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Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago

 

Ok so basically I just wrote this short little piece to try and work on story elements and to get feedback on the flow of my writing. I don't care how harsh it is I just plead for some feedback.  (passive voice too much)?

 

 

 

    The fetid scents of garbage, cigarettes, and booze made known to Vince Wilson that he was in the right place. The area he roamed was the same place he’d lived his whole life. A carcass of the city, formerly exploited as a new development years ago, had failed and had been left to rot by city officials. Plagued with crime, unemployment, welfare dependency, race hustlers, gang/gun/drug culture and degenerate broken single mothers (with 3 or more kids from multiple fathers),  the area made known to many in the city to avoid it.

Vince’s eyes squinted at the yellow glaze from the flickering street lamp; the last functioning one on the street.. It stood next to the bus stop and provided sheltering light from the hostile darkness. Vince always noticed the faint buzzing noise it made that split the airwaves everytime it flickered. As he made his way down the block, Vince felt slightly dizzy and unbalanced, yet his senses were still sharp and keen for the possible threats that awaited.  Without much thought to it, Vince pulled out his smartphone and decided to respond to his Snapchats.

“Shit.”  Vinny thought while checking the time on his phone, hoping maybe my parents forgot about him, or that they had fallen asleep. He knew he was late, but 3 hours past curfew, especially around here, was sure to make his mother flip out. Vince shoved his phone back into his pocket.

The street was empty with most of the flats’ windows dark. There was a tacit understanding of the neighborhood folks that you didn’t go out past 11; at least for most of them. He had only walked about a block or two and could see the faint outline of his flat lat stood up like a square hunk of concrete.

Vince sat down at the bus stop that stood mere yards away from the entrance to his flat. As he stepped into the light, his features became more apparent and visible.

Vince looked around his mid to late teens and boasted an impressive muscular build. He wore a black hoodie, faded denim jeans, and a pair of worn out blue converses to complete his look.  Vince has fair skin, snub nose, and collar length messy long hair yet his most distinguishing features are the freckles and almond-shaped green eyes that seem to look into another's soul.

He needed the time to think and escape reality for a few more precious minutes. Looking around across the street, Vince glared surrounding three flats on the street. Each had enough space between them to form alleyways. His eyes averted to the lights in the windows across the street that were dimly illuminated in the night sky. Tracing his eyes up each story of the buildings and looking at the windows. Vince could see a girl his age from around 3 floors up, but before he could get a good look the lights were out. As he kept scanning counted about 5 other lights still on from the flat. One of which had the news playing from a bright tv screen in a dark room. Something he would usually watch from his bedroom window, not outside. As another gust of wind blew, Vince felt paper rub up against the heel of his shoe.            

Looking down, Vince saw a beaten up newspaper crinkled up by the wind. He could see the headlines in big bold ink: MYSTERIOUS BURGLARS ROB LIQUOR STORE! All Vince could do is snicker. Everyone around here knew who the culprits were. The Drumlins no doubt. A gang that had set up shop here years ago.     Vince threw the paper to the ground. It’d be a waste to read.                Suddenly bright headlights of a cop car turned the corner.  Routine around this area.

“Damn it,” Vince muttered knowing he had to act calm and think fast. The cop had spotted him already and would be of no use to dart into his flat now. The cops around these parts were seen as corrupt and shady by some, claiming they offer no asylum from the dangers around here. Pulling up next to Vince, the officer rolled it down and revealing an overweight, diamond faced man with a bushy mustache and snub nose.  His deep brown eyes looked tattered with wear and age. His voice cut through the silence in the air,

“Hey, What the bloody hell are you doing out this late. It's almost 3 in the morning. I wouldn’t recommend being out here this time of night. I can drive you away to a local shelter west four blocks. There have been bands of thieves roaming around and I’m sent to patrol around these parts.”

I stuttered for a moment noticing the officers lurid teeth.   Vince took note that the officer suspected he was a homeless adult and played along, cajoling to the officer.

“That won’t be necessary officer. I live in this flat. Just couldn’t get to bed with my rent payments around the corner. It’s hard to break pay over here.” Vince lied.

