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Jones A Ramble Through the Streets


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#1 OFFLINE   Samsara

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 07:04 PM

Jones couldn't seem to catch a break. His hands quivered with nervousness, and he had only been there for a couple of minutes! Sweat started to form under his long strands of hair.. Jones stuffed his hands under the table and slouched down a bit lower. People were staring. No, no they weren't. Yes they were! He sat up straight and put his arms on the table.

“Where the hell is she?” He mumbled to himself. Worry, worry, worry. It was all he could do. The little kid on the table in front of him started staring. “Go away,” Jones mouthed. The kid didn't notice. His stare held. Pierced into Jones's skin. Sent parasites straight to his heart, knowing in an instant all there was to know about the man named Jones.

Why is he looking at me like that?

Jones checked his watch repeatedly. Then he stopped checking his watch. People were watching. Jones stole another look at it. Glimpsed at the clock on the wall, the people walking by. Pulled out his phone. Nothing new, just like last time. Anxiety swished around his stomach and poisoned his mind.

Come on, you said you'd be here by now...

For two long years, he had anticipated this night. It had taken Jones only a year or two to decide something that would last for the rest of his lifetime. He had been placing foreshadowing of this night, here and there. Subtle mannerisms, that only gave away his intent if you looked deeply. Everything was falling into place, if only she would show up...

“May I take your order?” The waitress had appeared from seemingly nowhere. Locks of blonde hair encircled her face. She stood there lazily, a notepad in one hand and her free hand resting on her hip. How many orders had she taken today? How many people had droned to her, dictating what she wrote down in her tiny notepad? Jones confusedly looked into her eyes and saw himself in them. They were a soulless black. He stared for a second, two seconds, and lost himself in those abysmal eyes.

“Sir?"

Jones flinched. Where was the menu? In front of him on the table, of course. Jones cursed under his breath and fumbled through the menu. Why was she startled? She looked at Jones the same way somebody looks at an animal going crazy. All he did was make eye contact. What was so bad about eye contact?

“Umm... actually, I'm kinda waiting for somebody. So uh... can you take my order in like, a little while?” Jones was unsure of what he was saying. Normal, normal, breathe. You can be normal. Relax. You can do this. The waitress was so careless. Jones wished he could be careless.

please show up

“Of course.” The waitress looked at him sympathetically, almost pitifully, and scurried away. Jones scowled. He had seen the look in her eye. Those black beads had, in a split second, flared with the look of contempt. She's seen this before. She's seen it a dozen times. He's just another example. A nameless example.

Jones zipped his jacket up and crossed his arms.He checked his watch again. She isn't here. Why would she be? Why would she ever be? Jones bit his lower lip and stared at the floor. He waited. He would wait. He could do that.

PLEASE show up

Thirty minutes had come and gone. Thirty agonizing minutes that stretched on for almost an eternity. The waiter had walked by several times and looked uneasily at Jones. He pretended not to notice, like he’d been doing his whole life. Jones dug his hand into his right pocket, and fondled the tiny box within. He hoped that he would use it that night. To open it. That maybe once, he could do something right. But apparently not.

she's not here. she's not here...

The waitress had walked by innumerable times now, clearly suspicious of Jones. The restaurant staff was huddled by the bar, speaking in whispers. What time was it? Was everyone focusing on him? All eyes pointed to Jones.

she's never here she doesn't care she doesn't care SHE DOESN'T CARE why am I here why do I bother this little kid is staring he's staring right at me is everyone staring why are they staring now the waiter is looking sorry ma'am I have to leave sorry for wasting your time sorry for wasting everybody's time

Jones bludgeoned open the doors and began somberly walking down the street. Every step was filled with anger. Every footprint in the snow leaving a trail of hatred. He wanted nothing more than to walk right off the face of the earth. Everything in the city was alive around him, so why wasn't he? The hollow man walked.

she better be home she better freaking be home then she'll see she'll see what she's done what she always does if she thinks she can just play these freaking games

He stopped at the corner. Cars blazed past him. Jones pulled his phone out again. Nothing again. He dialed a few numbers, waiting to call Syd, but stopped himself short. Why the hell would Syd want to know? He was against it this whole time. He probably even conspired against Jones. Strung him along, waiting for Jones to fall, waiting for this moment. Jones threw his phone on the ground. Stamped on it until it lay in pieces and shards. No one would notice. No one would care. Who ever wanted to talk to Jones?

