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The Darkness Within

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Mak
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#1

Posted 28 March 2016 - 08:58 PM

Writer's Note: So i've been writing on and off for a while, mostly songs. Most of you, well everyone who hangs in these parts don't even know me, but many of you are great writers so this Short Story has nothing to do with GTA i wrote it a little bit ago for my college magazine (of all things, you start somewhere i guess) to be honest i don't have much experience with stories. So i really would like some points on what i can improve, whats wrong with it, what did you like. So further down the road i could write better. :)


 

 

The Darkness Within

 

 

The thunder roared outside, the streets were knee deep in cold, dark, muddy water. It had been raining for hours to no end. The house had this otherworldy look to it, for only the spirits knew what had gone on inside. The door was left ajar with the wind blowing in the background, you could feel it, the cold breeze that would send a shiver down your spine. Something was off. Everything was off.

Rayyan woke up covered in sweat and panic, it was surreal, as he grasped the confines of reality he saw down on the floor bits and pieces of his alarm clock, he must have thrown it down while he was asleep. As he looked towards the wall clock he sighed, he was late, as he stumbled off his bed and to the bathroom door he thought he heard her speak, he looked around and saw nothing but darkness and the sound of the rain hitting against his room window, he shrugged of the thought and went into the bathroom. Looking into the bathroom mirror he went into an abyss of different thoughts, he had no will, no reason, for him all this was just a routine, a circle he was bound by, he couldn't break the flow yet he ignored where it would take him.

Rayyan walked down the road, wearing a scruffy dark shirt, a pair of old jeans and a black leather jacket, he was soaked in water, drops dripped down his hair, he didn't care he just kept walking. As he turned the corner he saw in the distance the old house, it sent a chill down his spine the instant it came into view, memories rushed his mind, as he froze there staring at the home. Clearing the water from his eyes he was baffled to see Anna standing infront of it, fidgeting with her purse while trying to keep it clear off the rain. Anna was his bestfriend they'd been friends since they were kids, went to school together and now they were in college both had decided to do BS Psychology. They were inseperable always had each others backs people would often mistake them to be siblings, they fought yet he was the big brother to her when anyone would look wrong at her and she was the sister who'd he annoy the living hell out of.

Anna still fidgeting with her purse had not seen him yet, Rayyan ran to catch up to her and slipped trying to gain balance grabbed onto a pole and planted one foot onto the ground with as much force as he could muster up, sighing in relief he was glad that he didn't fall face down onto the wet road. As he fixed himself up he looked up towards the house and saw no one standing there. He let out a grunt thinking what a fool he is, and  carried on walking he was sure he'd be able to catch up to her later in the day. He walked up to the house and felt a strange presence. He didn't take much note of it, he'd been down all day and he knew Anna would cheer him up, she always did.

He kept walking, still staring into that abyss of thoughts, he suddenly froze, remembering something he had been trying to forget he cleared the tear from his eye and kept on, as more and more thoughts came he was breaking, every step slower and slower, his mind becoming a total mess, he shrugged at the thoughts as the rain did well to mask the tears and pain. He stood there for what felt like eternity, he had no resounded reason to even continue, he was an emotional mess, but he was afraid and who could he ask for help? To him there was no help, non that would matter, his society would deem him crazy, it wasn't his fault yet society made him feel like it's his own doing. Social culture had marked him an outcast already but only he knew so he kept on, kept on this facade for him to not be labeled a black sheep he had to "fit in".

The sound of thunder woke him from his trance, as he looked around, the streets were empty, who in their right mind would even go outside in such a stormy weather. Well he wasn't in his right of mind, now was he! He walked into the college and a few students were around, just under the rafters talking, he was drowning in rain water. As he walked in to the building he saw a group of students from his class, trying to avoid them he dashed into an open room. He saw Anna standing there on the other exit, as he was about to say her name, someone grabbed his shoulder and said "Where you off to?" as he turned around and saw it was one of his friends, he said, "no where, just got here" his friend replied, "So that's why you were running off? did you walk here? you're soaked." Rayyan got annoyed and replied with a sigh, "Yes, i walked here, have you seen Anna?" looking back she was no where to be seen, his friend said "No, But.." Rayyan cut him off and walked away trying to see if he could catch up to her, just when he saw the time, he was late for class. Dissapointed he walked off hoping he'd catch up to her later.

