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The Bas***d. [Warning: emotional and physical abuse]

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Old 08-01-2017, 07:39 AM
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Default The Bas***d. [Warning: emotional and physical abuse]


Warning: emotional and physical abuse.

Well then, here is a small part of a work I have been working on these past few weeks. If I could have any review, that would be lovely. I love to know how much I scr** up.

Please, do enjoy.

**-***-***-**-***-**-**-**-**-
The Bastard was looking at his reflection in the mirror the Man had discarded in the attic. His tightly knit woolen tunic laid on the rotting chestnut planks, revealing expanses of skin. Blotches of color dotted his skin, like one of these watercolors paintings the Mayor liked so much. Blues, yellows, and purples decorated the canvas like so many touches of a meticulous artist.

Tearing his gaze from the fresco, his eyes roamed over his pale arms. He pinched them with a cringe. Much too thin and frail, nothing at all like the Blacksmith's powerful limbs. His hands carefully trailed along his stomach, avoiding the colors. They poked his ribs, and the ribs poked back.

His eyes then detailed his facial features. They took in the soft curve of his cheeks, the fullness of his lips, the straightness of his nose. His hands brushed back stray strands of dark blue hair. Too long. Like a girl's. And dirty.

'Who would like you? No wonder you're alone.' He thought bitterly, his candid features morphing into a frown.

"Where are you? Where the hell are you?! I swear to the Gods, if you don't come here this instant-"

The Man's words meshed together into a jumble of indiscernible hatred.

Slowly, almost lazily, he bent down and picked up the discarded piece of clothing. Putting it back on, he made his way downstairs.

He ignored the verbal vomit, which by now was akin to the growling of the wild beasts the Man had hunted yesterday.

The Man came into view and the boy almost regretted coming down. He was a strongly built male, all muscles, and hard bones. His arms, thick as logs, were connected to large, calloused hands. One hand was holding a bottle of a rancid liquid - he had tasted it once -, the other was gripping a cup full of said liquid.

It was only reflexes borne from habit which allowed the boy to avoid the bottle thrown his way. He ducked under the tossed glassware, jolting when it impacted against the wall. It broke into a thousand pieces.

The Man chugged down the liquid from his cup. His face, which was purple from rage, became a shade darker or two. He waddled toward the boy with all the grace of a drunken bear. The foul smell of alcohol made the boy instinctively step back. Mistake instantly paid in full when the Man's hand closed around his forearm with crushing force.

"We're out of money. Go fetch some."

'We're poor because you drank all the money away!' he wanted to scream.

He wouldn't say it, though. He couldn't.

The Man dragged him the two dozen feet down the hallway, opened the door, then hurled him out. The boy landed in the snow, thankful for the soft material since otherwise, he'd have scrapped his knees. As it was, he landed on his behind, a few feet from the front door.

"And don't come back empty-handed, or I'll butcher you." The Man threatened one last time.

The Bastard didn't doubt so.

The door was slammed. It rattled with the force of the action. He thought he even heard something fall to the floor and break. One more thing he would have to clean up when he came back.

He looked upwards. Snowflakes descended from the heavens, bathing the world in silence. The cold was insidious and biting, but welcome. It numbed the pain.

The Bastard sighed. How was he going to find the money?

He, a boy of ten, in a remote village hidden by tall mountains. He looked around, but the only thing he could see was the house and a frozen plain, blanketed with snow.

Alone.

He shivered and rubbed his arms to get some warmth. It was no use, the fabric was too thin.

Mute.

He slowly rose and made his way toward the center of the village, half an hour of walk away from here.

And so, so sad...

**-***-***-**-***-**-**-**-**-

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Old 08-01-2017, 11:18 AM
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I'd probably want to simplify this. The writing is a tad on the purple side.

Really think hard about what you want to convey.

In the first paragraph, I'm guessing you're talking about bruises. Would the blotches really "dot" his skin? Would they really appear like something applied meticulously -- or haphazardly? Is something pleasing to the eye like a watercolor really a good metaphor for a battered and bruised body? That doesn't really work for me.

