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The Lights Begin To Twinkle (revised)



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Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:53 am
Firestarter says...



If Achilles was dipped in the River Styx as a child in order to attain invulnerability, then Felix Desdemona surely was beaten half to death by a horseshoe in his youth, such was the unbridled fortune which blessed his early years. Whether or not his parents prophesied his meteoric rise and named their son by this auspicious divination, it is without argument that Felix navigated his infancy, adolescence and young adulthood with implausible fortune. On the day he departed his mother’s womb, his father found a winning lottery ticket on the floor of the hospital waiting room and the next day the Desdemona family became multi-millionaires. At the tender age of three months, he escaped the watches of his babysitting grandmother and attempted to descend the long flight of steps in their new country house. He smashed his head innumerable times. The astounded paediatrician found no traces of skull damage or any signs of injury whatsoever. His parents called him their little lucky charm; national newspapers nicknamed him Superbaby. Not once over the next five years did young Felix visit a doctor or a hospital. By the time he was six, his father was a highly-successful venture capitalist and his mother realised her lifelong dream of becoming a published writer, penning a line of popular mystery titles. Felix took up cricket at an early age and the only time he was ever out in an innings was when he became bored on the field and kicked his own wicket on purpose. If anything went wrong in his childhood, the unending luck created an arrogant, reckless and conceited individual who was unaware of the plights and tribulations of the common person.

At fourteen, Felix had become a revered figure at school. He attracted the boys and girls equally. The closest to him were not friends, but a circle of followers, and he led them on dangerous adventures every week. They took faith in his unlimited good fortune and repressed their own fears -- the confidence of Felix was so overpowering they could do nothing but agree with what he suggested.

One Wednesday morning, Felix was bored, as always, throwing stones at pigeons in the quad, invariably breaking wings with unerring accuracy. He stopped after a while and turned to his sycophants, who cautiously awaited a chance to outdo their counterparts and demonstrate the greatest degree of deference. “This is dull. Let’s go play a trick on Rhubarb Face, the tedious old bastard. He needs a bit of excitement to spice up his boring existence.” Rhubarb Face was the moniker Felix had created for the ancient Mr. Woodward, whose cheeks were permanently a deep pink, and taught the children History.

In their hearts the flatterers cried out in united wariness. But the pressure of the group is always greater than the principles of the individual, and all the followers grinned and nodded with false pleasure. Only Snail, the small, frail boy, two years the younger of Felix, who was a newcomer to the pack of minions, expressed reservations. Snail was the nickname Felix had attributed to the boy, who was unable to prevent a steady stream of mucus oozing from his nostrils daily. “B-but F-Felix,” Snail whispered, “Mr. Woodward is still sick from his accident. A fright could hurt him!” The accident the headmaster had told them all about was a heart attack which occurred two months ago while Mr. Woodward was cooking a casserole in his kitchen.

There was a collective, audible intake of breaths by the rest of the group.
Felix sighed, and clouted Snail across the back of the head. “Don’t be such a bore, Snail. Nothing will go wrong. Nothing ever goes wrong.”

Snail whimpered and his eyes grew scared. His mind was conflicted between impressing his idol and the sensible nature his parents had tried to imbue in their child.

“Well whatever, Snail, we’re going either way. You can stay here and cry if you’d like. Just don’t go telling. Nobody likes a grass,” Felix sneered, and walked briskly towards the outside window of the office of Rhubarb Face.

The group slithered away after him. Snail let out a little sob and ran in pursuit, knowing he was doing the wrong thing but, too desperate for Felix to like him, let all his good intentions disappear without a trace.

They gathered underneath the windowsill hidden from view. Felix, with a snigger, picked Snail to be the one to tap on the window to draw Rhubarb Face towards the threshold. Under the fierce stares of the group, he could do nothing to resist. His innards twisted, but he forced his shaking hand to clatter on the glass. He withdrew it sharply. They could hear no indication of movement from inside the room, only a deep spluttering cough. When nothing happened again, one of the older boys hit Snail hard on the right arm. Snail acquiesced and repeated the knock, harder this time, twice. The unmistakeable scraping of a chair and the shifting of feet on the floor pre-empted the inquisitive words of Mr. Woodward. “What the devil?”

The windowsill protruded far from the wall and the poor sight of Rhubarb Face prevented him from noticing the small crowd of schoolboys hidden beneath him. He squinted instead at the far sides of the quad, looking for the origins of the noises from other quarters. Just as he was about to forget all about it and return to his reading on Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, Felix sprang up and shouted with the full force of his voice. The attack caught Rhubarb Face utterly off-guard and he countered with a high-pitched shriek, before stumbling backward and hitting the floorboards with a sickening crunch. The group zoomed away like a swarm of bees and scattered to every available exit. Everyone made it inside before the curious eyes of the headmaster, who had been passing by in an adjacent corridor, except the unfortunate Snail. His clumsy right foot had caught on a tree root and he’d fallen badly to the ground. The headmaster angrily grabbed Snail’s arm and pulled him away to his office, while other teachers hasted to the aid of Rhubarb Face. Felix, fawned on equally by many of the staff, was never implicated and slipped away with no suspicion. Snail was suspended for his treatment of poor Mr. Woodward and later withdrawn from school by his deeply conservative Anglican parents. Mr. Woodward himself did not suffer any further heart problems but twisted his ankle and hurt his head in the fall, developed a phobia of schoolchildren and was never able to teach again.

*
Four years later, Felix surprised everybody and resisted the advice to enter university. Over-enthusiastic mentors had proclaimed his rise to the Prime Minister’s office as inevitable. But instead of further education, he invested arbitrarily in any company that caught his interest, ignoring his father’s considerable experience. Within a year he had quadrupled his already significant wealth. He became a national celebrity and took up residence in a vast apartment in London near Kensington Gardens, where a string of beautiful and famous women were photographed entering and exiting at all hours. Some said he was the luckiest man in the world. He became acquainted with the young hip circles of the city before opening a chain of trendy clubs, which became infamous for attracting vast numbers of celebrities and paparazzi like leeches. Nothing Felix touched went awry. By the age of 20, he was the most successful person of his generation.

His father died of a heart attack while playing golf. His mother, distraught by her husband’s death, slipped into a circle of depression and eventually committed suicide by drowning himself in the River Thames. Felix, who assumed he loved his parents but like most children had never considered it consciously, suffered an unfamiliar sense of emptiness at their death. Since his move away to London he had barely seen them, and felt a little guilt at not going home more, but in all truthfulness, his relationship with his parents had been perfunctory rather than willing. Nonetheless, for the first time in his life, he felt an acute sense of confused pain.

He tried to fill his new vacant feeling with faith. Felix attended church once a week, and looked for unconditional love from God, who he had never believed in till now. The source of his luck could only be from the Almighty himself. He was Chosen by his Lord. It steadied him in the aftermath of his parents’ death. But it was not everything. The emptiness did not disappear by reading the Bible and his new ways. He began to feel envy at the married couples that came to church, with their small children, and watched how they laughed and glowed, incandescent with a mysterious happiness. Although Felix understood their lives were not always so tranquil, these brief moments he spied imbued in him an inextinguishable desire to experience the same as them. The jealousy grew in him like a tumour.

