Author Topic: So what do you think?  (Read 3299 times)

Offline mary

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So what do you think?
« on: January 31, 2006, 12:07:14 PM »
Hi All,

  I'm aiming my story to the "Harry Potter" readers but the story is nothing like HP. SO with my courage mustered up I'm putting this snippet here for your review.


  ~WAKE-UP !   Wake-up, wake-up, Get Up !~  Tom’s eyes snapped open. Clearing his thoughts, he remembered the recording he ‘d made the day before to be sure he got up early enough to get everything that he planned done today.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m up now.” He slammed his hand down on the alarm player to make it shut up. “I gotta hurry over to Old Lady Sims’s place to get that court ordered work out of the way” he was thinking. “Dumb judge never even let me explain that the dog I was caught kicking really deserved it. That dumb dog has bitten just about everybody in town and it just shoved its stupid head through the fence and bit me. No way was I about to let it get away with that. And that stupid Cop Cooper just had to be there when I lost it all over that idiot dog. ‘Ten hours community service ought to teach you not to abuse animals.’ He mocked, “The worst of it is that my Dad agrees with ‘em.” 

“Getting this done in the morning will give me just enough time to get to the ballpark to pitch the game this afternoon.” Checking his watch and startling at the quick passing of time he jumped into his clothes and raced through the kitchen grabbing his jacket and jamming a stale sweet roll between his teeth.  Bursting out the back door he let it slam shut as he set his jogging pace down the road. Loping along at a pretty good pace wasn’t quick enough for Tom and as he came along Sara’s farm the idea of cutting across her hayfield was too tempting. He hopped over the fence without even losing a stride and started out across the green hay. Nearly to the other side the earth suddenly gave way beneath him and he tumbled through a dark hole in the ground. “Aw shit” echoed off the walls as a pile of old moldy hay broke his fall.  Getting his eyes to adjust to the darkness he strained to get a look around, “Where am I? What is this place? ”

A beam of daylight streamed through the hole he had just traveled through giving him just enough light to see that the hole he was in was certainly an old barn of some kind. He caught sight of some ropes hanging from the rafters and decided to climb one to try and get out just the way he’d come in. Grabbing the sturdiest looking one he tugged it to test it and began his climb. His had a skinny build for a 12 year old and wiry like so many boys this age. This didn’t make the task any easier as he swung around and bashed himself against first a stone wall then splintered siding, then a scraped hard against a metal thing with teeth. “OW, crap!’ he shouted as the teeth on the metal thing bit into the flesh of his pitching hand and he let go of the rope, tumbling him back to the floor.

Looking up he saw the rope, the hole in the rafters and some old corroded metal beast. He scrambled to his feet and reached out to touch the thing.  A crusty disc immediately came loose in his hand. “Cripes” He exclaimed turning it over in his hands as right before his eyes it began to turn shinier and shinier until it regained a new luster. In his surprise he dropped it and lets it clang to the floor where it returned to its old corroded status. “What the heck. What’s goin’ on here?” With his shoe he gave it a shove back toward the metal beasty thing. “I gotta get outta here.” He grabbed the big rope again and hand over hand made it to the rafters where he scrabbled his way through the same hole he had dropped through a bit ago. Looking at his watch he jumped up and set out across the field without looking back.

Arriving at the old Sims Farm he calls out, “Mrs. Sims, Mrs. Sims, are you up yet?”

“Back here Tom,” came a faint voice.

He ran around the house to find her standing in front a huge pile of garden cuttings. “I’ll burn this while you take these pots into the shed.” She turned and saw his hand scraped and blood crusted. “What happened here?” She asked turning his palm over in her gnarly knuckled hands.

“Nothing, I just scraped it on some old barb wire.” He said snatching his hand back.

“Go wash up under the hose and I’ll get a band aid for that deep cut. Then you can hoe up the rows in the vegetable patch. That will take most of the day.”

“But, wait” Tom protested “I got to pitch the game right after lunch.”

“Well, OK, can you come back later this afternoon and get a good start on my hoeing? Then you can finish it up on Sunday if you like, but I won’t sign your court paper until I get a full ten hours outta you.”

“Yeah, yeah, OK, I understand all that.” He said. As he went to work with the hoe and the garden dirt his thoughts turned back to the ground hole he had fallen through. “Damn, that fall cost me a good hour. I wonder what that thing is anyway and what’s it doing hidden in a hole in the ground?”

