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  #1  
Old 09-14-2010, 08:58 PM
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Default An exerpt from a short story i am working on.


This is a small exerpt from a story i am working on, it's still a working progress and i'm mostly trying to find the writer i want to be.
Enjoy.

She listened silently to her small home, listening for creaks or bumps, for the faint, low breathing of another person. She sighed deeply, trying to erase her thoughts, as though they were poisonous. She put the kettle on the stove and turned the heat dial, watching the small blue flame spark to life as she grabbed her tea cup. She grabbed a box of green tea and took out a teabag, and placed it into her empty cup. As she waited for her water to boil, she stood at her kitchen counter, peering out the small window that overlooked the busy streets of Brooklyn. She wasn’t looking at the traffic, or the buildings, she was looking past them. She was looking into her thoughts, laying them out in front of her, as if it were a board game, a rather twisted board game at that. She stood like a ghost at that counter, pondering through her thoughts.
After her tea, she washed the dishes in the sink, listening afterward to the sound of the soapy residue seeping down the drain.
Glurrrrrrrrrrggg
The sound reminded her of another sound, a very distant but undeniable sound, she had heard it before but not since she was a kid. As a kid she did the same thing she was doing now, standing in front of the sink, watching the water disappear through the small black hole, listening. Listening for the sound, waiting for it to echo up through the musty pipe as she stood, on her tippy toes, over the sink bowl in her family’s bathroom when she was only seven. Watching like a statue, peering down the everlasting hole, waiting patiently, with fear lingering in her stomach. Most nights she heard nothing but the TV as her parents watched their programs, her father usually watching the “game”, or her mother as she watched Family Feud. On the other hand, there were nights where she heard something, something beyond the gurgling water. Something, trying to climb up the pipe, something coming to get her and eat her. She never actually stayed to see if it were true of course, seeing as how every time the sound got to a certain point she would run out of the bathroom. Her heart would be booming in her chest as she watched from down the hallway, her chest heaving up and down, feeling the tight grip of fear claw at her insides. And each and every time she heard the noise she would leave the bathroom light on, and as she stood motionlessly in the hallway, every time, the light would noiselessly turn off.


Please tell me what you think.
Thank you for reading =]

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Old 09-14-2010, 09:21 PM
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The main thing I found when starting to read this was that there was a bit of a pattern emerging.

If you look at the first few sentences, here are how they start:

She listened...
She sighed...
She put...
She grabbed...

I think you if switch some of that up, it would help with the flow. Right now that makes it kind of choppy-feeling.

Hope this helps!
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:23 PM
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Thank you for the reply, and i will take your advice. =]
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:32 AM
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Hi lurkingdarkness
I have to agree with everything firefly has already said, and I think if the sentences are restructured it will eradicate most of the repetitious 'she' usage.
Also in the last paragraph, try shortening the sentences, it will give the piece immediacy and this will add to the feel of apprehension that 'She' was feeling.
Hope this helps
Best regards
David
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:30 AM
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Default an excerpt

I seem to agree with the other statements made. My suggestion would be to give her name every now and then instead of saying "she". The descriptiveness you gave was good. I had a feeling of being there (for me that is good). I do look forward to seeing your rewrite, if you plan on doing one... Keep going your off to a good start
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Old 09-15-2010, 06:32 AM
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In general the word "she" is over-used throughout the piece, not just the first few sentences.

"Listen", "Listening" and "Listened" are over-used too.

You need to insert a blank line between each paragraph.

Beware 'chatty' or 'casual' sounding narrative: just a few examples - "tippy toes", "out the window", "seeing as how every time the..."

Beware excessive wordage, eg. "pondering through her thoughts" could have read better as a single word, "thinking". There are other examples, this is just one.

"the light would noiselessly turn off." - no need to say that something is noiseless if it doesn't usually make a noise.

I hope this helps in some way.

Owen
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:03 AM
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Thank you all for the comments and i will make a rewrite =]
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:10 AM
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Icon14 exerpt from short story

I look forward to reading your rewrite...
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:00 PM
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Hey guys, i took all your advice and worked on correcting the things you told me. I will give you a little more from the beginning of the story as well.
If i can do anything better, please tell me.
Enjoy.

She sat alone, paying no attention to the TV that buzzed noisily in the background. Grace had other things in her crowded mind, not really important things, but things that were always there, quietly knocking at her conscience. The thoughts were erased and she shut off the TV, giving her single apartment an eerie silence. She listened to her own bare feet walk upon her hard wood floor.

