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Critique my writing?

3 years ago
Commended by JJJ-thebanisher on 1/15/2017 2:06:54 PM


So here's the first page of my story for the writing contest. although i don't expect anyone to read all of it i'd appreciate it if someone looked through it and maybe gave me some pointers on things to continue doing and things not to continue doing as i further write my story. thanks.

here it is:

You awaken to Papa gently shaking you awake.

“Wake up my son,” He says quietly. “We have much work to do.”

A light confusion runs through your drowsy self. Typically, whenever you woke up, the sunlight from your window would fall against your eyelids and color your vision a scarlet orange, however today there is instead a dark black. You rub your eyes and sit up in your cot, moving your goose feather pillow up against the backboard of your simple bed. Opening your eyes you recognize your surroundings as your bedroom: the bare wooden walls and flooring as well as the minimal furniture mark how simple life is here at Derevnya. You glance at your window: as predicted no sunlight shines through it, rather there is instead the blackness that only night can bring. In front of you is Papa, with his salt-and-pepper beard, ever-hungry eyes, and bald head sitting at the end of your bed. He is dressed in faded military fatigues, a helmet clutched under one arm. At the side of his helmet, you notice there is an emblem of a hammer and some sort of curved blade crossing over a red star. They represent a long-dead nation.

“Papa?” You yawn. “What time is it?”         

Your father leans in, takes your hand, and begins rubbing his thumb over your knuckles. “Son… remember those talks we had, about me possibly not being here for you one day?” He starts slowly after some hesitation. You do remember this, but he begins talking before you can answer. “One day you’re going to have to look out for Mama and little Nattie for me. And Derevnya as well perhaps.” He adds after a moment. “You’re going to have to be a man. And so, that is why you’re coming with me. We’re going hunting.”

“Hunting? But it’s the middle of the night… and Mama…”

Papa shakes his head. “Do not bother yourself with what your mother says. She is a good woman with good intentions, but she is simple-minded as her place is in the household. What would she know about a man’s work – she’s never killed a gigantskiy medved' in her life, much less wield a Kalashnikov.” He scoffs. “Now, while the sun has yet to appear in the east, and with your mother still asleep, get ready and meet me at the Gates.” With that being said, he stands and begins to leave your room, his large brown military boots making clacking noises against the wood that send shivers down your spine.

“Wait, papa,” You call out, half-wondering if he will stop and listen to you. “what about the people? Shouldn’t you be here for them? What if something happens?”

His dark form stops briefly. Over his shoulder, he simply answers “If the people cannot protect themselves for a few small hours, they were not worth saving at all.” The old helmet bobs against his thighs as he walks out of your room and into the darkness.

After your father leaves, you procrastinate for several more moments in bed, wondering if you should obey your father and follow through with his plans or respect your mother’s wishes. However, you think back to your father talking about you possibly having to become the man of the family, and that as well as a wish to impress your father, are what ultimately get you out of bed. You throw on a simple worn shirt, track pants, a heavy winter coat, and a wool scarf, but before you leave your room you grab a hunting knife your father gave you for your tenth birthday, which was two years ago. You still remember that day, because your mother somehow managed to make you a homemade Kyiv cake. In Derevnya such sweets are not common.

After getting ready you head out of your room and into the kitchen, passing the bedrooms of your still-sleeping mother and sister. Here you scarf down a small loaf of bread and a sip of vodka for breakfast. With a dusty pen that barely works and a napkin, you write a note to your mother telling her that you and papa will be out hunting.

You grab a lantern, light it, and head outside, immediately feeling the effects of the frigid night air as you close the door behind you. It’s not the type of cold that buffets you with a dull chill, rendered to nothing more than a vague annoyance by your clothing, rather the type of cold that slices through the layers of your clothing like a scythe. You shiver and begin navigating the village, heading down the worn old path which bisects town, leading you to the Gates. In the darkness, you are acutely aware of the smallest of noises around you. You realize that you’ve never actually been out this late before and that the village, the home you’ve pretty much always known throughout your entire life, looks incredibly more menacing than in broad daylight. You get the unnerving feeling like that, as you pass by them, the huts and houses that makeup Derevenya watch your every step. You begin to quick your pace, your breath visible in the night air.