What is it with all these sirens going off?! Can't people just mind their own business and not get in trouble?!

A brick-red apartment building came into view. Two floors, two residences. A lamp shone from the top floor and illuminated the balcony. Jones picked up a rock and flung it towards the glass door on the upper terrace. He took all the rocks he could and violently threw them. He wouldn't rest until he got her attention. When he ran out of rocks, he emptied his pockets and threw their contents, save for that one tiny, fragile box.

Shadows moved on the far wall of the house. The glass door rolled open. She stormed over to the balcony ledge, her face covered in shadows. The moon wasn't shining, but she was. She was happy about something, but god knows what. She had abandoned Jones at the restaurant and humiliated him.  He didn’t care how bright her face was, to him,  the night was dark and dead.

“What are you doing, Jones?!” she spoke loudly, in an oddly serene voice.

What am I doing?! What have you been doing? What the hell have YOU been doing?

“Where were you?” bellowed Jones.

“Oh my god I'm so sorry Jones I was--”
“DON'T give me any of your excuses!”
“But I'm not trying to make excuses I was rea--”
“You always do this! Everytime!”
“JONES, LISTEN TO ME! I was jus--”

“NO! NO! I won't listen to you! You think this is okay? You think any of this is okay? I was there for an hour, just waiting for you! I looked like an idiot! But you don't have a problem with that, do you? Oh no, ANYTHING is okay as long as it's at MY expense and not yours! Who gives a damn if I look stupid, right?!” Jones screamed, insatiable with rage. He wasn't going to let this one slip away. He would end this right then and there. “You couldn't even tell me where you were? Or why you weren't there? I have a FREAKING PHONE. It takes what, TWO SECONDS to send a text? But oh no, that's too much effort for little princess over here, huh? I am so SICK OF YOU!” Jones yelled until his throat was hoarse. Everything was coming out, all at once. All his pent up fury, all the things he tolerated, were coming out now.

Yeah, speechless, aren’t you? Good. It’s about time you got a piece of my mind. It’s an eye for an eye heart for a heart heart for a heart heart for a heart heart for a

His words took effect instantly. She was crying, tearing, sobbing. Rivers flowed from her eyes. Her body was exhausting its entire water supply. She was going to say something but the sobs subdued her voice. She tried to catch herself, to stop. But Jones wouldn't have any of it. Too many times had he succumbed to sadness, this time he would come out the victor. This time he was in control.

NO. Don’t try to convince me with your fake tears! I’m not gonna fall for it. I’M NOT GONNA FALL FOR IT!

“Here, take this, because hell knows I don't need it FOR ANOTHER SECOND!” Jones searched his pocket again for the box. He pulled it out and took his first good look at it since the time he had purchased it. He knew perfectly well what was inside. Jones hoped it broke her heart, broke her heart like the thousands of times she had done to him. He firmly squeezed it, as if saying goodbye. He then looked at her, crying on the balcony, and viciously flung it at her.

It spiked her in the head and toppled onto the floor, and the top of the box  flung open. Its contents lay bare. Within the box was a single diamond ring.

Jones turned his back to the balcony. To the apartment. To the street. To her. Once again, he walked. Except this time, he wasn't sure what his destination was.

What is that GOD DAMN NOISE?

The wail of a police car blared, shadowing Jones.

She sat in her cold leather chair, with puffy cheeks and empty tissue boxes. The ring still remained untouched on the balcony. She solemnly stared at the kitchen counter. For on it, was the reason she was late to their date. The reason for Jones's outburst. The cause of the end of their relationship. It was a white bag, filled with Jones's favorite things. It was her gift to him. A proposal to marriage. Now useless, and soon to be forever forgotten.

