Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Well ~ Re-write

Below is an entry I had thrown together for a writing contest hosted by Jason Evans at the Clarity of Night. The contest was a picture prompt and could contain no more than 250 words. Over 100 people submitted stories. Jason read every single one and even offered to send his reasons for the choices he made.

I did not win or even make the list of top stories. But I did enter. That in itself was a major step for me. As I have been bitten hard in recent months with writing fiction, I took Jason up on his offer to send me his critique of my story. I fired off the email and forgot about it. Forgot about it that is until I saw some others had posted their stories along with Jason's comments.

Where were my comments? I was sure it was a screw up at my end and I was right. Jason had indeed sent me back his comments. That email I found in the deleted file among a group of automatic spam emails my provider filters out for me.

Anyway, below is my story. Below that are Jason's comments. And below that is my re-write, if you get that far.

The bird floated past again. George wondered what kind of bird it was. Was it a vulture looking for him or some other unlucky forest critter? Maybe it was one of the eagles who called Treasure Island home? It was big and it was all George had to take his mind off his current situation.

George wondered what kind of bird it was. Was it a vulture looking for him or some other unlucky forest critter? Maybe it was one of the eagles who called Treasure Island home? It was big and it was all George had to take his mind off his current situation.

The last words his wife said to him as he left to roust some Ruffed Grouse haunted him now. He used to chuckle at her cellar hole fears. He was not laughing now. He wondered if her childhood fear of abandoned cellar holes and wells had finally jinxed him.

George looked down at his leg. It had started to stink. There was still pain, but it seemed further away now. Everything was further away, out of reach. He reached down for the umpteenth time and ran a finger over the bone sticking out of his leg. No longer in panic mode, George accepted the notion that his life was not his to control anymore. Some other whim, spiritual or physical had his fate firmly in hand.

George looked up the dank walls of the old well again. The bird was gone. Daylight was slipping away. He leaned back against the stones lining this abandoned well and considered whether another night in this hole was possible. He thought not. George smiled. He had thought the same thing last night and the night before. George closed his eyes for what he hoped would be the last time.

__________________________________________

Mike,

I feel like the latter 3/4 of the story were pretty tight and strongly written. However, the choices of images and concepts in the first paragraph could have been stronger. I like the more direct feel of the POV embedded in the text in the latter portion, rather than the rhetorical questions in the beginning. The questions pulled me out of the story. If the man is injured, his thoughts would probably be more fragmented and wouldn't have literary allusions. More like: A vulture? Looking for him? Or was it an eagle? Eagles don't live around here, do they?

Hope this helps!

--Jason


The man was right. My first paragraph was weak. A definite break of the rules there. The first paragraph needs to be the srongest, especially in such a short piece.

So I now offer a re-write because well, it's all about becoming a better writer. You decide if it's better.

My re-write

The bird floated past again just as George regained consciousness. How long had he been out this time? George did not care anymore. Time had lost all meaning. His hopes of being found now replaced by a grudging resignation. George realized he was probably not going to leave this hole alive.

The last words Sara said to him as he left to roust some Ruffed Grouse haunted him now. He used to chuckle at her cellar hole fears. He was not laughing now. Though somehow he felt it would be appropriate to do so.

George looked down at his leg. It had started to stink. There was still pain, but it seemed further away now. Everything was further away, out of reach. He reached down for the umpteenth time and ran a finger over the bone sticking out of his leg. No longer in panic mode, George accepted the notion that his life was not his to control anymore. Some other whim, spiritual or physical, had his fate firmly in hand.

George looked up the dank walls of the old well again. The bird was gone. Daylight was slipping away. He leaned back against the stones lining this abandoned well and considered whether living another night in this hole was possible. He thought not. George smiled. He had thought the same thing last night and the night before. George closed his eyes for what he hoped would be the last time.
___________________________________

Off to the Races.........................

3 comments:

Randal Graves said...

Depending on how long he was down there, I can easily imagine some conscious hallucinating, especially if there's a serious pain element going on, a drunkenness minus the hooch.

I can see why he said what he did, but I prefer more nebulous stuff than A then B then C. Which is probably why I'd make a shit editor or marketing guy.

Beach Bum said...

Mike I'm still very much a newbie at this writing stuff but I liked both versions.

I'm still reviewing the comments the instructor of the writing course I took wrote up about my final story. I agree with her completely but I still processing her point of view.

David Barber said...

Nice re-write Mike, but I still like the original as well. I agree with Randal on the hallucinating as serious pain and despair could cause it.

Good on you for posting it though.

Regards bud, David.