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feedback needed-second attempt on short story

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Old 11-03-2013, 01:07 PM
mai88 (Offline)
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Icon5 feedback needed-second attempt on short story


I didn't give up yet, I wrote a new short story, I think it's better than the first one, but then; what do I know! I need your feedback and advice so I can improve, please give me all the advice you want, I'll take any feedback.

The witness

Sometimes it could only take one incident, big or small, to end one’s hopes of a better life. Mary had all the reasons to believe that life was going to get better. She just had the promotion she’d been hopelessly waiting for, and her wedding was right around the corner. But then that incident, that made her whole world fall apart, happened. She didn’t know how she found herself in that situation, where she had to fight for her life against a dark tall mysterious killer.

She saw him standing on top of his victim, and she froze there for a moment as he looked right through her. she could feel his cold sharp look dissecting her soul piece by piece, and sending her a message that this was the end for her, that she should recite her final words before her brain stops communicating with her tongue.

Although it seemed that her end was near, Mary refused to give up without a fight, she’s a fighter, always had been and always would be, and this was just another fight for her. She would fight the fight and survive like she always did. Hence she started running away from him and into a street full of pedestrians, none of whom would give her a speck of their attention. Everyone just kept on walking, minding their own affairs, and ignoring her. A man she bumped into didn’t even stop to curse at her; he was too busy trying to light a cigarette. The human apathy Mary encountered left her appalled; she had always put trust in humanity, she had faith in people. She always believed that the good in them would prevail when confronted with critical situations such as the one she’s caught in. However, good didn’t prevail there which left Marry questioning her faith in humanity. But she didn’t own the luxury to stand and contemplate about it more, since she’s being hunted by a ruthless killer. So she kept running until she heard someone whistling, she looked to her left and saw man in his late twenties sitting in an alley with his back to the wall. He was quivering with fear as she sat next to him striving to catch her breath. “Are you running from him?” he asked. She assumed that they were both running from the same man, “did you see him kill her too?” she asked. “Not her, him. I saw him standing next to a dead ‘he’.” He replied. She took a glance at the street and saw the dark man coming, thus she thought they should hide behind the garbage. They then saw him standing front of the alley scanning every inch of it with his eyes, that only lasted a few seconds but it seemed like forever for the two unlucky witnesses. After he left, they waited a while before leaving the alley and running in his opposite direction, or at least they thought to be his opposite direction. After a few miles, in spite of believing he lost their track, he appeared in front of them. Her fellow witness decided to act nobly and told her to run for her life as he tried to fight off their stalker. As she ran away, she heard him begging for his life and she looked back to see the dark man holding him up, choking him. That brought her to tears but she had to keep running, no matter how loud he screamed, she had to leave him behind and save herself.

She had no idea what to do, but the first thing that came to her mind was ‘home’, so she ran home. She and her fiancé rented an apartment in a building downtown, she saw her fiancé entering the building as she stood on the street across it. She saw the dark man coming her way, so she ran after her fiancé, she called to him while he entered the elevator, but he didn’t hear her. She ran up the stairs to her floor, when she got there, her fiancé was opening the door. And despite all her efforts to grab his attention, he simply went into the apartment and closed the door behind him. She started banging on the door, begging him to open it. She didn’t understand why he was doing this to her, why wouldn’t he open the door? Was he still upset about the fight they had earlier? But it was nothing, it was only a stupid argument. she wanted to have children with him, but it’s early to talk about it. Not because her work was more important to her than having children, it’s just that she didn’t want to discuss the subject yet. But if he’s still upset about it then they would discuss it more, if he would just open the damn door, and they would get rid of this maniac who wanted her dead. However, no matter how loud she screamed and banged on the door, the door remained locked. Then she heard footsteps going up the stairs, almost reaching her floor. she looked around hoping to find an escape, when suddenly the neighbor, Miss Cox, opened her door and went to throw the trash. She left the door open so Mary rushed into the apartment, and headed out to the fire escape ladder through an open window. She climbed down the ladder and decided to head to her other home, to her mother.

