I started writing.

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Voly
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I started writing.

Postby Voly » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:52 am

ATTN ZYN
You are a writer. I've read some of your writing. I expect a fair amount of constructive criticism from you, and your opinion matters. It's not often that I openly admit that I care about any individual's opinion, so this is a high honor for you, whether you know it or not.

Maybe it'll be a short story or a novel. Not sure. I know where I'm going to go with it but I don't know how much shit I'm going to put in the middle.

It's actually not autobiographical, but some of the members who know me personally might notice some significant similarities to my real life. You write what you know, I guess.

I've gotten this far and I want some input before I keep going. If it's even slightly readable, I'll keep going.

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT.
7:40 is what the red backlit numbers on my clock said. As far as getting enough rest, it wouldn’t make a difference if it was AM or PM. I would still be just as tired. The alarm had long ago stopped with the moderately annoying “BZZT BZZT BZZT BZZT” and had instead adopted an antagonistic drone when the alarm sets in, the unfortunate result of years of violent treatment.
“Need to get a new fucking clock,” was the first thing I said today. Words of wisdom. I’m alone, so of course nobody heard it, but not being heard is a feeling I’m used to. I peel my face off of the slightly damp and frigid puddle of drool that soaked into my pillow and get up to turn off the alarm. The reason I put my alarm on the other side of my room is simple. At some point I got into the habit of turning my alarm off in my sleep, so I have to keep it out of reach.
I have to be at work by 8, and I live about 15 minutes from work, so I waste no time getting up and putting on my uniform, which consists of tan pants and a dark blue shirt. They've been laying in a pile in the floor with the rest of my clothes. I should probably do laundry.
I work in a warehouse. Some people call it a department store; some people call it a supermarket. Technically speaking, it’s both of those things. But to me, it’s a big concrete building with no windows and high, sheet metal ceilings with industrial-grade ventilation running along it, filled with shelves covered in shit nobody needs but they buy anyway. They have to. They’re consumers.
Breakfast is a tall glass of water and four gel-caps of ibuprofen. I’ve got a headache already. I’ve always got a headache. It’s probably a brain tumor. Hopefully. Maybe I’ll die by 24.
After a brief search for my car keys amidst the Taco Bell waste and convenience store fountain drink cups that have found a permanent home on my coffee table, I head out the door. I don’t lock it. If someone is poor enough to want any of the junk in my apartment, and if they have the balls to rob me in the middle of the day, they can have it. None of it does me any good anyway.
I walk down the creaky wooden steps in the breezeway of the slum I call home, briefly wondering if this will finally be the time the third step finally gives in and breaks. Then I’d have a reason to call in sick and go back to bed. But step #3 apparently still has some will to live. I wish I could say the same.
I get in my rust-colored sub-compact and start the engine. After some coaxing, it finally turns over and lets out a high-pitched squeal. It does that every time. People keep telling me I should get my belts looked at. I don’t know anything about cars, so as long as it still goes when I want it to, I’m not going to bankrupt myself over it. I can’t afford to eat, so I’m definitely not going to pay some hillbilly mechanic to tell me what I already know. My car’s a piece of shit.
I drive mindlessly on the way to work. I’ve made this trip so many times that I could probably do it asleep. In fact, I probably already have made the trip in my sleep.
I arrive at work and head back to the time clock. The clock reads 8:04 AM, which means I’m 4 minutes late. There’s a grace period, but it’s still about 50 cents of my life I’ll never get back. As though my time is really even worth 13 cents a minute. I sign myself into work. The screen on the clock politely reads, “Thank you, your punch has been accepted.” I have always just wanted it to say, “Fuck you, go home, you don’t do any work here anyway.”
Before I even get to my department and start work, I’m met by one of my coworkers. I guess he’s my friend, too. He’s the only person I hang out with outside of the workplace. I don’t know why I spend time with him. I guess it’s probably because he spends time with me. I’m not sure he has any other friends either. We’ve probably just mutually accepted that nobody else wants our company anyway.
“Hey, man, just getting here?” Genuine curiosity, like he has forgotten I always get to work at 8.
“Hey, Jeff,” I said, trying to sound less tired than I am, “Yeah. 8 to 5 today. Like always.”
Last edited by Voly on Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
Astica wrote:That's probably the wankiest thing I've heard all day.

Elen wrote:If they were just bickering about politics, instead of indulging ERQ's passive-aggressive, self-aggrandizing fuckassery, then I wouldn't have a problem with it.

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Postby Voly » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:53 am

It took out all of my indentations when I pasted it, which kinda pisses me off.
Astica wrote:That's probably the wankiest thing I've heard all day.

Elen wrote:If they were just bickering about politics, instead of indulging ERQ's passive-aggressive, self-aggrandizing fuckassery, then I wouldn't have a problem with it.