V1.4, edited after Heb0's post and Goggie's post


This is a short story I wrote in one sitting. I went back to edit it and fix it about three times now, and I've done the most I can without detracting from it. Sorry for using so much language - I thought throwing in tons of curses was a good way to reveal Jones's anger problems.

I don't think this is my best piece of writing, but it's been a very long time since I've been able to write a full story from start to finish, and I do like it a bunch. So please - constructive criticism and comments would be very much appreciated!

Original version:

Warning, this version contains language in it. Instead of putting in the words and letting them be censored, I used asterisks (the * symbol) to censor them. This is because the flow of the story is messed up if the dialogue looks like: "This is fudgeING stupid."

Spoiler

Edited by Samsara, 15 August 2011 - 07:48 PM.


#2 OFFLINE   rawrgoyle

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:21 PM

Howdy-hey! (: I'm here as requested, and I'll give you my thoughts as honestly and as completely as I can.

It was gripping, in the beginning. Breaking up the narrative flow to highlight Jones' anxiety, his mounting panic, everything worked well. There are some aesthetic things dealing with the specific flow that I might have changed, but it's nothing work picking over now.

Giving insight into your character's mind when he's in this high-octane mode is pretty crucial, so thank you for the italicized passages. Ramping up the difference between Jones cooly, calmly (on the outside) pretending not to have a meltdown versus the ohmigodicantbelieveshedidthistome fast-paced bits would have stuck out a bit more to me. As it stands, the first part of the passage feels a bit muddled. Contrast the waitress a bit more. Have her be lethargic, slow. Collected, at least. Asking what his problem is.

I do have to address your censored swearing. Your claim that "I thought throwing in tons of curses was a good way to reveal Jones's anger problems" is something I can't really agree with. Honestly, I find a bunch of asterisks every other sentence to be more distracting and flow-breaking than a "tamed down" curse, such as "freakin'" or "frikken" or something along those lines.

Seeing the ****ing **** marks every other line makes me realize -- "I'm reading something!" because that's very obviously a symbol that is not pronounced in normal human dialogue. It breaks not only from the flow of my reading voice, but from the flow of, well, reading in general. When I read something like that, my mind doesn't replace the omitted letters with vocabulary sounds, but with the harsh tonal beep you hear on reality television. It's distracting.

To show that Jones is angry? You don't need to have him cursing every other line. Even if you had used the full-on curses, after a while I would have been thinking only about his next f-bomb, rather than the delicate process of his character, the downtrodden mental spiral that he's staggering through. If you want to show him deteriorating, have him shred the menu. Have his fists curl so hard his fingernails leave white marks in his palm. He threw his ring at his fiance-to-be, and it struck her in the head! We see she's angry. You don't have to tell us with curses over and over and over.

That said, I'm not suggesting that all the curses be omitted. Vulgarity is a tricky thing, in writing. My usual philosophy is that I won't go out of my way to have a character curse, but I won't go out of my way to avoid it, either. With no background on Jones (history of anger issues? History of being abandoned by this girl?) the sudden spouting of vulgarity just strikes me as more childish and tantrum-like than any actual display of character.

I hope that makes sense.

In any case, that was my long and rambly review for the evening. I'll probably think of something more once I hit submit, but there you have it!

-rawr

BROMAGEDDON 2: THE BREND OF BRAYS.

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"They spoke like that for nine years .. "


#3 OFFLINE   Samsara

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:15 PM

View Postrawrgoyle, on Jun 1 2011, 09:21 PM, said:

Howdy-hey! (: I'm here as requested, and I'll give you my thoughts as honestly and as completely as I can.

It was gripping, in the beginning. Breaking up the narrative flow to highlight Jones' anxiety, his mounting panic, everything worked well. There are some aesthetic things dealing with the specific flow that I might have changed, but it's nothing work picking over now.

