jewelry in the fancy wooden box on her dresser before her nightly shower. He wanted what she had, the money, the stature and the power that came with those things, and now he had it. The jewelry he just stole from Mrs. Westington’s house now safely secured in the black cross-body satchel he carried. The ideas of how he was going to spend the money flowed through his imagination as if someone had destroyed the dam that once held them back. He mentally listed off all the cars and trucks he would have parked outside his new mansion as he ran back to his hideout. It wasn’t much, just a run down old concrete factory with vines crawling up most of the exterior walls. Home thought Daniel as he rushed through the now bare door frame and up the stairwell to the second floor. Racing down the corridor toward the rear of the building where his mattress lay upon the concrete floor, he was stopped in his tracks as a wave of guilt overcame him. The thought of how much good the money could do for the orphanage he had run away from clashed with the ideas of having everything he ever wanted. Conflicted, he plopped down on the dusty floor with his head between his knees. The memory of countless nights going to bed hungry because there wasn’t enough food to fill everyone’s belly caused his stomach to growl loudly. Even worse yet was walking into Ms. Vanessa’s office late one night only to find her crying at her Credenza desk, the financial summaries spread over the desktop. The sorrow in her eyes cut through him like a hot knife through butter, he could see the helplessness through her tears.
    Don't aim for perfection today, instead be better than you were yesterday.

  2. #2
    The exercise was for a single paragraph?

    That was not a bad piece of character development. There are some mechanical issues that cause derailments, and re-use of critical words like Month. But it did get us into the character's head, did give us a feel for his deep desires, then uncovered another layer to reveal that mebbe he wasn't such a bad guy after all.

    But really, that should have been chopped up into 2, or even 3 paragraphs. Tis why I was curious if it was supposed to be a single para.

    If that is your first stuff, then you are off to a good start. Character development is the biggest stumbling block for new writers...and the modern market is absolutely character-driven these days.

  3. #3
    Member tzebley's Avatar
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    Appreciate the feedback and I don't understand why the exercise was limited to only a paragraph myself. I see what you mean about the critical words, and I think I could resolve the issue by rephrasing those few sentences. It is actually my first attempt at creating a rounded character, from what I've read in the course work that means displaying a contradiction within the character. Although I am certain it's actually more involved than just a single internal or external conflict. Am I right in assuming that developing a well rounded character also extends into the characters personality and the events that not only define who they are but also who (or what in some cases) they develop into?
    Don't aim for perfection today, instead be better than you were yesterday.

  4. #4
    A great start! You rocked with it! And hey, you used my name.

    In all seriousness, besides a few issues that fine Mr. Rotten has mentioned, there is room for development. If you want to keep doing the course and posting the pieces on here (as your material) I believe that'd be a good strategy.

    I'm going to hold off on your question. That is analysis of literature and books at that point and I do not feel as if I'm the best candidate to answer it.

    Nevertheless, someone will come along who will (I'm sure.)

    Have you thought of turning this into a longer piece? I wonder if the comparison between art and writing applies: "Start large." I've heard that artists are encouraged to start with larger (although not too large) pieces of work so that they can learn from their mistakes in a broader light. I wonder if this would mean that it would be better to write a full story rather than individual small exercises and then be guided. This is just a thought, but I "thought" you might find it interesting!

  5. #5
    I can see you have skills and I like the heartfelt change at the end.
    I have felt the adrenaline rush and I think you described it well.
    I struggled with the tense. I don't know why. I looked for something specific but couldn't find it.
    Below is my effort to tighten it up a bit. Ignore anything you don't agree with, and I didn't try to change your voice in my critique.

    This was the score he had been waiting almost a year for.

