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Essay on a case of mistaken identity


learningtowrite 32 / 51  
Feb 16, 2008   #1
Title: Write about an occasion when a furious argument took place based on a case of mistaken identity.

The sun was shining brightly on the golden curve of the beach. It was such a beautiful day to stay outdoors. Stretching on the collapsible chair under the cool shade of the parasol, I idled my peaceful time away.

Through the lens of my sunglasses, my brother's blue trunks turned charcoal gray. Eddie was chasing after his ball [1]. He kicked it hard and then ran fast to meet it along its way, using his small foot to stop it and directed it back to the sand castle like a professional soccer player. My father was very proud of him; he said that if Eddie chose to follow a sports career, he would be the first one in the family.

My gaze followed the path of the ball along the beach. This time Eddie could not reach the ball. A boy picked up the ball after it hit his ankle, and started playing with the ball [2]. When my brother came to him, probably to ask for his ball back, the boy stopped playing, kept the ball in one arm protectively, his other arm reached out and gave my brother a thrust. Eddie fell on the sand. Alarmed, I quickly made my way down the beach.

From afar, I could hear them quarrelling. When my brother heard me shout to him, he ran to me, grasped my hand and told me everything, his voice choked with anger. He spoke so fast that his voice faded under the loud cheering on the beach. I could barely hear him clearly, but the story made sense to me- that boy refused to return Eddie's ball.

That boy was probably eight or nine, just a few years older than Eddie. He stared at us as we approached him, hugging the ball protectively.

'The ball is mine', asserted the boy, his face composed.
'Are you sure?' I bent down to talk to him, Eddie by my side, his hand holding mine tightly. 'I bought my brother this ball, and he has been playing with it for the whole morning. Maybe yours is somewhere around, why don't you check again?'

'It is mine.' The boy hissed through his teeth. 'Red and white spider-man ball, it is mine. I was playing with it just now, and suddenly it was nowhere to be found. Maybe your brother...'

'I did not steal it!' Eddie cut in, breathing in short pants, glaring at the boy. I shook his hand and rubbed his back, trying to calm him down.

'Look,' I tried to suppress the inner surge of impatience that was burning me to talk to the boy again, 'Eddie wouldn't steal anything from anyone. There has been some misunderstanding, I believe. Now, why don't you two share the ball first? Meanwhile, I could go around and look for yours? Eddie,' I looked at him, begging 'is it okay for you?' My brother, though reluctantly, nodded, his eyes looking down at the gritty sand.

'Why do I have to share with a blatant liar like your brother? He stole my ball!' His cruel words lingered in the hot, stuffy air. The sun was like a shimmering metal plate against my bare foot. I felt my blood boiling and Eddie's hand trembled in mine.

The boy shouted for his mother, and a woman of substantial build in a skimpy swimming-suit waddled towards us. After she listened to his side of story, I was about to explain everything to her, hoping that she would help make peace between the boys, but when she turned to glare at me, I dare not open my mouth. She planted one arm on her hips firmly and raised her voice.

'Why do you let him lie like that, after he stole my son's ball?'
'I DID NOT steal it. It is mine.' My brother shouted, a vein pulsing in his temples.
'Madam', I pulled myself over and spoke to her with the all the patience I had left, 'my brother said he did not steal the ball, and he did not lie. There must have been misunderstanding...'

'Misunderstanding?', she smirked, 'Oh, maybe your brother did not steal it. He just picked it up and claimed it was his.'
'Madam', my patience was drained, 'my brother did not steal anything, nor did he lie to you'.
'Enough! Your parents should have taught you two some basic courtesy before letting you go out stealing things from people!', the woman turned to her son, 'Let's go, honey. The beach is full of such people.'

They walked away, leaving me and Eddie root to the spot. After a few minutes, Eddie released my hand, the traces of his nail imprinted on my hand. He looked at me, his eyes red-rimmed, asking me to go.

We walked along the golden curve of the beach in silence. Eddie was in front of me, his eyes glued to the sand. Every now and then, a sigh broke the silence between us.

It was then when I saw a red and white spider-man ball floating on the sea. I ran out, took it in and showed Eddie.

'Look Eddie, it must have been that boy's ball. Don't feel sad, baby. You can play it, you know.'
Eddie turned to me, but his mind was drifting somewhere else. 'Just throw it away. I won't need a ball soon.'

And he walked away, leaving me stunned for a few seconds. The tide was rising, sweeping away the sand castle we built. The beautiful castle was now no more than a handful of wet sand, wounded.