Mary’s mother lived in a house a couple of blocks away from her daughter’s building; she was a piano teacher who chose to devote herself to her daughter rather than touring the world as a pianist, which left her frustrated at many occasions. Mary had felt her mother’s frustration ever since she was a child, and that’s maybe why she didn’t want to discuss having children with her fiancé; because she didn’t want her child to grow up feeling her frustration like she felt her mother’s. Nevertheless, Mary knew she could count on her mother, and that she would never abandon her. When at her mother’s place, she saw her sitting on the porch, drinking her daily dosage of herbal tea and reading that book Mary gave her on her last birthday. Although everything seemed normal, Mary couldn’t help but wonder why was her mother reading this book now? her birthday was months ago, she left the book after reading a couple of pages; “it’s not my kind of book” she told Mary. Why was she reading it at that moment? Mary stood wondering for a while, and almost forgot about the dark man who was haunting her, when suddenly she got grabbed from behind. The dark man covered her mouth with his hand as she tried to fight him off and scream for help until she slowly fell unconscious.

A while later, she opened her eyes to see the starry sky above her as she realized she was lying on the ground. She lifted her body up to see the dark man standing a couple of feet ahead of her, giving her his back. Despite not seeing she was awake, he spoke to her; “come here, I want to show you something.” she stood up and walked towards him, she stood next to him seeing his eyes fixating on a piece of stone, which made her look at it as well. What she saw was so terrifying that her feet couldn’t hold her body weight anymore; so she fell to her knees helplessly. “No. God no.” she cried, and kept repeating the word ‘no’ refusing to believe what laid right in front of her eyes. “That was me. The body you were standing next to was mine. How didn’t I recognize my own body!” she lamented. “It happens a lot, a soul can get confused after departing its body.” He said. She kept on weeping; “that’s why you’ve been following me, you’re the soul reaper.” She looked up at him as he looked back at her unemotionally; she thought she’d been dead for a few hours now, only to get shocked when he told her it had been five days since she left her earthly body. “Life was getting better. It was. I had a promotion, a wedding to look forward to, life was getting better.” She paused then said; “but you don’t care about that, do you?” “God didn’t create me to care.” He answered. She kept rocking her body back and forth, when he told her it’s time to leave. She looked at him again fearfully asking should she be afraid of where he’s taking her to. He simply answered; “I don’t know what fear is. People are afraid of death above all, but once you are dead, what is left for you to be afraid of?”



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Old 11-03-2013, 07:30 PM
risk10 (Offline)
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This is a much better story than your last one, Mai. I'll admit I was suckered in by your twist, and that was well done.

There are definately areas for improvement, particuarly around your phrasing and some of your structure. I think you have rushed this piece and crammed in too much information that tells us what to think rather than letting the story flow. It could be a significantly longer piece in this respect.

Anyway, a great step forward. If you would like a more in depth crit, let me know. I will return after lunch.
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Old 11-03-2013, 09:13 PM
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You pulled me in, held me and then got me with the twist. Good job.

That said, there are a few things:

In the first two sentences of the third paragraph, you use "fight" or "fighter" five times. Try to figure out how to say the same thing without repeating yourself.

It would be much easier to read if it were broken up more. Separate major spoken lines:

...He was quivering with fear as she sat next to him, striving to catch her breath.

"Are you running from him?", he asked.

Assuming they were both running from the same man, she replied, "Did you see him kill her, too?"

"Not 'her', 'him'. I saw him standing next to a dead 'he'."

She took a glance at the street and saw the dark man coming...

This form also allows you to have back-and-forth conversations without all of the, "he said", "she said"s.

Break the rest of it into shorter paragraphs and you'll have a good start.
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:00 AM
mai88 (Offline)
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Originally Posted by risk10 View Post
This is a much better story than your last one, Mai. I'll admit I was suckered in by your twist, and that was well done.

There are definately areas for improvement, particuarly around your phrasing and some of your structure. I think you have rushed this piece and crammed in too much information that tells us what to think rather than letting the story flow. It could be a significantly longer piece in this respect.

