Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Revision Wednesday

We have a revision based on Friday's comments! Let us know what you think.

Nathan looked out across the shadowed street and noticed a man slumped against a crumpled dumpster. He tried to look away, but something about the man caught his attention. Maybe it was the way the person laid there, discarded and alone, that tugged at Nathan’s core. Or maybe it was just the fact Nathan had wasted an hour trying to locate a warehouse that didn’t appear to exist and he needed to stretch his legs. Either way, something compelled Nathan to help the man.

He glanced back into the cargo space in his van. Empty. What should have been filled with boxes of clothing donated to his charity instead remained barren, void of anything he could have used to help the man.

Just because God could turn a blind eye to those in need didn’t mean he would.

Nathan looked over at the jacket he’d shrugged off an hour ago. He’d worn his good jacket, wanting to look spiffed up for the lunch appointment his sister insisted he keep. He rarely wore it anymore; in fact, he found it hanging at the back of his closet this morning.

Grabbing this jacket, Nathan stepped out the van, shivering against the cold gust of wind as it swung against his door. Dusk was starting to settle, enlarging the shadows across the empty street. He half expected the street lights to come on, until he glanced up and realized why they stood dark. If any glass remained on the lights, he couldn’t see it. Something like a nervous snake slithered around in his stomach. Despite the deserted appearance, it felt like a dozen eyes were following him, tracking his movements, waiting to pounce.

With a tentative smile, Nathan fixed his gaze on the man as he walked closer, hoping to receive a response beyond the haunted look on the man’s face

“Are you ok?”

Propped up against the dumpster, with his legs sprawled out, the man’s head leaned at an awkward angle. Blood trickled from the corner of his bruised mouth. Nathan cringed when he saw the discolored lumps covering the man’s face. This man had taken quite the beating.

Nathan glanced down the unconscious form, looking for any other obvious injuries. Instead of the scruffy homeless man he expected to find, this man appeared to be well dressed. The man’s shirt appeared to be well made, albeit torn and stained with what he hoped was just dirt. His pants were scuffed up, and he wore polished black Moccasin Milano’s, the same shoes Nathan wore.

Nathan searched through his pockets for his cell phone and dialed 911.

As he dialed, a groan escaped the previously silenced lips.

“Thank God!” Unaware of his muttered prayer, Nathan sighed in relief.


Jayne said...

Hello brave soul! I actually find it quite tricky to do a critique of a larger body of work in a comment – my fingers itch to do a proper edit with tracked changes! But here goes…

Your first two paragraphs end with ‘help the man’; perhaps change one to have more impact.

You could tighten the first paragraph. A suggestion would be: ‘Nathan looked out across the shadowed street and noticed a man slumped against a crumpled dumpster. Something about the man caught his attention.’

Slumping to me doesn’t suggest lying flat… and later it appears he is sitting against the dump truck? Something about that sentence ‘the way the person laid there’ is making me frown.

Is dialled spelt with two ‘L’s’? Please ignore this one if I am getting confused between British English and American English.

I’d actually cut this paragraph completely ‘Nathan looked over at the jacket he’d shrugged off an hour ago. He’d worn his good jacket, wanting to look spiffed up for the lunch appointment his sister insisted he keep. He rarely wore it anymore; in fact, he found it hanging at the back of his closet this morning.’ and instead start the next one with ‘Grabbing his only good jacket, Nathan stepped out the van’.

Hope that helps!

Sarah said...

Great job on the revisions!

I like where you began! Good choice, that.

I agree with Jayne's suggestions about tightening the first paragraph and cutting the paragraph about his plans.

I had a question. Are the man's eyes open? I'd assumed they were closed, but when Nathan approaches, you mention a haunted look on the man's face, which made me think his eyes were open. It would be so creepy if his eyes were open!

I'd also trim "nervous snake". You don't need it. If you say that fear slithered in his stomach, you're golden. The word slithered is strong enough that evokes the concept of a snake or worm. (I love using slither that way!!!) Mentioning a snake actually blunts the description.

Loved the bit about feeling like eyes following him. It really ratcheted up the tension.

I liked that the man was dressed well. If you mention that his shoes were the same as Nathan's, though, I'd like to know how it made Nathan feel. That way the description would mean something to Nathan's emotional state and not just be about his shoes. Or... looking at it again, what pulled me a bit out of the story was that you mention them so specifically. That doesn't mean much to me, so it was jarring. But then, as my sister would point out, I wear clogs, so take that with a grain of salt.

Well done! Much of the above is far pickier than my first round of comments. I'm talking about tweaking parts rather than an overhaul. : )

Steena Holmes said...

Thanks ladies! I definitely think my beginning is better thanks to your critiques from Friday.

Jayne, it's kind of hard to lie flat if your slumping isn't it? And Sarah - eyes open is way too freaky and didn't work! Thanks for pointing those things out!

It's tightened, picked over and I can't wait for the others to give me their thoughts. This was such a great opportunity, I'm glad I had the courage to be the first one - I can't wait for other brave souls to submit so I can help them as you've helped me :)

Brenda said...

Steena -- I like your revision! I think it gives us a much better sense of Nathan. Like Jayne, I itch for track changes...must be the former English teacher in me. :)

I wonder if the first sentence could be: Across the shadowed street, a man slumped against a crumpled dumpster. Nathan tried to look away... I was thinking that noticed doesn't seem like a strong enough verb? He doesn't seem particularly alarmed by the man, but then he's compelled, which is a much stronger verb.

I agree with Sarah about the shoes. I also know nothing about shoes, but depending on your target audience (men or women?) it might be distracting?

I also agree with Jayne about the paragraph about hsi jacket. In re-reading, I realized that you mention lunch and then dusk. I know I read the first version and so have dinner with the sister in mind from that, but if you do decide to leave it in, something like the earlier lunch appointment might suffice.

I think you've done a great job with revision and kudos to you for putting your pages up! I think mine are in the queue, too, but it's so hard to go first!

Tess said...

Very nice work here. I care far more about Nathan and the character he encounters in this draft. It offers a level of connection that is more immediate.

Well done!

Steena Holmes said...

thanks Tess. You guys have been such a great help. I have a request for a partial :)