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lzbeth97
April 7th, 2014, 03:35 AM
In the olden days, where it was still custom for a man to court a woman, I met your father. He was tall, handsome, and an outlaw. He was 19 at the time, and I was 17. His name was James Maxwell and he was on the run. Although he had robbed people and businesses he was the sweetest man I had ever met. He had come to Indiana all the way from Texas, and had brought his southern charm and accent. Now your father James helped my daddy on the farm when I first met him. My mama was busy with the wash and had me take the lemonade out that day. She said, "Don't you forget to smile when you hand them that."

The walk wasn't far from the house, but I had made the mistake of not wearing shoes. The dress I was wearing was a bit tattered, and my hair was a mess, but I had seen the men daddy brought home to work on the farm, and I wasn't all that concerned with my appearance. I had approached the field with aching feet, when I saw him. He was standing by the tractor fanning himself with his hat. His tan skin and lack of shirt had made me blush. "Daddy," I had yelled out.

"Savannah, you brought the lemonade," Daddy had said with a smile.

"Yes sir," I said with a huge smile, just like mama had told me.

"I liketa died and gone to Heav'n just as soon as I seen you," the at the time stranger had said.

"James, you best leave my daughter alone," Daddy said.

"Sorry sir," He said before taking a drink of his lemonade.

At the time I had thought your father was just a normal man. His accent had thrown me slightly, but I never would have guessed he was wanted in the great state of Texas. I was too occupied staring at your father to listen to their conversation. "Savannah, James will be joining us for dinner, take these glasses and tell your mother," Daddy had said interrupting my staring.

"Oh yes sir," I said smiling.

Dinner had went smoothly and your father had asked my father for permission to take me out the following evening, and my father had agreed with an unlikely yes. On my 18th birthday he had proposed on the Ferris wheel at the Indiana State Fair. We had married a few months after. Eventually I got pregnant with you two. When you were born you father named you two Michael and Ashley. You two were 6 when the cops came. They had burst through the door of our small home and took your father away. He struggled and tried to run begging for forgiveness. Each year he sends a letter to you two on your birthday, but today we're going down to Texas to pick him up. He's getting out of jail and we're taking him home.

Looking back the graying brunette saw her two 16-year-old children texting on their phones. They had been ignoring her the whole time. They had become like most teenagers, preoccupied with the little screen in front of them. Soon everyone would forget how to talk to someone in person. Ashley had been asked out through text, and Michael went through girlfriends so fast that Savannah could barely keep their names straight. She took a deep breath before pulling into the parking lot of the Texan jail before tell the children they were here. She had waited ten long years to see the handsome southern man she had fallen in love with.

_________
Well here it is... Tell me what you think. Be as brutal as you need to.

Trygve
April 7th, 2014, 06:33 AM
Sounds like the beginning of an interesting story. I think you should do a ctrl+f to open your "find" window, and then type in "had." You'll see a lot of them highlighted, and your story will read better without a good many of them.

For example, I would take out the highlighted "hads" in this (keeping the underlined ones):


The walk wasn't far from the house, but I had made the mistake of not wearing shoes. The dress I was wearing was a bit tattered, and my hair was a mess, but I had seen the men daddy brought home to work on the farm, and I wasn't all that concerned with my appearance. I had approached the field with aching feet, and then I saw him. He was standing by the tractor fanning himself with his hat. His tan skin and lack of shirt had made me blush. "Daddy," I had yelled out.

The story is in past tense, but the 'hads' shift it to past perfect (signalling a completed action before something in the past) unnecessarily.


They had been ignoring her the whole time. They had become like most teenagers, preoccupied with On this one, you could keep the first 'had', but change the 'had become' in the second sentence to 'were'. This also keeps you from starting two short sentences in a row with "they had." To vary it even more, you might want to start the second sentence with "Like most teenagers, they were..."

In the spirit of avoiding repetition, I'd recommend changing all but the first "you two" to just "you." It's clear from that point that she's talking to her two kids.

See, that wasn't brutal at all, I hope. Of course, I might be a psychopathic hyper-critic unaware of the torture I visit upon those who put their unprotected prose in front of me.

Semper Fideles,
Trygve

InstituteMan
April 7th, 2014, 01:44 PM
I like this. It has a good vibe of tragic romance. My minor quibbles/suggestions are:

(1) I have a bad habit of rushing to the end of whatever I am writing instead of wrapping a piece up properly, and I think that you suffer from the same affliction here. There is a fine line to walk between a sudden paradigm shift at the conclusion and an ending that is too abrupt, and no doubt this is a matter of personal preferences. To me, the end here was just not as good as the build up, but that can be fixed.

(2) Maybe when I read this for the first time last night I was tired and confused, but I totally misplaced the recollections in time. I was thinking that we were on a farm back in the 1890s or something. I think that you were trying to evoke that old-timey feel, and maybe to note that romantic love today is not so unlike romantic love of the past. Still part of what I found abrupt about the ending might have been the sudden need to do math to figure out when the recalled part of the story happened. The math revealed that I was a mere hundred years or so off of my initial estimate. It could easily be that I missed a few clues as to the time frame that you dropped, and a little bit of misdirection is certainly allowed for artistic effect, but I think readers would benefit from a little bit more temporal grounding.

(3) Finally, in the concluding paragraph you write, "She took a deep breath before pulling into the parking lot of the Texan jail before tell the children they were here." Grammatically, that is probably not the best way to wrap up. maybe, "She took a deep breath before pulling into the parking lot of the Texan jail and telling the children they were here" or "She pulled into the parking lot of the Texan jail before taking a deep breathe and telling the children they were here."

BTW, 1997 was a good year, although I have little personal recollection of it. Thanks for the post.

stormageddon
April 7th, 2014, 02:59 PM
I liked it. I think the final paragraph could do with some trimming, some rephrasing and some variation in sentence length to have more impact. The way it is, it leeches out a significant amount of the impact you're trying to give it. Similarly, the first paragraph. Specifically, "He was tall, handsome, and an outlaw." - I wanted this to be a very impactful sentence, but it was swallowed up by the others around it.

I would suggest ending the paragraph with it, and changing the words to make it more striking. I don't know if this achieves that, but my brain tried to read it as "He was tall, he was handsome, and he was an outlaw.". Reading the paragraph through again, it looks like you didn't actually want it to have impact, but if that's the case- indulge me as a reader D:

With a few tweaks (some of which have been mentioned by the others) I would absolutely love this little piece. As it is, I almost do :) and that's me being as brutal as I need to.

Vain Vanir
April 16th, 2014, 06:13 PM
Looks good to me so I won't comment much.

The one thing I would comment on, and perhaps someone can give me some directions regarding it, so that I first got the impression that the story is set before WW2 at least or even earlier, kind of like "Of Mice and Men" like setting. Then I was kind of shocked to see that it was just some 20 years or so at most before present day. Was American agriculture not more mechanized, and thus don't required extra hands in the same way, that late? And why is the POV described as having graying hair? As I recons she would have gotten her kids before being 30, at the latest, and so would be 46 at maximum age when this story is set. Does it turn gray that fast?