Revision

“Watch your step, man.”  Marvin tugged at Lance’s sleeve.  “Snakes lie closest to the trees.”

Lance moved away from the trees as guided.  He timed his steps in tandem with Marvin’s as their boots crunched upon the multitude of dried leaves.  The morning fog obscured his view of the ground.  He missed a step and stumbled forward.  He sprung up before Marvin could notice.  “Do you hunt often?” he asked, eager for Marvin to slow down.

Marvin kept on a few steps ahead.  Lance blushed, proud to see he had found the same hunting vest and boots as Marvin had, although his vest was one size too large.

“Last time I went hunting was as a kid with my dad.” He hollered over Marvin’s shoulder as he half-stepped to catch up.

“We should break soon.  I need a smoke,”  Marvin said.

Lance tensed up, then relaxed.  “Yeah, I uh, need one too, if you got an extra.”

Marvin stopped short, Lance took an additional step and in a single swoop a long rope hit then spun around his ankles, whining as it cut the wind.  It tightened and yanked him off his feet.  He shrieked and coffee from earlier spilled back into his throat.  He sputtered as the rope raised him several feet into the air, his head near-missing the ground.  Coins fell from his pockets.

“Boy oh boy,” he cried.  “I’m gonna need your help here!”  He tried to yank his body loose but the rope cut deeper into his skin.

He relaxed and let his arms dangle as his body swung back and forth.  He peered over at Marvin – first his shoes then up toward his face.  He watched as Marvin lit a cigarette then while squinting an eye, sucked in a deep puff.  Lance scoffed at himself for not watching where he was going.

Marvin moved in closer, slid his backpack off his shoulder, then plopped down on the ground just beneath him.

Lance chuckled, “Clumsy me . . .how did I get myself in such a –“

Marvin reached up, grabbed ahold of Lance’s mussed hair, and yanked his head back.

“Now,” Marvin said, as he blew a puff of smoke in Lance’s face,  “I’m only going to ask you once.”   He stuck his nose less than an inch from Lance’s.   “Where are the tapes of you and my daughter?”

“What? . .  wait. . . I can’t breathe . . . I- I –”

“You’re talking, you can breathe.”  Marvin growled.

Lance felt a rumbling in his stomach.  Nausea traveled toward his throat.  He took a deep breath before a stream of coffee spewed from his mouth, just missing Marvin.

Marvin pinched the cigarette from his mouth and let the glowing end lengthen.  He put it near Lance’s eye.

Lance panted.   “I don’t know what you’re talking ab –.”  He put his hands up to shield his face, but not before Marvin darted the cigarette between them, brazing Lance’s eyelashes.   Lance hollered and covered his face with his hands.

“You want it again?”  Marvin shouted still gripping his hair.

“I just tutored her in Art Hiss -torrry,”  Lance bawled.

“Why!”

Lance tried to lean his head away.
“Hmph?”  Marvin asked.

“She wanted extra credit –“

“You mother –“ Marvin swung Lance’s head back then smashed the cigarette into his nose.   Lance convulsed into hip and arm thrashing while the rope swung his body in a pendulous fashion.  He kept his lips pursed and tried to blow his nose.   He cupped his hand over it as blood dripped among the leaves.  His nostril swelled until it felt stuffed with a hot potato.  Marvin pulled at his hair again.

“The tapes!”  he shouted.

“They’re  destwoyed,” Lance answered in a nasal voice.

“What?”

“De-de –destwoyed.”

“No they’re not. You have those tapes.”

At that moment Lance opened his eyes.  A diamond-back snake was slithering down a tree trunk headed toward Marvin’s back.  It was huge.  A few seconds seemed like a minute as he pondered whether to alert Marvin.  Did he want him bitten and to suffer an agonizing death, or did he want to alert him and save his life only to have him continue this charade.  He didn’t know the girl was Marvin’s daughter.  He realized it after the fact.  Maybe Marvin would be grateful for him saving his life, and accept his deepest and sincerest apologies.  He kept his hand over his nose and looked Marvin in the eyes.

“Mahvin, don’ mwove,” he said.

Instructor Response

Comment by William H. Coles on Jac Howard’s submission.
Assignment 2 revised.
6/26/16

Jac–

This is excellent. Now is the time to leave this segment and move on to other things–then, if that’s your plan, finish the story as a whole or work on something else. I say this because most authors begin to excessively tinker in revision in a way that leads to diminishing productivity and effectiveness. You haven’t done that yet, but every piece needs to be put aside after a revision. Of course come back to your work, but allow time to give you fresh perspectives and make further revisions, if necessary, valuable. It’s a good habit to get into.