So it seems to me that instead of just describing enough to set the scene and tell us what's going on, you're trying too hard to WRITE -- gilding the lily when there really isn't a lily yet.


Alone in the attic, the Bastard dropped his woolen tunic and looked at his reflection in the mirror. Blue, yellow and purple blotches covered his pale, thin frame.
I don't think you're missing anything there. You know where he is, that he's looking in a mirror -- but most importantly, you're asking yourself, how did he get those bruises?

That said, starting off a story with your character looking in the mirror is a bit of cliche, but I wouldn't worry about that now.

I'd concentrate on writing just what you need to set up the story in a straightforward way.

I love interesting description, detail, simile and metaphor etc. -- but you can't let it get in the way of the story.

So as an exercise, I'd strip all this to the bone and just think about developing your character and telling the story. You can always go back and add description or simile where it makes sense.

Oh, and another thing...

The Bastard was looking at his reflection in the mirror
Keep an eye on passive vs. active voice. What you've written is passive. This is the active voice --

The Bastard looked at his reflection in the mirror.
Doesn't that sound more crisp and immediate? Something to look out for.

Cheers!

Last edited by Myers; 08-01-2017 at 07:23 PM..
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Old 08-01-2017, 11:45 PM
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Haha thank you so much for your review, though there are some points I'd like to clarify.
I should indeed pay attention to have the story in active voice, you're absolutely right.
I realize that I should have put a little foreword there.
I was going for a style like Charles Baudelaire with his fleurs du mal (flowers of evil), well, minus the talent ha. In his poems you find some metaphors like "and the sky looked at that sublime corpse, like a flower blossoming ". That was the effect I was going for.
Why is this flowery then? Well it will be a poetic tale about finding out your identity (he is the bastard) and if you look closely every body is called with a title from the boy's point of view. The man (his father) , the mayor, the blacksmith.

And I wanted to contrast between poetry as the MC is viewing things and the brutal reality he is suffering. It is like he wants to escape from the banal and cruel reality.

I wanted to write it a little more disconnected / dispationate to be honest, since this is how he perceives life. Well, without boring the reader, too.

Once again thank you for commenting, will fix the glaring flaws
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:52 AM
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I like the mood and poetic style of this piece.

The art metaphor worked for me. Finding nothing pleasing in his wan reflection, he compares the shading of his bruises to recollections of paintings. It immediately suggests the sadness and lack of beauty in his life.

That said, the delivery didn't quite hit the mark and needs simplifying:

"Blotches of colour daubed his skin like brush strokes creating a brooding sky."

Other than that, I like the way this is written. There's room to question and interpret what you're reading as with art or poetry - which works for me.

Nice work Duke. Interested to read more.
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 08-02-2017 at 05:37 AM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Grace Gabriel View Post
I like the mood and poetic style of this piece.

The art metaphor worked for me. Finding nothing pleasing in his wan reflection, he compares the shading of his bruises to recollections of paintings. It immediately suggests the sadness and lack of beauty in his life.
Poetic maybe. But it doesn't sound remotely plausible to me. Think about how you might feel if you were looking at a reflection of your bruised covered body. Seriously.

It seems to me the idea is to make a reader feel and empathize with the character -- and when you force the imagery to this degree it has the opposite effect.

If you had to push the metaphor then maybe you could write something like --

Bruises covered his torso -- splotches of purple, blue and yellow, like the random brushstrokes of a mad watercolor artist.

But even so, you're just creating distance between the narrator and the character.

What would he really feel at the moment? What do you want a reader to feel?

To me, writing is about a certain amount of precision.

Last edited by Myers; 08-02-2017 at 11:27 AM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
Poetic maybe. But it doesn't sound remotely plausible to me. Think about how you might feel if you were looking at a reflection of your bruised covered body. Seriously.

It seems to me the idea is to make a reader feel and empathize with the character -- and when you force the imagery to this degree it has the opposite effect.

If you had to push the metaphor then maybe you could write something like --

Bruises covered his torso -- splotches of purple, blue and yellow, like the random brushstrokes of a mad watercolor artist.

