My Last Fall - Chapter I

  • #1
    So, this is a short story I started to prevent my English from getting rusty. I apologize beforehand for any gramtical or orthographical horror. I don't want you to have any preconception of it, so I'll reserve my judgement on it (That's just a fancy way of saying I know it's not really good, but if I told you that you wouldn't read it, right? (Damn it!))

    Please, criticize, it will be greatly appreciated.

    Chapter 1

    The street is unusually quiet. I run into hardly anyone; all I can see are parked cars, the scarce tree, and many windows, trying to catch the last rays of sun. Shades of red and orange have already started to appear near the horizon. It’s getting cold, as I stroll down Windward Avenue on my way home, so I strap myself tighter into my jacket. Today I feel like taking a different way. Halfway, I see a building that catches my eye. It’s ‘Harrogath’, a bar. I don’t know if it’s its sober façade, its candle-lit atmosphere or its warm-looking fireplace, but the bar is yelling at me to get in. I could use a drink.

    I cross the deserted street and push the heavy, oak door open. It creeks, but nobody seems to notice. As soon as I get in, I’m struck by the warmth of the fireplace. I take my jacket off and place it in the hanger, next to a black coat. When I turn around, I have a hard time believing what my eyes are telling me. It’s beauty in its purest form. The image of perfection. She’s a goddess.

    After several moments, I come back to my senses. I walk to one of the round tables, each with a candle as a centerpiece and four chairs surrounding it, and sit. My eyes are immediately drawn to her. Never had I seen so pretty a woman. Her flowing, bright, black hair ends where her dress, smart and dark red, begins. Her skin, under the dim light of the candles, appears pale and soft. I smell the scent of perfume. No, I’m wrong; I smell the scent of a woman who does not need to wear perfume. She’s staring into empty space, while absentmindedly stirring her daiquiri with the little umbrella. I never really understood why they put umbrellas in drinks; it makes no sense at all.

    Lost in my own thoughts, it takes me a while to realize a waiter is by my table. She’s asking what I’d like to drink. ‘A beer, please’ I say out of habit. The waiter nods and walks towards the kitchen. I can’t help but to look at her again. She’s shyly tapping the rhythm of the background music with her foot, occasionally taking a sip of her drink. I find myself staring, quite rudely. Her gentle, innocent manners are certainly inviting. I feel like walking towards her and introducing myself, but of course I’m not going to. Unexpectedly, she turns her head and a pair of the darkest black eyes pierces mine. I blush and concentrate on my beer, which I never realized was already on my table.

    I’m a coward. I can’t as much as hold a gaze when a girl looks my way. Self-preservation instinct I suppose. Let’s just say that my few previous experiences with women generated a kind of fear, if I may, of ever getting close to one again. The pain of losing the dearest is overwhelming, borderline suicidal. Still, there’s a part of me that believes I should give myself another chance, that only one relationship can end up right, that hope is too precious to be lost; a part that has been caged a long time ago, the key long lost. It is, however, rattling with the metal bars a lot louder than it should.

    I look up when the woman stands up. She waves at another lady behind the counter, who, preparing a meal for another customer, shouts ‘Always a pleasure Nina. See you soon’. So, Nina it is. She walks towards the door, gracefully unhangs the black coat next to my jacket, opens the oak door, not without some effort, and steps out, the door closing behind her. Through the window, I see her shivering; putting on her coat; while turning right, towards where I was coming from.

    There she goes, another woman to whom I haven’t talked. A new name at the bottom of a painstakingly long list. It’s getting ridiculous; it’s not as if I had anything to lose. My life is meaningless enough not to care if I get shot down again, my crouched-in-a-corner, scared-shitless ego heavily abused for what can only be the millionth time. I’m used to it. Even if the woman decides to take me under her wing for a while, allowing me to get a glimpse of heaven, only, once she realizes I’m not good enough for her, to drop me from the heights back into the burnings hells from were she saved me, it wouldn’t bother me much. I’m also used to it. But still, there she goes and I’m not doing anything to stop her.

    I sigh, looking at my empty bottle dancing from hand to hand. This kind of thought is getting more and more recurring, and I’m not liking it. I used to be much more optimistic, back when I was naïve enough to look forward to something better. At least I had a carrot upfront that kept me going. Yet, slowly but unmistakably, I started to realize maybe life didn’t hold anything in store for me; maybe stuff wouldn’t get better, no matter how much I wanted it to. Maybe it was better not to feel anything, so as not to get disappointed. As it ironically turns out, not feeling anything feels much worse than feeling bad, without the few and far between moments of feeling good. There’s no way back from where I am though, it’s a one-way street.