"According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 20 percent of people who have major depression also have psychotic symptoms. This combination is known as depressive psychosis. Some .." Said the professor, as Rayyan hardly paid any attention looking around the class. The class was fairly empty with 8 students in it, leave it to the rain to halter educational progress he though. As the professor continued, ".. This condition causes you to experience psychotic symptoms plus the sadness and hopelessness associated with depression. This means seeing things that aren't real ..". He ventured out into his own world, he felt like he was being dragged down by something or someone, yet he couldn't figure out who or what? He was lost, he needed answers and he only had one person to ask the questions, Anna.

Class had ended, Rayyan steped out into the corridoor, the rain had let up, the heavens decided to show mercy, if any longer the city wouldv'e been the next Venice. He walked off into the courtyard to go to the old science block which was being renovated, no one ventured there so it was his hideout, a place where he can be alone. As he was sitting just staring at a wall deep in thought he heard her say his name, he looked to the side and saw Anna looking down towards him, her clothes were dry as leaves in Autumn. She said "Why the sad face?" Rayyan replied, "Nothing just you know .. where have you been all day?" Anna gave a smirk and said, "Around," With puzzling eyes he asked "What you mean?" Just then he heard a sound come from the other side, a worker had opened one of the old classrooms, Rayyan looked back and she was gone, puzzled and more confused than ever before he got up cursing under his breathe she did this allot, would disappear off.

The rest of the day went rather unimaginative, he was deep in thought when the sound of thunder startled him, as he looked towards the sky he could see the dark, gloomy clouds reanimate, he let out a hand and felt a few drops fall on his hand. He figured it would be best to leave before the weather gets any worse. On his way back the rain had reached a fever pitch, people were running for shelter Rayyan without a care in the world just kept walking, on many instances he thought that he heard her call out his name as he'd stop and look around he shrugged it off as just his mind playing games. He got near the old house, drenched and cold to the bone he saw a girl enter it, a girl who looked like Anna.

Standing on the corner of the house he figured Anna must have wondered in there looking for shelter from the rain, so he decided to follow suit. Closing the door behind him he felt a strange presence in the house, the house was relatively empty with the odd furniture and old pictures scattered around. The dimly lit hall had a picture on it which was half visible of a little girl, her mother and father. Rayyan looked up and saw Anna standing there looking towards him, she turned and walked into a room. Puzzled he cried out her name, "Anna?" and started to climb the stairs. Each step up the stairs was a step deeper into his mind, as the clouded fog started to fade, step by step he began to lose control, anxious and a sense of fear had overcome him, he had reached the top and staggered into the room, Anna was nowhere in sight.

He looked around and saw an old bed, a side table, some clothes laid scattered all over, it was all to familiar, he had been here before, but could not put it together. Looking towards the right there was a picture taped to the wall among some old posters, in the picture there was a boy and a girl, then and there it hit him, a feeling of dread and denial overcame him, he knew where he was, the fog had cleared, as the memories became clear he collapsed to his knees as a tear escaped his eye, he was in her room, in Anna's room.

I walked in from the door, Rayyan was sitting on the floor leaning against the wall with the picture of us in his hand, he hadn't noticed me yet. It was surreal, it had not been very long since i had been last in this room yet it felt like ages, but it was so different, it felt so otherwordly, in broken words i heard him say, "Who are you?" i looked towards him, he was looking towards me, shaken and disjointed. I replied, "Anna." with a faint sigh and in a barely audible voice he said, "You're not. You can't be. How can you be here?" I walked up close to him and said, "I am, I can be and i'm here because you want me to be."

Looking at me with questioning eyes he asked, "What do you mean?" i asked back, "you tell me? why am i here." he looked down towards the picture and asked, "Why?" I wish i could've given him an answer, told him why i did it, why i left him, my family. But I myself didn't know, i was her but i did not have the answers, Anna had the answers but she was gone and i was a reflection of her in his mind and for that reason i didn't know. I looked into his eyes, and asked him, "Do you know?" "No." he said back, I replied, "Then how do you expect me to know." I got up and walked to the other side of the room, for a while there was a painful silence then i heard him say, "It's not worth it." I asked back, "What is?" He sighed and stated, "Life. living, you're gone, what difference would it make?" I looked back shocked by his thought of even such a thing, i said, "What are you going on about? Just because i'm dead doesn't mean you die.."
 as my voice trailed off, he replied, "It does, you don't get it." I looked towards his hand in which he was grasping his pocket knife, terrified i screamed at him, "put that away." staring at me he said, "It's the only way. The only way to make the pain go away." and just then cut his wrist with the pocket knife.

