GWBT 2.0 (unfinished)

Guttersnipe

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This is my updated version of "The Girl Who Befriended a Tree." I tried to complete a better version of the story, but got stuck. I don't know where to go with it and I find myself gradually losing interest. This is a recurring problem with me. Please let me know what you think of it so far.


Meryl Campbell couldn't believe her eyes. Beautiful weather aside (a warm February day in the Midwest), her daughter's seed that had only
been planted the day before was now a full-grown tree that took up nearly a third of their backyard. It was nothing short of a miracle, and
thoughts about breaking a world record floated in her mind.

Claire, her five-year-old daughter, seemed to be having fun with the tree, circumambulating it in some mock ritual and then whispering to
it with her hands forming a channel between mouth and bark.

Meryl's reverie was interrupted by the sound of a bang from the garage. Gabe, her sottish husband, was home.

Meryl had known Gabe two years prior to marrying him, and he seemed, during that time, to be a decent man. He did have a temper that
tended to increase with alcohol, and wasn't a full-blown lush until after their honeymoon, around the time he'd been laid off. However,
she had a charitable sister. Gabe decided to make the most of this without the inkling of guilt to prompt him to seek employment elsewhere.

The door swung open, banging against the wall. The man could barely walk; she wondered how he'd made it home, regardless of the short
distance. Meryl knew not to mention it. He'd never struck her, but he often seemed to be on the verge of doing so.

"Supper's in the microwave," she told him.

"Not hungry. What're you looking at out there?"

Meryl's excitement returned to her.

"There's a magical tree in our backyard," she piped, "Remember last night? It grew!"

"What? Lemme see." Mr. Campbell leaned his head on the window. There was the tree, and Claire hugging it.

"I don't remember a tree..."

"Mr. Bentley, next door. He gave Claire a seed to plant. It's grown overnight. It's a miracle!"

"I thought I told you to stay away from that guy," he said.

"He's a good man, Gabe."

"He's a snitch! I wouldn't trust nothin' from him."

He lit a cigarette and went again to the window, grimacing.

"What in the hell kind of tree is that, anyhow?"

"I don't know," she answered, giggling nervously, "It looks like a cross between an oak and an ash."

Mr. Campbell scoffed and rummaged through the refrigerator.

"I really wish you wouldn't drink like that," Mrs. Campbell said, then immediately regretted it.
But he ignored her.

She looked through the window again, this time seeing the girl shake the tip of a branch as though it were a hand.

"Oh, that's so cute!" Meryl bubbled, "I've got to record this!"

She ran outside, Gabe lazily following.

"It's about to change," Claire said, and Meryl turned on her camera.

"Does it have a name?" her mother asked.

Claire looked as though she were being importuned at an important meeting.



And that's all I could write. Any suggestions are appreciated.

@Paul Meccano @JS Wiig @Wayne Mack @J-WO @AnyaKimlin @FreshIce @TheEndIsNigh @msstice
 

TheEndIsNigh

...Prepare Thyself
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Just my opinions.

To me you have a tendancy to drift off the subject which takes the reader away from the issues initially raised.
See the blue/red text in the first paragraph.

This is my updated version of "The Girl Who Befriended a Tree." I tried to complete a better version of the story, but got stuck. I don't know where to go with it and I find myself gradually losing interest. This is a recurring problem with me. Please let me know what you think of it so far.


Meryl Campbell couldn't believe her eyes. Beautiful weather aside (a warm February day in the Midwest), (The reader is keyed up for interesting unbelievable stuff only to be distracted to the most common topic in England - the weather) her daughter's seed (just reads wrong IMO) that had only been planted the day before was now a full-grown tree that took up nearly a third of their backyard (in england a back yard would be a tiny space - garden works for US and UK). It was nothing short of a miracle, (It is a miracle because it obviously doesn't happen) and thoughts about breaking a world record floated in her mind (It's not the first thing that most people would think. Most peple would think "What the..)

So...


Meryl Campbell couldn't believe her eyes. The seed she had seen her daughter plant only yesterday was now a fully grown tree. A tree that was now occupying most of her back garden. Something miraculous had happened here and it worried her.

"Clare, come away from the tree darling," she shouted, "mummy thinks it might be dangerous."


...

Claire, her five-year-old daughter, seemed to be having fun with the tree, circumambulating it in some mock ritual and then whispering to
it with her hands forming a channel between mouth and bark.

Meryl's reverie was interrupted by the sound of a bang from the garage. Gabe, her sottish husband, was home.

Here we are dragged away from the interesting set up above. Gabe arriving home should prompt Meryl to get his attention the tree. Info dump can be given after the immediate problem.

Meryl had known Gabe two years prior to marrying him, and he seemed, during that time, to be a decent man. He did have a temper that
tended to increase with alcohol, and wasn't a full-blown lush until after their honeymoon, around the time he'd been laid off. However,
she had a charitable sister. Gabe decided to make the most of this without the inkling of guilt to prompt him to seek employment elsewhere.

The door swung open, banging against the wall. The man could barely walk; she wondered how he'd made it home, regardless of the short
distance. (from where?) Meryl knew not to mention it. He'd never struck her, but he often seemed to be on the verge of doing so.

"Supper's in the microwave," she told him. (Surely the tree would come first and supper implies late in the day)

"Not hungry. What're you looking at out there?"

Meryl's excitement returned to her.

"There's a magical tree in our backyard," she piped, "Remember last night? It grew!"

"What? Lemme see." Mr. Campbell leaned his head on the window. There was the tree, and Claire hugging it.

"I don't remember a tree..." (like the hanging)

"Mr. Bentley, next door. He gave Claire a seed to plant. It's grown overnight. It's a miracle!" (magical/miracle)

"I thought I told you to stay away from that guy," he said.

