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  • As i opened my eyes

    I saw myself sitting on a bench in what appeared to be a small suburban playground. Green steel pipes and bright plastic with old laquered hardwood pieces surrounded by a dark brown mulch. The type you would see in most Midwestern American states. The mulch was still damp, and i could smell the steam and musky fog from it mixing with the clean, warm, air that you tend to get after a rainy night.

    I cleaned the fog from my glasses and looked around. On the ground, there was something colorful that caught my eye. Amongst the soil and mulch, I saw the corner of a small brightly colored object. It was a Rubik's Cube. I walked over and picked it up examining it. I've never been too excited over puzzles and such. but something made me take an interest in this one.

    I sat down with it on one of the old hardwood benches. By all means it looked average, nothing interesting or seemingly special about it; cleaning it off revealed bright colors printed with stickers and the cheap plastic of the moving pieces. And yet, something inside compelled me to try and solve the small plastic puzzle.

    As I began to shift one of the sides I felt some resistance not from the cube but from my own hand. Yet still I was pushed, by some unseen thing to keep going. I heard a slight whispering sound and felt more resistance from my hand, it was uncomfortable, it was getting painful, but i kept going. and as I finally shifted the side in the place 

    my finger immediately bent back and snapped.

    The pain was intense, yet I couldn't scream, or curse, nor could I stop myself from further progressing with the puzzle. I shifted another side, my hands now almost completely out of my control. As it fell into place another snap, my bottom two fingers on my other hand crack backwards with a sickening pop. I looked around, "could anyone see this?" I thought. But no as my eyes searched the bright colorful pipes and plastic of the play area. I could see people but it seemed as though they could not see me.

    My right hand grabbed the first two layers and shifted them to the left as I did I felt my entire wrist twist and then violently snap on my left hand. The pain was unbearable, As I looked at my mangled disfigured hands i felt nauseous and silently begged for whatever was doing this to stop. I moved the left side of the cube and felt something pull on my shoulder until with another loud pop it came loose. The strained, forced, smile still not leaving my face.

    The next thing I felt was my left leg being pulled to the side until it also popped out at my hip and thigh. I could hear giggling and whispers as my hands continued with their work.


    One by one I felt each tendon and bone pop, every sliding bone and firing nerve sending me further into this self contained hell. "This has to be a nightmare, right?" Though i knew it wasn't. You cant feel nightmares; and this pain was most certainly real. I could see my knuckles and bones jutting and bulging through the bruised skin at odd angles. I wanted to scream. Scream or cry or curse and yell so badly... but nothing came out, my face stayed contorted in a calm grin. the childish whispers and giggling became louder.

    On the last turn there was only one row of one color left to move. I felt a sharp pain in the side of my neck I felt my chin being moved to the side. Somehow the cube dropped for my hands. I watched as it rolled away. taking the voices and giggling sadistic laughter with it. I'm not sure if it was sheer luck or if it was some last throw of strength I had, or maybe this was the cube still taunting me but I didnt care. I somehow managed through heavy labored breaths to get up and crawl away on what was left of my broken limbs.

    Even through the intense pain I was just glad it was over I was so glad that I made it. I felt like the man who escaped hell itself. if i couldve seen whatever was giggling and whispering to me earlier, puppeteering my hands this whole time, i wouldve laughed. i know it sounds crazy, but the sheer relief mixed with the defiant anger at being placed in this situation.

    Then I happened to hear a young child run up behind me. Completely oblivious to the Broken Man crawling away from him. He picked up the Box "hey, only one side left." I tried to lift my head up from the damp mulch and yell at the kid. He quickly shifted it into place and ran back to show his parents.

    Before I could even shout at him to stop everything went dark.


      Loading editor
    • [Head’s up: it’s Rubik’s Cube not Rubiks Cube]

      As I open my eyes I [capitalisation] saw myself sitting in,[no comma] what appeared to be,[no comma] a small plastic and metal [is this necessary? Do we really *need* to know the material or are you just trying to be specific for specific’s sake?] playground surrounded by brown mulch[comma] the type common in most Midwestern American states. [This is nowhere near enough to set an initial scene, not to mention as a reference it’s totally lost on non-US readers like myself.]