I looked in horror as blood gushed out, wanting to help him i was helpless, i was bound by a force, i was nothing more than a reflection of his mind. I looked on as his life faded away i just sat there infront of him, with nothing more that i could do. As he breathed his final breathe and collapsed i could not help but wonder, what if? what if someone had caught on, what if his depression was not deemed a phase? what if we had not deemed people with depression as outcasts, what if we had not just told them to cheer up but instead had done more, what if something different had been done and Rayyan and I were still alive today?

 

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AEsob
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#2

Posted 29 March 2016 - 12:48 AM

Okay, brother...it's long enough, though I wish you'd space the dialogue up. "I'll kill you!" he said. "Well just try it!" - This kind of stuff is wrong. The correct way to write it is:

 

"I'll kill you", he said

 

"Well just try it."

 

Capitalise your 'I' and pay attention to grammar and spellings. I'm sorry but that's all I have for you right now...too much alcohol in my system right now.

 

Maybe others will have something for you.

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Mak
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#3

Posted 05 April 2016 - 03:20 PM Edited by Mak, 05 April 2016 - 03:21 PM.

I need work on conversations, i know. There's allot i still have to learn but that's part of writing you learn from what you do. Anyone else on here who'd like to give an opinion would be appreciated. like seriously haha

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saintsrow
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#4

Posted 09 April 2016 - 08:59 AM Edited by saintsrow, 09 April 2016 - 09:35 PM.

 
OK, I've got a few disjointed comments for the OP's story.  These are the comments of a casual reader, with certain expectations and a certain taste in what I like to read, so they should not and cannot be taken as any serious, qualified criticism.  
 
However, since I've recently tried my hand at fanfiction, I now realize, and have relevant experience, in the craft of trying to make something read well.  So that context is also in this review.  
 
 
First, regarding the actual story, I like the concept that the narrator is a ghost, already dead.  That's a nice twist.  Sad story, sad ending, but that's the nature of drama.  Also, the story has a reasonably consistent and probably intentional atmosphere.  In some cases, I like reading pieces that do a good job of creating atmosphere, just for the sake of atmosphere itself, without even needing narrative momentum.  The stream-of-conscious nature of the OP's piece worked pretty well for this, before I starting trying to figure out if something coherent was going on.  
 
 
Now to the writing critique:  What I do find surprising about the OP's piece is that all the spelling is correct, and the words are almost always used correctly, in terms of what I assume are their intended meanings and connotations and implications, but at the same time, this learned vocabulary skill seems inconsistent with the lack of acceptable sentence structure, and the seemingly arbitrary paragraph breaks.  The run-on sentences and the weird decisions of where to use commas versus sentence breaks are far from normal prose.  
 
--BUT-- I actually like the sentence structure for what it is, including the long strings of comma-separated run-on's and the mixed dialog within the same paragraph.  It sounds like the stream-of-consciousness thought narrative of some drug-addled, confused character describing a scene.  In that sense, not only does it fit such a character well, but what's more important, is that it's actually relatively readable and understandable.  I was able to absorb the intent of the author's writing, I think, without having to do excessive re-reading or backtracking.  So OP, even if you eventually become a master mainstream writer, creating Pulitzer-worthy prose, it might be good to not lose what you have now, so you can revert back to this strange but readable thought-stream style when it's appropriate.  I'm aout 80% serious and 20% facetious in saying this.  
 
In that regard, let me also say that, the choice of words and the density of the sentences are actually pretty good, in my unqualified opinion.  This creates a readable rhythm, and good flow.  Some fanfic I have read is so dense with literary words jammed together, and dense attempts at high-falutin sentence structure, that slogging through such prose is like walking through knee-deep mud.  The OP's prose is quite clean and open, in comparison.  
 
 
A general thought:  You can't just crank out a piece of writing in a couple of hours and then turn it in to class the next morning.  Writing something good takes about 5 times longer than you think it should take, or more.  You have to get the basic thoughts down, and then refine, reread, refine, reread.  Do that loop about 5 times, seriously, over a period of days.  If you recognize well-structured prose, and you go back and read what you have written, like a typical reader would do (assuming you have already read enough good examples of English language narrative to know it when you see it), you will see the need to make multiple improvements and changes in almost every sentence, and in the flow from sentence to sentence.  This is what I have learned from my recent fanfic exercise.  

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#5

Posted 11 April 2016 - 11:45 PM

Saintsrow is on to something, although there's no hard and fast rule. My opening chapter of City of Lies was done in one sitting, with little editing. But also, literally everything ever written could be improved. It's endless. Don't get lost in that pursuit, but also don't get complacent.

