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Shirley Golden, 25 Jul '12

Sam leans against a splinter-framed entrance, which fronts an abandoned property impervious to the tirade of shoppers. The street bursts with traffic: bodies of flesh and metal whirr past. Drizzle coats the roads and kaleidoscope lights shimmer off black pavements. Christmas in London; the weather's turned tepid, like a waning faith.

        He watches a couple; his eyes flick in quick saccades. Young and animated, their smug embrace rebukes his seclusion. He forages frayed pockets and retrieves battered cigarettes. The flare of his last match reveals an intelligent face that no one sees; his illumination is a speck against the commercial band of exhibits.

        A woman in spiky heels balances over a pushchair. She tugs to release a clip and flip a cover across a kicking toddler. Instinctively, Sam shifts forward. Then he remembers. He shrinks back into place; a residue of smoke escapes from the hollow where he waits.

        The jingle of coins cuts through a background chorus of carols. Sam tilts his head to a suited man who won't make eye contact with him. Five bright coins - he smiles. Perhaps he will go to the cafe, after all. He scoops up his bedding, stamps out his fag end and is swallowed by the masses.

Comments · 7

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  • Shirley Golden said...

    Ok, here is the revised version of my last post. I've tried to smooth the language and take out any repetitions. For example I felt I made too many references to Christmas in the original - after all, the reader only needs that information once! Also, I've tried to remove places where I thought I was 'telling' rather than 'showing', e.g. rather than a 'protesting toddler' I've now described the behaviour, and the reader can make up their own minds as to whether or not it's a protest. The same for 'Suddenly he too feels buoyed.' I think the smile and thoughts of going to the cafe is enough. But it would be great to get some feedback to see if others think it's improved or not...

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Hope you don't mind me adding this @Shirley Golden but I think it will be useful for readers - the previous version can be viewed for comparison here: http://burrst.com/bursts/99/

    I definitely prefer the the more concise structure of the sentences such as 'Drizzle coats the roads...' instead of 'A drizzle has coated the roads...'. A really good example of refining a piece which I'm sure I'll refer to in the future :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Shirley Golden said...

    Hi Anthony, thanks for adding the previous link - I think that is helpful. I think it is better too but always good to hear what others think, and glad it will be of use :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • bill spencer said...

    It's very good. At "like a waning faith" I thought "for crying out loud, this woman writes like Graham Greene."

    I'd never heard the word saccades, had to look it up.

    I wish there was a way you could get away from the tell of his intelligent face and let us know that somehow in a show. II don't think you need "Instinctively." Also I don't think you need "with him."

    But "like a waning faith" -- whew!

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Shirley Golden said...

    Thank you Bill. I'm embarrassed to say I've only ever read a single short story written by Graham Greene so I don't know his work very well but I appreciate such a great comparison :) And yes, I agree it could be honed further - thanks for your feedback.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Deb Howell said...

    Sorry, I'm a touch late to the party, but: Whether or not if could be honed further, it is wonderful having both versions availalbe for comparison - thanks for that. It just goes to show the value of revision/editing/re-writing. It's so easy to see those masterfully written works and feel crap when we compare our own work. The wonders of the internet - of the growing writing community - is that we can be honest with ourselves. None of us are perfect that first time through. This is a really nice progression to a more engaging read.
    And it's a neat wee story to top it off.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Shirley Golden said...

    Thanks for your comments, @Deb Howell Sorry, my response is a bit delayed too! You're right it's all too easy to read other writers and feel demoralised! Worth remembering the effort that goes into shaping any story.

    • Posted 5 years ago