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  #1    
Old May 31st, 2010, 04:43 AM
NikNaks's Avatar
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Is having a thread of random writing snippets alright? I'm not writing a story, but I'd like to get some feedback on shorter pieces on varied subjects. If not, where do I go?

Anyway, enough chit-chat. A description of a city. It's a little grim. You have been warned.

A City
Spoiler:
Noise. All around you a constant barrage of sound beating on your eardrums. A symphony of a city that's always busy and alive. Blaring horns and warbling market sellers combined in one aural vibration. It's impenetrable, yet wonderful. A disorientating mess that leaves you in awe of man's power. Even at night, the cars still growl, machines still hum and the indigenous population communicate through constantly evolving speech. A modern marvel. The pinnacle of our age.

At least it was. It's quiet now. Some say it's just asleep for a while. It'll wake up soon. But I doubt it. The market choir no longer sings its fruit and veg. Cars lie dormant in the streets, their drivers long since gone. Machines just sit there, waiting for that switch to bring them back to life. It's just an echo now.

Now it's the smell that hits you first. A stench that knocks you back a hundred yards, of putrefying flesh, both man and beast. Fifty million kindred souls destroyed in an instant, but their bodies lie and rot and stink. Your nostrils flare as if you're inhaling death itself. But we're used to that by now. It's just the same wherever you go. There's no escape.

Some say we're the lucky ones. The Chosen Ones. We're the ones who can redeem us. Bulls***. We're the ones who get to die slowly and painfully, dredging through filth. I'd rather have gone quickly. Like the rest of them. Not wandering around in this hell-hole.

I used to live in the suburbs. Green grass and trees as far as the eye can see. It's calmer there. No bankers scurrying to the office. No traffic pounding on your skull. It was beautiful. On a clear day, you could see the tower. Majestic and proud. A real icon.

It's still green, of course. The verdant fungus growing everywhere ensures that. But there's no blossom in the spring, no flowers in he summer, no crunching leaves in the autumn. The only things that crunch now are bodies: fragile bones of a forgotten husband; a mother's delicate hand; a child's head.

I should be depressed right now. I've probably just gone mad like you. To think that that shop there was a café once. Oh, they did wonderful cakes. Cream that just oozed out of sponge; jam that tasted as if it had been made of Eden's fruit; and the finest tea in the world. You could taste it streets away: mouth watered at the end of the road. It's a culinary marvel. And it's next door to the launderette, so you can always hear the whirring. Constantly churning Mrs Miggins' bloomers. Always turning.

I miss the noise. It excludes you and yet it envelops you. It's the sound of life. Of industry. Of normality. But it's just an echo now. Just an echo.


Writer's Block
Spoiler:
He sat, vigorously rubbing his temples. His eyes widened and he started to write furiously on yet another sheet of paper. Holding it up to the light, the grin faded. Soon, the crumpled paper was flying towards the bin which was already overflowing. He put his face into his hands. Letting out a sigh, he blinked as his eyes began to succumb to sleep.
As the dawn was beginning to break through the blinds, orange-red light bathed the room. The mahogany desk stood proudly in the middle of the floor, the chair and its occupant sitting alongside. A taffeta rug, slightly worn at the edges, covered the floorboards, paper strewn across it. Despite the room's lavish furnishing, the walls themselves were bare and cold, the plaster peeling away slightly at the corners.
The light from outside became brighter, and it caught the nib of the pen, still wet with ink. Only one leaf of paper was left alongside it, with the startings of another poem left without any real definition.
He could see Persia again. The sand around him was an unusual shade of orange, almost red. He was sweating badly in the heat. Walking down the dusty streets, he passed many street vendors, occasionally stopping to look at one, but not to touch it: the Persians linked touch to sale. After what seemed like no time at all, he had arrived at the very edge of the market. He had the distinct feeling he had been here before, but couldn't think why. After all, he had only arrived a week ago. With his wife on his arm, he spotted a beautiful rug. He thought it was taffeta, but couldn't be sure. He tried to ask her if she wanted it, but with the hustle and bustle of a busy market, the best he could do was gesture wildly. She seemed to understand, and smiled.
They walked away, content with their afternoon's shopping. With a long evening ahead, they decided to take a walk around town, taking in the rich culture that surrounded them. The sun setting behind them, they hurried back towards their hotel, taking shortcuts where they could. As they rounded a corner, a dark figure moved in front of them.
His eyes were caught by the rays of light, and he blinked. Had he been knocked out? His blurred vision could still make out the reddish sand around him, but the room was cold. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he could see a window, and plastered walls. With a groan, he realised that he was still at his writing desk, and another night had passed without success. He stood up unsteadily and stumbled towards the door. He sat, still groggy, and ate his breakfast.
As it happened again and again, he greyed more and more, his demeanour declining. Some nights, he could barely sleep at all, which didn't help his writing. He thought he had got over the loss of his wife at that market, but the memories had recently come flooding back. He tried to block them out: he threw the rug away; he put away her photograph on his writing desk. But it didn't work. He was powerless. He was drifting.
For days, he roamed the house in a rage, smashing things with his fists. He destroyed many of his prized possessions, like a framed copy of his greatest work. He even smashed windows. Worried neighbours called in to see what was wrong but were driven away by the seething figure in the doorway. Without eating, his figure quickly became frail and thin.
He rocked gently from side to side, holding his knees to his chin. His eyes stared blankly at the opposite wall, completely oblivious to anything.
He’s still staring, I imagine. That was how I found him, one cold evening. And that was how he was buried. His pale, clammy flesh was in stark contrast to his blazing eyes. I tried to wake him, but it was no use. He was already long gone. I just wish I’d been able to see him when he was alive, just once. After all, he was my father.


