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  • The following file had been found on the personal laptop of Jordan Andrew Diaz, Graduate student of theology, University of Nebraska:

    The man leaned back in his chair. Running his fingers through his long hair, he smiled at me with a grin that seemed too perfect for a typical drug-addict. He had a full mustache and beard, like some kind of hippy rockstar, but he also had a student ID; name- Remy Desilva, a third-year freshman.

    "My papa used to beat me really bad," his voice was a gravely, yet undeniably seductive combination of Cajun, Hawaiian, with a touch of California surfer.

    Remy's dark eyes seemed to stare into my soul. I was more than a little uncomfortable but as a volunteer counselor I was there to listen; it was my job, as part of my graduate thesis. 

    "Maybe that's why I'm so screwed up." He proceeded to tell me the story of how when he was six years old, growing up in Hawaii, his father would hold a phone book over his face when he beat him. Sometimes his father used fists, other times a foreign object like a rock or even a piece of pipe. "As a way to avoid leaving bruises," he said with a chuckle. "But holy f-k I blacked out a lot. I think I even had a few seizures." His voice continued in a slow, almost melodic tone. "I figure that's why I am the way I am. No one ever loved me enough- or too much- however you want to look at it."

    I suspected the individual was high at the current time, despite the fact that he had completed a urine test as part of his probation. "That doesn't explain why you were arrested for smoking meth outside the student union."

    Remy licked his lips and smiled a devious smile. "I think it does. I need to be saved." He glanced at me with eyes that looked, sleepy, tired, but above all- innocent. I was starting to believe his stories. "So, Jordan, do you want to be the one to save my soul?" 

    Those were the last words I remember. 


    I awoke in my bed covered in sweat. I assumed it had all been a dream, but laying next to me was the strange man. 

    Remy Desilva was naked, eating a pint of strawberry ice cream- with his fingers. "Hey, man, how'd you sleep?"

    I fell off the bed. That was when I realized I was naked as well. What had happened? I was left to assume Remy had somehow drugged me. "Why are you here? How did you get into my apartment?"

    "Jordon, right?" Remy asked as he licked his fingers clean, ignoring the globs of cream in his facial hair.  "You invited me here."

    "No, I most certainly did not," my eyes darted around the room looking for my clothes or ANY clothes. "I'm calling the police!"

    Remy flopped back on the bed, laughing so hard he finally had to put down the ice cream. "That's a first."

    "A first?"

    "I usually appear to women, and they're usually too scared," he said casually his smile still confident as ever, "or maybe a little turned on.

    "I don't roll that way. I'm a Christian- I'm a God Damn theology major!"

    My anger only seemed to entertain him more. "You were planning on preaching the word of God while f-ing little boys?"

    "I'm calling the cops." 

    Remy sat up, pulling on a pair boxers from the floor. "You can do whatever you want, but first- let's watch a  movie." He snapped his fingers, pulling up a video in window's media player. 

    It was as bad as I thought it would be. We had engaged in various sexual acts that deviled my body in ways I would rather not admit to on record. I appeared to be tied up, maybe even unconscious. But five minutes in, Remy did the unthinkable; he smeared a handful of ice cream over his genitalia, before straddling my face. On the video, I am seen sitting up, eagerly licking the confection from his body. "What are you? "

    Remy, of course, was doubled over in laughter. "Well, my papa was a demon, my mama was a siren."

    "So you're the devil incarnate?" I no longer wanted to call the police, I wanted him dead. And with the images on the video, I would easily be able to pull off an insanity plea.  "What do you want?"

    Remy looked at me with bedroom eyes, "What do YOU want?"

    file corrupted::

    OMG, that was a fun night. Let's see what the rest of the police report says. "The police found the body of the twenty-five-year-old male, naked and brutalized. The cause of death was determined to be... this will be good. - blood loss due to internal injuries. The assailant appeared to have sexually assaulted the victim using inhuman force, most likely foreign objects. The assailant then proceeded to cover the body in a sticky, viscous liquid. This liquid was later determined to be melted strawberry ice cream."

