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Story - the little girl who went to hell - religion

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Here's my contribution for February on the subject of religion:

 

The little girl who went to hell.

 

I'd appreciate your comments and suggestions for improvement.

Edited by Mantaspook
Added title link.

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I'm sorry, I can't help you improve that, it was beautiful. :thumbsup:

 

Do you have any other short stories?

 

I was thinking about trying to write some short stories because up to now I've started 3 novels and finished none, so I might be better suited to them. I'll probably just adapt the ideas I've already got.

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SPOILER ALERT

 

Hi Ron,

 

I quite like this, you've portrayed the domestic scenes very well and they act as a fine counterpoint to the growing atmosphere of menace that is generated by the possibility that Ellie may have murdered her sibling. I'll come back to this at the end.

 

Comments & suggestions for improvements as requested:

 

Ellie's graveside speech is very good; I could imagine a child saying that but the huge block of speech needs breaking up into smaller sentences, perhaps interlaced with some of her actions from the graveside.

 

For example:

 

"Mr Binks often bit the heads off mice when he was alive, so I’m sure he would find a hamster very tasty too."

 

She ran her hand across her nose, a small gust of wind swirled the brown leaves across the grass, mum smiled and nodded. " If he does eat you then remember that he doesn’t mean to be nasty, he just can’t help it because he’s a cat and that’s what cats do - they eat hamsters and birds, as well as normal cat food from the tin. "

 

A blackbird in a nearby tree gave an alarmed chirp at this news, Ellie glanced up briefly, then looked back at the small mound.

 

"It doesn’t matter anyway because even if you get eaten you are already in heaven, so you will just stay there, I suppose."

 

 

A Little cloud.

 

Mentioning Grace at the end of the speech is a good example of 'a little cloud' that sows the doubts later on, particularly when Ellie says:

 

“Yes dad, but if a naughty little girl killed someone else would they still go to heaven?”

 

I think this needs work, she's virtually incriminating herself and the use of 'someone else' implies a person. She could hardly say 'A hamster' though, that would give the game away so something a little more subtle is needed.

 

How about:

 

"Yes dad, but if a little girl killed another… what I'm saying is, would she still go to heaven?"

 

In this case the ellipsis denotes a missing word - let the reader decide what it should be.

 

Dad's response

 

I thought dad's response where he stabs the trowel in the ground was a little harsh and not at all sympathetic; however this could be an example of his 'religious insensitivity.'

 

The scene didn't seem right because

(a) He'd just put his arm around her to comfort her.

(b) Is it physically possible for him to put his arm around her and stab the ground? -Is he on his knees? Possibly, but it isn't actually stated.

 

I looked at him appealingly, but he glared back with an angry face.

“No Ellie.” he said. Then he stabbed his trowel into the ground, ”murderers go to hell.”

I burst into tears and ran inside, up to my room.

 

EDIT

I looked at him appealingly, but he glared into the distance.

“No Ellie,” he stabbed his trowel into the ground, "murderers go to hell.”

I stood there, too frightened to move. Something inside me died.

<Then cut to bedroom scene.>

 

Her brother Ryan

 

Ryan's appearance, particularly his age, needs more emphasis. We can tell from his language that he is older, he sounds intelligent, like a scientist.

 

He barged into my room without knocking. (ADD) Ryan's face was covered with little flecks of tissue where he had cut himself shaving, Ellie wondered how he always got grade A's in everything except shaving and tying his shoelaces. “Why didn’t you answer, you little brat?"

 

A small bridge is needed in this scene change:

 

You can decorate the fairy cakes I’ve just made.”

I smiled. "OK mum, I'd like that."

 

Downstairs, mum laid out the cakes,

 

 

The Key line.

 

Back to the "murder" this is the key line that lets Ellie off the hook:

 

“But it means that God can’t be a very nice person, or thing. I mean why would he end Grace’s life before she was even born?”

 

It arrives slightly early, almost a page before the end, if you could delete this line and position it very near the end of the story it would maintain the tension longer and enhance the ending, to do this you'd have to change the subject from the hamster in a natural way, I'm confident you'd be able to achieve this.

 

Summary

 

A good story with believable characters, especially Ellie & her mum, a few more details about her dad and Ryan would be nice. Dialogue was believable, it could be a little smoother (read it out loud, especially Ryan's speech) I liked the 'little cloud' and the way you maintained the tension but the key line should have been nearer the end.

 

Good work. Well done, I'd be pleased with that effort.

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Hi Ron.

 

I almost forgot to comment. I liked it. Writing a story that includes children is something I've yet to try.

 

Regards

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Nice one Ron.

I think this is your best yet, you’re going from strength to strength. I personally can’t offer any advice on improvement; it’s too good for me.

