Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The shocking news...

It was October 19th of last year when this happened. When we found out what was going to happen. Our parents called us from the other side of the house to the living room. Sara and I sat down. They looked like they had something to say. You could see the worry in their eyes. They probably weren’t sure how we were going to take this. How we would react.
‘We’ve been thinking. Judging by the political views of the country and all that has been going on recently, this country is just not a safe place to live anymore. So we’ve been considering moving to another country.’
A few seconds I was just lost in what my mother had just said. I had lost my words. As if I couldn’t speak. Was this a joke? What on earth were they talking about? Had they lost their minds?
Finally when my words started coming back to me I started speaking. ‘What? You’re kidding, right? Please don’t tell me you’re serious…’
They didn’t have to tell me that they weren’t serious. I could tell by their facial expression that they weren’t joking. This was impossible. How could they have come up with a solution like this?! Yes… the family was going through a really tough time during summer with all the political issues that the country had. But I never thought anything in the world would make them decide to finally move from a country they’d been living in for so many years. My birth place… The place where all my family and friends were… They always told us that we would never move to another country. That’s what they had planted into our heads. A theory we thought would never change no matter what. And now they were saying the exact opposite! It was like we had to rearrange the information we had in our heads already. To plant the opposite theory.
That day was when we found out about what was going to happen in the following year… The day we got the shocking news…


  1. This piece was inspired by a true story. As soon as I read what we had to do for this task, the first thing that came into my mind was this story. It's reality and it really did happen last year. This story is a project I'm working on myself so I thought it would be good to write a short version of it as an opening to a novella. I hope I succeeded in making the story interesting enough for the reader to want to continue reading:)

  2. Hi there!

    In your discussion of opening nine, you identify the use of ‘simple words to describe the situation’ as a positive aspect of this piece – and I certainly agree! An author (unless they’re a particularly prickly and brainy kind of author!) doesn’t want to get between the reader and the story; clear, simple and effective communication is the order of the day. You also note the need of a ‘topic’ and ‘subject’ that ‘makes the reader want to continue reading’. I completely agree again, but I’d have liked a little more analysis of what it is exactly about the subject matter of opening nine that you found appealing. Personally, I think it might be the idea of going on a journey: because the idea of leaving home and going alone to a foreign country is inherently dramatic, and because it sets up the idea of change, that something different or exciting is going to happen to the central character if they’re away from their home comforts.

    This is exactly the expectation you set up in your own opening. There is something very compelling about the idea of someone – anyone! – being uprooted from their home and sent somewhere new, and so I instantly felt interest in and empathy for your central characters. Well done!

    Your opening line (which is the clincher, the first thing that draws the reader in) is a strong one: I like the way that ‘when this happened’, rather than ‘when it happened’ makes it feel like the reader is being directly addressed; it really involved me in the story. Your short, brusque sentences (e.g. ‘Sara and I sat down’) reflect the tension of the situation. This is an effective use of syntax.

    There are a few spots where the prose is a bit “woolly”. I found the mentions of ‘politicals views’ and ‘the country’ somewhat vague – I may have felt more for the characters if they lived in a real, nameable place – although this kind of language would fit the narrator very well if you’re giving us a “child’s eye view” of the world. ‘Facial expressions’ was a bit of a clunker – ‘expressions’ would have done just fine. Simple language!

    To be engaging, narrative needs to vary its tone and its pace. As such, I really like the way you suddenly plunge much deeper into the internal psychology of the character at the end of this piece. The idea that the children have had a theory planted in their heads but they are now been told to completely revoke feels very true, and very moving. Well done.

    For me, this is definitely your best work yet. Your prose is clear, simple, and fits the character and the situation (for example, the short, broken sentences reflect the shock of being forced to leave one’s native country); you set up a narrative arc which has dramatic potential (a journey to a foreign place); and you give us a character which has emotional depth. Great stuff – keep it up!

  3. Hi ^^

    It's great to read your work again - sorry I missed out on the last piece. Anyway, I can see you've already had a really detailed response to your work, and I'd like repeat all of the posative points there. This is a fantastic section of prose, and you're showing a great deal of sophistication in your handling of prose in general.

    I loved the short, clear sentences, and the way you reveal details. It felt natural, and despite being sparse it showed a real understanding of the rhythms of language and its effects.

    One point to watch out for is repetition. Close repetition of words, unless very deliberately part of a rhythm, can be jarring for a reader. So in the section:

    A few seconds I was just lost in what my mother had just said. I had lost my words. As if I couldn’t speak. Was this a joke? What on earth were they talking about? Had they lost their minds?

    Watch the number of 'lost's. Similarly in the line under this paragraph we get a couple of 'started's. It's not a big deal, and it's certainly easy to fix: read your work aloud and you'll hear as soon as there's any jarring repetition. It's a good practice to get into in general for editing.

    That's super-pciky though. All in all this is another great piece. Well done. I look forward to seeing whatever you do next,



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