The bell to the coffee shop's door rang as the first customer of the day walked in. My flowers were in bloom, soaking in the sunshine from the sunrise. The brown earthy marble countertop carried the weight of the register, tip jar, and a vase of bluebells. The mouth-watering smell of red bean paste buns, medialunas, changua, mandazi, ful medame, wafted through the air. A man came up to the counter, his triple monk shoes clicking on the dark cherrywood floors.
I had never seen him before. I knew all of my customers and the days they came. Whenever I got new customers in the past, I still recognized them because they were usually family of a regular. But this man was a stranger.
He had mussed up light blond hair and gorgeous aquamarine eyes that sparkled in the morning light. A gray vest, a darker gray suit jacket, and a black coat all hung from his shoulders. His black tie and white under shirt made it all pop out. He flashes me a movie star smile and I smile back.
“Is there supposed to be a special for the day or can I just say surprise me?” He says jokingly. I blinked and stood there for a second, processing what he said.
“Yes! Um, hello! There is supposed to be a special for the day but my first customer usually comes in 2 minutes. Sorry about that!” I say braiding my hair with one hand anxiously. “The special for the day is called ‘Ambrosia Night’ which has oranges, shredded coconut, chocolate, and ube.”
He nods and looks at the rest of the menu. I hear the world starting to wake up. The sounds of cars driving by, shop doors opening, and the sirens of police cars chasing after villains.
A villain with rabbit features such as a tail, ears, and feet rushes by with a bag of money and a pistol in his other hand. Police rush by right a few seconds after he passes. I know that some people have problems or addictions and don’t know how to solve them so they resort to crime, but it still hurts to watch considering I was forced to do that before.
“You know, I would like to try that ‘Ambrosia Night’ drink. Medium size please. It sounds delicious,"he declares. I look up at him before typing it up on the register.
One of the regulars swings open the door, careful not to knock over the book display in front of the window. Kashton Weavers strides in wearing his trademark green sweater and jeans. His hair is in its high ponytail and he raises an eyebrow at the new customer. I feel confused as I take the cash from the man’s hand and input it into the register. A bird tweets and the register opens up for me to count change.
“Wait, was that the cash register?” The man asks. I nod and continue grabbing the change. “I’ve never heard a cash register do that before. Did you do that?”
“Yes I did,” I say quietly. It took me a while to figure out the mechanics of it but then I figured it out and implemented the sound I wanted. He raises his eyebrows in surprise. “What? Thought I couldn’t do it?” I say leaning against the counter.
“No, not at all! I’m just impressed. I would never be able to do that!” He says quickly. I pull out a medium size cup and grab a marker.
“What’s your name?” I ask, ready to write it down.
“Tyler. What’s yours?” He replies. I make a quick mental note of his name as I write it down. Can’t forget a customer's name. I spell it out in my head as I write it down. T-Y-L-E-R. Done.
“My name is Vera Caelus,” I say quietly, being not fond of the name. I quickly add thank you and start peeling the oranges from the bamboo basket behind me. Tyler nods and I see out of my peripheral a faint blush tainting his ears.
Ding! Another customer comes in and it’s Lillia Candeel from 104th Avenue South. She’s wearing her overalls, purple button-up blouse, and black boots. Her frizzy dark blond hair is up today and her freckles are splattered on her face like the paint she uses at her artist job. Her hazel eyes scan over Tyler. She looks at Tyler confused and Kashton leans over to her and whispers something in her ear. Her eyebrows raise and she smirks at me. Then, she winks and taps Tyler on the shoulder. He turns and looks at her.
“Hello there! How are you this morning?” He asks politely.
“I’m doing just swell! How about you? This your first time here? I ain’t ever seen you here before so I was surprised to see a new customer as cute as you! Especially talking to the gorgeous owner of this beloved store, Vera Caelus!” Lillia said cheerfully. Her voice was always bubbly, like she was happy 24/7. I will never understand that feeling of being constantly happy.
Tyler’s face flushes red and he glances at me. I start to want to shrink away. I feel ashamed of the scars littering my body. Ashamed of the white color of my hair, like a grandma. Ashamed of the two colors of my eyes. One green, one blue. Sky and Earth, and Earth and Sky. I just don’t feel comfortable in my body. I feel like I shouldn’t be loved sometimes. But when I start work I don’t feel any of that, I just feel safe knowing who’s going to show up and who’s not. That’s why I was confused when he walked in. Like it was alright. I suppose it is considering this is a local establishment. I was still worried nonetheless.
