Author Topic: My Life - Rebooted  (Read 2304 times)

Mr. Barry

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My Life - Rebooted
« on: January 09, 2018, 09:39:16 AM »
OK, I am putting your suggestions to use.  Does this sound better?   

The Beginning
Drama seems to appear wherever I am.   

Even before I was born, there was drama.  Let me share one of my family’s favorite stories.

Our house was the white one with the green trim on the corner of our block.  My parents, known to the little block long community as Mr. Barry and Miss Barbara, bought the house soon after their marriage, and had lived there nearly five years before the glorious news that I was on the way broke.   

Everybody knew Miss Barbara and shared in her joy as she prepared to become a Mother.   She graciously accepted New Mom advice, and offered to baby sit neighborhood children.  She knew all the children by name, and many of them would run up to her and show her the latest bug, leaf, or other discovery of their young lives.

Walking was good for her as the pregnancy advanced, so she frequently walked down to the other end of the block where the street abruptly ended at a tall chain link fence, topped with barbed wire and dotted with signs that proclaimed the unlawfulness of entering the land beyond. The land belonged to the Naval Air Station where Mr. Barry was serving as a security officer.

When visiting the grassy fence area, Miss Barbara enjoyed watching the airplanes take off and land.  Living so close to the base airport, she could identify nearly all the different kinds of aircraft by their unique sound as they made their way down the runway to an elegant take off, or as they gracefully descended to a smooth landing.  The newest planes did not even have propellers; they had jets!  These would whoosh to life there on the tarmac, then steadily increase in both pitch and volume to an ear shattering whine as they gained momentum and reached for the sky.   Landings were equally exciting as the jets gently touched down and let the new miracle of reverse thrust bring them to a rumbling halt. 

On the day in question, Miss Barbara planned to water a set of three little trees her father had planted in the front yard for his expected grandchild, and then walk down to the fence to watch the planes. 

The task of watering was progressing well when a strange far off popping, booming sound tickled her ear.  Miss Barbara looked in the direction of the sound, and only saw a small squadron of Navy Panther jets off in the distance, moving into a formation.  One of the jets, however, did not fully take its place, and peeled off in an odd direction.  It slowly turned and seemed to be heading back to the base, accompanied by one of the other jets. 
 
She kept observing, but the sound was not right.  Panther jets do not sound like that in the air.  This one seemed to be choking or something.

Miss Barbara kept watering, but also kept a watchful eye on the misbehaving jet.  It was wobbling now, but was clearly heading in her direction.  It was getting low; too low. 

The choking jet engine issued a final gasp and went eerily silent. The jet soundlessly continued its wobbly path and slowly lost altitude.  It was four or five blocks away, and nearing tree top level. 

Miss Barbara worried that the plane might not make it over the fence to the relative safety of the Navy Base.   She said a silent prayer for the pilot, and wondered if it was someone she knew.   

By observing how the nose of the plane kept jerking upward, she could tell that the pilot must have been putting up quite a battle to keep the plane aloft. 

Two blocks away, now, and the plane barely missed the trees. 

One block away.  The plane skimmed over the last two rooftops and approached the busy street. 

After it crossed the street, the wheels seemed mere inches away from the house across the street. 

The front landing gear brushed the roof of the next house, and the plane bounced upward, but not much.  It was enough, however, to keep the plane from plunging into the third house. 

Another harsher brush of that third roof, and the nose of the plane reached upward one more time. 

It was like watching a roller coaster ride out of control. 

The plane’s right wing dipped just enough to tear into the roof of the fourth house, and the plane began a slow and fatal cartwheel.  Crash forces took their toll on the body of the plane, causing parts to tear away and spread throughout the neighborhood.  Unspent fuel spewed from the ruptured near full tanks, burst into flame and splashed nearby houses, yards, and people.

Miss Barbara was a silent witness to this tragedy.  She was safe standing by the small trees in her corner of the neighborhood, but many of her friends were not safe.

The horror of the moment was too much for Miss Barbara to bear.  Her mind switched off in a drastic effort to protect her sanity, letting her body remain standing next to those three young trees, water hose in hand. 

A rescue crew gently cared for Miss Barbara. They determined that she must be in a deep state of shock as their questions went unanswered, and their commands went unperformed. They decided that the best place for Miss Barbara, in her delicate condition, was the local hospital.