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Postby Astica » Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:41 am

I like it. I like the minimalist style. To pick the bones, though, I think the explanation of the alarm clock being far away is unnecessary, as is the "which means I'm 4 minutes late". I think my favourite bit is the bit with the step.

Voly
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Postby Voly » Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:42 am

I wasn't sure about those two parts actually, myself.
Astica wrote:That's probably the wankiest thing I've heard all day.

Elen wrote:If they were just bickering about politics, instead of indulging ERQ's passive-aggressive, self-aggrandizing fuckassery, then I wouldn't have a problem with it.

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Postby Zyn » Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:37 pm

Okay. There's a big note I'll make here before we get into the nitty-gritty dissection:
I can only tell so much about a piece without the entirety of it before. I'll have to play this like it is the entire piece, and then you can feel free to say "I'm getting around to it."

As for the critique itself, I'll try to make these all concise, direct, and self-explanatory:

1: The wake-up scene is ridiculously hard. I've seen better writers than I flop an entire story because they thought they needed one. This is infinitely more poignant when the story is told from the first person. The language throughout this piece does not convey any of the grogginess or confusion of waking up (nor the headache mentioned later, while on that note). This is especially important because the lack of sleep is highlighted many times e.g. "I would still be just as tired" and the line previous to it.

2: There is a two-sided problem I view with the details: They are described, in some cases, where they are unnecessary, and they are "told", not "shown". The second gets a little leeway because this is a first person narrative and sometimes people do stop and think "This is the shirt I am wearing: XXX", but it is rare and still feels awkward. It ejects a person from the narrative to tell them, specifically, what they should be imagining and considering, especially when it's delivered dryly and directly. Better it would be to slip in to another sentence so that the reader still knows the information (if it's important to the story) instead of dedicating an entire paragraph to it; the clothes-based paragraph is a prime example of this. Secondarily on this point, there needs to be some value in at least most if not all details. While it does help to describe the speaker's mental state, the entire paragraph about the car does not reveal anything not already explicitly or implicitly stated before. Unless, of course, the bad condition of the car becomes relevant for another reason later, but that's something I can't really address.

3: Please remove the onomatopoeia at the beginning, just because that is a horrifying cliche only acceptable in poetry and children's stories, and even then only on a case-by-case basis. This seems like it will become something brooding and psychological, so it would probably behoove the subject more to make a statement about why this character's mental state and life are important and why we should care. What would be especially strong is a line that instantly makes the reader react with "Prove it!". The target audience of a psychological book will be intellectuals, pseudo-intellectuals, and people with deeply-rooted mental issues. All three of these are very defensive and/or curious people, to some degree. An example of this kind of statement would be "I'm the only one left with a soul in this goddamn town." or "There's a special kind of torture involved in a life like mine."

4: This is strongly related to the above one: develop a focus. And this is still relevant even if this becomes a novel. Your idea/story has to become immediately relevant and interesting, even if only tangentially. If this is just a story to make us feel sorry for this guy, no body will get through the fourth page. However, if you can innocuously slip one line in (or make it blatant, if you like) about an interesting idea/event, people will be hooked through a 5-page declaration of shitty lif-i-tude. Although I would still urge away from that. For example, maybe have him stop at a calender before he leaves, cross off the day before (like all previous days), and then notice that today is circled. Or this guys he meets at work could mention something (although that's still a little late). I was once told: "You have 30 seconds of their attention almost by default. If you haven't hooked them in that 30 seconds, you've lost them." SIDE NOTE: This will be accomplished automatically if you do #3 properly. Then it's just a matter of keeping a focus.

I think that's enough for now. As usual, I'd like to say that you should never be discouraged by my critiques; I'm in training to snipe out bad writing, not to highlight good writing. While I will praise you if you say something comparable to Emerson, most examples of good writing I won't mention in order to save time for the above blocks of text.

Just keep at it. Everyone has something worth saying.
S. [Burned] Y. wrote:Zyn, please stop telling the special ed kids of your school about this place.


Voly wrote:You just earned back all the many, many points I've taken away from you (mentally) since you've been here.

Voly
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Postby Voly » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:18 pm

I personally just woke up so I'm having trouble processing the bulk of that. I'll come back around tonight and read it again.

But even in my current state, I appreciate the criticisms. I'm trying to write something good and readable, not something that my friends will TELL me is good and readable.
Astica wrote:That's probably the wankiest thing I've heard all day.

Elen wrote:If they were just bickering about politics, instead of indulging ERQ's passive-aggressive, self-aggrandizing fuckassery, then I wouldn't have a problem with it.

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Postby alezy » Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:14 am

“Need to get a new fucking clock,” was the first thing I said today. Words of wisdom. I’m alone, so of course nobody heard it, but not being heard is a feeling I’m used to. I peel my face off of the slightly damp and frigid puddle of drool that soaked into my pillow and get up to turn off the alarm. The reason I put my alarm on the other side of my room is simple. At some point I got into the habit of turning my alarm off in my sleep, so I have to keep it out of reach.



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