I'm really impressed with what I've gotten so far. When I wake up, I'm gonna post a little excerpt, and I hope you guys can critique it
The Writers' Room
Posted 6 days ago
I'm sure one of us will. Just be patient. If it doesn't happen immediately, it will eventually.
Oh and don't double post
Posted 5 days ago Edited by Geralt of Rivia, 5 days ago.
Alright, here we go. I went for a 'let the person imagine the character's face' approach for right now, although that can certainly change. Part of the reason is I like leaving choice up to readers. Most of it is because I'd probably be really sh*t at describing faces to any extent
Also, the PLACEHOLDER is the main character's name right now.
Oh, and this is just an excerpt. This isn't the whole of chapter 1 or anything. Just the part of chapter 1 I have actually written and made nicer.
“What do you mean I’ve been expelled?”
Principal McMahon looked down at the student in front of him and couldn’t help but feel pity. Tall and with dark brown disheveled hair, he would be one of the popular kids if not for his situation. He was homeless, and it showed. His hair was matted down with dirt, and there were countless holes in his clothes. He smelled like he lived in a junkyard – which may just be true, if the rumors going around the school were correct. His shoes were only in one piece due to the absurd amount of duct tape he had on them. You could see signs of malnourishment on his face.
The kid was in very bad shape. And now I have to give him this news, he thought to himself.
“I’m sorry, PLACEHOLDER, I really am. It’s not my decision. It’s the school board’s. They voted on it, and decided that your presence in school was hindering the other student’s ability to learn.”
“That’s bullsh*t!” PLACEHOLDER explained with a yell as he rolled his amber-colored eyes, “Stopping other kids from learning!? That’s what they came up with?”
“That’s what they said,” Principal McMahon said with a sigh, “They made a statement when they announced their decision. You can read it here.”
He slid a piece of paper across the desk towards PLACEHOLDER. PLACEHOLDER took it into his hands and began reading it. It said:
In a 5-2 vote on the topic of __(first name)__ __(last name)__’s enrollment in ________ High School, the Board has decided that due to the high number of complaints from parents, students, and faculty about health concerns and/or the hindrance of learning ability, it is only fair that we remove said student. However, we do recognize the situation in which said student is in. Because of this, we will allow him to use the school’s Guidance Center to talk to counselors. The details of this arrangement will be made with the student at a later date. This decree is effective immediately.
PLACEHOLDER could only shake his head as he handed the paper back to Principal McMahon. He couldn’t believe this was actually happening, especially now, at this time.
“So what happens now?”
“You’re no longer a student here. The resource officer will escort you to your locker, you’ll pack up your stuff, and after that…it’s up to you. Live your life.”
PLACEHOLDER put his head down and stared at the ground. He couldn’t believe this was happening. Sure, he was an outcast. Sure, he didn’t have many friends, nor was school very enjoyable for him. But he was almost done with it! It was only 2 months until graduation! He had busted his ass to get good grades ever since he made that promise to his mother.
That was the worst part. The promise to his mother was now broken. He wanted to cry. But he knew no one gave a sh*t. All that crying would accomplish is to make the situation more uncomfortable. No one needed that to happen right now.
He put his head back up and prepared to get screwed out of the only meaningful thing he would have ever done with his life up to this point.
“Why did this come up now? I’ve been here for over a year. You’d think people would’ve brought this up earlier.”
“There has been the occasional complaint here and there throughout your time here. But a big bulk of complaints came a couple weeks before the board meeting, and one of the parents brought up the topic of your expulsion. Take that as you will.”
PLACEHOLDER noted that Principal McMahon could barely keep eye contact with him. He kept nervously touching and arranging and rearranging things on his desk, or twiddling his thumbs. He had looked up at the clock multiple times since PLACEHOLDER had come in. He also seemed to breathe very lightly; out of his mouth, as if he was trying to avoid having to smell the air.
PLACEHOLDER took the clues in stride and got up to go meet with the resource officer, and clean out his locker. As he was heading out the door to meet with his new friend, Principal McMahon stopped him.
“Wait, PLACEHOLDER, one more thing…”
PLACEHOLDER turned around, “Yeah?”
“Mr. Welvin was outraged when he heard the news. He was at the board meeting, and it was not a pretty sight. Lots of yelling and arguing. He even came in here and busted my balls this morning. Gave the secretaries quite a scare, he did. Anyway, he requested you see him in his classroom once you get your stuff. He might have a class, though, so don’t just barge in.”
A smile slid across PLACEHOLDER’s face. Mr. Welvin was his only friend throughout his time at the school. While everyone else just saw some kid who smelled and who didn’t belong, Mr. Welvin saw a kid who, under unfortunate circumstances, was still able to maintain his love and willingness to learn about piloting spacecraft, and his devotion to his parents.
“Alright. Thanks. I guess”
PLACEHOLDER went out the office door and met with the resource officer. Together, they traveled down the drab, blue-colored hallway. Lining the walls were lockers whose only differing qualities were those of dents of varying shapes and sizes, with the occasional gap in-between them for a classroom door to fit snuggly in.
As PLACEHOLDER reached his locker, he struggled to remember the combination. He had barely used the locker, as anything he needed he usually kept in his backpack, which was currently slung behind his back. That, on top of the events of this morning, did not exactly help with his memory. Unfortunately, PLACEHOLDER did have a few non-important, yet personal, items in there to retrieve.
If only I could remember the damn combination!
Posted 5 days ago
Same with faces - don't describe every mole and freckle but give the basics. Skin? Hair?
Where relevant of course
There is value in letting the reader 'fill in the gaps' but make sure you give them a structure with gaps to fill in; don't make them do all the work
Posted 5 days ago
Alright, reposted it in an edit up above.
Current checklist of things to fix:
- Possibly give PLACEHOLDER a little more detail.
- Give the principal ANY detail.
Current things I want an opinion on (On top of everything else you guys see fit for criticism)
- Possible excessive use of PLACEHOLDER, his, etc.
Posted 3 days ago Edited by Mokrie Dela, 3 days ago.
Firstly, if I read it correctly, There's a split perspective in this and one I don't feel is intended or works.
The opening paragraph seems to be from the principle's perspective, as though he's telling the story. The description, though of the boy, could be mistaken for the principle. Then things change and were in the boy's head.
My advice is to put us in the shoes of the boy straight away. Have that Opening paragraph from HIS perspective. Have him, perhaps, admit that he's homeless. Have him reflect on the rumours. Perhaps show some bravado in him not being bothered by them or show that they hurt him.
PLACEHOLDER looked up at Principle McMahon, unable to believe what he'd heard. He saw pity in the man's brown eyes, hiding behind square reading glasses that perched on the tip in his nose. He understood - he wasn't so ignorant to his situation that the he could t see what was happening. Tall and with dark brown disheveled hair, he knew he would be one of the popular kids if not for his situation. He was homeless, and it showed. His hair was matted down with dirt, and there were countless holes in his clothes. He smelled like he lived in a junkyard or so the other school children chided and sang. His shoes were only in one piece due to the absurd amount of duct tape he had on them. In yhe reflection in the Principle's glasses, he could see signs of malnourishment on his face.
I feel that's better, at least in terms of perspective. The reader starting in the principles shoes does the story no favour
Also about 'placeholder' - give him a name - a random name, for now. You're not going to be able to connect as much with his character if he's called placeholder, even if it's temporary. Call him jack or something just for your Benifit and change it later.
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