Can I please have some feedback on my story?(12 Posts)
Genevieve stood in front of the mirror in her bedroom, all shea buttered legs and nipples through silk and Brick-o-La lipstick. She felt exquisite. She went out into the living room where her flatmate, Fran, was slouched on the sofa, smoking a cigarette and watching the news. A girl in New Zealand had been choked to death during sex. It was a sex act gone wrong, a terrible accident, a tragedy. Fran looked up.
‘You look nice,’ she said, languidly. ‘New man?’
Genevieve had not met the man she was meeting tonight, though she had been texting him for a number of weeks. His name was Paul.
‘Show me a picture,’ said Fran.
Genevieve said she didn’t have one, which was untrue. She had several: Paul standing on a beach in a wetsuit, Paul standing on a mountain, Paul standing in front a mirror, staring at his reflection. He was an exaggerated version of her usual type. His muscles popped out of his shirt. He reminded her of Frankenstein’s monster in that he had a thick neck and a similar sort of expression on his face, austere and vaguely menacing. It was a compelling face, endearing in its ugliness.
‘Well, have fun. Be careful. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.’
She put on her heels, pretty silver things she had worn on every date this year. Her toenails she had painted a shade called Half Past Nude.
She said goodbye to Fran and went down in the lift. She stood outside, smoking a Silk Cut. A man she had never seen before, tall and stinking of aftershave, came out of the building. As he passed her he nodded at the cigarette and said, ‘that’ll give you cancer.’ His eyes twinkled as though he had said something profoundly funny, and as he hopped down the stairs he glanced back at her for a reaction, a nervous laugh, a witty comment, a defiant plume. But she kept her expression blank. Nice tits, he called over his shoulder.
The sky was dusky purple, the colour of eyeshadow, the colour of bruising. She had had a bourbon to steady her nerves but no more than a glass. She had been looking forward to this all week and could not now afford to be drunk.
[Need to add para here]
They sat in the pub. He stared openly at her breasts. She asked for a gin and tonic; he bought her a double. Their conversation was perfunctory. He worked in recruitment; he was thinking of becoming a personal trainer but in the long term what he really wanted to do (here he became slightly more animated) was open his own recruitment business for fitness professionals.
He asked her what she did. She was trying to be a writer, but she did not want him to know it.
‘Oh, I’m just a receptionist,’ she said – and though her answer was self-deprecating, in fact she liked being a receptionist; the phone only rang a handful of times throughout the day and she was free to write.
‘We could have another drink at mine if you like,’ he said.
They went back to his flat, which was in a multi-storey building that reminded her of the abandoned apartments of Pripyat she had seen on a documentary about Chernobyl. The hallways were long and anonymous and there were no sounds. One of the walls in the corridor leading to the man’s flat was made of glass and the view was bleak and industrial, though something about his demeanour as they walked along suggested to her that he was proud to live here.
She wondered, vaguely, whether she was supposed to assume that they would be having sex; of course she knew that this was what his invitation had meant, that it was now implicitly understood by the both of them (and had been since she had said yes to going back with him – or possibly from the moment she had walked into the pub), but she felt that this understanding was possibly only the result of the way she thought about things. Over the years she had come to expect out of the blue sexual overtures, and she acknowledged now the possibility that it was these very expectations themselves that led to their own realisation, the possibility that she conjured her sexual experiences with the power of thought. An image of Danielle, a girl from work, covering her ears with her hands during a work night out, flashed in her mind. All that evening she had been murmuring about their drunk manager trying to kiss her on her way out of the toilets, as though this kiss had been a really awful and unexpected violation, and though Genevieve had outwardly sympathised, she had inwardly bristled at what, to her, had seemed like a massive overreaction. Danielle was a virgin, and for some reason Genevieve felt vicious about it. What if Danielle had accepted this man’s invitation, believing all this to be nothing more than a platonic drink? She tried to imagine Danielle passively lying back as this man felt his way up her thigh but found that it was unimaginable.
She walked behind him down the hallway and stared at the back of his head. She did not know if she desired this man. She did not think so; and yet she was free to turn around and leave. But the thought of getting home and taking off her silver shoes disappointed her.
‘It’s very quiet,’ she said, as the man put his key in the lock.
‘Yeah,’ he said, and looked down at her. She gave him a meaningful look without meaning to; she could not help the way her eyes were – dark, luring, lascivious.
The door opened into a large kitchen diner. The walls were exposed brick.
‘Do you live alone?’ she asked. Her voice sounded echoey.
‘Yeah,’ he said with affected casualness. ‘I bought it outright.’
From a pot on top of the fridge he picked up a bag of cocaine, wetted his finger, bought the little mound of powder to his nostril. He offered the bag to her, and though she did not want any, she took her key from her pocket and had some. He watched her closely. It was bizarre, she thought, the extent to which everything was determined by context; because they had met on a dating app, he could now take drugs openly, but if she had met him at an ‘appointment’ (she had only recently gotten a permanent job; for months she had had to meet men like this, recruitment consultants, had had to speak to them about ‘perks’ and ‘potential’) he would be firmly shaking her hand and promising to ring her as soon as anything came up. They were strangers to each other, but in this space he could do whatever he liked, and it would be entirely normal. (She was always having thoughts like this; when she made eye contact with a male barista on her way into work, she knew the line that kept him in check was thin. Because the barista was working, he said please and thank you and pretended to be asexual; but if she later bumped into him in a club, the reins would be off.)
