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  1. #1
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    D. W. Finton Critique

    D.W. Finton posted this in the New Members forum and asked for a critique. I separated it into paragraphs and posted it here for everyone to peruse.


    I am empowered as the bottom of my heel touches the last step of the bus, and I run all the way home in the rain this August day. I am so proud of myself. Not even the stormy weather could wipe the grin off my face. It's a typical windy and rainy day of Hurricane season, in Louisiana. The gray clouds pour down tears miserable enough to match the bleakness of my life. I'm the last child in a poor family of eight. That means I have no voice; no one respects my opinion enough to listen to anything I say, I have no possessions; everything I own once belonged to someone else, I have no identity; to my family, I don't exist, nothing more than a shadow in the room or a pest who interrupts their conversations. In any case, today is a brave day for me.

    Today, I gathered the nerve to pull a counselor aside during a break between classes. I forced her to listen to me. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes to envision the most tranquil image I could picture in order to still my heart; than, I began, “My mother is crazy; she follows me around the house saying mean things to me. She's trying to drive me crazy or maybe she already has cause I don't feel normal; I feel strange from the inside out. Even my dreams are strange and frightening; they never make sense. Once, I dreamt that I could see inside my mother's head; she was sitting alone in an empty room and I could see through her flesh. There were rats running around inside of her skull; and, they were eating her brain. I woke up trembling in a pool of sweat: “Help me! Please, help me!”

    I begged the counselor louder and louder, while realizing that I was losing control of my emotions. She jumped from her seat and wrapped her arms around me. Her eyes were fearful, and her body shook as she embraced me tight. I kept begging her to help me as I watched her response. She inhaled deeply and spoke with a gentle, calming voice: “Candy, you need to slow down and explain, calmly, what you're trying to say.” Never taking her eyes off of me, she sat down and slid back in her chair.

    “I'm trying to say that I'm having some problems at home and every time I come here nobody listens; I'm tired of coming here to talk to someone about what is happening to me and getting ignored; because, you all are too busy talking to each other to notice me. I'm trying to say that my parents are no good, and I need someone to help me get away from them,” I shouted at her. I told her, “This morning, before I left for school, I was cornered in the kitchen by a family member whose name I won't mention.” He said that he wanted to feel my breasts to check how much they've grown. It terrified me cause he grabbed my hand and gestured for me to pull my pants down. He talks that way when he has too much to drink.”

    I gave her vague details cause my parents were always taking in down-and-out friends and family members who needed a place to stay. There is always some pervert trying to kiss me or force himself on me. I don’t want to get any specific one of them in trouble; I just want to expose my parents for not protecting me. And, my instincts told me that this incident had emboldened this person to act out all the obscene things he'd whisper in my ear. My mother was always accusing me of doing those same obscene things, every time she'd see me leave the house, which is why I didn't bother telling her about this incident. She already believes I'm a tramp. I'm telling you cause I'm afraid to go home. Things have always been bad; but, today I'm too scared of what might happen to me tonight in that house and I'm too scared of my parents.

    Counselor Betty sat looking dumbfounded and speechless for a minute; she wasn't sure what to do or say or what her next move should be. “Wait here! Sit right here and I'll be right back,” she promised while pointing at the chair and walking out of her office. She'd spotted the principal and was gesturing to him.

    A minute went by, then five or so, then ten minutes went by, I started to get nervous, and I started worrying about if I had done the right thing by confessing all the things that were going on at my house. I worried about being late for my class. I could see her talking to the principal, so I felt confident and relieved that they were going to save me somehow, I could finally stop praying that my life was just a bad dream and that someday I'd wake up from it. Counselor Betty seemed to walk in slow motion towards me; she informed me that she had just spoken with my parents and asked them to come in for a meeting so that she could discuss with them every word I'd told her.

    “I thought counselors were supposed to be discreet; I guess that's at other schools,” I remarked to her when she came back in the room after sharing my conversation with the principal, who I felt shouldn't be involved.

    But a part of me couldn't care less; she could shout it from the mountaintops; it felt so good to let this heavy secret off my heart. Divine intervention would step in, truth would be brought to the light and justice would prevail. I was told that the proper authority had been notified and that I needed to go back to class and come back at the end of the day. I anxiously sat through my lessons, hardly focusing on my teachers with the suspense of waiting for the impending showdown between my parents and me. They are expert liars and the world’s greatest manipulators, so at lunch I tried to practice standing firm in the line of fire. I was ready to stand behind everything I said and throughout the day I practiced in my mind how to show confidence while keeping to what I know is true. I have to com across as authentic and sincere especially since they both are going to lie like rugs to save face; they are con artist by nature and this is just going to be another game to them. I hate that I don't have any friends or that I'm not close to any teachers who could vouch for my character.

    As the school day slowly dragged to a close it dawned on me that I don't have any witnesses. I have isolated myself so much that there is not a soul in the world close enough to me who can say that they have seen or heard anything that goes on in my house. The thought of no one believing me swirled around in my brain until I started to feel sick. What if I can't prove all the claims I made? Maybe, I should go tell my counselor that it was all a hoax; the pressure of all these standardized tests had thrown me into a delusional panic. I dreaded for that last bell to ring. But it did, and I walked into the counselor's office already defeated mentally. She looked up from her work and saw me standing there; I could see that she was dreading this moment as much as me. She tried to keep her eyes from meeting mine. She gazed at me blankly and informed me that she wasn't a social worker and that she wanted to believe my allegations, but the best she could do was to contact Child Protective Services.

