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Ghost


Strange Town

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Strange Town

After reading a few books lately I've been impressed at how writers develop the story and have an amazing way with words. That inspired me to write this tale.

 

Just a friendly favor is all I ask: Of course I'll accept constructive criticism but please don't be too harsh on the critic. This is the first time that I decided to write a tale on the internet.

 

The theme of the tale was inspired on many other tales I read in a website long ago.

 

________________________________

 

 

It was a beautiful day in a bright and sunny July afternoon, with very few clouds and an occasional light breeze from time to time. It was Josh's day off from work so he went on a date with his girlfriend Karen. They walked through the streets of New York, observed the numerous theaters, skyscrapers and stores. Then they catched a movie; both had a great time.

 

After the movie ended, they were pacing though the sidewalk when a speeding driver enters the sidewalk and runs over Karen. An expression of shock and disbelief took control of Josh's face. Emotionally, he had nothing but despair. The driver ran away like nothing has happened. Possibly he was drunk. Josh got to her and said:

 

-Please be strong! I'll call an ambulance!

 

Her facial expression was of extreme pain and blood on her cheeks and forehead. She said:

 

-Don't do it, it's too late. But, even after I die, I still will be with you.

 

-But how... - She already died.

 

Josh's eyes shut tight in a pain that matched Karen's - but emotional pain instead of physical.

 

A few days later, when Josh woke up and headed to the bathroom to brush his teeth, he saw Karen's ghost in the bathroom. She looked like a fallen angel. Josh's heart started beating so fast that he drank some water and took several minutes to regain his calm so he could start brushing his teeth.

 

When Josh started brushing his teeth, he couldn't help but think about that unfortunate day. About how a day that had everything to go well ended so sadly. About the pain he felt. About Karen's last words:

 

Even after I die, I still will be with you.

 

Was that what she meant? Not a physical presence, but a spiritual presence? Either way, that would disturb Josh into levels of paranoia.

 

Several minutes later, Josh enter his car to go on for a relaxing drive. This time Josh was able to keep these thoughts away from his head and focus on the road. Then suddenly Karen's ghost appears right in front of his car. Shocked by what just happened, Josh loses control of his car and he accidentally runs over a girl in the sidewalk, just like how Karen died. Suddenly everything is black.

 

Josh wakes up and Karen's ghost in front of him. Unawary of the situation, he panics, but this time she said:

 

-Calm down, you're a ghost like me now.

 

-What happened?

 

-The car you were driving hit a wall and you smashed your head onto the wall of a building. It was instant death. Now it doesn't matter, I'm with you.

 

Now Josh and Karen were two ghosts roaming over the earth, their ambitions and desires remain a mystery.

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Mokrie Dela

After reading a few books lately I've been impressed at how writers develop the story and have an amazing way with words. That inspired me to write this tale.

 

Just a friendly favor is all I ask: Of course I'll accept constructive criticism but please don't be too harsh on the critic. This is the first time that I decided to write a tale on the internet.

 

The theme of the tale was inspired on many other tales I read in a website long ago.

Welcome to this quiet little back o' beyond. A quick note on the ability you've mentioned - it comes with time and practice.

 

 

It was a beautiful day in a bright and sunny July afternoon, with very few clouds and an occasional light breeze from time to time. Not too bad a start, but it does feel a little flat. It's stating a fact more than it's painting a picture. Now, it's up to you whether you want an extended descriptive intro, or a short one. But I think it'd be better to show us the day. What makes it beautiful? think of this: if you're looking at a painting of a beautiful day, what are you seeing? It's bright and sunny - that's a good start, but old wild west deserts are bright and sunny, as are sunkissed beaches. Knowing where this is set (for your own benifit) is important here. If it's suburbs, then are we seeing trimmed lawns and clippered hedges, neatly cropped trees and impeccably painted colonial-era houses? Burly oak trees casting deep shadows across the vibrant green of freshly cut grass, the sun glimmering off of car bodies. Well-toned women strolling down the sidewalk, wearing clothes that hid little and left less to the imagination. Paint us a picture. The first sentence is so, so important. If done well, it hooks the reader. Done wrong, and the reader could start skimming.

 

It was Josh's day off from work so he went on a date with his girlfriend Karen. They walked through the streets of New York, observed the numerous theaters, skyscrapers and stores. Then they catched a movie; both had a great time.

 

After the movie ended, they were pacing though the sidewalk when a speeding driver enters the sidewalk and runs over Karen. An expression of shock and disbelief took control of Josh's face. Emotionally, he had nothing but despair. The driver ran away like nothing has happened. Possibly he was drunk.

 

There's a saying with writing: show, don't tell. Show the events happening, like a movie, don't just report on them. This is a big event, but there's little build up. More detail might be welcome here. it was his day off, he went out with his girlfriend, walked and saw a film. That's essentially your story here. bullet points. Reported. Show us.