“I understand. I strongly suggest you head to your flat. Especially with the crime here. ”

“I’ll be on my way then.”

“Ok then, you be safe then.”

As the officer drove away, Vince noticed something superficial about him yet he could place a finger as to what it was. Vince entered his flat compound and walked slowly up the stairwell longing to plop down on his bed. When reaching apartment number, Vince pulled out his key and opened up the door slowly. A slight creak could be heard. Vince saw the TV screen on and realized his hopes of being able to sneak back in were certainly crushed. Suddenly from behind the lazy-boy chair, Vince’s sister Cassie, appeared.

“Where were you? Your three hours late! You got mom and I worried sick about you.” she implored immediately.  He was shocked to see his sister back at his place. She had moved out months ago.

“Where’s Mom,” Vince asked longingly ignoring her request.

“Mom is in bed. I told her I’d cover the late shift. I take it you were hanging with those douchebag friends of yours.”

Although Vince was thankful that it wasn’t his mom he’d have to face, Cassie was practically her puppet.

“I lost track of time. I was over a Todd Gutsman’s house. He’s only like two blocks down.”

“Mom said you were going to Mrs. Colfax’s house to help cook for service hours.”

I shrugged, “I finished early and Todd texted me if I wanted to come over. I sent mom a text,” I lied,  “What are you doing here! You should be at your place!” I said trying to change the subject.

Cassie’s face filled with anger, Mom invited me to stay here because my place has a water leak. That doesn’t excuse why you're out till 3  in the morning. There have been crimes going around. We almost called the cops on you.”

Vince decided to ignore and make his way toward his room. Cassie snatched the back of his hood and stood close face to face with him.

“What the hell Vince! I can smell the alcohol from your breath. Mom is going to throw a fit when she hears about this!”

“Why do you care so much anyway. Look at what we’re living in Cassie. This place is a piece of shit. You really expect us to become angels from living in a world like this. Go live your life and I’ll live mine.”

Vince went into his room and slammed the door. Anger and guilt filled him and cut into his emotions. He shut off the lights and plopped down onto his small bed. Vince felt trapped. Trapped by his decisions, trapped by his family, and most of all, trapped by society in a world he wanted to escape to bad. That feeling that dug into his soul and scarred him deep down settled into him as he slept.

 

 

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago
Commended by EndMaster on 6/28/2018 7:11:41 AM
I don't feel like telling you about every mistake you made, since then I’d have to copy-paste most of the text, and I’m too lazy for that. So here’s some general feedback, I can do actual proofreading later if you’d like.

The first sentence isn’t strong enough, in my opinion. You need something that’ll immediately grab the reader’s attention, so starting with Past Simple Passive probably isn’t the best choice. Why would the protagonist need the scent to know he’s in the right place anyway, that’s his home after all. That’s not a very unique scent, he could smell it in a lot of places.

Degenerate broken single mothers. That’s an unusual choice of adjectives. If this was a band, their music would probably be awful. Since that’s such an unique phrase, I decided to google it, and got “Single mothers are delinquent subhuman scum who you should avoid at all costs.” ... ok then, let’s move on.

It’s not your body parts that do things, it’s you. Just imagine if people said “My brain thought this is a good story”, “My ass took a big shit”, or “Vince’s eyes squinted at the yellow glaze from the flickering street lamp”. Sure, there are times when you do need to specify which body part you’re talking about, but this isn’t one of them.

First you’re calling the protagonist Vince, then you change it to Vinny, then to Vince again. And you’re calling him by name way too much. Use pronouns, they’re great.

You’re writing your dialogue wrong. If the sentence doesn’t end when the dialogue does, then the full stop is changed into a comma. Example: “Shit,” Vinny thought while checking the time on his phone ...

My parents? What do your parents have to do with this? And you keep doing that, switching to first person, calling the protagonist an I as though him having two names wasn’t enough. You chose the third person, stick with it! It’s not that hard!

“Vince has fair skin, snub nose, and collar length messy long hair yet his most distinguishing features are the freckles and almond-shaped green eyes that seem to look into another's soul.” Why did you choose yet? Why is there no comma before that yet? Why would you write “look into another’s soul”? Why the hell is this in Present Tense?! You chose Past Tense, stick with it! It’s not that hard!

