Open Pen

The Hospital: An Open Pen Critique

Our first critique is from proverbs31teen who blogs over at The World of the Writer. She is looking for what we like and dislike about the piece, along with any improvement suggestions.

If you happen upon this page, I know that Bri would love for you to give your opinion on her work. Your critique doesn’t have to be long, but I know it would be appreciated 😉

Thanks for letting us read your work, Bri,  and I hope that you find these critiques helpful!

If you would like a piece of your own work critiqued, please head over to the tab, Open Pen, or you can click on the link here.

I hear the whir of the hospital’s automatic door opening and feel my way out with the cane. A cold breeze bites into my skin when I step onto the sidewalk outside, and I inhale deeply. It smells cold, and there’s a heaviness in the air I recognize easily. Rain. It’s still faint, but it’ll be here in an hour, judging by the speed of the wind. I’m never wrong when predicting the weather. Hopefully I’ll be home before it starts.

My cane bumps steadily over the cracks in the sidewalk. Cars whoosh past on my left, making the air swirl around me. It feels weird to be walking by myself, but it’s great. Hardly anybody walks anymore. I hear a familiar whizzing – a bike – and move to the side. The bike whips past without slowing. I keep moving, pausing to push strands of hair off my face.

I hear a slow, steady sound of rolling wheels behind me with a beat I don’t recognize. It stays the same distance behind me, not getting closer or farther away. I try to ignore it, but it’s getting on my nerves. Is someone following me?

I head more cars straight ahead of me, and my cane bumps down suddenly. This is where the sidewalk ends. I back up a step, unsure of what to do. I’ve never crossed an intersection on my own before. On the way here, a pushy lady gripped my arm and practically dragged me across, trying to “help”. But now there’s no one around, not that I can hear. Except for the rolling sound coming steadily closer. It stops next to me.

“Do you need help?” a female voice asks, hesitating.

“No,” I snap automatically, then regret it.

“Fine.” I hear the rolling sound again and stretch out my hand.

“Wait,” I say. “I’m sorry. Yes, I could use some help.”

I wait. Then I hear a sigh, and a hand carefully touches my hand and moves it. I feel something like thick canvas, and my toe bumps against something rubbery, a wheel. My breath catches as I realize what it is. A wheelchair.

“Light’s green, let’s go,” the girl says brusquely. The wheelchair lurches forward, and it’s all I can do to keep up. We make it to the other side of the street in no time at all.

The wheelchair slows as we move up the incline onto the sidewalk on the other side of the intersection. “Well, nice helping ya,” the girl says. She starts to roll away, but I tighten my grip on the back of the wheelchair.

“No, don’t leave yet,” I say. “Listen, I’m sorry for being so rude. I’m Chloe.”

Silence. “Melissa,” she finally says. “Now could you please let go?”

I pause. Let go of a chance to make a friend, and one who sounds like she needs it just as much as I do? Not a chance.

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36 thoughts on “The Hospital: An Open Pen Critique”

  1. Hey, Bri!
    I am very sorry that my critique wasn’t up here this morning when this post was published. I had forgotten that I scheduled the post, and that I can’t schedule comments 😉 Also I just realized that you may want to subscribe to the comments on this post, so you can know whenever someone new comments.

    Okay, now for the things that I liked:

    – I loved your descriptions. I really liked that I knew exactly where the character was and what the setting was. It was also great that you managed to do this without the sense of sight! Great job!

    – I was really curious when the character noted that she had never crossed an intersection alone before. This spiked my interest. Did she recently become blind, or did something happen to her family? You don’t need to explain it here, but I liked how you dropped a hint about it.

    – Seriously, I loved your setting. It seemed so peacefully normal and real, but I was experiencing it in a new way through the senses of a blind girl. You really did an awesome job!

    Here are a couple things that I disliked and might need some work (others might just be my personal preference, so you need to be the judge of this!):

    – Almost all of your sentences started with the subject. This is more of a stylistic comment, but it made your writing feel very flat and monotone (at least to me.) Try varying sentence lengths and sentence openers. Here are two links that really help me. The first is to a PDF on writing varying sentences (it’s on the second page, the first is about “Dress ups”): http://www.cambriansd.org/cms/lib07/CA01902282/Centricity/Domain/316/Dress-ups_Sentence-openers0001.pdf . The second is to a cool picture that talks about varying sentence lengths: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/52/83/0a/52830ad4be15cebadd85ef0889746a80.jpg . I think both could help 😉

    – The sentence “It feels weird to be walking by myself, but it’s great.” is really confusing. Either you need to elaborate on why it feels both weird and great or just cut this sentence.