 

Stepping off of the train, Josh slipped hooked his jacket over his shoulder and, with his other hand, took Karen's hand. Together, they walked up the steps to the street, where the droning of constant traffic assaulted their ears. Karen practically flinched as they reached the sidewalk, just as a taxicab's horn bellowed. Josh smiled and, realising there was no danger, Karen let out a timid chuckle.

 

They rounded the corner and looked up, at the Empire State Building, that stood tall and proud. From the street, they couldn't even see halfway up the building, let alone the top.

 

Continuing in that vein, you can paint a picture of normality, establishing a strong stasis. Then, drop the other one, and have the trigger come. Have the car hit Karen - but show us in more detail. Does Josh hear the engine first? Does the horn sound, but because it's a city, they don't think it as a warning. When the car hits Karen, show us her body flailing, like an old ragdoll, bouncing on the cement until coming to a rest against the building. Show us to let us feel shock. Don't just say "she was hit".

 

Josh got to her and said:

 

-Please be strong! I'll call an ambulance!

 

Her facial expression was of extreme pain and blood on her cheeks and forehead. She said:

 

-Don't do it, it's too late. But, even after I die, I still will be with you.

 

-But how... - She already died.

 

Critically, what I was saying above is more important here. She's died, and yet it's shown as though a traffic light changed. There's no emotion here, there's no build up of tension or anything. In moments like this "Josh got to her" doesn't work. He'd feel panic and urgency, so show that:

 

Josh scrambled across the sidewalk, dropping his jacket with no concern over how expensive it was. He dropped to his knees, like an overzealous worshiper, his hands immediately reaching for Karen's face. He stroked her cheek with his thumb, and let his other hand find hers.

 

"K- Karen," he whimpered, despite trying hard to hold his emotions back. He poked his head up, like a threatened meerkat, and yelled, "Somebody call 911!"

 

"Josh," Karen whispered hoarsely.

 

"Shh," he whispered back tenderly. "Be strong. Help is on the way. You're going to be okay."

 

Pain had spread across her face, leaving bloody trails on her once-perfect skin. But in the midst of the agony, her eyes glistened like saphires in the sun.

 

"No," she managed, "I don't think I will." Josh felt her hand squeeze his. "I love you. I'll always be with you..."

 

"No," Josh begged, "Don't give up. Don't - "

Karen's eyes glossed over and rolled back into her head. Her hand loosened, and fell to the ground.

 

 

There's also no real need to say she's dead, either. Imply it, and you might find it more effective. Let the scene play out in your mind, and turn the speed down. Type what you see. What they do. Small things, like the dropping of the hand, will show so much more than just stating "she died."

I also question whether she knew it was too late. I think it might be more effective to let her hope that she's going to be okay.

 

 

Josh's eyes shut tight in a pain that matched Karen's - but emotional pain instead of physical.

not a great sentence to be honest. Clearly, he's not in phsyical pain as he wasn't hit. You're stating the obvious here, where instead I think you should focus on Josh's actions. Have him look down at the woman of his dreams, as life leaves her. Have him look up to the crowd, his eyes begging for someone to make it all better. Show him trying to give CPR in vein. have him cry out her name, curse god, or scream "where's that ambulance!" It might not be too late....

 

 

A few days later, when Josh woke up and headed to the bathroom to brush his teeth, he saw Karen's ghost in the bathroom. She looked like a fallen angel. Josh's heart started beating so fast that he drank some water and took several minutes to regain his calm so he could start brushing his teeth.

 

First, he sees her ghost brushes his teeth. What, while her ghost is standing there? Once again, slow down. Show us more.

 

Several days passed, with Josh running on autopilot. He'd woken up, from a sleep that could barely be called sleep, and he stumbled to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He froze as he reached the sink. Out of the corner of his eye, in the mirror, he saw -

 

Karen, standing in the doorway, looking like a fallen angel. Her ghost was every bit as beautiful as she had been that fateful morning. Her face looked peaceful.

 

He turned round, seeing the empty doorway. Karen had been dressed in a gown of brilliant white light, like the glowing bride she would never become. Instead, the doorway held nothing other than a poorly-lit hallway, empty and cold.

 

Josh sat on the side of the bath and, for a few minutes, weeped.

 

When Josh started brushing his teeth, he couldn't help but think about that unfortunate day. About how a day that had everything to go well ended so sadly. About the pain he felt. About Karen's last words:

 

Even after I die, I still will be with you.

 

Was that what she meant? Not a physical presence, but a spiritual presence? Either way, that would disturb Josh into levels of paranoia.