    This sentence needs a rewrite. Not because it ends with a preposition but it is just clunky.
    he had kept his head down and his mouth shut for nearly a month, I would use ..just shy of a month. Getting rid of an adverb and adding flavor.
    He had stalked her to understand her routine, I would change the syntax to…To understand her routine he stalked her… Makes it stronger imho.
    He wanted what she had; the money, the stature and the power that came with those things, and now he had it.
    The jewelry he had just stolen from Mrs. Westington’s house now safely secured in the black
    He mentally listed off all the cars and trucks he would have
    Racing down the corridor toward the rear of the building where his mattress lay upon the concrete floor. he was stopped in his tracks as a wave of guilt overcame him. Might change the syntax here as well….A wave of guilt overcame him and stopped him in his tracks. I believe it reads stronger.
    The sorrow in her eyes cut through him like a hot knife through butter.
    This is an overused cliché; try to find another way to show it instead of telling us.
    Last edited by LCLee; July 18th, 2019 at 05:09 PM.

  6. #6
    Member tzebley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LCLee View Post
    I can see you have skills and I like the heartfelt change at the end.
    I have felt the adrenaline rush and I think you described it well.
    I struggled with the tense. I don't know why. I looked for something specific but couldn't find it.
    Below is my effort to tighten it up a bit. Ignore anything you don't agree with, and I didn't try to change your voice in my critique.

    This was the score he had been waiting almost a year for.

    This sentence needs a rewrite. Not because it ends with a preposition but it is just clunky.
    he had kept his head down and his mouth shut for nearly a month, I would use ..just shy of a month. Getting rid of an adverb and adding flavor.
    He had stalked her to understand her routine, I would change the syntax to…To understand her routine he stalked her… Makes it stronger imho.
    He wanted what she had; the money, the stature and the power that came with those things, and now he had it.
    The jewelry he had just stolen from Mrs. Westington’s house now safely secured in the black
    He mentally listed off all the cars and trucks he would have
    Racing down the corridor toward the rear of the building where his mattress lay upon the concrete floor. he was stopped in his tracks as a wave of guilt overcame him. Might change the syntax here as well….A wave of guilt overcame him and stopped him in his tracks. I believe it reads stronger.
    The sorrow in her eyes cut through him like a hot knife through butter.
    This is an overused cliché; try to find another way to show it instead of telling us.

    LCLee,

    Awesome, I mean really. This is the type of feedback I was hoping for. The creative writing class I am taking will be covering syntax and sentence structure later on. I think these starting exercises are designed to get the proverbial juices flowing. I printed out your suggestions and they now hang on the wall above my computer. As for the cliche, I am still learning how to express things like "a hot knife through butter". For some reason whenever I try to show it in my writing my mind just goes blank. I also find that I am always second guessing what I am writing. I write a little, then read over it and tend to just rewrite things over and over until I get frustrated with it. I tried something different with this exercise by just writing it exactly how i visualized it and forced myself to stop overthinking it. Is there a technique you use to prevent getting hung up in the middle of writing?
    Last edited by tzebley; July 19th, 2019 at 11:13 PM.
    Don't aim for perfection today, instead be better than you were yesterday.

  7. #7
    Member tzebley's Avatar
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    I have revised my earlier posting. I took your advice and made those changes and also made some changes of my own. Let me know what you think.


