He puts down his beer and looks across the highway at the towers that rise white, clean, straight, monolithic. They run on and down the valley, sunlit and neatly staggered, diminishing into the distance.  The valley runs straight and precisely north-south here, as if intentionally designed with the purpose of channeling the southern inhabitants into Seoul, thirty miles north.  Bikepath, river, subway, and highway all hum together day and night like power lines transmitting a pulsing human energy along their circuits.  He feels he is separate from this energy, a witness with the wisdom of an outsider.  His ignorance of the specific, the menial, he likes to think, gives him a clairvoyant’s vision of the whole.

Of course he knows this is a fantasy, a way of coping with the overwhelming not-knowingness, but it’s a fun game, a repartee with himself that goes perfectly with the beer and the moment.  It’s a Sunday and beautiful.  The haze is light and the sky blue; the sun warms gently and is cut just so by a soft between-seasons breeze that is intermittent enough to be appreciated.  He feels a slight glow on his cheeks from the drink and the sunlight.

“It’s crazy, isn’t it?  How ignorant we are here?”

“I know.  I keep thinking, ‘This must be what it’s like to be illiterate.’”

He follows his wife’s eyes past the towers to the squatting green mountains.

“It’s cleared up.”

“From the rain,” she says.  “It’s worth being stuck inside for a day when it’s like this after.”

He nods.

“This time a year ago…” he says. “I hate to even think about it.”

“Me, too.”

“I wonder if we’d have had the guts to do this.”

“I think so.  It made it an easy decision.” She says.

“A non-decision.”

“Right.”

 

Instructor Response

He puts down his beer and looks across the highway at the towers that rise white, clean, straight, monolithic.  They run on and down the valley, sunlit and neatly staggered, diminishing into the distance.  He turned to his wife sitting next to him. (I’d move the next two paragraphs to the end, after the dialogue. The exchange is engaging; the narrative description and internalization are good, but maybe too slow to keep a reader with you. I’ve moved them to show what I mean.)

“It’s crazy, isn’t it?  How ignorant we are here?”

“I know.  I keep thinking, ‘This must be what it’s like to be illiterate.’”

He follows his wife’s eyes past the towers to the squatting green mountains.

“It’s cleared up.”

“From the rain,” she says.  “It’s worth being stuck inside for a day when it’s like this after.”

He nods.

“This time a year ago…” he says. “I hate to even think about it.”

“Me, too.”

“I wonder if we’d have had the guts to do this.”

“I think so.  It made it an easy decision.” She says.

“A non-decision.”

“Right.”

The valley runs straight and precisely north-south here, as if intentionally designed with the purpose of channeling the southern inhabitants into Seoul, thirty miles north.  Bikepath, river, subway, and highway all hum together day and night like power lines transmitting a pulsing human energy along their circuits.  He feels he is separate from this energy, a witness with the wisdom of an outsider.  His ignorance of the specific, the menial, he likes to think, gives him a clairvoyant’s vision of the whole.  Good!

Of course he knows this is a fantasy, a way of coping with the overwhelming not-knowingness, but it’s a fun game, a repartee with himself  he’s talking to his wife that goes perfectly with the beer and the moment.  It’s a Sunday and beautiful You describe the scene well. Don’t use generalizations when not needed. The objective description is excellent and makes “beautiful” redundant. However, if you restructure the sentence so that it’s more in his voice and point of view, not so much a “narrator” statement, it could be characterization about whether his subjective interpretation is that of everyone, and this would be characterization. Minute stuff, but important for good writing.) The haze is light and the sky blue; the sun warms gently and is cut just so by a soft between-seasons breeze that is intermittent enough to be appreciated.  He feels a slight glow on his cheeks from the drink and the sunlight.  Like the description, and perfect for placing the reader in a setting.

 

A really good beginning. Makes the reader look forward to what’s coming.

All the best,

WHC

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