 

Several minutes later, Josh entered his car to go on for a relaxing drive. This time Josh was able to keep these thoughts away from his head and focus on the road. Then suddenly Karen's ghost appears right in front of his car. Shocked by what just happened, Josh loses control of his car and he accidentally runs over a girl in the sidewalk, just like how Karen died. Suddenly everything is black.

sh*t, the irony

 

Josh wakes up and Karen's ghost in front of him. Unawary [unaware] of the situation, he panics, but this time she said:

 

-Calm down, you're a ghost like me now.

 

-What happened?

 

-The car you were driving hit a wall and you smashed your head onto the wall of a building. It was instant death. Now it doesn't matter, I'm with you.

 

Now Josh and Karen were two ghosts roaming over the earth, their ambitions and desires remain a mystery.

 

On occaisions, there's a problem with tense. "he said" and "he wakes" - select one or the other (however, once Josh wakes up after the crash, as things have changed, the tense could change, too. Untill this, keep it all in past tense (he said, he did). But from this point onward, you could change to present tense (as though the story's now happeining now)(he says, he does). Not something a new writer should worry too much about though.

 

Check out the guide I've got in the WD main board. It might help with tense and stuff.

 

I like this story, though. There is a story to be told her, but the problem is, you don't let the story happen, you just tell us that it has happened. The death of Karen, for example. In your version, it just... happens. Reading it, I feel nothing. I don't get the chance to know Karen, even a little bit. There's no chemistry between the two, just "one day, they went out, she died".

 

Writing my version (which isn't brilliant, but meant to illustrate my points) I began to feel something. I say details. Hints. Movies that follow the path you chose, would usually start with a typical day for them - breakfast and going off for work. They'd joke, kiss with their mouths full of toast, and Karen would point out the egg yolk Josh spilt on his shirt. Josh would laugh at the tiny bit of healthy yoghurt Karen got on the tip of her nose. They'd smile and act like a couple, and the reader (or viewer in movies) would identify, feel for them and witness the love and happiness.

OR, some take a different route of showing them argueing. Showing them get angry. Hints of love have to be there, but generally we see an arguement. Then, in an effort to kiss-and-make-up, they go out, and she gets his by the car and all of a sudden, apart from sadness, Josh has guilt to deal with. Guitly he argued etc. Both should help build a sadder picture.

 

Show us the couple, show us the characters if you want us to feel for them (and in this story, i think that'd be important).

 

Be patient. Two reasons:

 

1) don't rush to move the story on. I mean, the story has to progress, but let it progress naturally. Show us that typical daily breakfast scene. Have the characters mention things that show them looking to the future. Have them argue, or have morning sex, or whatever. By the time the accident happens, the reader should be with them emotionally. Then, when Karen dies, it'll hit them, and they'll feel like Josh.

 

This story is basically through Josh's eyes. Therefore, that's how the reader will see it. His thoughts, feelings will be shared if you choose .That basically means, make us feel the love. Give your characters a chance to show themselves to the reader.

 

The same applies to Josh's greif. Let it happen. Show it. Show him not going in to work, and ignoreing his boss's calls. Show him not bringing the paper in, and not doing the dishes. Show him, slumped on the sofa, middle of the day, curtains closed, with the TV on inaudibly in the background. Have him drink, or sit staring at Karens things. show us his pain and make us feel it, too.

 

And then to the second accident. You've got a real nice irony there, so don't be afraid to build up to it. While he's driving, have his mind wander. Have him distracted by the couple walking down the street holding hands. Have him lose control and show us the car veer off and hit a girl on the sidewalk. Hell, maybe even say Karen was hit by a red car, and when Josh gets in his car, have that be a red car too, if you want. When he hits the girl, maybe show us a tiny flashback to Karen, either smiling, crying or laying there on the ground dying. Shift the focus from the accident and show a memory maybe - that helps "hide" Josh's death. Then he wakes up. and sees Karen there.

 

I do like the resoltion/reversal here. But the biggest problem is that all of this is like a report. This happened, and that. It's like a mate telling me in 2 minutes about a film he saw. I'd rather see the film, see the cinematography, hear the soundtrack, feel the emotion. Same applies here. Birds in the sky, the chatter of people on the subway. It all adds up to painting a scene and if a scene is painted well, you'll have less work to immerse the reader.

 

 

My advice:

 

1) read my topic in the WD main board (it's pinned) and try to think about the tense you're using. If you're feeling adventurous, experiment with splitting the tense as i mentioned, but focus on consistency.

 

2) re-write this. I do really like the plotline, and really want to see it fleshed out. show us what we need to see, and pace it right. Let the story run at a slow pace, setting the scene and speed it up a little when the accident happens. Short, sharp sentences help build pace. longer descriptive ones will help slow it down.

