View Full Version : Appaloosa: Short story opening. 400 words.

E. Zamora
August 25th, 2014, 09:08 PM
I write poetry, but I got it in my head I'd like to write a short story. Here's the opening to it:


My grandfather told me a few things about cowboys; and I had good reason to believe him, because he’d been a cowboy.

He said cowboys are like all other men. Some are good. Some are bad. And everything in between. They’re mostly born into it, and they learn along the way. There is nothing special or magic about what they do. Being a cowboy does not make you noble or good at being anything else.

I now know what he meant, and I suspect my mother put my grandfather up to this talk, which happened when I seven years old. He was talking about my old man, who I idolized for no reason other than he was a cowboy. Had my father been a policeman, fireman or astronaut, or any other kind of man that boys want to be, I suppose he would have said the very same thing; only his opinion would have carried less weight, seeing as how my grandfather was none of those things.

My father took off when I was two. Left us flat; my mother, sister Emmy and me. My mother begged him to take a job and settle down, and he did. Took one as a foreman at a company ranch outside Jodeco. But make no mistake; a ranch hand is not a cowboy, and after a year or so, he disappeared. My mother said it was because being a cowboy was more important to him than being a father or husband, and in the mind of small boy it seemed like there was some sense in that. All this is likely why my mother had my grandfather set me straight.

The whole time growing up, I never heard from my father. Not once. But somehow he found out my wife was pregnant; and I suppose he figured that was good reason to blow in and seek absolution. When I told my mother he was coming, she did her best to explain things to me. She said there are men who decide to be fathers only when there’s nothing hard left to do. And she told me to be careful, that he was a charmer, but also a liar. It was the first truly bad thing I’d ever heard her say about my father. So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to meet him.

August 25th, 2014, 09:30 PM
I think you have a decent beginning there. Could use some edits and a slightly more energetic voice. If this is the beginning of a story, it's kinda slow and might lose reader's interest. Just my opinion though. Writing was fine.

August 25th, 2014, 10:25 PM
To me this is written clearly and interestingly, with the kind of insightful storyline I can appreciate. Of course the prevailing thrust in advice is to show as opposed to tell, but in my lifetime I've read numerous exceptional books that counter that idea — maybe it depends on the storyline and writing approach.

Anyway my take of your opening salvo is thumbs up :-)

No nits, as I'm not very good at SP&G.

Write on,

E. Zamora
August 28th, 2014, 04:43 PM
Anthony, thanks for reading. It may be a little slow. I'll might rethink the opening when I'm finished.

Lee, thanks. I think when you open like this, the observations and insight need to ring true carry a lot of weight. Wasn't sure if this was cutting it. It gets to dialog and action right after this. Glad it worked for you.