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Thread: Short Story: One Dusty Day

  1. #1
    Registered User ThreeKlicksAway's Avatar
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    Short Story: One Dusty Day

    I wrote One Dusty Day earlier this year. Still, I don't think it is too shabby so decided to post it here where you all can tear it to pieces like starving dogs. Have at it, boys!

    One Dusty Day

    Our half finished house stood empty for at least a year. That in itself was a nice testament to just how poor we were. Trying to start a business in a recession is no laughing matter, but trying to get a house built at the same time seems a little ridiculous in hindsight. So there it stood, no carpet, walls or paint. Just outlets with wires poking out and bathtubs still wrapped in tape, sitting in their wall-less bathrooms. The bottom floor, where today there is tile and carpet, was at first a sea of cement—or to us, maybe more of a 2 dimensional town, with chalk roads and chalk buildings and Hot Wheels cars to curb the nearly right-angle turns. We spent many an hour on the floor as kids, racing the cars down impossible roads and around the haybale ''couch'' we had set up as our first official piece of furniture to go in our house. That couch and its chairs and bed were the one and only time the dog could dare lay on any sort of furniture. When building became a flurry of excitement as we tried to cram in as much as we could before winter, log after log would be thrown into the wood stove, warming mitted hands and soggy pants.
    Those roads, now long hidden by a more permanent flooring arrangement, can still be found there if you are willing to tear the carpet up to find them.

    It was one day in the late summer, maybe five or six years ago, that our cousins came for a visit. I was only 8 or so. What a joy cousins are; fast friends to share all sorts of adventures with. We were all about the same age, which of course allowed for maximum parent-annoyance and frog catching and mud-wallowing.
    On this particularly dusty day, we decided to all walk down from our grandma's house to see our own half-done one. After a quick dip in the pond(It was quite hot and dry out after all) the eight of us made our way down the rocky driveway toward our hidden house. To us kids, it was a tall, wonderful thing. The skeleton of pipes and wood was no more than a huge jungle gym to swing from, and the paneless wall an entrance to the roof. Scraps of wood from the sawing of boards upstairs served as excellent building blocks. It was also a prime spot for hide and seek. Or maybe just hide, in the case of today.

    “What was that sound?” A voice called from another room, then someone rushed into what would eventually become my bedroom, which was currently our clubhouse. A sound? What sound? The door from downstairs slammed shut. “Someone's here! It's a burglar!” The gang crowded around and backed into my closet to be.
    “A burglar! Why would a burglar come here?” I asked, frantic hushing shutting me up.
    “To take the tools, dummy! They think it's free pickings!” Whispers rippled through our group as that was said. I still didn't quite believe that there was a robber in here, but I couldn't be sure. There was no way I was going down to look anyway.
    “Guys, I really don't think there's anybody down there. Why would someone come here to steal something they could just buy at TSC?”
    “ 'Cause! It's free here! Now shh! They'll hear ya!” I was still doubtful.
    As we sat, I wondered absentmindedly on the whereabouts of Jeremy, one of the oldest cousins. He should be up here, safe from that intruder, or whoever is down there. Ten minutes crawled by. Scraping and rattling was making itself present downstairs. I really believed them now. Panicked, I began wondering how we were going to escape if he came up here to take the saw and found us. Maybe we could get a rope and climb through the window. . .
    My thoughts were interrupted by a long creak. Then another. Then another. I froze. Someone was coming up the stairs! They knew we were here! What now? The shuddering groans of the unstable wood stopped. I cowered deeper into the closet, behind the bathroom wall. A foot stepped slowly underneath the beam of the room. I peered out from behind the wall.
    “BOO!”
    I shrieked, causing laughter to burst from the four older kids of our group. The rest of us were petrified.
    “Boy, you guys are so gullible! I can't believe you thought someone was here to rob us! Ha ha ha!” I folded by arms tightly around me.
    “Aw, I was just playing along. We all were, right guys?” Vigorously convincing nods from the three others replied. “We didn't wanna ruin your fun.”
    “Yeah, right. You guys totally fell for it. Hey,” one of the boys earnestly elbowed the other and winked. “Looks like the sun's goin' down.” I wrinkled my nose in confusion. “We better get back or we're gonna miss supper...”

  2. #2
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    You can safely delete the entire first section, as it's nothing but scene-setting that has no bearing on the story. You already have everything you need in the body of the story. One thing confused me: Early on you describe the house as a "skeleton of pipes and wood" that "was no more than a huge jungle gym to swing from", but at the same time doors and walls seem to be everywhere.

    Big plus: It does read like a later draft that has already been proofed for spelling and grammar, which is always appreciated.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  3. #3
    Registered User ThreeKlicksAway's Avatar
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    Well of course the first part is scene setting! Without describing where the story is set, how on earth could you envision where it takes place?

    Aside from that, you are partially right about that continuity issue describing the house. I am taking this all from memory of us building our own house years ago, as this is a true story, and I suppose I should have explained furthur. The OUTER walls that basically make up the four walls of the house exist, but the inner ones from room to room generally don't. Only a few here and there are up. Perhaps I should add that, thanks for pointing it out!

    Haha, yes, it is a final draft. Few grammar errors slip by me if I can help it. Thanks!

  4. #4
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThreeKlicksAway View Post
    Well of course the first part is scene setting! Without describing where the story is set, how on earth could you envision where it takes place?
    Everything we need to "see" should be in the body of the story, which I think you've done just fine. Try it out: Read the story yourself starting with the second section, where it actually begins. Do you see anything missing? I didn't. Then go back and reread the first section. Does it add anything necessary to the story?
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    Cal is right. The tale is fine from para 2. You must allow for the readers imagination.
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

  6. #6
    Registered User ThreeKlicksAway's Avatar
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    Alright, i'll take your advice. I am not planning on publishing it or anything, so it doesn't matter that much, but aside from that matter, how is the writing style in general? Okay? Bad? Decent?

  7. #7
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    I think you have a nice easy flow although the ending could be made a bit clearer on who exactly is scaring the boys. You use their dialogue and then refer to your main character's physical response. It's a little blurry but can be easily fixed. Otherwise you're a natural!
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

  8. #8
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    What Delta said. You can spell, put a sentence together, and chain sentences together, which is more than many can say. As far as the suggested edits and tweaks for clarity, nobody writes a bulletproof story by themselves.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    No, not quite. While to your perspective, this story is 'not too shabby', to a third party... well, it isn't doing much. Because most of the story is evidently still in your head. It's your job the communicate the story, complete with imagery and literary element and emotional poignancy. But that's not here. This is at best an anecdote, which is fine, it's just an anecdote by itself serving no other purpose is a little dry.

    How does Jack of Hearts know this is an anecdote, rather than a story? Well, imagine two more paragraphs at the end. In these two paragraphs, imagine written copy that's trying to sell the reader a secure toolbox-- you'll note the children thought that someone was stealing tools in the preceding paragraphs. It fits awfully well, doesn't it?

    That's because what you've written reads more like marketing copy, or anecdote, than short story.

    Go read more short stories. Ask yourself what you are trying to communicate to another person and why. If the answer isn't affect, we're in the wrong business.





    J

  10. #10
    Registered User ThreeKlicksAway's Avatar
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    Oh, thank you all so much for the tips and compliments, it means a lot. Jack of Hearts, i'll take your advice. I am sort of/kinda working on another short story right now, and i'll definitely remember what you said while I am writing it. Thanks!

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