Sample Short Story With Feedback #9


This short story was submitted by a young writer who is on the LTC Insider Mailing List. I do not look at grammar and spelling, just the telling of the story. My comments are in coloured text. – Laura


The Waters That Run Dark

- This title does not seem to fit the story well. It hints at the setting but the setting does not seem to play a central role in the story.

“Ah, this sucks,” she sighs down at her feet. - Who is she? We need a name. Her toes are stubby against the sharp edged wood. There is an imbalance in the air. She could fall now, and everything will change, will stay the same. - Which is it?

“To be or not to be, that is the question. Let’s find out, why don’t we?” she says flatly. There is water running beneath her feet. Water that is death black and gurgling drowns. Her heels lift and flex, perched and ready. - It’s a rough start, but I do like that we are thrown right into a tense moment.

“Um,” a deep voice from behind,

Sara breathes a heavy gasp. A relief, an excuse to pounder the question a moment longer. A lifeline. “You can’t stop me,” her voice quivers as she lie.

“Well. Um. This is rather awkward,” the voice grates out. His words sound gravely, coming behind her. He sounds like a man half dead, vocal chords stiff from disuse.

“You don’t say,” she returns drily, her eyes roll upwards. The only person that gives a damn, and this is who I get? God, maybe she should just off herself now. - Be careful not to switch point of view mid-paragraph. Stick with the third person.

“Please, I’m new at this,” the voice sounds strained. “Um, the water is really cold.”

“Sorry?” Sara’s head is reeling, is this guy insane?

“And there might be rocks. Or mud,” the voice seems to find himself, in his unconvincing persuasion. “And you’ll be missed. So. Please? Live to see another day.”

“Are you- you can’t be serious? That’s all you’ve got? There might be rocks?” she’s furious, at the uncertainty in his voice, at herself. She is so stupid, to think there is any reason her death will make a difference. The world will spin on, without ever knowing she had abandoned ship. This stranger is just another man, a face that blurs in a slightly large crowd. Her pain is her own, and rocks can’t touch it.

“That’s not all. But what I have to say is not what you want to hear,” calmly, the voice starts again. “You want reassurance, that your life matters. That its worth living. I can not give you that. It would be lying.” Sara’s eyes widens at the sudden harshness. It’s like he’s reading her mind. She stares unblinkingly into the darkness ahead, water churning softly.

“I can not tell you that, because you have to realise, that you are not the only one with hurdles in your path. You are not the only girl to lose your boyfriend on your anniversary. You are not the only girl to wish for an all forgiving Prince Charming. There is no white horse and shining armour. There is you, and yourself, and your loved ones. You own what you have, and nothing more.” - You could tell us more about this. Don’t make the reader have to think too hard about what’s brought her to this point.

Sara’s eyes prickle, and she realises she’s started crying. There are tears at her chin, the droplets join the dark waters below. - Nice description.

“You are important,” he continues softly. “But you are not the universe. It is far colder than that, our universe. We live in a world where inequality is everywhere, in the poor who begs with hungry hands, in the children that sheds silent tears, and in love given and returned between every couple. Live, Sara Foster. For you are important still, and the love in your heart burns brightly on.”

“Who are you, Shakespeare?” she tries for light hearted, but lands on shattered. “I don’t recall giving you my name, are you social services or something?”

“Not at all. Shakespeare is averse to Earthly visits, actually. He seems enlightened, in heaven,” the man says, with amusement trailing his voice.

Sara blinks rapidly, and realisation hits her. “Heaven? There is a heaven?” She turns around quickly, almost falling from the narrow wooden beam.

He balances her with a hand at her ankle. It’s a warm hand, human. She climbs off the ledge of the bridge, awkwardly, excitedly. - Describe this moment more deeply.

As she gains her balance on the solid ground, her eyes meet the man’s: they are an intense blue. Like the ocean, the wide horizon. She wants to embrace him, this disheveled looking man. With a rumpled black dress shirt, and dark curly hair against a pale scalp. To her surprise, the man’s smile is warm. He leans into her ear and whispers: “Heaven is not as exciting as its made out to be – Shakespeare has taken to golfing.” This startles a laugh out of her

“Life on earth is much more preferable, in my opinion,” he says gently. The man then leans back, and Sara stares.

His wings are huge. Great white bursts of light, behind the man – angel’s back. Her eyes burn with the intensity of them. “Why me?”

“Because you believed, because you loved, because you are here. Why anyone?” He smiles, and his face is young. He could’ve been a kid, in his late teens even. But he died and she lives. - Who died? This is not clear. There’s something devastatingly unfair about that. But he is right, she believes, in the goodness of humanity, in herself. and she’ll keep on believing, no matter how foolish. - The ending seems incomplete and muddled. Keep describing the action as you have been and finish strong.


More Feedback: This is a good lump of clay (or early draft). With some editing and a better-developed ending, it could be excellent. Keep working on it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to review my story! The comments you made helped me realize some problems I have in my writing. I knew I still have a lot to improve but I’m glad you pointed them out so objectively. Thanks again, I’ll continue writing :-)

Laura Michelle Thomas

About Laura Michelle Thomas

Laura Michelle Thomas is a novelist, freelance writer, writing mentor, and the owner of Laura Thomas Communications. She is the creator and administrator of the Junior Authors Contests and Junior Authors Conferences. Laura is publisher and senior editor of jaBlog! and is dedicated to fostering the development of young writers worldwide.

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