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Augustus Maximus
July 26th, 2014, 09:18 AM
Hello everyone, this is the first piece that I've submitted on WF! I'm pretty excited to share this with you. As far as context goes, it really isn't an excerpt from a book or story, but instead just a little "scenic" piece I wrote up for fun and inspiration. Sorry if the format is a little messy.

Here it is:

It was built in the prairie. Amid the golden waves of grain and below the clouds that drifted lazily overhead, it stood there.
It stood strong and tall, even after weathering decades of rain, wind, and fierce dust storms. And every year, tornadoes would seem to dance around it in springtime, as if the howling columns of death were afraid of it.
Even though no one frequented it, the native plant species never encroached on it. It was almost as if nature respected the structure; respected the history that surrounded it and that was made in it.

It was a house. A house of humble origins and intentions. A structure that one could easily look over when surveying the expansive landscape, to which it called home.
However, it was a house of greatness. A house in which iron-willed warriors were forged.

These warriors were not fighters in the typical sense. No, they did not traipse off to combat, nor did they direct a ship or fly a plane. Instead, they were warriors of thought.
Men and women who fought for change and who fought for progress. And they were all born there, in that house.
They learned to crawl in the cozy living room, walk in the halls which were dotted with pictures, and run outside among the sweetcorn and red wheat.
They learned to read in the study, and to question and think while lying under the stars in the warm summer nights.

When the warriors left to make their mark, the house still stood. It stood as a reminder to have a firm foundation and unwavering bravery, even when staring at a vicious cyclone that was determined to turn it into matchwood.
And the warriors, together, visited the house to be inspired.
For it was their home, their family, and their inspiration.

qwertyportne
July 27th, 2014, 11:23 PM
You've got a pretty good mix of showing and telling grounded in interesting imagery. Your main character can't speak but you could find ways to have the wind carry its voice across the prairie, or give it a voice in the words of the warriors who grew up there?

Writers are generally advised to not start sentences with the word "it." There are exceptions, of course, and this may be one of them. It makes your readers ask "What is it?" and continue reading to find out.

The second sentence, read aloud, sounds a bit odd if not clumsy. I'd have less difficulty following the meaning if it followed the standard, "Mary hit the ball to Bob who was standing in center field." rather than "Standing in center field, Bob caught the ball that Mary hit." That is, begin your sentence with "It stood there..." rather than end it with that phrase.

If you decide to rearrange that sentence, you might also consider shortening it to one powerful image, not three. You've got rain, wind, fierce dust storm, clouds drifting lazily overhead and golden waves of grain.

The clouds overhead and the waves of amber grain set a nice scene but don't contribute to the most important aspect of your story: this old house is still standing, despite "weathering decades of rain, wind and fierce dust storms."

Sometimes it works really well to start a sentence with "And..." because it conveys the way people speak when they pause before adding something relevant to what they just said. Even though this is only narration, it may be one of those times but I'd drop the word "seem" and "in Spring time" in And every year, tornadoes would seem to dance around it in springtime, as if the howling columns of death were afraid of it.

I really like that image but not the word "it" at the end of the sentence. Maybe an opportunity to make the distinction that this old house is a home? And maybe you'd consider the idea that the tornadoes did not encroach on its space out of respect, not fear? Just an idea.
By the way, it is exciting to get your first writing posted on a new forum. Hope you get more comments so you have more ideas from which to revise this story. You said it was just an appetizer for your writing but I'd sure like to see you flesh these bones into a longer story with a beguiling progression through the elements of character, conflict, challenge, choice, consequences, change and closure.

Augustus Maximus
July 28th, 2014, 01:57 AM
Thanks for the advice! Your comments really help me out and they make sense.

thepancreas11
July 30th, 2014, 05:58 AM
Not much to go on, given its length, but a good start nonetheless. I sometimes see flash fiction pieces such as this that resemble unstructured poems of a semi-epic nature, enervating the kind of passion that normally suits that more expanded genre. You might like some of the pieces of a one LeeC in the Prose Writer's Workshop, very much like your little ditty here. I see your emotion and your potential and the many places this could go.

Unfortunately, it doesn't so much have the structure of a story. You need a conflict, a struggle, something that can be resolved (but doesn't have to be). I would like to see some action go down here. What makes the wind break against its walls like the surf? What makes it stand the test of time? In other words, why should we really want to know about it on the day you've chosen? What makes this day different?

You could really bulk this up with some action, and it might get a more full finish.

Augustus Maximus
July 31st, 2014, 11:26 PM
I never really felt like giving this short piece a conflict. I wanted it to be more of a "beauty story," if that makes sense. Otherwise, I would put conflict in it, and I still might if I ever want to develop this further.

Mickd
August 1st, 2014, 02:18 AM
I liked your story. By not stating what "it" was right a away compelled me to read on. I may have interpreted it wrong, but I read it almost symbolically. I saw the house representative of it's residents, and the elements that constantly assailed the house mimicked the actions of those that are opposed to free thought. So maybe without intending it, you do have a conflict and a resolution. I liked your imagery and I thought your descriptions were very good. Just my .02 cents.

sticklefidds
August 1st, 2014, 03:06 PM
I like the idea of warriors of thought - an intriguing one to develop, maybe. At times the piece comes across as a little tentative: tornadoes would seem to dance around it in springtime, as if the howling columns of death were afraid of it. Something like 'Tornadoes danced around it, afraid' is more direct (I think the howling columns of death is a bit over the top). Similarly, 'It was almost as if nature respected the structure' could be 'Nature respected the structure'.

Augustus Maximus
August 2nd, 2014, 07:19 AM
I was going for the symbolic meaning, and in my opinion, you can never really interpret writing wrong. You really have an interesting perspective on my piece, and I appreciate that!