Thursday, February 26, 2009

52 Drop the Needle: Chapter Endings

TITLE: The Green Boy
GENRE: Contemporary/occult

Bliss' and Milo's 13-year-old daughter Linnie is hours late coming home from school. Their missing ranch hand has just found out that Bliss' mother was accused of killing his mother -- and may have met Linnie on her way.

We'd called her several times, and she hadn’t answered. We paced; we looked at each other and then looked away because we couldn’t bear the fear we saw in each other’s eyes. We knew we had to call the sheriff, and we did, and it left us feeling like she was already dead.

What had I been thinking, to bring Jody here in the first place, much less to let him stay once we knew who he was? How had I thought this would end? My small voice suggested that maybe Jody still didn't know, that maybe all this was an innocent mistake. Yeah, right, I heard my inner cynic snarl. Blue Impalas. Shacks in the Tennessee woods. Orphaned baby boys. Aunt and uncle. Diary. Witches. Witches, witches, witches.

There were sketches in her diary, sketches of That Poor Woman, That Husband of Hers, their house, maybe the aunt and uncle too. I knew Mother was a pretty good artist when it came to flowers, but I didn't know if the faces she drew were recognizable. Had Jody ever seen pictures of his parents?

If we'd told him sooner. If we'd found him work somewhere else. If I'd taken him to the sheriff's office in Bisbee to begin with. If Linnie'd spent the night with Maria or Sophie in Benson instead of coming home. If it wasn't storming. If, if, if. Gods, Bliss, I finally told myself. You are a Witch. Stop iffing around and do some magic, woman!


  1. I like this very much. You effectively convey the worried thoughts of parent in this situation. Then we have the last sentence that kicks in some humor.

    One thing, you wrote: "Gods, Bliss, I finally told myself. You are a Witch." The first sentence seems more like an introductory clause for the second. Otherwise, you have: I told myself, "Gods." and that just doesn't make sense to me.

    Good chapter ending, I'd definitely read on.

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  3. It is obvious to me that you have done some magic of your own... great use of a tense moment with a killer last line.

  4. This is a tough snippet for me to crit, because there is a fair amount that I don't understand. I found the set up para to be confusing. Is Jody the missing ranch hand? And what does this mean:

    'Blue Impalas. Shacks in the Tennessee woods. Orphaned baby boys. Aunt and uncle. Diary. Witches.' I'm sorry I'm being a bit dense today.

    I think you do a good job with a piece that's entirely narrative and tell rather than show. That's not easy to pull off, but I think you did just fine.

    I loved the last paragraph and think it's definitely the strongest in the piece. It was painful to read, as a mother. It builds the emotion so nicely, then that final sentence ends it with a bang. Good job.

  5. I was too confused to be hooked, sorry. I didn't know who "we" was, or the narrator, or Jody.

    The writing itself isn't bad, so this could be a symptom of the Drop the Needle.

  6. I was also a bit confused by the first couple of paragraphs, but this could just be because I haven't read the rest of the story. Otherwise, good inner thoughts and good job conveying this character's state of mind.

  7. This is definitely somewhat confusing getting dropped into it, but it sounds very interesting.

    My thoughts:

    “What had I been thinking, to bring Jody here in the first place, much less to let him stay once we knew who he was?”

    I’d like it better if you broke up these two thoughts. The sentence didn't seem to flow well for me.

    Also “small voice” made me pause for some reason. “Inner voice” would make more sense.

    I like the choppiness of her thoughts though. It illustrates how freaked out she is and the all the thoughts racing through her mind.

    Sounds like an interesting story!

  8. The last line hooked me. Interesting...
    I did get a little confused w/ this story snippet...I am sure if I read more it would make more sense.
    Here is a little thing that I noticed: within the first paragraph, there are eight "we's" within three sentences. For some reason, this threw me off. I don't know who "we" is, and it is a little too repetetive. Is there a way to convey the message without overuse of the word we?
    Other than that, I would turn the page.

  9. I would read on. Good story and a classic example of how hard it is to insert 250 words and have us all understand what's going on. I was a little confused at first--and stayed that way through the end of the second paragraph--blue impalas, shacks..., but I'm sure this was explained in the part we didn't get to read. I would, as mentioned earlier, break up the sendtence, "What had I been thinking?" I had to go back and re-read this, so just work on breaking that up. Otherwise, you conveyed a parent's worst nightmare very well. Good luck!

  10. I really liked this. The only thing I can say is the beginning started out a bit slow.

    You did a good job bringing us into the parent's mind.