Eventually you reach the outskirts of town, away from the main buildings of town. All that is here is Old Man Sidrovich’s house. You hear he used to be some sort of merchant, but his wife died in a nuclear blast and he then promptly moved to Derevenya. Now he mostly keeps to himself and tends to his farm, like the majority of the town’s population. As you walk past his house, you happen to glance at it and nearly have a heart attack when you realize he is sitting there motionless on his front porch, watching you with his hawk-like eyes. Smoke curls from a cigarette between his index and middle finger.

For a moment, you two just stare at each other wordlessly. “Dobriy vyecher, young one,” He says taking a drag on his cigarette, breaking the awkward silence. “A little too late for you isn’t it?”

“Zdrastvooyte, Mr. Sidrovich. Uh, I was just, um, going hunting…” You stammer.

“Hunting? At this time of night? With no weapons and just your little self?” He flashes a grin, his yellowed, crooked teeth glinting in the moonlight, and takes another hit on his cigar. “Naw, I understand. You’re going with your father.”

You hesitate before answering, caught off guard that Sidrovich would know this. “I, uh, yeah I am going with my father. How’d you know?”

Sidrovich gives a short chuckle. “’Cause I saw him walk on down the same path as you are, a little while ago. Had a Kalash in his hands, and a gas mask on.” There is quiet for several moments. “Huh. I was wondering what Viktor was up to.” He murmurs almost to himself.

You and the old merchant stare quietly at each for several seconds until Sidrovich once again breaks the silence. “Y’wanna know what I’m wondering now?”

“Uh, what?”

“Why’s our only authority figure, our only law enforcement, leaving town?”

“He told me that he thought the town would be able to handle his absence for a few hours.”

“Would they be able to?”

You sigh. “I think so. And I’m sorry, Mr. Sidrovich, but I think my father will leave without me if I don’t show up soon, so I might as well get going.”

“Proshchay.” He simply says, before going back to toke on his cigar.

You wave goodbye at him before hurrying onward towards the Gates. Perhaps the term ‘gates’ is a misnomer because while the Gates serve the same function as real gates, they are not an actual physical gate. Rather the Gates are a small watchtower with some barricades that is located about two kilometers from the end of town, which is the start of the Forest.

Eventually the large brick structure of the watchtower comes into view. Beside the watchtower, on the road, are several piles of sandbags formed in a semi-circle shape, facing the Forest. Rows of serrated razor wire are coiled in front of the sandbags. This is just one of several deterrences against any unwanted or uninvited visitors that decide to come to Derevnya, like the Fritzes. According to Papa, people from the United League of Slavic States are also unwanted, but this is somewhat of a controversial opinion in town. Some people, like Mama for instance, want to apply to join the League because, in her words, they will ‘keep us safe’. The last time this debate between them happened, Papa got very angry, as usual, and struck Mama very hard, also as usual. Regardless of what the people of Derevnya want, they still look to your father to make the rules, and as such, the city probably isn’t going to be a part of the ULSS… or the Fritzes, for that matter.

As you head to the Gates, three people come into view, huddled behind the sandbags. All of them wear military fatigues, carry large rifles, and have gas masks on. You recognize Papa among them, and he comes over to you, his helmet above his gas mask, his assault rifle leaned against his shoulder.

“Took you long enough,” His voice is slightly muffled due to the gas mask, but you can hear the irritation through it.

“Forgive me, Papa. Mr. Sidrovich wanted to speak with me for a moment.”

Papa shrugs. “Anyway, for the past couple of days, I’ve been tracking a deer in the Forest. You will be killing it. And I will be teaching you how to skin it, remove the organs, and prepare it for your mother to cook.” Papa reaches into his backpack and pulls out a small brown pistol out of his pack. He hands it to you handle first.

You take the gun, weigh it in your hand, and get a general feel of it. It’s much smaller than a conventional handgun and perhaps thus more lightweight and easy for your use. Although you’re mostly ecstatic about this, because it means Papa thinks you’re becoming a man, still a part of you is somewhat concerned. You’ve never been allowed to carry any type of gun before, mainly due to your mother’s stalwart prohibition of any of them near you. You can’t imagine how furious she’d be if she found out about this. You’re tempted to ask Papa about how Mama feels about this, but decide against it.

The two men near the sandbags walk over to you and Papa. “Damn Viktor,” One of them says after he notices you brandishing the weapon. He gives a low whistle. “maybe in a couple of years your boy is going to be able to join us at the Gates huh?”

