Monday, February 15, 2010

Entry 27


Whether the corn crop failed was of no real consequence to Sam Warner. He had not fretted over such things since his sharecropping days. And, since eight of his twelve acres were rich with pine timber, if the harvest was light, he would simply sell off of few cords of wood and keep right on keeping on.

What troubled him on the coldest spring morning in nearly twenty years was not the fate of a few ears of corn. What troubled him was his daughter’s letter. All night he had wrestled with it, several times giving serious consideration to waking his wife and telling her again how lowdown her daughter was acting. Only God himself could tell where Lilly had come upon such roguish ways.

It had been three years since she had set foot on Alabama soil. Three years since she had laid eyes on her own child. And now, with little more than a week’s warning, she was coming home and carrying on about some big surprise.

Sam had a farm to run. Visibly annoyed, he got up and went out to the kitchen. It was there that he realized how much the temperature had actually dropped.


  1. I'm not sure where my focus is supposed to be. The crops? The weather? The daughter? Red herrings are fine, but not so close together, and that's how this reads to me.

  2. I liked the first two paragraphs, but the third one confused me. I couldn't work out who she was. The mother or the daughter?

    I spent too much time trying to work out what was happening and I'm still not sure, but I would read on to find out.

  3. I think this is pretty good. Bottom line is I'm curious and I want to know more. I'm going to spend the rest of this comment giving suggested changes, but I basically thought it was good.

    I would say that it could be tightened a bit to better serve as a hook - none of it bothers me much as a reader, but I don't think you could go wrong trying to really go at it more directly in the first few paragraphs. Specifically:

    1.You could delete the last sentence of the first paragraph. We don't need to know why he doesn't care.

    2.In the second paragraph, combine the first two sentences - ...was not the fate of a few ears of corn, but his daughter's letter. Maybe even say recent letter.

    3.Get rid of the passive in the first sentence of paragraph 3. Passive is fine if it's the best way to express something, but this can easily be changed to something like "She hadn't set for on Alabama soul for three years." you might then have to tweak the next sentence to make the transition easier, but it's pretty close even as is.

    4."Visibly annoyed" doesn't work for two reasons. First, it's a POV shift. This is his POV, and he can't see himself annoyed. Second, it's telling not showing. Now, I hate getting slammed with the telling not showing criticism, because sometimes it's OK. And this is the only place where you did it. But visibly annoyed doesn't work for me. Better to describe him noticing something - his breathing speeding up from annoyance or maybe if he's old, his hands hurt because he's clenching them without realizing it.

  4. I'll yield my technical thoughts to Mr. E.G up there, since he did a better job of putting them into text than I could have.

    I can't say much, and this is completely out of my realm.. so..

    Might I suggest Ninja Robots?

  5. Nice writing and setting up of the scene, but unfortunately, I'm not hooked.

  6. Not doing it for me. Farming? Not so interesting. The deadbeat daughter coming home? That a bit more so. The first line needs much more impact though. Crops? I think a lot of people won't be able to relate. I think it'll probably get much better once that daughter comes around, but I don't know if I'd bother reading along to find out.

  7. I think if this were a bit more focused, it would be a bit easier to get into. I'm wondering what genre it is, for it sounds a bit like a western, but it is happening in Alabama?

    I am curious to know why the daughter hasn't seen HER daughter in three years, and I wonder if the grandchild lives with the POV character. But then that last sentence about going into the kitchen and finding out how low the temp. was - is it the outside temp. or someone else's in the kitchen? I'm just not sure.

    I would probably keep reading, at least a bit farther, to see where the focus is.

    FYI - the first sentence needs a little tweaking. I believe if you start out with a whether, you need a comparison, like whether the corn crop failed OR NOT was of no consequence. I might be wrong on this, though.

  8. Crops, daughter coming home, but who's daughter?
    He seems more of a loner, not so much into family. I probably would read more.

  9. The lack of "or not" thing in the first sentence started me with one foot off the floor and i never recovered. I kept thinking about that and couldn't figure if it were a "voice thing" or just needed redoing.

    Classic case of first line-itis.

    Mighta been just me.

  10. I like the voice here. Good editing advice already given. I would read on.


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