Giving insight into your character's mind when he's in this high-octane mode is pretty crucial, so thank you for the italicized passages. Ramping up the difference between Jones cooly, calmly (on the outside) pretending not to have a meltdown versus the ohmigodicantbelieveshedidthistome fast-paced bits would have stuck out a bit more to me. As it stands, the first part of the passage feels a bit muddled. Contrast the waitress a bit more. Have her be lethargic, slow. Collected, at least. Asking what his problem is.

I do have to address your censored swearing. Your claim that "I thought throwing in tons of curses was a good way to reveal Jones's anger problems" is something I can't really agree with. Honestly, I find a bunch of asterisks every other sentence to be more distracting and flow-breaking than a "tamed down" curse, such as "freakin'" or "frikken" or something along those lines.

Seeing the ****ing **** marks every other line makes me realize -- "I'm reading something!" because that's very obviously a symbol that is not pronounced in normal human dialogue. It breaks not only from the flow of my reading voice, but from the flow of, well, reading in general. When I read something like that, my mind doesn't replace the omitted letters with vocabulary sounds, but with the harsh tonal beep you hear on reality television. It's distracting.

To show that Jones is angry? You don't need to have him cursing every other line. Even if you had used the full-on curses, after a while I would have been thinking only about his next f-bomb, rather than the delicate process of his character, the downtrodden mental spiral that he's staggering through. If you want to show him deteriorating, have him shred the menu. Have his fists curl so hard his fingernails leave white marks in his palm. He threw his ring at his fiance-to-be, and it struck her in the head! We see she's angry. You don't have to tell us with curses over and over and over.

That said, I'm not suggesting that all the curses be omitted. Vulgarity is a tricky thing, in writing. My usual philosophy is that I won't go out of my way to have a character curse, but I won't go out of my way to avoid it, either. With no background on Jones (history of anger issues? History of being abandoned by this girl?) the sudden spouting of vulgarity just strikes me as more childish and tantrum-like than any actual display of character.

I hope that makes sense.

In any case, that was my long and rambly review for the evening. I'll probably think of something more once I hit submit, but there you have it!

-rawr

Thank you for the review and criticism. It means a lot to me.

The detoriation of Jones's mental state is something I want to be really touchy with. I didn't want him to be on a steady downwards spiral into rage. I wanted Jones's insane paranoia and panic to slowly lead into the rage. I don't know if I pulled it off correctly. I will go back and edit it some more, try to really bring out Jones's inner problems.

Regarding the cursing, I guess you're right. I have never put vulgarity into any of my writings. I think it's because everything I've ever written before this has had a "poetic" edge so there was never a need for profanity. I wanted to do something realistic, something that one could imagine happening in real life, and I wanted the character to be real.

But looking back, you're absolutely right. I can still make Jones like a real person in a way that doesn't detract from the story. I'll remove the swearing, and speckle the story with something else.

I'll take your comments into account, re-edit the piece, and post the edited version when I'm done. Thank you, rawrgoyle!  :D

Edited by Samsara, 01 June 2011 - 09:15 PM.


#4 OFFLINE   heb0

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:56 PM

I always love scenes like this--both reading and writing them. I feel like you're able to do a lot more with developing character traits and themes when you can just jump right into the plot without having to build up to it very much. Most of the stories here that I've enjoyed the most have been in that style.

This wasn't a pieced that focused much on plot--we didn't get a backstory, much information about the characters, or a description of how he'd come to be at the diner. In terms of the characters, there was little more than a name to distinguish them, and after that it was simply their words and thoughts that made them who they were. I think this style works well, because it lets you focus on the situation itself and makes it much more universal. You put your own touches on the way you imagine the characters to look, and that helps you to connect with the scene and even imagine you or people you know in it.

I didn't read the original draft closely, but from a quick glance over I think you were right in following rawrgoyle's advice and removing the asterisk'd words. If you have too much cursing, what might be a complicated emotion that you're trying to get across turns into simple rage. I remember reading the opening to a story that a person in my creative writing class last year had written, and he had a situation where he had developed a very complex interesting, character. After one scene of dialogue riddled with f-bombs, however, he'd turned the character from that into a shallow goosedown. :P Some cursing, however, in this situation, might be appropriate.

