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Day 1: What is the good life?

SS Life NEWT

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#1 Offline SkyLandOceAnna

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Posted Dec 03 2012 - 02:15 AM

Monday. Everyone hates Mondays. It’s time for kids to go back to school, while their parents go to work. I dropped my children off at the school and I started the long drive to work. My daughter, Anna, is twelve and her brother, Skyler, is seven. They are a couple months into school and they have been doing great in their classes so far. I make my way through the busy traffic of all the adults who are groggy from rushing to get ready to begin the work week. You see them sipping their coffee, biting their toast, and making sure ties and makeup and presentations are perfect and ready. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about all of that, because I am a nurse. I slip on my scrubs, name tag, and stethoscope, and then I’m off. I also carry a pager which I always carry, even to bed, so I’m used to always remembering it.

The line of cars finally moved some more. Darn construction. I see my exit and get off on it. I come to a stop sign, where I have to wait for a whole row of cars to pass before I can go, and across the street to the other ramp, I see a man. He is looking for a ride. He has a sign, which reads: Heading to Minnesota. He looks terrible. His face is covered in hair with messy hair on top of his head and clothes that appear really worn and dirty.

I always feel bad when I see someone trying to get a ride and it appears they have everything they own in a bag and they have to carry it everywhere with it. I’m sure it gets heavy with all that walking and the weather definitely isn’t always nice. It’s rare that people are willing to actually help such a soul, because you never know if they would still your car and stuff and leave you where they were just moments before. Also, if they would kill you in the process or take one of the passengers with them, so as no one could call the police. It can be hard to tell the good ones from the bad ones, especially if they have kids with them or a cute pet.

The cars all pass and there is time for me to go. I drive away, regretting not being able to help him, but thankful I haven’t had to endure such hardship. I get to work and start my shift. I go to see my first patient and check her vitals.

They are a mother and daughter, with the daughter having what appears to be a break of a bone in her ankle. I speak with them about what occurred to the daughter. The mother stated that her daughter was outside playing and came inside for something to drink, but when she went back out, she tripped going down the stairs. I check her ankle and try moving it, but the little girl screamed from my very touch. Seems the mother had to carry her into the hospital and into the observation room. I tell her that we are going to have to perform some x-rays, but it definitely appears to be a break.

She nods in approval, but then asks what many patients tend to ask me when they come from low-income families. “How much is this going to cost?” Since she was asking, it meant that she most likely didn’t have insurance, but being a nurse, I am still supposed to ask. “Do you have insurance?” I asked. “No,” she replied. I then explained that it would involve many doctor visits and then how much it would cost for the x-rays, doctor visits, and cast placement and removal. Also what it would cost if crutches were necessary as well.

She then began to tear up. I wanted to comfort her, so I explained that there are payment plans that we can offer her so she wouldn’t have to pay it all at once. Being a nurse, I have medical insurance through the hospital, so I haven’t had to worry about paying for doctor visits for my family. This made her feel slightly better and she thanked me for offering to help with more than just making her daughter feel better.

I then finished my shift and went to pick up my children. My daughter and son were waiting at the front of their schools. I had asked Skyler how his day at school was and he was still talking about it when we picked up Anna and until we got home. We all went inside and they put their bags away in their rooms and got washed up as I went in the kitchen to see what my husband, Kyle, was cooking. He works as a math professor at the local university. So after he is done with his two morning classes, he comes home and does the cooking and I do cooking when I work night shifts or have the day off.

I helped him finish cooking and have the kids set up the table while I told him about Skyler’s day at school and mine at work. He then told me about his day at work as well and then we put the food on the table and served the kids and ourselves.

Kyle: So Skyler, your mother told me about the girl you like.

Skyler: Mommmmm! I don’t like her.

Anne: Skyler’s got a girlfriend. Skyler’s got a girlfriend.

Skyler: No I don’t.

He then starts to tickle his sister, but Kyle picks him and puts him back in his chair, as Anne and I giggle at the situation.

Kyle: Alright! Alright! Let’s leave him alone. So Anne, we know about your brothers day, how was yours?

Anne: It was awesome! Addy and I beat Sam and Dean in volleyball in P.E.

Kyle: That’s my girl! Learn anything interesting?

Anne: Oh yea, in Math, we learned more on fractions and in History, we learned about something called The Great Depression.

Skyler: What’s a Great Depression?

Anne: Well, it’s when this thing called a Stock Market Crash happened, and many people lost all their money, and couldn’t get jobs. Families became homeless and had to live on streets and struggled for food and shelter, even the rich were hurt by it.

Skyler: Wow! That won’t happen to us, will it daddy?

Kyle: No son. That was a long time ago. Things are different now. You guys don’t need to worry about that.