      I adjusted my glasses and looked around. On the ground, [there was] something colorful, a small bright cube,[full stop] It was a puzzle box. I nonchalantly [this doesn’t matter in this context?] walked over and picked it up. I've never been too excited over these things[comma, also, what things?] but something made me take an interest in this one.

      I brought it over [where? You introduce unnecessary ambiguities. Just say “I sat down with it on one of…”] and sat down with it on one of the benches. By all means it looked average[comma] nothing interesting or different [interesting/different – pick one] about it [colon, semicolon, dash, whatever, this needs breaking up] bright colors printed on with stickers [awkward to read] and small plastic moving pieces [you don’t actually need to explain what a Rubik’s cube is. Everyone already knows]. And yet, something inside me compelled me to try and solve the small puzzle even though I've never been able to solve one of them before.

      As I began to shift one of the sides I felt resistance not from the cube but from my own hand. Yet I was compelled [repetition, you used this phrasing earlier] to keep going as if being forced by something, and as I finally shifted decide in the place […what?] my finger bent back and snapped.

      The pain was intense, yet I couldn't scream, nor could I stop [stop what?]. I shifted another side[comma] my hands now almost completely out of my control. As it fell into place another snap[comma] my bottom two fingers on my other hand crack backwards with a sickening pop.

      My dominant hand grabbed the first two layers and shifted them to the left as [this makes it sound like you started moving the cube after your wrist started to break] I felt my entire wrist shift [you use over use shift] and then break on my left hand. I shifted [again] the left side of the cube and felt something pull on my shoulder until with another loud pop it came loose. The next thing I felt was my left leg being pulled to the side until it also popped out at my hip and thigh. I [capitalisation] could hear giggling and whispers as my hands continued with their work.

      -

      Mechanical issues – You need to proof your own work, rigorously. 

      Anyway, you repeat a few critical errors so let’s single a few out:

      Sentence structure: Independent clause – subject, verb, object. Mary (subject) pushed (verb) the door (object). Dependent clause – verb, object, no subject. Entering(verb) the room (Object). Independent clauses can be written as individual sentences, dependent clauses cannot.  

      Independent clause + independent clause – separate using a semicolon, colon, dash, or full stop (period) or conjunction. Example:

      Mary pushed the door and she entered the room.

      Independent clause + dependent clause – separate using comma. Example:

      Mary pushed the door, entering the room.

      So summary: sentences are made up of clauses. Two types of clauses. Independent clauses that are whole sentences. Dependent clauses that are not whole sentences. You stitch them together using commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, and conjunctions. Re-read your work and make sure your sentences are constructed properly. This is by far the most common problem in your work. Remember, keep it simple and you’ll have a much easier time keeping track of clauses, commas ,etc.

      Stylistic issues: part of proofing your own work involves re-reading the words aloud to hear issues with flow and conciseness. Let’s look at:

      I felt my entire wrist shift and then break on my left hand. I shifted the left side of the cube and felt something pull on my shoulder until with another loud pop it came loose.

      Some simple cutting out and rearranging and this becomes:

      “I felt my wrist break slowly. Rotating the left side of the cube, my shoulder came loose with a loud pop.”

      Keep your wording as absolutely concise as you can. Every word you put down is precious, like gold dust. Every word ticks down another unit of time to the point where a reader says “fuck this” and clicks back on the page. It’s real estate, precious scarce and finite real estate. Do you want to use this real estate on words like “saw myself” or “what appeared to be” or eight iterations of “with” or “and then”’s?

      This story needs actual descriptive writing. You need to use creative and original word choices to show us interesting and original images. I like it when you talk about colourful stickers and loud popping shoulders, but it’s way too scarce. Be vicious when cutting out words, go at it aggressively. If what you’re left with is too thin to make a story out of then you need to go back and make interesting images out of what you do have. You make some effort to build mood and atmosphere, but nowhere near enough. Take a closer look at descriptive language and start critically reading your favourite stories to learn vocabulary and technique from writers you admire.

      What does the playground look like?

