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Hell Is A Place Called Home

by tailored-trouble


Everyone in Macomb, Illinois thought of the McCall family the ideal family. The two parents, Matthew and Maurice, drove expensive, luxurious cars. Their son, Laurence, was an all-star football player at the local high school, and their daughter, Julia, was popular at high school. She was known for being one of the kinder teenagers in the community. They always welcomed new neighbors with some kind of baked good, they always were the life of the party at community events, and everyone seemed to know them. No one would have guessed the problems that took place behind the brick walls of their home.

The Ellison family was almost the opposite. They were lower-middle class, and barely made ends meat. Trish was a single mom with three kids: two six-year-old twins Natalie and Natasha, and a fourteen-year-old daughter, Heather. They lived in a one story, two-bedroom house in a bad part of town. Drug busts, shootings, and gang activities things were not uncommon in this part of the city.

At Grover Cleveland High School, the final bell of the day rung. Within minutes, all of the students filed out of the school. One of the first ones out was Julie McCall. She weaved in and out of the students and found her bus. She took a seat somewhere between the middle of the bus and the back. She reached into her backpack and pulled out a sheet of paper; it was her midterms, and as she looked at them again, she frowned. She was doing well in most of her classes, but she was failing Algebra and Latin. She stuffed the paper back into her bag, and sunk into her seat. She could only imagine the consequences that awaited her at home.

As soon as the bell had sounded, Heather raced against the other students to get out of the classroom. Unfortunately for her, she was on a rather clumsy streak, and tripped over shoelaces that had unknowingly become untied. Her books, notebooks, and binders had all been flung into opposite directions. She quickly scrambled to her feet, and chased after her books. This attempt was slowed down by all of the students who were also jolting out of the classroom and unknowingly were kicking her things throughout the hall. Before she even was on her feet, she had been run over several times.

She stood against the lockers and waited until the halls had nearly cleared out. She tracked down her things and ran toward her locker. ”Dammit. If I miss my bus I’m screwed,” she thought to herself. She threw the books into her locker and slammed it. Before her locker had fully shut, she was already running toward the door.

She sighed with relief as she found her bus, which luckily hadn’t left yet. She gripped her hand into a fist and raised it to the closed door. The bus driver was somewhere on the bus dealing with some kids who were misbehaving. Kids on the first couple of rows smiled and waved at her, which got them an evil look from Heather. Instead of actually letting her onto the bus, they just turned away from her. She sighed and took her hand from the door, shifting her weight to her left leg.

After about thirty seconds, the bus driver came back to the front and sat down in his chair. She knocked on the glass of the door again, but he didn’t seem to hear her. He started the bus, and the roaring of the engine starting made Heather jump. She tapped harder, and the bus driver finally looked at her. He sighed and opened the door for her. Heather stepped onto the bus, and just as she did, he closed the door and started pulling away. Grabbing two seats opposite each other for support, she started making her way toward the back, looking for an empty seat. Why did her bus have to be so crowded?

After about ten seats, she found one with just one person in it. She wasn’t really sure whether she should even ask to sit there. The girl sitting there was Julia McCall. Heather hadn’t ever said anything to her before. Of course, not only did they come from two completely different worlds, they were in completely different places as far as popularity goes. Heather had about ten people she counted as true friends; the people that would talk to her no matter who was around. Julia had about that many best friends.

Deciding that if she didn’t sit down soon, she would be standing the entire way home, Heather took in a deep breath. “Um, do you mind if I sit here?” she asked the girl, biting her lip afterwards. “Please let her say something nice. I really don’t want to put up with ridicule right now,” Heather thought. All Julia was doing was staring at her. “Only until the first stop,” she added, hoping that this information would persuade her.

Julia had not idea what to do. She would feel bad about herself if she said no to her, but what would all of her friends think. Sighing, she looked up to the girl. “I am the first stop,” she said, lifting her backpack off of the other side of the seat, setting it in her lap. Heather flashed a smile as she sat down, pulling her backpack off of her back, and placed hers onto her lap just like Julia had.

