#1
I've been surreptitiously informed that posting a short story here might not exactly be frowned upon so I thought i'd post this here looking for critique. General critique is awesome, but suggestions for areas specifically highlighted (surrounded with asterisks) are more awesomer.


Much love to Carmel for pointing out my silly mistakes and making it better over-all <3


Cleansed


*Kelvin was sitting on his couch in the living room disinterestedly watching the news. Apparently some British soldiers had been abusing a 14yr old Iraqi boy, it stood out in his mind because he’d been reading about similarly nasty things happening to other people, but because of the Americans.* He was finding the story quite unpleasant and then a particularly graphic picture flashed up and he reached for the remote to delete it. Quickly he pressed the button again to bring the TV back to life only to wait a second and instantly turn it off it again. Something had caught his eye. He hadn’t noticed it before but, when he turned off the television, the black seemed to race in from the sides before terminating in the centre of the screen and for a split second that dot of light would be the brightest and smallest thing in the room.

*Whilst he’d been sitting there and in another place the room had grown dark around him.* With the TV off there was just the dull orange glow that radiated in from the main street that ran through his village. It was a dirty kind of light that seemed to pollute the room more than brighten it so he moved to the window and drew the thick, dark rich red curtains that effectively sealed the room. All was darkness.

He lit a match and watched it flare and fizz and then hiss into life only to die just as quickly. *He lit another and held this one at more of an angle, * so that the flame could catch the wood and burn for longer. With this match lit he took in his immediate surroundings and spotted the fire he’d set earlier. He threw this second match in then lit a third and let *that* join it.

As a boy he’d always loved books. He felt like his mother had cunningly planted them in his path so that he couldn’t get past without first removing these obstacles. Soon, however, the obstacles became joys and then challenges and then a way of life. He loved them for the knowledge and the insight they granted. They illuminated worlds that he could never experience and showed him what there is to be shown past a person’s eyes. He knew that if he wanted to do anything with his life at all (and he wasn’t entirely sure If this was the case or not) then it would be to write.

Soon the fire was smoking and crackling. He closed his eyes and blocked his ears with the palms of his hands: all he could hear was blood rumbling. He stayed like this for a while… *First* he removed his hands and by this time the fire was emitting a steady, loud roar; accentuated by the occasional loud pop and the shuffling of the wood arranging itself the better to burn.

With his bibliophilism punched and bound into his psyche, the intermediate years between the start of secondary school and university flew by in a haze of bent pages and underlined words. He felt like his life only truly caught when he began to study that which he’d taken for granted for many years. At first he was disappointed that those who surrounded him weren’t necessarily likeminded, but in later years he discovered those that were and he learned constantly. He learned about the history of Britain, Europe and America. He learned as much as he could about philosophy. He decided that he needed to be aware of the world around him and he began watching the news and paying attention to the media; he learnt about lies and liars and the damage they do. His world expanded until he felt like he could no longer fit the mould, fit the world. He knew and could only know more.

He opened his eyes and quickly averted his gaze. Little spots of colour danced across his vision and splodges of green swirled around. *They coiled around one another like 60s paint patterns.* The room wasn’t bathed in light like he’d hoped, but numerous little organic slashes of colour had appeared on the floor in the darkness that smothered it. He enjoyed watching them squirm and writhe; their little juddering movements destroying shadow where they touched, but always the shadow followed– right on the edge and always replenished.

He started to shake and sway. The heat from the fire was beating him down. Smothering him. Forcing his face into the carpet. Cowering from the light he grasped at books, publications, magazines and started to throw them into the fire with abandon. The flames consumed them with gluttony and he tried to drown them in ink. Getting up slowly, with his eyes looking everywhere but the fire and seeing nothing, he threw in his encyclopaedia. It took slowly, covered in plastic as it was, but soon started to catch. The pages compressed between two thick, hard plates, the black mass of knowledge inside formed over thousands of years of human learning and in a moment converted into carbon dioxide, methane, uranium, thorium etc and sent spiralling into the atmosphere. There to cause climate change and global warming and acid rain.

He went to the seat, sat down and fell into cushions but they made him uncomfy. He hated cushions. It was one of those things people loved that he hated. He didn’t understand why people put them on couches. It’s a couch and it’s already comfy all cushions did was make the couch smaller and make you hit them. He was weary and he lay down like a grotesque baby.]He retreated to the back of the couch from there to safely look at the fire. He felt like a cartoon caveman where leopard skin was better than silk.

*He watched the flames grow hotter and brighter * and felt sweat upon his face. He saw flickers of flame dancing up the chimney and a wind carrying the blaze behind it like ribbons. The flames escaped up the chimney and the fire died forever.

fin


(*Note, I want an example here of an ‘evil’ so to speak that his knowledge reveals to him ((read the story first)) and the iraqi one was just on my mind at the time, I think it’s a terrible example of that, lol. It’s far too simplistic, ordinary and anyone in the world can see it. )
On vacation from modding = don't pm me with your pish
Last edited by meh! at Aug 5, 2008,
#2
*Kelvin was sitting on his couch in the living room disinterestedly watching the news. Apparently some British soldiers had been abusing a 14yr old Iraqi boy, it stood out in his mind because he’d been reading about similarly nasty things happening to other people, but because of the Americans.*

The "but" doesn't fit imo, as there's no real conflict between ideas or arguments going on. So much I can't quite grasp the idea - would adding "not only" between mind and because fix it? That way including the "but" works as there is a conflict/contrast involved. Also, the americans part doesn't seem explained anyway; what because of the americans? At the moment it reads like "it stood out because of the americans". I think it needs some exposition on that part, something more specific about the last clause. Either that or you re-word it to such a degree that you streamline it, use the next sentence too, and make it more active. "He turned it off just as..." and then explain, maybe.


