A first draft of the Young Writer of the Year ‘Silver’ story. Initial comments from teacher. Please add your feedback below to help Todd develop his story further.
Steam rises from the shifting lake as the leaves fall and sink into the darkness of the rippling [U1] waters.
The sketch of a reflection petrifies the lake’s inhabitants as the shadow encloses over the spread of green and blue. The girl from the trees kneels down as the clouds above her crawl over the top of the trees; they dance and tumble as the wind blows. [U2] The night was threatening the day as the girl peered into the heavens. A single raindrop fell through the canopy and beat down on her soft skin like a drum. The excess splash fell into the water and wrinkled its appearance. She opens her mouth and lets the rain dive down into her, tasting the sweet, cold feeling in her throat and across her tongue. Every drop was like candy. The downpour became heavier, gaining tempo and now reaching a louder sound. The penetrating noise was all that the girl could hear. She stands up and gazes across her kingdom, hands across her arms to keep warm.
Small turtles raise their necks out of the muddy puddles to welcome the rain. Burrows of wombats flood through the underground. Living there[U3] are a mother and her three children, waiting for their father to arrive home from a long days gathering. The girl climbs to the tops of the trees, hearing them bend and groan around her.[U4] The bright red hair that surged across her chest and down past her breasts was soaked and knotted, darkened; a blanket for eyes to drift from a soft gaze to a tired slant. [U5]
The effortless serenity of the bush was snapped in half as the piercing blast of a gunshot was heard behind her. [U6] Peace was dead. Its carcass soaking up the leafy floor, creeping into its fabricated complexion.[U7]
The girl spins around, almost losing her balance on her perch as she makes out a small form on the ground. It mumbled, crooked around, [U8] and then walked towards her. As[U9] the form walked beneath the girl, she peers down through the black branches, not knowing where the figure started and the leaves ended. The stench of death [U10] was masked by the smell of the rain and dirt as[U11] the hunter pulled out from under the trees. He drags behind him the lifeless body of a male dingo. The girl was familiar with all the life around her, treating them like brothers and sisters, but not with this. This was different. She had never witnessed such a limp animal before. Even when she watched her brothers sleep in their burrows or their nests, she has seen them breathing in and out. This was death.
The girl had just reached the summit of her tree as the silver silhouette of the man disappeared into the horizon. The girl slips back down the bow of the tree, her toes fondling the leaves as they tickled around her head. She drops down once again onto the floor of the bush.
The sun waked[U12] over the top of the crest, the rays revealing the mess that the man had left behind. The blood stained grasses and the uncovered mud that lay underneath the leaves was now exposed like the idea of death in her world. Staggering towards the blood, she picks up the red leaves and rubs them between her fingertips. It covered so much. The black mud made the red even redder as the stains grew down into the ground like roots; the blood creeping into the cracks, breaking from their billabongs. The girl, now lying beneath the trees on the damp soil, was weeping. She didn’t know why. The blood dripped from her hands like a leak in a rusty, rotten shed. It covered so much.
The hunter had just packed up his truck with the three kangaroos, a cassowary and the male dingo. The tray of his Ute was their haunting coffin. The man lifted his hat in a way that slyly saluted the bush. He gently lifted out his matches and breathed in with a grainy tone. He forces a breathe of hot air in and out through his broken lungs as he makes a cigarette box appear underneath his chin. [U13] Quickly lighting the cigarette, he touches the soft outer edge of the death stick[U14] , letting it rest against his lips. He sucks in the smoke. He flicks down the butt, the embers shattering the grass.
The girl raises her head. Not aware she had been lying there long enough to fall into slumber, she sees she is covered in the dingos’ blood. The residue of death still lingers and the smell hangs stagnant in the air. Through the crowd of trees she sees red and white flickering – prancing about. The heat was[U15] intense. The colours were moulded and melted together. It was spreading across the trees, the flames running and then jumping across from tree to tree. She ran and leapt up into the trees and looked above the branches to only see the thick, black smoke.
At that instant, she felt it. The fear she had felt when the gunfire blasted her eardrums. The senses she lifted from this was so immense that it echoed in her memory, exposing the wounds she had dug into herself. Death was coming and she was terrified. The girl climbed over her self-acclaimed hierarchy of beasts and critters. In an attempt to get to the tallest tree the branch beneath her cracked. Snapped her thoughts in half. In a sense, this lifted the weight of reason off her feeble shoulders. She tried to move but could not. The fall had left her motionless. She grabbed her legs as the smoke grew taller and the glow grew nearer. Frantically pulling and pushing at her skin she felt pain running down her darkened legs. She rose from the damp floor. It was the end for her. The time had come for her to be dragged away by her dark figure. The bush was dying, and so would she. With the final morsel of energy left in her bones she dives into the fire. Her skin melting against her muscles; leathering.
The family of wombats lay frozen and charcoaled. The children are still. Always waiting for their father to return after a long days gathering.
[U1]I don’t think you need this adjective here.
[U2]You’re using the word ‘as’ to much … it just seems to keep building and building. Break it up a little. Make your images simpler.
[U4]Is this the same story? A different location? The shift is odd. I;m confused.
[U6]This could be better if it began with the gun shot.
[U7]You’re spending too much time describing nature and stuff and not enough time creating a connection between your reader and your character.
[U9]You really have to avoid using ‘as’ like this. It’s very distracting.
[U10]What does it smell like? It’s fresh death, like blood? Gunpowder?
[U12]?? ? Do you mean woke?
[U13]The idea behind this action is good – but you need to make it more immediate – make me like or dislike this guy. Create some emotion in your writing.
[U14]Don’t use this expression here.
[U15]was or is? I thought you were writing in present tense?