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Old 19th July 2011, 11:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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5:15 The Angels Have Gone.

This is chapter one of something I am doing. Each Chapter is named after the title of a Bowie song.
Not really looking for a punctuation critique. I am just wondering if it reads okay and also. Do you think I should leave the end of chapter ambiguous? Does it leave nothing to chance as it were??


"There Is a Happy Land."
9:15 am.
Tuesday.
It was snowing in February again, and though this wasn’t unusual for Britain, it was still damn irritating. Matthew Thompson desperately tried to think of some romantic way to describe the blizzard, to make it more than it was but nothing was coming to mind.



Looking out of the window he could barely just make out the outline of a house that had lain abandoned for twenty years at the bottom of the field. What with the rusted scaffolding and windows forever opened to nature, he found it hard to believe anyone would want to make their home there now. An eyesore that’s all it is, really, he thought and closed the curtains.



Turning on the Television Matthew poured himself another hot drink and yawned. He was tired, had not slept much the night before, troubled by the illness overtaking his once active father and worried that the same thing would happen to him. Flicking through the channels there was a distinct lack of programs, a talk show, and a news report and that was it, hardly worth watching at all. Yet like the dozens of books on his shelf, it provided desperate escapism, a release from a world of judgement.



Eventually the days activities proved too pressing and he returned to his room to dress. A white t-shirt, beige trousers, and leather jacket wasn’t much of a fashion statement but he’d never had been one for fashion, and as a fifteen stone bloke there wasn’t much that fit him. It was almost midday now and the blizzard had gone; the sun blinked through the clouds and wept rain. Typical British weather, he thought. By tonight, they’ll be announcing a hosepipe ban again.


Brushing his teeth, he tried hard not to look at his reflection. He found it was easier that way to imagine himself, thin, handsome, and popular, not the fat mess he was in reality this way. Once this was done, he bade farewell to his parents lounging casually in the study and climbed into his car. It was small, cosy, and easy to park while the colour was a garish yellow and not his choice. Placing the keys in the ignition, he turned the engine on, fixed the heat to a more comfortable level, and began sorting through the glove compartment. From this he took a small circular pouch, opened it, and took a CD, David Bowie, Hours, it read. Inserting it into the slot he adjusted the volume to 37 and smiled as Thursdays Child thumped out. This routine done, he put the car into gear and drove onto the snow-covered roads.



They were not as bad as first thought and there were two black lines through brown slushy snow. It was still raining and he could see the onset of hailstones. Best be quick about it then. Matthew yawned, checked the inside mirror and returned to watching the road. Two headlights appeared behind him, a lorry he guessed. As he approached the top of the hill, a sudden fog descended and so thickly even Superman would have trouble seeing through it. He frowned, immediately regretting setting out. He hated fog as much as he did snow. What was he thinking?


It was too late to turn back now.
I forgot what my father said. I forgot what he said.
Matthew smiled. He loved this song.
I forgot what my mother said as we lay upon your bed.
There was no traffic on the road; he travelled through a silent land and the only sound came from the wind and Bowie.
A city full of flowers. A city full of rain.


The road after a few seconds dipped suddenly and the tire lines vanished beneath a thin layer of ice. ****, he thought, his heart hammering. This was unsafe and he began to think that he should turn back. Matthew took a deep breath and began to slow. Out of the fog reared a horse broken free from a stable, panicking. He slammed on the brakes sending the car into a spin. He gripped the wheel, turning it furiously and over compensating in doing so. The car flipped suddenly. Once. Twice.



Matthew screamed, heard the bass horn of the lorry, and panicked. He was upside down; his seat belt had saved him but now pressed tight on his chest. He fumbled aimlessly for the catch and tasted blood. He had bit down on his lip. He heard the brakes before he saw the headlights. They came at him like a demon from hell and swallowed him whole.


With the impact, the car was sent further down the hill, landing gently on its side in a hollow at the side of the road.


The snow continued to fall.
The music skipped on the CD player.
I got seven days to live my life, or seven ways to die.
Seven ways to die.
Seven ways to die.
Die.
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Old 20th July 2011, 12:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 5:15 The Angels Have Gone.

It reads very well and I didn't have any trouble following the narration or the action. As to leaving the ending ambiguous, it depends on what you mean by that. I don't think you're giving anything away, unless you're implying this guy only has seven days to live. However, the driver of the lorry will probably call this accident in. The odds of your character being trapped in the car for seven days aren't that great.

On reflection, though, I don't think you need the horse. A road like this is foggy and icey enough to cause an accident on it's own. And one picky thing, on this line

...thin, handsome, and popular, not the fat mess he was in reality this way.

I'd cut "this way" at the end of it. I think it would read better without it.

Good luck with your story.
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Old 20th July 2011, 12:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 5:15 The Angels Have Gone.

Thanks. Good luck with yours.
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Old 20th July 2011, 01:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 5:15 The Angels Have Gone.

The opening is very linear and slow-moving. I suggest beginning the story with the paragraph that begins with the line, "They were not as bad as first thought and there were two black lines through brown slushy snow."

