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#1
I have decided to finally try and write a little. I am starting with short stories to hone my craft. I have been writing this one story for the last two days and I am 6 pages in. I was wondering what you guys think about this opening. What can I do to improve it? Is it attention grabbing:

"It was an ordinary city night to most. Homeless begged, swindlers scammed, and the masses just tried to get their fill. The streets were jammed to the brim. Sidewalks full of the self-centered. Everything felt so cluttered that even ones thoughts were droned out by the clashing, beeping, and yelling."

The first few sentences are the most important and I wanted to know if this was good.
#2
Quote by toBetheVeryBest
hone my craft

1. Stop using cliches like this
2. there's a writing thread somewhere
#3
Seems a bit too descriptive to start out with, without motion going away from what the streets were like. But I have no idea the context here or where you are going with the story.
In my heart I'm with you

every night
#4
There's a short story. Without context of the rest of the story, I would say scrap it and start over.

The first few sentences are definitely not the most important. In a short story, all the sentences are the most important. All of them.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
#5
Quote by genghisgandhi
1. Stop using cliches like this
2. there's a writing thread somewhere



Get better at writing.
#6
Quote by toBetheVeryBest
"It was an ordinary city night to most. Homeless begged, swindlers scammed, and the masses just tried to get their fill. The streets were jammed to the brim. Sidewalks full of the self-centered. Everything felt so cluttered that even ones thoughts were droned out by the clashing, beeping, and yelling."


Same shit different day. Bums bummed for money, shiesty dudes got paid, and everyone was trying to survive. So many people walkin the block. So many ego heads too. It felt like the world was crashing down on the hood while the streets kept going.
Most of the important things


in the world have been accomplished


by people who have kept on


trying when there seemed to be no hope at all
#7
Quote by palm mute
Seems a bit too descriptive to start out with, without motion going away from what the streets were like. But I have no idea the context here or where you are going with the story.


So cut down on the adjectives?

Here are the next few sentences.

"Far above the hordes of people a man observed. He watched what the people did when they thought no one could see them. Thieves shifted their hands through purses. Drug deals happened with a quick sleight of hand. People lurked in the dark. He watched and had the soothing thought that after today, he would no longer have to deal with the evils of man. He climbed outside the window and began to inch along the side of the tower."

The story is about a suicidal man rethinking his life.
#8
Quote by toBetheVeryBest
Get better at writing.

What do you mean?


It's very heavy handed. You have a lot of dead words and phrase that don't need to be there. If it's about a suicide, try to hide your hand as much as possible. You don't want the reader to realize you're pushing the character to that end.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
Last edited by BladeSlinger at May 28, 2013,
#10
Quote by CoreysMonster
http://vocaroo.com/i/s1DFcbRrEOcA

I narrated it for you. Does it sound stupid when somebody reads it out loud?

You did pretty well. This is definitely one of the best ways to catch snags and rough spots. Always read it out loud.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
#12
1. Context would really help. What kind of genre is it going to be, mystery, thriller, etc.? What's the world setting, modern, sci-fi, medieval, historical, recent historical(1920s onward), etc.? Realistic, dystopian, etc.? Knowing what kind of world you're trying to introduce and what story you're trying to get people interested in would help to tell if this'd work.
2. Make it longer. Either that, or make it catchier, for lack of a better word. This is how you draw people in, either you need to really give them a sense of the world you're bringing them into with something more detailed, or you need to be succinct and give them a hook that makes them want to keep reading.
3. Use commas. There are way too many periods in there, and it makes the whole thing feel disjointed, and while you don't want to make the whole thing a run-on sentence like I'm demonstrating here, you want to have some of that, as it makes the whole thing flow and feel less jarring to read, making it more applicable, but again, as being demonstrated, don't overuse it.
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#14
Quote by toBetheVeryBest
So cut down on the adjectives?

Here are the next few sentences.

"Far above the hordes of people a man observed. He watched what the people did when they thought no one could see them. Thieves shifted their hands through purses. Drug deals happened with a quick sleight of hand. People lurked in the dark. He watched and had the soothing thought that after today, he would no longer have to deal with the evils of man. He climbed outside the window and began to inch along the side of the tower."

