View Full Version : Boomtown

May 22nd, 2012, 03:38 PM
This is a short story I'm working on currently. Its set in early 20th century Oklahoma during the first years of the oil industry, I've based it on the true story of how my hometown was started. How am I doing so far?

September 8th, 1900
Southern Oklahoma
The cannon roared, drawing cheers from the crowd. Rig hands hollered obscene words, much to the discomfort of those around them. The Oilfield had let their workers off for the day, paying homage to the special event. The School, businesses, and all other venues closed as the whole community gathered in the new town square. Today was the first day in the history of Roxton Oklahoma.
Mayor Hanes Walton stood atop the wooden platform, dressed in his favorite duds, preparing to give one of his long winded speeches. He put his hand over his belly, warming up for the long-awaited moment. A few citizens cringed in the background. The Mayor talked slow and quiet, with all the energy of an undertaker.
Standing next to Mayor Walton, was a fellow who was his polar opposite. Strong, tall, and rough as sandpaper was Billy Garrett, toughest foreman in the oilfield, and an outright bully. They had developed a relationship of mutual need: Walton, the man who could use his education to lead people, and Garrett, the man who could enforce the mayor’s authority. They contrasted on stage like black and white, presenting an almost comical scene.
Garrett was impatient, and wanted to get this christening business over with, lest he should lose money on his wells.
“Hanes, I can’t be gone from the pumps this long.” He mumbled. “Make the christening brief if you can.” Hanes coughed, pretending not to hear. He pulled out a piece of paper with his speech written on it.
“Ladies and gentlemen of our community, thank you for attending this special moment in history, as we officially declare Roxton, a city.” One woman rolled her eyes, prepared for a long ceremony. “We have been waiting for this day for far too long, and now it has come.”
As expected, the speech went on so long that few people remained awake. The children had gone to play nearby, laughing and making noise, angering the Mayor. He stopped, and received an unenergetic applause from the crowd. Now was time for picnics and games, and everyone was ready for a good time. As Mayor Walton trotted down the steps, Garrett grabbed him by the shoulder, producing a slight scare. The Mayor didn’t trust him too well.
“Mayor,” Garrett inquired.
“Yes?” Walton replied. The big oil man beat him to the ground, turning to face him.

“I’d like to have a word with you.”
“What do you want to talk about?”
“The town.”
Garrett put his hand near the Mayor’s chest, indicating that this matter was urgent. Hanes knew how to respond, he was a shifty sort of fellow.
“Well, everyone wants to talk about that right now.” He said, holding a stone expression. “This is a very exciting day.” The Mayor emphasized the word “exciting.”
“No, that’s not what I mean.” Garrett grunted. “I would like to know.” a pause. “What this town of yours is going to provide my rig hands.”
“Provide?” The poker face remained. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that in order to keep my rig hands here, they will need an incentive.” Garret towered over the fancy-dressed politician. “There’s other oil towns around here that have jobs. They also have gambling, drinking, and women. Something that Roxton doesn’t have.”
The Mayor was in a difficult position. He knew what Garrett was suggesting, and he knew the oilfield foreman was right. Farmers and merchants, who made up most of the town, would strongly object to such wickedness. Siding with the oil industry over citizens could hurt his election chances next time around.
“I think I understand what you mean.” Hanes said cautiously. He walked to his office with a new challenge, a risky one.

May 27th, 2012, 02:16 AM
So far, I think this is pretty good. It sounds intriguing. Your plot development is good and I like some of your descriptions, especially that the mayor moved "with all the energy of an undertaker": it conjures an interesting image.
I have a few suggestions, most of them grammatical. When you say, "today was the first day in the history of Roxton Oklahoma," you need a comma after "Roxton." Also, "long winded" should have a hyphen: "long-winded." When you say, "the Mayor talked slow and quiet", it should be "slowly" and "quietly": when describing a verb, you need to add the "-ly" to make the adjective an adverb. Also, where it says "we officially declare Roxton, a city," you don't need that comma. When Garrett is speaking to the mayor and he pauses, it flows better if it looks more like this: "I would like to know," he paused, "What this town of yours..." Lastly, in the last sentence, I think it sounds better to say "a new, risky challenge" than how you have it, but that's more of a stylistic thing than a grammatical suggestion.
Overall, I think it was very good. You had some errors, but they were small and didn't grossly detract from the story.

Jim Alias
May 28th, 2012, 09:10 AM
First thing to catch me: I'm not sure how I feel about the use of the word "duds" to describe the clothing. I might really like it; stylistic anachronisms in the narration could be really, really cool to give it a unique panache. On the other hand, if just an isolated lapse in time-period-appropriate-descriptors, it could end up just being distracting. Simply keep consistency in mind while writing, I guess.

They contrasted on stage like black and white, presenting an almost comical scene.
I used to do this kind of thing a lot too. I get that they contrast in personality, and that this contrast is comical in an abstracted sense, but the scene of them standing next to each other doesn't seem like the thing I'd described as "almost comical", especially when trying to paint a picture of what's happening. My advice here is to prove it; give very specific details about the funny parts of their contrast. Two really different guys standing next to each other happens nearly every day and it's just not all that comical to me usually. So details! Prove it, don't just say it.

Pacing wise this is pretty good up to the end; I don't know how short your story is going to be, but it sorta feels like you jumped into this a bit quickly.

Additionally, there's tiny little clunkinesses of phrase and comma mis-applications throughout, but these things get better with practice so I'm not gonna spend time on them. Overall, pretty good job and an interesting premise, just watch out for the things I pointed out.