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  1. #1
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Please, would you proofread my short story

    This is the fourth part of my short story "A Flat". Please, would you proofread it.

    The couple had not planned to have more children, but somehow Jelena became pregnant for the third time. She was willing to have an abortion, but Ivan said, “We have two daughters, let’s see if we get a son.” However, nine months later the third daughter was born. Ivan was a little disappointed. He wished to have a son, talk to him like man to man, teach him how to behave properly and take him to football matches.

    His friends comforted him by telling him that it was always better to have daughters than sons, because daughters always took care of their parents, even if they were married and had their own families. Sons moved away and did not have much time for their parents, especially if they were married to jealous women who were not willing to share them with anyone.

    Although Ivan loved his daughters greatly and worked overtime to create for them a beautiful childhood, he yearned after that boy who still had not come up. Then they tried again, and this time his prayers had been answered. After the birth of the first son, Ivan gave a party and invited all the neighbours from the street. He was poor and could not offer them expensive drinks and meals, but Jelena was good cook and she conjured up delicious soups and pastries which were highly praised by the guests.

    Everyone came to see the newborn baby and according to the local custom, they kissed him and put some money under his pillow.
    About one month later a commission responsible for the flat applications arrived. There were three middle-aged men who Ivan knew well, and who worked in the same factory as he did, although in a different unit. They were cordial and patted friendly Ivan’s children who gazed at them in awe. Then they opened their thick notebooks and began to write down all the details of the state of the flat.

    They had a tape measure which they used to measure the ceiling height. It showed just about two metres. They measured the rooms which were so small that they hardly could be called rooms at all. They put on record rotting window frames, cracks on the walls, rotting floorboards in the rooms and mouldy walls in the toilet. They noted down that the rooms were heated by a wooden cooker only and that the flat lacked proper insulation.

    That made it almost unfit for human habitation and it did not meet the requirements of the Housing Regulations. Although they emphasized that they had to remain impartial and simply collect the facts, they were deeply affected by what they had seen. Before they left, the three men shook hands with Jelena and Ivan wishing them good luck.
    Their visit rekindled the family’s hopes. One day they would have their own flat, clean and spacious and so warm that they would walk around dressed only in T-shirts in the middle of the winter. They discussed about the new furniture and new gadgets they were going to buy and what kind of flowers they were going to have on the balcony.
    However, some months later, there had been another disappointment when the flats had been allotted to other families. Ivan and his wife had no other choice but to accept the decision. They must have been people living in much worse conditions than their own, families living in squalor with sick children whose life was in danger and who needed immediate help.

    A few more years past and they were still waiting. In the meantime, Jelena gave birth to another son. Now they were seven people in the household and it felt really crowded. Vesna and her sister started school and they needed room and quiet for doing their homework, which was almost impossible to find when one was disturbed all the time. This situation mostly affected Ivan who worked hard all the time, never was on sick leave, never cheated and always believed in the ideals of socialism and communism.
    He could watch the Marshal on TV every day, promising new factories, new flats and better life, but the reality was something completely different. They taught him in the school and in the army that great leader was creating the most equal society in the history of the world, but everyone could see with one’s own eyes that a certain group in society lived like gods while others were drudging and struggling to make ends meet.

    TO BE CONTINUED

  2. #2
    DavidA is offline Newbie
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    Re: Please, would you proofread my short story

    Hi Bassim,

    1) After "He wished to have a son", you could use a colon instead of a comma as you are starting a list and this may help you to use more varied punctuation, which will make your writing more interesting.

    2) "...daughters always took care of their parents" should probably be "daughters always TAKE care of their parents".

    3) "...loved his daughters greatly" sounds a little bit clumsy. Perhaps you should consider "loved his daughters DEARLY".

    4) Instead of using the pluperfect "his prayers HAD been answered", maybe "his prayers WERE answered" would be a better choice to sound more flowing.

    5) Instead of "Ivan GAVE a party", it would make more sense to write "Ivan THREW a party".

    6) Add an "a" between "..but Jelena was" and "good cook".

    7) When you say "...and patted friendly Ivan's children", you are a bit clumsy. Are you trying to say that Ivan was friendly, or that the patting was a friendly gesture?

    8) When you say "rotting window frames", you then go on to repeat the adjective. Use a different one, such as "decaying", "decomposing" or "crumbling".

    9) Instead of "They discussed about the new furniture...", use "They discussed the new furniture...". If you use discussed, do not use about. Only use about if you use "they talked about...".

    10) Instead of "new furniture and new gadgets", remove the second "new" and simply use "new furniture and gadgets".

    11) Toward the end of your piece, instead of "they taught him in the school", try "they taught him in school".

    12) Before "great leader", add "the" if you are referring directly to a certain person or figure.

    Some of these points are somewhat pedantic, but otherwise, the story was very well written and with very few errors. :)

    Note: I am not an English teacher.

  3. #3
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Please, would you proofread my short story

    Dear DavidA

    Thank you very much for your help. I appreciate your advice very much.
    Regarding the sentence which you have numbered as 7, I wanted to say that the delegation who visited Ivan was cordial and patted his children friendly. But probably I should have expressed myself better.

  4. #4
    DavidA is offline Newbie
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    Re: Please, would you proofread my short story

    Hi Bassim,

    That's no problem - glad to be of assistance.

    Just one more thing. Regarding your comment about point seven, it still does not make sense to write "...patted his children friendly".

    Friendly is an adjective, not an adverb. If you want, you can use "...patted his children friendlily", where "friendlily" is the adverb, although this word can be a bit difficult and clumsy.

    You could always use "pleasantly" or "warmly".

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