The first piece of my writing. How does it look?

For the Critters workshop and writing SF/F/H in general.
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The first piece of my writing. How does it look?

Postby crit34228 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:07 am

Obviously not finished, but it's my first time writing anything so I wanted to know if I was doing okay so far.

Hot wind blew through the window of the ground-floor apartment. “Shut that damn window, boy!” yelled a booming voice from the television room. “Yes, Wils” a low reply came quietly from the boy sitting in the kitchen. He took a few steps into the hall to close the window, his chair rubbing the floor. He pushed the squeaky window down, sealing off the fresh dusty desert wind, and as it slid into the bottom rail and clicked, he heard the same voice call out once more “Arin, I told’ya before ta call me yer dad! I did marry yer momma after all”. The fat, greasy man in front of him filled him with impotent, boiling hatred, and it was nothing but an insult to hear these words from his cheese-dust-covered lips. “Yes, Dad...” Arin replied despondently and went back to the kitchen table to work on his paperwork for the army.

As he sat at the rickety dining table in the kitchen, he stroked his silky blondish hair, wriggling his fingers through it down to his shoulders, and then back down again. His hazel eyes scanning the paper, and his soft, pale-skinned hands holding a pen and papers to join the military. He thought it his only option for escaping this household he once loved, but now reviled. His interests were more in technology, but the military would get him out of the dump he lived in. As he examined the paper, it asked for parent information. He didn’t know his father, but when he read the word mother in the small printed letters, he began to think about his own.

It had been a year since his mother died. It was slow, brought on by a sickness she got from working on Sub-Zannis’ Sentinel Suit program. They had been trying for years to replicate the bio-mechanical suits that the Exilium States had, and every test rendered pointless. Working with the cell cultures and laboratory equipment had taken its toll on her. After five years in the lab, she was diagnosed with a cancer in her brain, and died six months later. He began to daydream, remembering times he had with her, what little there were.

They were at the park in the city; the biggest oasis of fresh water and greenery in the entire state. Since they lived in the capital city of Zannar, it was unnecessarily extravagant. The citizens didn’t complain, however. It sat firmly surrounded by the rest of the city, buildings nearly as tall as the clouds on all sides, and busy streets all around. Horns buzzed and sirens wailed on occasion, except for inside. In the park it was serene and peaceful as could be.

The park was a haven for the two of them, before Wils came into their lives. Arin and his mother sat in the grass, eating sandwiches and watching the birds chirp at each other and the people stroll by with their babies or dates. The sun was shining bright on them as they sat in the healthy, thick yet trimmed grass. It was a perfect day. A man approached their picnic spot in the open meadow, dressed in a bright orange vest and pale slacks, he looked very clean and nice. His black hair was parted to the side in a modern yet classic style. He stopped a few feet from them and asked to sit down in a sweet, smooth voice.

“Of course, be my guest.” Arin’s mother held a hand out to show him where to sit on the large blanket laid out in the grass. He sat, legs crossed, and thanked her for her courtesy. Arin was 12 then, and he remembered the man being very friendly, minding his manners, but something seemed to be worrying him the whole time. Arin offered the man a ham sandwich, which he kindly accepted with thanks.

As they sat in the grass, eating their lunch and drinking their fruit punch in the warm sun, the man struck up a conversation with the pair. “Have you seen any secret police cars today?” He asked in a calm tone, yet something seemed to be unnerving him. “No, we haven’t. We’ve been here since the morning.” Arin’s mother replied. “Good” The man’s word was more to reassure himself than anyone else, so it seemed. “Why do you ask?” She inquired, as she clicked a button on the side of her cell phone. “Just wondering, is all. A guy can’t be too careful nowadays, with them rampaging around looking for abnormal citizens.”

They continued to eat in silence, until minutes later when distant siren was heard coming up the main street towards the park. The stranger had a nervous look about him. “what’s wrong?” Arin asked him, speaking up for the first time. “Nothing. I should be going, though.” The man in the orange vest stood up and began to head off at a modest jog, but it wasn’t quick enough. He was spotted by a police helicopter that appeared over the trees with its lights fixed on the ground. He broke into a run, and swiftly was floored by bean bag rounds from the low-flying chopper. He got up and tried to run again, but the helicopter had already lowered men from ropes and they gave chase. He was downed by the chopper again, and this time it wasn’t bean bags. He lay on the pristine ground of the park, huge bullet holes in his legs as his red blood poured from his veins and stained the green grass of the family park. He cried out in pain and fear, his voice shrill and frantic “You can’t do this to people! Someone will stop you maniacs, I promis- “He was cut off by one more shot from an enforcer standing over him with a marine rifle.