He hated and misunderstood love. How elusive and incomprehensible it all was. Sex was enjoyable but he realised it was not everything. And so he prayed to God and asked him for love.
He hired a new assistant. Freya -- a pretty, intelligent girl -- was too studious and strait-laced for Felix, who favoured wild women but for some reason he approved her over countless other applicants. Over time, Freya became his only confidant, the only person who he talked to about life. She was his first ever true friend.

“What do you want in life, Felix?” she asked, over a bottle of wine one evening after work. They sat in the garden of his new purchase, a tall and classical house. Peach clouds floated in an azure sky as the sun began to set. Felix had learnt that alcohol never made him embarrassingly drunk, so he enjoyed the varied tastes of different grapes. He considered her question. It was hard for him to find an answer, because everything he ever did was based on instinct, rather than rational though. Something had always stirred him towards a purpose. When he had to think, his thoughts were muddled.

“I have everything I want. I am richer than almost anyone. I can have any woman I want. I am the most famous man in London; everyone either wants to be me, or be with me,” he said, although the confidence was not altogether natural. “What could I possibly need?”

“Friendship? Love? Are you truly happy?” Freya asked, staring deep into his eyes. Her small hand crawled across the table and found his. “Do you not see anything past sex and money?”

Felix did not know what to say. Freya always made him feel like this – unsure, lost, and stupid somehow. She managed to exploit his weaknesses and turn him fragile, like no-one else ever did. Everyone he had ever known had grovelled to him, telling him how brilliant he was, never with a word of negativity. He moved his hand away from hers and finished his glass of wine, before pouring another. “I am happy. I always have been,” he said, lying.

She saw straight through it. “You don’t believe that, Felix. There is something beneath all your cool, calm exterior. I know it. Every so often I see snippets and glances, but you hide it, scared to show anybody you might not be perfect. You might be extraordinarily lucky, but luck is not equivalent to happiness. You’re scared. Scared to show anything of yourself. You’ve never had to.”

Felix lit a cigarette and ignored her for several minutes, smoking in awkward silence.

He realised he had an incredible desire to sleep with Freya. On her first day she had made it explicit that a level of decorum should be maintained in a professional workplace when Felix had tried to flirt. Her propriety made her unattainable. And in that she became more alluring than ever. He gazed at her diminutive blue eyes.

“Don’t look at me like that,” she whispered, her voice stammering, her hands shaking.

“Why not?”

“I’m not going to have sex with you, Felix,” she said with a hardened tone, though she was visibly nervous. “I’m not that kind of girl. You can’t throw your lucky dice and make me take my clothes off.”

Felix, for a brief second, felt shame. “I didn’t expect--”

“Don’t. Ever.”

“Freya, it’s not like that,” Felix said, and found himself in a situation he had never experienced. He was not sure what to do. His confidence vanished. “I love this time I spend with you. You’re ... you’re the only person who cares for me, now my parents are gone.”

Freya looked away from him and couldn’t meet his glare. Felix realised she was crying, and felt even more lost. It was in that confused moment he realised he knew next to nothing about life or people. The unknown scared him more than anything else. He placed his hand on hers again and they watched the sun fall beyond the horizon in a blaze of peach and orange.

*

Felix and Freya fell in love. It was fast and bewildering and new and beautiful and scary. In a matter of weeks they became so close they were inseparable. The newspapers lost interest with the newly reclusive Felix Desdemona, who spent his days talking and laughing with his assistant. They spent weekends in the country, lying all day in bed, making love, drinking wine and smoking. Engulfed in one another, they forgot about everything else. Nothing else mattered anymore. Freya introduced Felix to literature, and poetry, and music, pleasures he had always given no thought to, considering them a waste of time. One night, with Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites sweetly floating in their ears, they read poems to one another.

Freya had just finished one and Felix felt entranced. “That just seems to say everything I feel in the most eloquent way possible. “My heart broke loose upon the wind ... it’s perfect. I know he’s talking about finding poetry, but it has such a parallel. Who was it again?”

“Pablo Neruda. It’s even more elegant in the original Spanish,” she said, and kissed him. “But my parents thought it better to teach me French.”

“Don’t you think it is crazy I don’t even know where you’re from?” he said.

“Yes,” she replied, placing her arms around his neck. “It’s Norway, for the record.”

“A Scandinavian girl. Lucky me.”

It felt like a hazy dream, where the world paused and let them enjoy unrestricted happiness for a short while, and then would mercilessly, unexpectedly, take it away. A phone call was the beginning of the end. It awoke them from their slumbers one late morning, ringing endlessly from downstairs. Freya murmured for him to leave it, but something compelled him to answer the call and so he jumped half the stairs and picked it up. The woman on the other end spoke with a timid voice. She sounded distraught.

“This is Freya’s mother, I need to speak to her,” she said. Felix took the handset up to his room and handed it to a groggy and half-asleep Freya. He gave them some privacy and went out to smoke. When he came back everything had changed. She was fully-dressed and had a haunted, empty look.

“Darling, what’s up?” he said as he held her close. “What was all that about?”

She spoke as best as she could without breaking down. “My father. He’s ... gone. He’s dead.”
“Oh God,” is all he could reply, and nestled her head deep into his chest, and kissed her on her pale forehead.

Then she packed all her things and booked a plane that night to Oslo. Like that, his world collapsed.
“I’ll see you soon,” he said as they shared a long farewell.

But she didn’t nod. “Felix... I don’t know when I’ll be back. My mother is all alone, and I need to be at home for my family. I’m not sure when I’ll be back to England.”

There was nothing he could say to persuade her to come back; he didn’t even try. She had bigger problems to contend with now. For the first time in his life he experienced the bitter taste of bad luck.

*

Three months later, in a cafe on the bank of the Thames, they shared a bottle of wine. It was Freya’s idea. She had just returned to the country and looked him immediately. They arranged to meet over drinks. Felix was apprehensive, and didn’t tell her he had found someone new – Hayley Reynolds, a stunning actress, who with her wild spirit was the antithesis of Freya.

“I missed you,” she whispered, holding his hand.

“It’s been so long,” Felix replied. In the months since she left, he had returned to residence in London and opened a new publishing business. The natural luck of his earlier years he could no longer rely on and progress had been slow trying to cut into the market. “It was so hard when you left.”

“It was difficult for me too. My father died and I had to leave you when all I wanted to do was stay with you so you could keep me safe,” she said. “I had to go, then, Felix. But what we had ... it was something worth saving. My feelings haven’t changed.”

Felix sighed, and withdrew his hand from hers. “Freya, I wanted to tell you in person. I’m with someone at the moment.” Her reaction was calm. She looked out over the river with a resigned gaze. He continued: “What we had was incredible, but it was so short and rushed, that I never had time to think. It felt like a dream. And when it ended, I went back to reality."

