Passage 1:  Searching her only granddaughter’s vacant eyes, like coffee without cream, Reann distinctly remembered the promise she had made to her so many years ago now.  “Leanna,” she had said to the nine-year old girl then full of easy energy and hope, “when you turn ten this summer, we’ll take a big trip!  You choose some places you would like to visit, and we’ll make a plan together.  How does that sound?”  Really, Grammy?  You promise?  Reann could still see the girl bouncing on tiptoes as she pleaded with deep brown eyes round and wide, dirty-fingernailed hands clasped close to her chest.

But so much had happened in the months afterward.  The major renovation of the church basement, for which she somehow had become overseer—not an easy task in her traditional Baptist church—had continued into the summer.  And then the up-to-now major crisis of her 68 years.  When her only son, Leanna’s father, unexpectedly snapped, his mind seemingly gone in a sudden storm of rage and violence climaxing with the murder of his pregnant wife and the taking of his life in front of his only daughter—days from turning ten—Reann was plunged into a torrential sea she suddenly had to not only learn to swim herself but save Leanna from as well.  Reann remembered the panic of watching Leanna drowning in confused agony before her very eyes.  Now, seated on a hard plastic chair across from fifteen year old Leanna, surrounded by white walls and white-coated staff in air thick with stringency, Leanna’s face nearly transparent in the wan fluorescent light, Reann felt she had not done enough to rescue her all those years ago.  Slender shoulders slumped, hands pressed together between her knees, Leanna tried to hide the white blood-seeped gauze wrapping her thin wrists; Reann tried to avoid looking there but found her eyes drifting back to the bandages again and again.  Suddenly feeling her granddaughter and time slipping from her own wrinkle-ridden hands, Reann with a trembling voice said “I promised you a trip, Leanna.  Remember?  As soon as you are ready, we’ll go.  Just you and me, like we planned.”  She reached a steady hand toward her granddaughter.  As Leanna’s hand settled in hers, Reann again looked into the young girl’s dark eyes and thought she saw a spark of hope.

Instructor Response

Very nice work. You’ve presented a scene that flows and is informative.

Passage 4:  The change plunked into the grimy hand I was careful not to touch.  I had taken pleasure in counting out the six pennies, five nickles, four dimes, and three quarters to add to the forty seven dollars I counted first, knowing full well it would have been more efficient to hand over forty eight dollars, one quarter, one dime, and one penny, but what would be the fun in that?  The pock-skinned, buck-toothed punk looked at me with droopy lips and raised eyebrows as I counted, but what do I care?  I don’t.

I slung a heavy bag over each shoulder on my way to the corner bus stop, squinting against the intense sun.  Clouds would be nice.  My left shoe acquired a squeak as I scuffled along the sidewalk, intermittently kicking litter out of my way.  I was paying attention to the squeak in my shoe when I arrived at the bus stop, which is why I didn’t notice I had plopped down on the hot metal bench right next to Timothy O’Leary.  As I shoved my bags underneath the bench, hoping it would help keep my Ben & Jerry’s from completely melting, good old Tim shook a bag of peanuts and peanut shells in my direction.  That’s when I noticed the overgrown Rottweiler there.  Empty peanut shells jumped ship right into my lap.  “Did you have these in your mouth?” I pointed to the shrapnel he had just dumped on my skirt.  The creep just belched, emitting breath like rotten fish dropped in a deep fryer and shrugged as he shoved a peanut, shell and all, into the rancid orifice on his face.  I stood and the shells dropped on the cracked concrete.  I smashed them down with my squeaky shoe and grabbed my bags from under the bench, deciding to walk home instead.

Instructor Response

Also excellent. Look at the second paragraph. There is confusion over who is doing what. This comes from unclear antecedents for pronouns, and syntax. I’ve inserted my comments  below.

As I shoved my bags underneath the bench, hoping it would help keep my Ben & Jerry’s from completely melting, good old Tim shook a bag of peanuts and peanut shells in my direction.  That’s when I noticed the overgrown Rottweiler there.  The introduction of the dog here is confusing as you continue the action. It is unclear what role the dog plays in the next few sentences.  Empty peanut shells jumped ship use something different, it’s a metaphor too disparate to be effective.  right into my lap.  “Did you have these in your mouth?” The reader has to assume this is directed to Tim, but it is unclear.  I pointed to the shrapnel he state this is Tim had just dumped on my skirt.  The creep Once you replace Tim for he, it will be clear that this is not the dog  just belched, emitting breath like rotten fish dropped in a deep fryer and shrugged as he shoved a peanut, shell and all, into the rancid orifice on his face.  I stood and the shells dropped on the cracked concrete.  I smashed them down with my squeaky shoe and grabbed my bags from under the bench, deciding to walk home instead.  Overall, very nicely done.

 

Thanks,

WHC

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