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  1. #1
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Two Women, part one

    Please, would you take a look at the first part of my short story, Two Women, and correct my mistakes.

    I sat on an old weather-beaten tree stump smoking and pondering about the meaning of life. Before the war started I never smoked, nor did I ask myself any existential questions. I never thought about death, suffering or human evil. Maybe I was naive believing that the majority of people were decent and virtuous. Maybe my parents did not prepare me for the harsh world outside in which human beings can behave worse than animals if only they get a chance. Or, maybe I should be grateful that the war broke out in my lifetime, so that I could see all sides of the human character. Anyway, I was able only to pose questions, which nobody could answer, not even the brightest minds of humankind. My eyes wandered to the orchard and my soldiers. If it were not for this bloody conflict, the scene could be idyllic, with dozens of plum trees loaded with ripe plums, then apples, pears and other fruit plants, which seemed to thrive at the time when people kill each other. The scents of flowers lingered in the air, while birds and insects twittered and buzzed all the time. There was also an old draw-well with a round stone wall, wooden wheel and wood shingles on the roof. Before the war, this could have been a perfect photograph for the promotion of the countryside.

    The frontline was a few kilometres away, and that meant that we all could take it easy. After years of fierce, bloody battles, this time felt almost like a holiday. Only occasionally one could hear the distant thud of artillery fire. But that would last just for a few minutes, after which the birds would come to the stage again to compete in their everlasting song competition. Nevertheless, we were all waiting for something to happen. We were exhausted, both mentally and physically, and we wanted this madness to end as soon as possible. When the first skirmishes began, people believed that they would end after a few days and that common sense would prevail, but days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. But, still, the end was not in sight. The politicians of the involved nations did not want to make any concession, while the great powers were not interested in stopping slaughter and killing. Their plan was probably to let the warring people exterminate each other until they become so worn out, hungry and desperate that they would accept any plan for peace of the international community. But until that day, suffering would continue on both sides, and lists of fallen soldiers and civilians becoming longer.

    To be continued

  2. #2
    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Smile Re: Two Women, part one

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Please, would you take a look at the first part of my short story, Two Women, and correct my mistakes.

    I sat on an old, weather-beaten tree stump smoking and pondering about the meaning of life. Before the war started I never smoked, nor did I ask myself any existential questions. I never thought about death, suffering or human evil. Maybe I was naive believing that the majority of people were decent and virtuous. Maybe my parents did not prepare me for the harsh world outside, in which human beings can behave worse than animals if only they get got a chance. Or, maybe I should be grateful that the war broke out in my lifetime, so that I could see all sides of the human character. Anyway, I was able only to pose questions, which nobody could answer, not even the brightest minds of humankind. My eyes wandered to the orchard and my soldiers. If it were not for this bloody conflict, the scene could be idyllic, with dozens of plum trees loaded with ripe plums, then apples, pears and other fruit plants (Though there may be fruit plants, the usual reference is to fruit trees), which seemed to thrive at the time when people kill each other. The scents of flowers lingered in the air, while birds and insects twittered and buzzed all the time. There was also an old draw-well with a round stone wall, wooden wheel and wood shingles on the roof. Before the war, this could have been a perfect photograph for the a promotion of the countryside.
    As the author this is up to you, but I feel that your writing would be better if you quit using the term "human". For example, "I never thought about death, suffering or human evil". Evil is evil, human or otherwise. I can't imagine an evil fish or an evil cow.

    "...which seemed to thrive at the time when people kill each other" tells me that the various fruits thrived only at this time. I believe that you could clear this sentence up this way - "...which seemed to thrive even at the time when people kill each other".

    There is nothing wrong with "...a perfect photograph...(except change "the" to "a"),
    but, "a perfect scene", or, "a perfect picture" seems to work better.

    The frontline front line (Or, front-line) was a few kilometres kilometers away, and that meant that we all could take it easy. After years of fierce, bloody battles, this time felt almost like a holiday. Only occasionally one could hear the distant thud of artillery fire. But that would last just for a few minutes, after which the birds would come to the stage again to compete in their everlasting song competition. Nevertheless, we were all waiting for something to happen. We were exhausted, both mentally and physically, and we wanted this madness to end as soon as possible. When the first skirmishes began, people believed that they would end after a few days and that common sense would prevail, but days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. But, still, the end was not in sight. The politicians of the involved nations did not want to make any concession, while the great powers were not interested in stopping the slaughter and killing. Their plan was probably to let the warring people exterminate each other until they become so worn out, hungry and desperate that they would accept any plan for peace of the international community. But until that day, suffering would continue on both sides, and lists with the list of fallen soldiers and civilians becoming longer.
    "exterminate" generally means to destroy completely. This can't be the case if any soldiers remain to fight. You may want to substitute, "...to let the warring people continue killing each other..."

    To be continued
    Well...your English is getting much better. I find that I am no longer editing for grammatical mistakes as much as I am arguing about how you present certain situations. I will tell you what is normally used but a good writer will move away from the ordinary as a part of his art. Let's see how the next part of your story works out.

  3. #3
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Two Women, part one

    Dear Gil,

    Thank you again. I am grateful for every advice that I have received from you. I am trying my best to write in proper English, but sometimes I make mistakes simply because I do not have English language in my blood as native speakers of English have. But I am reading very much both fiction and poetry and also other books and trying to understand how authors use different phrases and words. Regarding this short story, I can say that it has been in my mind for many years, but now I have decided to put it on the paper. It is a story from the war between Croatia and Serbia in the 90' although I do not mention the names of these countries. But it is a sad story which happened so often during that terrible war.

  4. #4
    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Two Women, part one

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Dear Gil,

    Thank you again. I am grateful for every advice that I have received from you. I am trying my best to write in proper English, but sometimes I make mistakes simply because I do not have English language in my blood as native speakers of English have. But I am reading very much both fiction and poetry and also other books and trying to understand how authors use different phrases and words. Regarding this short story, I can say that it has been in my mind for many years, but now I have decided to put it on the paper. It is a story from the war between Croatia and Serbia in the 90' although I do not mention the names of these countries. But it is a sad story which happened so often during that terrible war.
    You should be reading books by the following authors:
    Ernest Hemingway (Read, A Farewell to Arms, it is similar to your current story)
    Joseph Conrad (Read, Lord Jim. Conrad was a Pole, who could use English well, yet never spoke the language well)
    Mark Twain (Read, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County this may be difficult because of the antiquated slang he used. Twain is considered the best of American authors. Reading anything by Twain will help you relax and be freer with your writing)
    John Steinbeck (The Pearl, a short novel, is a must-read. He is easy to read and follow, he dwelt on nature quite a bit, as you do)
    Ken Kesey (for a detailed look at the American scene in the the 1950s and 1960s)
    Edgar Rice Burroughs (somewhat formal writing, but good adventure stories)
    and Zane Grey (author of many stories sit in 19th Century America).

  5. #5
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Two Women, part one

    Thank you Gil for your tips. I have read some books of Hemingway, even his paper articles which he wrote in the 30' and later, when he was in Europe working as a journalist. His short stories are also well written, and some of them remind you of the articles he published in the newspapers. Last year, I read Steinbeck's Travels with Charley. This is a really great book because Steinbeck travelled all over the USA, with his camper truck and his dog, talking with different kind of people and describing what he saw in different places.

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