“She won’t love you, you know. Not like I do.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“It’s okay.” Freya said, and rose from her chair. “I don’t think there’s any reason to wish you luck in life, Felix. I just hope you know what to do if it ever disappears.”

The words etched themselves upon his memory. He let her go and finished the wine himself. A week later, Hayley Reynolds was in the arms of a hunky fellow actor, with the romance all over the tabloids. It was the unluckiest he had ever felt. And by the time he realised his utter foolishness, Freya refused to take any of his calls, and never replied to one of his texts, e-mails or letters.
In the darkest corner of his bedroom he hid and cried for the first time in his life.

*

Heartbreak transformed implausible fortune into unexplainable adversity. Everything Felix touched turned not to gold but to ruin. Every stock he had invested his wealth into crashed with impossible bad luck; in the turn of one day, the crash of the markets turned him from an extremely affluent man to a moderately poor one. He faced bankruptcy, forced to sell his properties in London, and his parents’ home, and instead bought a small house on the outskirts to live in. In the blink of an eyelid Felix began to think both God and Love had abandoned him simultaneously. It was not just wealth. One morning, crossing the street to buy the daily paper, Felix was run down by an ambulance and flew twenty feet, crashing heavily into the road. The irony was lost on him. He suffered several broken ribs, internal bleedings and a fractured leg. The recovery was long and arduous, and made even more difficult when he contracted MRSA while in hospital. When a few months later he was discharged, his house had been broken into and vandalised. Brightly-coloured graffiti sprawled unintelligible symbols all over the brickwork. Inside, all the books Freya had given him, with their special messages inside, and her favourite quotes underlined, and her preferred poems marked with little stars, were missing. They had been indiscriminate in their thorough destruction.

The only surviving book he could find was The Divine Comedy by Dante.

He abandoned church, and prayer, and burnt the bible in the fireplace. He raged at how God had forsaken him, how it was his fault Freya was never coming back, how he had ripped the last shreds of fortune from him, how he had cursed his life by making it so imbalanced– what happened to the usual haphazard nature of luck? Why did he have to suffer all the good luck first, only to have it torn away and replaced by disaster?

It continued in unbelievable ways fuelled by his blasphemy. He would cut his fingers on the simplest preparation of food. He could never find his wallet. He ran out of money and realised he had no talents or skills to even attempt to find a job. In his solitude he took to reading Dante and doing nothing else. It was the second part that fascinated him: the descriptions of the seven terraces of purgatory, and the insane nature of such an illogical system. It is a strange that such a deeply religious text moved him more and more towards disbelief. God became a mockery, a ridiculous notion that sounded silly and wishful to Felix, something humans had created to establish order in their lives. But Felix knew the universe was inherently chaotic. There were no other explanations. Nothing or anything ever made any sense. Over the next few weeks he slipped into a devastating sickness. Although he had no money to buy food anymore, his body would reject anything he tried to force down anyway. He felt nauseous and dizzy all day long. His body withered and he became a skinny shadow of a man. By the fourth week he called a doctor.

He was told that his body was shutting down and consuming his organs for an unidentifiable reason, and given one week to live. The doctor prescribed him strong drugs that would numb the pain and allow him to move normally for the last days of his life.

Felix could do nothing but laugh. He knew now that God didn’t exist. He knew it in his heart and in his bones and in his blood. With the last seven days of his life, he would commit every sin he could and spit on the image of the Almighty. There was no heaven. There was no hell. He would just rot in the ground and nobody would remember him.

*

On Monday he realised it had been six months without sex. Filled with desire, he drove his car out in the evening to the seedy streets of the city, by the pink neon lights and the graffiti. He picked up the first hooker he could find on the corner, followed her inside, and shut his eyes and tried to think of Freya when she lay beneath him, but it was too long ago and her face had faded in his memory. Afterwards, the girl demanded the money, and Felix smiled and said she was out of luck. He beat her to death with the lamp and wiped his hands on the sheets and painted lines of blood.

At the crack of dawn on Tuesday he mugged a businessman waiting for a bus. It was so swift and exhilarating. The murder last night had filled him with adrenaline. Felix went home and found one of the few suits the robbers had left, a dark blue pinstripe. He combed his hair and shaved his beard and went to the most expensive restaurant in the city, and ordered a hamburger for £45, and washed it down with two bottles of champagne, costing £450 each. He ate six other courses and become so full that it hurt, and paid for it all using the stolen credit card. He got blind drunk and started abusing the staff until he was politely asked to leave. His stomach rumbled and he threw the contents of his meal back onto the table in front of him, where it slid and dripped onto the marble floor. When he asked for a refund, a member of the security staff dragged him to the front doors and pushed him into the street. He couldn’t sleep at home because when he got back to his street there was a police car outside his house. In the park, hidden in the bushes, he tried to sleep but could do nothing but think of Freya.

On Wednesday he started the day by saying: “I make my own luck now.” He ignored the advice of his doctor and took more than the recommended four pills a day, swallowing all eight at once. The pain disappeared. He stole a knife and a balaclava from two separate stores, and was almost spotted by a policeman patrolling the streets, but escaped down an alley. He studied his target: a small but luxurious jewellery store. He had noticed they were lax in their security protocols, and safe in the knowledge God was imaginary and the universe was chaotic and luck was a fallacy, he knew that all a man needed to do was seize the moment. In the evening five minutes before closing time he robbed it. He was agile and quick and had the knife at the girl’s throat with lightning speed, slicing it slightly so the blood dripped down onto her outfit, until she unlocked the cabinet and he took his winnings. He had to fight his way out. A brave idiot tried to prevent him escaping but he sliced him across the face and ran out into the street laughing. No-one stopped him after that. At night-time he dumped the gold watches and bracelets and rings into a dustbin and hid in an abandoned warehouse.

By Thursday he lost his mind. He took all the rest of his pills at once and in his paranoid and perplexing state-of-mind he was filled with an overwhelming rage at the universe. There was a park nearby, loud with the cries of children. The sun burned brightly in the warm morning. He liked the way the knife reflected the sunlight so perfectly as he slashed and stabbed and thrust it into the flesh of every human being he could find. They ran but he ran faster and hunted them down like prey and when he had finished his hands and face were covered in sticky, dark blood. As he wiped it from his eyes and was tackled from many sides at once and fell into darkness.

*

He was pronounced too ill to attend court and they shackled him to a solitary bed in a secure hospital guarded day and night.

In his fever the concept of time began to escape him entirely. The drugs they gave him made him drift in and out of consciousness until he was unsure of the differences between dreams and reality, and forget everything, until the only word he could speak was Freya. Freya. Freya.


And then she appeared before him bathed in light like an angel. She had never looked more beautiful.

“Felix? Is that really you? Oh dear Lord...” the woman said and water fell from her eyes. “God , I don’t know what to say, after all this time.”