So, there you go. Any comments at all? Anyone want to request a description (not that I'm lacking ideas or anything)?
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Last edited by NikNaks; June 2nd, 2010 at 08:49 AM.
  #2    
Old May 31st, 2010, 05:59 AM
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Hrm.

Well, there’s not much to go by here except for the narrator repeating how much the world sucks after some post-apo catastrophe, so this review won’t be very long. It certainly got the message across, but I have to say that it was a little… detached. Some of these sentences could stand a few variations in punctuation marks so that they don’t sound so much like a list. Yes, I know it was supposed to be stream-of-consciousness stuff, but it’s just very difficult to follow. I’ll continue later, but for right now I’m being dragged off to do something else.

Bottom line: The period isn’t the only punctuation mark, but other than that it gets the message.

Also, I would think that it would go here, if they’re just a series of drabbles.
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  #3    
Old May 31st, 2010, 09:13 PM
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I somewhat disagree. It's not that you lack variation of punctuation (thumb's up for proper use on semicolons!), but you tend to repeat the same sentence structure in a short amount of time.

Quote:
At least it was. It's quiet now. Some say it's just asleep for a while. It'll wake up soon. But I doubt it.
Short, choppy sentences are nice because they deliver a quick snap (they're especially effective when you have regular, compound sentences), but when you stack choppy sentence after choppy sentence after choppy sentence, your flow starts to sounds monotonous. I don't think you're trying to deliver a punch in this segment (maybe that it's quiet...?), but if you are, it wasn't that powerful due to the sentence structure repetition.

With that said, if you could combine sentences into a longer sentence, or even expand on a sentence to get rid of the similar sentence structure pattern, it'll probably help get rid of the monotony. I like the strength behind the "But I doubt it line" but it's weaken by the same structure held by the "It'll wake up soon" line. Adding something small to that line ("It'll wake up soon") would help, even if it's just "Some say it'll wake up soon" (to connect to the line before).

God that was a long ramble on a small part. But maybe you can apply it to other sections where the flow/sentence structure seems monotonous or something. =P

I like your thread's idea in general. It's a nice way to work on your writing skills distinctly and separately. You seem to have a great handle on description. I also liked that there seemed to be a point to it and it just wasn't you babbling on about the setting of a city. It left me wondering what happened to the city and who the speaker is. The contrasts were nice, too.

The section where your speaker reflected on the suburbs was nicely written. I liked the comparison from its superior past to its present state with the various description of "green" objects. I really liked this line, too:

Quote:
The only things that crunch now are bodies: fragile bones of a forgotten husband; a mother's delicate hand; a child's head.
It's creepy and hits hard.

I was a little confused near the end. While I did like the suburbs part, I wasn't sure if you were referring to the suburbs or jumping back to the city when you began this paragraph:

Quote:
I should be depressed right now. I've probably just gone mad like you. To think that that shop there was a café once. Oh, they did wonderful cakes. Cream that just oozed out of sponge; jam that tasted as if it had been made of Eden's fruit; and the finest tea in the world. You could taste it streets away: mouth watered at the end of the road. It's a culinary marvel. And it's next door to the launderette, so you can always hear the whirring. Constantly churning Mrs Miggins' bloomers. Always turning.

