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  1. #1
    Author Pendragin
    Guest

    Still needs work

    This is a story that I started working on. I think it still needs work. I am happy with the first sentence. It turned out better than I expected, and I hope it hooks the reader in, I might be wrong. I know it still needs work.

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    The jarring sound of chalk grinding against a blackboard made Cassandra Trapper want to staple her ears to the side of her head, but at least it kept her awake. Inches from closing, her nearly shut eyes lazily followed the strange looking symbols her teacher drew across the blackboard. Despite having to study for a final, after being up most of the night studying, an eight hour class in biochemistry was the last place she wanted to be.

    In the back of her mind, the gnawing realization that sleep was inevitably going to get her annoyed her more than the sound of the chalk. Twice since the beginning of class she caught her head ,mid plummet, from colliding with her desk. The caffeine pill she took was beginning to ware off, and she wanted to smack herself for not taking two when Dillinger had offered them to her. A prisoner in her own chair, Trapper scanned her surroundings for anything to keep her from entering the twilight zone.

    She watched magpies outside. Their erratic movements, circling each other, kept her attention, but eventually she drifted off.Chewing gum was a catch twenty two. It was fine for the first fifteen minutes but after the taste of spearmint wore off, the bland taste made her chew more gum. The more gum she chewed, the sorer her gums got. The sorer her gums were, the more exhausted she became. She tried moving around in the plastic contraption she was seated in, but the limited range of motion only made her look like she had hemorrhoids.

    In a last desperate attempt to stay awake Cassandra propped her head up against her hand. Even if she did fall asleep at least she wouldn't face-plant. The “kickstand” as her teacher called it was a dead give away that someone was about to go to sleep. It was the equivalent of a student painting a giant bullseye on their forehead saying, “Hey teacher, see the big bullseye? Hit me with every archaically hard question your devious mind can come up with, because I haven't been paying attention to a word you've been saying. I am really watching the clock, counting the seconds until the next break.”

    Mr Beasley was an expert at exploiting sleeping students. The only word that Trapper could think of to describe Beasley was anal. He always dressed in the same loose fitting sweater, the sleeves of which, drooped over his arms like moss. She could count the items on his desk because they were always arranged in the same way. The fourteen edition of Marion Webster was always next to the fourth edition of a grammar book that was so old, trapper thought, it was held together solely by the will of Mr Beasley.

    On the side opposite the book lay three pencils one next to the other, arranged from smallest to greatest. Beasley always sharpened his pencils until they were too small to sharpen any further. If that wasn't enough. Nothing seemed to escape his knowledge, even with his back turned, Beasley seemed to have eyes in the back of his head. Cassandra knew that at some-point in time he was going to be call her out, it was just a question of when. She glanced over at him from the side of her head. Beasley was still trotting along merrily, enraptured in his equations, back turned to the class, book in one hand, chalk in the other. She returned to scanning the classroom again. A minute later out of nowhere came the voice of Mr Beasley.

    Trapper.” he said.
    Her eyes shot open and she sat erect in her chair. To her surprise Beasley was now standing two feet in front of her!



  2. #2
    l m
    Guest

    Re: Still needs work

    Waaaay too many words, sloppy and self-indulgent, for what's going on, which is very little.

    The jarring sound of chalk grinding against a blackboard
    --The screech of chalk on the blackboard; or "The screech of chalk" as blackboard is assumed

    want to staple her ears to the side of her head
    --what's that mean? Where are her ears now, if not on the side of her head?

    Inches from closing, her nearly shut eyes lazily followed
    --what do you mean, "inches from closing"? When her eyes are nearly shut, they're "inches" away from closing?

    Despite having to study for a final...an eight hour class in biochemistry was the last place she wanted to be.
    ---is this credible? An eight-hour (hyphen) class under any circumstances is odd, but during finals week?

    The reader won't get past the first paragraph. I tried; the rest is more of the same.

  3. #3
    Jillian Eaton
    Guest

    Re: Still needs work

    I am by no means an expert in editing, but I enjoy reading and know what I like to read. I liked this.

    I read through the entire thing without too many hiccups. Maybe it's because I only graduated from college two years ago, but this reminds me exactly of how I struggled to get through every single history class. Some things that caught my eye...