To build on what saintsrow said, I find it ideal to write your story, chapter – whatever you're writing, however you're doing it – and then just leave it. Let it sit. If you like alcohol or Kim Chi, fine wine or good cheese, let it ferment. Come back to it in a week, when you've forgotten about it. Then you can tear it apart as if it's someone else's work. I've posted a guide that might help but if you're new, have one edit run checking for spelling, another for tense, another for perspective etc. Patience really is a virtue.

On to the nitty gritty:

The thunder roared outside, the streets were knee deep in cold, dark, muddy water. It had been raining for hours to no end. The house had this otherworldy look to it, for only the spirits knew what had gone on inside. The door was left ajar with the wind blowing in the background, you could feel it, the cold breeze that would send a shiver down your spine. Something was off. Everything was off.
Strangely, something feels off to me in this opening. It's a little disjointed in my eyes. A bit too fractured. There's no real flow, just a list of details, and it's not pulling me in. I wonder if you can combine it with the next passage:

Rayyan woke in a cold sweat to the road of thunder. Panic clawed at this mind as he leaped out of bed, kicking the bedsheets to the floor. He rushed to the window, seeing the cascade of rain outside. Below, the streets were knee deep in muddy water. He turned away, seeing bits and pieces of his alarm clock on the floor. He must have thrown it down....

How your opening feels is a list of description as you try to introduce us to the world, then the character. They don't feel connected. I also didn't like the 'the house had this it get worldly look to it' - what is an 'other worldly look'? Can you show the reader?


Rayyan woke up covered in sweat and panic, it was surreal, as he grasped the confines of reality he saw down on the floor bits and pieces of his alarm clock, he must have thrown it down while he was asleep. As he looked towards the wall clock he sighed, he was late, as he stumbled off his bed and to the bathroom door he thought he heard her speak, he looked around and saw nothing but darkness and the sound of the rain hitting against his room window, he shrugged of the thought and went into the bathroom. Looking into the bathroom mirror he went into an abyss of different thoughts, he had no will, no reason, for him all this was just a routine, a circle he was bound by, he couldn't break the flow yet he ignored where it would take him.
You're overusing commas here when full stops would do. The first few sentences make little sense that way. 

Rayyan woke up covered in cold sweat and panic. It was surreal [WHAT was surreal? How? Waking up?]. I also didn't much like the 'as he grasped the confines of reality' part. The implication is that he's out of touch with reality, perhaps even a bit crazy, but I feel you could show this more than just stating: if he's a paranoid, he can look out of the window, looking left and right quickly etc. Also, he order of words is a little off when talking about the alarm clock - it doesn't seem to flow well. Is either say "he saw bits and pieces of the alarm clock on the floor" or "on the floor lay bits and pieces of the alarm clock."
Even 'bits and pieces' could be improved on. What about fragments? Or 'His alarm clock lay shattered in the floor." There's also an opportunity for more depth of detail, too; 'his alarm clock lay shattered on the worn carpet."

The best advice I can give here in terms of punctuation, is breathing. Imagine reading this aloud. Think of commas as tiny breaks, mainly changing the tone or gear of your voice. Then full stops are like stopping for a full breath. Now read through the above passage of yours - where's the breaks? Can you see where there should be some or where there shouldn't?



Rayyan walked down the road, The problem here is that we've jumped and I'm not sure where. Is this a flashback? It has he left his bathroom and gone out into the rain? It's easy enough to signpost this. Stating that he dressed and walked downstairs, or 'two months before hand, he'd walked through the streets..."
Also there's a past here that's obviously affecting him. Involving a girl. So do any of the clothes have a connection you can play on? Did she like or hate that bomber jacket? Would it trigger any memories?


wearing a scruffy dark shirt, a pair of old jeans and a black leather jacket, he was soaked in water, drops dripped down his hair, he didn't care he just kept walking. As he turned the corner he saw in the distance the old house, it sent a chill down his spine the instant it came into view, memories rushed his mind, as he froze there staring at the home. Clearing the water from his eyes he was baffled to see Anna standing infront of it, fidgeting with her purse while trying to keep it clear off the rain. Anna was his bestfriend they'd been friends since they were kids, went to school together and now they were in college both had decided to do BS Psychology. Once again, the commas and full stops let you down here. Read it aloud and you'll hear it sounds wrong. There's no breaks where there should be, and vice versa.
They were inseperable always had each others backs people would often mistake them to be siblings, they fought yet he was the big brother to her when anyone would look wrong at her and she was the sister who'd he annoy the living hell out of.

