This site will self destruct in 2 months, March 17. It will come back, and be familiar and at the same time completely different. All content will be deleted. Backup anything important. --- Staff
So we open up and it's a beautiful day. Evelyn is walking to work today, even though it's about eight blocks away, because she loves the city in spring. No. Wait. I don't think I like that. Too cheerful for what's to come. Ok, so maybe we open up and it's a miserable day. Buckets of rain are falling, it's cold, and there is no sign of let-up in sight. Evelyn is walking to work today because her car broke down and she doesn't have the money to fix it. She missed the bus and she doesn't want to pay for a cab, so she runs to work, huddled in a coat. It's only four blocks away, so she thinks she can handle it.
Evelyn scrambles down the street, hiding from the rain beneath her coat. She looks horrible. The city around her looks horrible.
She is not the only victim of the weather. Dozens of others race between buildings, looking for protection but being thwarted by the swiftly changing winds. The roads are piled for miles, clogged with numerous accidents and light failures. The gutters are overflowing with trash and sewage, the rising waters reminding the city what kind of ground it is really built on.
Evelyn darts around the sidewalk, struggling to make it to work on time, or at least an acceptable time. Her soaked suit slows her progress. Her heels betray her speed. She begins to cry in a bit of frustration. Everything is working against her today, but still she trudges through it, fighting unaware for her final hour of life.
It’s a befitting setting, isn’t it? I don’t think it’s right, though. Too depressing. Especially if her upcoming death is revealed so early. Maybe a beautiful day is better. Maybe used as a sharp contrast between life and death. Evelyn can walk around on a beautiful day, unaware of her death, when all of the sudden she is struck down, but rather than dying depressingly, all she can think about is how wonderful the world really is. The readers can’t know about it, either. Her death has to be a surprise. That’s the only way the message is going to be effective. Actually, that might be a little preachy. I don’t want to sound preachy. Everyone has already been preached to. Never mind a beautiful day, then. Maybe just a normal day. Yeah. An average, normal, every day type of day, the type of day that everyone has and everyone can relate to. Her death will seem more immediate then. Readers will like that.
But I need to keep readers reading. If I start out on a normal day in a normal street with a normal woman, few people are going to be interested. So maybe her death is known. Maybe she knows about her death. Maybe she knows about her death and is terrified about it coming, so she looks around every corner cautiously but is still trying to get to work on time. Maybe she gets so paranoid that she forgets to check the most obvious places that death may come from.
When faced with death, most cower and hide from the world. They think that if they can seal themselves off from reality, death will become an abstraction. Tragically, this is not the case. Death is as real as life, and in order to successfully avoid the inevitability of death, one must avoid life all together.
Evelyn understands this concept better than most, so while those who know death is imminent face it in a dark corner, Evelyn faces is it in the midst of everyday life. She woke this morning like she would any other morning. She brushed her teeth, took a warm shower, ate eggs and drank coffee, watched the news, and kissed her husband goodbye. She knew she wasn’t going to see him again. If you asked her how she knew, she wouldn’t tell you. Her instinct was always powerful in these sorts of situations.
The day was just like any other day. The city was in its natural state of work. Evelyn always left home early so she would have enough to time to walk to work leisurely, but today she wasn’t so sure she wanted to walk. She hesitated out on the sidewalk before strolling over to the corner and checking the bus schedule.
The #19 bus at 8:15. The #19 bus would get her to work and only for $1.25. It was still 25 minutes away, though. Evelyn reasoned with herself. She was being silly. She has walked to work everyday for the past two years without incident. Even in the rain and snow, she had always been ok. Today was an ordinary day, even if it was the day of her death, and there was no reason to treat it differently.
Alright, so maybe the death overtones are a little heavy, but I like this. It establishes suspense. Granted, the suspense it establishes is common and cliché and the narrative is far from original, but at least it establishes something. Maybe I can downplay it a little. The tone definitely needs to be lighter. Well, maybe.