    The jarring sound of chalk grinding against a blackboard made Cassandra Trapper want to staple her ears to the side of her head, but at least it kept her awake.

    I actually liked this sentence. It grabbed my attention. When you use the word 'jarring' it makes me automatically think of how chalk can sometimes skip against the board, which is the worst sound in the world. But I agree with I M, you don't need to use the word "grinding". The jarring sound of chalk against (the) blackboard...

    Despite having to study for a final, after being up most of the night studying, an eight hour class in biochemistry was the last place she wanted to be.

    This is hard to read. Maybe you could say something like - With finals looming near, an eight (?!) hour biochemistry class as the last place she wanted to be .

    ...moving around in the plastic contraption she was seated in...
    If it's a chair, call it a chair.

    Mr Beasley was an expert at exploiting sleeping students.
    Is this the teacher? I assume so, though I had to read on to make sure. If he is the teacher, introduce him as such. Her teacher, Mr. Beasley, was an...

    If that wasn't enough. Nothing seemed to escape his knowledge, even with his back turned, Beasley seemed to have eyes in the back of his head.
    Unnecessary and choppy.

    The bit about the kickstand made me laugh at loud, because it is so true.

    Don't have Cassandra refer to herself as Trapper, then Cassandra, then Trapper again. It gets confusing. The teacher can call her by her last name, but when you are in narrative form, pick one name and stick with it.

    There where some other blatant things, but you should pick up on them when you go through again.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Busy Lizzy
    Guest

    Re: Still needs work

    The caffeine pill she took was beginning to ware off

    Surely you mean wear off

  5. #5
    Author Pendragin
    Guest

    Re: Still needs work

    Yes lizzy I do mean wear off. Did you get further than that in the story?

  6. #6
    Author Pendragin
    Guest

    Re: Still needs work

    l-m - All critiques are appreciated. I am glad to hear your input. I agree, I struggled with that, but it is indeed unnecessarily repetitious. Which would you have gone with? I think it should have been a six hour class, but I was counting in lunch and breaks.

    You're absolutely right Jillian, I did have some confusion about which name to use, but I think I would have gone with Trapper the entire way. I agree that that sentence was choppy, I think I put too much information. Originally, I wanted to have the teacher actually dig it into the blackboard, but as the story went along I decided that I was going to just leave it the way that I have it. The thing I like about the first sentence was that it was something that would hook the reader in, I am going to try to do that with all of my opening sentences. You're right, I could have put that or something more descriptive such as :

    After being up for most of the evening prior,studying, the last things she wanted was to hear about nuclei and cytoplasms.

    Yes Mr beasley is the teacher, and while I tried to give him some characterization, I think I could have fleshed him out a little more. Thank you for your feedback

  7. #7
    Sam Fletcher
    Guest

    Re: Still needs work

    I have these two comments

    1. Even though Cassandra is bored the reader can’t be. If you bore the reader then you lose your audience and that will be the end of that. So you must find a way to express her boredom and yet create interest in her predicament. Maybe you could create more tension over the possibility that she will be caught. Also make staying awake a heroic struggle of the will. I want to agonize with her as she fights overwhelming odds. I want to sympathize with her plight and be riveted by her quandary.

    2. There are some really good pieces in this writing. I like her looking around to see all the pencils arranged in order. I’ve seen students use the kickstand and I’ve seen the kickstand fail and their heads bounce off of the desk. So, I think you strike a chord of understanding for everyone that’s ever sat through an incomprehensible Chemistry class.

    But there are also some weak spots. The biggest problem I see is that there is an excess of verbiage that doesn’t add to the tension of the story. An extended exposition about chewing gum doesn’t create tension and isn’t lived in the moment. The only way this paragraph would matter is if she was chewing gum then and there and needed a way to get rid of it. Instead of talking about past events or the history of Mr. Beasley show us the agony of the moment. I want to see her slowly beginning to lose focus. I want to see her eyes slipping shut and then suddenly, violently snapping open again. I want to see her doodling on her pad in an effort to stay awake. The titanic struggle is happening right now and the reader needs to be involved in that struggle.

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