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Date Posted: 13:17:49 02/22/11 Tue
Author: Fi
Subject: Re: I'll Fly Away
In reply to: Debi 's message, "I'll Fly Away" on 09:52:04 02/18/11 Fri

Hi Debi,
I like the story; the dialogue as always is spot-on and you've created a family very clearly despite the shortness of the piece. I had a picture of somewhere in the Appalachians, perhaps sometime in the past. I like some of the phrases that sound like regional dialect without being overdone: "trying to birth a child", "I reckon", "Folks tell", "all them young’uns" etc. The narrator is a tough little lady (out of necessity), Daddy is clearly drawn and so is Miss Holloway.

If you wanted to add to the story, I'd like to see a bit more of Momma. What did she sing at her chores? What kind of chores did she sing for? I got the idea that she was a small woman ("trying to birth a child much too big for her little body") but not a clear picture of her. You could also add a few extra lines about Jimmy: who he is, how the narrator knows him, how he contrasts with Daddy.

>“Sing us a song, girl.”
>
>These words, coming out of my Daddy’s mouth, made me
>so mad I could spit. On a regular day he was just
>sorry as the day is long, but today, of all days, for
>him to ask me to do anything…

Nice opening: captured my interest and launched me into the story.

>Momma always sang at her chores and I was lucky enough
>that she passed the love of music and a good voice on
>to me.

As I said, this bit intrigued me and could have done with some fleshing out.

>At the ripe old age of seventeen I felt like I was as old as Methuselah.

Redundant phrasing.

>I’ve never seen so much blood in all my days. It looked like a hog-killing.

Effectively gory. I like the way she relates the blood to something she knows about (hog-killing).

>He reached for the mantel, opened the face of the Grandma’s clock ticking there and touched the pendulum to stop it.

Nice touch.

>Ben and Brenda, my youngest sister and brother,

I'd switch the order to be consistent: "Ben and Brenda, my youngest brother and sister". I assume these are the "twins" mentioned later?

>Aggie was outside feeding the chickens and Martin, the
>next oldest behind me, was out gathering what was
>ready from the garden. Nobody had gotten much sleep
>and we still had to eat.

This really demonstrates how up-against-the-wall poor they are. Nice use of "show, don't tell".


>I cut my eyes at the door toward the kitchen.

This phrase made me pause a bit. I know what you mean, but it sounds strange.

>Jimmy shooed Miss Holloway out of
>the only chair we had with cushions on it and brought
>it close to the casket, standing beside it while I sat
>down.

Aww, Jimmy is a sweetie!

>She was the age I was now when I was born.

Slightly confusing (again, I know what you mean but I had to read it twice). I'd turn it around: "when I was born, she had been the age I was now."

>“I took his pistol away from him too.”

Ooh, didn't see that coming!

>I felt my heart thump, stutter, and commence to
>beating again, this time wild and fluttering. As much
>as the man was drunk and neglectful and useless as
>tits on a boar hog, he was hurt, nigh on to wanting to
>die himself over Momma’s passing.
I took a deep
>breath, surprised at how I felt; that I was glad that
>I wasn’t burying him today too.

I would take out the sentence about Daddy being drunk and neglectful; I think the scene would be stronger without it. Although I do like the phrase "useless as tits on a boar hog"; maybe you can reuse it elsewhere.

Overall, good job!

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Replies:

[> [> [> Thanks! -- Debi, 23:59:03 02/22/11 Tue

I have a month or better before this is due, so you have a window of opportunity, Esther. If you can't get to it before, I'd still like to hear what you have to say.

>Hi Debi,
>I like the story; the dialogue as always is spot-on Thank you!
>and you've created a family very clearly despite the
>shortness of the piece. I had a picture of somewhere
>in the Appalachians,Smokies, but still a sub-range of the Appalachians perhaps sometime in the past. I was aiming for the 1920's hence the mention of moonshine. I've seen two documentaries about Prohibition and moonshine recently I
>like some of the phrases that sound like regional
>dialect without being overdone: I was trying not to beat the reader over the head with dialect, which is devilishly hard to write and not sound ridiculous

>If you wanted to add to the story, I'd like to see a
>bit more of Momma. What did she sing at her chores?
>What kind of chores did she sing for? I got the idea
>that she was a small woman ("trying to birth a child
>much too big for her little body") but not a clear
>picture of her. You could also add a few extra lines
>about Jimmy: who he is, how the narrator knows him,
>how he contrasts with Daddy. Good ideas: since I have plenty of time, I may play with this. I still have two more pages I could add if need be.
>>At the ripe old age of seventeen I felt like I
>was
as old as Methuselah.
>
>Redundant phrasing. Fixed!
>
>>I’ve never seen so much blood in all my days. It
>looked like a hog-killing.
>
>>He reached for the mantel, opened the face of the
>Grandma’s clock ticking there and touched the pendulum
>to stop it.
>
>Nice touch. TY! I was trying to work in some of the superstitions about death to help place the piece and help flesh the people out.
>
>>Ben and Brenda, my youngest sister and brother,
>
>I'd switch the order to be consistent: "Ben and
>Brenda, my youngest brother and sister". I assume
>these are the "twins" mentioned later? 'Tis. I think I've fixed this already. I remember on a second reading this catching my attention.
>This really demonstrates how up-against-the-wall poor
>they are. Nice use of "show, don't tell". I don't know how I wrote anything without Google at my beck and call.
>
>
>>I cut my eyes at the door toward the kitchen.
>
>This phrase made me pause a bit. I know what you mean,
>but it sounds strange. Another Southernism...;-)
>
>
>>She was the age I was now when I was born.
>
>Slightly confusing (again, I know what you mean but I
>had to read it twice). I'd turn it around: "when I was
>born, she had been the age I was now." I've done something to this too, but since the flash drive is in the other room and I have a cat pinning me down, I'll make sure later.
>
>>“I took his pistol away from him too.”
>
>Ooh, didn't see that coming! Me neither! It was one of those parts that wrote itself.
>
>>I felt my heart thump, stutter, and commence to
>>beating again, this time wild and fluttering. As
>much
>>as the man was drunk and neglectful and useless as
>>tits on a boar hog, he was hurt, nigh on to wanting to
>>die himself over Momma’s passing.
I took a deep
>>breath, surprised at how I felt; that I was glad that
>>I wasn’t burying him today too.
>
>I would take out the sentence about Daddy being drunk
>and neglectful; I think the scene would be stronger
>without it. Although I do like the phrase "useless as
>tits on a boar hog"; maybe you can reuse it elsewhere.

I'll play with it and see what I like. And I actually changed that phrase to 'useless as a watch without hands' since she's been looking down on her father for being lacking in her eyes and I'm not sure she would let herself use such a coarse phrase. I on the other hand, use it frequently.;-)
>
>Overall, good job!
Thankee muchly!

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