Even though it was a one-way street, Evelyn looked both ways. She crossed quickly and kept close to the building once on the other side. One can never be too careful on their death-day.
She tried to avoid people entirely, weaving across the sidewalk as she passed other travelers. She nearly ran when passing beggars, especially one particularly grimy looking fellow who from his gritty nest of cardboard boxes and newspapers smiled a yellow-toothed grin and asked in a croaked voice whether or not she had any time to hear his story. It’s ironic that often the most pressing threat to life is posed by others living.
Certainly not the most exciting writing. It’s fairly heavy and slow, in fact. Maybe it’s time to throw in the tragic and sudden death. Well, sudden but expected. Expected yet unexpected. I have to avoid getting preachy here, again. I don’t want to get preachy. It’s just got to end, but with something of a shock. It has to have value.
Evelyn stepped into her office slightly relieved but as worried as ever. The day had just begun. She now had to sit and work in a room 33 stories off the ground, a room that could easily become a tomb of steel and concrete. Maybe she’d electrocute herself while working near a socket or in a closet. Maybe the elevator cable would break when she was on her way down to the lobby for lunch. Maybe she’d choke on a cucumber from her daily salad. Maybe a criminal would hold up the office for money and shoot her for the fun of it.
No. This isn’t going anywhere. Toss it. Go back. Go back to the people. She’ll die on the street where all the tension was built up.
Evelyn tried to avoid people entirely, weaving across the sidewalk as she passed other travelers. She tried not to run past them. But when passing one particularly grimy looking fellow, who from his gritty nest of cardboard boxes and newspapers, stood up, smiled a yellow-toothed grin, and approached her in a croaked voice with a plea to hear his story, she panicked and broke into a small sprint. The beggar shouted after her, prompting her to run even faster. Her pace was reckless.
As she jumped into the street, she lost her footing in the gutter and she fell and slid across the pavement. She glanced up in time to see bus #19 slam into her body.
Oh, that’s terrible. No one’s going to buy that. It’s too contrived. It’s too ironic. Death has to come in a truly unpredictable way rather than a falsely unpredictable way. Death needs to wear white rather than black.
Ok, go back further maybe, to the beginning of the day. How many people expect to die right after they wake up? That’d be a bad time to go. You know you’re dying but you’re too groggy to make anything of it.
Evelyn woke this morning as she would any other morning. She brushed her teeth, took a warm shower, ate eggs and drank coffee, watched the news, and kissed her husband goodbye. She stepped outside to begin her normal walk to work and took a deep breath of the city air.
Meanwhile, 15 floors over her head, a wrench drops from the clutches of a window worker and plummets to the ground below.
That’s worthless. A worthless story. A woman gets stricken by a fumbled wrench. I don’t think people want to read about that. It’s uninteresting. A woman leads a worthless life to come to a worthless end. That’s not a story people want to read. People want to read a story about something.
A woman lives; a woman dies. Maybe Evelyn would be more interesting if she hadn’t lived at all. Would people mourn her then?
No, this isn’t going anywhere. Scrap it. Toss the story.
Stick to lost love and gangsters. That's what people really want to read about.
| Hey there Egg!|
Its been awhile. Glad to see you have posted some new work :-)
I have to say you did a pretty good job writing of a story with out having a story to write. It seems like maybe this is the result of some writing frustration?
Its hard to comment on this piece since you yourself have done all of the commenting. The author has critiqued himself.
The conflict of the story, has nothing to to with Evelyn. You don't feel for her, relate to her, or anything of the sort. Instead, the conflict is with the author, since we the reader get to know him, his thoughts, his feelings etc. The author is the protaganist not Evelyn, and that author may or may not actually be you.
I suppose its a matter of interpretation. I prefer to think the author is NOT you, as I feel more can drawn from it that way. It seems more thoughtful if you created this character, instead of looking into a mirror.