And he remembered words. They appeared in his mouth from the deep recesses of his memory and he recited them. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

The woman wiped her eyes and stayed quiet for a very long time “Oh Felix what have they done to you? My poor baby. Do you even understand anything I’m saying? I bet you can’t, oh God, I bet you can’t.”

“Freya.”

“Yes, yes, it’s me, I’m here.”

“Freya. Freya. Freyafreyafreyafreyafreya.”

“I love you,” she whispered, and water came from her eyes again. Her image faded and started to slip away. He closed his eyes and whether he fell asleep he wasn’t sure, but her voice continued. “You had a gift. You just used it for all the wrong things. You had all that unlimited luck but you never cared to share it with anyone but yourself, you were so unbelievably selfish ... and when it was taken away, you lashed out at the world for ruining you, but it was your entire fault. God gave you a special gift and you never used it. And in the chance he gave you to redeem your soul you instead slipped into further sin. Goodbye, Felix.”

With the last world he world seemed to shake and move and shift until everything that was blurred transformed into beautiful clarity. The confusion was purged like a cancer. For a brief moment, he remembered everything that had ever been. Starting with his name. Then the enormity of everything he had done and the meaningless of his death swept over him and it was so gut-wrenching he screamed. The noise echoed down the countless corridors. When he stopped, his face was wet with tears. “So sorry, Freya.”

She wasn’t there anymore. He was in the room, alone, close to death. He couldn’t even begin to fathom when she visited, or whether it was really her at all, whether it was all a vivid nightmare, when everything began to blow away like dust.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

And he whispered, scared by resurgent emptiness, for God to save his soul.
Last edited by Firestarter on Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Nate wrote:And if YWS ever does become a company, Jack will be the President of European Operations. In fact, I'm just going to call him that anyways.
  





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Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:08 am
WaterVyper says...



This left me speechless. It was wonderfully written, and I couldn't find much to nitpick here. I'm really sorry that I did.

His mother, distraught by her husband’s death, slipped into a circle of depression and eventually committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Thames.


Anyway, the characterization was perfect. You left me wondering what was going to happen to Felix and Freya (yay, alliteration!) at every twist and turn. This was perfectly executed in my opinion, and definitely deserving of a gold star. Great job with this.
There once was a cat.
He wasn’t particularly fat.
Fuzzy was his favorite mat.
And really, that was that.

Oh, but did you really think so?
Keep reading, it’s just the start of the show!
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:48 am
Scarecrow says...



Wow, I honestly don't know what to say.

That was just like, to perfect man...

You developed the characters amazingly well. It was written amazingly. The plot was awesome.

The very concept of it was wonderful.

Dear god that was good.
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:16 am
Mars says...



Hi! First of all, a mighty Thank You is in order for providing me with an excuse to not do my physics homework. 8) Score!
Oh and also, I'll probably get extremely picky, but you wanted tough love. I can prove it! :twisted:
Anyway, review time, yes?

Grammar/Wording/First Impressions

Quote: If Achilles was dipped in the River Styx as a child in order to attain invulnerability, then Felix Desdemona surely was beaten half to death by a horseshoe in his youth, such was the unbridled fortune which blessed his early years.

Wow. Um, that is quite an opening sentence. And it definitely got my attention, but it I also had to read it a couple of times to figure out what you were actually saying. It would be much easier on the brain if it were more like so:

If Achilles was dipped in the River Styx as a child in order to attain invulnerability, then Felix Desdemona surely was beaten half to death by a horseshoe in his youth. Such was the unbridled fortune which blessed his early years.

A very small difference, but it does make it a bit less confusing. That being said, what you actually wrote here is brilliant!

And, reading the rest of your first paragraph, I think you could go over and smooth it out a bit to make everything connect a little more. Like, for example...

On the day he departed his mother’s womb, his father found a discarded lottery ticket on the floor of the hospital waiting room and the next day the Desdemona family became multi-millionaires.

...is wordier than it has to be. Why not just say his father found a winning lottery ticket? (And also, this is me being ridiculously picky, but if it was on the floor of the hospital, it's obvious that it would have been discarded, no?)

Quote: The astounded paediatrician found no traces of skull damage
This could be spelled differently in the UK, but I believe it's pediatrician without the first a.

Quote: national newspapers nicknamed him Superbaby.
Lawl.

Quote: If anything went wrong in his childhood, the unending luck created an arrogant, reckless and conceited individual who became unaware of the plights and tribulations of the common person.

Was would be a better word than became, I think, because he was born with his extreme luckiness and so never would have known the common person's plight; there was nothing to transform from. But that's just my opinion.

Quote: One morning on a Wednesday,
One Wednesday morning? You could cut out a couple of words there.

Quote: Snail was the nickname Felix had attributed to the boy, who was unable to prevent a steady stream of mucus oozing from his nostrils daily, so his face looked slimy.

I think you could get rid of the whole last bit (so his face looked slimy). If you tell us he's oozing with snot, we'll get why his nickname is Snail, no more explanation needed. It's also a surplus of commas.

Quote: The group slithered away after him.

My favorite sentence so far. I mean, you have a lot of more exciting ones, but with one simple verb you have told me so much. I mean, 'the group followed him' would hardly have the same effect. Win!

Quote: And then, just as he was about to forget all about it and return to his reading on the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII

If it's a book it should be underlined or italicized.

Quote: Everyone made it inside before the curious eyes of the headmaster, who had been passing by in an adjacent corridor, except the unfortunate Snail, whose clumsy right foot had caught on a tree root and he’d fallen badly to the ground.

Comma overload here! Think about rewording this or splitting it into two sentences because right now it's long and kind of awkward to read. Actually, you don't even have to reword it, just something like:
...except the unfortunate Snail. His clumsy right foot... Yes. Good.

Also, in the next sentence, when you say that the headmaster dragged Snail away snobbing, my first thought was, 'why is the headmaster sobbing? This must mean that R. F. has died!' But perhaps I'm just crazy? I don't know.

Quote: Over-enthusiastic mentors had proclaimed his rise to become Prime Minister was inevitable

Hmm...his rise to become sounds weird. Why not go with something like his rise to the Prime Minister's office?

Quote: Instead of further education,

Suggestion: add a but in front of that sentence, because he's resisting the over-enthusiastic mentors in the sentence preceding.

Quote: He became acquainted with the young hip circles of the city, before opening a chain of trendy clubs

No comma.

...yeah. Honestly? I'm kind of tired of this. (Not your story! No, no, the story's wonderful! Just pointing out each and every tiny little thing.) I'm pretty sure that you can reread and revise, so I shall end this section warning you of sentences that are too long and have too many commas. Reading it out loud helps with this. There were as well one or two sentences where it seemed like you started writing it, forgot what you had written before, and then continued. Example:
As he wiped it from his eyes and was tackled from many sides at once and fell into darkness.
But again, that's the kind of thing you'll find easily during revisions.
And! Your word choice. 'Tis beautiful. All my wording suggestions were really just rearranging things; all your words are melodious.