I miss the noise. It excludes you and yet it envelops you. It's the sound of life. Of industry. Of normality. But it's just an echo now. Just an echo.
The last paragraph indicates that you're referring back to the city since you're reflecting back on the "noise" topic you used at the beginning of this section. I love that btw. =P But the second paragraph before that doesn't transition well from the suburb to the city.

... Not unless the first paragraph I quoted is referring to the suburb, and if you are, the last paragraph doesn't transition well from the suburb description to the city description.

I do like the description of the cafe you have here. It sounds yummy; it's a nice use of wording and language. But I didn't really understand why your narrator spent such a long time describing this ... or the suburbs for that matter. It's an awkward transition here, too. The speaker says he "should be depressed" like "you" but then he starts to ramble about a shop for seemingly no reason. I figure he's not depressed because he has fond memories of the city, but you might want to indicate why he doesn't feel depressed.

Besides, this line:

Quote:
We're the ones who get to die slowly and painfully, dredging through filth. I'd rather have gone quickly. Like the rest of them. Not wandering around in this hell-hole.
makes your speaker sound depressed anyway. o_O

Long ass story short, you have a great handle on description and the mechanics of writing, but you might want to work on transitions so the reader knows what you're referring to when you start a new paragraph.
  #4    
Old June 1st, 2010, 12:48 AM
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I have to disagree.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Breezy View Post
you tend to repeat the same sentence structure in a short amount of time.

Short, choppy sentences are nice because they deliver a quick snap (they're especially effective when you have regular, compound sentences), but when you stack choppy sentence after choppy sentence after choppy sentence, your flow starts to sounds monotonous. I don't think you're trying to deliver a punch in this segment (maybe that it's quiet...?), but if you are, it wasn't that powerful due to the sentence structure repetition.
This is techincally a first person POV so this is from the mental narration of the protagonist. Short,choppy sentences do more than deliver a quick snap after a compound sentence, usually for humour or shock; they also help set the mood of the story and or help characterize the characters utilizing the wonders of sentence structure. In this case, it may subtly portray the character as insane. There usually are two basic ways you can pull off a mad, first person character: the first one involves long winded soliloquies that drift off into insanity --Macbeth anyone? (wasn't particularly mad rather than overconfident)-- and the second one is as the wrter has shown us. This is usually because clinical insanity usually entails the inability to think very clearly and with this you really can't create compound sentences and or long winded ones.

Quote:
Long ass story short, you have a great handle on description and the mechanics of writing, but you might want to work on transitions so the reader knows what you're referring to when you start a new paragraph.
On transitions, see notes on portraying insanity (above).

Besides the above review, I have to say that I really liked your subtlety in portraying that he might be mad.
Quote:
I've probably just gone mad like you.
Direct reader adress is good. It makes you wonder if he's talking to yourself or whether or not this is actually a second person POV where you're a character in the story. All in all, nice job and keep at it.
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  #5    
Old June 2nd, 2010, 08:49 AM
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Wow, I really wasn't expecting such long and informative responses! I'll try to go through the key points, though. :D

I see exactly where you're coming from about sentence structure, and I do see what you mean, but, as Mizan says, I was going for a slightly mentally troubled character, but not entirely. Almost as if he's slowly breaking down. But, yes, I do agree that I overdid it in some places.

In that section you weren't sure about, Breezy, I was imagining the entire piece to be a monologue given by a man standing in the ruined city itself. It doesn't really get across very well, but hopefully you can now imagine him gesturing towards a particular building and speaking that passage. He's pretty downhearted, considering it's just a shell, so while his erratic thoughts give us a picture of the wonderful place he remembers, it's a whole lot worse now. If that makes sense.

Would it be worth making those few changes, or not? I don't want to stay stuck on one passage for long periods.

Speaking of which, I was sorting through a huge pile of junk and found a few starts of passages. Do any of these seem promising?

Spoiler:
She's the one. I'm sure of it. I look into her eyes and see into her soul, and I know. She's the most wonderful woman I've ever known. Her long, chestnut hair bobs gently up and down as we walk together with my hand clasped in her soft palm. Her face radiates joy and warmth and her voice is light and lyrical like birdsong.

At least, that's how I imagine it. It's not the same for her with me. She looks at me, with my straggly brown hair and spotty face and knows she can do so much better.