But even so, you're just creating distance between the narrator and the character.

What would he really feel at the moment? What do you want a reader to feel?

To me, writing is about a certain amount of precision.

Are you critting ma crit?

Nothing wrong with your taste in literature Myers.

Nothing wrong with mine either.
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Old 08-02-2017, 02:09 PM
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Yeah -- I'm critting your crit.

I figured you could deal with it.
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Old 08-02-2017, 02:32 PM
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BTW --

"It seems to me..."

"Maybe you could..."

"To me..."

And it's all framed as a question.

I think I've done an adequate job qualifying things

If someone disagrees with me -- no problem.

If a line is crossed -- and it has nothing to do with helping the author, then it's a problem.

I don't we're there.
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Old 08-02-2017, 03:20 PM
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Nah.

Different perspectives.. different tastes...no right or wrong.

I can't stand Terry Pratchett's work - but he did quite well for himself without my endorsement.

This resonates with me and I like it.

I can feel this boy.


A purple blush ripened on his jaw,
a dusting of turmeric yellowed his arm,
the bruises didn't hurt anymore,
so unattached, so numb and calm.

His fingers mapped a trail of pain,
each punishment had left its mark.
He marvelled at the rainbow stain
that pulsed its colour in the dark.

So ghostly pale and cruelly thin,
the colours of a brooding sky.
He found such beauty in his skin
considered with an artist's eye.

Matted hair and deadened eyes,
a child that isn't like the others.
So rarely speaks and never cries,
he hides away his secret colours.
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 08-02-2017 at 03:34 PM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:22 PM
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Did I say or even imply anything about "right or wrong?"
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:29 PM
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If I've contradicted you in some way that you don't like -- sorry. But that's not my problem.

In the end, it's up to the author to decide what to take in and what to leave on the table, isn't it?
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:44 PM
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And has Terry Pratchett posted anything here for critique or asked you for your opinion?

I'm guessing no.

Last edited by Myers; 08-02-2017 at 06:11 PM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
And has Terry Pratchett posted anything here for critique or asked you for your opinion?

I'm guessing no.


But we can't be sure...

Maybe Cityboy is really Terry under deep cover.
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
Yeah -- I'm critting your crit.

I figured you could deal with it.

For sure...because you always follow the same behaviour pattern:

(1) Gatecrash a conversation to bring the spotlight fully on yourself.

(2) Dissect your target's perspective to initiate their qualifying or defensive post.

(3) Confidently assert that your target is really the unreasonable aggressor (always helpful to quote the target's original sentiments as your own, to execute a complete 360 table turn.)

(4) Finish with a puerile comment - go for patronising - but bitchy will serve the purpose

(5) Always leave the target with priceless Myers quote that will keep them chuckling for weeks.
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Grace Gabriel View Post
Are you critting ma crit?

Nothing wrong with your taste in literature Myers.

Nothing wrong with mine either.

So.

Start with entirely neutral perspective of target....
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 08-02-2017 at 11:56 PM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by myers View Post
yeah -- i'm critting your crit.

I figured you could deal with it.

step one...the gatecrash
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 08-02-2017 at 11:50 PM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
Poetic maybe. But it doesn't sound remotely plausible to me. Think about how you might feel if you were looking at a reflection of your bruised covered body. Seriously.

It seems to me the idea is to make a reader feel and empathize with the character -- and when you force the imagery to this degree it has the opposite effect.

If you had to push the metaphor then maybe you could write something like --

Bruises covered his torso -- splotches of purple, blue and yellow, like the random brushstrokes of a mad watercolor artist.

But even so, you're just creating distance between the narrator and the character.

What would he really feel at the moment? What do you want a reader to feel?

To me, writing is about a certain amount of precision.
step two...dissect target's opinion
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 08-02-2017 at 11:51 PM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
If I've contradicted you in some way that you don't like -- sorry. But that's not my problem.

