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Old 09-01-2015, 07:58 AM
ktzdge99 (Offline)
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Icon7 Sarah

Another short story of about 1031 words.


Sarah woke up in a hayloft again. It was the 5th one in as many days! But this one was different, it has horses! She was so tired of walking. If there is a woman in the house she should be able to buy a horse instead of stealing it. She ate her meager breakfast while contemplating her options. She has had to steal only once since she was kidnapped from her home in Missouri.

That was almost a year ago. Sarah can hardly believe it has been that long. She can remember it like was yesterday.

* * * *

She was down by the river with her friends. They were all swimming and celebrating her birthday. On their way back to the house they heard the screaming! As they came around the barn they were spotted by one of the men that was trying to catch a chicken. Before the sun set on that day, two of her friends were dead!

They were told by the leader that if they behaved, they would not be harmed. Sharon and Pauline didn't listen and they were shot! The survivors were herded onto a flatbed riverboat, which carried them down river to the sea. Once on the open water they would be heading for South America.

When they docked in New Orleans, Sarah made a terrible mistake! She tried to escape and was beaten for her efforts. She was tied to the main part of the riverboat and given ten lashes while the other women were made to watch. The leader said that this would be a deterrent for the other women and would keep Sarah from trying to escape again. Because of Sarah's escape attempt, the leader drugged the women to sleep and off-loaded them as cargo and directly onto the ship headed for South America. The next day the Captain had a bunch of sick women on his hands!

Sometime during the second night the water barrels had apparently rotted completely through! At least that’s what it looks like. Sarah hasn't been sleeping very well at night, it must be the water. So the Captain turned the ship around and headed straight for Brownsville. That was his mistake! As soon as they were in sight of the mainland, Sarah started going over her options. But when the Captain dropped anchor, he did it about two miles out. Apparently he didn't want to chance any of the women escaping.
This is where Sarah got excited! You see, she grew up on the Mississippi river and she is an excellent swimmer. In fact, she has been swimming since before she could walk! Her clothes were bundled up, along with some food and gold coins she had stolen from one of the paying passengers. She slipped into the water around midnight. As long as she didn't run into anything in the ocean, she could be well onto the mainland by the time the sun comes up.

* * * *

Sarah must be getting close to the river, because she is seeing more and more green vegetation. Now all she needs is a horse, because she is so-o-o tired of walking! While she was trying to decide what to do, a man came into the barn. And from what she has learned in the past nine months, she knows that this man is not to be trusted.

So she did what she had to do. She knocked him out with the shovel she was holding. He was a big man and Sarah was only about half his size, so he won't be out very long.

She will have to ride hard and fast, but she should be able to do it. She doesn’t plan to keep the horse, just long enough to get some miles between her and the owner. Once she does that, she will turn him loose. He will either find his way back or not. Sarah noticed that he was starting to lather, so she decided to slow down to let him cool down before stopping.

It was getting dark anyway, so she decided to stop for the night. She planned to let the horse go tomorrow. She will need all the rest and sleep she can get tonight, for tomorrow she starts walking again. Sarah did something that night by the fire that she didn't think she'd ever be able to do again, she broke down and wept. It felt so good, yet it exhausted her to the bone! When she awoke the next morning she felt great.

Shortly after sun up, she packed up and then set the horse loose. Now she would have to cross the river. Fortunately she picked a spot that was only about a quarter of a mile wide, she could swim that easily. As Sarah was putting her "borrowed" clothes back on, she couldn't help wishing that she had a dress to wear. She hated these jeans. But, if she hadn't dressed like a man, she would never have gotten this far.

She didn't stop until well after dark. Then she ate a cold meal and fell right to sleep. When she awoke in the morning, Sarah got a surprise. When she stopped last night it was dark and she was so tired that she hadn't paid much attention to the area. But this morning was different, she couldn't believe her eyes. She knows where she's at! Her home is only about five miles from here.

Sarah was so nervous and excited that she nearly walked into something blocking her path. When she looked closer, her heart broke. It was the headstones of her Father and little brother! So, part of her family had been killed. She wondered if there were any still alive.

It was around noon when she crested a hill and saw her home. She instantly recognized the woman hanging clothes in the backyard. As she got closer, she pulled off her hat and let her hair down. Just then the woman turned toward the river and heard the words she has been praying to hear for so long...
"Momma, I’m home!"