One aspect that I think you could improve upon is the waitress. You didn't allot much time for us to learn about her, which I think was the right choice. She didn't play much of a role in the story other than perhaps allowing us to learn more about him (also a good choice, in my opinion). However, I think more could be done in the paragraph that is allotted for her description. That is, there is a bit of repetition that should probably be removed to either allow for more description of her or move the action along. See below:

The Waitress said:

“May I take your order?” The waitress had appeared from seemingly nowhere. Locks of blonde hair encircled her face. She stood there lazily, a notepad in one hand and her free hand resting on her hip. There was something strangely apathetic about her. She didn’t care. Jones confusedly looked into her eyes and saw himself in them. They were a soulless black. He stared for a second, two seconds, and lost himself in those abysmal eyes.
From the bolded part, we learn that she is 1) lazy, 2) apathetic, and 3) just didn't care. While 1 and 3 are arguably different enough to warrant keeping them both, I think 2 (and possibly 3 as well) should be removed because it just repeats what has been said in the previous sentence.

Also, there is a jump in her description. She is first described as lazy, but this is taken a bit further in the last bolded segment, where she gains a "dead-on-the-inside" appearance. This is quite a step further than a waitress who just doesn't care about her job or is burnt out. I think if you're wanting her to be dead on the inside, you should possibly remove some of the repetition of her laziness and use that space to make the progression from a character who is simply apathetic to one who appears to not have any vested interest in what happens in her life much smoother and more credible.

The only other major thing I could find dealt a bit with style. I've always loved portraying the thoughts of a character in a stream of consciousness style, because most of us don't think in complete sentences or even words much of the time, but rather in a jumble of emotions and occasional spurts of disjointed and often unrelated phrases. It also helps to hurry the action along. Lack of capitalization, full stops and other punctuation make your eyes "run", in a sense, as you read it. All in all, I think this style works well for what you're trying to develop.

However, I think we may have been thrown into his thought progression a bit too late in the game. I found myself guessing at why he was there, who he was meeting, and I think that's good. You don't want to immediately reveal the circumstances of the meeting and with whom it is. However, he starts out so panicked, so paranoid, that I think the guesses I was making weren't appropriate guesses. They weren't guesses you'd necessarily want your audience to make. My initial thought was that he was insane (which you probably do want an element of that--I'd think that we'd all be a bit insane if we were about to propose to someone :D), and after that I wondered if he had killed someone, if those sirens were coming after him, or if he were a drug-addict waiting on his dealer.

You probably do want elements of all these types of people that I first guessed he was, but maybe not as strongly. I think that if you maybe started us off earlier, and gave Jones a bit more time to get as ruffled as he becomes, it might make the ending much more meaningful. It might even be as simple as reworking the first two "streams-of-consciousness", as I think his conversation with the waitress was fitting and didn't make him come across as too out of his mind. At the moment I didn't feel as bad for him as I could have, as he started out a crazy, overreacting man and ended the story the same way. Whether this should be fixed by simply prolonging his progression at the diner or maybe by giving snippets of backstory (to show that he cared deeply about this proposal), I'm not sure, but I think a bit of tweaking here might go a long way.

Now that's out of the way, this is one of the pieces I've enjoyed most on Sal's. I really liked the ending--the way we learn why she didn't show was well done. It reminded me, in a way, of O. Henry's Gift of The Maji with a twist in a darker direction. :(

#5 OFFLINE   Goggie

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 07:24 PM

HOLY BUMPSICLES


I've never really done story reviewing, but since you asked me to do this Sid, i'll give it my best shot :(


- I really liked the way it started off. You really captured the spirit and idea of the person awkwardly waiting for the person they're meeting in a public space, without making it want to sound like i'm accusing you of clichés, it worked well. The different levels you created by having the italicized thought process of 'Jones' was a good idea and it did work, but I feel like it was a little limited by the stark differences between the two, like Rawrgoyle mentioned. While this made for an interesting first few paragaraphs it did damage the flow, and I feel with a lighter change between italicized and non-italicized it could have been a fantastic opening. The material and idea is there, it just needs a little tweaking.