Meanwhile, Mr. Barry was reacting to the disaster as he was trained to do.  He barked orders and took orders.  He secured areas that needed securing and directed emergency crews that needed directing.   All from inside the base.
 
For the next eighteen hours he performed his duties like the professional he was. He knew from reports which neighborhood was hit, but he did not know which houses were hit.  When he was released from duty, he did not know if he had a home to go to.  Or a wife.  Or a child.
 
Mr. Barry anxiously walked the two blocks from the base gate his little white cracker box house with the green trim, set on the corner of his neighborhood.  Upon his arrival, he saw that the house was unscathed.  The house was empty.  The phone was not working, and he began to worry.  Soon, though, he was greeted by concerned neighbors who told him that Miss Barbara was taken to the hospital. 

He rushed to her side, and listened to the experts who calmly told him that the baby was fine, and would probably be born any time, considering the circumstances.   Miss Barbara was coming out of her deep shock, and wanted to go home.  The experts wanted to wait and observe.   

As it turned out, Miss Barbara was already a bit past her given due date, and nothing was happening.  Mr. Barry and Miss Barbara insisted on going home, and they won that battle.   

Time marched on, and the Late May/Early June due date slid further and further into the past. The experts were getting worried, and tried to encourage Miss Barbara to submit to various medical procedures to force birth to occur.  Miss Barbara declined, and informed the experts that this was between her and God, and to leave her alone.   

It was not until the eighth day of August that I made my grand entrance into this world. 

And the drama kept on coming. 

Mark Hoffmann

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Re: My Life - Rebooted
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 11:03:13 AM »
I have not seen previous versions or comments on them so this is first impressions.

I read the whole thing, so it was interesting enough that I'd do so. BUT it's got aircraft in it so you'd hooked me with that.

You have a slight tendency to write in witness statement style. And, you fall back on cliches a bit too often - eerily silent. But as I don't know you, perhaps that's how you speak. Whatever, I'd suggest you avoid both if you can.

I'm sure the jet incident is the re-telling of a re-telling but some of it does not quite ring true. I'm not sure if this is a problem or not. What I would say is,  if you have embellished the description based on what you think a jet might do in that situation, then take out those embellishments and stick to the actual descriptions. It might also be OK to say things appeared to be happening - though others may have a view on this. 

Mark
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hillwalker3000

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Re: My Life - Rebooted
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2018, 11:07:32 AM »
Quote
Does this sound better?
In a word - No.

Quote
Drama seems to appear wherever I am.
That's a very clunky sentence. 'Drama seems to appear'? Is that the best you can come up with to hook your readers?

Quote
Even before I was born, there was drama.  Let me share one of my family’s favorite stories.
This is just as bad. It invites the response, 'We'd rather you didn't'.
I suggest you get rid of the cheesy introduction and simply get on with the drama itself. Building up the hype this way is asking for trouble.

The problem is, it quickly becomes clear that you're unable to focus on the story itself. Instead, we get sidetracked by banalities. Describing the house is fine - we can see it in our minds. But the rest of the second paragraph is 100% ballast. Why should we care what your parents were known as, or when they bought the house? And the closing sentence is a corker:

Quote
. . . lived there nearly five years before the glorious news that I was on the way broke.

It's impossible to take anyone seriously when they see themselves as such a gift to the world. It's the kind of vain nonsense I'd expect Trump to come up with.

The 'story' continues to plod along with the minutiae of normal life. Maybe it's terribly important to you that Miss Barbara looked after the neighbourhood kids or that she walked a lot. But to the uninvolved reader it's boring, to be honest.

And so it continues:

Quote
When visiting the grassy fence area, again, very awkward phrasing Miss Barbara enjoyed watching the airplanes take off and land. Wow Living so close to the base airport, she could identify nearly all the different kinds of aircraft by their unique sound as they made their way down the runway to an elegant take off, or as they gracefully descended to a smooth landing.  The newest planes did not even have propellers; they had jets!  These would whoosh to life there on the tarmac, then steadily increase in both pitch and volume to an ear shattering whine as they gained momentum and reached for the sky.   Landings were equally exciting as the jets gently touched down and let the new miracle of reverse thrust bring them to a rumbling halt. Why are you telling us this stuff?????
 

Quote
On the day in question, Which day in question? It's the first time you mention any particular day. Miss Barbara planned to water a set of three little trees her father had planted in the front yard for his expected grandchild, and then walk down to the fence to watch the planes.  Yawn.