    This is too funny! 

    Unfortunately, the police leave out the parts when we were actually in a relationship. I poured out my heart to Jordan for a little over a month. During that time, we never had sex, nor did I want to. Why?  Because I loved him.

    I told him about all the times my papa beat me, sold me, sometimes he even raped me himself. It was never sexual, only about power; hate makes you strong. But every time he hurt me, he would buy me ice cream. Sometimes it was the cheap stuff. But sometimes, after a particularly difficult task, (like entertaining a demon king when you're just nine years old) he would buy me the most delicious Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream. 


    I was born of demons, but I truly would have allowed Jordan to save my soul. Too bad he had to go and break my heart.


    Anyway, 

    This was fun.

    -Much love, 
    RemyD

      Loading editor
    • The following file had been found on the personal laptop of Jordan Andrew Diaz, Graduate student of theology, University of Nebraska: [we’ll come back to this framing device in a bit]

      The man leaned back in his chair. Running his fingers through his long hair, he smiled at me with a grin that seemed too perfect for a typical drug-addict. [passive sentence. Really take the first clause and stick that to the end of the first sentence with a comma and have the next sentence start with ‘He smiled…’] He had a full mustache and beard, like some kind of hippy rockstar, but he also had a student ID; name- Remy Desilva, a third-year freshman. [ "but he also"...so why is it odd he’d have a student ID? Also the punctuation after ID is just a mess. Surely there are better/less messy ways to tell us his name?]

      "My papa used to beat me really bad," his voice was a gravely [gravelly], yet undeniably seductive combination of Cajun, [Cajun and Hawaiian, with…] Hawaiian, with a touch of California surfer.

      Remy's dark eyes seemed [seemed is a bad word. It means ‘had the appearance of’ which is meaningless when you’re using words to convey appearance (does he stare? Or does it appear like he’s staring? What’s the difference? If it looks like he’s staring but he’s not, what’s the significance? And if it looks like he’s staring but he actually is, why are you wasting time & precious words clarifying that it looks like he’s doing something he’s actually doing). It’s a filler word used to habitually take up space and should be the first word on the chopping block during proof] to stare into my soul. I was more than a little uncomfortable but as a volunteer counselor I was there to listen; it was my job, as part of my graduate thesis. [you clearly state the reasoning for his being there in the first clause, there’s no need to follow it up. It’s redundant]

      "Maybe that's why I'm so screwed up." He proceeded to tell me the story of how when he was six years old, growing up in Hawaii, his father would hold a phone book over his face when he beat him. Sometimes his father used fists, other times a foreign object like a rock or even a piece of pipe. "As a way to avoid leaving bruises," he said with a chuckle. "But holy f-k [fuck is perfectly acceptable. We’re all adults.] I blacked out a lot. I think I even had a few seizures." His voice continued in a slow, almost melodic tone. [I’d like to come back to Remy’s speech patterns at the end] "I figure that's why I am the way I am. No one ever loved me enough- or too much- however you want to look at it."

      [so it’s clear you meant to use an em dash— instead of a normal dash- but it’s important to remember than an em dash should contain a clause that when removed leaves the sentence still intact. E.g.

      My daughter looked up at me—her eyes full of tears—and asked me for the toy.

      My daughter looked up at me and asked me for the toy.

      That makes sense with and without the em dashes. Now let’s look at your example:

      No one ever loved me enough however you want to look at it.

      Uhh… doesn’t work. Similarly, the ‘or’ suggests a substitution which leads to “no one ever loved me too much” which doesn’t make sense either.]

      I suspected the individual was high at the current [delete: current – it’s redundant] time, despite the fact that he had completed a urine test as part of his probation. "That doesn't explain why you were arrested for smoking meth outside the student union."

