The wind sashayed through the field, causing dandelions to weep white flecks into the air, which became lost in the waning moments of the summer afternoon. On the window sill of an average suburban home, a furry stuffed bear named, Hazy, sat watching the field. His mismatched stitches, worn through threads, and misplaced buttons, were signs of rough and tumbled times. But that had never bothered him before. Hazy got up, took one last look of his favorite view, of the last eight years, and jumped down onto the floor. Eight years had gone by faster than eight years should. He walked over to the bed where Phil was laying down, probably looking at the mural on the ceiling. Hazy hopped onto the bed and padded over to Phil. ***
This my first draft, it's still very rough. I haven't written a short story in two years and I'm worried about my pacing. Critique away.
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited October 25, 2007).]
[This message has been edited by hteadx (edited October 25, 2007).]
You said its rough and youíre worried about pacing, so Iím not sure how to comment. Usually people polish their first 13 and post it looking for a thorough critique. I think pacing has more to do with the flow of the story, transitions, slow and fast action, that sort of thing Ė itís hard to comment on pacing in such a short segment.
I like Hazy and the general feel of where youíre going. It seems like a slow start for a short story. Some of that could be helped by polishing. I wonít give the full crit since you didnít ask for that, but look for words you can cut and extra commas. Example: say "eight years" once, not 3 times.
It seems like an unrelated jump to describe the field and then describe the home and Hazy, finally connecting them at the end of the second sentence. I suggest start with the bear looking out the window at the field, and then describe the field. (The sequence you presented sounds cinematic, more like the visual opening of a movie.)
[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited October 25, 2007).]
[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited October 25, 2007).]
'Sashayed' seems to complicated a word to ascribe to wind, and it pushes me out almost immediately. I would suggest using a word that the eye of the reader will move over with barely a thought.
'...average suburban home...'. I like definites and this feels indefinite to me. Why say this when you could paint the picture instead. An average suburban house is very different depending on which continent or country you happen to be in. You could say:
...On the window sill of a small white-painted timber house, a furry stuffed bear named, Hazy, ...." It saves me having to imagine what you mean by average suburban house.
>Hazy got up, took one last look of his favorite view, of the last eight years, and jumped down onto the floor.
This feels jumbled.
Hazy got up, and with a last glance at his favorite view, he jumped down onto the floor.
As the previous reviewer states you don't need to mention 8 years three times. Also it IS his favorite view, for how long, I don't care.
Is this a kids story? It feels adult but stuffed bears..
I have similar difficulty with "sashayed" ascribed to the wind. I also don't like "weep white flecks". I like the imagery you're trying to evoke, but weeping brings liquids and downward movement to mind. White flecks don't make me think of clouds of seeds, but of misused paint or bird droppings. I suggest thinking of how you would describe actual clouds or streams of vapor, depending on how thick you want the seeds to be in the visual, and using a similar description for the dandelion seeds.
I also got a little hung up on "the waning moments of the afternoon". Waning suggest something dissapating over time, but moments are already brief. I would suggest something more like "which became lost in the waning afternoon light of the late summer sun". That's a bit of a hackjob there, but the idea is that I think you're drawing a visual of the late afternoon in september, not the end of time.
MrsBrown makes an excellent point on the jump from the field to the house. I think you need to place the house with respect to the field before you go about putting Hazy on its windowsill. I don't know if you want to begin with Hazy however, as it depends on how you're writing the story. Beginning with the field and gliding across it to the house and bear gives it an AA Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh kind of feel, which might be what you want.
The "average suburban home" also drives me nuts. You can (and should) rely on the reader to fill in detail with respect to less important descriptions, but I don't think this is quite enough. "Average" is one of those amorphous words that you just shouldn't use in description, even when you're trying to be vague, because it can mean anything. "Suburban home" doesn't give quite enough description for the reader to fill in the details. At a minimum, you need to give a general shape of the house and one or two details to give your reader and anchor to fill in the rest. Is it an "unremarkable two story house with large, clear windows", or a "ramshackle ranch home with an aging wooden deck"? One or two little details that make the building seem familiar to the reader will let the reader add the rest.
I also agree with the troubles in the second paragraph mentioned by Skadder and MrsBrown.
It sounds like a velveteen rabbit story, but with the tragedy looming much closer to the beginning. I have to think the opening about the dying rays of the late summer sun are symbolic. If so, an excellent idea.
[This message has been edited by Khalan (edited October 25, 2007).]
The wind sashayed[I'm not really liking the image this gives me--cause really it's the grass that would move in that manner, not the wind] through the field, causing dandelions to weep[This one too feels off--weep implies soft seeping flow--and dandelion seeds don't do that when they lift off] white flecks into the air, which became lost in the waning moments of the summer afternoon. I'm not sure why we need this first bit at all. The image doesn't feel important and I sense no urgency at all. Setting for setting's sake isn't really a good idea
On the window sill of an average suburban home, a furry stuffed bear named, Hazy, sat watching the field. His mismatched stitches, worn through threads, and misplaced buttons, were[passive] signs of rough and tumbled times. But that had never bothered him before.
I would ask what is this telling me? I see nothing different to pull me in and make me want to keep reading. An average house and average stuffed bear. I see he has an awareness but that doesn't really make me want to keep reading--yet.
Hazy got up, took one last look of his favorite view, of the last eight years, and jumped down onto the floor. Eight years had gone by faster than eight years should. He walked over to the bed where Phil was laying down, probably looking at the mural on the ceiling [a mural of what? If you mention it I'll want to know what it looks like and why he'd probably be looking at it]. Hazy hopped onto the bed and padded over to Phil.
The biggest issue I see is that there's lots of unimportant info here. Short story means nip it to the urgent--the most lovely--imagery and keep me interested by tossing me into the story right away.
Baxter wasn't used to the way the road felt under his Rubbermaid feet. Carpet was so much softer. But it was time. Time to move on. Boys didn't play with T-Rex's forever.
Now, this is sort of a lame example but you get the idea that we're following a toy and he's leaving in a very quick amount of time. Meandering in a short story makes it very hard to read.
Yes, the story is supposed to be an urban fairy tale geared toward people who like whimsical stories of childhood.
It seems I'm having POV issues because all of the imagery is supposed to be seen through the eyes of Hazy. The imagery with the field was supposed to convey Hazy's current mood.
This was geared to be more of a character piece. Rather than my usual plot driven stories. I was going for more of a Calvin and Hobbes feeling. So Khalan was very close to the mark for the reasons of the opening.
I'll probably cut the house out of the picture altogether. I don't want to spend time trying to describe a suburb house because I don't see the pay off since the house is not integral to the story. However, the field is very important to the story.
I was cruising through ancient short-story posts, looking for WOTF entries to be exact. And my searching eyes, glazing over dozens of posts at once, halted abruptly. And something compelled me to open this one again, it was the title. And I'm not at all surprised to see that that was my sentiment almost a year ago.
So, because of such an immortal title, this story deserves a bump back to the future...err present.