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One day at the races

by nasha17 

Posted: 24 November 2004
Word Count: 601
Summary: I have been meaning to write this short story for a long time, and having finally done it, would really appreciate any comments.


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One day at the races

Richard Webb-Wilkinson enjoyed the anticipation of this rare day at the races. To be held at Cheltenham, and if all simply went to plan his wife and he would travel in anotherís helicopter. Just a little more on the overdraught he thought would not hurt, as his good friend was an established winner. He would simply ask for a tip. He was looking forward to treating the other guests to a nice glass of good champagne once the race was over. He did not care for it himself, but he knew of two old friends from his shipping days in London who did, and they were to be present.

It was a nasty day full of drizzle, but isnít that the worst kind, his wife suggested? The group of ten stood under the small marquee considering the day. The money had left their pockets and Richard would simply be patient. He felt confident and decided he could afford the champagne now rather than later. He felt good and ignored the silent interrogations from his wife. He chatted enthusiastically about his current occupations and in fact started to feel excited about these so far unsuccessful ventures. What a great day it had turned out to be! He could see the sun nearly penetrating through the obscurity and he wondered how he had allowed himself to become so pessimistic in the last few years. He knew now that it would soon finally be possible to send his youngest to a better school. He did not permit himself too many daydreams, to enjoy the conversation fully, but he did decide to treat his good old friends to a special cigar after their delicious meal this evening. It was now to be a glorious day, indeed, oh look, the sun is coming out, said his wife.

Slightly later, in the afternoon, Richardís wife chose a dangerous moment and inquired when the money for the two bottles of Dom Perignon had appeared, he had surely not been hoarding an invisible five years of housekeeping money? Acidity spent without thought, as she already knew of her husbandís other losses that day. Genteel poverty did not feature in her reality, she was afraid. Yes, she had become bitter and wondered at his stupidity. Unlike him, she understood that soon the children would reject charity shop clothing.

There was much talk of second homes in Gascony over the five-course feast. Bi-annual skiing holidays were hotly discussed and how about that stay all of us together at the Chateau in Dordogne last summer? All the children are growing older together, did you know Richard, that my daughter, Jeremyís and Davidís are all in the same class at St Paulís? Unbelievable. As far as we know, they are all best of friends, but these expensive schools are so competitive, offered a friendly old Jim.

They were all thrown a special cigar to match their elective Armagnac. Richard declined, however. He had had more than enough of hearing his wife having a good time with those horrible coiffed women. Such a boring evening! Had he ever enjoyed these peopleís company? As he remembered or imagined it now, he agreed that he simply used them to further his business. On the way home, he would swear how awful they were, how he would rather spend time with five rats, how he would never want their daughter fraternising with people of the same blood as those materialistic, superficial wideboys. And he swore he would never, ever be in the same room as any one of those people, ever again.






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Comments by other Members



kcirts at 00:39 on 25 November 2004  Report this post
Nasha,

I think this story is very well writen. It kept my interest right to the end. I think you could expand it into a novel. You seem to have a good understanding of unfulfilled men, which I think most of us are. It seems no mater how far we get it never seems to be enough, and when we fail it kills us inside.

I like the story very much.

kcirts, Frank Strickler

nasha17 at 10:20 on 25 November 2004  Report this post
Frank,

Thank you very much! This is the first thing I have uploaded and I didn't really know whether to expect any comments, so I am really glad you enjoyed it. Not sure if I am ready for a novel, though I have toyed with the idea for a long time.

Natasha

Joel at 21:11 on 04 December 2004  Report this post
Hi Natasha,
I think you have an interesting way of writing that feels almost poetic. It doesn't, however, make it easy for the reader to follow and this could potentially be a bit of a problem if your aim to showcase your work to a wider audience.

In my opinion, this piece is more of a vignette than a short story. You have attempted to develop the characters and there is an interesting theme to this, but there is no real plot, little conflict and no resolution.

If I were you I would also go through this and try and get rid of the adjectives. For example "He chatted enthusiastically" Chatting is enthusiastic by definition, to add the adjective is unnecessary and slows the tempo.

I would also look at some of your sentence construction. "Bi-annual skiing holidays were hotly discussed and how about that stay all of us together at the Chateau in Dordogne last summer?"
This sentence flips from one tense to the other, the reader has no idea who is thinking or speaking it and as a question it doesn't make sense.

"offered a friendly old Jim." But having "a" in this sentence, you give the impression that Jim is a thing rather than a person.
These are just a couple of examples.
For the reader care about Richard they have to empathise and understand his motives. How he is trying to keep up appearances, how he is trying to keep his wife happy etc etc. As a reader I didn't.

Perhaps you could try writing it in the first person, with Richard having some goal like winning a business deal that day. Then there would be some dramatic tension, will he get it or wont he?

