Tuesday, July 6, 2010

6 #52 Marilyn

If you’re marked for trouble, it will trail you like a homeless dog, looking and acting like love but smelling like the shady bend of the river. It was May my trouble started sniffing around me, a year almost to the day that Mom left us. That would be on the morning I saw the sign, folded lengthwise, on top of the bureau in the Frost guest cottage:

Fragile--Do Not Disturb!

Then my eyeballs rolled behind the sign, where lined up like a circus act sat six thumb-sized sculptures, all molded or carved from what looked like wood or bone or rock, or maybe ivory.


  1. I see what you’re trying to do here and I like the idea, but I find the execution a bit off. The reference of trouble being like a homeless dog just doesn’t seem right to me… nor does the dog smelling like a shady bend of river. I would assume a homeless dog would smell more vile than anything else.

    The words “shady bend of the river” carry an almost poetic tone, so I’d keep that tone and try to play off of it. Maybe instead of the whole dog/shady bend reference you could go with shadows. (sorry that’s immediately where my mind went with shady bend)…

    Maybe something like: “There’s no escaping trouble when you’re marked for it. It lurks deep within the shadows waiting to strike. Almost a year to the day Mom left us, trouble found me.”

    The only suggestion I’d have for the rest of it is to show us, don’t tell us. (I hate these words, I really do, in fact, it almost pains me to write them because it’s a bad habit of my own) but:

    Maybe: “I stood in the library (???or some other room???) of the Frost guest cottage when I saw it. It drew my eyes like magnets, a piece of paper folded in a perfect square.”

    Fragile--Do Not Disturb!

    I’d delete “rolled my eyeballs” because it makes it sound like the exorcist or something…

    Maybe: “I moved closer, picking up the paper to reveal six thumb-sized sculptures of wood, bone, rock or ivory lined up like tiny soldiers.”

    These are just my thoughts… which really don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things but I hope at least some of them are helpful!

    Cheers and good luck,


  2. Another reader, another opinion. I LOVE your first line! It's brilliant. Marked - like a dog marks its territory - WOW. Trouble like a lost dog, all cute and friendly with its puppy dog face, promising endless love. In those first days of puppy love, we forget about all that poo we need to clean up. In the end, we know that pup is a real stinker. You said it waaaay better. :)

    I have some minor suggestions for rephrasing other lines and adding explanation, I hope they help you:

    "My trouble started sniffing 'round me in May, almost a full year gone by since Mom left us."
    I saw the sign that morning, folded lengthwise on top of the bureau in the Frost guest cottage. It said, "Fragile--Do Not Disturb!" I knows right then trouble was stalking me, [BUT WHAT?]. Behind the sign were six thumb-sized sculptures, all lined up like a circus act. They was made from wood or bone or rock, maybe ivory, I couldn't say."

    Good luck.

  3. Okay, keep in mind this is just my opinion, but the comparisons aren't really working for me.
    1. "If you’re marked for trouble, it will trail you like a homeless dog, looking and acting like love but smelling like the shady bend of the river." If trouble is trailing you, I get that it stinks, but how would it look and act like love? For me, it's hard to equate trouble and love, unless you're talking about a family member and if that's the case, I would recommend spelling that out.
    2. "...where lined up like a circus act sat six thumb-sized sculptures..." I could be wrong, but I think you want to imply that these sculptures are in-line with each other. To me, circus acts are chaotic and always moving, seldomly lined up, so this threw me off a bit.

    I also stumbled over the "Then my eyeballs rolled behind the sign..." I'm picturing her popping her eyes out and rolling them along the bureau. To fix, I would use something simple, "I glanced".

    To quote Noah Lukeman, "Aim for complexity of thought, not expression."

    I don't want you to get discouraged, though. I think your premise sounds intriguing. Really, all you'll need are some tweaks. Great job!

  4. Thank you, everyone, for your great comments. I'll be using them as I revise this story.
    All the best to you,

  5. Hi Marilyn,

    I am really interested to see where you are going with this idea, but I agree with Cole that the execution is confusing. The descriptions are difficult to follow and unnecessary in some places. I think it's important for the first few lines to be very clear or you could lose your reader. With a little trimming this could be a great story entry!

  6. I hate to be an echo, but I feel similar to the others. The analogies were slowing me up. At first, I assumed it was my lack of caffeine. :) I think you show a lot of promise. Your imagination is great. The fact that you use all your senses. But, I think maybe you are trying too hard. Write what you see/feel as though you are experiencing it. Hope that helps.


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