My vision blurred. Tears filled my eyes.

Do you think I was on the right track, or was I not doing what the question asked for? The essay was supposed to be 600 words, but I exceeded the range; do you think I should cut down on the dialogue? I've never written dialogue in my essay, and it sounds weird, I guess.

Can you give me some advice on how to improve my essay? For [1] and [2], can you help me find some words that are more descriptive? For example, [2], I was thinking that the boy was using his thigh to play with the ball, you know.

Thanks in advance

EF_Team2 1 / 1,771  
Feb 16, 2008   #2
Greetings!

I love how your "essays" turn into fascinating little slices of life! This is very good writing. :-)
I'd be happy to give you some pointers:

Eddie was chasing after his ball [1]. - I actually rather liked the simplicity of this sentence. However, if you really feel it needs more, you could add something like "Eddie was chasing after his ball, sand pluming up behind his little feet as he ran along the dunes."

A boy picked up the ball after it hit his ankle, and started playing with the ball [2]. - I might rewrite this and the surrounding sentences this way: This time Eddie could not reach the ball, and it rolled down the strip of dry sand until it bumped against the ankles of a young boy. The boy picked up the ball and started bouncing it off the tops of his thighs, first one leg and then the other. When my brother came up to him to ask for his ball back, the boy stopped playing, kept the ball curled protectively in one arm, and reached out with his other arm to shove Eddie.

I'd keep "Eddie fell on the sand" as is; I like the way you use shorter sentences to vary the cadence of your writing. :-)

He kicked it hard and then ran fast to meet it along its way, using his small foot to stop it and direct it back to the sand castle like a professional soccer player.

They walked away, leaving me and Eddie rooted to the spot.

You can play with it, you know.'

I think your dialogue is good. Many beginning writers have a tendency to overexplain their characters' motivations, rather than letting the dialogue speak for itself. For instance, I would cut out the part here that I've put in brackets: 'Look,' I tried to suppress the inner surge of impatience that was burning me [to talk to the boy again, ]

Watch for description that is physically impossible: "She planted one arm on her hips firmly" - How did she get one arm on both hips? ;-))

Try not to repeat words within a sentence; look for substitutions, as I used here: Eddie released my hand, the traces of his nails imprinted on my palm.

Punctuation in dialogue can be tricky: 'Your parents should have taught you two some basic courtesy before letting you go out stealing things from people!' The woman turned to her son. 'Let's go, honey. The beach is full of such people.'

For greater impact, you might want to consider changing the ending slightly:
"My vision blurred as the tide swept it out to sea." It's often best to let the reader "fill in the blanks" rather than explaining too much; let the tears be implied.

Although I have given you a number of suggestions, I want to emphasize that your writing is very, very good! I look forward to reading more!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com
OP learningtowrite 32 / 51  
Feb 16, 2008   #3
Do you think that I could cut it down to 600 words without changing major parts? This essay exceeds the range by nearly 400 words :(. And do you think my type of writing is not very suitable for personal recount? It sounds a bit like a story as you said...

And do you think that I follow the instruction? Because I was worried that maybe the part on "furious argument" is not furious enough:D

Thank you for helping me along all this time. It sounds much better after being edited :]
EF_Team2 1 / 1,771  
Feb 17, 2008   #4
Greetings!

I have a theory that pretty much anything can be edited down if you are willing to be ruthless enough! :-)) I see nothing wrong with a personal recount sounding like a short story; it makes it more interesting, as far as I'm concerned. And I think glaring, shouting, blood boiling and a vein pulsing in the temple sounds like a very furious argument!

Try not to second-guess yourself too much; you really are a very talented writer--you just need a little more practice and some extra self-confidence, both of which are obtainable! :-) Give the editing a try and see how much you can cut. You might want to start with the dialogue, particularly your lines; it's not that they're not good, just that they are the most expendable portion, as far as the story line.

Let me know how it goes!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com
OP learningtowrite 32 / 51  
Feb 17, 2008   #5
The sun was shining brightly on the golden curve of the beach. It was such a beautiful day to stay outdoors. Stretching on the collapsible chair under the cool shade of the parasol, I idled my peaceful time away.

Through the lens of my sunglasses, my brother's blue trunks turned charcoal gray. Sand plumped behind his little feet as he chased his ball along the dunes. The way he passed his ball and stopped it along its path was fascinating, like a professional soccer player. You can never take the ball away from Eddie. It was his life.