Last edited by ktzdge99; 09-03-2015 at 07:30 AM..
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Old 09-01-2015, 02:11 PM
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Disclaimer: I'm going to be entirely blunt. Please do not take this in the wrong way - I have your best literary interest at heart.

Okay, you have some work to do.

First of all, avoid exclamation marks as much as possible. Usually, if I feel a desperate urge to use one, I limit it to once every two-thousand or three-thousand words. Whenever I read one, especially when the speaker/narrator is not in a state of panic/fright, I can't help imagine my kindergarden teacher cornily reading some children's book, trying their best to stay animated enough to keep their (the children's) attention away from their own noses long enough for the bell to ring and take them off her hands.

You also need to work on paragraph breaks and indentation. Both honestly mean the world to me when I'm reading something - I'd rather read a drab Calc textbook with paragraphs and indentation than my favourite Victor Hugo novel without.

Some sentences also just straight-up don't make any sense. Don't be ashamed, though - all authors (especially aspiring ones) suffer from this. The best solution - and the one I've seen used most often by peers - is to read your writing slowly and deliberately aloud, checking to make sure that all of it makes perfect sense. If you have a hard time doing this, you might want to enlist the help of a friend to listen to you while you do this until you catch the habit.

If this was meant to be comical, I suggest that you keep at it. I didn't personally find much of it funny.

It would, however, make for a good children's story, I think, if that's what it's meant to be. If you want, I'll run this by my nephew and see what he thinks.

I realize that some of this sounds insulting, and I apologise profusely for this - it was not meant to be. Your work does have some charm, but it also has a long way to go before I'd personally consider it good.
"So you are going to relax, cher ami. You are determined to hide your trembling, achieve a few moments of silence, begin smoking one of your delightful cigarettes, and then after this appropriate expenditure of precious time and in the midst of your composure, then you will attempt to dissuade me, to talk me back to sanity (as you will express the idea), to appeal to my kindness and good sense. I approve. I am listening. The hour is yours. But of course you may use the lighter. Only reach for it slowly and keep in mind my warning. Do not be deceived by my good nature. I am as serious as a sheet of flame."
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:43 AM
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I read only about half. While I like your writing style, I think you have some content issues.

You don't say how old Sarah is. When I read that she was celebrating her birthday with friends I pictured her as a preteen or teen. Then you reference women. Does that mean she is an adult? I don't think that fits with the party.

They heard screaming and found men chasing chickens. Screaming implies women to me. Maybe shouting?

The men chasing the chickens seem to be looking for food. That doesn't fit with taking hostages and going on a boat with a whole group.

Sarah wouldn't know that the captain had a group of sick women the next day because she wasn't there. Or did I misunderstand?

Also it didn't make sense that two were shot but Sarah was whipped.

I think you need to read through and check for plot holes.

Your writing style is good, as I said at the beginning.

I hope this helps.
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Old 09-02-2015, 03:36 PM
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Hi ktzdge99.

I feel like I've pushed this particular rock up the hill too many times.

If you add a line between paragraphs it makes your work more reader friendly. And it's easy to do. After you paste into the little box, at end of each para. hit "return." It spreads the work out... and makes it easier for people like me to read it.

If you fix that, I will look forward to reading it.

Have a nice writing day.

You're not dead 'til you're dead and when you are you won't know it. So, keep on writing and having fun.
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Old 09-02-2015, 04:21 PM
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Welcome to the WB ktz

I have few comments to make on the style and structure of this story.

The first is the straightforward and factual voice of the story-telling. This is all telling an no showing. It reads more like a wiki article, rather than a story.

To take a small passage of your work as an illustration:

Originally Posted by ktzdge99 View Post
Another short story of about 1031 words.

Sarah woke up in a hayloft again. It was the 5th one in as many days! But this one was different, it has horses! She was so tired of walking. If there is a woman in the house she should be able to buy a horse instead of stealing it.
There is no description at all. What does the hayloft look like? Where are the horses located - in stables? what do they look like? Is Sarah tired? What does it mean to be tired of waking? Is she tired of living?

These sorts of questions are running through my head and completely distracting me from the story. Perhaps a more dynamic opening might grab me and push me to read on.

The second issue with your narrative voice is there is no agency. No action is attributed to Sarah - she is just relaying what she sees. It is better to have her interact with her environment, rather than giving us a shopping list of 'happenings' and thoughts. You breeze over her kidnapping and the shooting of her friends, so there is no emotional pull. I really don't care what happens to Sarah - and I need to care.

