Disclaimer: I'm not an Native English Speaker.

This is my fifth attempt of writing a short story (the previous ones are set in the same "universe" as this one).

I would like to know if the reader would feel intrigued by this opening. I also wonder if he would feel that it has a "dark" atmosphere.

This is the first time I describe so many things in a story. So I would also like to know if the descriptions are 'flowing' smoothly. If not, how to improve them?

Julian found himself walking along an empty street, only accompanied by the darkness and the fog. They were like omnipresent observers, carefully watching each of his steps. He didn't know where he was heading. In fact, he didn't even know if he wanted to reach a particular destination. After walking for a while, he spotted a light at the distance. It was a long and white, and looked as if it were suspended in the fog. As he was getting closer, the light started to form a shape. It was a big neon sign that said Little Paradise. Soon he realized that he was standing in front of a glass door. Another neon sign, one with the silhouette of a nude woman, was hanging on it. He stood there for a while, staring at the door. Then, as if he had just made up his mind on something, entered the place.

Inside was dark and empty. The only source of light were a couple of neon signs hanging on the walls. Julian glanced around the place. There was a bar in the front, a few seats in the center, and some others on the sides. Back at the bottom, there was small stage with a stripping pole in the middle of it. Everything looked old and rusty, like old antiques deteriorated by time.

Julian walked towards the bar and sat on one of the stools. He took a package of Marlboro Red from his pocket and lit a cigarette up. Without knowing what else to do, he focused his eyes on the stage, smoking his cigarette and waiting for someone to come.

After staring at it for a while, he realized that there was someone lying on it. He hesitated a little bit, but then crushed his cigarette in an ashtray, and slowly made his way to the stage. Once he reached a reasonable distance, he narrowed his eyes and he examined the person. It was a girl. She was lying still, with her back to the absent audience. She was wearing a black bikini, and the upper part of her body was being covered by a black jacket. He stood there, staring at her as if he were in a trance for a minute or two.

"Hello?" Julian called out after a moment. His voice didn't sound has his own.

A silence passed. The only thing that he could hear was the sound of his own breathing. He never imagined that a drinking spot could be that silent.

"Sorry, there are no more shows," the girl suddenly said, without moving from her lying position.

  • 2
    I'm not a hivemind, so I can't know what every reader feels, an I'm not sure if this is a place for that. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 14:56
  • @RedactedRedacted I agree, I'm pretty sure if this was a newly-asked question it would be closed as off-topic.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 15:08
  • Since this question would not be on-topic if asked today, I am voting to close it as per this meta discussion: writing.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/881/… It has returned frequently to the main page, so I think just leaving it is not the best option. Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 15:41

4 Answers 4


In all honesty, it doesn't work for me. To address your particular questions:

Is it dark? Not especially. I get a sense of someone not being sure where they are, but not being in a sinister place. More like having woken up after a drunken night, and trying to remember the last bar.

Does it flow? Not IMO. I am reminded of the old text-based Adventure games "You are in a room. There is an octopus lying on the floor."

Solutions? More words, more description. Taking it slower, adding more potential danger would help both of these. A quick attempt to rework the first sentence, for example:

Julian was in a deserted street. How he had got there, or where 'there' was, eluded him. As he walked, the fog enveloped him, wrapped him, held him. When he escaped from the fog, the darkness took him instead.

Note - these are just my opinions! Others may disagree, but as a rule, slower progress tends to make for more suspense. And I think, with some work, this could work out well.


It's not particularly dark. There's so much unknown that we don't even know if we're supposed to worry.

A strip club which is so old it feels like it's populated with antiques isn't particularly dark or scary; it means nobody's there, so there are no threats. It also doesn't imply that everyone disappeared or dropped dead abruptly (which would at least be a mystery).

If you want it to be smoother and more interesting, "slow down" is definitely good advice. You're hurrying us along to the club. "After walking for a while:" well, what does he see? Where is he? Big city, small city, state, country, continent? Are there other people? Other sounds? Cars? Age, make, model, condition? What are the buildings like? What kind (houses, apartments, stores, warehouses, crack dens, empty lots, gardens, museums)? What does the air smell like? Is he near the ocean, a lake, the mountains, an industrial park? Is it summer or winter?

If you want to intrigue the reader, give us something to be intrigued about.

(And, as always, I must compliment you on working so damn hard in what is not your native language.)

  • 2
    Without doubt, trying to write in a non-native language is worthy of serious kudos. I have enough trouble in my native language. Commented May 24, 2012 at 13:31

To make it dark, you would have to focus more on the atmosphere. Something about Julian's surroundings or something about your style of describing his situation has to suggest that darkness. Stay in the scene for a bit longer.

When Julian is outside: Are there shadows forming around him, expanding and flowing into mysterious shapes? What about the fog? What is it doing? Forming wispy vapors that ascend into the night sky, like long forgotten memories? (That is not a very good metaphor, read better authors to get the hang of this, but I hope you get the idea). The progression does seem a bit rushed, we see a neon light, a sign, then a glass door, then another neon light forming the silhouette of a nude woman...this happens a bit too quickly. To improve the flow here, you need to lead us through these objects much slowly, trying to pique our intrigue and adding more description.

When Julian in inside: I like the part that starts with 'After staring at it for a while...' much better. You have given a sense of 'something being wrong' more successfully here. '...with her back to the absent audience' is a good touch. This is the kind of descriptive style you need to put into the earlier section, something that will invoke associations of mystery, intrigue and darkness in the reader's mind. This later section (in my opinion) flows better than the previous one as well, which shows to me that you can get there with a little bit of work.

As a general advice, although I am sure that you are already reading, read even more and more of your favorite authors/genres. That is crucial in terms of improving your style.


I find it interesting and intriguing, I want to know more. However, what stroke me the most is the absence of important details.

  1. He enters the strip club, no mention about the presence or absence of a doorman.
  2. He sits at the bar, no mention about the presence or absence of a barmaid.
  3. Is the fog unusual? We don't know.

To answer the question, is it dark? Not really. There is nothing scary about walking at night and entering an empty strip club (I do it all the time, lol). We need to know why we should find it dark, try to add more details about the atmosphere.

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