Dancing - 500 words

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

PhoenixGrey

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Hi, this story is one of a few that I would like to self-publish in a collection. I guess I'm looking for some feedback on them, to try to get them as good as they can be. I understand the concept of beta readers for novels, and wonder if there's such a thing for collections of short fiction?

Anyway, any feedback on this one is much appreciated. :)



I take her hand in mine. Her skin is soft, and her fingers long, rings wrapping around them, twinkling in the light of the ballroom.

We are alone, twirling around this large empty space. She smiles, and laughter slips from her lips. It echoes, bouncing off the ceiling, the walls, coming back to us and wrapping around our bodies as we move in​ time to imagined music, an unheard beat that we both feel inside.

Her fingers come to her lips, her eyes wide, surprised and embarrassed by the sound she just made.

We mustn't get caught in this place.

My feet slide along the polished floor, pulling her close to me, my hand going around her supple waist. She bites the bottom of her lip, her gaze on the ground, shy, beautiful.

I touch my lips to hers and we stop, our bodies pressed together. Her hand brushes my cheek and I shiver.

Our eyes open, and I fall into her deep blue eyes. They are like the purest water, deliciously cool and deep.

“I love you,” she whispers.

I echo her words. They are not enough. They don't express the longing, the protective ache, the admiration I feel for her.

I pull her over to the glass doors that open out into the impressive garden. It is a grand place, a place of fairy tales dreams, a place I could never hope to truly belong.

We step outside, into the warmth of fresh spring sunshine. Our arms wrap around each other's waists, and I never want to let go of her. My heart aches, knowing that I must.

The garden is full of colour. Newly blossomed trees line the main path, pale pink and yellow tiny flowers blowing in the gentle breeze. Flowers, yellow and red and pink and white, all poking their heads up above the soil, hesitantly looking up at the sun, drinking in its steady warmth.

The gravel of the winding path crunches delicately beneath my feet. It is a path to nowhere, leading only back to the ballroom doors. I do not want it to come to an end. I wish to walk on this path with her, just like this, forever.

But it is inevitable that it will end. All things do.

We pass a secluded area. An arch made of plants and flowers frames the entrance, a thick hedge its border. We pause by the arch, and my gaze goes to the slimmer path inside. I shouldn't be here, but I cannot enter that place. I fear my heart would break completely if I did.

Her head comes to my shoulder. She knows my pain.

We walk on, and I resist the compulsion to look over my shoulder, to look back and make the pain worse.

She begins to hum softly, the sound delicate, reminding me of nightingales in the summer.

I hold her even tighter, but by the time I stand facing the doors to the house again, I am alone.
 

Hedwig

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Hi PhoenixGrey,

I have to say I really appreciate the atmosphere you are creating with this piece. It's very beautiful. That being said, I think there may be opportunities for you to draw us in further by using more specific language. For example, here:

my hand going around her supple waist.

You may want to use more specific language than just "going around". How did the hand go?

I also believe that you build up the tension well at the first moment the main character states that he will have to let his lady go. You can (and should, I think) build on that tension by giving the reader an indication of that conflict at the beginning of the piece. Maybe not right at the beginning, but very early on. Smack us in the face with the conflict so that we can spend the whole piece in the same level of anxiety as the MC.

Finally, I think I'll just give my impressions after they leave the ballroom, because I'm not entirely sure I know what's going on.

It seemed like they were on a semicircular path nearby another garden-type area, where the MC couldn't go for some reason - the reader does not know why. I think it might heighten the mystery (or help us feel the MC's pain better) to gratify the reader with just a few words about what pains the MC about that specific area. There is something to be said for keeping the reader in the dark, but I do think there is a level of dark that is too thick.

Similarly, the lady seems to just disappear by the time he reaches the glass doors again, which makes me wonder if she's a ghost or a memory, or if he actually said goodbye to a living person before he got back to the door.

I don't want to assume what your intentions were with that part, but again I think just a smidge more information (maybe even just using more specific language to define what actually happened) may help clear up some of the fogginess.

I hope this helps! Feel free to reply and clarify what your intentions were. Maybe I can give better crit with more info :)
 

PhoenixGrey

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Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. :)

You've made some good points. I'll take another look at it and bring some of your advice in.

As for the ending, I was going for ambiguity. I wanted the reader to be unsure what she was. But maybe this is the wrong path to take?
 

Hedwig

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As for the ending, I was going for ambiguity. I wanted the reader to be unsure what she was. But maybe this is the wrong path to take?

It may be a matter of preference for me. I prefer my endings to provide answers rather than questions.

If it remains ambiguous because even you are not quite sure what she is, I think you may want to take the time to figure that out.

Otherwise, I would say that you can leave it ambiguous, but give the reader enough of a hint about what she is for them to think they figured it out. That way you don't say outright and maintain the mystery while still rewarding the reader a little.
 

PhoenixGrey

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In my own mind I know what she is and what's happening. Hm. Maybe you're right. Using the word reward makes me think of the point of a story. It needs some form of payoff. :idea:

Thanks. :)