Second attempt on writing, Any feedback will be appreciated.

Fri, Jul 14 2017 05:13pm IST 1
tkzlone
tkzlone
16 Posts

It has been rewritten, a new draft: (Still experimenting)

Prologue

It was 2:13 am on a cold winter night when he opened the door, letting in a gush of air, scattering the golden wrappings on the table. The shards of shattered glass sighed under the wet soles of his heavy boots as he stepped in. A deep sigh echoed through the room, as the keys hit the wooden floor. The darkness of the air turned into emptiness as the lights came on.

“No,” he grunted, collecting the sprawled wrappings off the floor. Placing them and a box on the table he sunk into the chair.

“Why?” The sound pierced the hollowness around him. Fishing a ring from his jacket he threw it on the table; watching it bounce and oscillate. “You are cursed,” and burrowed his tired face in shaking hands.

“Coffee,” he got up. Removing the jacket, he hung it on the chair. Scattered pieces of a coffee mug lying defeated on the kitchen floor; welcomed him.

With jaw muscles twitching, heavy breath, he washed the stained hands. “You lied to me,” his reflection in the kitchen window. “How could you lead me to all this? Did I not come and ask?” The sound of shattering glass muffled the anger, as his hand flew through the window. The spritzing blood drops collected on the black marble top of the kitchen bench. A tear splashed next to them, “Why could you not see me happy?” His hand left a bloody print on the coffee pot as it’s stale contents gravitated into a mug.

He devoured a large swig, and placed the mug with a thump on the table. Crescent-shaped brows over his big deep dark brown eyes sat arched. Opening the box, he picked up a plastic card, dried blood smudges at the corner, her picture in the middle, Elizabeth Mansfield written underneath it.

“Now, you will not drive.” The card flew around before settling on the table. The heart-shaped necklace gleamed under the bright overhead bulb as his thumb brushed it. “No,” and the table flipped under the strength of his muscular frame. Nothing stayed in its appointed place as they crumbled under the sheer force of his arms. In seconds that followed, the house of a perfectionist, Richard Anderson, laid in tatters, as did his life, heart and mind.

Leaning against the wall, he sat down on the floor; every cell in his body cursing. The moisture in his eyes curtained the streaks of red. Using the wall as a support, and garnering the last shred of strength, he stood up and walked into the bedroom. A black dress was lying casually on the unmade bed. Picking it up, he hung it in the wardrobe. Fingers brushed against the blue bed sheets. The coldness of them spoke of the emptiness of his soul.

Stripping the clothes, he walked into the shower. His left arm pressed up against the glass wall holding his weight, he let the running water caress him like an embrace from his lover. Picking up the sponge hung on the corner, he asked: "What about all the memories? How selfish can you be?"

The water turned cold, and he stood shivering under it, asking, "Why?"

Fri, Jul 14 2017 08:27pm IST 2
BobAird
BobAird
104 Posts
Hi tkzlone,

Well done on your first go. A powerful piece and very atmospheric. Richard really doesn't like life, and we can feel it. He's angry. He's full of self pity. He's completely broken. A great place to start for your protagonist.

Some advice I could offer you would be that you don't always have to state the obvious. It's better if you don't. For example:

One of them was purple and besmeared in dust, a portrayal of Richard's loneliness.

I would change this to One of them was purple and covered in dust. We don't need a portrayal of Richard's loneliness. We, the reader, want to figure that out for ourselves. Telling us what you mean is kind of like you don't trust us to get your meaning. Reader's don't like that.

His brows arched in anger and annoyance.... How about just His brows arched. We get he's angry by his behaviour for the rest of that paragraph.

I think you've written this in the 3rd person POV with the reader inside Richard's head. If you have then the paragraph that describes Richard's appearance doesn't really work for me. Whose head are we in? If he was in front of a mirror it would work. Some authors writer from an omniscient POV, but the rest of your passage doesn't feel like that.


Good stuff

Bob
Sat, Jul 15 2017 06:04am IST 3
tkzlone
tkzlone
16 Posts
Thank you so much for your advice and opinion, I really appreciate it. I will work more on it :)
I will keep the POV in mind, though I have tried to write it from omniscient POV, shifting to the third person. I have tried in my attempt to write it as a narration.
Sat, Jul 15 2017 06:56am IST 4
Barb
Barb
1331 Posts
Hi tkzlone,

Your writing flows well but it felt a bit heavy to me. Does the reader really need to know the colour of the things the character comes into contact with or what they're made of. If you describe everything in this way then there is no punch when it's used for an important item.

