Opening of Short Story 'Treasure'

Post excerpts from your works in progress and give feedback to your fellow writers.
Post Reply
PR Griffin
Posts: 12
Joined: February 26th, 2011, 9:07 am
Contact:

Opening of Short Story 'Treasure'

Post by PR Griffin » February 26th, 2011, 11:32 pm

Opening to a short story of mine I have got to first draft stage. I'm interested to find out if people enjoy the characters or not. Let me know either way.

When he returned, the shadow of the church had shortened. The grave was as he’d left it, flowers bowed in solemn repose and the half dug mound of dirt beside. A grunt came from the hole. That was new. He peered over the lip, standing as far from the edge as possible. His new loafers had yet to be marked and they still gleamed with that straight out of the box shine. An old man labored below, spade in hand. The lines on the back of his neck were deep and filthy black and the skin wrinkled. Sensing someone the old man looked up, squinting.
“Ah it’s you Anthony. Hope I’m not disturbin’ ya.”
“No, no Mr. Drafford, just seeing me gran.”
“Well how is she?” Mr. Drafford tugged at the lip of his cap, leaving a smudge of dirt.
“Um, still the same I guess.” The loafers shuffled back and forth.
“Ah well that’s good. She’s a good one that Miriam. Heh we had some fun back when. Aye that we did.” He drifted off into silence, staring at the mound of dirt. His muddy fingers tapped aimlessly on the spade’s handle. Then, without another word, he resumed digging.
Anthony stole a brief glance at the gravestone. Then back at the hole. Like a legion of boys before him the combined attraction of mud and mystery proved too much to resist. With a last guilty glance at the gravestone he edged closer to the old man.
“Whatcha’ doing?”
Mr. Drafford stopped and touched his cap again.
“Well now I don’t suppose it would hurt ta tell. Can you keep a secret young Anthony eh?” He raised one hand, cupped his mouth and stared up under eyebrows that appeared to grow independent of their owner.
The boy nodded and shuffled closer. A brief frown crossed his face as one shoe was scuffed with dirt. Mr. Drafford, satisfied with the answer, tapped his spade.
“I’m digging.”
There was silence. Awkward met flippant and neither seemed about to back down. Anthony thrust his hands into his pockets, he remained in place. Mr. Drafford grinned.
“Ah now, I can see you’re not a lad to be so easily swayed. And before you ask,” he held up a filthy hand, “I’m not digging a new one. I’m digging an old one.” The spade was thrust into the soil for emphasis.
“Why?”
“That’s a secret. Or not, I suppose it depends on your definition of secrecy.”
“Gran used to say secrets are only worth knowing if they’re worth sharing.”
“Well I wouldn’t want to argue with such a fine woman now would I?”
Anthony looked down in puzzlement. His Gran had been dead for over two years, but then again, old Drafford did have a reputation for strangeness. He drew closer to the edge as the old man spoke.
“You see, I’m digging because of what’s in here and up there.” He pointed first to his jacket pocket then to his temple. His finger left a dark spot on his sweat soaked skin. Mr. Drafford impaled the spade in the dirt and reached inside his jacket. His scrabbling hand duly returned with a faded piece of paper, which he opened with utmost care. His fingers shook, the paper fluttered and danced as he read.

maireadg
Posts: 7
Joined: January 27th, 2011, 1:11 pm
Contact:

Re: Opening of Short Story 'Treasure'

Post by maireadg » February 27th, 2011, 9:34 am

Hi - I liked your characters, but I was a little confused about a few things. The opening paragraph made me assume Anthony's granny had just died, not two years previously. His shining new shoes inferred he was returning to the grave just after her funeral - you know how most kids would need a new outfit for a funeral. I pictured the mound of fresh earth belonging to her grave, not the neighboring grave.

I was also confused about Mr. Drafford's identity. I initially assumed he was a grave digger, but by the end of the piece I believed him to be a relative of the person buried beside Anthony's gran. My interest would be peaked further, if I had come to realize this earlier in the story. I think the reader need's to know he is not meant to be there.

I have one other point that may not matter, since it may be how my mind works. The word 'loafer' conjures up a picture of a suede shoe for me. I know loafers can be made of leather too, but my immediate visual is of a suede shoe, so I had to stop to think of how his shoes were shiny.

Just some food for thought.

Good luck with this story - I think with some clarification it could be intriguing.

PR Griffin
Posts: 12
Joined: February 26th, 2011, 9:07 am
Contact:

Re: Opening of Short Story 'Treasure'

Post by PR Griffin » February 28th, 2011, 5:36 am

Agreed about the confusion in relation to timeframe. It was meant as a yearly visit, and he had just returned from a quick break for lunch. I reckon that could be made clearer. Cheers

mnaylor3
Posts: 33
Joined: January 6th, 2011, 3:28 pm
Contact:

Re: Opening of Short Story 'Treasure'

Post by mnaylor3 » March 1st, 2011, 1:52 pm

I like that Anthony took a lunch break when visiting his grandma's grave. Peaks interest.

I didn't catch anything enjoyable about the characters in that short encounter, more mystery about the digging.

LeeLKrecklow
Posts: 5
Joined: March 31st, 2010, 12:59 pm
Contact:

Re: Opening of Short Story 'Treasure'

Post by LeeLKrecklow » March 5th, 2011, 3:31 pm

I think the confusion about Drafford's identity is what makes this strong. I wouldn't work to make that much more clear. I imagine it unfolds as the story progresses.

Your question was whether I find the characters interesting, and I can't say that I do. But, from what I'm reading, it doesn't seem that I'm meant to. It's the circumstances that are interesting, not necessarily the people that are in them. I don't see it as an issues. I think the importance of an "enjoyable" character is often over stated.

I do think, in terms of the prose, that 90% of it is on point, but the 10% that's weaker slows things down. For example:

When he returned, the shadow of the church had shortened. The grave was as he’d left it, flowers bowed in solemn repose and the half dug mound of dirt beside. A grunt came from the hole. That was new. He peered over the lip, standing as far from the edge as possible. His new loafers had yet to be marked and they still gleamed with that straight out of the box shine. An old man labored below, spade in hand. The lines on the back of his neck were deep and filthy black and the skin wrinkled. Sensing someone the old man looked up, squinting.


I'd lose the loafer line; it's out of place. It breaks the tension caused by as-yet-unidentified grunt. Also, the dialog is sharp, but some of the movements between can be cinched up.

I think this is a positive start. Good luck, and thanks for sharing.

vasilisa
Posts: 9
Joined: March 18th, 2011, 12:52 pm
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Contact:

Re: Opening of Short Story 'Treasure'

Post by vasilisa » April 11th, 2011, 5:51 pm

Not going to fix your grammar. Also was confused about when Anthony's gran had died. Like the premise of the story, though.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest