Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako) (Update 3-15-13- CH 2)

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MutilatedManequin
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Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako) (Update 3-15-13- CH 2)

Post by MutilatedManequin » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:24 am

Hi. Im fairly new at this whole writing thing, but I spent the better part of a few months developing this fanfic, so I figured I would post the first chapter. I am a little nervous, but dont hesitate to tell me how I can improve my writing.
==========================================================================================================

“Yo, kid. Wake up, we’re here,” A voice says, pulling me from my short nap. I blink the sleep from my eyes and i'm greeted by an impatient taxi driver.

I dig my wallet out of my pocket and hand him four 500 yen coins.

He pops the trunk and I go to get my suitcase. The building is much bigger than they said in the pamphlet. Noted, they didn't give any numbers but just some great camera angles. I adjust my hat, a black fedora with Hard Rock Cafe stitched into the side. Its Sunday, so classes are out, but I see a few students, milling about.

Yamaku High School. A high school specially made for the physically disabled. I liked that idea, but it seemed daunting now, considering that im here now. Nothing wrong with me physically, unless you counted a rich uncle who hated American public education. Thats part of a reason. The other is one is...

I smell turpentine and decide to cut myself off while I was still jet lagged. I opened the big and... imposing? Perhaps. I opened the perhaps imposing black wrought iron gate, and step inside.

Damn this place is huge.

The main building was large enough, with a big grassy area that looked well maintained, almost like a park.

I looked to my left and saw the boy's and girls dorms. I remembered what the note said.

The dorms are separate. Boys on the left girls on the right. If you have any questions, see Shizune Hakamachi, Student Council President. If you cant find her, listen for a very distinct laughter.

I didn't know what “distinct laughter” meant until I head it.

"Wahahaha!" laughed someone with a boombox for a throat. Could that be a disability? Perhaps.

I turned to see two cute girls who had managed to come up from behind in an attempt to burst my eardrums.

One was small, with very neat and short blue hair. She wore what I guessed to be the school uniform. On her face sat small glasses and a look teetering on intrigue and boredom.

The other girl was slightly larger, with bright pink hair that looked like... drills? She wore the same uniform as the blue hair girl with a smile that almost seemed like it would hurt anyone else who dared imitate it.

The blue haired girl started to make gestures with her hands, and immediately understood exactly which one was Class President.

"Hello! Are you the new transfer student, Zach Reed?," Asked the pink hair girl. She started to sign back as soon as I started to speak.

"Yes, I am. Would you happen to be Miss Hakamachi?" I ask, deciding to be polite, seeing as though I didn't want to make the Student Council President's shit list in record time. She nods when the pink haired girl translates it.

"Charmed," I say, offering my hand to shake. She shakes my hand and signs again.

"This is my friend, Misha! Wahaha!" Misha says, laughing for no reason and nearly shattering my damn eardrums. "Since you're new here, we're going to give you a tour of Yamaku!"

A tour with two cute girls? Sign me up.

"Let me go drop off my stuff, and then we can do that tour," I said. They both nod in agreement, so I set off for the boys dorms with my bags in tow.

The boys dorms were unremarkably boring in style. I wasnt expecting a castle, however badass that would be; however, I guess it served it's purpose as my home until I graduate

My room was on the second floor, the first floor most likely being reserved for students with mobility issues. My room was at the end of the hall in room 117. There wasn't a name plate on my door yet.

Stepping into my room, I notice how the walls were blank and bland. The bed was soft, but besides the cheap yet durable looking desk, and a reading lamp on the desk, the room was unremarkable.

I set my bags on the bed, deciding to unpack everything later.

I step out into the hall, and I feel the skin on the back of my neck tingle. Like someone watching me. When I turn, no one is there. I lock my door and quickly walk out of the dorms, where Shizune and Misha were waiting for me.

They started to walk me through the school grounds, showing me where the track was, where the secondary building was, then they started to show me the main school building itself.

Along the tour, a few things catch my eye besides the classrooms. I notice that Shizune and Misha walk in different manners. Shizune carries herself like a professional business woman. She walks with purpose. Like she is always heading somewhere important. Misha carries herself like she is following someone. That someone being Shizune most likely.