“Where’s Mom,” Vince asked longingly ignoring her request. There’s plenty of awful wording, but I’m too lazy to paste it all, so here’s one example I found amusing. Did he ask this longingly, or did he longingly ignore her request? Request is the wrong word to use here, there’s a missing comma, and longingly ... do I need to explain why that’s weird? Read your story aloud and fix everything that sounds weird before you post it! It’s not that hard!

Yes, you definitely use too much passive voice. You used the phrase “made known” twice, and both times it sounded weird. Some more showing wouldn’t be bad, either. But before you can do that, you need to fix the basics. You can’t catch everything yourself, that’s why some people have proofreaders, but you should at least fix the majority. There are plenty of mistakes here that aren’t hard to notice. This isn’t awful, but if this was the first page in a CYOA, I would go to the next one not as much to learn more about Vince as just to get a free point.

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago

Thanks for the feedback. Let me just ask as to how to grasp the reader's attention with a strong opening? How would one go about doing that?

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago
I'm hardly an expert, I mostly just read other reviews and learn shit from there, so I can't give you the best explanation. Fortunately, the internet is here to save me. With only a quick search, you can find plenty articles like this one. Your first line is not all that bad; it gives us a scent, and informs us that that sent is very familiar to the protagonist, Vince. But I'm sure you can find something better if you think hard enough. Good luck!

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago
I just want to add, for clarity, @Mayana, that sometimes my ass DOES take a big dump...

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago

Unique Names: tzz1326, VanFevor

Here's a protip: Don't fuck around with spamming retarded alts, I can see everything.

Probably wouldn't have checked had tzz1326 not been spamming/whining last time it was used and then was used to spam an unrelated post in here.

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago
LOL. Dammit Van, you were supposed to be one of the good ones.

e: oh God tzz1326's post history

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago

Haha my bad. I accidentally logged on with the old account. That won’t happen again, especially since I now know the atmosphere.

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago
And you accidentally posted "Hi"? Sure sure, that's something every one of us accidentally does from time to time.

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago
Glad Mayana brought up the 'made known' thing, that was the first thing I spotted even just skimming this yesterday. Maybe it's some colloquial thing I've never heard before but it's an awkward sounding phrase and definitely shouldn't be crammed twice in the first paragraph.

The slashes in gang/gun/drug hustlers don't really belong either, that's not something you would use when posting or taking notes to abbreviate an idea but not in actual narration in a story itself. But redundant anyway when you've already mentioned crime.

'Vince Wilson breathed in the overpowering stench of garbage, stale booze and cigarettes and knew he was in the right place.' would be an example of a more active sentence as May suggested. It flips things around to be about the character doing/experiencing something rather than having things passively acting on him.

Anyway just I've got stuff going on right now so I'll have to take a look at the rest of this later.

Just tossing out an idea for critiquing.

2 years ago
First, the disclaimers: this is my review. It is likely not like anyone else’s. In fact, you probably couldn’t find anyone else who completely agrees with what I write here. But it’s my opinion. I’m also writing this as I read through this for the first time. These are my first impressions as I read it. I’m not saying they’re right, just what I’m thinking. This is written in the spirit of helping you see how others see your story and to perhaps give you ideas for improvement, and not to be mean or anything else. Please don’t take it personally. This review is likely worth exactly what you paid for it. Finally, you did ask.

Here we go:

Hmmm… The first sentence felt “off” to me. I don’t know if it is because the scents is plural? I mean, it almost sounds like there are individual piles there giving individual scents. I would think wherever there’s all that crap, there’s really just one scent. But I’m not completely sure on that, it just felt off – and it may be in part because the verb is jarring as well: made known. I mean, I clearly understand what you’re saying in this sentence, I’m just not sure the sequence of words I see there work for me.

The next sentence appears to have movement, while the first did not. In other words, “he was in the right place,” made me feel like he was standing still, arriving at a destination. But the next sentence has “area he roamed,” which made it sound like he was moving around and roaming. And I’m not sure if that meant he has previously roamed there, or if he is actively roaming at the moment I’m reading this. Not a big deal, just letting you know where my mind moves when I read these parts. That last sentence in the first paragraph has the same feel to it: “the area made known to many.” The area did that? The area itself took action and made itself known?