All in all, this piece was simple, and got a point across, even if it was sort of a mental rant, or vent. It was very entertaining and I suppose thats what ultimatly matters. Did this reader enjoy reading this? Yes. Yes this reader did. Nice write Egg
Having scrolled down and read your other 2 latest posts, I noticed a bit of a pattern. These past three pieces, have been very different from your usual style. And from what your first piece suggests is that this is intentional.
Normal. Boring. Everyday. Mundane. Real.
Please don't take those as descriptions of your work. They are however the new themes you seem to be toying with. Evelyn would die a normal, unintersting, sad death. Shirly and Will were normal boring people. Writing is not easy, and often complicating, even when you think you have it down.
I may be stating the obvious, but incase I'm not, it does seem like a true effort to expand on yourself. Lost love and gangsters sell because people want to relate to the lost love for understanding/support. and gangsters are an exciting escape from everyday life.
If you truely are trying to explore the truth, (truth is essentially what you are getting at) your going to run into some problems.
Barthelme says that while writers want to be straightforward and honest, they can't be because then nothing really happens. You are "speaking the speakable". Readers are looking for the "as-yet unspeakable". Again, I could be way off in my inturpretation of your latest work, and if I am just straighten me out.
I am curious to see where you are taking all this, as most of your work is "expiremental", but I have to say its refreshing to see something else. Enforcing the fact that writers are not xerox machines. Let me know how off or on I am.
|| Posted on 2006-04-25 00:00:00 | by Scrumpy | [ Reply to This ] || Hey Eggman! Ohh 800 that is a big number! I really liked how you took a writers block-ish stance, and made it into something so... substancy! Sorry about my lack of making sense-ness, I've been studying chem since 10 am today. It is now quarter to 7. Anyways, What I'm really trying to say is that the character everyone is really interested in is the writer him/herself. It shows all the complicating though processes one goes through when writing a story, and shows how a fabulous idea gets beaten and battered and turned inside out until you just can't work with it anymore. I also liked how you could see it coming, as the story starts out bigger and continues to get shorter. |
Also, I really think you had something when Evelyn knew that she was going to die, and couldn't explain that feeling, but she knew she was never going to see her husband again.
No one can say that isn't real, because everyone who has died surely cannot tell us about it.
Even when people come close to dying, and live, thats just fate, and God, and what have you. I think its a fresh way to look at things. I think it's more of a feeling than a fear though.
The ending, particularly the last line really got me thinking though. People really have distanced themselves from death, and it is so common now-a-days on the news and all, so that we have become detached from the sadness and effect that death has.
OK. I think I'm babbling now.
|| Posted on 2006-04-23 00:00:00 | by andrya | [ Reply to This ] || It's very difficult to deconstruct a deconstructionist piece of writing, thanks so much for that. You've already subverted all the clichés yourself, and made the story self aware in an almost Brechtian way -- if there's a fourth wall in cyberspace, it's pretty well eradicated by something like this. |
Fact is, most people do die senseless and undramatic deaths. Without all the melodrama of mood music and professional mourners, death is terribly unromantic.
The voices used here are both dry, but in entirely different ways. The story voice is somewhat matter-of-fact, a simple relation of events, really not even bothering to spice it up with pointless emotion -- the anti-melodrama, in fact. And the writer voice is ironic, self mocking, cynical -- struggling to come up with something fresh and new, but knowing that the audience is going to reject it, being uninterested in anything remotely resembling reality. (Unless it's reality as portrayed in "reality tv", the ultimate oxymoron.)
Well, since I'm a confirmed cynic myself, I have to say that I like this style of writing immensely. If I have a single suggestion it would be to employ the use of ellipses in your writer voice parts... make it a little more musing, perhaps. But then, perhaps your muse doesn't muse...
|| Posted on 2006-04-23 00:00:00 | by Fantastic Freya | [ Reply to This ] |