"So, what's it like in America?" asked Misha. Her voice had a different tone when she spoke for Shizune, so her curiosity is her own.

"It's... different," I said, unsure how to describe my native homeland. "It's a little like here, with a few aesthetic differences. Everything is in English, theres not J-Pop on the radio, and instead of having people dumped into syrup on a game show, we get to watch people act stupid." I said.

Misha let loose another 'Wahaha!' making me wonder how she didn't wake the dead or topple buildings. Perhaps that's why she was here. Perhaps the government sent her here to prevent her from toppling buildings in major cities.

Shut up, brain.

Shizune started to sign,

'...'

"So, it appears you are in 3-3 with us," Misha said.

"Really? Cool. Whos the homeroom teacher?" I asked.

'...'

"Mutou. He can be a bit of a scatterbrain, but he's a good teacher," said Misha with that same huge grin. "You know Zac, you have to head to the nurses office after this tour. School rules."

Made sense, seeing where we are. The only issues I had required on phone call per week.

"Ok, sure," I said, noticing that several classrooms weren't in use. The graduating class size must be not that big, right?

I was still tired, and a nap right about now would be lovely. Usually I couldn't sleep during the day, but seeing as though It was midnight where I lived several hours ago. Or several hours from now, considering the international date line--

Shut up, brain.

Shizune starts to sign again, and Misha dutifly translates.

"You seem to speak Japanese very well, where did you learn," Asked Shizune. I sigh inwardly, not wanting to rehash details of my life. I barely know these people.

"I learned when I was young. I wanted to learn Japanese so I could watch some anime with my cousin who was born here." I said, looking up at the flourescent lights. It was a lie, but a convincing one all the same, and Shizune seems to buy it.

They asked me a few more questions about school, home, and such, then directed me to the nurses office, where we parted ways. "See you in class tomorrow morning Zacchan! Wahaha!" said Misha, somehow managing to hurt my eardrum from fifty feet away. Zacchan

I have a feeling that Misha shared DNA with a subwoofer.

Wow, my brain was really being hyperactive today. Perhaps it was the fact that I had no other stimulation for the past 15 hours other than movies and books.

The nurses office was hard to miss. You would have to be blind to...

Getting really tired of your shit brain.

I knock, hear a muffled invitation. Theres a man, late twenties, wearing a lab coat with dress clothes and a tie underneath. He had a nest of dark hair, along with a huge grin on spread wide across his face. His lab coat simply reads Nurse in fancy calligraphy.

“Ah, you must be the new transfer student,” He says, wheeling his stool to a file cabinet. He fingers through a few files, and pulls out one with my name on it.

“Yeah, Zach Reed" I say, rubbing the back of my head. I quickly retract my hand from the sore spot on my head.

He turns around, holding my file open, scanning it inquisitively. “Hmm. Have you been taking your ADHD medication?” He asked. Ah, well that explains something. I didn’t bother taking it seeing as though I would have nothing to pay heavy amounts of attention to today.

“Eh, I didn't today seeing as though I didn't have much to pay attention to,” I say. Nurse nodded, partially satisfied with my answer. I don't think it listed the main reason I was here in my file. Despite this man being a doctor, I don't think he was the proper doctor to handle my issues.

“Look,” He says, the serious look on his face. “It dosent list why you are here, but if you want to talk, Im willing to listen." I suddenly feel uncomfortable. Gotta get him out of my face. I hated getting stuff shoved in my face.

“Yeah, sure,” I say. The grin gets plastered on his face once more, making him seem like he heard a joke a while ago and is just remembering it.

“Good,” He says, looking happy to get back to what appeared to be a cheesy supermarket paperback romance novel. I turn to leave adjusting my hat out of habit. “Oh, and if you want to discuss something, just drop by. Doctor patient confidentiality does exist you know,” He adds as I walk out the door. I don't mean to be rude, I just needed a nap.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


By the time I get my stuff unpacked, its about 8:30 and i’m half-way dead. I felt like a quasi-zombie as I shuffle to the bathroom to take out my contacts. I was too tired for showers, I might drown. Kind of like narcoleptics who decide to take a bath or go swimming.

I shuffle back to my room and barely manage to flick off my lights before the allure of sleep manages to seduce me under the sheets.

I set my glasses on the table beside my bed, which holds a cheap alarm clock and my pills for tomorrow.

I fall into the clutches of sleep as I try to forget what led me to sleep here.


Turpentine, sawdust, paint, paint thinner. These smells fill my nose as I peer at a silhouette. It seems to be a man, big and burly with square shoulders and a wide back. I recognized what lay in his hand. what seems to be a mask. I know that mask well, for it is the mask I wear everyday, my face.

I know how he removed it too. The tool, the weapon rested in his other hand, the tip glowing orange. My heart started to race as he took a step towards me. Then another.

Why can't I move? What keeps me from running, from fighting? Another step. The chains that bind me can be heard but never seen. Another step. I struggle, wanting to accept death on my feet rather than on my ass like a coward. Another step. I want to escape. Step. I want to be free. Step. I want to die. Step. I want to live

The man hovers over me, I can feel him grinning, the pleasure he takes from this. The pain, the vibration, the energy. He raises his tool high above his head and brings it down swiftly



“Gah!” I cry out, bolting upright in my bed. My new room is dark, but thankfully the smell of turpentine is absent. I wipe the sweat from my head. What time is it? The sky outside is devoid of sunlight, so most likely too damn early. I reach for my glasses and put them on to peer at the and reaffirm my suspicions. 3:42 a.m.

I wipe the sweat from my forehead and focus on sleep, but its futile. Classes began at 8:00 sharp, so I had five hours to kill. I've always had trouble with waking up and going back to sleep, so I figure I might as well get some things done. Staying away from that horrid room was just an added bonus.

I stretch and assess what I could accomplish until it was considered normal to be awake. I could call up some friends, considering that it was midday back home. I could read, stimulate my mind. I could also get some studying done and not get T-boned by the Japanese education system.

---------------------

I settle on Raiders of the Lost Ark, conveniently stored on one of several USB’s for watching on my laptop. These USBs were color coded by genre of movie. I didn't have OCD, but on extra early mornings like this, I liked to organize certain things for convenience.

This was not one of those mornings. I had a soft spot for awesome and old movies, like Indiana Jones, Dirty Harry, Scarface, and the three Star Wars movies before old Georgy took runny shite on the franchise

I watch with nostalgic glee as Harrison Ford dodges traps, guns, and horrible German accents as he kicks ass and saves... something. He at least gets the girl in the end. One of many as a badass explorer with an awesome fedora.

As I close the media player, I notice that the sky is lifting its ban on sunlight for the day. However, I still have a couple of hours to kill. I could run. Running was good exercise right? If i'm going to live at a school that paramounts health, I might as well develop some good habits while I live a short walk from the track.

I get some atheltic apparel on, which includes some thin running shorts, loose t-shirts, tennis shoes, and fedora.

The early morning spring air was refreshing as I walked to the track, water bottle and small towel in hand. The track was well maintained, for obvious reasons. Also, someone else was here. I heard a rhythmic chk,chk,chk,chk,chk,chk as a girl rapidly approaches me. I braced myslef for impact, but she stopped about ten feet short of me. The girl was short, slightly shorter than Shizune. Her hair was pink, like Misha's but instead of being curled into drills, they were drawn into two simple pig tails.

Oh, and she didnt have legs either. She was standing, but on what seemed to be thin, protstetic leg blades that were strong but flexible. Made for running.

"Oh, hi!" says the cute, runner girl. I was running into several cute girls recently. I made a note to put a few coins in a fountain soon. "Are you the new transfer student I heard about?"

"Depends, what exactly did you hear about me?" I ask, deciding that five in the morning was too early to be a perfect gentleman.

She gave a thoughtful glance towards the sky. "Well, that you are from America." She says, shrugging. I want to have a little fun with her. She seems nice enough.