      [I’d like to put a pin in the counsellor’s speech patterns while I’m at it]

      Remy licked his lips and smiled a devious smile [smiled deviously]. "I think it does. I need to be saved." He glanced at me with eyes that looked, sleepy, tired, but above all- [but above all, innocent – I’m thinking you need to be put on a register for hyphen abuse] innocent. I was starting to believe his stories. "So, Jordan, do you want to be the one to save my soul?" 

      Those were the last words I remember. 

      [formatting – consider using a series of three # to separate sections in a story, or something that visually lets the audience know you’ve made a deliberate break. The current method of an extra line looks buggy and accidental]

      I awoke in my bed covered in sweat. I assumed it had all been a dream, but laying [to lay is to play something down. You mean ‘lying’] next to me was the strange man. 

      Remy Desilva was naked, eating a pint of strawberry ice cream- [good God stay away from the – key!) with his fingers. "Hey, man, how'd you sleep?"

      I fell off the bed. That was when I realized I was naked as well. What had happened? I was left to assume Remy had somehow drugged me. "Why are you here? How did you get into my apartment?" [who says this?]

      "Jordon, right?" Remy asked as he licked his fingers clean, ignoring the globs of cream in his facial hair.  "You invited me here."

      "No, I most certainly did not," my eyes darted around the room looking for my clothes or ANY [when denoting emphasis in writing use italics or bold] clothes. "I'm calling the police!"

      Remy flopped back on the bed, laughing so hard he finally had to put down the ice cream. "That's a first."

      "A first?"

      "I usually appear to women, and they're usually too scared," he said casually [comma] his smile still confident as ever, "or maybe a little turned on.[“]

      "I don't roll that way. I'm a Christian- [.] I'm a God Damn theology major!" [God damn]

       

      My anger only seemed to entertain him more. "You were planning on preaching the word of God while f-ing little boys?" [fucking – also I don’t think I get this joke. Is it a Catholic joke? His point could be a bit clearer]

      "I'm calling the cops." 

      Remy sat up, pulling on a pair [of] boxers from the floor. "You can do whatever you want, but first- let's watch a [accidental double space] movie." He snapped his fingers, pulling up a video in window's media player. [is this magic or something else?]

      It was as bad as I thought it would be. We had engaged in various sexual acts that deviled [defiled] my body in ways I would rather not admit to on record. I appeared to be tied up, maybe even unconscious. But five minutes in, Remy did the unthinkable; he smeared a handful of ice cream over his genitalia, before straddling my face. On the video, I am seen sitting up, eagerly licking the confection from his body. "What are you? " [who said this?]

      Remy, of course, was doubled over in laughter. "Well, my papa was a demon, my mama was a siren."

      "So you're the devil incarnate?" I no longer wanted to call the police, I wanted him dead. And with the images on the video, I would easily be able to pull off an insanity plea. [extra space, also I’m not sure I buy that logic] "What do you want?"

      Remy looked at me with bedroom eyes, "What do YOU [emphasis with italics] want?"

      file corrupted::

      OMG, that was a fun night. Let's see what the rest of the police report says. "The police found the body of the twenty-five-year-old male, naked and brutalized. The cause of death was determined to be... this will be good. – [where Remy is paraphrasing or lifting text from the report, he should use italics. This makes it clear to the reader what Remy is writing, and what is from the police report. Similarly, you start out using speech marks to show that he’s quoting and then you suddenly switch and have Remy interrupt the quote but without breaking it off with speech marks] blood loss due to internal injuries. The assailant appeared to have sexually assaulted the victim using inhuman force, most likely [using] foreign objects. The assailant then proceeded to cover the body in a sticky, viscous liquid. This liquid was later determined to be melted strawberry ice cream."

      This is too funny! 

      Unfortunately, the police leave out the parts when we were actually in a relationship. [I’ll come back to this at the end] I poured out my heart to Jordan for a little over a month. During that time, we never had sex, nor did I want to. Why? [extra space] Because I loved him.