      What images of a spooky playground come to mind for you? Empty swings moving without a breeze? Rusted metal slides? A single toddler’s shoe left alone under the climbing frame? When describing things focus on how they make the narrator feel emotionally, and what sounds, smells, sights, and physical sensations they cause. Is this a vivid scene that garishly overloads your senses like a clown at a birthday party? Or a morose, lonely scene that makes you sad in a nostalgic way like those photos of abandoned amusement parks? Can you smell the ocean nearby? Can cars be overheard in the distance? Or is the only sound total silence? Is the ground dry and arid or wet and soft? Do you get the lingering sense of tragedy? Or desolation? Or overt aggressive threat?

      Get in there and think about what details you want to put down and think carefully about the words you can use to get it down there. Don’t be too specific (you’ll never control everything in your reader’s mind), instead be tactical. Like I said, focus on emotions and sensations. Just a handful of details will do the job.

      Similarly, let’s think about those bones breaking. What does the skin look like when the bones break? How helpless does the narrator feel? Do they cry out? Do they sob? What direction do things pop out of? Do fingers snap only backwards, or perhaps to the side? Does bone end up jutting out of skin? How does the skin tear? Slowly, like a finger pushing through seran wrap? Or quickly, like paper being ripped in half?

      Description is the first step to making this story serviceable. 

      Plot – this could make a neat micropasta, but there’s a fair amount of work to do. I actually really appreciate you keeping to such a simple premise. People incorrectly thing that simplicity is bad, when it’s not. Far better to do something like this where you can revisit and correct any mistakes than some 8000 word short story with 9 named characters. Brevity and simplicity are always admirable, and should only be ignored if the story *absolutely* cannot be told in any other way. 

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    • Thank you. Honestly until you said something i really didnt realize how many little mistakes I'd made. Ill probably rewrite it because it would be better than fixing it piece by piece.

      I like the story ideas and the details too. I'll probably use some of them in the rewrite. The only thing i dont want to do is make the playground creepy. Though i wanted the narrator feeling alone i didnt want it to immediately feel like a derelict haunted place, rather i wanted it to seem like anybody could come by at any moment and just didnt.

      I appreciate the honesty though. It really needed the critique and too often people are scared to say anything but "oh its great"

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    • This really touched me. But at the same time i can never finsish a Rubik's Cube.

        Loading editor
    • As i[capitalisation] opened my eyes

      I saw myself sitting on a bench in what appeared to be a small suburban playground. Green steel pipes and bright plastic with old laquered [lacquered] hardwood pieces surrounded by a dark brown mulch. The type you would see in most Midwestern American states. The mulch was still damp, and I [capitalisation]  could smell the steam and musky fog from it mixing with the clean, warm, air that you tend to get after a rainy night. [I like this but I think I think you could nix the bit after “mixing”]

      I cleaned the fog from my glasses and looked around. On the ground, there was something colorful that caught my eye. Amongst the soil and mulch, I saw the corner of  [so for the sake of conciseness, I’d replace “something” in the previous sentence with “a small brightly colored object”]. It was a Rubik's Cube. I walked over and picked it up[comma] examining it. I've never been too excited over puzzles and such. [capitalisation] but something made me take an interest in this one.

      [because of the sort of dream logic you use, I don’t think you need to say “I’ve never been into puzzles.” You have the reader interested and that’s all that matters, you don’t need to go that extra step]

      I sat down with it on one of the old hardwood benches. By all means it looked average, nothing interesting or seemingly special about it; cleaning it off revealed bright colors printed with stickers and the cheap plastic of the moving pieces. And yet, something inside compelled me to try and solve the small plastic puzzle. [I don’t think you need the compulsion element. Most people will just fiddle with a Rubik’s cube quite naturally. The uncanniness of this story will come through te mood you create, not necessarily from how the cube forces you to solve it]

      As I began to shift one of the sides I felt some resistance not from the cube but from my own hand. Yet still I was pushed, by some unseen thing to keep going [<- this bit is actually fine, and the perfect moment to start hinting to the audience about the cube controlling the narrator]. I heard a slight whispering sound and felt more resistance from my hand, it was uncomfortable, it was getting painful, but I [capitalisation] kept going. and as [capitalisation] I finally shifted the side in the place 

      [formatting error] my finger immediately bent back and snapped. [conciseness: drop immediately (things don’t snap slowly, it’s a sharp hard word that invokes immediacy] and consider whether you need to say “bent”. I’d cut at least one of those words to get  either“my finger immediately snapped backwards” or “my finger bent backwards and snapped”.]

