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Old 11-21-2016, 11:35 PM View Post #1 (Link) Avoiding the dark path
hannah55 (Offline)
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I have written this as an intro to a potentially longer story. Please do no hesitate to comment on everything that is on your mind, since I need all the feedback I can get!

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How to start. Not really how. More where. I guess when you want to tell story, you have to pick the right spot for the beginning. Especially when telling a true story based on real events since no matter what you do, it will always be in medias res, in the middle of things. Let us start where I made up my mind. It seems a long time ago, but it has not even been a year. Time is after all relative and I often find that when things change a lot, 11 months seem a lot longer than when things stay the same.

A family dinner at Christmas Eve – this is in Denmark by the way not too far from Copenha-gen. You have your typical set of people all gathered to enjoy the same meal as last year and the year before. My family gathers every year at my grandmother’s house. She used to own an inn, so all of the furniture looks like it has been taken straight out of the 1920’s. You can smell the old cigarette smoke in the comfortable dining chairs and you can see the stains of red wine on the saloon sofa. It is all very atmospheric, but it reminds me too much of the energetic woman that my grandmother used to be. Now she is retired and all she talks about is death and immi-grants.

We were all sitting at the dining table ready to eat the traditional Christmas meal. It is the same as it has always been: roasted pork, duck, sweet caramel potatoes, red cabbage and gravy. Someone once tried to do the red cabbage differently, but that became a laughing stock and an inescapable topic of every get-together since it happened. Present tonight you have the ambitious men boasting about their latest successes in life, you have the youth dreaming of being elsewhere, you have the middle-aged parents who have started to live life through their children by constantly bragging about them and the elderly who barely have an idea of what is going on. In December 2015 I fell into the ambitious youth category along with my sister, Emma, and the youngest of my cousins, Dave. The big, loud, materialistic men (in this case, only men) included my father and my two oldest cousins. My father again was part of the middle-aged group along with his wife and my aunt, and my grandmother sat on the throne as the oldest in the family.

“So Hannah how is it going with your football?” Tom, an older cousin of mine, said to me between the breaths of chewing roasted pork and drinking the way too strong red wine. He enjoys food more than the company of most people and that can be seen not only on his body, but also in his eyes. He sat next to me and had not spoken to me for a while, so he probably felt that it was his obligation to ask me about the one thing that we have in common. “It’s going quite well actually. Last week I played attacking midfielder and we…” A more interesting conversation had started between my father and my second cousin, Jacob, and Tom’s attention was no longer mine. It never really was actually. Whoever shouts the loudest, gets the attention. That is the way it has been since man figured out that maybe the whole thing about walking on two legs was not such a bad idea after all. Tom and Jacob, brothers and co-workers, often remind me of two animals fighting to win the admiration of their spectators. Jacob has the same love of food and wine, which also makes him a “big boy”. Tom and Jacob started preparing for the inevitable argument that always follows after they start a conversa-tion. The current discipline: Knowledge about the traffic of central Copenhagen.

“NO, if you turn left down Bernstorffsgade, you will get there way faster!” said Jacob like nothing had ever been more correct.
“You CAN’T do that, the street is closed so you wouldn’t be able to drive there,” answered Tom while my father nodded approvingly.
Jacob reached for more gravy and answered; “I was there yesterday and it was definitely not closed”.
“Well, I was there today and the street was as open as can be”.
“Why don’t you just take the metro?” my sister, Emma, asked in a calm and quiet manner.
Jacob and Tom looked at each other and started chuckling. They were both older than Emma and they had lived in Copenhagen for longer than she. They quickly dismissed that she could be right and moved on to a topic about the new legislation of eco-friendly cars.

“Who wants to live in Copenhagen anyways,” said my grandmother while pouring herself some more wine. “All those immigrants, nasty glass buildings, and nowhere to park…”
“What’s wrong with immigrants?” I asked my grandmother knowing exactly where this would go.
“They are all Muslims and they do not respect women – they do not deserve our welfare system”.
My father’s wife (and my stepmother) came with one of her lectures, which had become more like attacks in the recent years: “Not all Muslims disrespect women! All the Muslims that I have ever met have treated me perfectly fine”. My aunt came to my grandmother’s rescue, while my sister started backing my stepmother. The shouting became louder, wine and food were spilled on the tablecloth because Tom and Jacob started another, but this time more fierce argument about who knew most about immigration. My grandmother, losing interest since her knowledge on the topic is very limited, poured herself some more wine.