"Thats it? Well, you must have not heard of the Legend of Yellow Mesa!" I say, puffing my chest out. Technically, it's not a lie. I am sort of a legend back home. Unfortunately for the wrong reasons. "My name is Zach Reed, class 3-3." I offer my hand to shake. She giggles a little, and I find a stupid smile almost forms on my face.

"Emi Ibarazaki, class 3-1." She says, shaking my hand. She seems nice enough. "Are you here to run?" She asks exitedly.

"Yeah, I woke up early, so I might as well get some cardio in." I say. She practicly lept for joy at this.

"Well, I need a running partner in the mornings. Want to try out?" Emi says with a cute grin.

Hmm. Getting up early in the morning to run with a cute girl? Couldnt seem like the worst thing to do early in the morning.

"Sure, why not? I'll give it a try." Cant be too bad right?

------------------


I was wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. That girl was a goddamned rocket strapped on a bat flying out of hell. She managed to lap me about six times, when I was sprinting. By the time I ran the mile, she had lapped me a grand total of ten times, and had the nerve to call it a light day. I was utterly drained, and soaked in sweat. She was simply sweaty and slightly tired. How dare she be better at something she had obviously practiced for years before I had.

...Good point, brain.

"You" I squeezed out between breaths "are a" breath. "godamn." breath "hacker." She shrugged this off as she wiped sweat from her brow and neck, and took a swig from her pink water bottle.

She looked tired but happy. Good for her. Needed shower. Needed to get to class. I mumbled some semblance of a goodbye, and walked back the dorms to get ready. I needed another way to get healthy.
Last edited by MutilatedManequin on Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:32 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by Guestimate » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:58 am

MutilatedManequin wrote:“Yo, kid. Wake up, we’re here,” A voice says, pulling me from my short nap. I blink the sleep from my eyes and I'm greeted by an impatient taxi driver.
*****
He pops the trunk and I go to get my suitcase.
*****
Its Sunday, so classes are out, but I see a few students.
*****
I liked that idea, but it seemed daunting now, considering that I'm here now. Nothing wrong with me physically, unless you counted a rich uncle who hated American public education. That's part of a reason. The other is one is...
*****
She wore the same uniform as the blue haired girl, with a smile that almost seemed like it would hurt anyone else who dared imitate it.

The blue haired girl started to make gestures with her hands, and I understood the circumstances immediately.
Well, here's what I found before I stopped. You might want to get a beta reader. As for the story itself... I've just finished reading some of the curve setters, so I don't think I can give an unbiased opinion. But it does seem a bit... flat? dry? I'm bad at describing this sort of thing. Luckily it probably won't be long before someone better gives you a proper critique.

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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by SemisoftCheese » Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:07 am

There are a couple of things I would say. This is a little long so I've put a tl;dr for those who hate reading long replies.

Apologies for harshness in advance. I'm not a terrible guy, I promise.

I'm not as much as a grammar person/detail person as other people here, but there are a significant amount of grammatical and detail errors present in this work.

500 yen notes went out of phase in 1982; there are only 500 yen coins. This is just a quick fix, but it made me double-take a little when I read it.

Your characters play fast and loose with names. I'm not sure if this is spelling, because there are a fair amount of typos in here (PM me if you want me to point them all out, you could just put this in a word-processor and it'd indicate them), but "Mutou" turns into "Motou," Shicchan" turns into "Siicchan," "Ibarazaki" to "Ibanazaki," etc. This makes your story a little less credible as it feels like it's been written without attention to detail. As previously mentioned, there are a boatload of grammatical errors (comma splices, run on sentences, improper apostrophe placements, etc.)

Normally I leave the tiny things alone when I edit, but there are enough in this piece to really drag it down. It really breaks the piece apart and drops it down a level or two. It would seem alot "tighter" if all these little holes were filled up.

Now, onto the bigger things. I'm not exactly sure if this is a one-shot (judging by your title, it's not), so if it's a route, your pacing is pretty weird.

In just one act, you've met Emi, Shizune, Misha, the nurse, and already figured out what's going on in the track. You've already set a lot of your character's personalities by Hisao's first impression of them.

Fast-paced stories aren't necessarily a bad thing. If you wanted to turn this route into something over a period of five years (I dunno, college?), then I could see why you want to pace it fast.

But even then, your selection of detail leaves question as to why you would pace it so quickly. You note small details, yet you skim over large ones, stating "For obvious reasons." As a result, your reader is really confused. The plot zips by really quickly, noting a detail here or there, and doesn't really seem to have a coherent focus. If you want to focus on small details, take your route slow, and give your reader a lot of details to collate. If you want to take your route fast, you can note small details, but you've got to make the "large sweeps" more logical and encompassing, so the reader isn't baffled.

Finally, your character seems a lot like a Mary Sue. His interactions seem sort of awkward and forced, and a lot of his thoughts don't exactly make sense. Furthermore, his relocation to Japan isn't for the best of reasons, as most international students choose to study in America, as opposed to leaving it. He seems overly American (Hard Rock Cafe), and a little eccentric (fedora). Your character is seems more of a "Frankenstein" of various characteristics than a coherent whole, as if there were a series of "cool" things that you wanted Zach to be.

Mary Sues are acceptable in some cases, and if you wrote him as one, you're doing a good job. But for the most part, people avoid them, because they're annoying to read and hard to identify with unless you're the author.

Read the tl;dr for the full "double-barrels."

tl;dr: Lack of attention to detail and sort of wacky-pacing make this seem sort of insincere. Your character interactions seem forced at best, and your character seems more to be checking off "plot boxes" (meeting the student council, wahahaaha, emi, nurse, etc) then actually following his own intentions or desires, which we still don't understand. Your character seems sort of poorly designed, and as a result, he's hard to identify or sympathize with.

Sorry for being so critical, dude. It'll help you in the long run, I promise. Hit me up with a PM if you want help editing or proofing.

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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by griffon8 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:18 am

The only thing I have to add to the previous two posts is that there is no tipping in Japan; the taxi driver would have insisted on returning change.
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by CptSalsa » Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:27 am

Late to the party. It seems all burnt OC males wear hats.
Also
Emi Izabanaki!
That reminded me of a YouTuber who pronounced everyone's name in the VN wrong. Brings back memories.
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by forgetmenot » Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:46 am

All the above posts make good points. I'm not gonna rehash any of what was said earlier, but I do want to point out what I think is the most distracting part of your writing (partly because I struggle with it sometimes as well): you switch tenses excessively. There are multiple back-and-forths between past and present tense, often in the same sentence.

For example,
“Ah, you must be the new transfer student,” He says, wheeling his stool to a file cabinet, fingered through a few files, and pulled out one with my name on it.
You flip tense in the middle of the sentence. The present-tense verb "wheeling" is followed up by the past-tense verb "fingered". A better way to write this would be:
"Ah, you must be the new transfer student," he says, wheeling his stool to a file cabinet, fingering through a few files, and pulling one out with my name on it.
My suggestion: Pick a tense and stick with it. For this kind of story, I'd suggest present tense, as your OC seems to have moments of near stream-of-consciousness thought. Present tense tends to work better for that kind of stuff.


Story-wise, I suppose my biggest gripe is that right now, your OC hasn't really done or thought anything much different than Hisao. Really, the only difference is that he's American (and has poor taste in hats). In any other context, this would be fine- Hisao's a decent character in his own right. However, since everyone here has read KS, we expect different characters to be... different, I suppose. You hint at an interesting backstory, though.

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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by CptSalsa » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:16 am

For your information a fedora, when worn properly makes for a cool guy. Maybe it's just that there are words on it. Oh yes, tense switching is a very big problem here.
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by MutilatedManequin » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:28 am

Well, you all make good points. I'm not the best at writing, but ill be damned if its going to stop me.
I wont make any excuses, but I do need to improve, with the tense switching, the misspelling, and other things. I couldn't think of anything to make Mr. Reed stand out from Mr. Nakai this early in the story.

