|Dear Ben Rankin
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Firstly please note this is merely my opinion and you should use what you want from this as a guide to better your story. This is still your story!
The story concept:
Firstly, welcome to WDC!
Your story is based on a scene many have witnessed at a party, carnival, theatre but never have dived into the thought of what does this character do when he's not being a clown. Our assumptions are challenged when we read the second half of your story. Before we thought clowns were people who enjoyed life and making people laugh. The genius way in which you portray this character, allows us to not only understand the masked man but the unmasked man.Your opening scene is an attention grabber and it starts your story in the right place. You capture all of this in a short story and the timeline is also short, yet sufficient enough to make this an incredible read. Well done here!
Even though there is no dialogue your story flows, and the reader understands this concept that goes from point A to point B. This is a short story but I commend you in the sense of not having used dialogue. The pacing of your scenes allow for a realistic progression and each scene adds something important to the story. You're not rushing the action or dumping numerous backstory or facts. And I believe you ended the scene in an elegant manner.
Powerful character! The two-sided coin description is done with great characterization elements. Tone, depth and using interesting poetic prose makes him relatable, authentic and distinctive. This character also brings the time passing on life factor to our attention. The reflection of what he had and how this withers away over the course of time. The longing to be 'happy' again not only in name but as a person. Excellent job!
Story build up:
I enjoyed how you build this story up. You introduce us, the readers, into a world where people see the character as the definition of Happy, but in truth he is alone, waiting desperately to become his alter ego.The way how you use the sentences 'They love Happy! Everyone loves Happy!' to break up the way we view Happy and how he views himself is a great piece of writing. Many of us hide behind the work titles we bear, even if we have torment ripping our insides like a tornado, we too place our masks on and play our roles. By ending the story with the same phrases, rounds the story up nicely.
You have a few points that I saw in terms of punctuation, nothing a line by line proofread won't catch. The language you used was one I enjoyed reading. Descriptions were exceptional and poignant. Scene transition was well done and the story had all the elements necessary for a short story.
A few punctuation tips:
first line 'The' lowercaps.
' with curtains closed behind him , (missing comma) he stares at the ghost of what once made him Happy.'
'With every slapstick routine, the audience goes wild; with every punchline delivered, the fans' stomachs ache with laughter. The performance brings feelings of overwhelming awe to the audience as they rediscover the joys of life..' double periods
'the clown joyously parades onto( missing the definite article: THE) stage with his loving embrace. In return the people cheer, they laugh, and they applaud.'
I use a program called www.editminion.com , after I've written a story I run it through this program to help me better the quality of my wording. This has helped me immensely. Give it a try and you will see once you start going through your story, it becomes better every time.
'Time, the formidable enemy of our hero. With every year that goes by, time drains the life from Happy. He sits at the edge of his stage completely alone. The atmosphere around him is motionless. With curtains closed behind him he stares at the ghost of what once made him Happy.
For your readers to better read this incredible story try making the font bigger. In a second version of the story try tightening up a few expressions, i.e. 'in a single moment' could become 'in unison'.
All in all, I believe this is an original story with an amazing writer behind it. Try going through it again, and I would love to read the new draft. I hope this has helped you in some way.
I wish you all the best with this piece and look forward to more of your work.
Thank you for sharing your talent with us.
I hope this review has been helpful to you and I'm glad I can be a part of your future writing career.