Overall:
...
...
...
...
That was me being speechless. I mean, it's like a wolf in sheep's clothing. Disguised in it's rough draft-iness. Let's see if I can continue with the bad metaphors: polish it a bit and it will shine like a diamond!

I love this. I love the way Felix is portrayed in the beginning, that snotty kid who always gets what he wants...and yet I care about what happens to him. And how (as Freya said) he has this amazing gift but everyone is worse off for knowing him. And...did I mention your word choice? It is like singing on paper.

I might come back after I've recovered from the literary head rush that came from this and make this critique clearer, because right now I'm just rambling on about how good it is, but I don't know what else I'd say.

So, revise. That's really all I can give you. Hope this helped, if only to boost your ego. :) Happy Monday!
'life tastes sweeter when it's wrapped in poetry'
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 8:57 am
Jiggity says...



Hey, Jacko!

I'm in agreement with kwitch here as regards the sentence structure. The opener should definitely be revised.

Snail was the nickname Felix had attributed to the boy, who was unable to prevent a steady stream of mucus oozing from his nostrils daily, [s]so his face looked slimy[/s].


“B-but F-Felix,” Snail whispered, “We were told Mr. Woodward is delicate after his accident. A fright might not help him!”


I don't know how old this kid is but its a weird tone and I don't believe it, given the word choice. A fright might not help him seems both obvious and stupid, I mean, obviously it wouldn't help. Something more real would be along these lines:

'B-but Felix," Snail whispered, 'Mr. Woodward is still sick from his accident. A fright could hurt him.'

Snail let out a little sob and ran in pursuit, knowing he was doing the wrong thing but, too desperate for Felix to like him, let all his good intentions disappear without a trace.


given the context of the sentence, wasn't sure whether you meant 'lest' - ?

His innards twisted, but forced his shaking hand to clatter on the glass


he

[s]And then,[/s] Just as he was about to forget all about it and return to his reading on the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, Felix sprang up and shouted with the full force of his voice.


Everyone made it inside before the curious eyes of the headmaster, who had been passing by in an adjacent corridor, except the unfortunate Snail, whose clumsy right foot had caught on a tree root and he’d fallen badly to the ground.


Split it up. End the first sentence at 'unfortunate Snail' and reword the next to something like: 'His clumsy right foot caught on a tree root and he fell to the ground.'

Felix, fawned equally by many of the staff, was never implicated and slipped away with no suspicion


fawned on

Mr. Woodward himself did not suffer any further heart problems but twisted his ankle and hurt his head in the fall, [s]and[/s] developed a phobia of schoolchildren and was never able to teach again.


one 'and' too many

Over-enthusiastic mentors had proclaimed his rise to become Prime Minister [s]was[/s] inevitable


'as' works better.

It can't hurt to kill the 'had' here; overuse of perfect past tense is tiring and too passive. One of the main drawbacks of this piece. Keep an eye on it.

Since his move away to London he had barely seen them, and felt a little guilt at not going home more [s]than he did[/s], but in all truthfulness, his relationship with his parents had been perfunctory rather than willing.



Just a tad overwritten, as is the piece entire, XD. Also 'guilt' feels like it should be 'guilty'

Felix attended church one a week, and looked for unconditional love from God,


once

and watched how they glowed in their happiness, incandescent with love.


these are some singular families he's seeing XD. Families so don't glow with love, its all nagging and stress and money problems, but you have authorial license I guess :p

Freya, a pretty, intelligent girl, was too bookish and prudish for Felix, who normally favoured wild women, but for some reason he approved her over countless other applicants.


might work a touch better with a dash instead of a comma -

'Freya - a pretty, intelligent girl

Felix lighted a cigarette, ignored her,


lit

It was then he realised he had an incredible desire to sleep with Freya. His eyes lingered on her low top that teased his imagination, and then moved upwards, admiring her shiny, curvy locks of brown hair and the bright blue eyes.


I tire of the use of 'then' - I think you could revise this paragraph, make it more engaging.

The words etched themselves upon his memory,[s] although he did not know it then[/s]


A week later, Hayley Reynolds was caught [s]in the papers[/s] in the arms of a hunky fellow actor, with the romance [s]was[/s] all over the tabloids


Felix was hit down by an ambulance


sounds funny. 'hit' should be 'run' I think.

When a few months later he was discharged, his house had been broken into and vandalised


seems fragmentary. 'he found' should coime before 'his house' or something similar. Also, that following description was a bit long.

even [s]almost all[/s] the books Freya


one or two words too many

how he had cursed his life by making so imbalanced [s]compared to the normal person[/s]


by making it so imbalanced. The struck out part is unnecessary.

It continued in unbelievable ways despite his blasphemy


Or maybe because of? XD. God can hold a mean grudge...or so I'm told.

It is [s]a[/s] strange that such a deeply religious text moved him more and more towards disbelief.


stray 'a'

He picked up the fattest hooker


Why the fattest? I mean, isnt her life bad enough? She's obese and on the streets and now you gotta go and kill her. Just mean.

He got blindingly drunk


adverbs are your enemy. 'He got blind drunk' will do just fine.

And they shackled him to solitary bed in a secure hospital guarded day and night.


to a solitary bed.

The woman wiped her eyes and stayed quiet for a very long time “Oh Felix what have they done to you? I regretted it every day, you know?


period or comma before the dialogue.

All those people ... why, Felix?


In the ensuing paragraph of dialogue she repeats his name three or four times. Its something we just don't do with people we know well. One or two of them is justified, I feel and as such either the first or last 'Felix' should be deleted I think. Just runs smoother that way.

And when it have me the only person who ever made me truly happy


huh?

**

Right. Well, obviously this could do with a thorough revision XD. You're a tad out of shape, my friend, from your absence, no doubt hence the workout I just put you through. Get rid of the flab.

It's a good story and some of the passages of description were just great - very nicely done, considering your out of practice and even then, its still pretty darn good. Your sentences were a little overlong in parts and could do with being split in places, to make it clearer and less congested. It was a tad too passive for my liking as well, you told us a whole heap throughout. I mean, it was partly the style of storytelling I know - it read like a modern fable; yay, moral exemplums! So that was good and well done there, but even so, I found the more active parts (the schoolyard prank, the argument, etc) to be the most engaging.

I found myself wishing it wasn't condensed, wasn't told like this - I wanted it to be a novel, to be within his character more and to experience each golden moment and the disaster it wreaks within. I think there is definite potential there and I hope you expand on the concept outlined here. Having said that, there wasn't much of a sense of external conflict. Something that is essential, I think, in short stories, rising action, conflict, etc. You had the inner conflict down pat, but it didn't do much without a more solid external presence to counterpunch it.

For instance, I thought the random decision to sleep with Hayley needed more explanation. Its not the action of a man in love. Its more like that of a man bereaved and so I think it would make more sense for he and Freya to have an argument, for her to go and stay at a friends, resulting in his going elsewhere. More conflict, more drama, more of an external presence! Twould do wonders, methinks. I'm giving this a thorough going over, no? Its because I enjoyed the story so much and want to see you do more with it! It can be so much greater than a short story in my opinion, even after you've edited the little typos and such. So just to reiterate: simpler sentence structure, less passivity, more balanced inner and outer conflict and consequently, dramatic character interaction would help this story a fair bit.