By describing things rather than interactions, you're also missing a chance to capture another character who seems to be key here - Elizabeth. Instead of a purple cup it could be her cup, dusty since the last time she touched it etc.

Sorry but I'm also going to have to disagree with the other feedback you received above. This feels to me like you're just revving your engines with back story before the tale actually gets started.

There's ten paragraphs here but all the reader finds out is that an unhappy man has come home from work and had a cold cup of coffee. He's lost a woman and a friend has written him a note about it. To me, there's no tension or conflict in this.

There's a strong story under this which is the conflict of him being haunted by her, or trying to get over her, or feeling guilt ... or so on. Just because someone is gone it doesn't mean they can't still be a strong presence in the story.

But, all opinions are subjective and there will probably be someone else along with another view, so please take anything that works for you or disregard this if it doesn't resonate.

(I'm using my phone to reply so please excuse any typos).
Sat, Jul 15 2017 07:47am IST 5
tkzlone
tkzlone
16 Posts
@Barb Thank you for your feedback.

"This feels to me like you're just revving your engines with back story before the tale actually gets started."

You will be correct to point that out, this is the prologue of the book, present moment, and after this, the story hits the past.

"But, all opinions are subjective and there will probably be someone else along with another view, so please take anything that works for you or disregard this if it doesn't resonate."

I agree, and I take every opinion in to consideration, if nothing, one always learns. I do appreciate you taking time and writing your opinion.

Cheers Tawseef
Sat, Jul 15 2017 12:59pm IST 6
Kate
Kate
919 Posts
Hi Tkzlone
You have some nice imagery in here - I particulalrly like 'The darkness of the air turned into emptiness' and 'Scratches on the table top highlighted the cruelty of time.' You conjure up his sense of despair very well, but I did find the writing a little clunky.
A few things you might want to consider that could improve that:
You use 'he' a lot so it tends to read as he did this and he did that. Try twisting the sentences around so you use 'he' less. Removing the 'he' will also have the effect of putting us closer in to your characters head, and you will also find words like 'had' disappearing which I think would also be a good thing.
I'd say the same about 'his' as well. Richard is the only person in the scene so you quite often don't need this.
'His eyes followed...'
'His brows arched...'
'Pressing his fingers...'
Also look out for repetition of other words. The beautiful image of the darkness turning into emptiness is detracted from by the repeat of 'turned.' I also noticed 'thick' twice in his physical description.
Something I found distracting was the very precise detail of his surroundings. The notebook, the crystal bowl, the large black leather diary next to the grey laptop. I felt there must be a reason for this level of detail, but the scene moves on and they seem to be irrelevant. Little details give a nice feeling of surroundings, but I think maybe you went a bit too far?
You might also want to think about the idea of putting us in the characters head and giving us his thoughts so we can experience his despair, rather than telling us how he is feeling.
For example
'His eyes reflected the helplessness towards the events of life,' might be turned into something like 'Why had this happened?' That's his own thought directly communicated, although I'm sure you can come up with something stronger than that.
If you find yourself using filtering words like 'wondering,' this might also be another good place to turn your sentence into a question and move away from the telling. For example your last sentence 'wondering while holding the abused piece of paper in his hands, if to read it or not.' Would become 'Should he read it?'
This is atmospheric, but I think Bella has a point about the backstory and tension. You mention the next section moves to the past, so aren't you giving away what happens up front?
Just some thoughts that might spark some new ideas for you, but they are my thoughts and opinion so might no work for you. Hope some of them might be helpful though.
Sat, Jul 15 2017 02:46pm IST 7
tkzlone
tkzlone
16 Posts
@Kate Thank you for your insightful and critical pointers.

Yes, I agree there is a lot of pronoun use, which I will try my best to vanquish.

"You mention the next section moves to the past, so aren't you giving away what happens up front?"

It is the prologue of the book, and I have tried to tie this event to the events of climax. What really happens in the end, is a twist in itself. Also, I am trying to write it from a third-person omniscient viewpoint, not Richard's. I think that is my struggle, (I must admit a good one, I am enjoying it.)

And thank you for pointing to questions, that is a great tip. I really appreciate that one, as I agree it leaves the reader with a thought of his/her own.

