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Thread: Chapter 1 - Coaster by James Lyndon

  1. #1
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    Nov 2010

    Chapter 1 - Coaster by James Lyndon

    Hi, I'd really like to get some criticism on the first chapter of a short story I am writing based on an adventure I had in europe a few weeks ago.

    It's a story about Love, Impulsiveness, drugs, police, getting lost and finding myself in the process.

    Here it is:


    by James Lyndon


    I exited Victoria tube station hastily; I only had about 6 minutes left until my coach to Paris leaves. As I walked through the crowds of busy commuters in the main station I said goodbye under my breath to the huge mess of congregated life we call London. I made it to the coach station with one minute to spare and found my coach as soon as I could. It was about 11 at night when I stepped on the coach and left the cold November air behind me and found my seat, I sat down next to some young chinese kid, you see the thing I like about the chinese is they never make a fuss and there’s minimal risk of them smelling bad. I slouched in my seat and prepared for the 8-hour journey to Paris that lay in front of me. The coach set off promptly. I had planned to sleep during the coach ride but I didn’t feel tired so I got out a book and started to read. I was reading for a good 20 minutes before the guy in front of me started to moan incessantly. The phrase ‘We should have got the Eurostar!’ was constantly repeated sandwiched in between complaints, ‘they treat us like animals!’, ‘this is the worst journey I’ve ever taken!’, he went on, even at four or five in the morning, he went on, I got no sleep that night.

    We arrived in Paris slightly earlier than expected. The sky was still a dark velvet purple, I jumped off the coach onto the flat concrete floor. I headed straight for the metro with no real plan in my mind of what I might do. It was too early to call Alesia, the girl whom I had come to paris to meet with. It was just past six in the early hours of Saturday morning, the Metro was pretty lifeless. I needed money, so I decided to get off at Concorde and try to find the Champs Eliisee which I thought to myself would have a good guarantee of having a currency exchange as well as somewhere I could buy breakfast. I spent about an hour getting lost until I finally arrived back at Concorde having walked round in a giant circle, I then realized that the Champs Elissee was right next to me and the main part was at the other end, so I walked up the long road and found and ATM and withdrew about 40 euros. I went into a sit-down bakery cafe, and had a pain au chocolat and an americano. I ate and drank as slow as enjoyably possible; I had time to kill.

    It was about 9 am by the time i left and already the streets had livened up. I browsed the shops aimlessly. At about ten I texted Alesia, I told her I could meet her whenever she was ready, she texted back while I was having coffee in a small french terrace. She said she had yoga but she could meet me at Saint Paul at three. I contemplated for a few minutes on how I was going to kill these hours I had been given by her and decided that I needed a cold beer. I must have looked at a dozen different pubs and cafes before I found somewhere where the beer was less than 9 euros a pint so I went and sat at the back of a small Irish pub, drank and read. They played good music, and for the first time in a long time I felt like I was free. All my cares had been left back in London. A few hours and 4 pints later I decided I should leave so I stood up and realized that I was slightly drunk, It was a good feeling. by now it was about 2 so I made my way to Saint Paul’s where I was due to meet Alesia.

    I had met Alesia a month back last time I was in Paris. She had come to a meeting set up by the magazine that I work for. After the meeting she approached me and we talked briefly about music amongst other things, I handed my business card and she texted me that night, although I didn’t check my phone until the next day when I was already on my way back home. We kept in touch mostly via text for the following month during which time I decided that this girl interested me enough that I would return to Paris to hang out with her. She was a beautiful brown haired American girl with the perfect figure and a smile that made my heart skip a beat. I would have come back to Paris just to see that smile one more time. She was exactly my type, She had a few beautiful tattoos and dressed with a streak of edginess but still managed to keep a beautiful elegance and sweetness about her.

    I was early to Saint Paul’s and waited for about a half hour until she came walking towards me. She said she wanted to go to a good Scottish pub she knew, so we walked about thirty meters down the street and there it was, I stubbed out my cigarette which was only half finished and went into the bar with her. We ordered a couple of pints and talked about various topics, she told me of how she was going to India for christmas and we discussed music and films. As she talked to me I just sat there fascinated, fascinated by the sound of her sweet voice, by her mannerisms, by the was she laughed, by the way she sat there and drank her beer with such grace, and most of all by her dark brown hypnotizing eyes. I didn’t quite know what was happening to me, I was taken by this beautiful girl whom I hardly even knew and I was loving every minute of it! She told me that since she had been in Paris she’d not yet been to the Louvre and that we should go, so we finished our drinks and left.