      The pain was intense, yet I couldn't scream, or curse, nor could I stop myself from further progressing with the puzzle[I think you can word that last bit in a more concise, snappier, way]. I shifted another side, my hands now almost completely out of my control. As it fell into place another snap, my bottom two fingers on my other hand crack backwards with a sickening pop [“sickening pop” is a lot of fun. I think you should start with it so it goes something like “As it fell into place I heard a sickening pop, my bottom two fingers snapping backwards something something rest of the sentence” . I looked around, "could anyone see this?" I thought. [you repeat this idea almost immediately afterwards] But no as my eyes searched the bright colorful pipes and plastic of the play area. [comma, not full stop] I could see people but it seemed as though they could not see me [how does it seem like this? Do they not look at him? Are they looking elsewhere?].

      My right hand grabbed the first two layers and shifted them to the left [full stop] as I did I felt my entire wrist twist and then violently snap [this is a bit repetitive, you over-use snap] on my left hand. The pain was unbearable, [full stop] As I looked at my mangled disfigured hands I [capitalisation] felt nauseous and silently begged for whatever was doing this to stop [a good image to consider would be the way broken bones look/move under the skin]. I moved the left side of the cube and felt something pull on my shoulder until with another loud pop it came loose. [Again, this is all very repetitive] The strained, forced, smile still not leaving my face. [I don’t remember the smile]

      The next thing I felt was my left leg being pulled to the side until it also popped out at my hip and thigh. I could hear giggling and whispers as my hands continued with their work.

      One by one I felt each tendon and bone pop, every sliding bone [repetition] and firing nerve sending me further into this self contained hell. "This has to be a nightmare, right?" Though I [I] knew it wasn't. You cant [can’t] feel nightmares; and this pain was most certainly real. I could see my knuckles and bones jutting and bulging through the bruised skin at odd angles [here we go, that’s a good bit of description]. I wanted to scream. Scream or cry or curse and yell so badly... but nothing came out, my face stayed contorted in a calm grin. The [The] childish whispers and giggling became louder.

      On the last turn there was only one row of one color left to move. I felt a sharp pain in the side of my neck[full stop] I felt my chin being moved to the side. Somehow the cube dropped for [from] my hands. I watched as it rolled away. taking the voices and giggling sadistic laughter with it. I'm not sure if it was sheer luck or if it was some last throw of strength I had, or maybe this was the cube still taunting me but I didn’t [didn’t] care. I somehow managed through heavy labored breaths to get up and crawl away on what was left of my broken limbs.

      Even through the intense pain I was just glad it was over I was so glad that I made it. I felt like the man who escaped hell itself. if i couldve [I could’ve] seen whatever was giggling and whispering to me earlier, puppeteering my hands this whole time, i wouldve laughed [I would’ve]. I [I] know it sounds crazy, but the sheer relief mixed with the defiant anger at being placed in this situation. [this reaction doesn’t make sense to me because it’s specified as something he’d do only if he saw the puppeteer? But you say it like it’s in response to the general experience?]

      Then I happened to hear a young child run up behind me. Completely oblivious to the Broken Man crawling away from him. He picked up the Box[colon, new line for speech->] "hey[Hey], only one side left." I tried to lift my head up from the damp mulch and yell at the kid. He quickly shifted it into place and ran back to show his parents.

      Before I could even shout at him to stop everything went dark.

      -

      Mechanical errors: still a hell of a lot. You have to use a spellchecker, it’d catch 99% of the obvious ones.

      Style issues: so you make a deliberate effort to describe things and the improvement is colossal. Seriously, congrats on actually coming back with a new edition. Most people aren’t willing to face up to the gruelling task of learning/improving. Still, you have a lot of work ahead of you starting with issues of repetition. I’d recommend looking at your use of words like snap, pop, etc which are overused in this story. There are definite nuggets of good writing in this, but I can see you struggling to fill in the word count. My advice is to cut what you can’t find justification for and to revisit the final “oomph” of the story.

