Friday, March 29, 2013

March Test Run #2

TITLE: The Girl In The Yellow Bus
GENRE: General Fiction
The fusion of rotting earth and budding lilacs was intoxicating as I watched them haul away my childhood home.

I squinted against the slanting sun, which found pleasure at taunting me through bony branches not yet full with spring. The back-up beep of the monstrous tow truck drowned out songbirds I knew were watching nearby. Loyal friends, reliable neighbors. Their sweet voices had sung me to sleep and awoken me for school until the day I had to quit. What songs would they choose to sing on a day like this?

Men wearing plaid shirts and tall rubber boots worked feverishly to secure the old yellow bus. A few moments later it was gone, disappearing around a bend in the road like a faded setting sun.
I waited until the work crew had gone before I trespassed down the trodden path that served as a driveway for the past thirty five years, ironic since my family never owned a car.

A few minutes later the sound of a car door startled me in the absence of diesel engines.

Another reporter?

I didn’t bother to glance over my shoulder. They’d already written the story about a poor family forced to move into an old yellow bus. But they didn’t know the half of it.

Only when I heard the familiar telephone voice of Scott Thomas, the tax collector for the town of Promise, did I turn around. I’ve always found the name Promise to be a farce. As far as I could tell there clearly wasn’t any.


  1. I really like this! I would definitely read on. This concept hits home as my family bought a school-bus-converted-to-RV and we drove from NY to FL ...ugh (B-U-M-P-Y!)

    The first line is really great. I'm assuming you're referring to how it smells? See if anyone else thinks you need to clarify that. Maybe just me.

    This line is really great too - so much to read into it with the simple word 'trespassed': I waited until the work crew had gone before I trespassed down the trodden path that served as a driveway for the past thirty five years, ironic since my family never owned a car.

    The only other thing I would say would be to omit the word "telephone" before 'voice' in the last para. Made me re-read to see if she was actually on the phone.

    I love the irony of the town's name. Wonder if you could incorp that into the title of the piece?

    Great job! Good luck with this.

  2. I love the raw emotion of this story. I'd certainly read on.

    The 1st line is a gut punch - I love it. You may be able to make it hit a little harder by switching "budding lilacs" and "rotting earth". Start sweet and have it turn foul to mimic what is happening in the MC's life.

    The idea of having to quit school is powerful. Can you restructure that sentence to emphasize this turn of events? Something like "Until the day I had to quit school, their sweet voices had awoken me each morning." I left out the part about the evenings in this example. Songbirds are quiet at bedtime where I live.

    Simplifying suggestions:

    Eliminate "found pleasure" in the 2nd sentence? I think it detracts the other lovely imagery in that sentence.

    Eliminate "in the absence of diesel engines."

    Eliminate "telephone" in "telephone voice".

    Great work and thanks for letting me read it!

  3. I think you've got a great first page here. I was really hooked when I realised the home you were referring to was an old yellow bus. Also, the line, 'but they didn't know the half of it'. I would definitely read on, and your writing is lovely. I don't have anything to add to the other comments but best of luck!

  4. Interesting. I'd probably read on, though I'm not sure this is my normal genre to pick up. I did like Jean Giardina's suggestions to make it stronger. Also, maybe it's just me, but at first I thought the MC was a kid (with the school bit) but then you say 35 years and I'm wondering if she is an adult. I'm just confused as to how old the MC is. I'm guessing adult since she talks with the tax collector, but something that could maybe use some clarification.

  5. I think all of the above comments are spot on. The main character has a good, strong voice, but at this point I'm not sure about them. I know where they are emotionally and physically, but I don't know what age they are. This is only important because it would identify who your audience is. Some teens might like the premise, but not connect with later development, and some adults might pick it up and think it's a younger person. This distinction doesn't have to be now, but at some point soon I think. Is that 35 meant to be a hint at her age?

    Of course, take that with a grain of salt. The writing is very strong and the arc clear.

  6. I enjoyed it. Stimulating. Everyone here picked up on all the things I would have said. I wondered about age as well. Overall, I liked it and would read on.

    Great job!