    I never should’ve entered this place. What a stupid way of encouraging these stupid thoughts. I stand up, catch the attention of the waiter and signal at a bunch of coins I left at the table. She smiles and nods. I take my jacket and open the door; a rush of cold wind chilling me to the bone. I hurry to put my jacket on and take a step outside. The sun has long set, and the street lights are now on. I glance right, but the same trees and cars are all that look back at me. I turn on my heel and stride home.


    This is supposed to be an introduction to the main character.

    The title is subject to change, it never had one, and it changed thrice since I started to type this thread.
  • #2
    Rating/Critique via the DFWG:

    I want to start with the positives:

    1. It is good practice to use something other than third-person perspective for your story, although this can be a challenge in its own right.
    2. Your opening sentence is very strong and immediately provocative. It inspires the reader to think before any information is divulged.
    And now some criticisms (or negatives). These are in conjuncture with the numbers assigned to sections of your story in the attached pages:
    1. Who or what is "trying to catch the last rays"? I offered "all" as an option to make the sentence flow better, but if you can think of something else, or rework the sentence, then it might work even better.
    2. This was worded a bit awkwardly. I would suggest something along the lines of the following: "As I stroll homeward down Windward Avenue, the dropping temperature forces me to pull my jacket tight." The phrase "as I stroll down Windward Avenue on my way home" is the dominate part of that sentence and should have precedence, in my opinion.
    3. Halfway...what? What is halfway? Halfway to the moon? Halfway down your pocket? This is very informal. I think you should consider adding some kind of reference in here to make it more clear what halfway is indexing.
    4. I would suggest not using this as a whole sentence, but joining it with its predecessor. Example: "...a building that catches my eye: Harrogath, a bar."
    5. Whenever you find yourself writing "it's its," "had had," "is is," etc., try to rework your sentence so that you do not need such redundant qualifiers. Similarly, if you can replace a gamut of words with a single one, such as a verb, do it. It makes your sentence much leaner and more concise. For example: "If it is the sober facade, the candle-lit atmosphere, or the warm-looking fireplace, I do not know, but the bar implores me to enter."
    6. "The" hanger? There's only one? Using the indefinite article "a" instead of the definite article "the" may be more realistic, unless there really is only one hanger.
    7. Bright black hair? That's a strange juxtaposition. Did you mean shiny or something?
    Closing thoughts:
    1. Your story and style is at its strongest on the very last page. I would suggest analyzing it heavily and reflecting on what you think you did the best, and then going back to the rest of your work to apply your skill evenly and thoroughly.
    2. Be careful about overusing semicolons, as you went on a spree on the last page, often using them where commas were called for but not provided. Read here for short and some sound advice. I use Purdue a lot these days.
    Stats:
    1. Style: 8/10
    2. Originality: 9/10
    3. Story: 7/10
    4. Characters: 8/10
    5. Clarity: 6/10
    Thanks so much for the read. Overall, it was entertaining, and, towards the end, even inspiring for something I'm working on. I look forward to your progress and your work. Cheers :hammy:
    ATTACHMENTS
    • pg1 001
    • pg2 001
    • pg3 001
  • #3
    Thanks Magistrate!

    I'm having quite a bit of trouble opening those corrected pages. They open up huge I have no idea how to close them. Links would be helpful.

    I have to go now, but I'll comment on your corrections later.
  • #4
    I wouldn't say corrections. I would say suggestions ;) You can write whatever you want to. Added links, though. In the future, if you click on the image, right-click on real-sized version, and hit "save image URL" or whatever, you can just paste that in to your address bar and BAM! But, anyway... :xD: The images are big because they're scans.
  • #5
    Yeah, so I had what might have been my longest post-to-be written here, but I made the mistake of leaving the PC unattended and someone closed Firefox, so here's the short version.

    I fixed most of what you suggested, kept some things you didn't like but I did, and added some other stuff.

    I do want to comment on your first closing, thought.

    Your story and style is at its strongest on the very last page. I would suggest analyzing it heavily and reflecting on what you think you did the best, and then going back to the rest of your work to apply your skill evenly and thoroughly.