Anna still fidgeting with her purse had not seen him yet, Rayyan ran to catch up to her and slipped trying to gain balance grabbed onto a pole and planted one foot onto the ground with as much force as he could muster up, sighing in relief he was glad that he didn't fall face down onto the wet road. As he fixed himself up he looked up towards the house and saw no one standing there. He let out a grunt thinking what a fool he is, and  carried on walking he was sure he'd be able to catch up to her later in the day. He walked up to the house and felt a strange presence. He didn't take much note of it, he'd been down all day and he knew Anna would cheer him up, she always did.

He kept walking, still staring into that abyss of thoughts, he suddenly froze, remembering something he had been trying to forget he cleared the tear from his eye and kept on, as more and more thoughts came he was breaking, every step slower and slower, his mind becoming a total mess, he shrugged at the thoughts as the rain did well to mask the tears and pain. He stood there for what felt like eternity, he had no resounded reason to even continue, he was an emotional mess, but he was afraid and who could he ask for help? To him there was no help, none that would matter, his society would deem him crazy, it wasn't his fault yet society made him feel like it's his own doing. Social culture had marked him an outcast already but only he knew so he kept on, kept on this facade for him to not be labeled a black sheep he had to "fit in".

The sound of thunder woke him from his trance, as he looked around, the streets were empty, who in their right mind would even go outside in such a stormy weather. Well he wasn't in his right of mind, now was he! He walked into the college and a few students were around, just under the rafters talking, he was drowning in rain water. As he walked in to the building he saw a group of students from his class, trying to avoid them he dashed into an open room. He saw Anna standing there on the other exit, as he was about to say her name, someone grabbed his shoulder and said "Where you off to?" as he turned around and saw it was one of his friends, he said, "no where, just got here" his friend replied, "So that's why you were running off? did you walk here? you're soaked." Rayyan got annoyed and replied with a sigh, "Yes, i walked here, have you seen Anna?" looking back she was no where to be seen, his friend said "No, But.." Rayyan cut him off and walked away trying to see if he could catch up to her, just when he saw the time, he was late for class. Dissapointed he walked off hoping he'd catch up to her later.
two major problems here. Firstly, the same as before the long sentences with no breaks where there should be and commas instead of full stops it's making it harder to read. (Was that difficult to read? :p)

The second problem is, as mentioned, dialogue. A new speaker is always on a new line. You need to break that up.


"According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 20 percent of people who have major depression also have psychotic symptoms. This combination is known as depressive psychosis. Some .." you should establish the professor talking first, here. I thought it was a memory, but I figured out Rayyan walking into a lecture. Show the reader these crucial details, and show them when they'd see them. Here we'd see Rayyan walk into the classroom first. He'd see the professor talking. Show that.Said the professor, as Rayyan hardly paid any attention looking around the class. The class was fairly empty with 8 students in it, leave it to the rain to halter educational progress he though. As the professor continued, ".. This condition causes you to experience psychotic symptoms plus the sadness and hopelessness associated with depression. This means seeing things that aren't real ..". there shouldn't be this full stop outside the quotation marks here. Three inside the quotation marks if you're showing lice trailing off. He ventured out into his own world, he felt like he was being dragged down by something or someone, yet he couldn't figure out who or what? He was lost, he needed answers and he only had one person to ask the questions, Anna.

im going to leave it there.  To be honest, reading this is like walking through treacle. It's hard to read with the grammar and dialogue. There's also a lot of superfluous words. When Anna is 'standing there, looking at him, I didn't feel you needed to say 'standing there.' He looks up, seeing her staring at him. You want to cut sentences down, cut the fat, if you will. This can be hard, and it takes time to build that skill. Reading other people's works, reading the feedback, and even offering your own will help you build this up. (You don't have to tear it all apart but you can do smaller critiques to learn how to do so). 

Dialogue is easy to fix. A new speaker on a new line, even if you put detail in it first. 

"Hi," Jack said.

Marie nodded. "Hello."

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, you?" 

David burst through the door. "Shut up, you two."

Also note that in the above example you don't need to say who's talking when it alternates. 

My advice is to copy and paste this into a word document and implement the advice you've been given. You'll at least see the difference. Now I don't like the idea of editing your post to update it, but you can repost your edited version in a new post (within this topic) if you went

Or you can just take the advice and use it in your next chapter/post.

There is potential here, but the characters feel a bit flat. Go into detail, but most importantly, show us instead of telling. Avoid the list of details. Instead think of it as a movie. Show us what is happening. Show us where the character is going and what he's doing. Why did he go to the college? Does he study there? Did he study there? Teach there? 

You've got something good, but it's a basis at the moment and needs more work to make it great

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