Everything started to become blurry and I did not listen for several minutes. I felt like we had already had this conversation last year. And the year before. Back then I was a bigger part of the argument. The desire to share my opinion has decreased every year for as long as I can remember. Usually I am quite strong willed and I like to discuss complicated ideas about all kinds of crazy things. But this year I had seen more of my family and I realized that they made me feel disarmed. Generally I use wits and my intellect to argue, but not lately. When we were younger my cousins and I played in the sun as equals while our parents watched. We were dreaming of becoming knights and astronauts and superheroes. And what have we become? We are just people fighting the same fights about things that we cannot change. We all have the same be-lieves as when we started – nothing has changed and nothing can be changed.

I closed my eyes and felt my consciousness leave my body. It flew up above the old family chandelier where it could get a better overview. Everything went into slow motion and I started evaluat-ing my relationships to every person in the room. I used to be so close to my cousins, but now they sit here in their gravy and wine stained suits rambling like madmen about something that would make no difference at the end of the day. They only argue to prove who of them is the better man on that exact area. Dave, the youngest of my cousin, sat like myself. We used to be the best of friends, but now we couldn’t care less about each other. I felt the same about my father’s wife although I do not think that it was mutual. She quickly surrendered to Tom and Jacob’s methods since joining the family. She was now yelling most of the time as well. We have never been close and we probably never will be. My father almost always believes that he is right, simply because he has more experience than most people when it comes to many things. I see myself as an equal to most people I meet and it annoys my father when I disagree with him. He believes that he is entitled to be right and he is too proud to admit when he might be in the wrong. My sister, Emma, thinks that she knows what is best for me in the way that older sisters always do. My aunt and grandmother are victims of men and women deciding their future for them. They are content with their lives and they know that it is too late for them to change. They all sit like prophets believing that their way of life is the only right one and that others should be more like them. I guess that that is what characterizes this family.

I then looked at myself. Who would ever think things like this? I mean how disrespectful can you be towards the people that have loved you before you even knew how to love? I would never have thought like this this a couple of years ago. I knew that it was true the moment the thought crossed my mind: I didn’t even like myself that much either. It had become time to step back. The sound of broken glass brought me back to real life.

“We are getting worse and worse every year aren’t we?” said Jacob with a grin while waiting for someone to clean the wine that he had spilled. Someone then mentioned something about the tax system and the voices became louder once more. Another cycle was about to start and I began to look for shelter. What could be my excuse for not partaking this time? Pretending I got a text? Going to the bathroom?

I agreed with myself that it would be best if I did not see them or anyone who was part of my life for a while. I had to escape who I was turning into. I am not the average person, not because I am in any way special or something like that. I am just wired differently than most people. But more on that later. Leaving for a week or even a month would not help. I needed to leave properly to a place where no one knew anything about me or the things that has hap-pened to me in the past. So this was when I changed my mind. And now for the part where I started doing something about it.
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Old 11-22-2016, 10:32 PM View Post #2 (Link) Critique
TheRaconteur (Offline)
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I cannot offer you edits on any grammatical errors this story may have, but I will my opinions the good and bad things.

First of all, I quite enjoyed reading this. I liked the comedy sowed into the story. You did a great job of incorporating it while making the whole thing flow seemingly naturally. The format is different than most of what I've read before, but that's not necessary bad. Your unique way of telling the whole thing made me think of a narration of movie, which I liked. This story also provides an interesting insight into a small segment of your (presuming it is really a true story) life with family. In all honesty, this feels like a start of a much longer story which just makes me want to read more.

I only have one huge problem with this. It's that you can't have non dialogue sentences after dialogue unless if it is a tag. For example -

“So Hannah how is it going with your football?” Tom, an older cousin of mine, said to me between the breaths of chewing roasted pork and drinking the way too strong red wine. He enjoys food more than the company of most people and that can be seen not only on his body, but also in his eyes. He sat next to me and had not spoken to me for a while, so he probably felt that it was his obligation to ask me about the one thing that we have in common. “It’s going quite well actually. Last week I played attacking midfielder and we…” A more interesting conversation had started between my father and my second cousin, Jacob, and Tom’s attention was no longer mine. It never really was actually. Whoever shouts the loudest, gets the attention. That is the way it has been since man figured out that maybe the whole thing about walking on two legs was not such a bad idea after all. Tom and Jacob, brothers and co-workers, often remind me of two animals fighting to win the admiration of their spectators. Jacob has the same love of food and wine, which also makes him a “big boy”. Tom and Jacob started preparing for the inevitable argument that always follows after they start a conversa-tion. The current discipline: Knowledge about the traffic of central Copenhagen.