My gaze followed the path of the ball along the beach. This time Eddie could not reach the ball; it rolled down the strip of dry sand until it bumped against the ankles of a young boy. The boy picked up the ball and started bouncing it off the tops of his thighs, first one leg and then the other. When my brother came up to him to ask for his ball back, the boy stopped playing, kept the ball curled protectively in one arm, the other reached out to shove Eddie. He fell on the sand.

From afar, I could hear them quarrelling. When my brother heard me shout to him, he ran to me, grasped my hand and told me everything, his tremulous voice faded under the loud cheering on the beach. That boy refused to return Eddie's ball. He stared at us as we approached him.

'The ball is mine.' The boy hissed through his teeth. 'Five minutes ago, I left this ball on the beach, and it disappeared. Maybe your brother...'

'I did not steal it!' Eddie cut in, breathing in short pants, glaring at the boy. I shook his hand and rubbed his back, trying to calm him down.

'Look,' it was hard to suppress the inner surge of impatience within me, 'Eddie wouldn't steal anything. Now, can you play together for a while? Eddie?' I looked down, begging him. My brother, though reluctantly, nodded.

'Why do I have to play with a liar? He stole my ball!' His cruel words lingered in the hot, stuffy air. Suddenly, Eddie reached out his arm, trying to snatch the ball back, but not fast enough. The boy stepped back, hid the ball behind his back and shouted for his mother. The sun was like a shimmering metal plate against my bare foot. I felt my blood boiling.

A woman of substantial build in a skimpy swimming-suit waddled towards us. After she listened to his side of story, I was about to explain everything to her, hoping that she would help make peace between the boys, but my hope died out when I saw her glaring at us. Planted one arm firmly on her hip, she raised her voice.

'So, your brother stole my son's ball.'
'I DID NOT steal it. It is mine.' My brother shouted, veins pulsing in his temples.
'Madam', my patience was draining out, 'it is my brother's ball. I'm sure your son's ball is just somewhere around...'
'... and picked up by your brother.' She smirked.
'Madam, my brother did not steal anything, nor did he lie to you'. Anger rose within me, flamelike. Eddie tensed.
'Oh, enough! You should be grateful that I won't bring you liars to the police. ' The woman turned to her son, 'Let's go, honey.' They took off, leaving me and Eddie rooted to the spot.

After a while, Eddie released my hand, the traces of his nail imprinted on my palm. We went back to the sand dunes, Eddie in front of me, his eyes glued to the gritty sand. Every now and then, a sigh broke the silence between us. Suddenly, a red ball lying on the beach caught my eyes. I took it to show Eddie; it was exactly identical to his. When I told him to play with it, he turned to me, his eyes red-rimmed, his mind drifting somewhere else. 'Just throw it away. I don't feel like playing anymore.'

And he walked away, leaving me stunned for a few seconds. The beautiful castle we built was now no more than a handful of wet sand, wounded. My vision blurred as tide swept it out to the sea.

I rewrote part of it, mostly the dialogue. Cutting away any words is painful:P. But guess what, it is only over 700 words now!!! Hurray!!!!!!!!!

Thank you for your advice!
EF_Team2 1 / 1,771  
Feb 17, 2008   #6
Greetings!

This is great! You did a great job of trimming it down! (This painful process of editing out words you have so lovingly crafted has been referred to as "murdering your children"; I suspect you can see why!)

Here are just a few more suggestions:

You could never take the ball away from Eddie. It was his life. - You want to make sure your tenses match.

When my brother came up to him to ask for his ball back, the boy stopped playing, kept the ball curled protectively in one arm, the other reached out to shove Eddie. He fell on the sand. - The first sentence is a run-on. Better would be "When my brother came up to him to ask for his ball back, the boy stopped playing, kept the ball curled protectively in one arm, and with the other, reached out to shove Eddie. He fell on the sand."

You also want to make clear that when the boy and his mother walk away, they have the ball with them. Perhaps, "They took off with the ball."

Great job!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com
OP learningtowrite 32 / 51  
Feb 18, 2008   #7
Yeah, thanks.

Just last night, I realised that this essay is supposed to be about mistaken identity, which means that I went the wrong way, totally. Anyway, I shall try to work on another one asap, cos it's due tmr:D My teacher laughed so much when she heard about it, you know. It is really funny:D
EF_Team2 1 / 1,771  
Feb 18, 2008   #8
:-)) Well, hang on to it, because it's too good to toss out! ;-)

Sarah


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