Tom tried to concentrate on the game he was planning to pitch; how to hold and twist the ball with each throw. His performance this afternoon was critical. The baseball coach had reluctantly allowed him to pitch this game due to the team’s regular pitcher’s absence. It was his chance to really prove himself.

He badly needed to excel at something. He was only average at studies. He was not musically talented nor was he outstanding in any sport like football and his Dad regularly told him he would never amount to much. The hard part of Tom’s young life was that his mother had died in a car accident a few years ago hit by a drunk driver on her way home. She had worked the midnight shift at the convenience gas station nearby. Now without a Mom to support and encourage him and his dad almost always gone working, he was having a difficult time finding his way on his own. 
The episode with the dog was just one place where parental guidance was missing. It seemed right to him to kick the snot of the mean old dog at the machine shop where he would get old parts to fix crippled lawnmower or some other household machinery that decided to quit without notice.


This is my freshly written first draft but I thought I'd get some review before I get a lot of pages down. I know I've got some grammer polishing to do but I'm braced and ready for your eyes and comments.  :-\ mary
 
« Last Edit: February 02, 2006, 04:48:13 AM by Lin »

Offline Symphony

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2006, 10:57:45 AM »
Hi Mary,

Just managed to sit down with a cuppa so thought I'd read through your draft. First of all, BRAVO!!! It's scary, this posting lark, isn't it? So I'm going to read and just point out anything that leaps at me on first reading.

Quote
to be sure he got up early enough to get everything that he planned done today
First couple of paras - so important. You have the hook but this sentence is rather long and a little awkward to read - 'got up', 'get everything' - 'that he planned done today' ... maybe you could reword it a little - make it simpler so as not to spoil the effect.

Quote
“I gotta hurry over to Old Lady Sims’s place to get that court ordered work out of the way” he was thinking. “Dumb judge never even let me explain that the dog I was caught kicking really deserved it. That dumb dog has bitten just about everybody in town and it just shoved its stupid head through the fence and bit me. No way was I about to let it get away with that. And that stupid Cop Cooper just had to be there when I lost it all over that idiot dog. ‘Ten hours community service aught to teach you not to abuse animals.’ He mocked, “The worst of it is that my Dad agrees with ‘em.” 


This paragraph is what I would call 'telly' - telling rather than showing. In other words, it reads as though you simply had to put it there in that way because you needed the reader to have all this information. Yes, obviously as I reader, I do - but I think it would work so much better in the third person - making it more a part of the story. For example ... 'Tom groaned as he thought about what lay ahead of him. He was still angry with the dumb judge, who had never even let him explain that the dog he was caught kicking ................... And that stupid Cop Cooper just had to be there when he'd lost it all over that .... 'Ten hours ...............,' he'd mocked. But worst of all, his Dad agreed with them.

I don't know if this makes any sense to you, Mary, but it's hard to relay 'thoughts' like that. The other thing you could do, I think, is put the whole thing in italics. This, I believe, is the norm for formatting 'thoughts'. I can't think why it's only this paragraph that really bothered me while I was reading it - maybe others will disagree - it could be a style thing and I just need to read more of it
Quote
and as he came along Sara’s farm the idea of cutting across her hayfield was too tempting
I think you could put a full stop and begin this as a new sentence: 'As he came along ...'

Quote
“Where am I? What is this place? ”

To me, these questions seem redundant. Already obvious what he's going to be thinking.
Quote
The hard part of Tom’s young life was that his mother had died in a car accident a few years ago hit by a drunk driver on her way home.

This sentence is 'telly' again. If you delete the 'The hard part of Tom's young life was that' it reads so much better: Tom's mother had died in car accident a few years previously. She'd been hit by a drunk ...'  In fact, there's a sentence further down about growing up without a mum. You could almost put this first - lead us in gently to the details ...

Quote
machine shop where he would get old parts to fix crippled lawnmower or some other household machinery that decided to quit without notice.

To me, again, everything after 'machine shop' seems redundant. The words 'machine shop' say it all already.

Good beginning, Mary. How much have you already written? I hope you're really getting into it now - it's the best feeling when you see your characters developing and your story taking on a life of its own. How are you getting on with your chapter outlines/planning? I think you've made the right choice by just getting down and WRITING! You have to start somewhere. Looking forward to learning lots more about Tom,

Symphony
p.s. hope you don't think the above comments too harsh - please just ignore anything you don't agree with!!