To Julia’s horror, her friends who were sitting farther back began saying things. Not only were they saying things to her, but the other girl as well. Julie sunk lower in her seat; this was the worst possible thing that could happen to her. Heather, of course, noticed the other girl’s embarrassment. She looked at her for a moment. “I can move if you want, it’s really not that big of a deal,” she told her. Julia really wanted to ask her to move, but she just couldn’t. She shook her head and turned to the window. There was good news for her. She could see her subdivision coming closer and closer with each turn of the bus wheels.

When the bus was only thirty feet away from her stop, she took her backpack and walked to the front of the bus, standing between the first two seats as the brakes’ screeching signaled that the bus was coming to a stop. She gripped the seats until the bus came to a complete stop, and trotted down the steps until her feet hit the pavement. As the bus pulled away, she didn’t turn back to look at the bus. She had probably just ruined the popularity that she had held just a few short hours ago.

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This is the first chapter of a story that I may or may not complete, depending on how realistic it seems to you all. Please feel free to comment on anything and everything. Please don't hold back. I will not see anything as a personal attack on me(unless it actually is) and I will actually thank you for being harsh. It can only make this story better, right? Thank you.


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Sat Jun 09, 2007 3:38 pm
Writersdomain wrote a review...



Hmmmm, interesting beginning. I echo a lot of Claudette's comments, as usual. :wink: I apologize in advance if I am being harsh, because I really don't like this kind of genre, and I tend to be especially critical of it.

Because of this fact, I am not going to go line-by-line; I'm just going to give you some general things to improve upon.

1. Setting

While you convey the mood of the setting through your main character's reactions to it, you gave very little description to help the reader visualize where the character is or what is happening, and this irked me. All I knew is that your main character was going somewhere and she felt this way about it; I had no chance to form my own impressions of her surroundings. By saying that I think you need more description of setting, I don't mean that you should add entire paragraphs of big words and description. Just adding a few brief sentences here and there and emphasizing the important parts of the setting will give the reader a better idea of where this story takes place. Specifically, I would have liked to see more 'feeling' and more visual description.

2: Telling

Let's take a look at the first few paragraphs...

Everyone in Macomb, Illinois thought of the McCall family the ideal family. The two parents, Matthew and Maurice, drove expensive, luxurious cars. Their son, Laurence, was an all-star football player at the local high school, and their daughter, Julia, was popular at high school. She was known for being one of the kinder teenagers in the community. They always welcomed new neighbors with some kind of baked good, they always were the life of the party at community events, and everyone seemed to know them. No one would have guessed the problems that took place behind the brick walls of their home.

The Ellison family was almost the opposite. They were lower-middle class, and barely made ends meat. Trish was a single mom with three kids: two six-year-old twins Natalie and Natasha, and a fourteen-year-old daughter, Heather. They lived in a one story, two-bedroom house in a bad part of town. Drug busts, shootings, and gang activities things were not uncommon in this part of the city.


While this isn't by far the worst case of telling I've seen, it is still too much. You tell us what the McCall family is like and what the Ellison family is like without any previous support for your claims. Why is this bad? 1. you are robbing the reader of the process of getting to know each of these famlies for themselves, and by doing this, you detract from characterization of them, which leads to boredom in the reader. 2. these are the first two paragraphs of your story! Suck the reader in through your character's vibrancy; don't bog them down with information that at this point, the reader honestly does not care about.

3. Characterization

You do have some good characterization in here through actions and dialogue, but your case of telling and the lack of reactions from your characters made me feel the characterization was lacking. Part of it may have been my dislike of this genre of of the clicheness, but I didn't feel attached to your characters by the end. Some tips on how to improve this: 1. make your character and her conflicts unique. Like Claudette said, this chapter seems rather cliche, so making the character unique and giving her different quirks would make her more original and thus more endearing. 2. more reaction. You characterize your characters well through action and some body language, but I felt some more emotional reactions and maybe even some delving into emotions would help this out some.