    “They protect children from abuse, they are professionals.” She sighed deeply and sat back in her chair. “I hope you don't feel that I've betrayed your trust by getting them involved; legally, I had to. This situation is over my head and I've tormented myself all day over what to do. I spoke to your parents. I probably shouldn't tell you what they said, but I want you to know. Your mother called you a habitual liar and a sexual deviant, which shocked me so much that I truly didn't know what to say or who to believe. So it's best that CPS gets involved to get to the bottom of what's really gong on.”

    She advised me to be as honest as I could when I spoke to them, and I promised her that I would and she promised me that anything else I tell her would never leave her room. “Unless it's something my conscience won't let me hold inside,” she admitted. Her smile left a bitter sweet heaviness in my heart which had sank to the soles of my feet cause I knew I was on my own in this. I begrudgingly rose to my feet, shook my head at her, turned and walked out of the door and onto the bus. I sat down and a still calm came over me. I realized that CPS is my only hope of changing my life. They have to save me.

    This day is one of those days that the rain pours from the clouds like a shower of bullets sprayed from an automatic weapon. Big drops hit the top of my bus with intent and I force myself to stare out at it with determination to conquer all my fears, while steadying my shaking limbs.

    The driver inevitably comes to my stop and opens the door; I let out a sigh and leap off to head home. I notice the procession of cars parked on both sides of the street. I'm envious of the love those parents hold for their children, no one has ever shown me that much consideration, to pick me up, to keep me from walking home in the rain, I rarely feel envy; yet, it burns through my bones all the way to my toes and I decide to reject it cause it is too humiliating to bear.

    The migraine that comes over me around this time, everyday, is back like a ghost that won't leave me alone. It starts at the base of my skull, deep within the nape of my neck, and shoots up my head, piercing my forehead. Then it settles between my eyes, where it tortures me daily. This pain lingers and throbs, mercilessly switching my usual carefree mood that I leave school with to the melancholy, emotionally shutdown soul I become on the way home.



  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    You start in present tense, then switch to mostly past tense with sporadic present tense, then back to present tense in the last three paragraphs. Pick a tense and stick with it. I vote for past.

    You have some creative punctuation - might want to review the rules – getting jiggy with that semi-colon. Take more care as to what's external dialogue and what's internal dialogue. You need to cut down on the personal pronouns I, me, my, mine, and myself - they make up about 10% of your words, and that’s pretty high. You might want to switch to third person. You also have some typos. Use better verbs.

    In paragraph one, the girl is happy and proud of herself, on top of the world as she exits the bus. Then she tells the story of why she feels that way: before she got on the bus, she gathered the courage to tell a counselor her woes. However, the story ends with the girl on the bus feeling dejected and miserable and suffering from a migraine. So which is it - happy or sad?

    Not a clue why that bit about the dream about her mother is in there. She's being molested, she's motivated to tell someone, and THAT'S the first thing out of her mouth? Delete, in my opinion.

    Overall, the story shows some promise, but this is not ready to be published. Not even close.

  3. #3
    Rogue Mutt
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    I was hoping the title meant we got to critique this DW Finton person.

  4. #4
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Yeah...that's what it means. Critique away.

  5. #5
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    So which is it - happy or sad?
    Schizo perhaps, as evidenced by zombie rats feasting on braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains? After editing, passed the punctuation and grammar, there exists the Frankenstein's purgatory in which the author's pen resides: indecisive to what effect she wants, stitching her creation together as she goes along. Eyes panting at forming clouds in a foreboding sky. Is this biographical or fiction? If fictionalized, why the molestation? Shock value?

  6. #6
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    The way some of the information is presented, I get the feeling this story is based on the author's own life.

  7. #7
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Author Pendragin View Post
    Schizo perhaps, as evidenced by zombie rats feasting on braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains? After editing, passed the punctuation and grammar, there exists the Frankenstein's purgatory in which the author's pen resides: indecisive to what effect she wants, stitching her creation together as she goes along. Eyes panting at forming clouds in a foreboding sky. Is this biographical or fiction? If fictionalized, why the molestation? Shock value?
    Do you mean past the punctuation and grammar?

    I'll have some of whatever you've been smoking.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    Do you mean past the punctuation and grammar?
    No. Past = previous time period. Passed = move beyond something. Not smoking, rather poking at the internal indecisiveness of the author, who seems to be the apparition haunting her own memories. If it's fiction, I'm just wondering why the addition of molestation. If it's based on her own encounters, I think the wounds are still tender.
    Last edited by Author Pendragin; 05-11-2014 at 09:46 PM.

  9. #9
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Author Pendragin View Post
    No. Past = previous time period. Passed = move beyond something. Not smoking, rather poking at the internal indecisiveness of the author, who seems to be the apparition haunting her own memories. If it's fiction, I'm just wondering why the addition of molestation. If it's based on her own encounters, I think the wounds are still tender.
    If you say so. Seems like a terribly clunky construction.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    If you say so. Seems like a terribly clunky construction.
    Ok.
    Last edited by Author Pendragin; 05-12-2014 at 10:46 AM.

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