      Don’t forget this is an early attempt for you, and you should feel free to experiment and not commit to dragging this exact version up to standards. Maybe give it a day and think if there are other ways to approach this story? The core concept is good but consider rewriting it with a subtle twist. Maybe we only see the aftermath of the cube’s destruction, and it’s up to a different protagonist to piece together the grotesque folded corpse found on a playground? At the end of the day there’s only so many ways you can say “I turned a bit of the cube and the motion was mirrored in my flesh”, and if you keep saying it over and over it’s inevitable that repetition will set in. Maybe only having that event occur once or twice is all that's necessary? That way it's impact is maximised. 

        Loading editor
    • Yeah i gotta rewrite alot here. And i think youre right about the overusing the popping and breaking. Maybe once or so then i just zoom through the rest as one description like "with every turn another joint twisting and pulling itself loose, another bone splintering underneath my skin." Its the mechanical errors bothering me i really thought I fixed em all

        Loading editor
    • ChristianWallis wrote: As i[capitalisation] opened my eyes

      I saw myself sitting on a bench in what appeared to be a small suburban playground. Green steel pipes and bright plastic with old laquered [lacquered] hardwood pieces surrounded by a dark brown mulch. The type you would see in most Midwestern American states. The mulch was still damp, and I [capitalisation]  could smell the steam and musky fog from it mixing with the clean, warm, air that you tend to get after a rainy night. [I like this but I think I think you could nix the bit after “mixing”]

      I cleaned the fog from my glasses and looked around. On the ground, there was something colorful that caught my eye. Amongst the soil and mulch, I saw the corner of  [so for the sake of conciseness, I’d replace “something” in the previous sentence with “a small brightly colored object”]. It was a Rubik's Cube. I walked over and picked it up[comma] examining it. I've never been too excited over puzzles and such. [capitalisation] but something made me take an interest in this one.

      [because of the sort of dream logic you use, I don’t think you need to say “I’ve never been into puzzles.” You have the reader interested and that’s all that matters, you don’t need to go that extra step]

      I sat down with it on one of the old hardwood benches. By all means it looked average, nothing interesting or seemingly special about it; cleaning it off revealed bright colors printed with stickers and the cheap plastic of the moving pieces. And yet, something inside compelled me to try and solve the small plastic puzzle. [I don’t think you need the compulsion element. Most people will just fiddle with a Rubik’s cube quite naturally. The uncanniness of this story will come through te mood you create, not necessarily from how the cube forces you to solve it]

      As I began to shift one of the sides I felt some resistance not from the cube but from my own hand. Yet still I was pushed, by some unseen thing to keep going [<- this bit is actually fine, and the perfect moment to start hinting to the audience about the cube controlling the narrator]. I heard a slight whispering sound and felt more resistance from my hand, it was uncomfortable, it was getting painful, but I [capitalisation] kept going. and as [capitalisation] I finally shifted the side in the place 

      [formatting error] my finger immediately bent back and snapped. [conciseness: drop immediately (things don’t snap slowly, it’s a sharp hard word that invokes immediacy] and consider whether you need to say “bent”. I’d cut at least one of those words to get  either“my finger immediately snapped backwards” or “my finger bent backwards and snapped”.]

      The pain was intense, yet I couldn't scream, or curse, nor could I stop myself from further progressing with the puzzle[I think you can word that last bit in a more concise, snappier, way]. I shifted another side, my hands now almost completely out of my control. As it fell into place another snap, my bottom two fingers on my other hand crack backwards with a sickening pop [“sickening pop” is a lot of fun. I think you should start with it so it goes something like “As it fell into place I heard a sickening pop, my bottom two fingers snapping backwards something something rest of the sentence” . I looked around, "could anyone see this?" I thought. [you repeat this idea almost immediately afterwards] But no as my eyes searched the bright colorful pipes and plastic of the play area. [comma, not full stop] I could see people but it seemed as though they could not see me [how does it seem like this? Do they not look at him? Are they looking elsewhere?].