    – I really feel like I was missing out on the thoughts of your character. Sure, you put in some thought process, but I would love to see her thoughts in italics and expanded on a little bit more.

    – Why would your character automatically say “no?” She was literally just wondering if someone would help her. I think embarrassment might be the proper emotional response, but not anger. This just make your character seem like she is acting “out of character” or is just a jerk.

    – If your character has a shoe on, then she probably can’t feel that the wheel is rubber.

    – I felt like the wheelchair girl was portrayed in a bipolar way. First, she was super nice and helpful, and then she was brisk and seemed annoyed, and suddenly she was super helpful. There was a reason for why she became annoyed (your POV character’s initial refusal of help), but I saw no reason why she suddenly became pleasant at the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much!!! Writing from a blind person’s perspective is challenging at times – figuring out how to “show not tell” while not being able to use sight! 😀 But it’s so much fun. Thank you!!!

      Like

  2. Good job, Bri!

    Here is my critique: (Just to let you know I am not a writer, just a person who really loves books, so I see things from a reader’s perspective)

    Needs Fixed:

    ~ Melissa, she keeps changing from sweet to mean. She can start off sweet, and then get annoyed with Chloe, and stay that way. Maybe sweeten up in the next couple of chapters.

    What I loved about “The Hospital”:

    ~ I loved how it was written from a blind person’s perspective.

    ~ I have never read anything that was written from a bind person’s perspective. So very well done!

    Over all, I really liked it! I am definitely going to read this book, when it is published!

    Hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved the whole thing. One of the commenters above didn’t like your line, “It feels weird to be walking alone, but it’s great.” I liked it because it hinted at something. I wanted to know why, but not necessarily right then. As a reader, I assume the why will be forthcoming. The interaction between wheelchair & blind girl was a little baffling. A little more internal monologue would have helped explain why she snapped when asked if she needed help. Otherwise, it really flowed, and I was right there with the character! Excellent job!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the descriptions, especially in the beginning (I know that rain scent well…). You did a great job of only describing the scents and sounds, not the sights. It’s really interesting that way. 🙂
    As far as improvements, I’d maybe have her do something else that makes mellisa mad. Just something that slips out and she hurts Melissa without knowing it. It would explain the unfriendliness a little more. 🙂
    Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Especially outside. Like in a forest. 🙂 My sister likes the smell or rain on asphalt. It’s a distinct enough smell, but I will never understand why she likes it so much. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We haven’t been getting much rain up here this summer actually. It’s funny, since Washingtonians so much pride ourselves on not even flinching at a downpour, but now that it’s in the 90s… XD sunburns galore. Everyone is running for their air conditioning. 😛
        Mom’s cousin in San Antonio said we must have switched them weather, since she’s had nothing but rain since January. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So one of my favorite things about writing is that it allows us to see the world in a new way, and you totally did that here. I love how you had her pick up on non-visual clues (for instance, the smell and feel of the air at the beginning) to tell her what’s going on—very realistic. One tiny thing is the line “I keep moving, pausing to push strands of hair off my face”. You say she’s moving, and then a second later, she’s pausing. It’s just a little contradictory. =P I personally don’t mind if she’s bouncing from sweet and mean (’cause aren’t we all like that, sometimes?), but I think it would be better if you indicated more why she’s that way, or what sets her off/makes her happy. Show us more of her thoughts, like Gabrielle suggested. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi! I’m not a seasoned writer (although at times I like to pretend I am one), but I love to read and this was a GOOD read.

    ~First off, it’s a unique perspective and really invites the reader to explore the vast area of sound. Honestly, I liked it.

