Author Topic: RE WRITE of idea for a story. Around 300 words. IS THIS IMPROVED?  (Read 2045 times)

MrsButler

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 PROLOGUE
  
St. Margaret’s Church. Westminster. March 1726

 
  
There was a freedom here in St. Margaret’s.  A freedom that was part of the air that rustled between the leaves and whispered of an everlasting faith in the Lord, who is the savior of us all. The sexton felt at peace here. A soft wave of tenderness waved over him as he tended the grounds, kneeling by a dry stone wall, ripping weeds away from a gravestone.

The sexton was lonely in a hundred ways; he yearned for friendship or a kindly face to eat his meal with each every night, but his only acquaintances were the tombstones that scattered the church yard.
The setting sun cast a strange coloured light on the floor as it reflected off the stain glass windows.  A tall, graceful man appeared at his place of work, he took an instant dislike to him.

“Are you the sexton?”
   
“Yes,” he replied. His knees creaked as he raised himself to stand.


“I’m the local magistrate. I have a job for you.”

The sexton shrugged. “How can I help?”


The church yard was very still, the magistrate produced a battered pail from beneath a thorn bush. “Now don’t be alarmed, they found this is the dock by the Horse Ferry, earlier today.” He coughed. “Have you a weak stomach?”

“I bury dead people for a living. No”

The magistrate huffed. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He pulled out a severed head, covered in mud and grime.

The sexton shuddered and sucked in his breath. “For the love of God, what do you want me to do with it?”

“It’s to be displayed to the public for the purpose of identification for three days. So I want you to wash it, and comb its hair and set it upon a pole.”
   
 
« Last Edit: April 25, 2010, 10:12:38 AM by MrsButler »

Offline cally2

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Re: Honest critiques please... idea for a story. Around 300 words
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2010, 06:26:45 PM »
Hi Mrs B,
I like the ideas in this story, I always like the characters at the bottom of the heap. I'm not sure about the opening paragraph though. By using the repeated participles (-ing words) I felt it wasn't quite as immediate as the horror should be. And openings are so important to get an editor to read on.
Also, is the bit about the weather important?
“In this weather?” He pointed to the sky.

If it is important perhaps you could do more with it, if not then perhaps get rid of it.

I just recently read a book about graverobbers in 18th century London which I felt missed its opportunity for some real gothic horror. Is your story going to be horrific or a whodunnit? (or a whoisit?)
I wish you luck with further drafts
Paul Callaghan.

www.callaghanwrites.blogspot.com

Why is dyslexia so hard to spell?

MrsButler

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Re: Honest critiques please... idea for a story. Around 300 words
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2010, 06:38:09 PM »
Quote
Also, is the bit about the weather important?


Hello Cally.

And thanks for critique   ;D Its a TRUE story, the execution and trail of Catherine Hayes...she was a bit of a nympho who ended upgetting burned at the stake for the murder of her husband in 1726.

The weather part is because the sunshine would spoil  the head quicker ... wouldn't it? As opposed to icy weather that would preserve it...does that make sense?

Google Catherine Hayes...it's quite a story.

Alison :)

Offline ma100

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Re: Honest critiques please... idea for a story. Around 300 words
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2010, 09:17:48 PM »
Hi Mrs Butler,

These are my thoughts and suggestions so please feel free to disregard them. Your first paragraph seemed clunky to me and the action happened after the event.
Wouldn't he of cringed first. I have just given an example of a way to do it.

Quote
Into a pail, he dropped the head. Cringing as it made a plopping sound and then sank beneath the suds, surfacing just enough to stare out at him with filmy, dead eyes. Plunging his hands into the pail, he washed the mud from its face, ears, and nose. And then on to a rough cloth he placed it, rubbing it dry.

He cringed when he plopped the severed head into a pail. Stark eyes stared at him through the suds and he sucked in his breath. Why me? Muddy scum floated to the surface as he washed the gruesome face.

Okay, I have no idea who 'he' is and it isn't made clear as I read on. If you gave him a name it would help.

I think what you are trying to do is vary the sentence starts through your piece, but the sentences are not going in a logical order. I think you need to read it out loud and revise some of your sentences.

Quote
“The head they found in the dock, by Mr. Paul’s brew house.”

Now I have been thrown out of the story. Are you saying the head was in the water?