Grace’s apartment was small but comfortable, and she liked it that way, only having one bathroom, one bedroom and a kitchen that you could barely walk in. Her living room was almost as small, only having room for a small loveseat and a 23 inch television set. Though, she loved how small it all was, she loved the fact that you could easily see and hear everything in the whole apartment. It made her feel safe and confined, almost like a baby in its crib. Grace grew up catholic, going to mass every Sunday with both her parents, listening to the priest preach about heaven and hell. She listened to Father Taylor McCrea, ‘the best damn preacher from Missouri to New York’, that’s what her father always said. He spoke the truth and nothing more, the truth that there was a higher power, that there was a fiery pit that you would fall to, and burn for eternity.

Silence lurked in the apartment, as usual, but she liked the quiet, because she could hear anything that creaked or groaned. Sighing deeply, she tried to erase her thoughts, as though they were poisonous. She put the kettle on the stove and turned the heat dial, watching the small blue flame spark to life as she grabbed her tea cup. Taking a tea bag out of the small box, she took upon to thinking. Waiting for her water to boil, she stood at her kitchen counter, peering out the small window that overlooked the busy streets of Brooklyn. Not looking at the traffic, or the buildings, she was looking past them. She was looking into her thoughts, laying them out in front of her, as if it were a board game, a rather twisted board game at that. Still like a ghost at that counter, thinking.

After her tea, she washed the dishes in the sink, listening afterward to the sound of the soapy residue seeping down the drain.
Glurrrrrrrrrrggg
The sound reminded her of another sound. Very distant but undeniable, she had heard it before but not since she was a kid. As a kid she did the same thing she was doing now, standing in front of the sink, watching the water disappear through the small black hole, waiting. Waiting for the sound, it would echo up through the musty pipe as she stood over the sink bowl in her family’s bathroom. She was only seven at the time, but this sound will haunt her for the rest of her life.

Like a statue, she peered down the everlasting hole, waiting patiently, with fear lingering in her stomach. Most nights she heard nothing but the TV as her parents watched their programs. Her father usually watched the “game”, and her mother would watch Family Feud or The Price is Right. On other nights though, you could hear it, faint, but terrifyingly close. Beyond the gurgling water, trying to climb up the pipe, coming to get her, to eat her. She never actually stayed to see if it were true or not, because every time the sound got to the point where the thing could reach its hand out of the drain, and grab her throat, she would run out of the bathroom. Her heart drowning her chest, watching from down the hallway. Her chest would heave as she stared, feeling the tight grip of fear claw at her insides. And each and every time she heard the noise, the bathroom light would still be on. But that didn’t matter, because it would turn off the light for her.



Last edited by LurkingDarkness; 09-15-2010 at 10:47 PM..
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Old 09-16-2010, 03:49 AM
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Icon7 exerpt from short story

At least now I know her name is Grace...lol . The rewrite was better. This i enjoyed but there still seems to be something missing. I can't put my finger on it yet but something seems to be saying "more" I need more pre info about the thoughts. Less of the "she" wording.
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:04 AM
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Hi, Darkness. I didn't get a chance to comment before you rewrote, but before I begin I'd like to say your edit is a great improvement, and the advice you received has been put to great use.

Try to omit needless words. These are words that don't add anything, repeat something you've already said, or tell the reader too much.

She sat alone, paying no attention to the TV that buzzed noisily in the background.
Take your opening line as an example; the fact she's paying no attention to the television makes "in the background" redundant, and "buzzed" is a strong enough word to make "noisily" unnecessary, too.
She sat alone, paying no attention to the buzzing TV.
A much stronger sentence.

Now consider what the most important piece of information is in the sentence; is it the TV buzzing or her sat alone? Usually, placing the important part (the emphatic words) at the end highlights its importance.
Paying no attention to the buzzing TV, she sat alone.
Just some food for thought; not a necessary edit, but something to keep in mind for future use!

Grace had other things in her crowded mind, not really important things, but things that were always there, quietly knocking at her conscience. The thoughts were erased and she shut off the TV, giving her single apartment an eerie silence.
This section seems to contradict itself. She had other things in her mind, things that were always there. But the thoughts get erased. See what I mean?

Consider if removing the underlined would damage your story; IMO, it would make for a more concise read.

Grace grew up catholic, going to mass every Sunday with both her parents, listening to the priest preach about heaven and hell. She listened to Father Taylor McCrea, ‘the best damn preacher from Missouri to New York’, that’s what her father always said. He spoke the truth and nothing more, the truth that there was a higher power, that there was a fiery pit that you would fall to, and burn for eternity.
Objection your Honour!

On what grounds?

Relevance.