I liked the descriptions in the second paragraph, it really drew me into the story. I was confused as to why Vince was suddenly dizzy. Was it because of the lights and the buzzing? I think maybe it was, but it wasn’t really clear. Maybe he’s just drunk. But I’m not sure how his senses are keen while he’s stumbling along the alleyway. Is he just pretending to be drunk? Oh wait, he’s using his phone while stumbling and using snapchat? Yeah, I think he’s actually drunk.

The next paragraph has subject issues, or a word choice issue. Vinnie checked the time on his phone and thought about the narrator’s parents. Who are the narrator’s parents? And why would the narrator’s parents care about the wino wandering the alleyway on snapchat? Apparently the narrator’s parents also set a curfew for dear, drunk Vince. Wait, so Vinnie is a little kid? Guess I should have gotten that from the snapchat reference. Where did he get the alcohol? Was that the narrator’s parents that helped him out there? I can’t believe they’d do that and then expect him to actually make curfew. I think Vince’s mom is going to be more interested in who supplied the kid with the liquor than that he’s out past curfew.

I have to ask: what time is it? I mention it because Vince just looked at his phone and could have noticed the time and shared it with me, but he didn’t. And now I know most people aren’t out after 11, but I don’t really know if it is after 11. That could have been his curfew and it’s now 2 a.m., or maybe since he’s a kid, his curfew was 7:30 and it’s now only 10:30. Either way, the drunkie spotted his what? His flat lat? Is he looking in a fun house mirror or something? And I mean you’ve got to have some serious lats to be able to spot them from the front. I guess he could be posing with his shirt off, trying to show off. Most people don’t think of their lats as “flat,” but I’ll give little Vince a pass since he’s drunk.

Ah, Vince took a seat so we can get his description. Okay. That was confusing. There was a tense issue moving from Vince looking around to suddenly “Vince has.” There was also quite the run-on sentence at the end of that section. I get that you’re trying to describe him, and that’s nice, but I do wonder if that could have come a little earlier, maybe before Vince starts moving around and interacting with his phone. At least the reader wouldn’t be surprised as the young age of the alcoholic quite as much (I think).

Is drunk Vince also a superhero? His gaze was apparently powerful enough to surround three flats! Now that’s impressive, sort of. I mean, is surrounding a flat with your gaze actually useful? Maybe this guy is Aquaman’s cousin or something. But then he averted his eyes TO lights? You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means. And you have a sentence that says that the lights were dimly illuminated. Lights actually illuminate something, they’re not really something that IS illuminated. But I realize drunk Vince might not know that because he apparently shoved his fingers in his eyes. Well, maybe not his fingers, but I’m not sure what else he might have shoved in his eyes to trace them. Wait, where did he get tracing paper?

Wait, never mind that, watch out for the giant girl! She might start knocking down buildings! After all she starts on the third floor and apparently is as tall as the entire building! Oh wait, the lights went out, I think that was just drunk Vince seeing things in the haze. How much did he drink? Yes, he’s still hallucinating, I think. He just spotted a light bulb that was broadcasting the news. Are you sure he was just drinking and wasn’t taking something else? Maybe somebody put something in his drink like a mushroom?

I’m not sure what’s going on here. There was “another” gust of wind, but I never saw the first one. But I think this is a really, really powerful gust of wind because it blew a ream of paper up against his foot. I’m sure that wasn’t a single piece of paper because old Vince felt it through the heel of his shoe. The only way you’re going to feel paper through the heel of your shoe while you’re seated is if that paper is pretty darn hefty. I don’t know how he didn’t notice that ream of paper under the bench before he sat down.

Wow. This thing just keeps on going, doesn’t it?

Yeah, that wind is pretty massive. It managed to crinkle up a newspaper. Do you know what kind of incredible swirling and twisting powers a wind has to have to crinkle up a newspaper? I think there was just an F5 tornado in town and Vince missed it because he blacked out for a bit. But that wind has nothing on drunk superhero Vince: Vince also has some superpower that allows him to clearly see headlines of newspapers that are crinkled up! Again, that doesn’t sound like a really great superpower, but hey, it sure beats how I have to read crinkled up newspapers: I have to flatten them out to see their headlines.