4. Cliche

Like Claudette, I thought this was cliche. You can do a lot with this, but if you don't veer away from the traditional conflicts and resolutions, it won't interest readers as much. You said you are making it original later on, and that is awesome. :D I'll just give a few tips on how to go about that. 1. make your characters unique. Give them quirks; give them unusual conflicts. 2. take advantage of every opportunity. At every chance you get, show the different quirks of your story. 3. Make an effort to make it original. Don't settle for cliche; strive to make your story unique instead.

Again, I'm sorry if I was harsh. :oops: This was a pretty good start, and I am looking forward to reading more of your writing. Keep writing and PM me if you have any questions. :wink:

PS: because of the mild language, this needs to be rated PG. Don't forget to rate your pieces. :wink: Toodles!




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Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:38 am
Myth wrote a review...



Isn’t Natasha and Natalie the same name?

You tend to repeat things like ‘bus’, for example:

The bus driver was somewhere on the bus dealing with some kids who were misbehaving.


Could be something like:

The driver was [somewhere / at the back of the bus] ...

And go on giving exact seconds to when something happened, which I thought was unnecessary, but it is up to you to keep it or cut it off.

Also, you changed from one girl’s point of view to the other very quickly and this made it harder to know who I was actually reading about, though the names did help.

I didn’t see anything that made me think this was different from any other teen/young adult fiction, you could work on changing the rich girl to not being so popular or Heather having friends even though some might think she’s a loser or something.

I’d really like to see how this turns into an action/adventure story.

Myth




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Wed May 30, 2007 2:40 am



All of the changes you pointed out have been made. I also have decided to cut out the first two paragraphs and sort of introduce the details in the next chapter when the two girls get home, to make them seem not so... forced.

I can't really explain this without giving too much away, but the rich popular girl's life will fall apart more or less. Let's just say, all of the friends she has now, won't stay so for very long.

Thank you so much! You pointed things out I hadn't noticed.




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Wed May 30, 2007 2:22 am
Emerson wrote a review...



Everyone in Macomb, Illinois thought of the McCall family the ideal family.
As the ideal family?

They were lower-middle class, and barely made ends meat.
Meet, not meat. and for that matted "barely made ends meet" is cliche. Why not tell us about that one time where they couldn't get enough money to *blank* and so *blank* happened?

Drug busts, shootings, and gang activities things were not uncommon in this part of the city.
What? It gets confusing after "activities"

At Grover Cleveland High School, the final bell of the day rung.
rung=rang.

”Dammit. If I miss my bus I’m screwed,”
either use "quotes" or italics for thoughts, but not both.

Julia had not idea what to do.
No

BTW: in the paragraph above this line, you have thoughts, but they're only in quotes. Figure out how you want to do the thoughts and use it all the way through.

She would feel bad about herself if she said no to her, but what would all of her friends think.
A question, thus deserving of a question mark.

lifting her backpack off of the other side of the seat, setting it in her lap.
and setting it...

When the bus was only thirty feet away from her stop, she took her backpack and walked to the front of the bus, standing between the first two seats as the brakes’ screeching signaled that the bus was coming to a stop.
This sentence ends funky, and is unnecessarily long.

I commend your asking and completely accepting harsh comments ^_^ W00t for you!

The biggest problem I have with this story, is that it is cliché beyond belief. The prepy, well to do girl, who lives in the house where, "No one would have guessed the problems that took place behind the brick walls of their home." (That was major cliché right there, BTW. Would be best to leave it out, and surprise your reader.) And the poor girl, with no friends who can't make ends meet? Either a) with odd circumstances they'll become friends or b) they'll fight or something and eventually learn the meaning of not hating people.

Something teenager like that. Basically: No matter how you do it this will come out clichéd because you are starting clichéd. Just find something that hasn't been done a million different ways (or give it your own twist? Make the rich well-to-do girl hated by everyone.) and it'll clean right up ^^

The writing isn't so bad, perhaps work on developing your characters. The narration and POV change was a little irksome, though. That won't be too hard to clean up, though.

If you have any questions or need help with something I said feel free to PM me ^_^ Happy editing!





We are all broken. That's how the light gets in.
— Ernest Hemingway