Spoiler:
My footsteps echoed sharply as I walked across the stony floor. The high hallway amplified the sound as I made my way briskly to the far end.


Spoiler:
Have you ever dreamed you could fly? Have you ever been struck by a desire to reach up and pluck the stars from the night sky? It always fascinated me. Well, it was my aim. My heart’s desire. I had to do it. And one day, it happened. My feet went out from under me and I floated gently in the breeze. I remember being really calm at first, and it was so serene. But all of a sudden I realised I was flying and promptly fell back down with a thud. I looked around, and tried to will myself into the air. But nothing happened. Still, I’d done it. I’d really done it. I flew. For weeks and weeks I kept trying to take to the skies again, but it was useless. It didn’t work. But then, everything changed.


Also, I've added another passage to the OP that I wrote last year. It's a bit strange, and it's not my best, but I thought I should at least try to give something else to read after such excellent comments. I'm holding back another piece, as it's actually coursework, and I'm paranoid that I'll get a U for plagiarising myself if someone googles it. Yeah, I'm silly, but I'll wait anyway.
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  #6    
Old June 2nd, 2010, 05:25 PM
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Making changes is up to you really. Since your excerpts are small and they seem to be for practice, I wouldn't bother that much. Improvements can be made in new excerpts anyway, aye? =P

I like the first and third one, and the only reason I'm not as hooked into the second one is because, well, I'm not sure where it's headed (besides derp hurr down a hallway). That being said, it's a nice line/hook.

I like the first one because I'm not sure which way it'll go. I always liked to read romance from the perspective of a boy, and this boy seems to be one who doesn't have the good self esteem. Should be intriguing. I really liked this line, too:
Quote:
Her face radiates joy and warmth and her voice is light and lyrical like birdsong.
It's very warm, cozy imagery.

I liked the third one especially because it different. While contemplating love is fine and dandy, it's much more common then, let's say, a person who wants to fly. XP I liked how the speaker wasn't aware he/she was flying, and when he/she did, he/she fell. I get that feeling a lot. Er, not with flying, but with other things. I always hated that, when you're doing something, then you realize you're doing something, and all of a sudden you can't do it anymore ...

/end ramble.

Either way, yeah. I can't really comment much, but they are interesting premises.
  #7    
Old June 4th, 2010, 10:30 AM
NikNaks's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Breezy View Post
Making changes is up to you really. Since your excerpts are small and they seem to be for practice, I wouldn't bother that much. Improvements can be made in new excerpts anyway, aye? =P

I like the first and third one, and the only reason I'm not as hooked into the second one is because, well, I'm not sure where it's headed (besides derp hurr down a hallway). That being said, it's a nice line/hook.
Yeah, I can't really remember where I was going with it either, which is probably why I didn't use it! Still, if something pops out at me, I might add to it.

Quote:
I like the first one because I'm not sure which way it'll go. I always liked to read romance from the perspective of a boy, and this boy seems to be one who doesn't have the good self esteem. Should be intriguing. I really liked this line, too: <snip>
It's very warm, cozy imagery.
Yeah, I'm not very high on the esteem front, so it's fairly easy to write, seemingly.
Quote:
I liked the third one especially because it different. While contemplating love is fine and dandy, it's much more common then, let's say, a person who wants to fly. XP I liked how the speaker wasn't aware he/she was flying, and when he/she did, he/she fell. I get that feeling a lot. Er, not with flying, but with other things. I always hated that, when you're doing something, then you realize you're doing something, and all of a sudden you can't do it anymore ...
I'm pleased that it's not just me. xD This is probably my favourite, too, but I'm still thinking about where to go with it. I'll think about it more seriously after next week. Twelve exams in 5 days have to take priority

I *think* you might have missed the one I added to the OP. It's not great, though, so it's probably for the best.
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Old June 4th, 2010, 10:38 AM
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Quote:
She's the one. I'm sure of it. I look into her eyes and see into her soul, and I know. She's the most wonderful woman I've ever known. Her long, chestnut hair bobs gently up and down as we walk together with my hand clasped in her soft palm. Her face radiates joy and warmth and her voice is light and lyrical like birdsong.

At least, that's how I imagine it. It's not the same for her with me. She looks at me, with my straggly brown hair and spotty face and knows she can do so much better.

Ok thats one flaw there, form that unto one sentance or get rid of the " and I know."
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