I add the oranges, the coconut, the chocolate, the ube, and I blend it all together. I mix in some arabica coffee and grab the cup. I snatch the ube condiment container and squeeze it on the sides of the cup in a swirly pattern and sprinkle chocolate flakes onto the ube and pour the mixture into the cup. It ended up being a dark mauve color. The environment friendly plastic cup with stars and midnight swirls as the design made it look like a sunset as I put a sweet orange meringue with more chocolate flakes on the top. I put the rounded cover and grab a straw with constellation patterns in it.
some things that I liked:
- the worldbuilding fascinates me. Heroes vs Villain deal? Cops and Robbers? The narrator seems to be a rehabilitated villain!? It's piqued my interest, and I would love to figure out more of the worldbuilding as the story goes on.
- coffee shop setting!!!! AGH my heart! I love a good coffee shop meet-cute!
- the characters you have so far are interesting and I would love to see them more in the future!
some things that you could work on:
- While an onomatopoeia isn't necessarily a bad way to start a story, it certainly isn't a very strong one. Consider a short paragraph to illustrate the worldbuilding or a short monologue of the narrator's thoughts, and then she's suddenly jolted out of said thoughts by the ringing of the bell.
- to go off of that, maybe italicize "ding" just for a breakup in text formatting. When writing, italics are my best friends! Don't be afraid to use them throughout writing!
- the sentence structures aren't that diverse. Break it up with longer, complex sentences with short and snappy ones. The syntax is essential to the flow of the story and ensuring that readers stay engaged.
- a very small one, but writing out numbers into words is a lot better aesthetically and is considered more formal writing.
- The emotions the narrator is feeling would be far better shown, rather than told. Instead of saying "I am confused" say something along the lines of "I furrow my brow and narrow my eyes, trying to figure out what the man could be getting at."
- Also, the sudden sense of shame Vera has with her appearance is sort of off-putting. It feels like an excuse just to describe what she looks like to the reader. This would be much better shown in shorter snippets throughout the story like "I check my quick appearance in the mirror, looking for any stray hairs on my head of white hair." or "the man points out my mismatched eyes. sky and earth. I duck my head, not wanting him to see them any more."
- third biggest thing I noticed: you have a lot of sentences that could use a comma. When writing, if you have two independent clauses separated by a conjunction, it's considered grammatically correct to separate those clauses with either a comma, a semicolon, or starting a new sentence completely. I'd be happy to expand on comma rules if you'd like! It's just something my editor-brain noticed!
- second biggest thing I noticed: keep your verb tense consistent. Pick either past-tense or present-tense and stick with it. Ended, rang, walked, took, sparkled, etc. are all past tense while put, blend, mix, feel, asks, and says are all present tense. Having a consistent verb tense is essential
- the biggest thing I noticed: you don't need to describe everything. The adjectives all bundled into the first two paragraphs felt a little overwhelming and unneeded. I don't need to know that the floors are cherrywood; I don't need to know the exact smells wafting through the air. The entire drink-making process felt unnecessary and I honestly skipped over most of it. When describing, long descriptions–especially back-to-back-to-back–get tiresome and monotonous, making readers (like me!) skip over a lot of it. Be quick and to the point with descriptions. We don't need to know everything about everyone, leave at least some room for the reader's imagination.
Overall, I think you have good bones for a good story! You're not there yet, but I'm sure with just a little improvement and a little more attention to what you're writing, you'll be there soon! Hope I helped and Happy Writing!
I thought that was good! Especially if it's a rough draft :) Larcenist said a lot of it, but for me, the problem isn't that the details are in there, it's that they're not useful.
You could easily make them useful but using details to worldbuild. For instance, in making the drink, as she pulls out the ingredients, instead of listing them, maybe she thinks about how a certain group of people tend to enjoy this one or that one more. How they have to keep this one well stocked because the (?)turtle folk drink it constantly. Or how it's important the cups be environmentally friendly, because every little bit counts in this post-apocalyptic world, or whatever your setting is. Details are a great place to do that little bit of exposition, and have it feel natural, because a character in this world really would think those things while making this drink.
Just a thought :) Keep at it!
Omg thank you guys so much for the feedback! I know this was a while ago but I read it and I have a new version but it kind of glitched a little bit. I got rid of most of the details. The one thing I’m worried about in this new one is that the story is too fast paced. I also do have a large issue with where commas go. But your feedback made me read it over and I think it changed quite a bit. Thank you!
:) thumbs up
:D smiles and thanks you again