And yes, forgetmenot, I do have quite the history for Mr.Reed.

Anyway, made a few edits. Changed some tenses, moved/deleted/added some sentences. Emi's appearance was more for lulz, also to eliminate her from a path. At least I didnt pull a Kosher, and had her get vaporized by a poorly placed bullet train.

20 points if you can tell where I got that from
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:52 am

Why do all OCs have to be
a) foreigners and
b) new arrivals?

You varied the formular a little bit by not having him arrive Monday morning, late for class and meeting Mutou in the hallway, but still...

My pet peeve: Tenses. You frequently change between past and present tense in your story. Decide on one or the other.
Edit: I see that has already been noted by forgetmenot and you say you fixed some of it, but there are still a lot of those mistakes in there. Is this story supposed to be present or past tense?

Otherwise a few lot of punctuation problems. A few have already been pointed out, but
Are you the new transfer student, Zach Reed?," Asked the pink hair girl.
should be mentioned as well...
slightly shorter than Shizune by inches
"Slightly shorter" and "by inches" doesn't really go together... And since when does Emi have pink hair? And she's in class 3-4.

Not much story to comment on yet, but if you can work out the kinks mentioned by cheese and the others this story could be promising.
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by Plague » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:34 am

Well most of the problem was noted before, but I also noticed on e thing that is my pet peeve - "clustered word usage" (not a native speaker, sorry).
Damn this place is big
The main building was big enough, with a big grassy area that looked well maintained, almost like a park.
You did this a few times in the first couple of paragraphs, but then it fortunately went away (or I got blind).

As for the story, it wasn't a bad read, but I'd need to read more (hopefully there will be more?) to really know.

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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by OtakuNinja » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:58 am

As mentioned above, there are a lot of stuff you could improve, but don't let that stop you. I don't care about those errors, as long as the story is good. :D
And since when does Emi have pink hair?
I've always thought Emi has pink hair, no matter how many times people tell me it's brown. Props to the writer for doing it too.
Last edited by OtakuNinja on Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by Silentcook » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:53 am

SemisoftCheese wrote:(PM me if you want me to point them all out, you could just put this in a word-processor and it'd indicate them)
NO.

Word processors are a wonderful thing, but if I got a cent every time a spellchecker mangled the fuck out of a piece, I'd never have to worry about paying my bills again. To rely on them is a VERY bad idea, doubly so while learning.

While I agree that you majorly need to shape your grammar/spelling up, Manequin, you do that by reading a few good grammar books and manuals of style (yes, more than one each) and paying attention. When you start feeling like bashing your head against them to see if it will improve your understanding, you read them once more. I understand that doesn't sound like much fun, but it's the way to go.

No comment on the content until your form improves.
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by pandaphil » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:18 pm

Well to be fair, spellcheckers are useful for picking out obvious typos and spelling mistakes and fixing them yourself. But yes, nothing beats a strong grasp of spelling and grammer if you're going to try writing.
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by griffon8 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:34 am

Oh, now, pandaphil. You can't make these so easy to comment on.
pandaphil wrote:Well to be fair, spellcheckers are useful for picking out obvious typos and spelling mistakes and fixing them yourself. But yes, nothing beats a strong grasp of spelling and grammer if you're going to try writing.
:oops:
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Re: Scar Crossed Lovers (OCXHanako)

Post by MutilatedManequin » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:07 pm

This time, we delve into the eyes of Hanako. Thanks to Semisoftcheese and Pandaphil for helping me beat this into shape. From this point forward, I will be rotating between Zach and Hanako's view points between chapters. Again, I'll take any criticism like a good little girl. :lol:




----------------------------------------CH. 2-------------------------------------------------

"I'm sorry Hanako. But I can't...*ACHOO*... Excuse me." I play with my pencil nervously as I hear Lilly blow her nose through my cell phone. "Sorry. The nurse told me to get some rest. I'll be in class tomorrow."

"O-okay Lilly. Please, get well soon." I say. The dread of facing the day without her settles in my stomach. I had a sense that Lilly was coming down with something when she started to sniffle a few days ago.

