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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » The conspiracy of Morris WIP

   
Author Topic: The conspiracy of Morris WIP
Devnal
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First 13 Suspense/tragedy, just looking for comments and crits on this right now. Thanks a bunch

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In the Helwell household, fighting back was the difference between a black-eye and the potential for broken bones. The step-children of Morris Helwell had a sound understanding of this, and never more so as at night, when they were often awoken by the thuds and crashes of their mother’s alcoholic husband stumbling through the front door.

Timmy, the youngest of the three children, had illustrated this for the other’s the very first night the children and their mother had moved into the Helwell's home. A loud BANG—which later turned out to be the front door slamming into the wall—had scared the children half to death. Sarah, the middle child, had yelped, but clamped her hand over her mouth when her eyes met her older brother Jonathan's firm gaze.

[This message has been edited by Devnal (edited November 12, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by Devnal (edited November 12, 2008).]


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honu
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Hi Devnal...looks like a sad story developing. You might have some problems developing your theme...the picture I have is of very young children...the scenario you describe I understand all to well....but you might have issues with your premise of fighting back..the children (if very young) might find more safety in trying to remain unobtrusive and silent..perhaps if there's a large age difference and the oldest is a strong lad he could defend the younger ones and could tie your premise together better...troubling theme...but would make a great story if you found a way to make the children triumph over the situation... good luck
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Nick T
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Hi Devnal,

To state the obvious, dark stories like this are a pretty hard sell.

I liked the first line as it sets the scene very well, but after that, I think the focus wavered a bit.

Two things leapt out at me in the opening. The first was; who am I going to follow? Is it Morris Helwell? (I hope not). Is it Timmy? Sarah? Their mother? Give me someone to drive the story forward, otherwise there’s no identification and thus no suspense.

The second lay in the line “…had illustrated this for the other’s the very first night the children and mother…” If this happened the first time they moved into Morris’ home, why are the children so skittish? If she hasn’t lived with him before, why are they afraid of loud noises? Did he start hitting her *before* they started living together? Leaving aside the lack of clarity here (and others might have not read it that way), I’m not sure that the second paragraph illustrates your opening statement that “fighting back was the difference…”? It gives us a nice picture of the frightened tension in an abusive household, but I’m not sure that shows how fighting back leads to black eyes and broken bones.

What I do like is how the action of the second paragraph says a lot about the situation they’re in and perhaps that is a more subtle way of opening your story. It establishes that the children are nervous and frightened, but it doesn’t specify exactly what they are frightened of. It preserves that little bit of intrigue to keep people reading on. Based solely on the 13, I can only foresee a dark story of child abuse, which doesn't exactly encourage me to read on.

As always, just my ill-considered opinion,

Regards,

Nick


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deebum25
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I'd start with the stepdad coming home and the children reacting, then get to the other information. A sad story but if the children triumph then it works for me. True small children would be more likely to hide and cower and I'm not sure how you could deal with them overcoming their fear of an intimidating adult size (won't call him a person) but I'd be intrigued if you could make it work. I'd also make sure you have a good understanding of the mentality of children and spouses that live in homes where abuse takes place.
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deebum25
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Sorry forgot to say hi Devnal!
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