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Short stories in English

Coyote_A

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I've recently uploaded my first ever original work written in English (which isn't my native tongue, BTW). It's actually supposed to be the first chapter of a Neil Gaiman-ish novella I'm working on, but it's written in a way to make it readable as a stand-alone short story. I would be grateful for any kind of critique you guys can offer! :)
The story is available here: click me!
click me!


jansenov

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First question, do you write your story for any particular type of reader?

Your English is immaculate. :yes But the story itself is Russian to the core. In fact, I don't think the average American or West European has enough of a backround to appreciate many bits and pieces of the story. The part where the girl compares the life of the old Soviet era, with its petrified social mores, deadening routines and pioneer's red ties, and the freer current era, and the way the pensioners and the hobo are described is written in a way only a Ukrainian or Russian enamored with the West would write. From the perspective of a person who was also born under communism and lived through the aftermath of its demise, but in a country which is already tightly integrated with the West, such as a Croat (myself being one), a Hungarian or a Czech the idealizing of the new era seems naive, as there is a lot of negative stuff and stuff that is sometimes just as idiotic as something from the communist era (like solving the problems caused  by economic liberalization by more economic liberalization, sleazy bureaucrats crawling at the feet of similarly sleazy bureaucrats from more developed countries, pooh-pooing one's own culture and generously ignoring one's own interests while the West stubbornly and ungenerously preserves theirs). An American or a Brit, on the other hand, would find it difficult to understand the powerful symbolism of the act of wearing jeans, a piece of clothing that was difficult to obtain and carried great prestige in the Soviet Union, or the angry reaction of the bussinessman at the sight of Alisa, because the concepts of spite, of blood-boiling jealousy, and the concomitant lashing out of unreasonable vengenance on others is alien to him. But most of all, it is difficult to tell whether Alisa feels liberated only from industrialized Russian culture, or modern human culture in its entirety. If it is the later, then the remark on red ties and jeans loses much of its value.


Coyote_A

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Thanks, jansenov! It was indeed my intention to emphasize those aspects of the Soviet and post-Soviet culture that are radically different from what the people in the West are used to. The complete story is supposed to be a narrative in which the ideology of forced collectivism is compared with modern individualism, all shown through a prism of a dark fairytale where one has to muster their courage and swim against the stream lest they risk losing themselves to the outer forces. I understand that it can be difficult to grasp to a reader who never have done any research on the subject of socialism and how it affects the social life of the people... But hey, I'll try to make it as clear as possible in the course of the novella. Even though I've already been told numerous times that my writing style is kinda heavy on descriptions, exposition and - yes - symbolism. :D


jansenov

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Just remember that you're writing your story in an era where many people in the West are beginning to think that the individualism in their countries has become excessive, and would appreciate a society of less self-centered individuals. Also, your country has a lot of bad press already,  worse press than China, which is arguably much more opressive than Russia(for example you rarely hear China being part of the "axis of evil" with North Korea, while Russia is readily mentioned in such a context), so you don't have to play into the negative stereotypes your reader is already likely to hold, but offer a raw, unrefined image, like a serving of kvass, and let the reader make of it what he will.  ;)


Coyote_A

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Coyote_A

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I've mustered enough confidence to share another one of my short stories recently. This time it's a short parable-like text set in an intentionally corny Sci-Fi setting... Not real happy with how it turned out, so criticism and any advice on how to improve my writing style would be appreciated. :yes
Part I
Part II
P.S. Please don't judge the entire story based on part I alone... It's supposed to be that way. :wacko