“Arthur and Alexi, go back to your positions,” Your father nearly barks at them and they immediately turn around and do as he asks without question. “now then,” He says turning back to you “It is time to start teaching you how to handle a gun properly. A gun may be a little scary, but it’s a tool, just like any other tool like a hammer or saw. You just need to know how to handle it properly…”

From there your father gives you a whole lesson on gun safety, and particularly stresses the fact that you should never point a gun at someone you don’t intend to hurt. After his lecture and a quiz, Papa enters the watchtower and returns with some empty soda cans and vodka bottles. After arranging them, you now have targets to shoot. Overall, you can tell your father is impressed with you and that makes you happy. You find handling and shooting a gun to be actual fun like you haven’t ever experienced. Fuck your mother’s feminine worries, you’re a man now and this is what men do.

“I’ll teach you the individual parts of the gun and how to clean it later,” Your father says after you knock the last can to the ground. “but you’re a natural, son. I can tell you’re going to excel at shooting when you grow up. It might take a little practice but that’s okay.”

You beam with pride. “Thank you, Papa.”

“And now that we’ve spent an hour on this, let’s go on the hunt without another minute wasted. Leave the tracking to me of course,” Your father says as he grabs his Kalash from its spot against one of the sandbags.

“Let’s go, then, Papa!” You agree enthusiastically.

Your father motions for you to follow him and the two of you begin walking towards the Forest line. From his shoulder, Papa yells at Arthur, evidently one of the guards at the Gates; “I trust that you’ll be able to take care of everything without me and not slack off, right?”

“Of course, sir!”

“Alright, that’s a good boy.”

Little did any of you know, that would be the last time you or your father saw Arthur again.

Critique my writing?

3 years ago

Isn't it your job to critique stuff?

Critique my writing?

3 years ago

Your first few lines:

You awaken to Papa gently shaking you awake.

“Wake up my son,” He says quietly. “We have much work to do.”

?the first line is repetitive with the "you awaken" and "shaking you awake". It doesn't sound right. xD Also, I'm pretty sure you're supposed to write the "He" after the first line of dialogue with a lowercase "h". I'll get to the rest later. :3 it seems interesting so far. :D

Critique my writing?

3 years ago

You awaken to Papa gently shaking you, rousing you from your sleep.

Fixed it ^_^

Critique my writing?

3 years ago

I don't think you really even need anything after "You awaken to Papa gently shaking you". I would cut it off there.

Critique my writing?

3 years ago

Yeah. I agree. You don't need the extra to say that you're waking up.


Critique my writing?

3 years ago

thanks for the revision crescent and briar.

might go with what lactose said.

Critique my writing?

3 years ago
Commended by JJJ-thebanisher on 1/15/2017 1:21:25 PM
Crescent already mentioned the dialogue tags, but yeah, it should be, “Wake up my son,” he says quietly. “We have much work to do.” Mistakes in punctuation on dialogue is an extremely common thing I see around here even with the more accomplished writers though, so no worries. In that example, or if you put the 'he says quietly' at the beginning or the end of the actual dialogue, it's always a comma rather than a period.

You beam with pride. “Thank you, Papa.” on the other hand, is correct because they're two separate sentences.

Anyway, I didn't see too much else to nitpick here, you do a good job introducing the setting, and the characters enough for me to think the father's a bit of a dick and probably up to something.

But unless the father is some sort of megalomaniacal control freak, I'm not sure if he could really be 'their only authority figure, their only law enforcement'. The story keeps putting emphasis on this, but even dictators have to delegate. Unless it's just ridiculously dangerous outside to the point that leaving the compound for a recreational hunting trip is insane (the gas masks, etc. seem to suggest this) but in that case it seems like everyone would be pointing that out instead.

Critique my writing?

3 years ago

thanks for the corrections on grammar.

>not sure if he could really be 'their only authority figure, their only law enforcement'.

yea this is a mistake on my part, thanks for bringing it to my attention. the father isn't the only one the people look up to, tho he is the main one. (i'm glad that was picked up on because i am trying to stress that.) there's still some lower ranking law enforcement as depicted by Arthur and Alexi, and as the story goes on it's made clear Sidrovich's opinions are also respected.

>Unless it's just ridiculously dangerous outside to the point that leaving the compound for a recreational hunting trip is insane (the gas masks, etc. seem to suggest this) but in that case it seems like everyone would be pointing that out instead.

im not 100% sure what the point that youre trying to make here is. it is dangerous to leave the village. are u saying i should change the dialgoue more to show this?