The heads skin would have deteriated through being knocked about in water and skin creeps and swells after being submerged for a period of time.

Quote
Over to the pole he shuffled, his bad leg dragging behind him. Lifting the head up in his arms, he stared up at the lifeless face, a macabre spectre. A deep breath, he filled his lungs, and lifted the head higher, and then with all his might, he forced down the head, impaling it on the pole. Nose wrinkled, he rubbed his hands on his trousers and hobbled back inside the Church.

Sorry but I giggled here. It sounds as if he is doing a bit of a boogie over a pole. I think again you need to have a bit of a rethink.

Overall, it's a good story mate, but I think you need to have a bit of a rewrite.

Well done

Ma  :)


 

Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: Honest critiques please... idea for a story. Around 300 words
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2010, 10:13:58 PM »
I just couldn't get into this because the sort of "back to front" way you write was really distracting, ie.:

Into a pail, he dropped the head.

And then on to a rough cloth he placed it,

Outside he limped, into the hazy sunshine

Over to the pole he shuffled,



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Offline cally2

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Re: Honest critiques please... idea for a story. Around 300 words
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2010, 12:58:24 AM »


The weather part is because the sunshine would spoil  the head quicker ... wouldn't it? As opposed to icy weather that would preserve it...does that make sense?

ok but you have to show us that the sun is shining. You have a character looking at the sky only. I looked at Catherine's  story on google there's plenty to make a story or two there. have a rewrite and another think
Paul Callaghan.

www.callaghanwrites.blogspot.com

Why is dyslexia so hard to spell?

MrsButler

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Re: Honest critiques please... idea for a story. Around 300 words
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2010, 07:16:48 AM »
Okay,thanks for critiques everyone.
Going to do a rewrite.
Alison :)

Offline ma100

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Re: RE WRITE of idea for a story. Around 300 words. IS THIS IMPROVED?
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2010, 11:42:35 AM »
Hi Alison, this is much better, though I am not overly keen on the first two sentences. This is just my opinion though, so don't take my word for it. Perhaps get the sexton doing something first.

I am still unsure whether the head was found in water or not. The point being if he washed it, the skin could come away from the skull making it unfit for recognition purposes. Debris and fish in the water would have damaged the face. ( I shan't be saying how I know this)

I feel closer to the sexton in your revision.

Think about where that pail is coming from. Surely if it was under a thorn bush the sexton would have seen it. Did the Magistrate bring it with him?

Try picturing your scene as if watching a movie and write everything you see. You can always cut down on the words afterwards.

Ma


Offline ENH

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Re: RE WRITE of idea for a story. Around 300 words. IS THIS IMPROVED?
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2010, 01:24:45 PM »
There was a freedom here in St. Margaret’s.  A freedom that was part of the air that rustled between the leaves and whispered of an everlasting faith in the Lord, who is the savior of us all. The sexton felt at peace here. A soft wave of tenderness waved over him as he tended the grounds, kneeling by a dry stone wall, ripping weeds away from a gravestone.

The introduction of the sexton is a bit abrupt. Is he only referred to as the sexton? Not everybody out there knows what a sexton is, btw.
A "soft wave of tenderness" is a bit redundant.


The sexton was lonely in a hundred ways; he yearned for friendship or a kindly face to eat his meal with each every night, but his only acquaintances were the tombstones that scattered the church yard.
So, seemingly, he loves the church and its grounds. Yet he is lonely? Usually people drawn to such things are loaners. Is the sexton a main character? If so, you might want to either omit the lonely part, or come up with a reason for his condition.

The setting sun cast a strange coloured light on the floor as it reflected off the stain glass windows. (yet we were just outside pulling weeds?)  A tall, graceful man appeared at his place of work, he took an instant dislike to him.

Way too many pronouns. Who is who in that last sentence? Also, "his place of work"? It makes it sound like they moved someplace else, or the guy literally just materialized out of thin air. Try to lead that in a bit more, he hears a sound and looks up from tending the weeds... sees a man approaching through the gates of the graveyard, or something along those lines. And yes, pulling the bucket out like it had been hidden is weird.

Good stuff though. It grabs your interest quickly. Think it through a bit more and let the words flow out describing the scene. Then make sure it makes sense.
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Eric
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I'm not trying to be rude, just helpful.