Carry on at this rate and you will be teaching Mantas a thing or two.

Great stuff mate. :thumbsup:

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Thanks for your comments everyone. Some encouraging words and useful suggestions there.

 

Shaz, I'd encourage you to have a go at writing some short stories. I hadn't written anything before I came across this group two years ago. I started by reading some of the others' stories and giving my opinions, and eventually decided to have a go myself. I've written about seven or eight since then, 'Grand Finale' being my favourite.

 

Mantaspook, thanks for your suggestions. I always appreciate the time you take to help me improve my work. I'm glad you noticed the little cloud. I am in two minds about splitting up Ellie's opening speech, but I agree with your comments about Ryan and Dad needing a more attention. Your interpretation of the key line is also interesting and something for me to consider. Thanks again.

 

Falls and Coyleys, thanks for reading it and I appreciate your support.

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I really liked it, I thought it was really good. Just wished it was longer beause I wanted to keep reading!! But it wouldn't be a short story then would it. Loved it.

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Ron

 

Sorry to come to this a little late. Blimey, I can't add anything to Mantaspook's detailed critique, except to say how much I enjoyed the story.

 

One thing perhaps that Mantas didn't mention was the fact that it was extremely easy to read. Because you took the trouble to set out the text on the page in a conventional way, and that you had clearly checked for typos and spelling mistakes, and because your choice of words was so excellent, I found myself instantly connected with the story, rather than being held up by glaring errors of grammar, punctuation and ill-chosen words.

 

I know many people would say that spelling, grammar, punctuation and layout doesn't matter, but I think they do - not because mistakes give the pedants something to moan about, but because for me these things are the lenses through which we see a story sharply. Poor grammar, punctuation, spelling and layout are smudges on the lens, and distract our vision.

 

Like Mantas, I did think the father reacted very strongly to Ellie's mention of murderers, so much so that I thought it might have more bearing on events to come, or were you putting in a deliberate red herring...?

 

Anyway, a damn fine story Ron :)

Edited by Tallyman
Couldn't get the smiley face right. How incompetent is that!

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Thanks Tallyman. You make some good points about spelling etc. You've helped me with layout issues in the past and I like the way you compare poor grammar, spelling and punctuation as "smudges on the lens" through which we read the story.

 

Do you think punctuation is still a bit of a grey area? I remember learning rules at school such as never put a comma before the word "and". But reading novels today, I see lots of variation in comma use which suggests it is partly down to personal preference.

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“Yes Mum.” I whispered, as I cleared my throat. “Hello Chester. I will miss you, but I hope you will enjoy your time in heaven. I hope there are lots of mazes and wheels for you to run around in, but watch out for our old cat Mr Binks as he might try to eat you. Mr Binks often bit the heads off mice when he was alive, so I’m sure he would find a hamster very tasty too. If he does eat you then remember that he doesn’t mean to be nasty, he just can’t help it because he’s a cat and that’s what cats do - they eat hamsters and birds, as well as normal cat food from the tin. It doesn’t matter anyway because even if you get eaten you are already in heaven so you will just stay there, I suppose. My little sister, Grace, is in heaven too. I will see you both in about a hundred years time. That’s all I want to say. Goodbye Chester.”

 

you nailed the child's mindset about heaven with this one, rob. the 'that's what cats do' bit shows, to me, a kind of acceptance of the order of things and then the 'if he eats you, youre in heaven so you'll stay there...' is brilliant. sums it all up. rare talent getting into the mind of a minor like that.

 

i loved the whole thing. your dialogue had a minimal of 'he said' 'she said' yet i knew who was saying what and could 'see' 'how' they said it. good stuff.

ps-maybe it's the freak in me, but for some reason(i can't help this) i see the kid always being too careful from then on about hurting others, 'hugging very gently', as you put it, to an extend, as an adult, of 'not hugging at all', incase it's too hard again!!!!

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...Do you think punctuation is still a bit of a grey area? I remember learning rules at school such as never put a comma before the word "and". But reading novels today, I see lots of variation in comma use which suggests it is partly down to personal preference.

 

I think you're right Ron. I think there is leeway with punctuation to an extent, particularly commas. I always thought of commas as a way of making the reader take a short breath and, in doing so, separate the parts of the sentence so as to make better sense. I'm still struggling with semi-colons, though!

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I always thought of commas as a way of making the reader take a short breath and, in doing so, separate the parts of the sentence so as to make better sense. I'm still struggling with semi-colons, though!

 

I use semi-colons within lists, but avoid them otherwise. My worry is that a semi-colon can lead to an even longer pause than expected as the reader stops to consider "What's this? A semi-colon? What's that doing here?"

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