There are pacing issue with the story as well - but these can be attributed to your style. If you sort out the telling and the agency issues, this will help slow the story down. I kind of get the impression that one of two things has happened - either you needed to keep this to 1000 words, or you are so eager to get your story across you go for the most straightforward route.

Finally, you have tense issues (I noted you swapped from past to present in the second section of your story, then swap back again) and POV issues. As a previous poster pointed out - you switch to an omniscient narrator when you mention actions that Sarah was neither witness to nor being told second hand about it (on the ship), as she was drugged and asleep. You also then refer to the reader "You see" which, in a third person close (which is how you started) is not recommended.

There are some positives: I think there may be a longer story here. The events of Sarah's capture; her brutal treatment and her final escape could be expanded upon to make a larger and more engaging story. Keep posting here and you will improve. I know this place has helped me no end. And continues to.

Last edited by risk10; 09-02-2015 at 08:09 PM..
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Old 09-03-2015, 07:32 AM
ktzdge99 (Offline)
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Thanks! Putting an empty line after each paragraph worked. The next story I put in I will type it in instead pasting.
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Old 09-03-2015, 10:34 AM
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I know you have already heard enough about your story but I need to say a few thing to quite the water so to speak.

The very first thing I noticed about the story was it was more like an outline than a story - I write them like this all the time. So I consider you are on the first step to a story of some 3500-4000 words.

You have the facts of the story down, a staircase to the top of a hill. Now take us from one event to the next like you're sliding down a hill. There are a few rough spots but mostly you will just slide.

Sarah woke up in a hayloft again. It was the 5th one in as many days!

Let's look at this sentence - i. e. Sarah woke as the morning sun flooded into the hayloft. She sat up slowly, raked her hand through her dark long hair, and discarded the straw she removed. Hay lofts, she was beginning to hate hay lofts, but they had keep her out of the rain and away from the wild animals for the last five nights.

just my opinion.

This shows Sarah's overall state of mind, at the moment, and tells the reader that she has dark long hair.

She emotion of the character: She is emotionless except she seems to get excited easily!!!!!!! (This led me to believe she was only about ten years old; or had lead a very sheltered life.)

I write character with little or no emotion all the time, they are warriors - a warrior with to much emotion will soon be a dead warrior. That's the way I read your character. She can not afford the luxury of emotion until the end when she sees her Mama.

take that for what it's worth.

Try to watch (as stated before) your tense, and your POV, if you think of something you should have mentation earlier then go back and rewrite the passage to include that item. do not just say "two days ago this happened."

"most" of your story is in third person but in the present (more or less) tense. why don't you try and rewrite this in first person.

i.e. On their way back to the house they heard the screaming! As they came around the barn they were spotted by one of the men that was trying to catch a chicken. Before the sun set on that day, two of her friends were dead!

I heard the chickens screaming as we walked back toward the house. As we turned the corner of the barn I saw a strange man trying to catch a chicken. He shot two of my friends and I along with several of my friends were kidnapped. (past tense, all tell)

first person present, show.

Sarah was alarmed "I wonder what has the chickens all riled up."

Friend "We better go see."

Tommy and Frank each picked up a length of broken branch to use as weapons as we took off in a run for the barn.

I yelled as I turned and saw the stranger chasing the chickens. "You leave those chickens alone!"

The stranger turned and pulled a gun. He shot Tommy and Frank - dead.

I screamed and tried to run but my feet wouldn't move. I hid inside myself as the stranger grabbed me by the arm.

Stranger "My aren't you a pretty one."

I still have no idea of the age of your character and that would most likely supply the intent - if she is young, then he could be looking to sell her - if she is closer to twenty then the intent would be different, remember he just killed two people, rape wouldn't bother him one bit.

done now, I think you have a good outline that would, when fleshed out, make a nice short story, but you need to get the reader to like or love or hate your character. It seems you want to make her a survivor. So when the man grabs her a young survivor would bit his hand, his arm, his nose and bring blood, an older victim might knee him in the man-parts. (as I don't know your age I'll leave it at that)

as always these are just my opinion and it is your story do with it as you will.

if you're writing over your readers head - tum etiam, ut graece scribens --- the secret of success changes;the truth of failure remains constant; if you try to please everyone you will fail.

Last edited by max crash; 09-03-2015 at 10:41 AM..
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