The story is about a suicidal man rethinking his life.

Before you said that I had the impression it was about a super hero actually.

It isn't so much the adjectives as it is the number of sentences like 'x did what x do' for me. I do like the premise and I'd be willing to read what you've got as you flesh this out though.
In my heart I'm with you

every night
#15
Quote by toBetheVeryBest
So cut down on the adjectives?

Here are the next few sentences.

"Far above the hordes of people a man observed. He watched what the people did when they thought no one could see them. Thieves shifted their hands through purses. Drug deals happened with a quick sleight of hand. People lurked in the dark. He watched and had the soothing thought that after today, he would no longer have to deal with the evils of man. He climbed outside the window and began to inch along the side of the tower."

The story is about a suicidal man rethinking his life.


so what you should do is have the protagonist have an existential epiphany and make it look like he's not going to do it, then have him step off the ledge.
you're a stone fox
#18
Is the narrator siding with this man's thoughts? You are in 3rd person but I sense you are writing in the way the suicidal man also thinks, with your focus on social issues he sees.

Is he disgusted by this? Is he one of them, unable to live with the guilt any longer? Does he feel above it all (tons of metaphor digging you can do with that, what with him being on a tower and all), self righteously judging them from his perch as he is about to end it all?
In my heart I'm with you

every night
#19
Here's the best way to improve your story, in my opinion

Cut.

Take those six pages and cut two out. Find what is absolutely necessary and leave it. Cut anything that doesn't contribute. When you have the stripped down version, read it closely and look for any gaping holes. Then you can add a little back in.

It doesn't have to stay that way but it helps edit.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
#21
Quote by Nelsean




It isn't so much the adjectives as it is the number of sentences like 'x did what x do' for me. I do like the premise and I'd be willing to read what you've got as you flesh this out though.


I can see how that could make for some bland reading. Thanks for the criticism guys. This is helping a lot.
#23
Quote by toBetheVeryBest
"It was an ordinary city night to most.


So why bother telling me so?

Homeless begged,


What's a homelesss?

swindlers scammed,


Well yes, that's why they're called swindlers.

and the masses just tried to get their fill.


aka, 'I couldn't think of how to finish my descriptive triplet'.

The streets were jammed to the brim.


Streets don't have brims. And it's night-time, why are the streets full? Doesn't sound like an 'ordinary city night' Also, don't use clichés.

Sidewalks full of the self-centered.


How do you know they're self-centered?

Everything felt so cluttered that even ones thoughts were droned out by the clashing, beeping, and yelling."


Everything felt so cluttered that it was loud? What does clutter have to do with the place being noisy? And besides, it's not cluttered, it's full of people. Isn't that the point of a street?

"Far above the hordes of people a man observed. He watched what the people did when they thought no one could see them.


What? They're in a street that's 'jammed to the brim', people aren't going to be thinking than no-one can see them.

Thieves shifted their hands through purses. Drug deals happened with a quick sleight of hand. People lurked in the dark.


I'm not buying it. Is this guy using binoculars or something? I mean you said he was 'far above', how is he seeing these minor things?

He watched and had the soothing thought that after today, he would no longer have to deal with the evils of man.


Why is there a comma? And again, stop with the clichés.

He climbed outside the window and began to inch along the side of the tower."


I see. Why should I care? You've put the character in peril before you've given us any reason to care about him, so your reader is just feeling apathetic at this point.
...Stapling helium to penguins since 1949.
#25
It was an ordinary night. Homeless begged and scammed; masses tried to get their fill. The streets were jammed to the brim, sidewalks full. Everything felt so cluttered that even thoughts were droned out.

Far above the people a man observed. He watched the people when they thought no one could see them. Thieves shifted their fare through sleight of hand. He watched and thought that after today, he would no longer have to deal with man. He climbed outside the window and inched along the side of the tower.

Ran through it quickly. I think it lends a faster paced rhythm suited to a clogged city. Leaves holes for your reader. They'll get bored if you tell them everything.

Change the thoughts being droned out line. It's super cliche.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
Last edited by BladeSlinger at May 28, 2013,
#28
Quote by whywefight
Yeah, pretty much all of what Todd said was unhelpful.