Hope that helped!
PM me for any questions and such.

Cheers
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:46 am
Firestarter says...



Ah, wow. Apologies for the large extent of typos. Didn't realise I had missed so many.

Vyper + Scarecrow >> Thanks!

kissthewitch >> Thanks so much! I understand what you're saying about the sentences and re-arranging. There's a lot to be done.

Jiggity >> Your advice is great.

I agree with you wholeheartedly on the passivity and the length. They are the two main things that irritate me about this story.

External conflict is a really good idea. Originally I had Freya being forced to move away, but it went against the idea of Felix being 'lucky'. I was attempting to show that he thought he was lucky because he met someone better-looking, even if he wasn't in love with her, because he still didn't really understand love and how it was the best thing for him. But yeah, the sleeping with Hayley is a little bit forced and I'll work on that.

Cheers!
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:32 pm
Blink says...



Hello ^^

I have no idea what nitpicks everyone else has pointed out - ignore any I repeat - other than these:

The windowsill protruded far from the wall and the poor sight of Rhubarb Face prevented him from noticing the small crowd of schoolboys hidden beneath him.

This is fine, but my reservation is that, if this is from the viewpoint of Felix, how does he know that Rhubarb Face has come to the window? Can he see it? I doubt it.

trendy clubs, which became infamous

You used "famous" close before, so I'd suggest using "notorious" or something like that.

By the age of 20, he was the most successful young person of his generation.

This is awkward, but also slightly repetitve--by saying "young person" you are implying that to specify is necessary; namely, there were "old people" in his generation.

Freya, a pretty, intelligent girl, was too bookish and prudish for Felix, who normally favoured wild women nitch comma but for some reason he approved her over countless other applicants.

I'd suggest something more like: "Freya, a pretty and intelligent girl" or what Jiggity said.

man in London, everyone

Changes that comma to a semicolon, since the latter part of the sentence is a result of the first.

Felix lighted a cigarette, ignored her, and smoked for several minutes in awkward silence.

The fact that "ignored her" is in perfect tense implies that he ignored her after she had spoken, which doesn't make sense, if you see what I mean. I'd say: "Ignoring her, Felix lighted a cigarette and smoked for several minutes in awkward silence." Except he didn't ignore her, did he? He tried to, but didn't, eh?

and felt himself in a situation

Should "felt" by "found"?

“I went for meal!

Is she French, all of a sudden? I think it's "a meal". :wink:

swallowing eight all once.

= "swallowing all eight at once."

Wow. That pretty much summed everything up. But, I'm a cynical soul and thus insist on finding fault in an envious way. Alrighty. ^^

Firstly, I found that the childhood version of Felix was very long, and rather excessive. I personally found his adulthood more interesting, and in proportion to his childhood, not long enough. I wouldn't have minded if the most active side of it (playground, Rhubarb face scene) had been somewhat longer, since they were engaging--when I first came to read this, I hit Back as soon as I saw the length of that first paragraph. The entire thing suffers from it, and I'd suggest some longer sections broken down.

I agree with Jiggity on the whole conflict thing, but also, I found that Felix was too emotionless. Sure, he's selfish and self-absorbed, but as his situation changed, it was just you telling us that he wasn't happy. Where he goes mad was well done, but at the end, I'd like a more solid section on his guilt, or regret, or him crying softly to himself.

There a lot of ideas here and they'd better lengthened out and expanded, something that cannot be done in a short story if this potential length. There's certainly a novel-sized idea here; I'd love to see this stretched, because it's limited; we're not in on the action, but rather a reclusive spectator.

Hope I helped, but, you know, it was awesome! =D

Blinky
Last edited by Blink on Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:35 pm
Icaruss says...



Oh, this made me sad. Not the story. Not the characters or the situation. It made me sad because it began with such promise. It drew you in instantly. The first section was amazing, just mind-blowing. I was ready to get my brain smashed by the awesomeness of the rest of it and then it just kind of... dulled out. I don't know. I think the biggest problem you have is also why the first section is so good. You start the story as a fable, right? A sort of myth, I don't know, a story like "Rip Van Wrinkle." We know everything is exagerated and not-believable, but the core of the characters are what makes us like the story. I always say believable characters can make a frivolous work important. Just look at something like "American Graffiti" or "Trainspotting." Stories about friendship and ordinary people and relationships become great movies and books because we can relate to these characters and can maybe learn something from the work, maybe see something in life that we didn't see before. This is harder to achieve in fantasy and fables but it can still be done. Look at a movie like... "Big," with Tom Hanks. It's also a fable, it's also completely fantastic, but the characters are still people. The characters are not fantasy.

The tone at the beginning of the story is amazing, it makes the reader fall in love with your story. I'm doing this review because I just posted a story myself. I clicked on your story just... because. When I saw it was really long I groaned and moaned and almost clicked away. But then I started reading and was, like: "It's too freaking short!" Because it does that. You tell this guy's story with such ease and joyfulness, a guy can read it with a smile all the way through. I always say that there's long movies that you can tell they're long movies. And they can be good or boring, it doesn't matter. You can tell. It's when the movies are long and you don't notice, that's when you're watching a masterpiece. Same with books, you know? My idea of hell would be reading Lord of the Rings over and over again. Those books are long, long, long, and you can tell, and it hurts to know they're long. "Glue," by Irvine Welsh, on the other hand, is like 450 pages long and it wheezes by. Because it has the sort of prose that feels like skiing down a mountain and never stopping.

That's the sort of feeling your prose gave me.

So, you had the myth-fable-Rip Van Wrinkle feel down. You'd set up your idea, this really lucky guy, you were rocking it, now you have to enter the characters, the soul, all that stuff. And that's where you... effed up. You see, your characters don't have feelings. Your characters just have purposes. Felix, for example, feels preprogrammed. We believe that he gets a "what does it all mean?" moment, but not because you sell it, but because you do it in a way that there's nothing else that could've happened.

Look. I... OK. Here it goes.

I'm gonna use a word that I almost never use because I'm not quite sure what it means and everybody else uses it so I figure I will never need to: cliché. Felix has everything he needs but is still not happy. Freya doesn't want him to buy her anything, she just wants his love. This are all preprogrammed feelings. This are all storylines out of a box in your garage labeled "already been done before." And the converations are simply not believable, and the character actions are out of the blue, just so the plot can advance.

Felix, I forgive you, I still love you, I still want you.
I know, I missed you, but everything has changed now.

I don't know what to say.
Don't say anything.

I mean, come on. These are not conversations someone would have. And that's the thing, I don't know if you're doing it on purpose. Because... Maybe this is still a fable or a satire. Maybe this is genius and I don't get the comedy. But if you want us to feel emotionally invested in this characters, we're not. If you want us to feel what they're feeling, we can not.

