Question: Would you consider this short story publication-ready?
Brutal honesty, peeps. I don't trust my friends who say they like it. They are my friends, and I'd probably be sad if they didn't like it. But you guys are my anonymous pool of opinions. You may make me sad but you do it without affecting a relationship.
Tell me if it's amateurish, if it's awkward to read, if it's confusing or if it's overdone. Please also tell me if it's good, if anything stood out as unique or exciting and if you think it is good enough to be published.
You. guys. rock.
Six year-old Sarah Paxton counted the brown and red moles dotting Widow Seymour’s neck to keep herself awake through the slow hymns and droning sermon. She tried not to hate Sundays because God might punish her if He knew how much she dreaded His day. Since praying for the sermon to end would only upset the Lord, Sarah prayed to be awakened.
Pastor Cameron, who never raised his voice, grasped the altar, arms trembling with old age. Sarah marveled at the immediacy of her prayer’s answer.
"Here in Shepherd Mills,” Pastor Cameron said, “we have been blessed with the absence of witchcraft. But the devil's hand inches ever closer. Every day, towns nearer and nearer to our own are exposing hidden evils. It has been hardly a fortnight since Baldridge welcomed a stranger to their town. The innkeeper’s daughter discovered him as he summoned spirits and she screamed for help. Covering sin with more sin, the stranger caused a great fire, sending smoke so high we could see it from our own town square. The stranger’s body was never found. They found the innkeeper’s six year-old girl, dead.”
Pastor Cameron met Sarah’s horrified stare. The other villagers followed his lingering gaze to look at her.
Sarah normally would have enjoyed the attention, but she understood why they looked at her. She was six years old, just like the girl who died, and they were all imagining her dying in a fire. If it had been any other Sunday, Sarah would not have been able to imagine such a death like the rest of the villagers imagined it. This day, though, just before Sarah and her parents left their house, Sarah burned her hand for the first time.
She had touched the edge of the pot while easing it away from the cooking fire, and could not let go right away for fear of splashing the boiling water on herself. She had to steady the pot before pulling her hand away and it hurt so much that she cried. Her skin was peeled and red and Mother dunked Sarah’s whole hand into the bucket of cold well water, even though her hands were dirty and Mother would have to fetch new water.
When she tried blowing on it, Sarah’s own breath caused the burn to flare with pain. What would it feel like if it were her entire hand? Or her whole arm? Sarah imagined being surrounded by flames and her heart began to beat wildly.
The villagers stopped looking at Sarah as Pastor Cameron continued.
"The Lord gives no mercy to witches or spell casters, and neither does the church. There shall not be found among you any one that useth divination, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a consulter with spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. If you suspect a person of any of these sins, you are bound by the church to expose them, lest another child is killed in flames."
Her burn, her answered prayer, the other six-year old girl: Sarah had no doubt that God had crafted the sermon for her. When the Paxton family left church that day, Sarah made sure to inspect the town square as best she could to make sure everyone was in their place, that nobody was acting strangely. No witch or spell-caster could set fire to her house if she could uncover their sins and expose them to the village first.
At home, Sarah tentatively asked questions. Questions about the nearby towns that had found witches, questions about the neighbors. She thought Mother might scold her for gossip, but Mother eagerly divulged any opinion Sarah requested of her. Until that moment, Mother only spoke to Sarah as a daughter to be reared properly—scolding, instructing, and teaching—but while talking about whether someone in the village was acting curiously, Mother spoke to Sarah with smiles, like a friend.
Keep a'goin! http://www.worthyofpublishing.com/chapte…
The main problem is that your POV character is a six year old. But the internal thoughts aren't a six year old's. They are yours, an adult's. It doesn't match. Come on, a six year old wouldn't even understand half of that sermon, let alone feel it was aimed at her. There's a brief attempt to present her as bored, and then she hears and understands every word at an adult level, and goes off and has adult conversations with her mother.
It's an interesting idea. But no, it is not publication-ready. You're not inside your character's head at all.
I didn't read what was left in the link yet, but I really liked it! It is definitely possible to relate to, a lot of people who remember being bored out of their minds at a church sermon. Witchcraft I think is a good subject, there is a lot to be explored with said subject. I will have to read the rest!
Your question is: Do you consider this short story publication ready? If I were an editor, I might suggest a few very minor changes, but essentially your story is errorless in its grammar, spelling, and format, so it is indeed in a form where it could be published. You didn't ask whether it is actually "worthy of publishing", but I'd like to assure you that your story is compelling and mesmerizing. Often I can not finish reading the fiction posted here on Answers, finding it tedious and predictable, even incoherent. Your story is none of those. In fact, I couldn't stop reading it in my eagerness to discover its ending! It's original and intriguing. I don't know what your plans are for it, but I think that it surely has potential. The only problem that I see is that you've posted it on-line where it can be read by anyone, and I'm doubting that a publisher will wish to pay you for what has been widely available to be read for free. However, I do think that you have definite writing talent and an active imagination; I'd encourage you to pursue a writing career. Good luck!
Wow! Pretty good work..it flows really well I reckon you've captured the plot pretty well, as well as sustaining the audiences attention and good counterbalancing with the comparison of characters so early on. Storyline is ace, paranormal/fantasy is always gripping but then i`ve always had a soft spot for witches. Hope to see some other paranormal characters!
We know more about the looks of Widow Seymour than Sarah.
A reader needs to relate to your main characters and have a mental image of who they are.
Have a look at how JKR gives a discription at the introduction of each character as they appear in the Harry Potter series.
Without a personal relationship to the main characters, readers would never get past the slower sections while reading.
Did JKR have slower sections? She had over half a million pages for young readers to get through!
- And they persisted to find out how their favourite character faired in that book (I was happy to see Hagrid last so long. I dreaded he may have been the fatality in OOTP)
That goes for the boy in the window and other key characters.
I enjoyed reading your story. Was that all of it?
I could not see any glaring problems here, so I would venture to say it is ready to send out.
Good luck and keep writing!
It is structured very strangely.
I'm not sure if this is supposed to be in poem format or as is.
As is there seems to be a few commas and full stops missing that make it frustrating to read.
I'm also unsure who your target audience is, it doesn't captivate me, make me want to read more or feel like anything's really going on.
There's no real point in me offering suggestions to you as maybe it's a writing style thing that I just don't connect with.
All the best :)