(Stopping a story to deliver back-story is boring; you gain nothing but lose the interest of your reader. Could the story survive without this?)

I feel kind of robbed after reading. I read of silence and sermons, watch her go about a normal day, only to be left before the good bit! You going to give up the goods?

Hope this helps.

--Andy
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Old 09-16-2010, 11:17 AM
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I see what you mean, i will take your advice. I am really glad i joined this forum, my writing seems to be taking more of a positive route now. Thank you all for your comments and advice. I will post something else soon. =]
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Old 09-16-2010, 12:30 PM
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Love it. when can I get the other part?
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Old 09-16-2010, 01:49 PM
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Hi. You've really caught my attention with this. I have nothing editorial to add that hasn't already been mentioned, I just want to say good job. =) I hope to read the next part soon.
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Old 09-16-2010, 04:12 PM
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I like the edited post a lot better. It was really good, I can't wait to read more!!
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Old 09-16-2010, 04:20 PM
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Thanks you guys =].
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:23 PM
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I like this a lot. I love how you depict sound in her memory, its very poetic. All the critiques this need have already been given I believe. Its true that it does feel a bit choppy but I think there are some ways you could change around the wording without naming her yet. I like her not having a name in this excerpt.
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:02 PM
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Thank you Polaris, i am writing more of it and i will be sure to correct it as much as i can before posting it. I have taken the advice from all the users and have tried to interpret it into my writing as best as i could and i am loving the outcome.
Stay posted! =]
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:32 PM
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I have finished my rough draft, and i will go through it ALOT, looking for the things you guys told me.
I will post it as soon as i fix everything =].
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:53 PM
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I really liked it! At first I wasn't sure where it was going, but I do like that you piqued my curiosity as to what exactly would eventually come up from the drain, if anything, or if it was just her thinking back on childhood memories. The onomatopoeic word used for the drain emptying was very good as well; only tip I can give, which you haven't done yet, is to be careful of overusing that particular style -- Again, I stress it's not that you've done it or will, just personal experience with having overused it in a short story I wrote.
But very good description and sentence structure as well! I didn't see any grammatical errors in the first perusal, more so than any comment the others have made, so I think you should keep going! If there's more to be heard, you should post it!
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Old 09-17-2010, 10:59 AM
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Thanks man =] and i will post the rest of the story soon.
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Old 09-20-2010, 06:00 PM
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Noises
She sat alone, paying no attention to the buzzing TV in the background. Grace had other things in her crowded mind, not really important things, but things that were always there, quietly knocking at her conscience. The thoughts were erased as Grace shut off the TV, giving her single apartment an eerie silence. She listened to her own bare feet walk upon her hard wood floor.

Grace’s apartment was small but comfortable, and she liked it that way, only having one bathroom, one bedroom and a kitchen that you could barely walk in. Her living room was almost as small, only having room for a small loveseat and a 23 inch television set. Though, she loved how small it all was, she loved the fact that you could easily see and hear everything in the whole apartment. It made her feel safe and confined, almost like a baby in its crib.

Silence lurked in the apartment, as usual, but she liked the quiet, because she could hear anything that creaked or groaned. Sighing deeply, Grace tried to erase her thoughts, as though they were poisonous. She put the kettle on the stove and turned the heat dial, watching the small blue flame spark to life as she grabbed her tea cup. Taking a tea bag out of the small box, she took upon to thinking. Waiting for her water to boil, she stood at her kitchen counter, peering out the small window that overlooked the busy streets of Brooklyn. Not looking at the traffic, or the buildings, she was looking past them. She was looking into her thoughts, laying them out in front of her, as if it were a board game, a rather twisted board game at that. Still like a ghost at that counter, thinking.

After her tea, she washed the dishes in the sink, listening afterward to the sound of the soapy residue seeping down the drain.
Glurrrrrrrrrrggg
The sound reminded her of another sound. Very distant but undeniable, she had heard it before but not since she was a kid. As a kid, Grace did the same thing she was doing now, standing in front of the sink, watching the water disappear through the small black hole, waiting. Waiting for the sound, it would echo up through the musty pipe as she stood over the sink bowl in her family’s bathroom. She was only seven at the time, but this sound will haunt her for as long as she lives.

Like a statue, she peered down the everlasting hole, waiting patiently, with fear lingering in her stomach. Most nights she heard nothing but the TV as her parents watched their programs. Her father usually watched the “game”, and her mother would watch Family Feud or The Price is Right. On the other hand, there were nights where she did hear something. Beyond the gurgling water, trying to climb up the pipe, coming to get her, to eat her. Grace never actually stayed to see if it was true or not, because every time the sound got to the point where the thing could reach its hand out of the drain, and grab her throat, she would run out of the bathroom. Her heart drowning her chest, watching from down the hallway. Her chest would heave as she stared, feeling the tight grip of fear claw at her insides. And each and every time she heard the noise, she would leave the bathroom light on. But that didn’t matter, because it would turn off the light for her.