I have only one observation: I think your dialogue with dialect is effective, but I wonder if a teacher of art history would be using this accent and voice? Just something to think about.

Thanks for the submission.

All the best,

Bill Coles

Revision

“Watch your step, man.”  Marvin tugged at Lance’s sleeve.  “Snakes lie closest to the trees.”

Lance moved away from the trees as guided.  He timed his steps in tandem with Marvin’s as their boots crunched upon the multitude of dried leaves.  The morning fog obscured his view of the ground.  He missed a step and stumbled forward.  He sprung up before Marvin could notice.  “Do you hunt often?” he asked, eager for Marvin to slow down.

Marvin kept on a few steps ahead.  Lance blushed, proud to see he had found the same hunting vest and boots as Marvin had, although his vest was one size too large.

“Last time I went hunting was as a kid with my dad.” He hollered over Marvin’s shoulder as he half-stepped to catch up.

“We should break soon.  I need a smoke,”  Marvin said.

Lance tensed up, then relaxed.  “Yeah, I uh, need one too, if you got an extra.”

All the above is good storytelling. And good writing. I’m impressed!

Marvin stopped short, Lance took an additional step and in a single swoop a long rope hit then spun around his ankles, whining as it cut the wind.  It tightened and yanked him off his feet.  He shrieked and coffee from earlier spilled back into his throat.  He sputtered as the rope raised him several feet into the air, his head near-missing the ground.  Coins fell from his pockets.

“Boy oh boy,” he cried.  “I’m gonna need your help here!”  He tried to yank his body loose but the rope cut deeper into his skin.

He relaxed and let his arms dangle as his body swung back and forth.  He peered over at Marvin – first his shoes then up toward his face.  He watched as Marvin lit a cigarette then while squinting an eye, sucked in a deep puff.  Lance scoffed at himself for not watching where he was going. I admire the way you’ve incorporated so much characterization in this draft.

Marvin moved in closer, slid his backpack off his shoulder, then plopped down on the ground just beneath him.

Lance chuckled, “Clumsy me . . .how did I get myself in such a –“

Marvin reached up, grabbed ahold of Lance’s mussed hair, and yanked his head back.

“Now,” Marvin said, as he blew a puff of smoke in Lance’s face,  “I’m only going to ask you once.”   He stuck his nose less than an inch from Lance’s.   “Where are the tapes of you and my daughter?”

“What? . .  wait. . . I can’t breathe . . . I- I –”

“You’re talking, you can breathe.”  Marvin growled.

Lance felt a rumbling in his stomach.  Nausea traveled toward his throat.  He took a deep breath before a stream of coffee spewed from his mouth, just missing Marvin.

Marvin pinched the cigarette from his mouth and let the glowing end lengthen.  He put it near Lance’s eye.

Lance panted.   “I don’t know what you’re talking ab –.”  He put his hands up to shield his face, but not before Marvin darted the cigarette between them, brazing Lance’s eyelashes.   Lance hollered and covered his face with his hands.

“You want it again?”  Marvin shouted still gripping his hair.

“I just tutored her in Art Hiss -torrry,”  Lance bawled.

“Why!”

Lance tried to lean his head away.
“Hmph?”  Marvin asked.

“She wanted extra credit –“

“You mother –“ Marvin swung Lance’s head back then smashed the cigarette into his nose.   Lance convulsed into hip and arm thrashing while the rope swung his body in a pendulous fashion.  He kept his lips pursed and tried to blow his nose.   He cupped his hand over it as blood dripped among the leaves.  His nostril swelled until it felt stuffed with a hot potato.  Marvin pulled at his hair again.

“The tapes!”  he shouted.

“They’re  destwoyed,” Lance answered in a nasal voice.

“What?”

“De-de –destwoyed.”

“No they’re not. You have those tapes.”

At that moment Lance opened his eyes.  A diamond-back snake was slithering down a tree trunk headed toward Marvin’s back.  It was huge.  A few seconds seemed like a minute as he pondered whether to alert Marvin.  Did he want him bitten and to suffer an agonizing death, or did he want to alert him and save his life only to have him continue this charade.  He didn’t know the girl was Marvin’s daughter.  He realized it after the fact.  Maybe Marvin would be grateful for him saving his life, and accept his deepest and sincerest apologies.  He kept his hand over his nose and looked Marvin in the eyes. Good! And I’ve got the story now!

“Mahvin, don’ mwove,” he said.

  1. Thanks for the advice and for your time!

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