      I told him about all the times my papa beat me, sold me, sometimes he even raped me himself. It was never sexual, only about power; hate makes you strong. But every time he hurt me, he would buy me ice cream. Sometimes it was the cheap stuff. But sometimes, after a particularly difficult task, (like entertaining a demon king when you're just nine years old) he would buy me the most delicious Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream. 

      [formatting – there’s that pesky extra line again] I was born of demons, but I truly would have allowed Jordan to save my soul. Too bad he had to go and break my heart. [shouldn’t that be the actual story?]


      Anyway, 

      This was fun.

      -Much love, 
      RemyD

      -

      Mechanical issues – More than there should be. You need to be a bit more aware when proofing your own work. The overall vibe of this story is “rushed” and it shows in a few different ways. Least of which is that there are basic errors all over the place, from poor formatting to extra spaces to inappropriate punctuation to missing words to misspelled words and more. I’d recommend you stop abusing dashes of all kinds, em or otherwise, and look into sentence structure and how to deal with clauses and other details. I’d also recommend you stop using capitalisation for emphasis and rely on italics instead. Italics are also useful for showing quoted text from a written source. It looks better and is easier to track than speech marks.

      Style issues – So generally your use of language is good and you succeed at conveying important little details that help with characterisation. It’s not my cup of tea, but you successfully create a story that is sensual, erotic and also a little uncomfortable.

      Where this story takes a dive is in the overall presentation and the particular structure you’ve chosen. There’s a lot of irrelevant and redundant wording that’d make your prose scan much better if it was cut out. A lot of your style feels conversational and sometimes you let Remy’s voice slip into the prose’s style (i.e. Remy is usually matter-of-fact and doesn’t speak in a way that particularly calls attention to itself). For example,

      “Well, my papa was a demon, my mama was a siren.” Which matches Remy’s personality quite well (it’s matter of fact, not looking for attention or an emotional response. It just is what it is.) and then compare that to:

      “I think I even had a few seizures." [how does he think he had a few seizures? Did he or didn’t he? Suddenly it sounds like Remy is putting on an affectation filled with uncertainty and self-doubt. Nobody ‘thinks’ they had seizures, either they did or didn’t. The subtle shift in how he speaks is actually kinda jarring. It’s more like a teenager’s voice being like, “yeah like, I *guess* I have suicidal thoughts sometimes.” ]

      Similarly, the narrator’s dialogue feels awkward and clunky as he includes all manner of strange and unnecessary details and says things like “I’m a God damn theology major!” as a rebuttal to the fact he just blew a caramel man-bun-wielding surfer. Maybe the narrator is meant to be silly to the point of feeling like parody, but if that is true then it’s not clear that it’s intentional. Is he a homophobe? If it’s something that’s important then it needs to be made clear from the get-go. This is a story about how Remy appears and seduces people right? Well why does this guy want Remy? Why does Remy appear to him? Is it because he’s in the closet? Is he in the closet!? Is it a challenge to seduce a man? Or does this guy have something fundamentally missing from his life? If so, what si it?

      Also this guy is a phenomenally bad counsellor. He’s combatant and hostile and confrontational and goes so far as to shame Remy for smoking meth. Is he there as an obligation? That feels slightly hinted at (he mentions having to do counselling because of his thesis but he also describes himself as a volunteer), but again, it’s never really clear if you want the narrator to come of as a judgemental homophobe or a simple blank slate. It’s not even clear he’s not-gay until *after* he has sex with Remy and reacts negatively. Stylistically, this means I spent most of my time reading asking questions and not just going with the flow.

      You really nail the aesthetic side of characterisation with Remy but in terms of actual motivations and character traits you give us nothing to go on for the narrator. All you tell us is that he’s a theology major like six times and, via dialogue, you present him as a bit of a dick. But why? What’s the point?