Needless to say this is just my opinion, but I hope this has been useful to you. I think you have a good way with words and use language in an unusal manner, but need to develop a bit more structure if you want to turn this into a short story.

Good luck with it.

Cheers,

Joel


Beeman at 18:38 on 07 December 2004  Report this post
Hey Nasha,
I can relate to Richard's frustration in dealing with people he can not relate to, as I think most people can, but I could not get into this peice. The whole way through you told us everything and showed us very little, and as a result this reads like a synopsis and not a short story. As an outline for a story, I think it shows potential. I thought Richard would end up losing on his sure thing, and like how you took a different path with that. As it is right now, however, I think this story is too abbreviated and rushed, and it seems that, untill the last paragraph, the characters are kept at an arms length. My advice for revision is: expand, expand, expand.

Mike

Beeman at 18:41 on 07 December 2004  Report this post
Hey Nasha,
I can relate to Richard's frustration in dealing with people he can not relate to, as I think most people can, but I could not get into this peice. The whole way through you told us everything and showed us very little, and as a result this reads like a synopsis and not a short story. As an outline for a story, I think it shows potential. I thought Richard would end up losing on his sure thing, and like how you took a different path with that. As it is right now, however, I think this story is too abbreviated and rushed, and it seems that, untill the last paragraph, the characters are kept at an arms length. My advice for revision is: expand, expand, expand.

Mike

Beeman at 18:42 on 07 December 2004  Report this post
Hey Nasha,
I can relate to Richard's frustration in dealing with people he can not relate to, as I think most people can, but I could not get into this peice. The whole way through you told us everything and showed us very little, and as a result this reads like a synopsis and not a short story. As an outline for a story, I think it shows potential. I thought Richard would end up losing on his sure thing, and like how you took a different path with that. As it is right now, however, I think this story is too abbreviated and rushed, and it seems that, untill the last paragraph, the characters are kept at an arms length. My advice for revision is: expand, expand, expand.

Mike

Beeman at 18:43 on 07 December 2004  Report this post
Hey Nasha,
I can relate to Richard's frustration in dealing with people he can not relate to, as I think most people can, but I could not get into this peice. The whole way through you told us everything and showed us very little, and as a result this reads like a synopsis and not a short story. As an outline for a story, I think it shows potential. I thought Richard would end up losing on his sure thing, and like how you took a different path with that. As it is right now, however, I think this story is too abbreviated and rushed, and it seems that, untill the last paragraph, the characters are kept at an arms length. My advice for revision is: expand, expand, expand.

Mike

Becca at 07:49 on 08 December 2004  Report this post
Hi Nasha,
I think Joel has said much the same as I am thinking in that for a short story the piece needs more shape and intention, if you follow me. It does feel more like a section from a novel. POV is something to watch out for. The original POV is Richard's and it's right for the piece, but at 'Slightly later, in the afternoon,..' it becomes his wife's point of view.
I think you've the beginnings of some good characterisation here. Worth digging into a bit more. I'm sure you could invent a story around this setting, perhaps there's something to explore in the relationship between Richard and his wife?
Becca.

SamMorris at 13:53 on 09 December 2004  Report this post
Hi Natasha, I quite liked this story. I could relate to the idea that the things society dictates we aspire to, are usually not the ones that will make us genuinely happy.

I do however agree with the previous comments, that in places this feels more like a summary of events, than a description of them. For example, at the end where he becomes frustrated with the conversation, it might be more effective to give us at least a whole exchange, indicating the materialistic shallow nature of these people? Just a thought.

I only say this because I think this is worth working on, as you have touched upon something universal.

Sam

Crispin at 18:01 on 09 December 2004  Report this post
Hi Nasha

My first piece of critiquing so I hope this is useful.

I was drawn-in by the story and characterisation of this - I even read it on-screen (rather than printed) which I never usually do.

This is essentially a character study and I would love to feel more of Richard's emotions, rather than being told. I think a small amount of dialogue goes a long way here.

I think you could also be less generic and use more detail - we would feel his excitement about his business ventures if he told one of the guests about one.

Certainly Richard is an interesting character and this could stretch to something longer, novel or story.

Keep going!

Crispin.



bjlangley at 11:42 on 10 December 2004  Report this post
Hi Nasha, having read the earlier comments there's not a great deal I can add. I agree that you have something here worth working on, and think it's an interesting story. There's plenty of potential in this - it's clear that early on Richard is optimistic about his chances, and the wife significantly less so - the contrast here could be fun. I also like the way that Richard finds those he at first aspires to be like wholly dispicable by the end.

All the best

Ben

nasha17 at 15:32 on 13 December 2004  Report this post
Thank you everybody for your comments. I have been really busy but I will revise and add as appropriate! Crispin, your first critique was very much appreciated!

I am fairly new to this site and it is really interesting to read others' thoughts and re-examine my work.

Natasha


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