Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Drop the Needle: HIGH EMOTION #21

TITLE: The Incredible Journey of Freddy J
GENRE: Middle-grade Historical Fiction

Two boys hop a freight train and find they are not alone.

He was small, but had a big head, bugging eyes, and little twisted hands. A broad, evil grin showed crooked teeth with wide gaps. His red and yellow striped shirt had ruffles and his short legs sprawled before him were encased in tight yellow pants. He hung onto the end of a thick chain with one hand and clutched a pistol in the other. Whatever was on the end of that chain lurked in the dark.

"Door's right there, sonny, waitin' for you to go through it." The man pointed with his pistol and continued to grin at them. "Need some help from Charley to find your way?"

"No, sir. Please don't," Freddy said. "We'd sure like to share our breakfast with you."

"Whatcha got?"

"Got beans we can share."

"What else?"

"Got a little piece of fatback and some hardtack."

"Too bad, 'cause Charley likes fish better'n anything."

"Fish!" Freddy said. "I got some sardines."

"Ha, ha, ha!" the man cackled. "Might be enough to make him like you. Better hope so."

Freddy dug into his rucksack. He pulled out two tins. There were a couple left if he needed them.He dumped the little fish and tasty oil into a shortening can.

The little man said, "Throw them tins out the door. Charley got'em he might get cut"

Stepping back in to the sun, Freddy wondered what to do with the bowl. He didn't like walking into the dark to give it to something, whatever that thing was. The train started around another curve and light moved slowly across the car. Link by link, the big chain was revealed. It climbed up, higher than Freddy was tall, and the train straightened out leaving the curiosity in the dark.

"Oh, Charley," the man crooned. "Why you hidin' in the dark? Come out and meet these nice boys."


  1. I like this concept, but I think you could make it better. You spend a lot of time describing the wardrobe of the small man in the car - which may be necessary - but rather than his clothing, I'd like to see more hints as to why the boys are afraid of him. I'm assuming they are - and whatever's on the end of that leash, but I need more sense of their emotions.

    It would be easy to add little snippets here and there during their dialogue. For instance, his hand could shake really badly while he's funbling with the sardine cans. Or they can creep to the far end of the car as they think the sunlight is going to reveal Charley.

    It's a good scene, but it could be even better if you up the scariness of it.

  2. Well, you definitely caught my interest. I want to know who and what Charlie is, and what might be on the end of his chain.

    But as far as emotion goes, there's not a lot here. I agree with melody about adding snippets here and there. Maybe follow up a line of diaogue with a line of whatever he's really thinking, but is too scared to say. You might show how he feels through body language, or maybe he exchanges a look with whoever's there with him. It needs a little something more, I think.

  3. Thanks for your comments. I did have to trim a lot to make the scene small enough to fit the word count. I will put much of that back and add more thanks to these suggestions. Thanks again for doing this.