"Oh, and Hanako?" says Lilly.

"Y-Yes?"

"Tell me if the new transfer student is cute." Lilly says with a giggle.

"O-Okay Lilly. Bye." Hanako said, closing my cell phone. A transfer student? People started filing into the classroom, and I grab my book, hiding my face, while delving into the world of Dune. I read about two chapters before Motou finally stepped in the classroom, followed by the transfer student Lilly had mentioned.

The first thing I notice about him was how tall he was. He was definitely foreign, with skin a darker shade of skin than Lilly's or mine. He wore a western style black hat. What was it called? Fendora? Forda? I raise my hand in front of my face as he starts to introducing himself.

"My name is Zach Reed. I enjoy movies and music." He says, eyes nervously wandering. Zach meets my curious stare, and I quickly look away in embarrassment, wanting to dissapear.

I barely listen as Mutou finishes the official introduction, only snapping back to attention when I hear the phrase, "Okay, then. You can take the desk in front of Ikezawa."

He sat in the empty desk in front of my sanctuary.

I liked sitting in back. I could blend into the background and no one could look at me.
But now this new boy is here, and I dread what the next assignment will entail.

Motou starts to assign group work out of the book, and I almost curse aloud. People started to move their desks into groups. Shit.

'Dont turn around. Please, not today.' My silent begging goes unheard as the transfer student turns his desk to to face me. I cringe, resisting the urge to run, or curl into a little ball. I want to disappear.

"Hi." he says with a friendly smile. I shake internally. I gradually force myself to make
eye contact, the kind that doesn't make my stomach go in knots. I look for those familiar expressions. Disgust, pity, fear. But none of those were on his face. He looks at me the
same way he looks at Shizune, Miki, Suzu or the others. It doesn't ease any of my fears, but at least I don't feel like running away anymore.

“H-H-Hello.” I stutter , my right hand still covering my face. Does he even notice? Sometimes, if I'm careful, I can manage to hide myself, so people don't notice my scars. It occurs to me that this was the part where I'm supposed to introduce myself. “I’m Hanako Izewaka.” I manage to get out, biting my lip nervously. Good, just like her therapist said. Now, conversation starter. I struggles to bring the words to my lips
“Iheardyourefromamericawhatsitlikethere?” I blurts out. I redden, mortified. What a stupid thing to say. He probably thinks I'm wierd.

Zach seems put off for a moment, but takes my blunder in stride. “Um, its pretty different. Not that many mountains where I lived.” He says, looking thoughtful. I notice his deep brown eyes, looking thoughtfully into space. He seemed nice. He hadn't even looked at my scars. Perhaps...

"Hey Zacchan!" Boomed Misha, following Shizune. I instictively cringe up in fear again. Shizune and Lilly got along like oil and water, and Shizune wasn't my biggest fan either. I hated the way she looked at me. Disgust. Not at my scars but at my association with Lilly. That actually made me more angry than afraid. How could anyone not like Lilly? Shizune rarely 'spoke' to me without Lilly being involved. Even then, she was rarely nice. No wonder her and Misha were the only ones on Student Council.

"Oh, hey. What's up?" He asked, curious. Did he know them already? Misha did call him Zacchan...

"Sicchan says that you aren't allowed to wear hats in class." Misha says, that huge grin plastered on her face.

A dark look crossed his face. "Sorry, no can do. I'll explain later." Zach says. He clearly wants to avoid the subject. Misha signs his response and recieves an irritated look from Shizune followed by rapid signing.

"We all need to follow rules Zacchan!" Misha says cheerfully, her wide grin making my face hurt.

Zach briefly gives me a pained, apologetic smile before standing up, and gesturing Shizune and Misha to follow him out into the hall. This catches the attention of Mutou, but does nothing, going back to reading some manga about time travel. I glance up at the clock. I guess we still have a few minutes before class officially starts.

I manage to solve a couple of problems from the book by the time I hear the door click open, followed by a tired-looking Zach, and a somber Misha and a contemplative Shizune. I see Zach receive a nod from Mutou before sitting down and yawning into his hand.