    ~ I enjoy how you put so much effort in to describing different noises and how if makes Chloe feel. It isn’t just a rush of brrrs and zzzzingggs, but ‘slow, steady sound of wheels’. I especially think her added annoyance, at not being able to place the sound of the wheelchair, is fascinating. You certainly highlight the frustration she feels, while simultaneously attempting to gain a semblance of independence – this, to me at least, is a true reflection of anyone with a disability.

    ~ Critically speaking there are a few grammatical errors, but they didn’t bother me too much. I do find that you could make wider use of punctuation, not simply the commas and full stops. Unlike some authors that believe in a constant, I really enjoy the use of hyphens, ellipsis, exclamation marks. You’re not lacking in emotional addition from the punctuation, in fact the constant stops make the scene feel fast paced – almost confident.

    Over all? It was enjoyable to read, very unique and I’d certainly read more of it if you posted anything along these line. I hope some of this made sense… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I always feel like I use too much weird punctuation, and I think maybe I’ve been censoring that a little to much on this project. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      Like

  7. Wow Bri! This is awesome! It’s especially great since I’m gonna try writing from the blind perspective (you’ve read what I have so far).
    I would’ve liked a little more thoughts in italics, but other then that I didn’t find a whole bunch wrong (only minor stuff, more preferences). I loved how you described smells and sounds without making it drag on. Great job! I can’t wait to read it when it’s published (it’s gonna be a published book, right? Right?). And, I LOVE the name Chloe.
    P.S. Sorry I didn’t comment when it was posted, I just kept forgetting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really liked this piece and the fact that she is leaving the hospital spikes my interest quite a bit. I also love the irony of Chloe getting help from another disabled person. It’s very compelling. The whole time I was reading I was afraid she was going to be kidnapped or something of the like and it ends up being a wheel chair. That was surprising to me. I also like that she senses that Melissa is in need of a friend, which to me makes me think that she is a very intuitive person.
    Unfortunately, I agree with the improvements suggested above and do not see much more that needs to be fixed in this piece. It is very good. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. First of all, I just want to let you know that I picked your story to critique because two of my friends are blind and I thought I could be of help that way. Overall I really enjoyed your story. It leaves me wanting more for sure! I was mainly confused by one thing. Chloe seemed to be a very experienced blind person, one who has been blind for quite a long time; however, in your story she says she has never crossed an intersection on her own before. This really seemed conflicting to me. I like the idea of her having never crossed an intersection, yet this is inconsistent to how you formerly portrayed her character. I would be really interested in how you resolve this issue and if you expand more on this story! Besides for what I mentioned above, great job!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much!!! This is so helpful for me. Chloe’s mom is super overprotective, which is why she’s never really crossed an intersection on her own – I think that’s more clear in context. Thank you so much for your comment!

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  10. Hi Bri!

    It is an overall well written piece and it has a lot of description which helps the reader make a picture in their mind and that is great.

    – First of all I love the setting you have used. It portrays a calm and peaceful environment which is always nice to read. I would say though try and look up descriptive words so you don’t need to use the same words over and over to describe a setting. Since your character is blind she will mostly rely on sounds and the feeling of particular objects. I suggest you work on such adjectives and descriptive words. Onomatopoeia, which you have used in the first lines greatly help accentuate the experience of reading.

    – You do a great job of showing and not telling. That often is the hardest thing to do while writing. Practice that alot because with a blind character you cannot always say her heightened senses helped her. For example : “I back up a step unsure of what to do.”
    You can say instead ,” I feel myself at the end of the side-walk. I hear the various blaring sounds around me. I use a lamp post steady myself as I feel the fear gripe my body. My body trembles at the thought of crossing the intersection but I know I have to do it. I stand there with thoughts running in my mind as I wonder how I should cross the intersection.”
    In this way you show her fear and what she is feeling instead of directly saying she felt “unsure”.

    – Another tip is build your character’s personality. A personality plays a huge role in the story. Show why she needs a new friend or why she feels that the girl in the wheelchair is in need of a friend. build her personality, When you build her personality the reason why she makes certain decisions or statements will make more sense. In the earlier comments, people ask why she is first declines help and then the next moment asks for it. This can easily be explained with a back story and a hint towards it. Maybe she has a bad history with people trying to help her and she feels weary of accepting the offer, However, when she faces the problem she decides she needs support. And the girl in the wheelchair makes her realize that a friend is important. Maybe she sees herself in the girl in the wheelchair. My point being, when you have a back story things and actions that the character does start to make sense.