Anyway, a great step forward. If you would like a more in depth crit, let me know. I will return after lunch.
first of all, thank you, and second of all, if it's not too much to ask; can you please tell me more about the areas for improvement? be a little specific.
I would really appreciate it
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:02 AM
mai88 (Offline)
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Originally Posted by JustcallmeEd View Post
You pulled me in, held me and then got me with the twist. Good job.

That said, there are a few things:

In the first two sentences of the third paragraph, you use "fight" or "fighter" five times. Try to figure out how to say the same thing without repeating yourself.

It would be much easier to read if it were broken up more. Separate major spoken lines:

...He was quivering with fear as she sat next to him, striving to catch her breath.

"Are you running from him?", he asked.

Assuming they were both running from the same man, she replied, "Did you see him kill her, too?"

"Not 'her', 'him'. I saw him standing next to a dead 'he'."

She took a glance at the street and saw the dark man coming...

This form also allows you to have back-and-forth conversations without all of the, "he said", "she said"s.

Break the rest of it into shorter paragraphs and you'll have a good start.
Thank you. I admit that I'm still having troubles in how to write dialogues within a story, my problem is not with the dialogue itself but how to fit it in the story, do you have any advice on the matter?
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:08 AM
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It is a good attempt at a short story. Several structural things: first, you should start a new paragraph when a new person speaks, no matter how little they say. Second, put a "' around her thoughts or italicize it, this just helps the reader understand what it is better and not part of a dialogue. Thirdly, try using different sentence structure. Right now, all your sentences appear to be around the same lengths. By changing the length and how you punctuate each sentence, you can also affect the mood that the reader feels. For example, you could start with longer sentences then gradually make them shorter towards the climax. This would have the effect of building up the speed and making the reader feel the urgency of your MC as she tries to escape the man. Then you can use a medium length of sentences to conclude the piece, ending with an easy pace.

At times, you use the same word again and again, or start consecutive sentences in the same way. By doing this it sometimes helps for emphasis, but in this case, it just makes it seem slightly boring. This is easy to fix however. Simply use more variety in your word choice. This will help captivate the reader more effectively.

Now for the story itself as a whole. I think this is a good attempt in building the mood, and at some places, it happened. There were however places where I felt you got off track by describing her thoughts too much. Let us see the story from her eyes. Put us in your MC's shoes, but don't simply tell us what is going on. Do this, and your piece will have much more potential.

Having said all that, I do find this a good start, especially with the twist. Dialogue is few but this works to your advantage. I especially liked the ending. Your introduction and ending is good, it's the middle bit that needs some work on. Don't feel bad. I have spent five or more hours just writing and perfecting to the best of my ability 4 pages. You're not alone. The important thing is to try take feedback and keep trying. Take risks. Y'll get there. Sorry if some parts sounds harsh, I simply want to give you as much opportunity to improve as I can. Hope you find this helpful
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Old 11-04-2013, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Elisa/win View Post
Now for the story itself as a whole. I think this is a good attempt in building the mood, and at some places, it happened. There were however places where I felt you got off track by describing her thoughts too much. Let us see the story from her eyes. Put us in your MC's shoes, but don't simply tell us what is going on. Do this, and your piece will have much more potential.
Can you please point out the sentences/parts where you felt I got off track?
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Old 11-09-2013, 08:15 AM
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I haven't read your story yet. I will pretty soon and I will comment about some specifics then.

I did look at the story. when I visit a bookstore I will pick up a book and flip through a few pages. I am a good reader, but I am intimidated by large, dense blocks of print. I look for white space. When I see that I know there is the promise of a brisk reading experience.

Can your story benefit from more spacing? In many cases spacing equals pacing.

Just a thought.

BTW Your first paragraph is a prologue.
Can you begin more in medis res and supply backstory later?
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Old 11-09-2013, 12:29 PM
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It seems to be structured alright but the contents a bit dull. Seems like you could have elaborated a bit more on the characters. Not a total waste of time but nothing special either :/

Keep at it!
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Old 11-09-2013, 12:55 PM
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Very good. I liked it.
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