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Short story (Angel)

 
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husk



Joined: 28 May 2009
Posts: 59
Location: texas

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 6:12 pm
Post subject: Short story (Angel)
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Angel
Back in the corner of a poorly run down room, lit by a single candle with the dancing flame of hope, I stare down the barrel of a gun with the taste of metal in my mouth. My right hand on the trigger, left hand ready to plunge a syringe full of brown, murky substance into my arm, there is a thumping on the far wall making the rotted plaster fall and crumble to the dust covered floor. A tiny head pops out of the wall covered with green moss for hair, a scraggly goatee made of twigs, and shiny yellow eyes staring at me while this strange creature hops to the floor. He points at me beckons me to follow him back through the hole. The creature speaks to me and says, “Follow me and I’ll show you where you life is going to lead you.”

Advancing towards the freshly made hole in the decaying wall, this strange creature known as an imp scrambles up to my shoulder and takes a seat. Blurry eyed and head pounding with the smell of rotten flesh in the air, I do not know where I am. Shaking my head to get my vision back, I look around and see strangely deformed trees with no leaves. They are decaying from the inside with twisted branches covered in mold that drips to the ground to form pools of death. The little fellow tells me, “Walk down the path made of human bone to the gate of your hell.” Stepping onto the path, bones crunch under my feet with every step I take to reach the gate to the entrance of my hell. Looking at the skulls with rotten flesh hanging from the heads of many lost souls, I wonder how to open it. Two leathery, oily, blackbirds perch on top of the gate. With demonic screeches coming from their beaks the gate swings open to let me pass through it.

A gloomy, damp hallway is thumping and pumping with the life of hearts still beating to their own rhythm. The long twisting hall ends with a closed wooden door. Walking down the pathway I notice the floor is made from human hair. The strange creature says, “This is the hallway of those with no hearts when they were alive. Take a closer look my friend.” Examining the walls I notice they are made of functioning hearts still pumping blood out off them. As blood trickles down the wall and drains into little slits on the floor, I ask the creature where the blood goes. His reply is, “Do you really want the answer to where it goes?” I shake my head “no”. The imp starts screaming, “Walk faster! We are almost there; hurry now or we will be late!”

Standing in front of an ancient oak door, I catch my breath before trying to open it. Suddenly a thousand eyes appear on the door with tears running out of them. While the tears fill the floor with wetness the door swings open with a long, horrific moan of pain.
The smell of sweat and blood washes over me knocking me down to my knees. Raising my head at the sound of the door slamming shut behind me, my mouth drops open as my eyes take in the scene of the torture chamber around me. To the left there are humans being skinned alive with a cheese grater and a pile of shaved skin up to the knees of the beast doing the torturing. To the right heads are being put into a vice closing slowly until their eyes pop out. Straight ahead of us hearts are being ripped out with giant pliers. Hanging on the walls with spikes protruding through their hands and feet are humans waiting to see who will be tortured next.

Waking up to the little imp peeing on my face, he says “Wake up wake up darling.” The gun is now lying on the floor, and the needle is still jammed in my arm full of the murky, brown liquid. “Well,” this creature says, “did you like what awaits you when you die? It looks like death will be coming soon. You have a choice to make right now, end your life with the gun or the needle or stand up, stumble out the door and don’t look back. The choice is yours to make.”
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LunaRaven



Joined: 30 Jun 2008
Posts: 925
Location: Neverland

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:52 am
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Well, I'm going to workshop your work like I do to the work of my classfellows.

For starters, the phrase,

Quote:
poorly run down room


implies that room is not run down well. In other words, it’s a poor excuse of a run down room. What you might want to do is change the structure of the sentence to read something like,

“Back in a far(or sheltered) corner of a dark, run down room..”(by putting dark here, you’re also explaining the need for a candle)

or, if you’re attached to the word poorly,

“Back in a far corner of a poor, run down room…”

The next phrase,

Quote:
lit by a single candle with the dancing flame of hope


sounds off. Possibly, the presence of the word, “the”. By writing, “the dancing flame of hope”, you seem to be saying that this is the only flame of hope. It’s difficult to explain, but I highly suggest that you reword this phrase to read something along the lines of,

“the darkness penetrated by a single lit candle”. Removing “flame of hope” makes your story seem more serious and read less flowery. Not that flowery writing doesn’t have it’s place, but I don’t think that it aids the story that you are trying to tell.

Quote:
My right hand on the trigger, left hand ready to plunge a syringe full of brown, murky substance into my arm, there is a thumping on the far wall making the rotted plaster fall and crumble to the dust covered floor.


This is a very wordy sentence, and your meaning seems to get lost midway. I suggest, while writing, that you use a common editing technique. Read your work aloud, and stop when what you’re reading is no longer fluid. Your words should flow, and if a reader has to double-take and reread a sentence, it shouldn’t be because of your structure, but rather because they’re weren’t paying attention or they find you writing style unfamiliar. I suggest that you separate this sentence into two sentences.

Quote:
A tiny head pops out of the wall covered with green moss for hair, a scraggly goatee made of twigs, and shiny yellow eyes staring at me while this strange creature hops to the floor. He points at me beckons me to follow him back through the hole. The creature speaks to me and says, “Follow me and I’ll show you where you life is going to lead you.”


