Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Here's a sample of the story that I'm currently revising. I'm about halfway through my second draft and I think I'll end up going through it one more time. Feel free to let me know what you think (if anybody's out there reading this; I think I hear crickets chirping. Nope, not even crickets. Sigh.)

Brad sat staring at his ragged high-tops dangling over the worn pavement. The dark shadows they cast flicked back and forth under the hot sun until he realized he was kicking his feet like a little kid. He stopped abruptly and let them drop back against the crumbly orange-red brick. He looked up at Jessie. She leaned against the low wall beside him, long, tan legs stretched out. Her painted thumbnails darted like tiny purple-headed cobras, striking the buttons in quick succession.

The bright heat of the day glared down on the dusty street. Cars slid by with low growls and swishing of air, hot streaks of light sliding along their glossy sides. The smell of sun-cooked pavement and car exhaust washed over the two on the sidewalk.

Brad squinted against the white sunlight and guessed that it might be almost three o’clock. He looked up sideways at Jessie, one eye squeezed shut and the other barely open. He opened his mouth to speak and then shut it, shaking his head as she started to talk to her phone.

“Yo girl, what’s up?”

Jessie’s face lit up and her intent expression changed into a wide-eyed smile. She kept talking into the tiny pink phone as she settled her shapely backside onto the cracked and dirty concrete ledge on top of the wall. Her quick fingers pushed her long hair behind an ear and then worked a small earpiece on as she leaned back.

“Oh, you know it.”

Brad sighed loudly and put his head down again, kicking the wall hard with both feet. He shifted his butt from one side to the other, pulling the cloth of his shorts away from his sweaty skin. They had spent the whole day in front of the tan brick townhouse where Jessie and her mother lived. He looked back at the building behind them. Her mother had left a couple of hours ago and still they sat out here in the heat while she talked on her phone.

She laughed loudly, throwing back her shiny dark hair and showing her smooth face to the blue sky. Brad looked up at her again. He couldn’t help staring at the delicate curve of her chin as she shook her head at the high wispy clouds, brows beetled in a severe, but stunning, look. His heart beat faster for a moment and he bit his lip.

“Oh yeah,” she answered sagely.

Brad didn’t even try to imagine what words of wisdom she so solemnly agreed with. In a moment she confirmed it or something like it, whatever it mattered.

“She is a total B.”


Anonymous Steve Leigh said...

Competent prose, as always -- from the snippet, can't tell about the story, but if I were an editor, I'd certainly read that far. Too many "high tops" in the first paragaph, and you might look at cadence -- most of the sentences seem to be about the length; I found myself yearning for the rhythm to break...

Then again, I'm still working on my first cup of coffee and I'm not sure my brain's awake... :-)

2/15/2006 08:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Steve Leigh said...

Oh... and as to your lament about readership -- have you considered LJ (LiveJournal) as an alternative to blogspot? Bigger community, and MUCH friendlier to 'non-members.' I assume blogspot has a "friending ' system, and also assume you've friended (and posted) to a few other bloggers there -- that's one way to start gaining an audience; it's certainly the way it works on LJ: find people whose posts you find interesting (usually by checking out the friends of a friend), make some comments to them, and you'll find people friending you back.

I have to say that I find the way blogspot forces me to type crap in a box if I don't have a blogger account is tedious and makes me not want to respond. It may keep the spam 'bots from deluging your with comment spam, but LJ manages to do that without being so intrusive.

2/15/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

Thanks again for the comments and the critique. You were pretty gentle this time!

I've been through this part of the story about two times so far and I'm hoping to get to a final draft after another go through to clean up some more of the awkward parts.

The rhythm is something I'm going to have to give a little more thought to. I try to keep sentences short and the language straightforward so that it flows well. Maybe I'll have to read it out loud from the beginning...

2/15/2006 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

And about blogspot(or blogger, I think it's the same thing): I checked out a bunch of different blogs before I settled on this one. I liked the simplicity and the variety that I found here.

To be honest, though, I really didn't know what to expect. I'll probably give blogger a chance for a couple more months and then decide if I want to make a change. I suppose I can use more than one, but that might get too complicated for me (you know how simple I am).

As far as the comments go, I think you're right about the word picture thing. Fortunately, I have control over that and I just turned it off. Let me know if that helps out any.

Quick question: I'm okay copyright-wise posting samples of stories, right?

2/15/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

Okay, I cheated a little. I edited the story and got rid of the second of the high-tops...

2/15/2006 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Steve Leigh said...

"I think you're right about the word picture thing. Fortunately, I have control over that and I just turned it off. Let me know if that helps out any."

Hmm... didn't know that was under user control -- I just assumed it was part of blogger's interface. Yes, it's better for posters outside the community that way... Well, for me, anyway. :-)

"Quick question: I'm okay copyright-wise posting samples of stories, right?"

Yep, that's my understanding. Though I'd keep the snippets short -- you don't want a market deciding that they're not getting "first publication rights" because you've posted most of the story online already.

2/15/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

This sample's about 400 words or so out of a story that's around 3300 words. Do you think that's too much?

2/17/2006 03:16:00 PM  

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