Story Two, Draft One

26 October 2003

I sat down at eleven o’clock this morning and wrote for five hours, working on the first draft of the second story for my writing class. I strove to give the thing a plot. Too many of my stories aren’t stories; they’re character sketches. I can create a character — Lord knows y’all give me rich source material! — but I have difficulty creating a compelling plot.

I’m not going to claim that I’ve created a compelling plot yet, but at least this story has one.

I’ve posted Single Image here if any of you are willing to provide feedback, positive or negative. I’m not sensitive about this kind of thing; you’re not going to hurt my feelings. (I’m my own harshest critic in this regard. You should see how I completely disemboweled my first story after the first draft, retaining only a hint of the central theme.)

Remember: this is only a first draft. There are many revisions yet to come. The style is intentionally choppy. You all know how verbose, how loquacious I can be. That’s my normal style. The style in this story is forced. Does it work? I don’t know. You tell me.

What works? What doesn’t work? Is there any sense of foreboding? What’s too obvious? What isn’t obvious enough? Is the end too abrupt? Does the beginning drag?

I’m looking for any feedback I can get, taking advantage of this weblog’s built-in audience in an attempt to get as much criticism as possible.

Comments

On 26 October 2003 (05:59 PM),
Tammy said:

Ok maybe it’s because I’m at the end of a long hard day but I found myself skimming the descriptions of all the roads. Too many back roads, wooded roads, slopes, trails; the reader grows bored and more than a little confused. Here is how the roads and all pan out if you start from beginning of story to the end:

gravel turn off
gravel road to dell
walk down gravel lane
gravel lane dips
turns on gravel lane
race down the lane
drive to next gravel road
back down gravel lane
drive up gravel road
old dirt road
speeds down lane
the old road
down the trail
rocky road
road goes on and on
road bottoms out
back down the road
choose the path
scramble down slope
slide down slope
continue down slope
bottom of slope
across bridge
back across bridge
trail through trees
old road

Ok tell me I know nothing whereof I speak. You may be right. But I found it a little much and a little boring. And yes the beginning drags.

The man arriving is nicely scarey. Good touch!

On 26 October 2003 (06:34 PM),
J.D. Roth said:

Thanks, Tammy. That’s exactly the sort of feedback I’m looking for. I’ll work on the roads and slopes in revision, see if I can’t filter some out. I already know I have to work on the beginning — it’s just a question of what to cut or edit. :)

On 26 October 2003 (10:42 PM),
dowingba said:

Make it about a child who sees dead people.

On 27 October 2003 (08:01 AM),
Jeff said:

I’m sure you will find the spelling errors eventually, so I won’t point those out.

I do find it strange that Tallman would be wearing an Oregon Ducks sweatshirt. He seems like the kind of guy who wants nothing to do with a “liberal” place like Eugene. I think an Oregon State Beavers sweatshirt would fit much more appropriate.

On 27 October 2003 (08:26 AM),
J.D. said:

Something’s wrong. Jeff has posted a comment, and I’ve posted a new entry, but the site will not update…

On 27 October 2003 (09:58 AM),
mac said:

I disagree with Tammy. The roads, though similarly described, provided me with a strand to follow the story. I saw the day as a series of chronological events much like one would encounter a series of sights on a road in a chronological order…I like them, they linked the events of the story for me.

On 03 November 2003 (12:38 PM),
Lynn said:

You write short sentences. You should mix them up. Write short. Then long. Gives a better flow. hee hee
Check out Alice Walker or Annie Dillard – they mix their sentences very well.

On 03 November 2003 (05:07 PM),
Aurora said:

I think you have an interesting start here, however I agree with Lynn. The short sentences while giving you a choppy feel make it very frustrating to read because you feel like you hopping in baby steps. one. at. a time. A period makes you mentally stop, then. Continue. I think after a while it defeats the purpose you may have originally intended. Also you use the word ‘cursing’ three times in quick succession. Very distracting. There was a part where you describe birds flitting from tree to tree, considering the beautiful surroundings you are describing I’m quite sure you can come up with a less cliche phrase than that. You also have your character saying that he does not know anything about the animals, or the birds. Personally I found it strange that you made that distinction. As if birds were different from animals…maybe i’m just being anal retentive, with a hyphen here. Also, if you’re going to have someone saying “pitchers” write what they say don’t say that that’s how they said it. Because if it were a script that’s not what you would hear…not that this has to be like a script. It just doesn’t work for me that is. The repetition, like the short sentences, also got on my nerves. I realize it was intentional and there for a reason, and does give a sense of foreboding. However, it was too much. So work on that. I’m sorry I feel as if I’m ripping up your story, but I enjoyed it and I think it has potential, thus I am being extra critical. I agree about the roads too. Also if it is drizzling would Diego’s cigarrete still be smoking on the ground? well good luck!

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