There are multiple problems with the above paragraph. The dialogue tag (Tom, an older cousin of mine, said to me between the breaths of chewing roasted pork and drinking the way too strong red wine) is the only thing that can interrupt or be after dialogue. After that there must either be speech (continued or starting and must be belonging to the same speaker) or a new paragraph must be formed. There are specific rules (yes, there are) that go with dialogue which can be easily searched online. Forgive me for being redundant on the word, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of it. It's my only problem about this story.

Overall, this was a good story. It had an interesting way of being told, and what was being told was also interesting. I'm sure there are grammatical errors in the text, but i do not trust myself in finding them. I very much enjoyed reading, and I had a few laughs too. The sudden shift toward the end was intriguing. Oh wait, I just read that the story could be longer. I encourage you to make it so.

I am interested in how you may entertain or perhaps even enlighten me. Keep on writing, and present everyone with the worlds your mind can create. In your hands, just like many writers, is the ability to take people to far away places with great experiences.
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Old 11-23-2016, 11:35 PM View Post #3 (Link) This post is a reply - don't critique it
hannah55 (Offline)
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Hi TheRaconteur.

Thank you for your comments. I plan on writing on the story or revising it everyday, so there will most likely be more to come. Hopefully others will find it entertaining or interesting as well.

English is not my native language and I have never really written any short stories or novels before in English, so I really appreciate your comments on that one specific paragraph. I will look up the rules to improve my writing, so thank you again for pointing that out to me.
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Old 11-30-2016, 03:13 AM View Post #4 (Link) Critique
Jaclynwrites (Offline)
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First of all, I really enjoyed the humor that you incorporated into the story, even though the overall tone of the story was quite sallow. This is one of those stories that I can see the unfolding of it. Some short stories i read have no sort of future whatsoever, leaving it feeling very one dimensional.
However, there are a few things you could work on with this story.
Show, don't tell. You will here me say this a lot when I am critiquing. For the most part, you did a good job of this when you were describing your characters and how they were behaving at the dinner. You didnt have to tell me: "My cousin was drunk" I already knew. I pictured him and your other family members drinking and yelling loudly with food spilling out of their mouths, while every few minutes a glass of wine was knocked over, with loud laughter proceeding from the family. There were some problems with this when you were setting up the scene in the beginning of the story. I understand that it can be hard not to go into great detail when you are setting up your story, but the truth is that you did loose me in the beginning for a little bit. The last thing you want is for your reader to loose interest before they ever get into the meat of the story. You can combat this buy letting your details bleed into the story. Instead of just blasting me with information in the very beginning let it soak throughout the story.
You also need to keep one point of view throughout your story. Don't switch back and forth from first person past and first person present. It's confusing.
The last thing that I will discuss here is your prologue (i think). Cut it out completely. I know that you want to give foreshadowing and context in your story, but it is taking away from the story. Yes, It's important to give context, but you can't give a whole paragraph about how you decided to start at this point in the story and it's a true story and blah blah. You have lost your reader here. A quick: This is the beginning of my story. Will do.
if you have any questions, pm me and well talk.
i hope this was helpful!
xoxo, Jaclyn
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Old 12-10-2016, 12:21 AM View Post #5 (Link)
JazzyRae (Offline)
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This is a very good story. I like the sense of personality in your character. It's very detailed and well thought out. The characters are very real and relatable. One thing I would change, though, is the dialogue format. You should add a new line when a new character is speaking. I know this is only a draft, but maybe add her thinking of what her family would do when she left. Where would she go? I know that you might be planning to add this on later, but if not, it might be something to consider. Otherwise, you have a really good story going for you. I hope I can read more!
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Old 12-10-2016, 11:20 PM View Post #6 (Link) This post is a reply - don't critique it
hannah55 (Offline)
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Hi everyone! Thank you so much for your comments! I have revised my story and you can find the edited version along with chapter 1 in the novels section: http://www.youngwritersonline.net/forumdisplay.php?f=47

It is now called "Avoiding the path" instead. Hope you enjoy!
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Old 01-24-2017, 09:52 PM View Post #7 (Link) Love it
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Amazed to say the least.
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