Please welcome today’s anonymous aspiring author by reading the following excerpt and leaving some feedback.
To Break a Male Heart
Walking out of the office building and feeling the sun on his face was a small pleasure, but it was one he enjoyed immensely. Most days at the office meant 10 hours in the chair shuffling papers around until the sun had well and truly disappeared. Today however the opportunity to leave early had been proposed and he didn’t need to be asked twice. What to do with these precious few hours was not in question either. He was driving straight home to surprise his sweetheart Alicia. From there they would head down to the beach with some fish and chips and watch the always beautiful sun as it set into the waves. He excitedly jumped into his car that was parked 5 levels down into the bowels of the earth and drove the countless stomach turning ramps back to the surface and pointed his car straight for home.
Just the thought of taking his shoes off and walking barefoot in the sand was enough to distract him as he turned into the street, so much so that he failed to notice the grey pickup parked on the kerb out front of his house. Hoping to perpetrate the perfect surprise he had shut off the cars engine as he turned into the driveway and rolled the last few meters to the garage door. Getting out of the car slowly and closing the door gently he tiptoed up to the front door. The trick would be getting the always noisy lock open and in the door before Alicia wised up to what was going on. He reached up to the door handle slowly and was about to push the key into the lock when he noticed the door was already open. He had spoken to Alicia a number of times about being security conscious when she was home alone.
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I liked it.
It kept me reading and curious about what would happen. For a split second I thought he was going to get into a car crash a he left the parking garage. I would’ve opted for another word for always noisy lock … Just because it had been used earlier in the piece and for some reason it caught my eye and took my attention away from the sentence.
Good job! I’m no expert just an avid reader so I hope this helps.
Same reaction same experience. Oh and you should spell out the numbers.
The premise is good, but I think you are telling us what is happening, not showing us.
It seems to be a collection of statements. I think it would be better if you added some of the internal thoughts of the man, to make it a bit more personal.
Good job 😀
Lindsay Oberst says
Immediately the passive tense in the first sentence throws me off. As Deb said, overall you need to show us more than tell us.
“Getting out of the car slowly and closing the door gently he tiptoed up to the front door.”
“Getting out of the car slowly, he closed the door with only a small click and tiptoed up to the front door.” I think this is stronger because the reader can hear the click and the action is slowed down.
I also like the suggestion about adding internal thoughts.
Several commas are missing and the number 5 should be spelled out. Five levels. I’m a journalistic writer too and this throws me off. Probably not as serious for other readers.
Keep writing and editing because this story sounds like it could get interesting. I don’t feel anything for the characters, yet, though.
Great excerpt. I’m intrigued. Nice to park that grey pickup there on the curb, but at first I thought he was about to have a car accident. A little fluffy on the adjectives: “immensely,” “truly,” “excitedly.” Make sure he shuts off the car engine or just the engine, not the “cars engine” or the car’s engine. At the end, I’m wondering why Alicia is regularly home alone — stay-at-home mom, disabled, out of work? I’m interested to read more. Good job.
My initial response was one of “Oh boy, what’s gonna happen”. /The suspense was built up well. However, It is usually better to begin a sentence with a word not ending in ‘ing’. or a gerund. Also another comment I’d like to make is that explaining where he parked the car in the garage did nothing to move the story forward. Otherwise I wanted to hear what happened when he found Alicia. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this story.
I want to know what happens when he opens the door. You have a great hook there. Is she having an affair or is she dead.
The writing needs to be tightened up. I don’t think a guy would think of a beautiful sunset. Also, it does need to be written in a show don’t tell manner. Leave out the adjectives and adverbs. I don’t think a man would think like that.
He (insert name here) walked out of the office and felt the sun on his face. A rare pleasure since he shuffled papers for ten hours every day.
Just the thought of taking his shoes off and walking barefoot You are repeating here if he takes his shoes off he’s barefoot, you don’t need to tell us. The thought of the warm sand on his bare feet…..
This is just suggestions, the hook is great, try writing in first person and then change it to third, you may find it easier to to write less passive.
I agree with the others who said there is an intriguing hook–what will he find when he opens the door. You have set up a suspenseful situation. I also like the way he seems to have idealized the situation, from his “sweetheart Alicia” to the specificity of fish and chips, the notion of walking in the sand…all of it is very idyllic. I get the feeling that the truth of the matter will be the exact opposite.
I also agree with others who’s commented that there does seem to be a lot of telling. The details aren’t all that specific–for example “always beautiful sun…” isn’t very descriptive. You may also want to consider limiting the number of sentences that start in this fashion:
Hoping to perpetrate
Getting out of the car
Walking out of the office
There’s nothing wrong with it this way; this type of phrasing tends to get a little sing-songy in the brain for me, if that makes sense.
You may also want to limit the use of adverbs and try describing things without using an adverb. It’s difficult but you’d be surprised at what you can come up with when you don’t use an adverb.
I Liked it, I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened. A couple of fthings to watch – the language is generally quite formal and then the aithor uses the term ‘wised up’ which I thought was a bit too slangly and didn’t chime with the rest of the style of language. Also be careful of too many cliches such as ‘bowels of the earth’.
Thanks for you excerpt! You’ve already gotten some wonderful feedback, most of which I feel is spot-on.
I think you’ve established a nice tone in this piece—sombre and suspenseful. From the first few lines, I’m thinking something bad is about to happen. By the last line, I’m positive it will. Good job.
As some others have said:
-You’re doing a lot of telling and not a whole lot of showing. A few more well-placed ‘showing’ details will help bring this excerpt to life.
-Yes, the numbers five and ten should be spelled out
-You use some unnecessary adverbs like excitedly, slowly, gently. Try showing us these things instead of telling us
Overall, I think this is a good excerpt that just needs some revision. You’re well on your way!
Thanks again 🙂
There’s a good hook in there, and some hints of character development. However, a lot of the description seems extraneous or repetitive.
Nice build up! I want to know what happens once he goes inside. Nicely written but I would tighten this up a bit and remove anything that does not move the story forward, develop a character, or describe a scene.
I read each sentence and give it that test.
Some other tightening suggestions:
“always beautiful sun as it set into the waves.” could be replaced with “sunset over the surf”. Sunsets are implicitly beautiful.
And “He excitedly jumped into his car” could be “He jumped into his car” Jumped implies excitement.
But after all that keep in mind I am a beginner. Keep writing!
Like it, just a few things that maybe could be written different, “until the sun had well and truly disappeared,” sound a bit cliche, maybe something different to descripe the setting sun. “Surprise his sweetheart, Alice.” Why not create a bit is mystery and not tell the reader, that Alice is his sweetheart. Also, ‘always beautiful sun.” describe why the sun is beautiful. and lastly, “when he arrived home and found the door was already open. Put some emotion at to how it felt to find the door open; fear, surprise, alarm. describe what he’s feeling.
the piece is good, Keep writing, it’s a learning process
I agree with all of the other comments – I feel it is a little stiff – but I think that will come with editing. Good luck!