There’s a few sentence fragments coming up next. They’re nothing compared to the latest of Vince’s superpowers: and this one might actually be useful. Remember the ream of paper that the tornado knocked into Vince’s heel? Yeah, the one next to the crinkled up newspaper? Those were on the ground. And Vince read that headline from the paper that was on the ground. So what does Vince do next? He threw the paper to the ground, after reading it, and THEN thinking it would be a waste to read what he has already read. But that telekinesis to pick that newspaper up from under the ream of paper was cool.

Look out Vince! There are floating headlights from a car coming towards you! No, there’s no police. In fact, there’s not even a car. There are just some headlights that were once ON a cop car turning the corner. In fact, I bet they’re not even for you. They’re probably just out looking for a club for headlights where they can hang out and relax after a long night on the town. Well, it’s only 10:30, so they didn’t actually have a long night, but they’re still out looking for some cheap booze. Maybe Vince can set them up with whoever he got his drug-laced alcohol from.

Whoops, there’s a cop! He’s thinking about darting into your flat, Vince! I’m not sure why, but if he’s thinking that, I bet he knows where you live. Either that or he’s headed over for a late-night rendezvous with your mom or something, or maybe the narrator’s mom. Hey, the cop just rolled a fatty for Vince! I mean, he rolled something, so I’m just going to assume it was a fatty. I wonder if Vince will tell him he’s already so wasted that he’s hallucinating. What the hell is a diamond faced man? Is that a thing? I’ve never heard that in my entire life. But hey, the guy has tattered eyes, too, whatever the hell that is.

Okay, someone needs to really get me a time check here. I thought it was 10:30 at night. Vince thought it was no later than 2 a.m., but this weird-faced guy is claiming it’s 3 a.m. Does anyone really know what time it is? Oh wait, the narrator just stepped in, perhaps he has a watch. No, he just stood there and stuttered. Was that an important part of the story? Did Vince and the cop hear the narrator stuttering?

There is yet more evidence that old Vince is pretty messed up. He attempts to go along with the idea that he’s a homeless adult but then immediately spills the beans about where he lives. Not the sharpest bowling ball in the barrel, our Vince here. Then again, his superhero eyes get to work once again, noticing something on the surface of the officer, but only after the officer has driven away. That’s our drunk, dull, superhero Vince! Hey, does anyone know what a “stairwell longing” is? That’s a new one for me. I’m picturing some kind of stairway made out of rubber so it stretches a lot when you try and walk up it. That’s going to be extra-challenging for our hallucinating hero.

I have to notice that although Vince appears to know where he lives, he doesn’t actually know the apartment number. That’s…interesting. Not quite as interesting a Vince slowly opening the door with his key (instead of the doorknob), but I guess you could use a key to push a door open. But why is Vince’s sister hiding behind the chair? How long has she been there? Does she know what time it is, because no one else does!?

Mom is in bed, but apparently Vince’s sister doesn’t care about waking her up, what with the hiding behind furniture and jumping out to yell at her brother. Wow, Cassie does have a clock! Hooray, we finally learn what time it is! It is 3 in the morning. Someone needs to help Vince and the cop set their clocks. But hey, this Cassie is pretty strangely powerful, too. After Vince walked past her, she managed to grab his hood and pull. For most people, this would put you behind the person, especially since you pulled their hood. But not Cassie, no! Cassie was able to pull his hood back and suddenly be face-to-face with him. Now even if she was powerful enough to pull him so hard that she literally flew through his body, then she would have her back to him. So I’m guessing she yanked his hood, then turned ethereal or something. Then, while he was moving backwards from the powerful pull, she spun around and became material again right after he flew through her body. Wow, fancy stuff in this story. At least she finally noticed he’d been drinking – the way he’s been acting, I’m not completely sure how he’s still on his feet!

So hey, you might want to proofread this a tiny bit, unless all my interpretations were exactly right (which they sure could be). Punctuation needs some work, especially around the dialogue, and you need to watch “your” vs. “you’re.” Hope this helps!