#1
So, I've been working on a longer piece, a novel or book, if you will. I don't think I have ever posted prose here before and would like to see the replies - on the content as well as the writing. This is just the beginning and there is a lot more to it, but for now - this is it.


Once Every Quad Year

Can anyone really tell a story as it truly happened? Every person has a different point of view that distinguishes their sight and thought from others. As it happens, most story tellers add an atmosphere, a flare or ideas that contribute to the wholeness of their tale.
However, I am not a story teller and if I was to say anything of the following has been embellished, refined or retuned in any way, I will harm my goal. Which is what, you may ask - and I will reply, "To tell the truth as plainly and as simply as possible. To strip the facts to their embarrassing bareness and make you believe and know, in the depth of your mind, that every word read off these pages is nothing but the way it all happened, in the eyes of every person who was apart of this story, that could not have been perceived in any other way."
Although, if by any chance you will find it is beyond your ability to believe this chain of events to be the pure hard core reality, you may as well stop reading when this sentence finishes and my story begins.

It was twenty five years ago, to the day. Dates are usually of no consequence to me, but I have learnt there is a consulting quality to the actual feeling that time is advancing, though I still like the fact I can turn it backwards in my mind's memory. I have just rolled the film to the very first frame of our tale.
The beginning of spring was never entwined with so many sunny days and warm afternoons such as that first week of March, a generation ago.
Joan and Mark left the week before to celebrate their honeymoon on the west coast; San Francisco was their destination and I am sure Joan was the one who chose to go there.
She always intended on making that city her home when she was growing up. They live there till this day, the two of them, and Joan hates every building, pavement and colorful garden in that foggy, gray city.
When we were kids she used to fantasize, out loud, about the beautiful parks and picturesque houses, the bluish sea, gleaming in the distance and the smell of the tide that would wash into her dreams late at night.
But it was never a city for the old. Once her legs started betraying her, the steep streets began to take their toll on her feeble bones and the cold weather clogged her lungs. Joan was a proud woman and lived through her decisions, so she stayed. Moreover, when the city finally stopped being that sanctuary she thought it to be, she was already too old and well set into her ways. Old habits are tough to break and old people are even tougher.

Although Joan always had this cynic bitterness to her and that blind pride she always carried around in her eyes, I can still appreciate the beauty of her relationship with Mark, their knowledge of the other and the ability to dodge those pot holes that many couples cannot survive once hit. After all, 25 years of marriage is something society sees as a miracle this day and age.
I myself have not found that miracle and I doubt if I ever will, though I cannot say I feel as if my life are lacking in any way. I have never viewed my own relationships as long term commitments and I have never wished to share my life with anyone but myself. There is a quality I posses that allows me to feel satisfied in my own company and to not form attachments to anything but inanimate objects, particularly books.
Some see this way of life as a problem or worse, something to pity me for, but I assure anyone who thinks otherwise, I am a complete man and my life is full.
There is a 'but', though, hidden between the lines of thought that chase one another in a race to reach the conclusion I came to. It all comes back to that day, twenty five years ago, that changed something in me, my view of the world, if you will.
This is not a pipe
Last edited by carmel_l at Feb 28, 2007,
#2
So ok, no one felt like reading it because it was so long. How about 3 paragraphs then? Maybe someone wants to comment on those.
This is not a pipe
#3
Until the final three paragraphs, I really wasn't taking to this story. It all seemed much too verbose and some felt forced, and, to be honest, nothing caught my eye and made me want to read on. In hindsight, the Joan descriptions are fairly decent, but first read through I really cannot say I liked them. Maybe because it's early and I'm starving.

However, the last three paragraphs offer a true introduction to a character in an interesting way. You immediately set this character apart from the others just through the realization that he is writing the story. Even in personal narratives, that is usually lacking. It's also true that the first paragraphs are the ones that assure of this, so I don't know how I could write this.
#4
i agree, for prose you need to thin the verbiage out a bit. it's good writing, but to keep someones attention, most notably with you rintroductory paragraph, it needs to feel a bit more cut and dry.

"but I have learnt there is a consulting quality to the actual feeling that time is advancing"
did you mean consoling? or some other word? consulting doesnt make sense there, at least to me.... learnt=learned.

I have just rolled the film to the very first frame of our tale.
--good, bring in the film metaphor a bit earlier


The beginning of spring was never entwined with so many sunny days and warm afternoons such as that first week of March, a generation ago.
--questionable word choice on entwined, change such as to as it was.