    We got off the Metro and made our way to the bustling lobby of the Museum, checked our bags into the cloak room and started browsing through the art, and like the tourist I was we headed for the Mona Lisa. As we made our way through the collection of epic paintings and sculptures I really had to focus on taking my eyes of of Alesia and onto the art, but however hard I tried I couldn’t help but think that in these amazing halls of wonders she was easily the most beautiful thing in every room. We spent about two or three hours in the museum and Aleisa suggested a costume party she knew of later if we wanted to go. I said I thought that that sounded cool and so we left. We grabbed a coffee before we headed above ground because i was beat, having not slept. When we got outside Alesia made some phone calls and afterwards told me that we had a couple of hours until we could head over to her friends house for pre-drinks, so we went to a nearby store and bought six small cans of beer which we drank in some unknown courtyard of a huge public building. We sat there and talked for a while, the air was cold but I didn’t care, I was exactly where i wanted to be. Even with about 5 beers in me at that point, I still had no where near enough courage to make a move let alone even mention how beautiful she looked beneath the Parisian sky. We talked some more and eventually left to go to her friends house.

    We got there and Alesia introduced me to her friend Josie. She was a free spirited funny girl with a good sense of humor. I could see why Alesia liked her. We drank rum with water and listened to music. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we lost track of time, so we decided to skip the costume party and go out for drinks at a bar just around the corner instead. We headed over to the bar and went inside, we ordered drinks and spoke to a few of the Americans at the bar. I made idle conversation with some of them but didn’t really listen to a word they were saying, all I could think about was Alecia. I began to become slightly jealous of they guys who were speaking to her and I had paranoid thoughts that she was more interested in them than she was in me. I began speaking to Josie, she was extremely witty for a girl and I admired that, I eventually grew trusting enough of Josie that I told her my predicament.
    ‘I really like Alesia, but I can’t tell if she likes me or not. What do you think I should do?’
    ‘Well I think she is quite keen on you’
    ‘She wouldn’t be hanging out with you all weekend if she didn’t like you, If you get the chance you should try and kiss her.’
    I pondered this for a moment, but I felt as if the stakes were too high. I decided to wait and see what the night and the next few days would bring. We stayed in the bar a little longer and at one point went out for a cigarette. I sat down on the curb and spoke to some strangers with Alesia and Josie. I finished my cigarette and went to stand up, all the alcohol I had drank that day went to my head for a few seconds and I stumbled slightly to my right before turning around and back to the entrance of the bar. The bouncer must have been watching me because he told me in french that I was too drunk and he wasn’t going to let me back in. We tried to refute him for a while but he stood his ground and we had to leave. We checked a few of the bars in the area for somewhere else to go but ended up just heading back to Josie’s. She said I could stay so we pulled out the sofa-bed and I laid down and fell straight to sleep.

    In woke up half sober in the middle of the night and realized that I hadn’t made any moves on Alesia, it saddened me and I knew at that point I was in the friend zone, from which I would never return. I spent quite a few minutes feeling sorry for myself, until I finally accepted that I was never going to get anything that I really wanted in life, but somehow this acceptance of fate comforted me and I was able to fall asleep.

    ... To be continued

    The next sequence of events include a whirlwind romance, a unscheduled trip to Brussels and Amsterdam, Beer, Weed, Peep shows, an Irish cocaine dealer, Crack, border police and the emptiness of returning to a mundane life back in London, amongst other things.

  2. #2
    The Sultan MatthewFarlow's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    New York, Washington DC, Taipei, Budapest
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    What I Liked:
    The descriptions were really great and painted a vivid picture of the setting. For instance:
    The sky was still a dark velvet purple
    What I Didn't:
    There were a bunch of grammatical errors that you should take care of.
    She was exactly my type, She had a few beautiful tattoos. . .
    Make sure that you stay in a consistent tense.
    I only had about 6 minutes left until my coach to Paris leaves.
    'Leaves' should be 'left' or better yet - 'would leave'.

    Overall, the story was good and a second chapter is promising.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2010
    Overall I agree with MF's comments..... except regarding the second chapter.

    More of the same and I am liable to fall asleep. There's far too much inconsequential detail that would hardly find room in a 10-volume autobiography let alone a short story.

    For example, the first 3 paragraphs could be cut right back to the bone. Does the reader need to know the coach timetable and how you actually got to Paris? Obviously not.
    And finding an ATM to get some Euros - or finding beer at less than 9 euros a pint - neither is hardly a major plot development.

    Even when you mention your first meeting with Alesia you manage to destroy the mood. Do we really need to be told that you didn't check your texts until you were on your way back home? I'll leave you to answer that.

    This 'adventure' reads more like the unedited diary entries of someone who notes down every detail of their day to day routine. Expecting readers who do not even know you to enjoy this story is expecting a bit much.

    My advice would be - cut to the chase.


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