Cheers Tawseef

Sat, Jul 15 2017 04:36pm IST 8
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Hi tkzlone,

Well done for writing and posting. I agree there plenty of potential tension and conflict brewing, and others have pointed out some of the areas for improvement. I'll just add - have a look at how many times you've written 'next to'. This highlights (I think) the overkill of setting descriptions.

Regarding your omniscient POV, have a look at the concept of psychic distance. Understanding this will allow you to narrate at different levels of distance from your characters, which is a key skill in effective writing.

There's various elements here that are potential hooks for the reader. For me, the key ones are the note which he is so reluctant to read, and the aching absence of Elizabeth. I'd suggest seeing if you can make these more striking by pinning your prologue firmly to these, and cutting out the clutter (e.g about his step by step movements around the flat) which might distract.

Good luck!
Sat, Jul 15 2017 05:26pm IST 9
Mr.Smith
Mr.Smith
32 Posts
Hi tkzlone,

I like the feel of this and you have a nice turn of phrase. I want to know what's on the note! Perhaps a little too descriptive though. Why not just 'two coffee mugs' or even just 'mugs'. 'The floor creaked under the wet soles of his boots.' The creaking would, in my mind, imply a heavy foot on wood and most boots are black or brown.

just a thought but I feel that I got bogged down in the description which distracted from the intrigue.

Good stuff. Well done.
Sat, Jul 15 2017 05:34pm IST 10
tkzlone
tkzlone
16 Posts
Hi Philippa.

Thank you for your comments. I surely will have a look at the Psychic Distance. I appreciate that pointer.

I keep the distraction, and "next to" in my mind for sure. I definitely I am learning.

Cheers Tawseef

Sat, Jul 15 2017 05:37pm IST 11
tkzlone
tkzlone
16 Posts
Hi Mr Smith.

Thank you for your feedback, I think we can always trim down the description. This has been a learning curve for me, and the honest feedback is helping me to find the areas of weakness and strengths.

Really appreciate it.

Cheers Tawseef
Sat, Jul 15 2017 10:58pm IST 12
Ian Blackwell
Ian Blackwell
20 Posts
Hi tkzlone,

Fair play on this being your first effort. You've caught the sense of the protagonist being very unhappy in life. The biggest thing for me is the amount of description e.g. "large black leather diary" when something like "black diary" would suffice. I've been told previously that too many descriptive words like this shows an insecurity in the writer in the sense of trying too hard. I should know because at one time I would've written something like "A4-sized black leather diary with '2017' printed in gold letters on its front"!

What I've also learned is that if you describe every detail then it doesn't give the reader a chance to use his/her imagination. This is particularly important when it comes to describing physical features of chartacters. You do want to give some pointers i.e. "broad shoulders" and it's best to slip these naturally into the story because if you stop the story to describe someone, then you've obviously interrupted the flow of the story. Sometimes writers have the character looking into a mirror as a basis for describing their features but this is considered cheating in some circles.

But keep it up man there's plenty of positives to take from this. I want to know what is on that note and it's things like that which keep readers interested.

Best of luck,

Ian.



Sun, Jul 16 2017 09:45am IST 13
Kate
Kate
919 Posts
I would echo what Phillipa has said about omniscient POV. For the reader to connect with your characters and want to know what happens to them you need to move closer in to their heads and away from the distant POV. This is the psychic distance and EmmaD does a great itch of writing blog on this at emmadarwin.typepad.com.
As the writer you can control when the narrator is out far moving the story on and when close in connecting to the characters.
Hope that makes sense.
Sun, Jul 16 2017 02:28pm IST 14
tkzlone
tkzlone
16 Posts
@Ian Blackwell Thank you for the comments.
@Kate, thank you for the pointer.

