Constructive criticism on this short sketch please.

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  sherryherrod263 3 months ago.

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  • #346892

    coraxuvuva
    Participant

    Hi everyone. I’m after some criticism on this short sketch please. I’m interested how it comes across.
    Thanks.

    He sat in the lifeless, sterile corridor, head bowed, gazing vacantly at his open palms. The only sounds were the distant rhythmic beeping of the hospital machinery and the soft squeak of rubber soles upon the highly polished floor.
    His hands were greasy with motor oil. He’d been in the garage mending an old petrol mower when Lizzie called. As she gave him the news, his stomach gave a deep, sickening churn. Immediately he dropped the receiver, rummaged frantically for his car keys and rushed out through the front door, leaving filthy hand-prints all over the kitchen. He smiled briefly to himself. She’ll have my guts for garters when she gets home, he thought.
    Suddenly, he was aware of a pair of brown Hush Puppies in front of him. He looked up to be confronted by a middle aged asian doctor with a congenial smile.
    “Mr. Morris?” He asked in a thick sub-continental accent.
    William began to stand. “Yes.”
    “No please, sit.” Said the doctor coolly, placing a soft hand on his shoulder.
    The next minute or two was a blur, both visually and emotionally. His eyes had welled and tears overflowed and started to spill down his weathered cheeks. He tried again to stand but his legs were numb with shock.
    “You can see her if you wish.” Said the doctor serenely.
    William pushed himself up, his knees creaking, and forced himself to stand to his full six foot height. His large strong hands shaking visibly, he turned the door handle and entered the room quietly as if trying not to wake her.
    The room was completely still. He crept slowly over to the bed where his wife, his soul mate of over forty years, lay. She looked as if she could have been sleeping. Silent and peaceful, no trace of pain or worry on her face now.
    He pulled a chair close to her, wincing slightly as the feet scraped along the floor, momentarily cutting through the silence.
    He sat, his bold blue eyes now flooded, and took her small, delicate hand in his. Cupping it as though it was the most fragile and precious object on earth. Grief overwhelmed him, crashed through him like a wave. He brought her hand to his face. He needed to feel her skin against his one last time. As he held it there, a single tear streamed down his cheek and on to her long slender finger, stopping only as it reached the gold band with which he had proclaimed his undying love all those years before.
    “What am I going to do without you?” He said softly.
    He sat there thinking. Contemplating spending only the second night apart from his wife in nearly forty six years.

  • #655800

    Anonymous

    Hello turnhamdamian.

    Your segment is touching.

    The only comments I have that stood out would be to eliminate the tags you have after your quotes. For example, ‘He said…cooly’ or any adverb as such. It’s not necessary and readers knows who’s saying what. If you have several characters in a room then it would be ok but not when you know who the speaker is.

    Also, you mentioned the number of years they were married twice close together. I’d cut out the second one

    Hope this helps. I would continue to read this story to find out what happens next.

  • #655801

    cypher
    Participant

    You made me gulp several times while reading this little sketch, and I hardly noticed the errors (like the period instead of a comma followed by a capital letter (as in … sit.” Said … ).

    If you can keep a reader glued to the story, the way you made me do here, it shows that you have the makings of a great writer. Well done. Just brush up a bit on your grammar. 🙂

    (PS: One nitpick: A single tear cannot ‘stream’. It takes several tears to produce that. Your tear would have to trickle.)

  • #655802

    Anonymous

    I think some of your depictions are repetitive. For example, the last paragraph.

    turnhamdamian@gmail.com:
    “Contemplating” and “he sat there” mean very much the same thing. Sort of like the phrase “contemplating your navel” is considered a description of someone not moving. Phrasing like that should be for particularly dramatic moments, if used at all.

    A lot of times, less is more. Consider:

    You wrote:
    > a single tear streamed down his cheek and on to her long slender finger, stopping only as it reached the gold band with which he had proclaimed his undying love all those years before.

    But what if you leave that off?

    >[A] single tear streamed down his cheek and onto her long slender finger, stopping at the gold band on that finger.

    There’s an untold story behind that. I as a reader know it. And then I see:
    > Contemplating spending only the second night apart from his wife in nearly forty six years.

    Have you ever heard of the six-word short story? It’s frequently attributed to Hemingway, but I’m not sure if that’s so or not. Here it is:

    > Baby shoes for sale. Never used.

    That affected me deeply when I first looked at it. It doesn’t actually tell us anything. And then I wondered who would be selling baby shoes. And then I wondered why never used. My head went to a miscarriage, and my heart broke in that moment.

    That’s a long-winded way of saying that we don’t need to tell the reader all the blanks. Sometimes, it’s good to let the reader have leeway.

    We know what that gold band is. The term is almost a cliche in and of itself. We know what it means. It’s a beautiful image. Let it be about the feeling, not the image.

  • #655803

    sherryherrod263
    Participant

    Hi, turnhamdamiam.

    Nice little piece.

    Feels more like a literary sketch than Romance. Losing one’s love doesn’t generally fit in the romance genre because the expected HEA (Happily Every After) doesn’t seem possible. But, this is a sketch, and there are a number of ways to massage it, so maybe it will show up at the end of the story?

    It seems more tell than show. Plus, there might be too many adjectives and adverbs. And, since it’s a sketch, MC should be introduced immediately. Here’s a few examples with suggested changes that might give some extra oomph:

    He sat in the lifeless, sterile corridor, head bowed, gazing vacantly at his open palms.

    Suggestion: William sat in the sterile corridor staring at his open palms. (sterile implies lifeless but not the other way round, and in this setting it is doubtful he would be holding his palms at face height)

    The only sounds were the Distant rhythmic beeping of the hospital machinery and the soft squeak of rubber soles upon the highly polished floor.

    Suggestion: Distant rhythmic beeping of hospital machinery and the soft squeak of rubber soles on the highly polished floor tried to intrude on his near-trance. (showing in place of telling, there’s some action there. Or, at least some attempted action 😆 )

    His hands were greasy with motor oil. He’d been in the garage mending an old petrol mower when Lizzie called.

    Suggestion: Motor oil still covered his hands because he’d been mending an old mower when Lizzie called. (again, one word, and one sentence, can take the place of two here. Is this detail important to the story? It’s the only place it’s mentioned, so maybe deleting it completely would help)

    Over all, the sketch evokes emotion and might wring out more from readers if tightened up a bit and given some action.

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