And it makes me sad, because you were doing so freaking good.

So. Here's my final statement. You're an awesome writer. You prove that in the first couple of sentences. I mean, it's obvious. Really, I'm not worthy. But this story doesn't work and the characters don't work. Frankly, maybe I'm not qualified and you should instead listen to all the people who loved it and there's a lot, but I personally didn't like it.

Roger Ebert, great film critic, wrote a review on "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." He said that it's a great movie to look at, well directed, well written, superbly acted, etc. But, in the end, how can you relate to the story? How can you invest yourself in these characters? It's not that this could never happen, it's just that it feels wrong. Nobody could ever watch this movie and feel anything.

I think he is wrong. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is really freaking good. But what he feels about that movie, I feel about your story. I'm sorry.
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:12 pm
Firestarter says...



Blink >> Thanks. I agree with a lot of your points you make. It should undoubtedly be longer.

Icaruss >> Because I needed someone to tell me all those things, thanks for the absolute honesty. Seriously. You know when you read something and deep inside you twist because you realise everything they say has already crossed your mind? You're right about it all. I don't think I pulled this idea off correctly. The prose is slow and forced, and I do indeed suck at dialogue (always have). You're right about Freya -- she's one-dimensional. Felix is definitely preprogrammed like you say. It's strange because I began writing this as a story, with any length, no plot in mind, and just let it come. I had a couple of ideas but nothing concrete. In many ways, though, I think I restricted it purposefully in the end because I was hoping it to be less than 5,000 words. This probably sub-consciously changed what I was writing.

Thank you for the compliments about my writing ability -- but it is amusingly in contradiction with your comments. Having a way with words and being able to craft a story are two essential skills and possibly only having the former isn't going to help me write.

And you know what? I actually really want to tell this story better -- that is, the story of Felix. It needs to be longer, and I need to stop telling the reader everything, to force a morality on them, or something. It needs better supporting characters and a better story. It deserves more.

So you've confirmed what I'm actually going to make this into.

A novel.

Anyway, you seriously win.
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Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:38 pm
Firestarter says...



Note: New, edited version put up. Even though I'm going to use this as inspiration for a larger novel idea, I'd still like comments on this short version!
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Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:56 pm
Demeter says...



Hi there! Here I am, as you requested.

Rhubarb Face was the moniker Felix had created for the ancient Mr. Woodward, whose cheeks were permanently a deep pink, and taught the children History.


I think this would read better if you changed that end of the sentence a little, like this: '...for the ancient Mr. Woodward, whose cheeks were permanently a deep pink, and who taught History to the children.' To me, it's less awkward.


Only Snail, the small, frail boy, two years the younger of Felix, who was a newcomer to the pack of minions, expressed reservations.


I suggest you put a part of that sentence between dashes. Any part, really, will do. Or maybe even two parts? 'Only Snail – the small, frail boy, two years the younger of Felix – who was a newcomer to the pack of minions, expressed reservations.'


The accident the headmaster had told them all about was a heart attack which occurred two months ago while Mr. Woodward was cooking a casserole in his kitchen.


The casserole part is all funny and brings a fresh touch to the sentence, but I couldn't help thinking, 'What's the point? Is the casserole going to play a bigger role in the later part of the story?' In short: is it really needed there?


Well(comma) whatever, Snail, we’re going either way. You can stay here and cry if you[s]’d[/s] like.



Felix, with a snigger, picked Snail to be the one to tap on the window to draw Rhubarb Face towards the threshold.


First, when I read this out loud (I don't always do that, haha), I noticed it's uncomfortably wordy because of all the prepositions and other little words. Second, I think that 'Felix, with a snigger' could be changed to 'Sniggering Felix' or 'Sniggering, Felix...' You know, the former suggestion being 'Felix did something while being sniggering' (I hope you get what I'm talking about) and the latter 'Felix did it while he sniggered'. You decide which one's better.


Snail acquiesced and repeated the knock, harder this time, twice.


Again, I think you could use the dashes. 'Snail acquiesced and repeated the knock – harder this time – twice.'


the poor sight of Rhubarb Face prevented him from noticing the small crowd of schoolboys hidden beneath him.


Beneath him? Are you sure you don't mean 'behind him'?


The headmaster angrily grabbed Snail’s arm and pulled him away, sobbing, to his office


Try 'The headmaster angrily grabbed Snail's arm and pulled the sobbing boy away to his office', because at the moment it sounds like the headmaster is sobbing, not Snail. And I don't think it should be.


Mr. Woodward himself did not suffer any further heart problems but twisted his ankle and hurt his head in the fall, and developed a phobia of schoolchildren and was never able to teach again.


Maybe cut this sentence in two, too many 'and's in a row.

****

Over-enthusiastic mentors had proclaimed his rise to become Prime Minister was inevitable.


Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand what the 'was' is doing there.


By the age of 20, he was the most successful young person of his generation.


A 20-year-old is young, so you don't need the word itself. It's almost like saying 'When he was young, he was the most successful young person of his generation.' Almost.


His mother, distraught by her husband’s death, slipped into a circle of depression and eventually committed suicide by drowning himself in the River Thames.


Herself, right? ;)


The source of his luck could only be from the Almighty himself. He was Chosen by his Lord.


I don't think the second sentence is needed, unless Felix really has become a true believer. However, I didn't get that impression, so the first one is perfectly enough, methinks.


“I am happy. I always have been,” he said, lying.


It should be 'I have always been', and besides, couldn't you just say 'he lied'? I think that would sound better.


Felix and Freya fell in love.


Uh. This is a bit in-your-face, especially after what Freya just had said. I think you should have 'Eventually, Felix and Freya fell in love' or something, just to soften it out.


Two weeks later, in a cafe by the river, they shared a bottle of wine.


It's not clear enough that it was Felix and Freya who shared a bottle of wine.


With the last world he world seemed to shake


'With the last word, his world seemed to shake' is what you mean, isn't it?

******

Alright, so I have only skimmed what others have said, so there might be something that's been pointed out already. I enjoyed reading this – you do have a way with words – but I'm still left here, wanting for something more. So you're going to make this into novel? That will do good for this story. There are still some blank spaces, and there's so much in this, it actually seems kind of funny to have been stuffed into a short story.

The part with what I felt most unsatisfied was the whole Felix and Freya thing. If Felix loves Freya as much as he did, why the affair between Hayley and the random rich guy was the unluckiest thing in his life? The Hayley matter was slightly random anyway, but since you're going to lengthen this, I believe it'll look better in the final version. Also, Freya had the most unbelievable lines of all the characters. She had some good ones, but most of it was just, as I said, not believable. She's also somewhat moody: at first she's not going to sleep with Felix, then they fall in love, then she leaves because he cheated her, then she comes back and is ready to forgive and finally she leaves him all alone. That was annoying, to be honest. So you could work more on her. Felix was okay, though a lot of stuff could have been explained more.

I agree with Blink about the first paragraph: it's too long to make the reader desperately want to read the story in the first place. However, when I'd first started, your good description kept me interested.