Skyler: Whew! Good!

Anne: Yea! We’re lucky. We have a good life, huh, mom?

Katie: That’s right hunny! We do have a good life.

Katie reaches over and grabs Kyle’s hand as she thinks about all the things that happened today to make her feel like they truly had the good life.


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#2 Offline Kragghle

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Posted Dec 03 2012 - 07:25 PM

:kaukau: [color=#0000ff;]Every once and a while I do a review that's an in-story commentary, which I feel necessary this time around just to add in paragraph indentations and bold names in the play manuscript section, which makes this much easie to read once done.  Meanwhile, my comments will be in bold blue.[/color]

 

Monday. Everyone hates Mondays.  [color=#0000ff;][And of course, I'm reading this on a Monday.  It's the perfect time to wake up at 5:00 in the morning and drive an hour to get to your classes, especially after having stayed up late the night before.  Convenient timing, you might say, for me to spot out this story.  Thus far, it has been a reason to keep on reading][/color] It’s time for kids to go back to school, while their parents go to work.  [color=#0000ff;][Perhaps you could simplify this to "Kids go back to school, parents to work?"  It would fit the hasty tone better.][/color] I dropped my children off at the school and I started the long drive to work [color=#0000ff;][This is redundant][/color].[color=#0000ff;][Meanwhile, this sentence is a new thought and should be a separate paragraph, which would continue to aid the hasty nature of the piece.][/color] My daughter, Anna, is twelve and her brother, Skyler, is seven. They are a couple months into school and they have been doing great in their classes so far. I make my way through the busy traffic of all the adults who are groggy from rushing to get ready to begin the work week. You [color=#0000ff;][I appreciate the use of second person, as it does invite the reader in.  It's something I wish I was casual enough to use sometimes.][/color] see them sipping their coffee, biting their toast, and making sure ties and makeup and presentations are perfect and ready. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about all of that, because I am a nurse. I slip on my scrubs, name tag, and stethoscope, and then I’m off. I also carry a pager which I always carry, even to bed, so I’m used to always remembering it [color=#0000ff;][I have to wonder if this is an accurate description of a nurse.  I'm related to plenty of people in the medical field.  This doesn't seem to describe them as they're going to work.  One has to remember fond recollections of the innocent days of youth when the aspiring writer looked up writing advice and came upon Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir, wherein he said that what people absolutely loved, for some reason, was a writer who could accurately describe work, because people love to read about work.  They go crazy over it.  Knowing my mother, who has read stories about unrealistic depictions of people in the medical profession and how it drove her crazy, I highly recommend budding young authors to do a lot of research into a piece such as this, even if the profession of the main character isn't a huge detail.  Realism in how one's profession affects his or her life and outlook is particularly important.  Also, this last sentence about the pager is really jumbled up and should be expressed in one clause.  For a moment there I thought you repeated the same thing three times.][/color].

          The line of cars finally moved some more. Darn construction [color=#0000ff;][This may or may not be a good recommendation.  Often times I can't make up my mind myself, but sometimes it's good to just start a new paragraph here.  In the case of your story, I would.][/color]. I see my exit and get off on it [color=#0000ff;][This sentence and the next on suffer from both of the pet peeves about first person perspective that I outlined in [/color][color=#0000ff;]this[/color][color=#0000ff;] blog entry.][/color]. I come to a stop sign, where I have to wait for a whole row of cars to pass before I can go [color=#0000ff;][It just occurred to me that you're also speaking in the present tense.  This is why I couldn't get through The Hunger Games.][/color], and across the street to the other ramp, I see a man. He is looking for a ride. He has a sign, which reads: Heading to Minnesota. He looks terrible. His face is covered in hair with messy hair on top of his head and clothes that appear really worn and dirty.  [color=#0000ff;][And Batman looked upon him and said "Nice coat."  References aside, that could have flowed better, especially at a few choice locations where you might have broken up the paragraph for reasons previously stated.][/color]