From there we are pulled into the story, at least for the moment. The ending was good, but I think cutting the last word "die" would be an improvement. "Seven ways to die" has nice ambiguity.

The information at the beginning could be worked in later, perhaps after inserting a line-break after "Seven ways to die" to indicate a passage of time, you could move back to this line and paragraph: "It was snowing in February again, and though this wasn’t unusual for Britain, it was still damn irritating." and take it up to the point he gets into his car. The story won't be so linear then, and less predictable.
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Old 20th July 2011, 10:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 5:15 The Angels Have Gone.

Like this?



He put the car into gear and drove onto the snow-covered roads. They were not as bad as first thought and there were two black lines through brown slushy snow. It was still raining and he could see the onset of hailstones. Best be quick about it then. Matthew yawned, checked the inside mirror and returned to watching the road. Two headlights appeared behind him, a lorry he guessed. As he approached the top of the hill, a sudden fog descended and so thickly even Superman would have trouble seeing through it. He frowned, immediately regretting setting out. He hated fog as much as he did snow. What was he thinking?


It was too late to turn back now.
I forgot what my father said. I forgot what he said.
Matthew smiled. He loved this song.
I forgot what my mother said as we lay upon your bed.
There was no traffic on the road; he travelled through a silent land and the only sound came from the wind and Bowie.
A city full of flowers. A city full of rain.


The road after a few seconds dipped suddenly and the tire lines vanished beneath a thin layer of ice. ****, he thought, his heart hammering. This was unsafe and he began to think that he should turn back. Matthew took a deep breath and began to slow. Out of the fog reared a horse broken free from a stable, panicking. He slammed on the brakes sending the car into a spin. He gripped the wheel, turning it furiously and over compensating in doing so. The car flipped suddenly. Once. Twice.



Matthew screamed, heard the bass horn of the lorry, and panicked. He was upside down; his seat belt had saved him but now pressed tight on his chest. He fumbled aimlessly for the catch and tasted blood. He had bit down on his lip. He heard the brakes before he saw the headlights. They came at him like a demon from hell and swallowed him whole.


With the impact, the car was sent further down the hill, landing gently on its side in a hollow at the side of the road.


The snow continues to fall.
The music skips on the CD player.
I got seven days to live my life, or seven ways to die.
Seven ways to…
Seven ways to…
#
9:15 am.
Tuesday.
It was snowing in February again, and though this wasn’t unusual for Britain, it was still damn irritating. Matthew Thompson desperately tried to think of some romantic way to describe the blizzard, to make it more than it was but nothing was coming to mind.



Looking out of the window he could barely just make out the outline of a house that had lain abandoned for twenty years at the bottom of the field. What with the rusted scaffolding and windows forever opened to nature, he found it hard to believe anyone would want to make their home there now. An eyesore that’s all it is, really, he thought and closed the curtains.



Turning on the Television Matthew poured himself another hot drink and yawned. He was tired, had not slept much the night before, troubled by the illness overtaking his once active father and worried that the same thing would happen to him. Flicking through the channels there was a distinct lack of programs, a talk show, and a news report and that was it, hardly worth watching at all. Yet like the dozens of books on his shelf, it provided desperate escapism, a release from a world of judgement.



Eventually the days activities proved too pressing and he returned to his room to dress. A white t-shirt, beige trousers, and leather jacket wasn’t much of a fashion statement but he’d never had been one for fashion, and as a fifteen stone bloke there wasn’t much that fit him. It was almost midday now and the blizzard had gone; the sun blinked through the clouds and wept rain. Typical British weather, he thought. By tonight, they’ll be announcing a hosepipe ban again.


Brushing his teeth, he tried hard not to look at his reflection. He found it was easier that way to imagine himself, thin, handsome, and popular, not the fat mess he was in reality. Once this was done, he bade farewell to his parents lounging casually in the study and climbed into his car. It was small, cosy, and easy to park while the colour was a garish yellow and not his choice. Placing the keys in the ignition, he turned the engine on, fixed the heat to a more comfortable level, and began sorting through the glove compartment. From this he took a small circular pouch, opened it, and took a CD, David Bowie, Hours, it read. Inserting it into the slot he adjusted the volume to 37 and smiled as Thursdays Child thumped out.
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Old 20th July 2011, 06:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 5:15 The Angels Have Gone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anthorn View Post
Like this?
Something like that. In medias res, as they say. 'In the middle of things.'

Originally you had the ending as "Seven ways to die. Seven ways to die. Die." and I meant to cut the last part (in red).

The second part (beginning with "It was snowing in February again, ... ") still drags. In fact, most of it seems like dead weight. What is the point of all that detail? Why are we being taken through his routine -- how does it move the story forward?

I am just trying to suggest ways to make your story seem more immediate. I think if this were mine I would be very critical of the second half, perhaps elaborating more on the ideas here: "He was tired, had not slept much the night before, troubled by the illness overtaking his once active father and worried that the same thing would happen to him." and cutting everything else -- his dressing himself, the TV descriptions, brushing his teeth. Those details are all boring, and if they are not relevant to the story in some way they need to go.
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