Offline mary

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2006, 12:34:13 PM »
Hi Symphony,

 Good to see your comments. All valuable to me!!  ;D yes thisis my 1st draft on my first story and my first character. I'm working on the next two characters for this story - a pair of girl cousins. I'll get back to Tom with new developments prompted by all the good feedback. Meanwhile, I've got a sort of outline but it's pretty ragged. I found that I'm not the best at outlining. I need better skills in this area as I can see how it would make the writing MUCH easier. And style? I'm green at that too. Guess It'll all come together the more I write. I'm so glad to get feedback. I'm just giddy. thx again mary

Offline Gltagaman

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2006, 05:13:25 PM »
Hi Mary

The story is written in a filmic way, an flows a bit like a series of disjointed thoughts - perhaps that was your intention. Your points of view get a little confused but a good look at the piece will sort it out.

Good luck

Geoff
Have Thinkpad will write

Offline orchid15

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2006, 07:57:30 PM »
This is a good start with a good character, and you make the reader want to read more.

I think you pack the details and facts in a bit too fast-  I felt rushed as I read this.  You can give it to us in smaller bites maybe.  Tell us he's going to Old lady Sims. but maybe tell us later it is court ordered work.

I didn't find Tom very likeable.  Is that intentional?  It seems you have given us a lot of the negatives of his life, but no positives yet.  Is he a good boy or a delinquent?  Is he controlled by his anger?  He seems awfullly impatient here.  Is there a reason I should like him or want to see him win? At this point I wouldn't mind if he was eaten by an outer space plant or if he won the olympics.  If he is a heroic character, it might be nice to show us a little of that before plunging us into conflict.

I love the hole in the field idea.  Great plot idea. 
"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't havto get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon." Robert Cormier
 

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Offline mary

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2006, 10:32:59 PM »
Thanks Orchid,

  By golly You've got it! Please read the next characters and tell me if you dislike them too. Thanks - mary

Offline tigger

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2006, 11:33:44 PM »
Hey Mary,

I like your ideas in this piece too. I have to agree with Symphony though. There are several areas where you should 'show' rather than 'tell'. Perhaps you could add bits of information in a different way. For instance, when Mrs. Sims reaches out to see where the blood on Tom's hand is coming from, he might recoil and you could explain his reaction as his being sensitive to a woman's touch since his mother died in a car accident. You might also integrate a description of Tom as you explain the (eg. dirt on his freckled face and crushed straw in his hair) once he gets to Mrs. Sim's farm...

Go through and check to see where you might integrate important elements into your story in between the dialogue and action. That would make the reading sharper, I think. :)

But, I did enjoy what you have here so far. It's obvious Tom is going to go back to the hole to check out the 'hard metal thing with teeth'. The way you bring that about should be interesting!! :);)

You go, Girl...
:)

Offline mary

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2006, 03:58:40 PM »
Thank-you Tigger,

  Your tips help me with descrition, an area where I am weak. I would find it valuable if you would look at my four brothers piece to see where that needs expansion and explanation. Orchid has offered some really good tips and I would love another pair of eyes too. Thx mary

Offline tigger

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2006, 09:05:57 PM »
Hi Mary...

I'll try to get over there first chance I get... My computer at work is in for repair, so I am without a computer for the 10 hours I'm there... I have a few things to do before I can come back on tonight...just wanted to come in and see what's up...but I saw this first and didn't want to leave without replying...

If I get a chance to read your other work, I may not be able to respond until I get my PC back at work... hope you don't mind... time is short tonight...but I will try to read...:);)

ciao for now...
:) :)

Offline tigger

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2006, 10:40:40 PM »
Hi Mary...

I came on tonight to check out your 'four brothers' piece. So, I went to your name and then to the 'last posts from this person'. There were three pages worth of posts from you there, but none of them were about 'four brothers'.

In other words, I couldn't find this particular post/piece. Would you be able to give me a date or a title that I an check for? I'm sorry. I had to wait to come home from work, because my PC is not back from the tech shop yet... ::)

Anyway, if you get this anytime soon, let me know.

ciao for now...
tigger

Offline mary

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Re: So what do you think?
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2006, 12:56:17 PM »
HI Tigger,

  thank-you for your care, Sorry about your computer snafu. The other posted piece about the four brothers is located under "NEW more characters. Do you like them." Whenever you have the chance to browse through some postings will be great. I'm  going to be dedicating time to more writing and revising so I won't be browsing for a little while. But I shall be with you in a few days. Hope all goes well for you too.  :) mary