          I always feel bad when I see someone trying to get a ride and it appears they have everything they own in a bag and they have to carry it everywhere with it. I’m [color=#0000ff;][too much first person][/color] sure it gets heavy with all that walking and the weather definitely [color=#0000ff;][Another favorite rant of mine: The unnecessary use of adverbs.  I noticed adverbs earlier, but this is the most distinct use yet as far as my philosophy goes.  As Mark Twain said, "replace the word 'very' every time you want to use it with '****', let the editor remove it, and your work will remain as it should be."  This is a mandatory piece of rant that I put into almost every single blog review when I can, because it takes a while before it's said too many times.] [/color]isn’t always [color=#0000ff;][Always?  So it's definitely usually nice, is what you're trying to say?  I just have to point that out, because this is one of those key elements of flow that writers have to pick up over time.  Maybe you would have noticed this yourself while reading back, but I'll take it upon myself to point this out anyway.  Sometimes words like these work if you can get a certain zing, but otherwise refrain.][/color] nice. It’s rare that people are willing to actually help such a soul, because you never know if they would still [color=#0000ff;][steal][/color] your car and stuff [color=#0000ff;][If I were to include "and stuff", it would be at the end of this list.][/color] and leave you where they were just moments before [color=#0000ff;][If this was intended to be a dramatic statement like "and leave you to live in the exact state that had once been theirs", I would have just phrased it that way.  Otherwise, I would have left it out, which seems advisable in this case because she wouldn't have lost everything and wouldn't have been in poverty, because she isn't that far from home, so being in his position doesn't take on any particular relevance.][/color]. Also, if they would kill you in the process or take one of the passengers with them, so as no one could call the police [color=#0000ff;][Maybe you should have skipped "and stuff" and just gone straight to this.  Her fears are specific; this is the punchline.  Meanwhile, since her thoughts are specific, I would have organized them in a much more graceful manner, through out a few "ands", and constructed a precise "cause and effect" thought process.  If anything, done's just make it something tagged onto a list of miscellaneous thoughts, which is what you do when you start the sentence with a casual "also" (although you could have pulled this off as a blunt detail if you had made this a one-liner paragraph).][/color]. It can be hard to tell the good ones from the bad ones, especially if they have kids with them or a cute pet [color=#0000ff;][But he doesn't have kids or a cute pet, so it's better that this element of her thought process is eliminated.  It distracts from the flow and seems to exist for the sake of taking up space.][/color].

          The cars all pass and there is time for me to go. I drive away, regretting not being able to help him, but thankful I haven’t had to endure such hardship. [color=#0000ff;][New paragraph][/color] I get to work and start my shift. [color=#0000ff;][Wait, what was the point of bringing him up if you're over it already?][/color] I go to see my first patient and check her vitals.

          They are a mother and daughter, with the daughter having what appears to be a break of a bone in her ankle. I speak with them about what occurred to the daughter. The mother stated that her daughter was outside playing and came inside for something to drink, but when she went back out, she tripped going down the stairs. I check her ankle and try moving it, but the little girl screamed from my very touch. Seems the mother had to carry her into the hospital and into the observation room. I tell her that we are going to have to perform some x-rays, but it definitely appears to be a break.

          She nods in approval, but then asks what many patients tend to ask me when they come from low-income families. “How much is this going to cost?” Since she was asking, it meant that she most likely didn’t have insurance, but being a nurse, I am still supposed to ask. “Do you have insurance?” I asked [color=#0000ff;][Huh, maybe you do know more about this than I do.  I'm still not sure about a person wearing scrubs on the way out of the house, though.][/color]. “No,” she replied [color=#0000ff;][Aaaaaaand this should be the subject of a new paragraph, as the time-honored tradition of dialogue interchange has established.][/color]. I then explained that it would involve many doctor visits and then how much it would cost for the x-rays, doctor visits, and cast placement and removal. Also what it would cost if crutches were necessary as well.

          She then began to tear up. I wanted to comfort her, so I explained that there are payment plans that we can offer her so she wouldn’t have to pay it all at once. Being a nurse, I have medical insurance through the hospital, so I haven’t had to worry about paying for doctor visits for my family. This made her feel slightly better and she thanked me for offering to help with more than just making her daughter feel better.

          I then finished my shift and went to pick up my children. My daughter and son were waiting at the front of their schools. I had asked Skyler how his day at school was and he was still talking about it when we picked up Anna and until we got home. We all went inside and they put their bags away in their rooms and got washed up as I went in the kitchen to see what my husband, Kyle, was cooking. He works as a math professor at the local university. So after he is done with his two morning classes, he comes home and does the cooking and I do cooking when I work night shifts or have the day off.

          I helped him finish cooking and have the kids set up the table while I told him about Skyler’s day at school and mine at work. He then told me about his day at work as well and then we put the food on the table and served the kids and ourselves. [color=#0000ff;][Alright, so if you'll pardon the odd breaks in the quotation here, I think that the sudden shift in mediums should be explained.  Or maybe not.  I'm not sure.  I just know I did a story like this earlier and explained it in-story.  I suppose that it would be helpful if you had at least explained in a foreword that you would be experimenting with a combination of storytelling techniques in this piece just so that it wasn't so discordant.  For the most part, I believe the reader can assume as much, but the formality would be appreciative.][/color]

Kyle: So Skyler, your mother told me about the girl you like. [color=#0000ff;][Playful banter.  I'm actually enjoying the next few lines of dialogue.  I appreciate these.  For the reasons that I did in my own story, the play manuscript template sure is convenient and works perfectly for this, seeing as descriptions on how he/she said something are unnecessary.][/color]

Skyler: Mommmmm! I don’t like her.