    – Leave your readers interested with what you are writing. their curiosity should be spiked.so leave hints hear and there about what is to happen or about the character’s past or thinking. Remember your side character is just as Important as you main. So when writing about Melissa keep her emotions and struggles too with a certain sense of mysteriousness. The reader may not understand why right now Melissa is acting stand offish but in the next chapters you should build and develop her character so it is explained.

    Overall I loved it, It was well written and had a lot of description. Keep writing and develop your skills. Read. When I can’t describe I read someone book and notice how they describe and show but not tell. I hope my advice helped 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so glad that it helped you! If you ever need any more advice on any other piece of yours just text me and I’ll revert back. I love doing and helping. I would to help if you need any more help any other time. I really loved your excerpt.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you! I might take you up on that. I have an excerpt from the novel I just finished that I submitted, so that should come up some time this month, maybe? I’m not sure when Gabrielle is coming back.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I will wait to read it. From what I can see that you write really well. If you don’t want to wait that much maybe you could send it to me to read? If you want to that is. Either ways I am happy to help. She just replied back to me saying she will post my excerpt in a few weeks. So yay.

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  11. I loved this piece! It was easily read but still had to be given thought. Here are some of my favorite parts…

    “It smells cold, and there’s a heaviness in the air I recognize easily. Rain.”
    This line… It’s so descriptive while still being so short! It just feel so completely relatable, how the thick cold air ‘smells’.

    “It feels weird to be walking by myself, but it’s great. Hardly anybody walks anymore”
    This honestly made me pause. Why does nobody walk with her anymore? Why does she not usually walk by herself? At this point, I still wasn’t really sure why she had a cane. It kind of slowly came to me, which is great. It was when I realized not once had you described anything using sight. SUCH A GOOD SKILL TO HAVE.

    ““Light’s green, let’s go,” the girl says brusquely. The wheelchair lurches forward, and it’s all I can do to keep up.”
    Until then, I wasn’t sure of how the girl reacted to her curtness. It’s not like she could see her expression. But you perfectly used her mannerisms to suggest that she wasn’t happy.

    So, I really had to dig to find something that could be fixed in here, but there is this one sentence that just irks me slightly.
    “Let go of a chance to make a friend, and one who sounds like she needs it just as much as I do? Not a chance.”
    I mean, I love this line, but you used the word ‘chance’ twice. I know I’m being super, SUPER picky so I completely understand if you don’t want to change it, but I might change the first ‘chance’ to ‘opportunity’ or something.

    Anyway, it was amazing and I loved it! Keep writing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you soooo much for this critique! 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed the descriptions! I never realized how hard it is to write a book without using sight, but it’s really fun, too. And that cold air smell is one of my favorites. 🙂 And thanks for the tip on that line, it’s definitely a little repetitive.

      Like

  12. I often find it very difficult not to use sight in my stories, and can’t always remember to use the other senses. Was there any exercise you did to help you find words to convey your meaning that didn’t involve sight? I have tried waling around the house wearing a blindfold, but that gets a little difficult when there six other people who frequently need you attention. The blindfold worked a small amount, but I still struggle with using all the senses.

    I don’t know if you knew this, but in some places, especially around where blind people go for therapy, there is braille everywhere, including on the posts that hold the traffic signals for pedestrians. Some have different beeps when it is safe to walk or when it isn’t. If you are going to make this into a novel, you may want to investigate braille. It is not that hard to learn, and once you learn it, you begin to see it everywhere. I suggest learning contracted braille, though, because that is the most common version used in public places like restrooms and ATM machines.

    Other than that, I loved it. I felt like I was there. I did notice right off that you were not using sight, and guessed very quickly that the main character was blind. I don’t know if you meant for this to be a surprise for a little while, but I realized it after the first sentence. Thank you for letting me read this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this comment! I do plan on learning Braille for this story, but that ends up being an important plot point later. Sight isn’t supposed to be a plot twist, so you’re good there.
      I’ve walked around with a blindfold, too, which helped some, but I’ve found the best way is just to imagine your everyday life without sight. That’s helped me a lot.

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