- One area of the italicized interplay that seemed a little muddled was here:

Quote

Anxiety swished around his stomach and poisoned his mind.

please show up I need you to show up I need you

The whole idea of his mind being poisoned by the anxiety is great and in keeping with what we've seen so far from Jones, but the next line doesn't seem to follow. This is where the fragmentation happened for me - but then when I read it the first time it didn't occur to me - only when going back and re-reading to try and see where it could be improved. You have a natural flow which is clear to anyone reading to see and you have the makings of a good writer, I think it's more that the italicizing motif needed to be a little simpler - like what heb0 said with your waitress description, you're dragging in two directions at once and the effect is that it sounds a little disjointed. I can see later when you talk about the 'hollow man' why you wanted to get that description of seeing his own self in her 'soulless eyes' but it didn't really fit too well.


...aaands that's as far as I go with the in-depth review. From then on in the character development that you did in the opening came into its own and the flawed character of Jones is there for all to see - and it's a good read. The mental deconstruction that you have on offer for the reader after he leaves the restaurant is simple enough that you don't digress from his fight with his lover, but it explains the anger enough that we don't feel that the outburst is out of keep with his character.

I must admit I was sort of expecting a twist at the end -- but hey, it's a short story. Most short stories have some sort of clincher because otherwise well, they'd be a little empty at the end and what you generally want from a short story is a kind of 'oh snap' reaction or 'wow, that was pretty cool.' You got that down pretty well with the woman, although I felt like the last line was a little rushed. A marriage proposal soon to be forgotten? Is this some sort of ominous ending involving her demise? But yeah. That's really minor.


--------------------------


If I haven't made it clear already, I enjoyed reading this. It's hard to get across through all the nitpicking that I still enjoyed the read and, quite honestly, it's fine as it is. Those are just the things that cropped up when I read it through with a more analytical approach. I hope you get something out of this, because I feel everything that I just wrote is entirely disjointed and I never written a proper review like this before. Ever. :D

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#6 OFFLINE   Samsara

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 07:45 PM

Woo! Alright! Well I've finally taken the time to go back and look at this. I've edited it accordingly to both heb0's and Goggie's reviews. Take a look guys, and tell me what you think. Responses to both reviews below.


View Postheb0, on Jun 5 2011, 06:56 PM, said:

I always love scenes like this--both reading and writing them. I feel like you're able to do a lot more with developing character traits and themes when you can just jump right into the plot without having to build up to it very much. Most of the stories here that I've enjoyed the most have been in that style.

Admittedly, it's the only style I'm good at it. I'm terrible at creating structure for a long-term story. Plot, characters, settings, they all have a tendency to fall apart when I write them over the course of chapters. It's definitely one of my weaknesses as a writer; one that I need to work on.

Quote

I didn't read the original draft closely, but from a quick glance over I think you were right in following rawrgoyle's advice and removing the asterisk'd words. If you have too much cursing, what might be a complicated emotion that you're trying to get across turns into simple rage. I remember reading the opening to a story that a person in my creative writing class last year had written, and he had a situation where he had developed a very complex interesting, character. After one scene of dialogue riddled with f-bombs, however, he'd turned the character from that into a shallow goosedown. :D Some cursing, however, in this situation, might be appropriate.

That was definitely one of the hardest things for me to decide. What I really wanted to do  was try to capture the essence of people's raw thoughts when going through stuff like this. When people have internal monologues like this, when they think to themselves... they don't have censors. They speak in their natural language, as if no one was watching or judging them. I definitely went overboard with that when first writing this, and I think the changes I've made suit the scene and the story better.