    I tried to make the narrator really focalized in the character, so when the character is more concentrated on what he is doing, the narrator describes the actions, and when the character is lost in his thoughts, so is the narrator, to the point of forgetting to describe some actions. This is the case toward the end, and I think that describing thoughts rather than actions leaves more room for what you called "my style". That, and the fact that I was eager to get to the thought-description part when I first wrote it, may be why the begining is weaker. I'll revise and try to find ways to enhance it, specially the description of the woman.

    I also had a couple of questions:

    1) You use "toward" and "anyway", I was tought "towardS" and "anywayS". Is this some kind of difference between American and British English? I learned British English.

    2) In both direct speeches, you added a comma or fullstop at the end: "‘A beer, please,’ I say out of habit." The comma is part of the sentence, not the actual speech, but it is inside the inverted commas. Is there some kind of rule for this? I don't think we use this in Spanish, and it's not often that my writing assignments include direct speech.

    3) "(...) a pair of the darkest black eyes pierces mine." Is the subject singular (1 pair) or plural (2 eyes)? I inicially wrote "pierce", but Word complained and kept asking for the S
  • #6
    Quote from DieHardDiabloFan

    Yeah, so I had what might have been my longest post-to-be written here, but I made the mistake of leaving the PC unattended and someone closed Firefox, so here's the short version.


    That always sucks :hammy:

    I fixed most of what you suggested, kept some things you didn't like but I did, and added some other stuff.


    They're purely suggestions. I don't think you're anything less of a writer because you don't do what I say.

    I tried to make the narrator really focalized in the character, so when the character is more concentrated on what he is doing, the narrator describes the actions, and when the character is lost in his thoughts, so is the narrator, to the point of forgetting to describe some actions. This is the case toward the end, and I think that describing thoughts rather than actions leaves more room for what you called "my style". That, and the fact that I was eager to get to the thought-description part when I first wrote it, may be why the begining is weaker. I'll revise and try to find ways to enhance it, specially the description of the woman.


    Whatever you find works best. I was just struggling to hold on for most of the beginning, and then was irresistibly sucked in for the end. It could also be that I just prefer the type of banter that occurs at the end, and it has nothing to do with how good or bad the style is.

    1) You use "toward" and "anyway", I was tought "towardS" and "anywayS". Is this some kind of difference between American and British English? I learned British English.


    You are correct. British English attaches an "s" on the back of both of those words. It's not necessarily wrong, and it still occurs even in American English, but it is "more correct" or more inline with modern English to omit the "s." (Associated Press Stylebook)

    In any case, I was only taking away the "s"'s that I would personally take away, since I am American. Technically speaking, if you were to write for most global news companies, I have heard that American English is preferred, since it is the current universal business language. Either way, though. Just what I would do :hammy:

    2) In both direct speeches, you added a comma or fullstop at the end: "‘A beer, please,’ I say out of habit." The comma is part of the sentence, not the actual speech, but it is inside the inverted commas. Is there some kind of rule for this? I don't think we use this in Spanish, and it's not often that my writing assignments include direct speech.


    Yeah, in English, if you type character speech like that, a comma is needed unless the following text (that is, text following the end of the quotation) starts a new sentence. I'm not sure how that would apply to British English, though. Here's some examples:

    1) Kara turned to her husband with a freshly-filled coffee mug in hand. "Morning, Phil."

    2) "Morning, Phil," said Kara, mug in hand, as she turned to her husband.

    3) "Morning, Phil." Kara held a coffee mug in one hand, a newspaper in the other, and balanced the cordless phone on her right shoulder.

    I hope those help. Personally, I think the whole thing is very quirky and heavily dependent on circumstance and context, so I struggle with it, too, and I'm a native American English speaker.

    3) "(...) a pair of the darkest black eyes pierces mine." Is the subject singular (1 pair) or plural (2 eyes)? I inicially wrote "pierce", but Word complained and kept asking for the S



    Don't always trust Word, although I guess you know that. A computer will never be able to write better than a human. If you feel odd about Word's red and green squigglies, look up grammar or spelling topics on the net. In that case, "pierce" is an action being done by "eyes," and "eyes is plural, "pierces" must be "pierce."


  • #7
    i really like it!
    "What medicine does not heal, the fire cures!"

    immo (Monk) ~ 215k DPS / 632k EHP
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