Anne: Skyler’s got a girlfriend. Skyler’s got a girlfriend.

Skyler: No I don’t.

He then starts to tickle his sister, but Kyle picks him and puts him back in his chair, as Anne and I giggle at the situation. [color=#0000ff;][You need to put these into brackets like the one I have now and put them after the period in "don't."][/color]

Kyle: Alright! Alright! Let’s leave him alone. So Anne, we know about your brothers day, how was yours?

Anne: It was awesome! Addy and I beat Sam and Dean in volleyball in P.E.

Kyle: That’s my girl! Learn anything interesting?

Anne: Oh yea, in Math, we learned more on fractions and in History, we learned about something called The Great Depression.

Skyler: What’s a Great Depression?

Anne: Well, it’s when this thing called a Stock Market Crash happened, and many people lost all their money, and couldn’t get jobs. Families became homeless and had to live on streets and struggled for food and shelter, even the rich were hurt by it.

Skyler: Wow! That won’t happen to us, will it daddy?

Kyle: No son. That was a long time ago. Things are different now. You guys don’t need to worry about that.

Skyler: Whew! Good!

Anne: Yea! We’re lucky. We have a good life, huh, mom?

Katie: [color=#0000ff;][Wait, who is Katie?  Is she the narrator?  Is this Batman's secret identity popping into the story for no reason other than that he's Batman?  How did Batman get into this story?  Ommigosh, the narrator's Batman!  It all makes sense now!][/color] That’s right hunny [color=#0000ff;][Never mind.  Batman would never misspell "honey."][/color]! We do have a good life.

Katie reaches over and grabs Kyle’s hand as she thinks about all the things that happened today to make her feel like they truly had the good life.

 

[color=#0000ff;]With regards to the original theme of Eudaimonia, there's much to pick apart, because I have vivid memories of writing that semester paper for my Worldview professor.  At the end of the day, what's the point in material possession?  Some people have the essentials.  Heck, even the beggar had the essentials.  He was, after all, living.  Then there was the lady, who might not have been able to afford health care, but at least she could still get it.  Her life would just be more pressing.  Some people's lives are just more pressing than others.  Heck, the life of a rich person could potentially be more pressing than that of a person who can't make ends meet, because he or she might still have more pressing duties.  Just look at the gray hairs every president gets within their first four years.  In this case, the good life is relative, but what are the absolutes that we can say about goodness?  Where's the bigger message, the thing that ties life back to some greater sense of worth and value?  What's the ultimate sense of happiness?  These are the big questions that I wish authors could use their power to answer, but all too often they come up with anecdotal pieces with a good but half-explored message like "aren't the small things in life good?" which to me is like an essay without a thesis statement.  It's broad, and it has a voice, but it doesn't have a real point.[/color]

 

[color=#0000ff;]Outside of these regular philosophy rambles of mine (which some people might find annoying, by I compulsory), and my desire to see something more put into the theme (even if the point was "appreciate the small things in life", it could have used much more illustration), there are a lot of elements of flow that can be worked out.  I don't know quite what it is that I can recommend to you.  Be more precise and use varying sentence dynamics to keep the story flowing and the narration cascading.  Start with those things that your high school English teacher taught you as you wrote essays, and then incorporate voice.  After that may we discuss the details of personal style.[/color]

 

[color=#0000ff;]Nevertheless, it is always appreciated to have more literature here on CoT, because there's a distinct lack of it.  I hope that you dare to be more ambitious in the future, and I really am glad that my NEWT entries got at least one response.  I was expecting less.[/color]

 

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Edited by Jean Valjean, Dec 03 2012 - 07:27 PM.

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#3 Offline SkyLandOceAnna

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Posted Dec 04 2012 - 01:01 AM

Thank you very much for your thoughts on my work. I was kind of rushing to compete it because it was already a day late and I didn't want it to be two days. I also rushed through the one I am posting tonight for day 2, so I am sorry if it has many errors as well. I appreciate all your critique and the only thing I want to say, is that I spelled 'hunny' this way because when I think of 'honey' like this, I think of the little bear bottle and beehives. :) I hope with your knowledge and expertise that I will become a better writer. Thank you!  Yes, Katie is the narrator. In regards to my story, which I should have put at the end, I wanted the readers to think that it was going to end up with the 'good life' being materialistic. It was actually supposed to change when they read the part with the narrator and her husband being happy with their children and the memories and times spent together. I hope this is a better statement then what you got from it. If so, I'll add it to the end. Thank you!
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