Quote

One aspect that I think you could improve upon is the waitress. You didn't allot much time for us to learn about her, which I think was the right choice. She didn't play much of a role in the story other than perhaps allowing us to learn more about him (also a good choice, in my opinion). However, I think more could be done in the paragraph that is allotted for her description. That is, there is a bit of repetition that should probably be removed to either allow for more description of her or move the action along. See below:

The Waitress said:

“May I take your order?” The waitress had appeared from seemingly nowhere. Locks of blonde hair encircled her face. She stood there lazily, a notepad in one hand and her free hand resting on her hip. There was something strangely apathetic about her. She didn’t care. Jones confusedly looked into her eyes and saw himself in them. They were a soulless black. He stared for a second, two seconds, and lost himself in those abysmal eyes.
From the bolded part, we learn that she is 1) lazy, 2) apathetic, and 3) just didn't care. While 1 and 3 are arguably different enough to warrant keeping them both, I think 2 (and possibly 3 as well) should be removed because it just repeats what has been said in the previous sentence.

Also, there is a jump in her description. She is first described as lazy, but this is taken a bit further in the last bolded segment, where she gains a "dead-on-the-inside" appearance. This is quite a step further than a waitress who just doesn't care about her job or is burnt out. I think if you're wanting her to be dead on the inside, you should possibly remove some of the repetition of her laziness and use that space to make the progression from a character who is simply apathetic to one who appears to not have any vested interest in what happens in her life much smoother and more credible.

Thank you for complimenting my purpose for bringing the waitress in. Indeed, she was just a tool used to learn more about Jones's perspective of the world around him and the people within. Most of the things I write are one-character pieces, so I was a bit inexperienced with having another character mess with the dynamics of the story, even if it was for just a paragraph. I went with your suggestion and edited the second bold part so there was a smoother segue between the first and third points.

However, I didn't remove the seemingly disparate characteristics of being simply lazy, and being "dead-on-the-inside." I think, when it comes to the waitress, both are characteristics that lead to the other. It's a bit hard for me to explain, but I know in my head that they're connected.

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The only other major thing I could find dealt a bit with style. I've always loved portraying the thoughts of a character in a stream of consciousness style, because most of us don't think in complete sentences or even words much of the time, but rather in a jumble of emotions and occasional spurts of disjointed and often unrelated phrases. It also helps to hurry the action along. Lack of capitalization, full stops and other punctuation make your eyes "run", in a sense, as you read it. All in all, I think this style works well for what you're trying to develop.

However, I think we may have been thrown into his thought progression a bit too late in the game. I found myself guessing at why he was there, who he was meeting, and I think that's good. You don't want to immediately reveal the circumstances of the meeting and with whom it is. However, he starts out so panicked, so paranoid, that I think the guesses I was making weren't appropriate guesses. They weren't guesses you'd necessarily want your audience to make. My initial thought was that he was insane (which you probably do want an element of that--I'd think that we'd all be a bit insane if we were about to propose to someone :P), and after that I wondered if he had killed someone, if those sirens were coming after him, or if he were a drug-addict waiting on his dealer.

You probably do want elements of all these types of people that I first guessed he was, but maybe not as strongly. I think that if you maybe started us off earlier, and gave Jones a bit more time to get as ruffled as he becomes, it might make the ending much more meaningful. It might even be as simple as reworking the first two "streams-of-consciousness", as I think his conversation with the waitress was fitting and didn't make him come across as too out of his mind. At the moment I didn't feel as bad for him as I could have, as he started out a crazy, overreacting man and ended the story the same way. Whether this should be fixed by simply prolonging his progression at the diner or maybe by giving snippets of backstory (to show that he cared deeply about this proposal), I'm not sure, but I think a bit of tweaking here might go a long way.

Yeah, this was definitely one of the major things that I needed to tweak. Goggie noted this in his review, as well.

I've gone through and made Jones's progression much smoother, and also messed around with the italicized parts to make for a more believable character. Sorry for replying to three well thought out paragraphs in a few condensed sentences. :( I suggest you to go read it again, and see if you have the same qualms after I have gone and revised it.

