Welcome back to the final week of Writer In Motion! This week, I was super lucky to swap critiques with another round of incredible CPs—Melissa Bergum and Shayna Grissom.
Definitely one of my (many) favorite things about Writer In Motion is getting to read all these awesome stories and marveling at the depth of atmosphere created in under 1000 words! Melissa’s adorable MG is about a spunky witch named Tilda who, alongside her pet spark Bluey, casts the greatest spell there ever was. And Shayna’s creepy story about two brothers wraps up with a horrifying twist. Please go check them out!
Now for the details of my final revision. Melissa and Shayna had only a few comments, but they were helpful, and I made changes based on most of their feedback:
- Clarify whether the narrator lived
- Clarify who attacked the narrator (was it the people who took the child or something else?)
- Avoid repetition of “crawled”
- Fix sentence structure
There was one other very thoughtful suggestion I decided not to incorporate, which was to clarify whether the child was kidnapped. I’ll talk about why in a minute. But first, here is HOME in its final resting place—short at under 500 words and sweet at 61 syllables per stanza body!
They took you from me that day.
You left me behind and said your goodbyes, but the tears in your eyes told me it was never your choice to leave. Your face pressed against the car window and your voice calling out my name seared into my brain like a map leaving a trail for me to follow.
I ran away that night.
When all was dark and quiet and no one suspected a thing, I left behind what was ours to bring you back again. But where would I start? Where would I go? All I had was that memory of you in my head leading me along like an unraveled string.
I took to the roads.
Miles and miles of shiny black asphalt teeming with cars going far too fast for this old boy—I must admit it frightened me plenty. But I didn’t go back. I braved traffic and carried on, hugging the fragile yellow line that marked the shoulder to safety.
I saw the turn.
My gut twisted in knots, roping me sideways, and I knew without a doubt that’s where they’d taken you. The woods loomed dense with evil, but for you I’d go. So I veered from steady lights and marched into darkness, wondering if I’d make it out alive again.
Wolves found me.
They hunted me down no matter how carefully I stepped, for hungry beasts under moonlight sense fear like prey. Though old and weary, I clung to your strength through our woven bond to survive their wicked teeth and their whetted claws. But they left me barely standing.
I dragged through the mud and the muck and the uprooted trees to the stream I heard bubbling nearby like salvation. I drank from its bank to relieve my parched throat, but there was no relief for the gash in my side gushing blood, hot as lava. Was this the end?
I saw light.
The light everyone talks about when the time comes after a long life well lived, do you know it? It came for me from behind the trees atop the knoll like a beacon of hope, but I fought it like mad for I wasn’t yet ready. Not ’til I found you first.
I heard your voice.
It was your voice that came from that light, a lulling ebb and flow that sang to me like a lullaby I recognized from years ago. I followed your song to the top of that hill until my last thread of strength gave out, and I fell limp at your glowing door.
I heard you running.
It was really you behind the door, crying in disbelief, tears pouring down your face like a rushing waterfall. You wrapped your tiny arms around my filthy matted fur and whispered words of love, breathing life back into my tired broken body.
Then you tucked me in
Like the end of a string,
Making our reel whole again,
And with you, I’m finally home.
This story is an ode to the unconditional love and loyalty of pets, something true that speaks to many of us and never grows old!
In writing this piece, I had imagined a young child being forced to leave her best friend behind for a weekend trip to a remote cabin in the woods with people who were family, yet also strangers—perhaps an absentee father trying to mend his ways, along with his new wife, the child’s stepmother.
At first, I added a new stanza to the beginning with some backstory to see how it worked.
I knew you weren’t happy with them.
The man you called Father, along with his new bride, came to make their amends, but you said you didn’t buy it. Despite how Mama tried, some spurns just burn too deep. A real bond is made of love and loyalty, not abandonment, the way it is with you and me.
While I liked it okay on a standalone basis, I thought it took away from the mystery of the story. Once we knew she was with her father, our fear for the child’s safety diminished, along with the urgency for our narrator (the dog) to save her. So in the end, I decided to leave it out and keep that backstory unknown.
I wanted to let the events unfold through the dog’s point of view, when he didn’t have all of the information. Although the child wasn’t kidnapped, in his mind, she might as well have been. In his heart, he knew she was taken from him against her will, and so he risked life and limb to be home with her again.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my journey bringing HOME to completion and seeing how CP feedback helped me polish my story when I was simply too close to see some things objectively. Sometimes, we find that not all feedback jive with the direction we want our stories to take, but that’s totally okay too! In many ways, it actually helps us by making an idea even more concrete in our own heads.
Thanks for reading and for another great season of WIM! Until next time
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