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SamanthaMarie
May 14th, 2012, 12:38 AM
Chapter 1
Michigan 1840

The trees blurred to the edge of my vision as I ran full speed towards the place my father had instructed me to go. When we first saw the strange men come onto our property we immedietly knew they weren't over for tea.

I kept looking back hoping to catch another glimpse of my older sister, Annabelle. Damn...I couldn't see or hear her running behind me, I prayed to God that she hadn't got lost in her panic. She should have known the way like the back of her hand, we went to this secret place almost every day; she could find it blind folded. As I neared my destination, I recognized the familiar sound of a flowing river, drowning out the sounds of my gasping breaths.

And there it was, our giant friend.

The willow tree was larger than any my father had seen. He had excitedly explained this to my mother when we first moved here five years ago from our homeland, Ireland. My father sought adventure and a promise of a lucrative fur trading business in the new world. My mother followed him without question, blanketed in a haze of deep love, she would have followed him anywhere. Upon the strong willow tree branches, my father constructed a tree house for my sister and I to play in. It wrapped around the massive trunk and provided us with plenty of room to play and a make shift roof provided any extra shelter from rain the heavy leaved willow didn't already do.

As I hoisted myself up the makeshift ladder, made from planks nailed to the trunk, I threw the essentials that I had frantically gotten together at the house through the opening of the platform: blankets, clothes, a knife, two cups, a small pot, and some bread. I hoped that father was okay. The last thing I heard was the strange men who came unwanted on our property shouting something at him and then a gunshot as my sister and I were running out of the back door. The initial shot was met with another and then a couple more; I feared for my father's life and felt helpless. I looked through the branches to see if I could make anything out and as I peered through the abundant branches of the massive tree I sucked in a quick breath of disbelief. I saw smoke and a lot of it. Those ruthless bastards were burning our home! Where were father and Annabelle?

RoosterSmith
May 14th, 2012, 02:35 AM
Really good. really short but really good.

Hope the second part is coming soon.

Could have used more paragraphs though. Like the last two sentences. That should have been one paragraph....

SamanthaMarie
May 14th, 2012, 03:01 AM
I agree, I tend to do that. But thank you!

WiredNun
May 14th, 2012, 04:16 AM
Use "toward" not "towards" unless you are writing in UK English. Ditto "backward", "forward" etc.

Cut the "and" in the second para/line.


Make sure you don't reuse words near each other - same sentence, same paragraphs, or otherwise near, unless it is for specific effect. "And there it was, our willow tree. The willow was..." Find a synonym for tree or willow, thesaurus is your friend.

" had seen, he had excitedly " should be a period not a comma. Shorter sentences are easier to read, unless you are lengthening them for specific effect.

Makeshift is one word.


Comma problems. "As I hoisted myself up the make shift ladder, made from planks nailed to the trunk, I threw the essentials that I had frantically gotten together at the house, through the opening of the platform;" The first two commas are correct, since they set off a phrase that could be omitted. the one after "house" is superfluous and breaks the flow. Also, if you are going to write a list, use a colon. Semicolons set off independent clauses, i.e., phrases that could stand as sentences by themselves.

Gunshot is one word.

"The initial shot was met with another and then a couple more, I feared for my father's life and felt helpless." There's where you should put a semicolon, not a comma. Those are two independent clauses. To test, see if a period works. If it does, you can use a semicolon. If not, use a comma.

"Those ruthless bastards were burning our home, where was father and Annabelle?!" Same thing; use a semicolon. Also, never use multiple punctuation (?!). This is not a tweet. It's a story. Also, where "were" father and Annabelle, not "was."

I encourage you to go to the link in my sig, download Konrath's writer's guide, and read it. Lots of good stuff in there. It's all free.

SamanthaMarie
May 14th, 2012, 09:31 PM
I definitely have issues with overloading my sentences with commas because I have this irrational fear of not creating good flow. Also, I try not to use words close together but sometimes I forget to utilize dear old thesaurus or I just don't notice it. Thank you for taking time to edit my work. I truly appreciate it.

SamanthaMarie
May 14th, 2012, 09:33 PM
Oh, and funny thing. I originally had toward and changed it because I thought it sounded better the other way. :P

Kenneth J. Ester
May 15th, 2012, 06:03 AM
1) I always love to see someone get their work criticized so thoroughly, as Wired did to yours, and still seem appreciative of the criticism. That instantly gains my respect for you as an author who truly wants to grow. I recently self published an Ebook and I get a scary feeling that if Wired read it, I would really regret publishing it already. lol

2) I agree with him on the commas, but I completely understand where you are coming from. When I first started writing, my brother pointed out to me how all of my sentences were the same length and it made my writing sound choppy. So I have learned to see commas as my friends, but the kind you want to pay attention to or they might screw you over a little. lol

3) Shout out to Detroit! From north of it myself.

4) I really like the scene you set. A very good start that would keep me wanting to read more. :o)

WiredNun
May 15th, 2012, 02:32 PM
Kenneth,

Thanks for the kind words on editing. I do it a lot at work (part of my job is technical writing) and I'm trying to learn the creative side of things.

