tefnut: (Default)
[personal profile] tefnut
Contest 5, week 1: topic : SIN

This is part of a fanfiction I'm writing. I hope it's okay. This week's theme fits so well with the story I'm focusing on at the moment, I just wasn't able to write anything else.


White dust floated in the rays of light coming through the windows. It settled quietly on the rows of wooden desks, avoiding the only one that was occupied.

A scrawny little boy cranked his wrist, and added a letter to the word he was trying to write. William, willing himself not to switch his pen from the right hand to the left, tightened his grip on the edge of his exercise book, creasing the pages with his thumb. He uncrossed his legs, then crossed them again. Sweat trickled from the curly lock of hair straying on his forehead, down to the ridge of his glasses.

The teacher's voice boomed in his ear. "Pray tell, Pratt, what are you waiting for? Have you forgotten your lines?"

"No, Sir."

"Do tell."

William put his pen down, and looking straight at the blank blackboard, recited: "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."

"Show me your palm."

William swallowed in silence. He held his left hand flat, and fought to keep his eyes open, as surely any sign of fear or hesitation would condemn him to another paragraph to write.

"Everlasting fire. That's where you're heading to, if you keep using this wretched hand." The rod whisked, splitting Wiliam's palm in two with a red line. "Is that what you want?"

The cane stroke again.

"No, Sir. I'm sorry."

Palmer's moustache quivered. "You fiend." Hit. "Look at this." Hit. "Is that writing? I can't read it. Tell me the truth. Can you read it?"

"No, but..." William drew a breath. The last time he had explained how much writing with his right hand hurt -- and it hurt more than the cuts from the cane -- Palmer had made it worse. He had switched his slate with an exercise book, and his slate-pencil with a pen and an ink bottle. The cramps felt tighter and lasted longer.

"One more."

The little boy's sight blurred. He joined his hands in a prayer. "Sir, please, I'll be better. Please..."

"Will you stop begging? Evil, sinful creature!"

William bowed. He dunked the pen in the ink bottle, and started another letter, aiming to attach it to the former one, and missing by half an inch. The teacher grumbled. A lone tear fell on the boy's left hand.



Date: 2010-09-11 07:57 pm (UTC)
inkydink: dwagon (Default)
From: [personal profile] inkydink
I'm left handed, but my mother, on the advice of everyone around her, trained me to write with my right hand, instead of my left. Here, it wasn't considered sinful to be left-handed, just unlucky. As a result, I gripped the pencils (and pens after) too hard, wrote ugly, wrote slow.

And when I was six years old and in first grade, the teacher called her in saying I lost three spelling contests (ours were written on blackboards) because while my spelling was perfect, I wrote too slowly. So every weekend and the entire summer after that, my mother made me copy out the encyclopedia. I still have the callus.

Good job. I felt every word. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-09-11 10:13 pm (UTC)
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverflight8
Ooh, ouch! Powerfully done.


Date: 2010-09-19 04:28 pm (UTC)
draigwen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] draigwen
I'm so glad I got assigned this as my editing assignment. It was by far my favourite!

I'll go through the story bit by bit, and make any recommendations as I go through. Sometimes it'll be grammar, sometimes suggestions on style, and sometimes I'll just mention things that I think could be improved (but often don't know how). I'll italicise bits from the story so you know where I am.

avoiding the only one that was occupied
I think this would be a little more powerful if you swapped the 'the' and 'only': avoiding only the one that was occupied

switch his pen from the right hand to the left
You could just say switch his pen from his right hand as the left is implied; I can't decide if it would be best to do this and shorten an already quite long sentence as I quite like the wording you've picked. But it's something to consider.

William put his pen down, and looking straight at the blank blackboard, recited
Again, nothing actually wrong with this, but I think it would be better as William put his pen down, looked at the blank blackboard, and recited:

Chalk? Slate-pencil seems clumsy when chalk would do just as well.

And, uhm, that's pretty much all I can come up with. There are no obvious spelling or grammar errors, the story flows really nicely (well, chillingly!). Perhaps the only criticism I'd have would be that you do lots of long sentences - most of the short sentences tend to be dialogue. It might be nice to have a little more variety.

Re: Edit!

Date: 2010-09-19 07:24 pm (UTC)
draigwen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] draigwen
I wouldn't have realised English was your second language, your grammar was really good. I'm not going to promise there were no errors - I'm not 100% perfect on grammar. The key to me is readability and flow, and you managed that just fine.

I agree with keeping right and left - it is essential to the story. It might be good to see if there are other ways to shorten the sentence - perhaps split it into two?

Re: Edit!

Date: 2010-09-20 04:49 pm (UTC)
draigwen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] draigwen
That works!

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