Whilst he’d been sitting there and in another place the room had grown dark around him


That just read awkwardly. There's a massive air of ambiguity, a lot of it comes from the grammar. Is he sitting there and in another place, and are you trying to be profoundly clever? Or has the rest of the room grown darker?

He lit another and held this one at more of an angle,

Sounds too much like a stage direction to me. Funny how all the bits you've pointed out, I probably would have picked out anyway. Howabout instead of "this one" (and maybe the subsequent use of that phrase) you just use it. Idk, it sounds more boring, but I think it makes the description of the action more natural.

Same with the uses of "first"; there's one or two more (I think) in the piece, which could get tedious, still. It felt too much like a direction rather than the natural, random occurence of the act. It also seems to switch it from present to past tense, as now it seems the author knows what is going to happen whilst throughout the rest of the piece, he doesn't seem as omniscient. To me, anyway.

The last one about the flames just felt like unoriginal description. It can be gotten away with in poetry, as it has more a semantics direction, but here something better could be used. Again, maybe use the active (that should always be your first hand anyway) and start like "A drop of sweat fell down his face.." or something.

This was as cool as Carmel told me it would be. Hope I managed to help out a little. I'll be putting up something soonish if you could take a look. Top link of my sig. Thanks if you do get around to it.
Last edited by Jammydude44 at Aug 5, 2008,
#3
Thanks a lot, btw!

Quote by Jammydude44
*Kelvin was sitting on his couch in the living room disinterestedly watching the news. Apparently some British soldiers had been abusing a 14yr old Iraqi boy, it stood out in his mind because he’d been reading about similarly nasty things happening to other people, but because of the Americans.*


The "but" doesn't fit imo, as there's no real conflict between ideas or arguments going on. So much I can't quite grasp the idea - would adding "not only" between mind and because fix it? That way including the "but" works as there is a conflict/contrast involved. Also, the americans part doesn't seem explained anyway; what because of the americans? At the moment it reads like "it stood out because of the americans". I think it needs some exposition on that part, something more specific about the last clause. Either that or you re-word it to such a degree that you streamline it, use the next sentence too, and make it more active. "He turned it off just as..." and then explain, maybe.


I say 'but' because it is usually the Americans but in this specific case it was the british, this is unusual and that's the 'conflict' as it were. Is it clearer if I write 'Apparently some British soldiers had been abusing a 14yr old Iraqi boy. This stood out in his mind because he’d been reading about similarly nasty things happening to other people, but these were usually perpetrated by the Americans.*

Of course I'm happy to accept I simply have terrible grammar, that's a fact


Whilst he’d been sitting there and in another place the room had grown dark around him

That just read awkwardly. There's a massive air of ambiguity, a lot of it comes from the grammar. Is he sitting there and in another place, and are you trying to be profoundly clever? Or has the rest of the room grown darker?

I imagine it would again be clearer if I wrote, 'Whilst he'd been sitting there, his mind in another place, the room had grown dark around him.'

It was supposed to suggest that he was indeed sitting in the room, but was also sitting somewhere else. ie his mind was elsewhere, he was thinking etc. He does it for so long that the room grows dark around him. Again, grammar

Quote by Jammydude44

He lit another and held this one at more of an angle,

Sounds too much like a stage direction to me. Funny how all the bits you've pointed out, I probably would have picked out anyway. Howabout instead of "this one" (and maybe the subsequent use of that phrase) you just use it. Idk, it sounds more boring, but I think it makes the description of the action more natural.


I was thinking of simply replacing

*He lit another and held this one at more of an angle, * so that the flame could catch the wood and burn for longer. With this match lit he took in his immediate surroundings and spotted the fire he’d set earlier. He threw this second match in then lit a third and let that join it.

With something like:

*He lit another and held this at a slant so that the flame could catch the wood and burn. With this match lit he took in his immediate surroundings and spotted the fire he’d set earlier. He lit a third and let them both fall into the nest of paper and kindling.

Quote by Jammydude44


Same with the uses of "first"; there's one or two more (I think) in the piece, which could get tedious, still. It felt too much like a direction rather than the natural, random occurence of the act. It also seems to switch it from present to past tense, as now it seems the author knows what is going to happen whilst throughout the rest of the piece, he doesn't seem as omniscient. To me, anyway.


Yes, the first is simply something that's wrong that's been caught out in my, er, editing process

>.>

It's definitely going. I'm not sure what you mean about the omniscience though.

Quote by Jammydude44


The last one about the flames just felt like unoriginal description. It can be gotten away with in poetry, as it has more a semantics direction, but here something better could be used. Again, maybe use the active (that should always be your first hand anyway) and start like "A drop of sweat fell down his face.." or something.


Ah well, nothing much critique can do for unoriginal description, is there What's 'the active', 1st person or something? >.>

Quote by Jammydude44

This was as cool as Carmel told me it would be. Hope I managed to help out a little. I'll be putting up something soonish if you could take a look. Top link of my sig. Thanks if you do get around to it.


Will do, thanks.

Thanks a lot, btw!
On vacation from modding = don't pm me with your pish
#4
Active: Like, "The man felt his pants, and found out they were wet", versus the passive, "the man found out his pants were wet after feeling them".

Hope I helped