Quote
The task of watering was progressing well Can you not see how this tediously slow style of story-telling is likely to make readers put the book down and find something else to read? when a strange far off popping, booming sound tickled her ear Uh?.  Miss Barbara looked in the direction of the sound, and only saw a small squadron of Navy Panther jets off in the distance, moving into a formation.  One of the jets, however, did not fully take its place, and peeled off in an odd direction.  It slowly turned and seemed to be heading back to the base, accompanied by one of the other jets.

I'll admit, it was difficult to feel any sense of drama when you took so long to tell us the aircraft was about to crash. And when it finally did, I'm wondering why you needed 330 words to describe something that presumably took less than 30 seconds.

Overall impression, presumably you like the sound of your own voice. That doesn't mean you're a wonderful raconteur. Far from it. You distance the reader from the action to such an extent that the story lacks any sense of drama. You strangle the life out of it by making us suffer a minute-by-minute report of an event that happened even before you were born. It's a witness statement not a story.

I'm afraid I found the rest of the 'story' unreadable. It's like sitting at a bus stop with a stranger and being forced to listen as they reel off their medical conditions. Maybe you should also take a look at how many times you use the term 'Miss Barbara'. You can string sentences together in a grammatically correct way, but you can't seem to fashion a story that will grip the reader's imagination. Maybe it's because you're too close to the events and feel unable to discard the dross.

Quote
It was not until the eighth day of August that I made my grand entrance into this world hilarious
And the drama kept on coming.

Apologies for the over-critical review, but I guess I'm one of the many who will not be in a hurry to find out what happens next.

H3K
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 11:10:18 AM by hillwalker3000 »

DAnuchan

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Re: My Life - Rebooted
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 04:45:38 PM »
As Hillwalker outlined, your story is loaded with fluff. It might be interesting for office workers standing at a water cooler to hear, but readers are impatient and want the information quicker. After you've hooked a reader, then you can fluff it up, delaying reader gratification. But you've fluffed up before the reader is hooked, making it easy to put down the book.

What I'd like to mention, though, is the story you have. It's about one dramatic event before you were born. That's fine, but you narrate the story from your mother's viewpoint. We know what happened, whereas the drama is with the father.

Instead, I'd recommend keep it in the father's viewpoint throughout, since his view is the interesting one. He sees where the plane went down, he knows it's his neighborhood, he knows the plane is bouncing over the houses, but he has a responsibility to perform his tasks first. He's afraid the worst has happened. He rushes home at his first opportunity, sees his house is fine, but his wife is gone. Neighbors send him to the hospital, and he thinks perhaps the accident induced labor (?) Instead, he finds his wife treated for shock and still pregnant.

This way, the reader doesn't know everything is fine until the end of the story.

Note: this is just a suggestion. If you don't like it, you can continue with the structure you have.

Dawn

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Re: My Life - Rebooted
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2018, 05:07:00 PM »
OK, I am putting your suggestions to use.  Does this sound better?   

The Beginning
Drama seems to appear wherever I am.   

Even before I was born, there was drama.  Let me share one of my family’s favorite stories.

Our house was the white one with the green trim on the corner of our block.  My parents, known to the little block long community as Mr. Barry and Miss Barbara, bought the house soon after their marriage, and had lived there nearly five years before the glorious news that I was on the way broke.   

Everybody knew Miss Barbara and shared in her joy as she prepared to become a Mother.   She graciously accepted New Mom advice, and offered to baby sit neighborhood children.  She knew all the children by name, and many of them would run up to her and show her the latest bug, leaf, or other discovery of their young lives.

Walking was good for her as the pregnancy advanced, so she frequently walked down to the other end of the block where the street abruptly ended at a tall chain link fence, topped with barbed wire and dotted with signs that proclaimed the unlawfulness of entering the land beyond. The land belonged to the Naval Air Station where Mr. Barry was serving as a security officer.

When visiting the grassy fence area, Miss Barbara enjoyed watching the airplanes take off and land.  Living so close to the base airport, she could identify nearly all the different kinds of aircraft by their unique sound as they made their way down the runway to an elegant take off, or as they gracefully descended to a smooth landing.  The newest planes did not even have propellers; they had jets!  These would whoosh to life there on the tarmac, then steadily increase in both pitch and volume to an ear shattering whine as they gained momentum and reached for the sky.   Landings were equally exciting as the jets gently touched down and let the new miracle of reverse thrust bring them to a rumbling halt. 