 

It was a warm day, and he walked down the street, whistling a song in his head. They had forecasted rain, but the sky was a deep blue, untarnished by clouds. Birds flew gracefully overhead, and he smiled. <-- nice, slow, relaxed pace.

 

The gun went off. Mike ducked, his heart suddenly racing. He looked around, as someone screamed. He reached into his beltline and pulled out his gun. Motherf*ckers <--shorter sentences help build a sense of urgency. Think of it as speaking and breathing. If you're calm, you can say a long sentence, lots of worse, and plenty of time and breath to do so. But when sh*t does down, you're more direct. You say what you need. You get out of breath quicker, so sentences should be shorter.

What you've written feels rushed - like you're too eager. Again, my guide has some advice in it with taking your time (write it, leave it a while, then read through it, edit it, then rewrite.... rinse, repeat). One advantage of taking your time and rewriting bits, is that you get to know your character more. Then you can put more into your characters by saying less (the ultimate goal of writing; say more with less (most new writers tend to use more words to say less)). Strong characters + detailed settings = the perfect set up. All that's needed is to show the relevant details.

 

3) post your improved version here - remember to take your time. If it takes 2 weeks, a month, fine :) You can either reply to this topic or request it be locked and post a new one.

 

Feel free to PM or post in this topic if you have any questions.

 

Good to see you here, and as i said, i like this concept, just want to see more. Im aware as you said, you're pretty new to writing. That's fine, and not too bad for a newbie ;P

 

Another bit of advice is to read. Observe what writers are doing. You'll pick things up, like using italics for thoughts (a common thing, but not strictly a rule). You might even find yourself emulating your favourite writer's style (that's fine, because you'll eventually develop your own).

 

 

 

 

One last point: speech marks:

 

speech is generally signposted with "", not -- (i think you see the latter more in scripts/screenplays).

 

A typical dialgoue interchange would be:

 

"Hi," the girl said. - note the comma, because "hi" and "she said" is sort of the same sentence.

Josh looked up from his chicken and french fries. "Hi." - note fullstop instead of comma as "hi" is the end of a sentence.

"Mind if i sit here?" she asked. - note lack of capital letter on she - that's because, as with the first example, this is essentially one sentence. the ? symbolises a question and can appear at the end of a sentence, or in place of a comma in this isntance.

"Of course not. Go ahead."

She sat and placed her lunch - a chicken salad - on the table.

"That good?"

Josh looked up, confused. "Yeah. How your salad?"

"Boring, but I'm trying to keep in shape."

Josh scoffed. "Only badly made salads are boring. I make a good salad. In fact, I make a damned good beefburger, and it's healthy, too."

The girl laughed heartily. "Really?"

"Yeah, it's all about how you cook it."

"Wow. Maybe you could... y'know, make a salad for me someday."

Josh smiled. "I'd love to."

"I'm Karen," the girl said.

"Josh."

 

Note also I didn't always use "he said" or "she said" (or variations thereof). That's because, especially in 2 person convos, you don't need to. "he said" is usually to show who's talking. It's obvious here, so no need, but sometimes you can use actions like "Josh scoffed" to gently remind the reader.

Edited by Mokrie Dela
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Strange Town

What I admire the most in writers which is the details they give for the environment the characters are in, I left out...and the only time I did that was in the opening paragraph

 

I started writing this with the main character narrating the story, but later I felt that it was best if I changed it and Josh gets to be just the character instead of a narrating character.

 

I used - to start dialogue because all the books I've been reading used - instead of quote marks.

 

And there's nothing much I can add to it. You added all the details perfectly already.

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Son of Zeus

Quite a few mistakes right in the beginning.

 

'They catched a movie' should be 'They caught a movie'.

 

'Speeding driver enters the sidewalk'.

Not to sound harsh, but this sentence is plain wrong. A sidewalk isn't a place you can enter. This sounds better:

 

'After the movie, they made for the bus stop. Karen smiled as she recalled the ending of the movie: The girl pulling the boy into a kiss. Simple and touching.

 

All of a sudden there was a screech of tires and a thump. Horn blaring, a car screamed past Josh, missing him by a whisker.

 

'NO, NO! Oh my god!' Josh yelled. Karen lay on the sidewalk, blood pooling on her back.

 

The next instant Josh was on his knees, cradling her head in his arms. 'Stay strong, stay.... Oh god, I'll call the ambulance...'

 

 

Notice how I fleshed the scene out, adding details. What I did was to try and convey Josh's reaction. You've got to imagine YOURSELF in that situation and describe it as well as you can.

 

Not saying I'm a pro writer, just giving some friendly tips. Writing is all about descriptions of characters, their emotions, situations etc.

 

And as Mokrie Dela said, you need to work on the usage of tenses. That's the most important part of writing.

 

Keep it up, though. :)

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