We both get to work. The work is really just a follow up to what the class did on Friday, and Zach seemed to know the concepts well enough. Surprisingly, we finish nearly twenty minutes early. Zach looks like he wants to talk, but seems to sense my uneasiness; instead, he takes out a book written in English, and starts reading.


-------------------


The lunch bell rings as I walk out of the Library, a few books and finished classwork in hand. I had to slip out shortly after history class began. I felt way too nervous, plus Shizune started throwing me odd glances after I finished the assignment. Now I had to try to make it though lunch on my own. I have a feeling that Lilly won't let me in her dorm room, not until she recovers from her cold.

I settle on the tea room,keeping my head down as I quickly walking past the few people in the halls. Thankfully nobody even notices me.

I love the tea room, unused and away from people. Being on the second floor, it offered a pretty view of the school’s garden.

I opened the door and did a double take. Sitting at the lone table, was Zach, looking just as surprised as me, chopsticks full of curry halfway to his mouth.

After about ten seconds of uncomfortable silence, he put his chopsticks down, and started to speak calmly. “Oh, I uh... Hey there Hanako.” Zach says gently, looking like he was afraid I'd turn and run away.

“W-w-what are y-you doing here?” I ask him, a little angry that he'd invade Lilly and I's private space. I fail miserably at keeping the annoyance and uncertainty out of my voice. I will myself to calm down.

“I uh, was just having some lunch. The cafeteria food sucks.” He says, smiling. Why did he have to smile so much? Didn’t he notice how I looked? My ugly, horrid, scars? Did he refuse to acknowledge them, like other’s have done in the past? No. Zach noticed my scars, but.... Something was different in the way he acknowledged them. Something that I couldn't place. “Do you uh, usually eat here?” Zach asks, pulling me from my inner monologue.

“Y-yes. With Lilly.” I say, startign to really miss my best friend. “W-we usually have tea.”

“Oh, well if i’m stealing your spot...” Zach looks like he was about to get up. It occurs to me that Lilly would think it terribly rude to kick someone out halfway through a meal.

“No!” I blurt, louder than I wanted to. . I blush a light red. He looks a little confused.

“Oh, okay. Um, do you want to have lunch together then?” Zach indicated the empty seat across from him. That was Lilly’s chair.

"Try to make friends" The advice of my therapist echo in my ears.

"S-sure." I say, and a look of small relief passed on Zach's face. I dig out my bento that I
made the night before and started to eat. The uncomfortable silence is thick in the air as we eat our lunches. Zach spoke up.

"So, um, did you make that curry yourself?" He asked, obviously trying to break this uneasy silence.

"Y-yes. I made it last n-night. What about yours?" I ask, out of politeness.

"Um, Taro gave it to me." I try to remember who Taro was. Isn't he that boy who sat in the right corner of the classroom? "He made way too much, and since he heard me complaining about my lunch, he decided to be nice to the new guy and shared. It's really good too."

I smile, slightly relaxing. I'm still tense, but I've lost the urge to sprint out of the room.

We fall back into a silence that was only marginally less uncomfortable.

I find myself wondering what he has hidden under that hat. With it, he had an air of mystery about him.

Just as we finish our lunches, the bell rings, signaling the beginning of afternoon classes. We wordlessly obey, grabbing our bags as we head back to class.

Is it my imagination, or am I growing less afraid around Zach? Perhaps he was just being nice, like some people did. But something was different. Some tried to make friends with me they felt sorry for me. Which was almost as bad as when people mocked me. Either way, I hated the pity. I hated the feeling of being smothered. But I had the oddest feeling that Zach didn't try to befriend me out of pity, but out of something else.

Or maybe I was just being silly.

I followed Zach into class 3-3 in time for the second half of Motou's lecture on momentum.

We get a glance from the scatterbrain teacher, but he continues unabated.

As I sit down in my desk, I dig our my book to follow along. I consider having lunch with Zach again. I wonder what he thinks of me?
There is a method to my madness, a random number of random steps done in no particular order to accomplish god knows what

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