Based on kind feedback and pointers I have got, I have reformatted it: It will be so kind of you all if you could provide feedback.Thank you all.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was 2:13 am on a cold winter night when he opened the door, letting in a gush of air, scattering the golden wrappings on the table. The shards of shattered glass sighed under the wet soles of his heavy boots as he stepped in. A deep sigh echoed through the room, as the keys hit the wooden floor. The darkness of the air turned into emptiness as the lights came on.
“No,” he grunted, collecting the sprawled wrappings off the floor. Placing them and a box on the table he sunk into the chair.
“Why?” The sound pierced the hollowness around him. Fishing a ring from his jacket he threw it on the table; watching it bounce and oscillate. “You are cursed,” and burrowed his tired face in shaking hands.
“Coffee,” he got up. Removing the jacket, he hung it on the chair. Scattered pieces of a coffee mug lying defeated on the kitchen floor; welcomed him.
With jaw muscles twitching, heavy breath, he washed the stained hands. “You lied to me,” his reflection in the kitchen window. “How could you lead me to all this? Did I not come and ask?” The sound of shattering glass muffled the anger, as his hand flew through the window. The spritzing blood drops collected on the black marble top of the kitchen bench. A tear splashed next to them, “Why could you not see me happy?” His hand left a bloody print on the coffee pot as it’s stale contents gravitated into a mug.
He devoured a large swig, and placed the mug with a thump on the table. Crescent-shaped brows over his big deep dark brown eyes sat arched. Opening the box, he picked up a plastic card, dried blood smudges at the corner, her picture in the middle, Elizabeth Mansfield written underneath it.
“Now, you will not drive.” The card flew around before settling on the table. The heart-shaped necklace gleamed under the bright overhead bulb as his thumb brushed it. “No,” and the table flipped under the strength of his muscular frame. Nothing stayed in its appointed place as they crumbled under the sheer force of his arms. In seconds that followed, the house of a perfectionist, Richard Anderson, laid in tatters, as did his life, heart and mind.
Leaning against the wall, he sat down on the floor; every cell in his body cursing. The moisture in his eyes curtained the streaks of red. Using the wall as a support, and garnering the last shred of strength, he stood up and walked into the bedroom. A black dress was lying casually on the unmade bed. Picking it up, he hung it in the wardrobe. Fingers brushed against the blue bed sheets. The coldness of them spoke of the emptiness of his soul.
Stripping the clothes, he walked into the shower. His left arm pressed up against the glass wall holding his weight, he let the running water caress him like an embrace from his lover. Picking up the sponge hung on the corner, he asked: "What about all the memories? How selfish can you be?".
The water turned cold, and he stood shivering under it, asking, "why?".
Sun, Jul 16 2017 06:53pm IST 15
Writerguy
Writerguy
17 Posts
Hey, I love your turn of phrase really puts us in the moment with your protagonist. I agree with the above, and if someone else has made this point, I apologise I'm new here! I have the problem of trying to say to much ie I'll go for "the rains came early that year, maing the rivers wash over the farmland and blah blah." Why not The rains came early." Boom, point made job done. Also some of your descriptions ie glass whispering underfoot? It would crunch surely. These are all things I'm sure we're all guilty of because we love playing with words right? Anyway really atmospheric stuff, and it put me right there in the mix, so great job!
Mon, Jul 17 2017 06:09am IST 16
tkzlone
tkzlone
16 Posts
Hey @Writerguy

Thank you for your comments. I personally have always found the description adds to the narrative. Gives us a better picture. For example, I will take your statement.

"the rains came early that year, making the rivers wash over the farmland and blah blah."
In this, I get an added picture of a river which is overflowing.

"The rains came early" In this, I only know it rained and was early to do so.

Anyway, I think, it depends, how connected you want to be as a narrator towards the story.

:)



Tue, Jul 18 2017 02:12pm IST 17
Kate
Kate
919 Posts
There'a real tumble of emotion and actions here that don't always make sense. That's fine, because emotion don't, and this is a good thing to be able to do, but I do wonder if for your opening passage you've gone a little too far. I think shorter and punchier is better for a prologue, but maybe you need something inbetween your original post and this one. You've also removed the note, which is one of the things people found hooky.
The other thing I wondered about was is this guy on drugs, because he puts his fist through a window and feels nothing. I'd have thought he'd brake his fingers? Wasn't sure about that, though I loved the 'Spritzing' of blood. Nice word.
Remember that every word counts. Your first paragraph has three 'as' and two 'sighs.' Repetition is something to look out for.
Another interesting piece and I hope the above gives you some ideas. Good luck and keep writing.
Tue, Jul 18 2017 07:37pm IST 18
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Hi tkzlone,

It's a hard business, isn't it?! I have to be honest and say I think the original was better
Tue, Jul 18 2017 07:38pm IST 19
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Hi tkzlone,

It's a hard business, isn't it?! I have to be honest and say I think the original was better
Tue, Jul 18 2017 07:38pm IST 20
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Arg sorry - it keeps deleting half my post!
Tue, Jul 18 2017 07:40pm IST 21
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Hi tkzlone,

It's a hard business, isn't it?! I have to be honest and say I think the original was better
Tue, Jul 18 2017 07:42pm IST 22
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Ok gremlins. Sorry tkzlone. I have sent the rest to you in a PM.

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