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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Devils & Dust

   
Author Topic: Devils & Dust
Uley Bone
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Neddie Bean threw all of his weight back, the bare flesh of his fingers stinging as he gripped the edge of the barn door as fiercely as if he were in a tug of war with the Devil himself.

He had known as soon as he had seen the black roller moving in off from the northeast, that it was not going to be something that Old Charlie and him should be caught-out in. Chances seemed better than fair that they would not have been around for it at all, if the box-car man hadn’t come across them while they were sleeping. He was half expected to find Old Charlie Vance turn't a dead man. The damned train bull had put quite a bit of hurt into him, afore he tossed him out of side of the car like a sack of rotten apples. The Eight-Fifteen had been moving hard and fast across the flat land of Oklahoma, north out

[ November 26, 2011, 11:07 AM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Denevius
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this is quite good. definitely interested in reading the entire piece if it's not too long. i did have two quick comments on these 13 lines:

"...like a sack of rotten apples". the first thing i thought was you were trying to avoid the cliche', "like a sack of potatoes". i don't know if this is the case, but the simile reads in a contrived way, a case where you, the writer, is trying too hard and it's showing.

second thing i thought was that these 13 lines are a bit dense. this isn't a bad thing, as the writing is quite strong. however, the density makes for a slower read.

anyway, i'd definitely read more if it's not too long.

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Dame
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Hi,

Why mention bare fingers? Aren't fingers almost always bare?

Why did he throw his weight back? It starts with great immediacy, but that wee conflict isn't continued or developed quickly enough IMO.

What is a black roller? I'm pretty sure it is a storm cloud, but actually it may be a train.

You use quite a familiar tone, and that works well. But it isn't quite consistent. This sentence: "He had known as soon as he had seen the black roller moving in off from the northeast, that it was not going to be something that Old Charlie and him should be caught-out in." Might be better contracted a little - He'd known, etc. Ignore this rewriting of that sentence, but it may give you ideas on how to make the writing a little tauter. I think you may be using too many words to get the same effect.

"He'd known, soon as he saw the black roller moving in from the northeast, it wasn't something him and Old Charlie should be caught out in."

"He was half expected to find Old Charlie Vance" Who expected it? The box car man? Why put the "was" in there? It sounds like someone else expected him to find Charlie."

"Neddie had given the bastard a taste of his..." Here, again, you have a sentence about Charlie followed by this, so "the bastard" is logically Charlie.

"Even in that he had taken some relations of things into consideration" This only just makes sense to me. I think you may be able to make it clearer.

When he jumps, you seem to miss out the moment of impact and how that feels.

As this is written in such a strong character voice, words like "momentum" seem suspicious. It is obviously a prejudice on my part, but a man who speaks like that might not know or use such words.

"Neddie fig'red Ol' Charlie must be done-for a'sure, after he was finally able to manage his own feet again." Who's feet? Charlies? Watch for how your sentence structure blurs the meaning. In this short excerpt, I think I saw three places where the grammatical meaning clashed with the logical one.

I probably would not read on, as it seemed too dense and too hard to follow the logic of thoughts and action. The tone is great, and you immediately make Ned a likeable character by how he relates to Charlie.

I would like more sensory details of the train car, and also to know where the box-car man is. Does Ned go back to look for Charlie? In which case, I would hold off any explanation of what happened until Ned actually does go looking to see how the old guy is. Then you can concentrate on Ned's dilemma of when and how to jump, making it more clearly the opening hook.

Hope some of this is interesting or useful. Good luck with the piece. How long is it BTW? That affects how I judge the immediacy - longer stories can take a little longer.

D [Smile]

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andersonmcdonald
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LIKED IT. It has a great voice, reminds me a little of Mark Twain. Personally, I like writing that has some meat to it, as opposed to a lot of the cookie cutter stuff being done today. This begs to be read aloud. Good job.
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andersonmcdonald
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And is Uley Bone a pen name? Either way, keep it.
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Merlion-Emrys
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Good voice. I sense one small error

quote:
He was half expected
This sounds like it should be "expecting" unless this is intentionally included as part of the dialect-voice...but even then, it feels off to me.

And I agree with andersonmcdonald. That whole "omit unnecessary words" thing is all well and good...if you believe there's any such thing as unnecessary words, and idea about which I sometimes have doubts.

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Uley Bone
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Hi Denevius, and thank you. Actually, I was looking to keep in character with "the bag of rotten apples". The missing pieces that come into play later, are not only is this April 14, 1935 (alluded to in the title of the chapter as Black Sunday, which in this only comes out in the term "black roller"-- an era set expression for the dust storms in the dust bowl.) I also had other reasons, relating to the character-- but it surely isn't any kind of sticking point on my end. Those were just my thoughts when I used the expression. Again, thank you kindly.

Hi Dame, and thank you all the same. As I mentioned with Denevius, a black roller is a common expression of 1930s dust bowl region for a dust storm (Which was why bare fingers mattered. Anything bare in a dust storm is going to be noticed, especially a really bad one. It wasn't a particularly rare expression, so I am told, but definitely fallen out of use since the soil conservation movement.) You had come across a few sticklers of my own, and the whole reason for nor using a whole 13 lines was because I realized that the lines were long. Writing Neddie is difficult, which is why I opted to post this-- as my own father was not even around at the time, and Neddie doesn't play around in the same fields of perception as most. Yeah, it is a much longer story, though unfinished at the moment. The really crazy aspect are that Neddie & Old Charlie are the only key plot points thus far, save that after getting tossed from the chain, the storm chases them into an old barn-- which is really where the story kicks off (the barn door that Neddie is trying to close in the onset.) Thank you for picking those things out, definitely going back over it anyways--- and these things would help. (No, this isn't my final draft.) The reason I think that coming here will help me out is my lack-luster editing.

Thank you very much Anderson McDonald. And yeah, Uley Bone is a pen name.

Thank you Merlion-Emrys, and point noted.

I believe I may owe you all an apology, as I didn't realize that this was an area for finished drafts/final edits. You definitely helped, but I pretty much just swept the first few lines and gave it a glance through before posting. I'll hold back from here on out, and repost after I have the story properly worked through, worked over-- and whatever other work needs to be done before posting. I still much appreciate all of the input, I just have to finish the story first and put a fine edit or two to it. And yeah, I have plenty enough bad writing habits to spare, which I am sure any extra eyes that would like to give it a read through surely can.

Thank you again to all.

Smiles & waves,
Uley

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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
I believe I may owe you all an apology, as I didn't realize that this was an area for finished drafts/final edits.
This is not the case. It's a place for feedback on short works, regardless of status. I routinely post the first 13 of a new story as soon as I've even gotten that far. To me, waiting for a "final draft" to post for feedback and especially to ask for full reads, would rather defeat the purpose don't you think?
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Uley Bone
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Yeah, and thank you much Merlion. Already finished and going through some of the edits, seeing if I can slim it down some as well (slightly under 10,000 wds as it stands.) Clear away some of the mud, and get everything tidied up and ready to move-- figure out if & where I want to do with it from there.

At any rate, thanks much for the reply, as I figured I woofed it on my first swing here at Hatrack.

smiles & waves,
Uley

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Uley Bone, the "Fragments" in "Fragments and Feedback" is meant to indicate not only that we have a 13-line rule, but also that text offered for feedback does not have to be complete.

Sorry for the confusion. Please feel free to post your first 13 lines of anything that you've written and need feedback on, finished or not.

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