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March 3rd, 2004, 08:52 PM
I've taken your advice from the two others you've read. Now I've started another story. lol I would like to know your and anyone else's honest opinion. Particularly you though as I feel I can learn a great deal from you.


Untitled [as of yet]

A crisp wind blows the mid October leaves across the pavement. Children and their rubber tired bikes are rushing quickly by. Sausage smoked air tells of dinner waiting at home. The smell of wet trees hover just beneath. A slowly defining glare of the chandelier is seen from outside the white one story house. Picturesque window frames reveal the fact that several people inside are sitting and some are serving plates at their kitchen table. Time and distance shorten as jovial laughter mix with clanking plates and chiming silverware.

'Do you really think we can take down a pie too, Mags?' The man seated at the far end of the table wipes pieces of falling scalloped potatoes from his lower lip, instantly realizing the ridiculousness of the question coming from a guy with a mouth full of food. Margaret Evers lookes at her silly beloved of twenty-one years. Feelings that bring back memories of grammar school and times when she picked relentlessly on someone she secretly admired, tap on the back of her mind. 'Well it looks like you won't have any trouble trying.' The table rings again with laughter as he wipes the last vestige of cheese from his chin. 'I imagine you're not mistaken. But I do need to digest a bit first.' Margaret smiled. 'The pie does look delicious though, honey.' Once again he pickes up the fork and digs into the last pile of potatoes on his plate. '

Margaret takes her seat at the table and places her napkin on her lap only to remove it again as she sees her empty wine glass. 'mm!'....the man at the end of the table waves his hand vigorously in an attempt to get her attention. After all, his mouth was full again. The words in his brain, hurrying to get out, force a heavy swallow. 'You sit...you've been at it all day.' As he walks the narrow path to the refrigerator, Margaret pulls her chair forward to let her husband through.

'Anyone else need a refill?' Mr. Evers appears in the doorway with two half filled bottles of wine in his hands.
Two of the women raise their glasses like baby birds begging their mother for sustenance. Mr. Evers leans over the table pouring one glass from each bottle.

'Todd would you mind taking the finished plates back?' Mr. Evers obliges his wife and cleares all but the wine bottles from the table. It seems that more space means more talk as the conversation continues through the night. Outside, the night has fallen. Inside, illuminations become harsh and somewhat surreal. The men and women reminisce about their high school days together. Old flames and favorite teachers. Their first drink, their first smoke, their first dance, their first time. They remember old Mr. Fulton at the dime store who used to sell their older brothers and sisters cigarettes. He always played dumb to the fact that the younger kids usually got ahold of them. They laugh about the crazy old lady on Dowler street, and how they used to run up and knock on her door and run away and watched her stand on her porch from the other side of the yard. What evil children they were, they joke. And as the wine bottles from the third liquor run ran out, quiet began to crawl over the group.

'I can't believe we've stayed in touch all these years.' Tired laughter and affirmations are heard around the table. 'Oh.......' Todd stretches his arms and suggests a retreat to the living room. As they settle, Margaret looks at Andy sitting in the lazy chair. 'So Andy, you never told us. What ever happened to Trina?' Andy sat still in the chair holding the tilted glass to his lips. 'You never dated lightly.' Laughter again. But Andy is silent. Margaret's smile fades away as her eyes look at his. 'I hope I didn't hit a sore spot.' Andy swallows setting the glass down gently. 'No. It just went on longer than I'd have liked and ended badly.' Todd looks at Margaret who is looking confused. 'I'm sorry.' 'You have no reason to be sorry, Maggie' Andy sits staring at her with an odd calmness. Uncomfortable with the awkwardness of the moment, Danny chimes in. 'Let's do something to wake ourselves up. I don't know about anyone else but I'm not ready to sleep yet.' Todd laughes at his best friend. Always the peacemaker he thought. 'Well?' Danny returns with the same laughter. 'Things were getting a little too deep there, y'know.' Margaret seems happy with Danny's offer. 'We need to do something that all five of us can do.' She said. 'How about Charades?' Margaret's genuine excitement is endearing to Todd. Everyone agrees and another few hours are spent on pantomiming and eager guessing with shouts of answers.

As the five begin to grow tired once again, Andy speaks up. 'I know a game we can play.'


[revamped...is this better?]

thank you again for your time.

Rocket Sheep
March 3rd, 2004, 09:26 PM
Lost me on the first paragraph, sorry :(

I liked the use of all the senses to set the scene but you're losing me in the execution of the sentences.

"can be heard" makes the second sentence passive. It seems to be told from the point of view of someone outside the house but there is no one there... I'm feeling mislead. Picturesque window frames are a subject of a sentence and you have them sitting and serving plates.

The next paragraph has pov slips/switches and changes from present to past tense in the second sentence. There I stopped reading. As a grammar nazi, this story would drive me potty... pottier... no matter how good everything else is. Harry Potter drives me nuts with passives, so you're in good company.

The good news is you seem to have a flair for descriptions and dialogue and I'd guess you are an avid reader and this comes naturally. Tense and Viewpoint don't come naturally to anyone, even JK Rowling. Read up about these, get to grips with them, then look at sentence structure, passives, dangling modifiers all the tools you need in your writing toolkit to express your ideas and write on.

Evil Agent
March 3rd, 2004, 09:28 PM
Hey, the sheep's face looks different!