No, it was blunt. There's a difference.
...Stapling helium to penguins since 1949.
#29
Quote by whywefight
Yeah, pretty much all of what Todd said was unhelpful.

Yea, a lot of it isn't helpful to the story itself. As an author, TS should be able to answer these questions though. If he can't then the line probably doesn't belong.

^I don't think it's all valid for short story writing. You can bend rules if you know what you're doing. If he can answer the questions, he's fine. If they weren't deliberate then he needs to rework it.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
Last edited by BladeSlinger at May 28, 2013,
#30
Quote by whywefight
Yeah, pretty much all of what Todd said was unhelpful.

No it wasn't. Todd's telling TS to think about why he wrote what he wrote. If he can think of no good answer to any of Todd's simple questions or reasons why he can't answer them, then that part questioned isn't very good and should probably be thrown out.
#31
Quote by whywefight
Yeah, pretty much all of what Todd said was unhelpful.


Slightly nit picky, but he is right about much of the first paragraph. I should be more descriptive.

Still I don't want to treat the reader like a complete idiot.
Last edited by toBetheVeryBest at May 28, 2013,
#32
Quote by toBetheVeryBest
Slightly nit picky, but he is right about much of the first paragraph.

It's not really nit picky at all. Writers put a ton of work into crafting their stories. There's a reason the great ones are just that. Every thing was deliberate. It all contributed. My quick run through eliminated a good amount and there's still a lot left. That's how editing goes though.

You need no more description. You over describe.

I cut more. Still a little overboard but not as indulgent as before.
It was an ordinary night. The streets were jammed, the sidewalks full. Everything felt so cluttered.

Far above, a man observed. He watched when they thought no one could see them. He watched and thought that after today, he would no longer have to deal with man. He climbed outside the window and inched along the side of the tower.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
Last edited by BladeSlinger at May 28, 2013,
#34
Quote by BladeSlinger
It's not really nit picky at all. Writers put a ton of work into crafting their stories. There's a reason the great ones are just that. Every thing was deliberate. It all contributed. My quick run through eliminated a good amount and there's still a lot left. That's how editing goes though.

You need no more description. You over describe.

>mfw I see English class being applied mere hours after declaring it all bullshit

#35
Quote by CoreysMonster
>mfw I see English class being applied mere hours after declaring it all bullshit


Being applied to English.


As a video game person you should see this coming. Someone has to make those scripts flow and come alive.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
#36
Quote by toBetheVeryBest
Slightly nit picky, but he is right about much of the first paragraph. I should be more descriptive.

Still I don't want to treat the reader like a complete idiot.


When writing a short story you have to be nit-picky, as every word is fighting for space on the page. I always think of F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce when writing short stories, as they would spend days agonizing over a single sentence. Of course, most of us don't really have the patience for that, but the premise is good. Each sentence should be equally well crafted and considered, and whenever this is not the case the story will suffer. When you're writing a novel, or a screenplay, or something similar, you have some space to put purely connective, banal sentence in. Poetry and short stories are far more demanding.

But don't be disheartened, first drafts are pretty much always quite bad, because you're just throwing words and ideas out there and hoping they stick. This is a good thing though. Consider the construction of your first draft in the same way a painter would when constructing his palette: you're forming the stuff with which you will craft the actual piece.
...Stapling helium to penguins since 1949.
#37
I gravitate toward Carver and Hemingway more, personally.


But seriously, read Joyce. If you don't appreciate Joyce at least, just stop.
Quote by Fat Lard
Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn about a language you already speak? It was over before it even started dude

Quote by captainsnazz
brot pls
#38
So in short:

Cut out all the BS.

Thanks Pit. Honestly you have been more helpful than all my years spent daydreaming in English class.

I will go through and revise tomorrow and take out things that don't add to the story.
#40
Quote by BladeSlinger
Being applied to English.


As a video game person you should see this coming. Someone has to make those scripts flow and come alive.

No, because I honestly usually think video games have horrific writing.

Even games lauded for their great stories often have terrible writing.

The Portal games so far have the best writing I've ever seen in a video game. Thomas Was Alone has great writing as well. Heck, I've written for video games before and I've been told both that my writing was amazing and that it's predictable infantile crap (pretty sure it's the latter).
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