When we were kids she used to fantasize, out loud, about the beautiful parks and picturesque houses, the bluish sea, gleaming in the distance and the smell of the tide that would wash into her dreams late at night.
-- beautiful.

But it was never a city for the old. Once her legs started betraying her, the steep streets began to take their toll on her feeble bones and the cold weather clogged her lungs. Joan was a proud woman and lived through her decisions, so she stayed. Moreover, when the city finally stopped being that sanctuary she thought it to be, she was already too old and well set into her ways. Old habits are tough to break and old people are even tougher.
--again, very very nicely written.

their knowledge of the other and the ability to dodge those pot holes that many couples cannot survive once hit. After all, 25 years of marriage is something society sees as a miracle this day and age.
-- "their other"--> each other, make pot holes something a bit more devastating and jarring, add an "in" before "this day and age"

I feel as if my life are lacking in any way
--change "are" to "is"

I myself have not found that miracle and I doubt if I ever will, though I cannot say I feel as if my life are lacking in any way. I have never viewed my own relationships as long term commitments and I have never wished to share my life with anyone but myself. There is a quality I posses that allows me to feel satisfied in my own company and to not form attachments to anything but inanimate objects, particularly books.
Some see this way of life as a problem or worse, something to pity me for, but I assure anyone who thinks otherwise, I am a complete man and my life is full.
There is a 'but', though, hidden between the lines of thought that chase one another in a race to reach the conclusion I came to. It all comes back to that day, twenty five years ago, that changed something in me, my view of the world, if you will.
--at this point you switch back to the over-wordiness of the first paragraph

honestly, when you're telling the story, the writing is top notch. it's when you try to sit down and give a "self-analysis" of the narrator that things jam up again and become too wordy. don't explain so much, reveal what you spent that last paragraph saying over the course of events that are going to unfold in the rest of the story, rather than laying it out in black and white there. make the reader work a little to uncover those aspects of your protagonist.

not bad at all though. the middle bits were excellent.

--jay
#5

Heyy Carmel. Im not too sure about this piece... although undeniably some of it was very good. When I try reading this is comes as a series of sentences with no real flow to link them together, and I'm trying to work out why at the moment. It could just be me of course, reading it in entirely the wrong way, but who knows. I think that most of this comes down to sentence structure - the high amount of compound sentences holds back the flow slightly. If I were you I'd try working on the pace, introducing varying sentence lengths to better fit the mood, or perhaps more simple or complex sentences to link the narrative compound ones together. This is all just speculation, y'know, so don't really listen to it... I've been reading too much Kerouac to comment on anything that isnt spontaneous confessional prose.

There were some bits I really like, though, like this part:

"But it was never a city for the old. Once her legs started betraying her, the steep streets began to take their toll on her feeble bones and the cold weather clogged her lungs. Joan was a proud woman and lived through her decisions, so she stayed. Moreover, when the city finally stopped being that sanctuary she thought it to be, she was already too old and well set into her ways. Old habits are tough to break and old people are even tougher."

... although I'd probably change "old people" to "the elderly" or something of the sort. There are also some really great adjectives and noun phrases in your descriptions, I really dig some of those, like "cynic bitterness" and "the smell of the tide that would wash into her dreams late at night. ". Great stuff.

One feeling I do get from this piece is that it rushes. And by that I don't mean that you rushed it, I mean that it rushes along like a lifetime and doesnt really say that much in great detail, which is a shame because I think for a longer piece like this you should maybe expand on some things, even if it is just the start. For example, this bit:

"Joan and Mark left the week before to celebrate their honeymoon on the west coast; San Francisco was their destination and I am sure Joan was the one who chose to go there.
She always intended on making that city her home when she was growing up. They live there till this day, the two of them, and Joan hates every building, pavement and colorful garden in that foggy, gray city."

Ok so im pressing a point here, but this basically is a stary in itself. It has abeginning, a middle, with some action (going there) some feeling (hating it) and an ending - still being there. The piece seems to contain lots of bits like this which are stories in themselves which are skipped over and another point is brought in and then moved on to and then the idea is lost, in a way. more edtail, more detours, perhaps, is what I am trying to say.

I hope I havn't criticised too much! there were some quality parts in this, just work at it and you'll get there! Oh, and i do have a post somewhere with an old poem in it, page 2 or 3 by now probably, if you fancy bumping it? Thankyou




love is a dog from hell.