Grace stood in the doorway of the bathroom, staring at the sink. She had stood there for some time, but why was she there?
Waiting?
Grace didn’t know. After she was done washing the dishes there was a feeling of curiosity, but it was stronger than normal. The feeling being a distant memory, that was still fresh with terror. She would walk to the sink and look down the grimy hole, and wait for it.
No, I can’t!
I won’t!
Walking forward, the fear in her core grew denser. Grace hadn’t felt this way since she was seven, but this was real.
She was there, and so was it.

It could smell her, the definable aroma of her flesh made its grin grow wider.
Almost there, just a little closer
Years it waited for this opportunity, knowing it would come; and here it was, the last opening it would get. Its eyes never shifted from the opening above, the excitement was unbearable. Moving very slowly up the pipe, it stayed quiet but never gave up pace.
You’re almost there, come on, A LITTLE MORE!
This might be it, this time she might not run away. She doesn’t believe it will come, she’s a big girl now, she doesn’t believe in monsters. That’s just it, it wasn’t a monster, it was a shadow. She is constantly surrounded by them, not feeling their eyes on her while she sleeps. Not knowing the shadows in the corner of her bedroom watched her. But they do, they have always watched. A face appeared over the drain, peering with both fear and curiosity.
Ready or not... HERE I COME!!!

It was just how it used to be, but no sound. The musty odour lingered from the pipe, making her shiver. But no sound, no slithering or laughing. No faint sound of claws scratching up the pipe, only silence. This made Grace nervous. Maybe it planned this, maybe it knew she was going to do this tonight. Did it bring me here?
This thought struck Grace with fear she had never felt before. Her ears rang, her blood iced, her mouth became dry and pasty. But all Grace heard was her own fast, irregular breathing.
Why am I still standing here!?
She would have answered her own question, but a voice whispered from the pipe and answered it for her.
“...because you are waiting.”
Grace didn’t scream, but let out a groan.
The scream didn’t come until after the hand clasped around her throat.


Tell me what you think =]
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:45 AM
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Comments are welcome lol
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:45 PM
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Pretty good scary stuff you got there. I think if you add a little bit more description it would be even better. It really leaves the reader wanting more. Keep up the good work.
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Old 09-22-2010, 08:17 PM
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Thank you very much =] and i am working on another draft.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:44 AM
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Originally Posted by LurkingDarkness View Post

She sat alone, paying no attention to the TV that buzzed noisily in the background.


One thing some new writers do is overuse adjectives and adverbs. You could remove those in this opener, and still keep the flavour, while making it tight:

She sat alone, paying no attention to the TV.

As readers, hopefully we're all intelligent enough to glean the rest; that the TV was just for ambient noise, that she obviously wasn't watching it, etc. Make sure you don't get into the habit of talking down to your reader by giving them every single detail.

Grace had other things in her crowded mind, not really important things, but things that were always there, quietly knocking at her conscience.


I'm going to be nit-picky because I believe this has some promise, if that's okay with you.

It sounds, honestly, as if you're trying a bit too hard in this one, to sound literary and poignant. Suggest removing "crowded," "not really important things" because that's an authorial comment and usually, unless handled brilliantly, not needed, and remove "quietly," another adverb.

The thoughts were erased


How were they erased? By what means? Don't allow yourself to get into the habit of getting close to being in passive voice. This removes all action from your character and things seem to just happen. I'd re-write this entire paragraph, as it's awkward. Try telling us that it was the reality of the TV and shutting it off that pulled her back to reality and away from those thoughts. Just be simple with it. And if you have trouble stating that idea clearly, then maybe it doesn't need to be in there.

Grace’s apartment was small but comfortable, and she liked it that way, only having one bathroom, one bedroom and a kitchen that you could barely walk in. Her living room was almost as small, only having room for a small loveseat and a 23 inch television set. Though, she loved how small it all was, she loved the fact that you could easily see and hear everything in the whole apartment. It made her feel safe and confined, almost like a baby in its crib.


New paragraph here, and I'm assuming that at some point in your story, the details of this apartment will play a crucial role in the plot? If it doesn't, then you don't need it. Get used to tightening your work now.