      My right hand grabbed the first two layers and shifted them to the left [full stop] as I did I felt my entire wrist twist and then violently snap [this is a bit repetitive, you over-use snap] on my left hand. The pain was unbearable, [full stop] As I looked at my mangled disfigured hands I [capitalisation] felt nauseous and silently begged for whatever was doing this to stop [a good image to consider would be the way broken bones look/move under the skin]. I moved the left side of the cube and felt something pull on my shoulder until with another loud pop it came loose. [Again, this is all very repetitive] The strained, forced, smile still not leaving my face. [I don’t remember the smile]

      The next thing I felt was my left leg being pulled to the side until it also popped out at my hip and thigh. I could hear giggling and whispers as my hands continued with their work.

      One by one I felt each tendon and bone pop, every sliding bone [repetition] and firing nerve sending me further into this self contained hell. "This has to be a nightmare, right?" Though I [I] knew it wasn't. You cant [can’t] feel nightmares; and this pain was most certainly real. I could see my knuckles and bones jutting and bulging through the bruised skin at odd angles [here we go, that’s a good bit of description]. I wanted to scream. Scream or cry or curse and yell so badly... but nothing came out, my face stayed contorted in a calm grin. The [The] childish whispers and giggling became louder.

      On the last turn there was only one row of one color left to move. I felt a sharp pain in the side of my neck[full stop] I felt my chin being moved to the side. Somehow the cube dropped for [from] my hands. I watched as it rolled away. taking the voices and giggling sadistic laughter with it. I'm not sure if it was sheer luck or if it was some last throw of strength I had, or maybe this was the cube still taunting me but I didn’t [didn’t] care. I somehow managed through heavy labored breaths to get up and crawl away on what was left of my broken limbs.

      Even through the intense pain I was just glad it was over I was so glad that I made it. I felt like the man who escaped hell itself. if i couldve [I could’ve] seen whatever was giggling and whispering to me earlier, puppeteering my hands this whole time, i wouldve laughed [I would’ve]. I [I] know it sounds crazy, but the sheer relief mixed with the defiant anger at being placed in this situation. [this reaction doesn’t make sense to me because it’s specified as something he’d do only if he saw the puppeteer? But you say it like it’s in response to the general experience?]

      Then I happened to hear a young child run up behind me. Completely oblivious to the Broken Man crawling away from him. He picked up the Box[colon, new line for speech->] "hey[Hey], only one side left." I tried to lift my head up from the damp mulch and yell at the kid. He quickly shifted it into place and ran back to show his parents.

      Before I could even shout at him to stop everything went dark.

      -

      Mechanical errors: still a hell of a lot. You have to use a spellchecker, it’d catch 99% of the obvious ones.

      Style issues: so you make a deliberate effort to describe things and the improvement is colossal. Seriously, congrats on actually coming back with a new edition. Most people aren’t willing to face up to the gruelling task of learning/improving. Still, you have a lot of work ahead of you starting with issues of repetition. I’d recommend looking at your use of words like snap, pop, etc which are overused in this story. There are definite nuggets of good writing in this, but I can see you struggling to fill in the word count. My advice is to cut what you can’t find justification for and to revisit the final “oomph” of the story.

      Don’t forget this is an early attempt for you, and you should feel free to experiment and not commit to dragging this exact version up to standards. Maybe give it a day and think if there are other ways to approach this story? The core concept is good but consider rewriting it with a subtle twist. Maybe we only see the aftermath of the cube’s destruction, and it’s up to a different protagonist to piece together the grotesque folded corpse found on a playground? At the end of the day there’s only so many ways you can say “I turned a bit of the cube and the motion was mirrored in my flesh”, and if you keep saying it over and over it’s inevitable that repetition will set in. Maybe only having that event occur once or twice is all that's necessary? That way it's impact is maximised. 

      I gotta work 12-14 hrs straight the next 2 days between both my jobs but im gonna try to repost a cleaned up version soon. Im still writing the cruel fate one. J

      Trashbinrat (talk) 16:56, January 16, 2020 (UTC)

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