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Now that's out of the way, this is one of the pieces I've enjoyed most on Sal's. I really liked the ending--the way we learn why she didn't show was well done. It reminded me, in a way, of O. Henry's Gift of The Maji with a twist in a darker direction. :D

THANK YOU, O. Henry is exactly who I was trying to emulate with this story. The ending... yes! Yes! I am so glad that it was noticeable. Of course, O. Henry focuses more on plot than he does on character, but that's just my own spin on his plot conventions.

Thank you for the great review, heb0. I think you've helped make my story better tons.

Also, since I know you've read my other story as well... do tell. Which one did you like better, Jones or The Escape? :D


View PostGoggie, on Aug 12 2011, 01:24 AM, said:

- I really liked the way it started off. You really captured the spirit and idea of the person awkwardly waiting for the person they're meeting in a public space, without making it want to sound like i'm accusing you of clichés, it worked well. The different levels you created by having the italicized thought process of 'Jones' was a good idea and it did work, but I feel like it was a little limited by the stark differences between the two, like Rawrgoyle mentioned. While this made for an interesting first few paragaraphs it did damage the flow, and I feel with a lighter change between italicized and non-italicized it could have been a fantastic opening. The material and idea is there, it just needs a little tweaking.

- One area of the italicized interplay that seemed a little muddled was here:

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Anxiety swished around his stomach and poisoned his mind.

please show up I need you to show up I need you

The whole idea of his mind being poisoned by the anxiety is great and in keeping with what we've seen so far from Jones, but the next line doesn't seem to follow. This is where the fragmentation happened for me - but then when I read it the first time it didn't occur to me - only when going back and re-reading to try and see where it could be improved. You have a natural flow which is clear to anyone reading to see and you have the makings of a good writer, I think it's more that the italicizing motif needed to be a little simpler - like what heb0 said with your waitress description, you're dragging in two directions at once and the effect is that it sounds a little disjointed. I can see later when you talk about the 'hollow man' why you wanted to get that description of seeing his own self in her 'soulless eyes' but it didn't really fit too well.

Yeah, this is really apparent to me after reading it again. I think this is because when I was writing the story, the only thing I could think about was the ending. So in my head, Jones was already at that stage, and I had completely forgotten that I need to depict to the readers Jones's smooth progression into the feelings he expresses at the end.

I've gone through and kept the non-italicized and italicized portions in sync with each other. Now they both do not charge in different directions, and Jones's progression is much more believable.

Sorry for replying to your huge review in a couple of sentences. I feel like I've addressed this point already in my reply to heb0's review, as both of you noted the same thing. Every word of your review matters to me though, as I took it all into consideration when revising it.

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...aaands that's as far as I go with the in-depth review. From then on in the character development that you did in the opening came into its own and the flawed character of Jones is there for all to see - and it's a good read. The mental deconstruction that you have on offer for the reader after he leaves the restaurant is simple enough that you don't digress from his fight with his lover, but it explains the anger enough that we don't feel that the outburst is out of keep with his character.

I must admit I was sort of expecting a twist at the end -- but hey, it's a short story. Most short stories have some sort of clincher because otherwise well, they'd be a little empty at the end and what you generally want from a short story is a kind of 'oh snap' reaction or 'wow, that was pretty cool.' You got that down pretty well with the woman, although I felt like the last line was a little rushed. A marriage proposal soon to be forgotten? Is this some sort of ominous ending involving her demise? But yeah. That's really minor.


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If I haven't made it clear already, I enjoyed reading this. It's hard to get across through all the nitpicking that I still enjoyed the read and, quite honestly, it's fine as it is. Those are just the things that cropped up when I read it through with a more analytical approach. I hope you get something out of this, because I feel everything that I just wrote is entirely disjointed and I never written a proper review like this before. Ever. :D

Thank you! :D

And don't worry, your review was great. Thank you again. :D




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