On the day in question, Miss Barbara planned to water a set of three little trees her father had planted in the front yard for his expected grandchild, and then walk down to the fence to watch the planes. 

The task of watering was progressing well when a strange far off popping, booming sound tickled her ear.  Miss Barbara looked in the direction of the sound, and only saw a small squadron of Navy Panther jets off in the distance, moving into a formation.  One of the jets, however, did not fully take its place, and peeled off in an odd direction.  It slowly turned and seemed to be heading back to the base, accompanied by one of the other jets. 
 
She kept observing, but the sound was not right.  Panther jets do not sound like that in the air.  This one seemed to be choking or something.

Miss Barbara kept watering, but also kept a watchful eye on the misbehaving jet.  It was wobbling now, but was clearly heading in her direction.  It was getting low; too low. 

The choking jet engine issued a final gasp and went eerily silent. The jet soundlessly continued its wobbly path and slowly lost altitude.  It was four or five blocks away, and nearing tree top level. 

Miss Barbara worried that the plane might not make it over the fence to the relative safety of the Navy Base.   She said a silent prayer for the pilot, and wondered if it was someone she knew.   

By observing how the nose of the plane kept jerking upward, she could tell that the pilot must have been putting up quite a battle to keep the plane aloft. 

Two blocks away, now, and the plane barely missed the trees. 

One block away.  The plane skimmed over the last two rooftops and approached the busy street. 

After it crossed the street, the wheels seemed mere inches away from the house across the street. 

The front landing gear brushed the roof of the next house, and the plane bounced upward, but not much.  It was enough, however, to keep the plane from plunging into the third house. 

Another harsher brush of that third roof, and the nose of the plane reached upward one more time. 

It was like watching a roller coaster ride out of control. 

The plane’s right wing dipped just enough to tear into the roof of the fourth house, and the plane began a slow and fatal cartwheel.  Crash forces took their toll on the body of the plane, causing parts to tear away and spread throughout the neighborhood.  Unspent fuel spewed from the ruptured near full tanks, burst into flame and splashed nearby houses, yards, and people.

Miss Barbara was a silent witness to this tragedy.  She was safe standing by the small trees in her corner of the neighborhood, but many of her friends were not safe.

The horror of the moment was too much for Miss Barbara to bear.  Her mind switched off in a drastic effort to protect her sanity, letting her body remain standing next to those three young trees, water hose in hand. 

A rescue crew gently cared for Miss Barbara. They determined that she must be in a deep state of shock as their questions went unanswered, and their commands went unperformed. They decided that the best place for Miss Barbara, in her delicate condition, was the local hospital.

Meanwhile, Mr. Barry was reacting to the disaster as he was trained to do.  He barked orders and took orders.  He secured areas that needed securing and directed emergency crews that needed directing.   All from inside the base.
 
For the next eighteen hours he performed his duties like the professional he was. He knew from reports which neighborhood was hit, but he did not know which houses were hit.  When he was released from duty, he did not know if he had a home to go to.  Or a wife.  Or a child.
 
Mr. Barry anxiously walked the two blocks from the base gate his little white cracker box house with the green trim, set on the corner of his neighborhood.  Upon his arrival, he saw that the house was unscathed.  The house was empty.  The phone was not working, and he began to worry.  Soon, though, he was greeted by concerned neighbors who told him that Miss Barbara was taken to the hospital. 

He rushed to her side, and listened to the experts who calmly told him that the baby was fine, and would probably be born any time, considering the circumstances.   Miss Barbara was coming out of her deep shock, and wanted to go home.  The experts wanted to wait and observe.   

As it turned out, Miss Barbara was already a bit past her given due date, and nothing was happening.  Mr. Barry and Miss Barbara insisted on going home, and they won that battle.   

Time marched on, and the Late May/Early June due date slid further and further into the past. The experts were getting worried, and tried to encourage Miss Barbara to submit to various medical procedures to force birth to occur.  Miss Barbara declined, and informed the experts that this was between her and God, and to leave her alone.   

It was not until the eighth day of August that I made my grand entrance into this world. 

And the drama kept on coming.

I have to agree with the others. There is a fantastic book called 'Write tight' by William Brohough -
 that book will change how you write forever https://www.amazon.co.uk/Write-Tight-Exactly-Precision-Power/dp/1402210515