Grace grew up catholic, going to mass every Sunday with both her parents, listening to the priest preach about heaven and hell. She listened to Father Taylor McCrea, ‘the best damn preacher from Missouri to New York’, that’s what her father always said.


Got some grammar and punctuation problems here. Might I suggest:

Grace grew up Catholic, going to Mass every Sunday with her parents, listening to Father Taylor McCrea preach about Heaven and Hell.

"Best damned preacher from Missouri to New York," her father always said.

He spoke the truth and nothing more, the truth that there was a higher power, that there was a fiery pit that you would fall to, and burn for eternity.


Again, need a re-write with better punctuation here for clearer thoughts. I'd suggest you looking up The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, the online edition. You can't go wrong with these guys. They are the go-to dudes for punctuation and grammar. When using lists like you've done, you usually use semi-colons.

Silence lurked in the apartment, as usual, but she liked the quiet, because she could hear anything that creaked or groaned. Sighing deeply, she tried to erase her thoughts, as though they were poisonous.


Okay. This metaphor doesn't fly with me. How do you ERASE something poisonous? If you want to keep the poison analogy, then go for another metaphor with which to compare it.

She put the kettle on the stove and turned the heat dial, watching the small blue flame spark to life as she grabbed her tea cup.


Here is another great place to tighten the writing. May I? Just a suggestion:

She put the kettle on the stove and watched the small blue flame spark to life. We can fill in the details. Writing sometimes gets bogged down with too many details. Some writers can pull it off--most of us, however, cannot.

Taking a tea bag out of the small box, she took upon to thinking.


Um, okay. About what? You sort of left us hanging. If you introduce an idea, first make sure it is integral to your plot, and second, follow-up on it.

Waiting for her water to boil, she stood at her kitchen counter, peering out the small window that overlooked the busy streets of Brooklyn. Not looking at the traffic, or the buildings, she was looking past them. She was looking into her thoughts, laying them out in front of her, as if it were a board game, a rather twisted board game at that. Still like a ghost at that counter, thinking.


This can be tightened up and re-written. Re-write from "Not looking at the traffic" down to "thinking."

After her tea, she washed the dishes in the sink, listening afterward to the sound of the soapy residue seeping down the drain.


You can completely delete this sentence, and enjoin it with the next, like, "Glurrrrg. The sound of the soapy water seeping down the drain reminded her of another sound from her childhood."

Glurrrrrrrrrrggg
The sound reminded her of another sound. Very distant but undeniable, she had heard it before but not since she was a kid. As a kid she did the same thing she was doing now, standing in front of the sink, watching the water disappear through the small black hole, waiting. Waiting for the sound, it would echo up through the musty pipe as she stood over the sink bowl in her family’s bathroom. She was only seven at the time, but this sound will haunt her for the rest of her life.


A few things here. First, you change tenses in the last sentence. You've been writing in past tense, and now you change to future with the word "will" haunt.

And why build up to telling us great detail ABOUT the sound, if you don't tell us what it was or of what it reminded her?

Like a statue, she peered down the everlasting hole, waiting patiently, with fear lingering in her stomach. Most nights she heard nothing but the TV as her parents watched their programs. Her father usually watched the “game”, and her mother would watch Family Feud or The Price is Right.


Again, we don't really need to know what shows they watched, unless it plays into your plot.

Her heart drowning her chest,


How can a heart drown a chest?? It can't in practical terms.

watching from down the hallway. Her chest would heave as she stared, feeling the tight grip of fear claw at her insides. And each and every time she heard the noise, the bathroom light would still be on. But that didn’t matter, because it would turn off the light for her.
There's a neat little book you should pick up from half.com, called, "The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) by Jack Bickham. It's just a neat, practical guide for things you can begin to look for when writing and eventually editing your own work. I've been published many times over, and I still use it as my reference tool.

One of my favourite things to do is to read my work out loud. See, as writers and readers, we know what the sound of the voice inside our heads sounds like, and we get used to hearing that voice when we're writing our own stuff. But unless we read our own work out loud, we're still reading it with that same voice inside our heads, and therefore, we're not really going to notice the things that cause other readers to stumble, like the few things I've pointed out to you here. It's a great guide for writing, because if YOU stumble over your own writing and trip over your own tongue, then you know your reader will and it needs to be re-written.

I hope this has helped, and I look forward to the re-write.

Carla
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  #27  
Old 10-10-2010, 11:55 AM
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I liked it. It really makes you wonder what happens next. The only thing I could recommend is that you put some kind of hook into it earlier on to keep the reader guessing from the first sentence.
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Old 10-10-2010, 07:07 PM
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If you want the updated version, look up noises =].
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