They sat down on the sofa; he turned the television on. There was a film on about a woman being gang raped in a cabin somewhere. Genevieve felt like she was thirteen, watching a sex scene as a pathetic prelude to a boy plucking up the courage to kiss her. She was too old for this. She could feel the pulse in her eyebrow. Her mouth was dry.
‘Can I have that drink?’ she asked.
‘Oh,’ he said. ‘Yeah.’
He got a can of lager out of the fridge and handed it to her. She sipped at it. The smell always reminded her of her father, which was both nauseating and comforting. The man had some more cocaine, then sat down beside her again. The woman in the film was whimpering.
A few seconds went by, and then she felt his hand on her thigh. It was gentle, like hot air. Here we go, she thought. She continued to watch the film. The woman was wearing a black thong. The man began to move his fingers in a little circle, as though her leg was a laptop touchpad. Then he took the can of lager from her hands and placed it on the floor, held her cheeks in his hand and leant his body over hers to kiss her. His mouth was sluggish and revolting. She thought again of Danielle.
‘You’re stunning by the way,’ he said drily; he sounded like a weary prostitute resigning himself to one more fuck. He was holding her hand; he pulled her into a standing position and, when she was up, he pushed her against the wall. Christ, she thought. It’s going to happen; it’s happening.
They went into the bedroom. The view from this side of the building was better; the sky was plush and velveteen in the depth of its purpleness; crane lights twinkled seductively. She went and stood by the window and looked down at it all; the man followed, silently leant his body against hers, closed the blinds. Goodbye, she thought. Goodbye. There was nothing now but darkness, and slow, dank breath.
He was pushing himself into her back; he was pulling her hands behind her; his palm was on the nape of her neck, pushing her down; she could feel the sour drip of the cocaine in her throat.
‘Wait,’ she said. ‘Wait, let me just get a glass of water.’
He let go, and she felt her way back to the door and into the kitchen. She opened some draws at random. There was a carving knife in one of them; she briefly considered it. Serrated metal, the difference between life and death. She closed the draw and opened the dishwasher. There was a cheese grater on the bottom shelf. She picked it up and walked back into the bedroom. The man had turned a lamp on and was lying on the bed, naked, expectant. His penis looked like a mole rat, lolling repulsively against his thigh. Her hands were behind her back again; she smiled at him, and he smiled back.
He felt the cold of the metal before the hot sting of blood.
Jesuuuus, you should probably have a trigger warning ⚠️ and I'm only half joking there.
What genre is this? Domestic thriller?
It's not something I personally read, so perhaps someone will come along with better advice but to me it felt very.... clunky. But not in a long, flowery, exaggerated way. More just a "I'm trying to do fast paced with short sharp sentences & paras but not really getting it" kind of way.
I think it's because you don't use a single "don't" or words to that effect. It's all very, very formal, which always drags me out of the story a bit.
And the dialogue tripped me up straight away. It was quite forced and unnatural. I think if you're going to do dialogue you either go full out or you just mention what happened. I think you were trying to go for moody but it might have been better to maybe have flatmate very cheery so we could have got the moody characterisation of G, rather than what we had.
That said I did actually like the story and how it was set up. The foreshadowing could perhaps be a bit more subtle, but I kept reading even if I did roll my eyes a wee bit.
Have you listened to the podcast
‘My dad wrote a porno?’
My Dad wrote a porno is actually funny and well written.
I prefer more story and less over the top descriptions regardless of subject. It's mostly filler without substance I'm afraid.
I think some of these comments are overly harsh. Your sentences are well-constructed and the piece reads fluently. I thought the dialogue was ok. The difficulty I found was that almost the entire piece was a description of events which, in themselves, were quite routine and dull.
You tried to generate interest and meaning for those events in a couple of more analytic paragraphs, for example where the character thinks about the assumptions she has made and how different she is from Danielle. But it would have better if you could have revealed the themes raised in those asides within the action itself. Then the events throughout the story might have gathered more interest, rather than seeming like staging posts to the finale.
It would also have been good to develop the characters more. I didn't feel I knew enough about Genevieve to care about her or understand why she acted as she did. And the fact that she wants to be a writer makes it seem that you haven't done enough to make her herself rather than you. The other characters weren't really drawn at all.
I thought you did a good job of describing the setting in an interesting way. Perhaps if that is a strong point for you, you could build on it and make the settings even more vivid.
It's awful. Sorry. And very outdated
I liked it. Shorten your sentences a little though. Remember a sentence should be one subject only.
i thought it was very good. youre a talented writer, i couldnt take my eyes off the screen.
bleak. very. not my thing at all but youve got something.
Wait - what? She stabbed him with a cheese-grater?
Well, that's novel.
The nipples were a surprise. It smacks a bit of r/menwritingwomen (look it up on Reddit).
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