All,

Praise is like sugar: we love it and it's bad for us. We will never get better until our mistakes are identified. This is not like a relationship where identifying mistakes can destroy the love. It's more like engineering, where identifying mistakes ensure the structure is sound. I plead for critique of my own work, and joyously thank anyone who does so with brutal efficiency.

Conversely, any time I critique someone's work and they ignore me or make excuses, I just move on and do not waste any more energy.

So thanks again.

SM:

Is there more story coming?

SamanthaMarie
May 15th, 2012, 09:40 PM
Thank you both. I do understand that although we would all like to get it on the first shot, there is always room to grow. I agree wholeheartedly that praise is often thrown around too much, but I must admit that I sometimes am at fault for doing just that. I just feel like I need to grow a little more to give someone sound advice. I also needed more posts to post threads.:hypnotysed: And represent MICHIGAN! LOL

And there is of course more coming. I'm just at a pivotal point where I can lead the story in any direction I want and I'm not sure which path to take. Plus, I just finished a semester of school and I now have loads of time on my hands to work on it!

Olly Buckle
May 15th, 2012, 10:05 PM
The trees blurred to the edge of my vision as I ran full speed towards the place my father had instructed me to go when we first saw the strange men come onto our propertythis struck me as trying to do too many jobs at once, trees blurring, running, destination, introducing father, instructions, strangers, invasion. There is an old adage about a first sentence telling who, where, when, and what they were doing. Putting ideas into their basic form like this and then deciding how to arrange them is a good way around those sentences full of commas you dread.

Small thing "where was father and Annabelle?", were, they are plural.

SamanthaMarie
May 15th, 2012, 10:11 PM
Ah, yes that is a bit too much. I wouldn't want to exhaust my readers with the very first sentence! Thank you, I will revise it.

dangnabbits
May 18th, 2012, 01:17 AM
The last paragraph, when the men were coming, I think you should use functional fragments to show that she is frantic, in a hurry, shocked, and confused. Just a suggestion.

Red
May 24th, 2012, 09:23 PM
Not much writing to give feedback to but, for what you do have, my first comment would be to explain who the narrator is. Biggest problem when I was reading it is the fact that I had no idea if I should be imagining a male voice or female voice. Not sure on age either - the only way for me to guess is them saying "damn", so I'm thinking at least a teenager. But then again, a ten year old tends to repeat what they hear from their parents. Liked the "immedietly knew they weren't over for tea." part, by the way. I'll be back to give more feedback if I can when you've posted more.

Skodt
May 26th, 2012, 04:00 PM
Chapter 1
Michigan 1840

The trees blurred to the edge of my vision as I ran full speed towards the place my father had instructed me to go. When we first saw the strange men come onto our property we immedietly knew they weren't over for tea.

I kept looking back hoping to catch another glimpse of my older sister, Annabelle. Damn...I couldn't see or hear her running behind me, I prayed to God that she hadn't got lost in her panic. She should have known the way like the back of her hand, we went to this secret place almost every day; she could find it blind folded. As I neared my destination, I recognized the familiar sound of a flowing river, drowning out the sounds of my gasping breaths.
Those two ideas are contrasting to me. She should have known like the back of her hand is questiong the skills of her finding the location. Then you say she could find it blind folded, that to me conveys pure certainty of the situation. Seems to me the character flops and should have no worry here.

And there it was, our giant friend.

The willow tree was larger than any my father had seen. He had excitedly explained this to my mother when we first moved here five years ago from our homeland, Ireland. My father sought adventure and a promise of a lucrative fur trading business in the new world. My mother followed him without question, blanketed in a haze of deep love, she would have followed him anywhere. Upon the strong willow tree branches, my father constructed a tree house for my sister and I to play in. It wrapped around the massive trunk and provided us with plenty of room to play and a make shift roof provided any extra shelter from rain the heavy leaved willow didn't already do.

As I hoisted myself up the makeshift ladder, made from planks nailed to the trunk, I threw the essentials that I had frantically gotten together at the house through the opening of the platform: blankets, clothes, a knife, two cups, a small pot, and some bread. I hoped that father was okay. The last thing I heard was the strange men who came unwanted on our property shouting something at him and then a gunshot as my sister and I were running out of the back door. The initial shot was met with another and then a couple more; I feared for my father's life and felt helpless. I looked through the branches to see if I could make anything out and as I peered through the abundant branches of the massive tree I sucked in a quick breath of disbelief. I saw smoke and a lot of it. Those ruthless bastards were burning our home! Where were father and Annabelle?

From what you have in this first chapter I can't help, but wonder if more discription would set the scene better. I feel as if it rushes along at a steady pace, without explaining where it is going. The willow tree gets good discription. Yet the characters, the situation, the idea gets very little attention. I would like to feel the presence of the man scarying the children, why though? Where the adults arguing? Had this man already threatened the family? Where is the mother she doesn't mention her when wondering? What does the family look like? What does the man doing the shooting look like? Are they in a secluded location away from everyone? Just a few questions I kind of wanted answered here. First chapters are attention getters, setting the scene well, and locking the readers attention is a must.