    Daniel obsessively planned tonight’s heist for the last eleven months. In order to understand Mrs. Westington’s routine he had stalker her. He watched her every night for the last two weeks as she put her jewelry in the fancy wooden box sitting on her dresser. After closing the box, she always headed to the bathroom for her nightly shower. Daniel had waited for the bathroom door to close; it was his window of opportunity and he didn’t miss it. In less than a minute he grabbed the box and was back out the window, sprinting down the drive. Daniel knew she was wealthy, and he wanted what she had, money, stature and the power that came with those things, and now he had it. The jewelry he stole from Mrs. Westington’s house now safely secured in the black cross-body satchel he carried. His breath coming in gasps as he rounded the bend leading into the street. The adrenaline coursing through his veins caused his hands to shake but he kept running. His heart pounded in his chest like a hammer striking an anvil. Stopping momentarily to catch his breath the ideas of how he was going to spend the money flowed through his imagination. It was as if someone had destroyed the dam that once held them back. He mentally listed the cars and trucks he would have parked outside his new mansion as he continued running to his hideout. It wasn’t much, just a rundown old concrete factory with vines crawling up most of the exterior walls. Made it thought Daniel as he rushed through the barren door frame and up the stairwell to the second floor. A wave of guilt overcame him, stopping him in his tracks. The thought of how much good the money could do for the orphanage he had aged out from clashed with the ideas of having everything he ever wanted. Conflicted, he plopped down on the dusty floor with his head between his knees. Tears began to stream down his face as he remembered walking into Ms. Vanessa’s office late one night. The top of her Credenza desk covered with financial statements, each stamped with ‘Overdue’ in bold red block letters. She sniffled as she quickly wiped away her tears when she finally noticed him standing there. The guilt he felt turned to shame as he realized that he had been selfish. He knew he couldn’t spend the money on himself with a clear conscious, not while the other orphans were starving. He could save the orphanage just as it had saved his life eighteen years ago.
    Don't aim for perfection today, instead be better than you were yesterday.

  8. #8
    Member tzebley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bard_Daniel View Post
    A great start! You rocked with it! And hey, you used my name.

    In all seriousness, besides a few issues that fine Mr. Rotten has mentioned, there is room for development. If you want to keep doing the course and posting the pieces on here (as your material) I believe that'd be a good strategy.

    I'm going to hold off on your question. That is analysis of literature and books at that point and I do not feel as if I'm the best candidate to answer it.

    Nevertheless, someone will come along who will (I'm sure.)

    Have you thought of turning this into a longer piece? I wonder if the comparison between art and writing applies: "Start large." I've heard that artists are encouraged to start with larger (although not too large) pieces of work so that they can learn from their mistakes in a broader light. I wonder if this would mean that it would be better to write a full story rather than individual small exercises and then be guided. This is just a thought, but I "thought" you might find it interesting!

    Wow, thank you so much. I really don't know what to say. The piece I wrote for the exercise wasn't planned. It just happened as I typed, it was as if I was actually watching him steal the jewels. I just lack the skills to really bring the story to life. To answer your question about turning it into a longer pieces, I might do that. I just revised the piece using what I learned over the last few days. I posted the revision if you would like to check it out. Thanks again for the feedback, it really is appreciated.
    Don't aim for perfection today, instead be better than you were yesterday.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by tzebley View Post
    Wow, thank you so much. I really don't know what to say. The piece I wrote for the exercise wasn't planned. It just happened as I typed, it was as if I was actually watching him steal the jewels. I just lack the skills to really bring the story to life. To answer your question about turning it into a longer pieces, I might do that. I just revised the piece using what I learned over the last few days. I posted the revision if you would like to check it out. Thanks again for the feedback, it really is appreciated.
    Yessir! I like deadlines so give me until tomorrow and I'll check it out- just working on a bunch of stuff ATM.

  10. #10
    Member DATo's Avatar
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    Greetings tzebley!

    A nice effort. I like your style. It is clean and crisp. Just a couple of criticisms but they are mild ones,

    1) In the second to last sentence of the rewrite the word "conscious" should be spelled conscience.

    2) The setting is not disclosed, but I feel any orphanage in modern times would be overseen by the government in the Western industrialized nations or at very least monitored in the case of private facilities for their ability to adequately provide for the children in their care. If unable to provide I would assume the state would not allow children to go hungry but would either provide support or remove the children from the environment. Now if this story were taking place around the turn of the last century (1900 or earlier) or in a third world nation it would be an entirely different matter. I think the standards might be relaxed or perhaps even nonexistent in those cases. I might refer you to Dicken's and other authors of the 19th century's treatment of homeless or indigent children and the lack of accountability by institutions of that era.

    Otherwise a nice start. I would like to read more of this story.

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