      Plot issues – so I’ve discussed characterisation under style so far, but it’s also relevant to plot. But overall, this story is a rehash of the last time we saw Remy and it uses a particularly lazy framing device. You have a first-person epistemological story where the narrator dies (not a good fit, it’s a well-worn trope in horror) and, way more importantly, you literally skip the story. The relationship *is* the story and you tell us nothing about it. It feels like you wrote the first chapter to a novella, played it out in your head, thought ‘pffft, nah’, and ended it mid-sentence with Remy writing an epilogue to fill us in on the details.

      The word of the day here is “rushed”. Mechanical errors, style slippage, poor characterisation, and meaningful information only being revealed after it factors into the plot, all make me think this is a first draft. To top it off, just as the story gets to a point where it needs to do some heavy-lifting it ends. No conflict. No character arcs. Nothing. A conversation. Some sex. And death.

      I’ve read enough of your stuff to know when you’re not bringing you’re A-game. Compared to your other work this story feels rushed and I know you can do better. Start out with a simple and effective hook to get the reader. Boil your story down to the essential pieces and make sure that every word reveals either character or plot.

      Personally, I think this story suits a diary format where we begin with a few short entries that tell us about Jordan, establishing him as a conservative theology major who begrudgingly counsels people he secretly looks down and dislikes. He encounters Remy and despite his own protests he is seduced against his will and enters into a relationship with a man. Then you need to show us that relationship and clarify why and how it breaks apart. Short, sharp, simple diary entries could show us this without a lot of faff. Then end it with Remy writing an epilogue where he’s found the diary and has appended parts of the police report to show that he shagged poor Jordan to death as vengeance for breaking his heart. (That’s how you get to the bottom of the problem *badum tsh*)

      Now, the above paragraph is my own personal opinion. However you choose to move forward is up to you. The most vital things you need to do to bring this story up to QS is:

      Fix the lazy framing device.

      Differentiate it from your last entry in the series.

      Correct the mechanical issues.

      But I still think you should put some serious effort into thinking about how you can improve this story beyond the bare minimum.

        Loading editor
    • I can see what you mean. I think I was in love with the idea of a character study rather than a story.

      I accept my 'deletion' fate and come back with a new idea 

      thanks for the insightful reply. 

        Loading editor
    • Dourdan,

      You show wisdom. I only even try with less than half of my ideas. I've started stories and given up most of the way through. I've posted complete ones to the Workshop only to learn why the characters I had fallen in love with just didn't realistically work. Been there, done that.

      I look forward to your next work.

      Dr. Bob

        Loading editor
    • Well the concept is really neat, the execution needs work. 

      The formating is kind of off, and you've a bunch of words and phrases that are somewhat pointless and distracting from the plot.

      Everything Bob and Christian both mentioned stands, and it should be corrected to make this story work. I suggest you take the concept of a character study of this demon/siren hybrid and turn it into a longer version of this including a development in their relationship (How they develop trust, become somewhat friends and have a "romantic moment" leading to the climax of the plot). 

      Also, there's a kind of demon called Lilim, they are the children of Lilith... you can turn them into these siren like demons who seduce people as one parent of Remy and another kind of demon (you could make up one, or just use the term Kakodaimon (malevolent godlike spirit in Greek) for the other parent so it could be a more "common" demon. I just found that Siren and Demon union kind of weird.

      I do think that the relationship between the two characters is important and that there should be a fallapart moment when one of the characters turns on the other leading to the climax of the story. Perhaps Jordan realizing he's gay and going all "It's sinful" to a mental degree which leads Remy to get hurt and do something bad. 

      Maybe have Remy keep a diary, make it a little from his point of view...

      Oh and try to give him either a completely unique accent, "he sounds a little Cajun with touches of something reminiscent of Hawaiian" or something, or give him an accent from a linquistic minority that you find attractive. Cause multicultured accents don't work... I think.

        Loading editor
    • A FANDOM user
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