Long story short: you have a good piece here, all in all, though there's always room for improvement. And of course, you yourself know what you want to improve.

I hope I helped even the tiniest bit. Thanks for the read!


Demeter
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Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:58 pm
Demeter says...



Firestarter, I noticed only after I'd posted my review that you had edited it. So my review is for the unedited version – I'm sorry I wasn't faster ;)
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Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:52 am
Rydia says...



I often consider maybe as yes so here I am and I hope you find this at least slightly helpful. Just a few specific points first:

The group slithered away after him. Snail let out a little sob and ran in pursuit, knowing he was doing the wrong thing but, too desperate for Felix to like him, [I think there needs to be a 'he' here.] let all his good intentions disappear without a trace.


Four years later, Felix surprised everybody and resisted the advice to enter university. Over-enthusiastic mentors had proclaimed his rise to the Prime Minister’s office as inevitable. But instead of further education, he invested arbitrarily in any company that caught his interest, ignoring his father’s considerable experience. Within a year he had quadrupled his already significant wealth. He became a national celebrity and took up residence in a vast apartment in London near Kensington Gardens, where a string of beautiful and famous women were photographed entering and exiting at all hours. Some said he was the luckiest man in the world. He became acquainted with the young hip circles of the city before opening a chain of trendy clubs, which became infamous for attracting vast numbers of celebrities and paparazzi like leeches. Nothing Felix touched went awry. By the age of [s]20[/s] twenty, he was the most successful person of his generation.


“What do you want in life, Felix?” she asked, over a bottle of wine one evening after work. They sat in the garden of his new purchase, a tall and classical house. Peach clouds floated in an azure sky as the sun began to set. Felix had learnt that alcohol never made him embarrassingly drunk, so he enjoyed the varied tastes of different grapes. He considered her question. It was hard for him to find an answer, because everything he ever did was based on instinct, rather than rational thought. Something had always stirred him towards a purpose. When he had to think, his thoughts were muddled.


Three months later, in a cafe on the bank of the Thames, they shared a bottle of wine. It was Freya’s idea. She had just returned to the country and looked him up immediately. They arranged to meet over drinks. Felix was apprehensive, and didn’t tell her he had found someone new – Hayley Reynolds, a stunning actress, who with her wild spirit was the antithesis of Freya.


He abandoned church, and prayer, and burnt the bible [I thought only one book survived, does the bible not count as a book? It's only minor but I thought I'd point it out.] in the fireplace. He raged at how God had forsaken him, how it was his fault Freya was never coming back, how he had ripped the last shreds of fortune from him, how he had cursed his life by making it so imbalanced– what happened to the usual haphazard nature of luck? Why did he have to suffer all the good luck first, only to have it torn away and replaced by disaster?

It continued in unbelievable ways fuelled by his blasphemy. He would cut his fingers on the simplest preparation of food. He could never find his wallet. He ran out of money and realised he had no talents or skills to even attempt to find a job. In his solitude he took to reading Dante and doing nothing else. It was the second part that fascinated him: the descriptions of the seven terraces of purgatory, and the insane nature of such an illogical system. It is[s] a [/s]strange that such a deeply religious text moved him more and more towards disbelief. God became a mockery, a ridiculous notion that sounded silly and wishful to Felix, something humans had created to establish order in their lives. But Felix knew the universe was inherently chaotic. There were no other explanations. Nothing or anything ever made any sense. Over the next few weeks he slipped into a devastating sickness. Although he had no money to buy food anymore, his body would reject anything he tried to force down anyway. He felt nauseous and dizzy all day long. His body withered and he became a skinny shadow of a man. By the fourth week he called a doctor.


With the last [s]world[/s] word the world seemed to shake and move and shift until everything that was blurred transformed into beautiful clarity. The confusion was purged like a cancer. For a brief moment, he remembered everything that had ever been. Starting with his name. Then the enormity of everything he had done and the meaningless of his death swept over him and it was so gut-wrenching he screamed. The noise echoed down the countless corridors. When he stopped, his face was wet with tears. “So sorry, Freya.”


It starts brilliantly as everyone else has said but the trouble is, that tone can't be stretched further than a short story. And by short I mean a thousand words or so. That tone doesn't allow for the reader to feel close to the characters or the action. It's just too distant. It works well when setting a scene up but there needs to be a transition.

I'd rather not repeat others so what I will say is this: keep that tone but only for the prologue. Take the earlier stage of this, edit it, lengthen it, draw his early life out further and add a little more conflict. Add a few invasions on his luck perhaps where it looks like he's close to having bad luck and then the world re-orders itself for his sake. Then start chapter one with a new tone. Something that allows for a real attachment to the characters. And give us some part of the narrator to like, some part that's him and impossible to deny as being worth saving. Otherwise I can't even begin to understand Freya who would forgive and love such a pathetic man.

You know what's wrong, you've got a good grasp on writing technique and the more you practice, the better you'll hone those skills. A good way to get better at dialogue is to start really listening to how people speak. The trouble with us is we spend too much time communicating through writing and how a person writes is not the same as what comes out of the mouth. Maybe ask a few friends if they'll talk to you over the phone/ the speaker function of msn once in a while and see if you can pick up their speech patterns and write down how they differ from your own. When working on dialogue, don't read or watch, listen.

For characters, you have to know everything about them. Making character profiles is fun if not slightly helpful. I find that a good place to start is always what they eat for breakfast on a typical morning ^^ Think heritage and upbringing. You don't have to say it in the story but think it. Do they have an accent? An affliction towards one way of acting or being? Are they one of those annoying people who rubs their nose when they're talking to you? Make them someone we can relate to and who we can believe.

And now the trouble with plot is indeed the direction. You have this amazing idea but it needs to be supported by conflicts and other ideas. You need to have a distinct beginning, middle, ending and in between bits. And it needs to all be of the same quality. You have Felix here and while he uses his luck and takes it for granted, he doesn't exploit it as such. And that just doesn't make sense. If I was him you know what I'd have done on my sixteenth birthday? Entered the lottery of course. Who wants to work when there's easy money to be having? And I'd have developed more character flaws than what your Felix has. That sense of aloofness in him just isn't quite strong enough and he doesn't try hard enough to be above everything, to say to himself but hey I'm lucky and if I wanted it, it would be mine. His confidence waves and he doesn't just stride up to Freya from the off and say 'you'll do, you'll be my love.' That's because he's not entirely sure of himself and yet this is only shown when concerning love? That's too perfect. And it can easily be turned around. Have him find common sense elsewhere occasionally as well. Perhaps when he's younger and facing the school bully? Maybe show him have the common sense to back down and then the luck kicks in.

Anyway, I ramble a lot and I'm sure you have ideas of your own. Let me know when you get further with this,

Heather xx
Writing Gooder

~Previously KittyKatSparklesExplosion15~

The light shines brightest in the darkest places.
  





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Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:18 am
Wolves says...



Gosh! I love it! Yours is much better than my little expert I am writing!
Wolves
  








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