"He's a good man, Gabe."

"He's a snitch! I wouldn't trust nothin' from him."

He lit a cigarette and went again to the window, grimacing.

"What in the hell kind of tree is that, anyhow?"

"I don't know," she answered, giggling nervously, "It looks like a cross between an oak and an ash."

Mr. Campbell scoffed and rummaged through the refrigerator.

"I really wish you wouldn't drink like that," Mrs. Campbell said, then immediately regretted it.
But he ignored her.

She looked through the window again, this time seeing the girl shake the tip of a branch as though it were a hand.

"Oh, that's so cute!" Meryl bubbled, "I've got to record this!"

She ran outside, Gabe lazily following.

"It's about to change," Claire said, and

Meryl turned on her camera. "Does it have a name?" her mother asked.

Claire looked as though she were being importuned at an important meeting. (importuned - five years old)



And that's all I could write. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Sorry about the heavy critique please forgive.

As I said at the top, to me you're too easily distracted, desperate to fill in details to build the picture before the end of the point you started with.

As I also said, these are just my opinions. I'm no writer of repute (or at all) and I know less than most so please don't take the comments as gospel.

There is a book that helped me which you could try:-

"Self editing for fiction writers"

by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Hope I helped

Tein
 

Guttersnipe

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@TheEndIsNigh Thanks for the critique. I'm a bit embarrassed by the faulty chronology now that I read it. Fair point about being distracted, too.
What's wrong with saying the daughter is importuned, though? Can't five-year-olds be bothered?
 

msstice

200 words a day = 1 novel/year
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@Guttersnipe

1. If you have lost interest, perhaps put it on the shelf and come back to it later. My sub-conscious often works on things. Sometimes things have to ripen.
2. I liked the earlier version way, way better. I think the earlier version just needed some light editing and the usual stylistic checks. This version shows clearly your lack of enthusiasm. The earlier version had a life in it that this one does not.
 

Edoc'sil

One day I'll find the words.
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I also preferred your earlier version, I can't put my finger on why exactly but I think on reflection it could be what msstice says. That perhaps your unenthusiasm is showing through. Honestly your last piece wasn't bad at all, I didn't comment on it because I thought it was pretty good already (and I didn't have anything to add that the others hadn't said). But I don't like this revision, sorry.

I suggest going back to the first draft and using a much gentler hand to sort out the errors that the others mentioned before.
 

TheEndIsNigh

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Re: Importuned

To me this gives the impression that Clair is capable of thinking up such a word which I doubt most five years old would.

If the daughter is thinking anything I would have thought she was unhappy about the argument her parents were having and why they looked mad at her.

As a parent, even of 2 thirty something year olds, I would never look at either of them and think

"You know, xxx looks really importuned about something"

As I said before though - just opinions

:)
 

Wayne Mack

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Having read the previous version, it appears that much of this version is trying to set up the triggering event for Gabe. When reading the section above, though, I feel the most interesting characters are Claire and the tree. I know this is a big ask, but you might consider rewriting this from Claire's point of view. An innocent child observes a miracle and accepts it without question. This might provide a good opening chapter/section. For me, this would be more engaging than reading about family dysfunction.

This still leaves the trigger event. This could be done from Gabe's point of view as understanding his thought process is what would interest me. It could be inexplicable rage from Gabe or perhaps it could be mundane logic such as the tree is simply too big for the yard or perhaps it could be fear of the tree and a desire to protect Claire from the unknown. There are probably lots of options that could be presented in a second chapter/section.

The final result could be told from Gabe or Meryl's point of view. One of them could present the consequences of chopping down the tree. I think restructuring this into a three act format allows you to change points of view to give the reader insight into the most interesting character in each. For at least the first two sections, the growth of the tree and the triggering device, Meryl is the least interesting character; she is merely an observer.

I think you have an interesting tale to be told and this is just one person's opinion. I wonder if part of the reason you feel stuck is that you are limited because of using Meryl's point of view to events where she is only a peripheral actor. Please read other people's opinion and choose what feels best to you. Please keep going on this story, I think the effort will be worth it. There is a good plot line underneath it all.
 

JS Wiig

“Hello, muse?” “Please hold…” *elevator music*
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I like that you are getting some more depth of Meryl and Gabe’s relationship onto the page, though I thought this version swung a little further to the side of exposition, at the expense of character emotion.

The switch to Mr. and Mrs. Campbell felt jarring and a bit too formal.

Beautiful weather aside (a warm February day in the Midwest),
I thought the parenthetical reference felt out of place here.
circumambulating
This feels like an awkward word in this context.

I missed the ending and its implications in this version.
 

thisreidwrites

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Hi there! I haven't read previous versions of this, so this was my first impression of it.

You have an interesting idea here; I can't tell if it's magic, tech, something that happens with all seeds old-man-neighbor has, or because of the little girl. The questions are intriguing enough that I'd want to keep reading.

As for you continuing, I have had this problem many times! Here's what helped me - and maybe might help you, too. :)

1. Do not stop until the first draft is done - and that means NO EDITING.

I would get stuck in editing cycles; perfecting one scene over and over until I got burned out on the story and couldn't write further. It's better to write the whole thing and THEN edit. After all, you can always fix a bad page; you can't fix a blank one.

2. Know story structure because it'll help you know where you need to go next.

I REALLY suggest these guys: https://storygrid.com/writing-scenes-work/

They show how stories REALLY work. For example, you have your inciting incident; now, you need progressive complications to keep us reading so we know what comes next.

Don't give up! It's worth training yourself to work all the way to the end. :)
 

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