(sorry it's off topic)

Mod edit: Stay on topic! :mad:

Sheepish comment: It is a little known face that sheep recognise each other by face and tests have proven they can memorise up to 50 faces including those of humans. Did someone fool with my face while I was away?

March 3rd, 2004, 09:31 PM
ok, thank you for reading it...I seem to have an ongoing problem with the tense thing. I'll read through and revise further.

March 3rd, 2004, 10:34 PM
So I sees this post with name on it, yeah... and I'm thinking, what's up wit dat? What'd I go and do this time?

*whew*, someone HAPPY with my critique. I feel much relief. Let me do a blow by blow on this one. It looks like a very rough draft on initial reading. Let me get more detailed.

In the first paragraph you start out in present tense. Watch your tenses. You did tense changing in your other two stories as well. I loved your opening sentence (if it were tensed like the rest of the story). The second sentence was a little weak. If you can show me a picture of a bike without rubber tires, I'd like to see it, perhaps the sound of rubber tires from boys on bikes? Sausage smoked air? I think you're going for 'Scents of sausage smoke on the air' or something to that effect. You may want to combine the smells into one sentence with 'with'. I like the chandelier, but it seems out of place here. If you're hearing the sounds from outside the house, wouldn't they be muffled?

I'm not going to be as detailed for the rest, but you can see where I'm going with all this.

The next paragraph you jump (rather drastically) inside the house. Who was outside? or were we really inside looking out. Or is this a surreal spirit floating outside who just passed inside? Some important details are missing if the last case. This paragraph is good. I like the details. Some of the wording (like Feelings that brought back memories of grammar school and times when she picked relentlessly on someone she secretly admired, tapped on the back of her mind) are a little awkward. But I do like the fact that this story has dialog in it.

I'm just curious on the third paragraph, they've got a one story house, check, a chandelier, check, but why is it so narrow in the house she needs to scoot forward? I guess the descriptions from the outside, I had the impression the house was bigger. Again, good dialog.

two, half-filled bottles -vs- two half filled bottles. But the rest of the paragrph I liked.

Um, in the first sentence I have an image of Todd Evers with his hands, arms, pockets ever-full. Did he really clear everything at once? Did no one else help? is everyone else mute? Just curious. Also, did he leave the wine glasses? or just the bottles?

Instead of The Night, how about 'just night had' fallen? On your list, drop all but the first their. Their first drink, first smoke, first dance, first time. It flows a little smoother. Sometimes less is more. The last sentence doesn't really make sense. Try and say it out loud and you'll see how it sounds. How about 'And as the wine ran out from the third bottle...'

The last paragraph being mostly dialog should be split to better show who is doing the talking. It's jumbled and confusing. When doing this much dialog, each said portion should be on its own line and it should be obvious to the reader WHO said WHAT. This'll help the flow the the last paragraph. It's good after a few read throughs, but needs to be broken up better.

Finally, the last line. Andy speaks up, but I've got no facial expression, no tone to see what Andy is hinting at. Strip poker? Spin the bottle? Chutes and Ladders? Is he being dirty minded? innocent? Vulgar? Make him express this so the words come out as intended. If you were to say this, how would you say it? What would your face show? Are you saying it slyly? sheepishly? (pun intended here) Shyly? with a wink? a nod? in a drunken mess? Paint a picture as this is the last line and I'm left wondering what game they're gonna play.

*whew* Hope that's not too rough. I was going to rewrite some more for you, but I don't think I will. That's your job, not mine. SO edit this, then read it, then edit it again, then read it again, then edit again (and no I'm not kidding). Edit it at least three times and look at tense, Point of View, break up the dialog onto separate lines and once you feel you've given this as much polish as you can, post it up here again and let's see what it looks like. If you don't go through your own work at least three times, you're not doing yourself any justice. From reading your other two stories, I know you can do better, so go do better...:). I look forward to reading the re-write of this. Take your time. Don't rush and all that other sage advice that always sounds so good coming from someone else...hehehe.

Don't get discouraged. Please. And don't take this as a bad review/critique. You've got potential. I recomend picking up a book on grammar (The Elements of Style is possibly the best and least expensive you can find). Also, keep writing. The more you write right, the better you'll get at it. There's nothing like practice.

*huh* looks like I've more than filled my 1000 word quota for the day...:D

March 4th, 2004, 03:20 PM
Most has been said. However, my I attempt to answer this:

Originally posted by maus99 The next paragraph you jump (rather drastically) inside the house. Who was outside? or were we really inside looking out. Or is this a surreal spirit floating outside who just passed inside?[/B]

I go for the "surreal spirit". A scholar would refer to it as a omniscient, self-effacing narrator; i.e. not a character, but some kind of alter ego of the author, who does not comment on what's going on, but rather hides behind objectivity. The use of present tense is quite compatible with that approach, as there is no reflective distance between the "narrator" and what's going on. You may also compare that kind of narrator with the camera in a movie ("Time and distance shorten..." - isn't that something to that effect?).

Actually, I like the disembodied point of view of the piece. It's employed with discipline, though there are slips:

"Two of the women raise their glasses like baby birds begging their mother for sustenance."

It's a nice simile, but here the narrator forgets to efface him/her/itself. Remember that the use of figurative language tells us as much about the narrator, as it tells us about the thing described.


Also, I'd prefer "reveal several people sitting..." to "reveal the fact that several people are sitting...". Phrases like "the fact that" can usually be cut without any loss.