The lifeless corpse of the man who just minutes ago, had sat and eaten lunch with Arin and his family, as kind as someone could be, lay in the grass of the park him and his mother visited so often. His mother shook her eyes away from the spectacle, and gathered their things as quickly as they could. Arin stood frozen, staring at the man lying there surrounded by blood and black-clad secret police as they shone spotlights on the area and kicked him to make sure he was dead. Arin’s mother pulled him away as soon as she noticed he was staring. She held his hand with one of hers, and their basket in the other, abandoning their blanket as she rushed back to their car. “Mother, why did they kill him?” He asked, his innocence draining with every second he was still in that park, now a scene of murder. “I don’t know, Arin, but he did something bad and he got what he deserved, now let’s go!” Her voice teetered on the edge of breaking as she threw open the door to their little red sedan, and Arin climbed into the back seat. She forgot the basket on top of the car as she hurried away, not once looking in her rear view mirror, and heading for home.

A loud knock on the door shook Arin from his daydream. “Go on n’ get the door, boy!” Arin did as he was told and opened the door. In the bright midday sun, his friend from school stood at the doorway. “Hi Cass, you can come in. I’m just doing paperwork.” Arin backpedaled into the kitchen and turned on his heel, his mood lifted by the arrival of his friend. “Hello Wils” Cass said unenthusiastically, in the general direction of the slob in the living room, never once looking at him. “Buh-hello Cass!” Wils perked up as much as he could and made a feeble attempt to appear presentable in the presence of the teenage girl. She took no notice of him and followed Arin into the kitchen.

They pulled out chairs and sat down, and Arin began to work on his papers again. Cass was sitting next to him, the dim yellowish light reflecting off of her dark reddish hair that was currently back in a ponytail. Her work clothes were bland and grey, the only noticeable factor being the emblem of the FSSZ on the shoulder. The black diamond held up by white triangles; a symbol held deep in the hearts of all patriots of Sub-Zannis. Arin was not one of them. That symbol reminded him of the slow death his mother experienced in their labs, building their failed war machines.


Cass scooted closer to him with a raucous sound as the chair scratched the old, dusty, tile floor. “What’s this all for?” She asked as she cocked her head at his paperwork. “It’s for the army. I figure I can be an officer and get out of this dump.” His voice lowered as he ended his sentence, as he didn’t want Wils to overhear him. “That’s a plan, I guess. I’m gonna be a soldier. I want to fight those Oudie bastards one day!” Her enthusiasm was obvious as she spoke and her face lit up. Arin’s stayed glum. “Aw, what’s wrong? You don’t like the idea of combat?” She asked him as she nudged his shoulder. “That’s not it… I just don’t want to fight.” His reply was unsure and his voice faltered as he spoke. He had never known what he really wanted to do.

“Well, maybe we’ll run into each other in the army then. I hope so” She told him optimistically. “Yeah, maybe so.”

Just then, Arin’s phone rang. “I’ll get it!” He got up and grabbed the phone from the wall-hook. “Hello?”

A raspy voice came from the other side “Hello, is this Arin Erushik?”

“Yes, who’s asking?”

“I’m a friend of your mother. I need you to meet me in the city park as soon as you can. I’ll be waiting.”

“Why? Who are you?” Arin asked frantically but got no reply. The stranger had already hung up.

“Who was on the phone?” Wils called from his crumb-covered throne. “Nobody important, just a telemarketer!” Arin replied with a confident lie, then looked to his friend. "

And that's what I have so far. Any thoughts?
Name: Viktor Dickinson
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Re: The first piece of my writing. How does it look?

Postby crit19292 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:50 am

It is good. You provided information in an easy style that kept me in the story. My only observation that your description of Arin was not someone who looked like Army material.

Some might fault you for not making references to our world. I however cringe when things that are definitely not part of our world are given names and associations from our world. I believe you are making the right call.

Glad you took the time to write. Now you need to determine if you really want to write, or was just having a lark doing something different.
I will not deny myself having my opinions.
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Name: Roby Ward
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Re: The first piece of my writing. How does it look?

Postby crit26313 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:32 pm

It feels unpolished with some awkward wording here and there (mother shook her eyes away from the scene, for example) and it ends up missing the last sentence. The dialogue is jumbled together. It does not have the feel of completeness.

There is always a temptation to ask people what they think as soon as possible, but I suggest to try out the delayed gratification of polishing things up more before showing it to other folks. Even if you write a chapter story, try to bring a piece you are presenting to an end of sorts, instead of it trailing off mid-sentence. You might break it apart later for the impact, but when drafting it is imo better to keep going and write till you reach a logical pause, then go back, re-edit, re-read, think about the connections and stuff that is missing.

So, my thoughts would be to take your characters from where you started to just after the man's death in the park, and work on it for a bit, find the things that are missing, break the dialogues apart, sharpen the descriptions, etc, and then place it in the queue for critique.

Unless your story's length is only twice or so what you have posted here, then go to the very end.

Have fun writing!
Name: Elena Zimmerman
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