In the end, it's up to the author to decide what to take in and what to leave on the table, isn't it?

step three...turn the tables and make target appear the challenger.
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 08-02-2017 at 11:53 PM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:41 PM
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Bonus quote:

"In the end, it's up to the author to decide what to take in or leave on the table isn't it?"


...No shit Sherlock.

Is that why you've delivered your crit twice over and pulled mine apart?
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 08-03-2017 at 12:26 AM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
And has Terry Pratchett posted anything here for critique or asked you for your opinion?

I'm guessing no.
step four...finish with sarcasm, attempt a put-down or settle for bitchy.
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 08-02-2017 at 11:54 PM..
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:44 PM
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"If someone disagrees with me - no problem"

step five....and there's my favourite quote.

Priceless.
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 08-03-2017 at 12:24 AM..
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Old 08-03-2017, 01:23 AM
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Wow, such drama.It was not my intention to stir the hornet's nest. So, I apologize for that. But, since it has been stirred, might as well go all in, and ask for seconds.

Escapism, that is what I was aiming for. You know, like when kids pretend to play heroes, pretending to go on adventures. However, instead of becoming withdrawn in his own little world, he dissociates. A psychic trauma is often accompanied with temporary or long-term dissociation. Here, the dissociation makes him turn the reality (bruises, his father abusing him) into something completely disconnected. Like poetry, paintings.

However, I am no psychiatrist. The aim was not to describe accurately the psyche of an abused child.
I am more into factual sciences than human studies. I don't do people.

I agree that the execution might be rather poor, though. It was mostly inspired by someone I knew rather intimately. She would always make jokes about her dad being a creep. Her father had abused her. When I pointed out the bruises she had, she would say "What, don't like my makeup?" or some kind of cheesy line.

It has been most helpful to know what people think about that, though. That means there is still much more room for improvement. So thank you, Myers, I now know I need to tone down on the floweriness.

As a side note, that is why I'm reluctant to post anything. It was more of a draft than a finished product, to be perfectly honest. I have been reworking and reworking everything from scratch for a few weeks.

And thank you Grace, that's absolutely the kind of feeling I wanted to evoke, Terry Pratchett style.

And now I feel like a prat, copying the work of famous authors, watered down and a pale imitation.
Should have read that before, would have prevented me from going Wheeze splash boom.
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Old 08-03-2017, 01:57 AM
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Duke, it's not about delivering something perfect. It was extremely brave to post up work so quickly - and you did yourself proud.

A bit of tuning, and you've got the start of something great.

Well done.
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:03 AM
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You're welcome, Duke. And sorry for my role in the drama.

Grace, I shouldn't have critted your crit, or gone about it differently and been less adamant.

It honestly wasn't my intention to attack you personally or upset you in any way -- and I hope you will accept my apology.

Last edited by Myers; 08-03-2017 at 03:19 AM..
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:38 AM
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Thanks, but not needed. ..all wholesome fun.

Duke's gained from our robust exchange of opinion - 24 replies, 353 views and he hasn't even taken his coat off yet.

Bit different in our day...hanging around in the wings for months hoping someone would land on your thread by accident. Kids of today eh?
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:40 AM
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All wholesome fun?

Well that's a relief. I was kind of worried that you'd totally lost your shit.
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Old 08-03-2017, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
All wholesome fun?

Well that's a relief. I was kind of worried that you'd totally lost your shit.
(nice deployment of step 3 again...sshh...we won't mention it )

Don't you worry - my shit is very much together.

I think you'll find it was yours sailing through the bars of your cage :
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Old 08-03-2017, 05:52 AM
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Aw, remember there are "people behind typed words."



P.S. -- is that Step 3 again? I want to be sure.

Last edited by Myers; 08-03-2017 at 05:56 AM..
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Old 08-03-2017, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
Aw, remember there are "people behind typed words."



P.S. -- is that Step 3 again? I want to be sure.

No, silly.

You've followed your pattern and moved on to step four.

(honestly...I wrote it out for you...)
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Old 08-03-2017, 06:04 AM
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Here's an idea -- why don't you go work on those song lyrics -- and I'll go warm up my kazoo.

(Changing the subject -- you can make that Step 6.)
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