Hawken: Short story opening (321 words)

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Thread: Hawken: Short story opening (321 words)

  1. #1

    Hawken: Short story opening (321 words)

    I decided to post the beginning of a story I was thinking about last week, and started writing two nights ago. I had written a bit more than this but deleted about 200 words that I wrote last night when I was far too tired. One thing I found some contradicting information on was how to format inner thoughts. I read that some use quotes and some italicize and I did both in the hopes it would be clear haha. Anyway, if this is good or terrible thanks in advance!

    -----------------------------

    The mounted Figure that rode towards Wyatt was a haze as his focus was on the front sight of his Hawken Rifle. He took three deep, slow breaths, calming his accelerating heart. He lifted is head and retrieved the binoculars from his haversack. Manipulating the focus wheel with what was left of his right index finger, the image of the rider became clear. The rider had black hair and was heavily built, this man was not his target.

    “keep calm, be patient” he whispers to himself.

    Wyatt was positioned on an embankment overlooking an arrow strait stretch of road a mile long. The brush atop the embankment was thick and the road clear. It was the perfect spot to stage an ambush.

    Wyatt carefully removed the percussion cap and lowered the hammer of his prized rifle from half-cock.

    “I should have known it wasn’t him, Ernest Howard, that damn weasel, never travels without his two-legged ox of a body guard.”

    With as few movements as possible he slides back into a small, cavern like bush. It was early morning and with sun rising behind the embankment, this natural hovel would be concealed by shadows for another hour and a half at the most.

    “Be calm, be patient, you almost shot an innocent man.”

    Minutes later the distinct clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop, of iron shod hooves approached. Wyatt laid his head to the ground and held deathly still. Another minute passed and through the brush he could see the silhouette of a barrel-chested man with long oily hair riding an aging brown mare.

    “Francis Miller. Christ man you almost killed a good man!”

    Francis Miller, a hog farmer, was pulling a small wagon with the last of his possessions. Ragged clothes, some pots, pans and hand tools in a condition hardly worth saving are all that’s left. Any and all items of worth Francis sold to pay off the con man Ernest Howard.

  2. #2
    I got to the end and went back to check out 'Ernest Howard', introducing three names in the first three hundred words is a recipe for confusing them, stick 'The man Wyatt was waiting for' on the end and we have an extra reminder.

    'an arrow strait stretch of road' Check out strait/straight in the dictionary, I know American spelling varies in things like that, but it would be the latter in English English. It is also worth considering whether you want to stick with it when you come up with something as used as 'straight as an arrow'.
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    I got to the end and went back to check out 'Ernest Howard', introducing three names in the first three hundred words is a recipe for confusing them, stick 'The man Wyatt was waiting for' on the end and we have an extra reminder.

    'an arrow strait stretch of road' Check out strait/straight in the dictionary, I know American spelling varies in things like that, but it would be the latter in English English. It is also worth considering whether you want to stick with it when you come up with something as used as 'straight as an arrow'.
    Thank you for taking the time to read this! After a quick google you are correct about strait/straight even on this side of the pond. I appreciate you pointing these things out, spelling has always been a struggle for me. I fixed it in the story and then read/wrote it out a few times in hopes it sticks haha. "Straight as an arrow" is definitely generic and I will probably change it eventually. I tried to think of something different when I wrote it but came up empty handed. I figure it will work for now and hopefully something will come to mind without staring at a wall worrying about one line that I'm not happy with.

    The names being introduced did feel off to me but I wasn't sure what to do about it. It would make sense that Ernest would be the one to cut for now. Introducing Francis I think is important to portray the gravity of Wyatt's possible mistake, and work to get him under control.

    I changed the two sentences referencing Ernest.

    “I should have known it wasn’t him, the weasel never travels without his two-legged ox of a body guard.”

    "Any and all items of worth Francis sold to pay off a con man. The same con man now being hunted by a man he shouldn’t have taken advantage of."

    These are quick rewrites but you were right, this sounds much better. It keeps the antagonist a mystery and is not as confusing.

    Thank you again for your feedback, every post I read on WF has taught me something. I know it is just a small intro to a story, but posting something I wrote for others to read is something I never thought I would do.

  4. #4
    Partly my error in capitalising 'The', I was actually thinking, 'Any and all items of worth Francis sold to pay off the con man Ernest Howard, the man Wyatt was waiting for.' so you got all three names together at the end with something to identify each. But what you suggest works, and if it is okay in the writing keeping Howard a mystery for a while could well add something.
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  5. #5
    Ooooh, someone shoots black powder enough to know about the primer cup.

    Twas good. That's the kind of spot where you can be verbose and use the scene to really paint your character Wyatt.
    I'd use it to flesh him out a bit more.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    Ooooh, someone shoots black powder enough to know about the primer cup.

    Twas good. That's the kind of spot where you can be verbose and use the scene to really paint your character Wyatt.
    I'd use it to flesh him out a bit more.
    This scene may have come to mind as I was sighting in a 100grs FFG load for my Hawken reproduction haha. Now I need to decide between a Walker Colt or 1851 Navy's for a side arm.

  7. #7
    Everyone has the Navy Colt, so I'd go with the Walker.
    Personally I always preferred the lines of the Army.
    Twas an elegant weapon for a gentleman.
    The Navy had such knobby lines, hangs up during holstering...it's an ugly gun to me.

    But then, even more people own the Army than the Navy.

  8. #8
    Or you could get weird and use a pinfire.
    They were a thing back in the day.
    In fact, I just saw a major character using one in something...can't remember what movie/show.

  9. #9
    I am leaning towards the Walker also. I have two Pietta Navy's and always reach for the Walker lol. It would also go well with the big bore Hawken.

    I really like your pin fire idea. It wouldn't fit well for Wyatts go to gun as the setting I'm going for is late 1850's Texas, but now I want to dream up a scenario where he needs to bust out a lefaucheux shotgun.

  10. #10
    This is good and I am interested in knowing what happens next.

    As for the thoughts inside the quotes, that is something I don’t remember seeing. My suggestion would be to take out the quotes and just use the italics. That is how it is done in the books I have read.


    Quote Originally Posted by Omnitech View Post
    Wyatt was positioned on an embankment overlooking an arrow strait stretch of road a mile long. The brush atop the embankment was thick and the road clear. It was the perfect spot to stage an ambush.
    To me, this line comes across as telling the reader what is happening, instead of having the reader relate to the character. Maybe something like the following would work:

    Positioned high on an embankment overlooking the arrow straight stretch of the road, Wyatt allowed himself to relax. The brush around him was thick and the view of the road clear. It was the perfect spot to stage an ambush.



    Quote Originally Posted by Omnitech View Post
    With as few movements as possible he slides back into a small, cavern like bush. It was early morning and with sun rising behind the embankment, this natural hovel would be concealed by shadows for another hour and a half at the most.
    It seems like this line slipped into present tense. Change “slides” to “slid” and I think it is good.

    Thanks for sharing.

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