You’ve just got me, the reader, interested in the story with the introduction of this strange, intriguing character. That’s good, you’ve got my attention. Now you have to keep it, and I suggest that you do that by expanding your descriptions. Being able to describe something is one of a writer’s finest tools and learning the line between under-describing and over-describing is vital. I myself suffer from the temptation to over describe things, and lengthy descriptions can frustrate writers and loose your audience. At the same time, under describing things can leave a reader without a clear picture of the going-ons of a story. Personally, I like to be able to imagine a set of moving images, almost like a movie, when I read.
The first line of the sentences quoted is a bit confusing. It almost makes a reader as which of the two things are covered with moss, the creature’s head or the wall? I like the unique attribute and the earthy make-up of the creature. It reminds of the sylvan described in Terry Brooks’ Word/Void series(a great series, by the by). The second sentence on the second line is confusing, I suggest inputting an “and” between “me” and “beckons”.


Quote:
Advancing towards the freshly made hole in the decaying wall, this strange creature known as an imp scrambles up to my shoulder and takes a seat. Blurry eyed and head pounding with the smell of rotten flesh in the air, I do not know where I am. Shaking my head to get my vision back, I look around and see strangely deformed trees with no leaves. They are decaying from the inside with twisted branches covered in mold that drips to the ground to form pools of death. The little fellow tells me, “Walk down the path made of human bone to the gate of your hell.” Stepping onto the path, bones crunch under my feet with every step I take to reach the gate to the entrance of my hell. Looking at the skulls with rotten flesh hanging from the heads of many lost souls, I wonder how to open it. Two leathery, oily, blackbirds perch on top of the gate. With demonic screeches coming from their beaks the gate swings open to let me pass through it.


Was the hole made by the creature when he emerged from the wall? If so, you didn’t mention a hole earlier. Also, the creature is introduced as an imp but—seeing as you are trying to tell this story in first-person narrative---in order for this fact to be introduced your narrator would have to know it. What I'm saying is, does your narrator know that this creature is an imp? If so, how? Also, further expanding on the first-person narrative, it sounds a little awkward. An author can have incredible power when writing in first-person, but I find that more often than not the author ends up causing more confusion than necessary. I would suggest altering your format so that your sentences throughout read like this,

“Back in a sheltered corner of a dark, run down room, the darkness was penetrated by a single lit candle. Starring down the barrel of a beretta M9, the taste of metal was present in all corners of my mouth. My right hand was grasping the pistol’s coarse handle and my index finger was poised to pull the trigger. My left hand was shakily standing by, ready to plunge a syringe full of brown, murky substance into my forearm. Distantly, there was a thumping on the far wall. The wall, old and worn with time began to crumble under the anonymous thumper’s pressure, causing rotted plaster to fall and crumble onto the dusty floor.”

What I’ve done here is split up lengthy sentences, and added descriptions to certain areas to give the reader a clearer picture on the environment being described. Instead of calling it just any kind of gun, specifically naming the brand make the setting seem more realistic. It also keeps the interest of someone who might be interested in firearms. By adding the simple adjective, “shakily”, you’re establishing that this character has some sort of emotional presence. The fact that she (I'm assuming it’s a she, because it certainly seemed that way to me) is shaking means that she is at least somewhat frightened or apprehensive, which makes sense since she’s about to kill herself. Describing the wall as old and worn further accentuates how run-down the room is.

I don’t have time to pick everything apart, but I will leave you with some advice. Watch your sentence structure. If you find it hard to read aloud you should probably edit it. Don’t be afraid to be to experiment with descriptions. It’s hard to find the balance, and I don’t know of a writer that is always on key. However, when you do find the line and describe something well it can do wonders for your overall body of work. Occasionally, you run into problems with the omission of important words (like “and, “the”, and “or”). Heck, everyone does that sometimes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a sentence that sounded wonderful in my mind by weird on paper.

I did like the twist at the end. Typically, one associated imps with the darker side of existence. In this story however, the imp seemed to be playing the part of an actively aggressive guardian angel. That was a very smart role reversal. I was a bit confused about the needle though. What was its purpose? If she was going to blow her brains out, why have a needle. Was it a fail-safe, incase she couldn’t not bring herself to shoot? The image of her holding a gun and a needle seems a bit awkward, since it seems that suicidal people usually hold the gun with two hands opposed to one. I’d be interested in reading a revised version of this story though.
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husk



Joined: 28 May 2009
Posts: 59
Location: texas

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:03 pm
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Thank you so much for the feed back.
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LunaRaven



Joined: 30 Jun 2008
Posts: 925
Location: Neverland

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:32 pm
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husk wrote:
Thank you so much for the feed back.


You're spiffily welcome.
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― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
http://www.looneylunaravenreviews.blogspot.com/
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Vilya



Joined: 04 Aug 2010
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:05 am
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First person is a notoriously hard perspective to write in. Action can become dull if there are too many sentences that start with the word "I". There are a lot of run on sentences. I agree with Luna Raven that you need to break it up, quite a bit.

The great thing about first person is that it gives you a singular view of what one person is thinking or feeling. And that is what this piece is missing. I need to know what this person is thinking, what they are feeling, not just how they are reacting to their surroundings. That is the magic of first person and you should explore it thoroughly. Though I do not know if writing in first person is right for you, I can tell you that this type of piece definately lends itself to it.

I want to know what this imp sounds like. It certainly in your mind had a distinct voice. I want to hear it.

I need to smell the mold, and feel the chill go down my back when the blackbirds screech. I need to feel this person's fear, and possible withdrawl symptoms (obviously they were wanting to shoot up again and felt in that moment that they needed the drug.)


I liked your description of the candle with the dancing flame of hope. Good forshadowing, that all is not lost for this person.

In short....go back through and try to concentrate more on what your characters is feeling.
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