Never again. (365 words)

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Shemshari

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Please be brutal with your critique. I know that I still have a lot to learn and am open to any and all criticism.

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Vi waited on the steps of the busy street, the marketplace abnormally busy today added to her stricken nerves. Clothes torn and knees bloody, a small child lay in the gutter sobbing, memories that Vi thought were long suppressed rushed to the surface. Vi fought back tears, she would finally be accepted into the order after this, then no one was going to hurt her like that again.

She double checked her disguise. Her vibrant red wig flowed down in waves to rest on her shoulders, an apple cap pulled tight to hide the wigs shoddy craftsmanship. The motely of ragged clothes she wore made her indistinguishable between the other beggars that plagued the streets.

Satisfied, she twisted the ring on her finger, a small needle protruded from a hidden groove underneath it. Carefully, she reversed the spin of the ring to conceal the weapon. Vi scanned the street for her target, ready to do what needed to be done.

A young man across the street caught her attention, he wore the red scarf embroidered with silver daggers that was supposed to represent her target. Her heartrate doubled as he stopped at the bread vender directly in front of her. Vi exhaled a nervous breath. Families, merchants, beggars, and guards flooded the street as she scanned the exits to figure out the easiest egress route if something went wrong. Content, she slid off the steps and weaved through the masses towards the young man, a snake slithering towards its next victim.

Her hands shook as she approached him, doubt raced through her mind. He was barely old enough to grow hair on his face, did this man really deserve to die? The memories of that fateful night washed over her like a wave. Her father lay on the ground, a knife protruding from his chest, the shine erased by the dark blood that surrounded it. A man with jagged teeth knelt over her mother, he smiled that crooked smile that would haunt her for eternity.

“Don’t worry child” he said, “I haven’t forgot about you” He laughed, a rough cracking laugh that turned into a cough.
She snapped back to reality, tears welled in her eyes as all reservations she had shattered. She would go through with this no matter what the cost. She twisted the ring as she advanced, her eyes blank from all emotion.

Vi feigned a trip stumbling into the man to stab him with the small needle. “I’m sorry sir, I haven’t eaten in a week and I just got a bit dizzy.” She said as the needle dug into the man’s arm.

He regained his balance and paused before he handed a piece of copper to the bread merchant. The man picked up a loaf and ripped a piece off for Vi. He smiled, “Here you go. No one should have to go so long without eating.”

Sadness flashed across her face before she regained her composure. She spun without a word refusing to take the piece of bread, tears filled her eyes as she walked away. The sound of the thud reverberated as the young man’s body hit the hard dirt, tears flowed down Vi’s face uncontrollably as she ran. She didn’t look back, she would never look back.

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Edited it for more detail and clarity.
 
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porlock

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On first read you repeat words a lot (busy, busy in the first sentence for example); a few cliches (haunt her for eternity, fateful night); odd sentences like "Sadness flashed across her face" (having a hard time picturing that). I really didn't understand the reason for her actions - but of course you don't necessarily need one. Her parents died. What did the young man have to do with it?

Go back over it - ask yourself questions: What is the point of the story? Was I clear and focused? Then cut, cut, cut. Watch repeated words; does each sentence advance the story?

Good luck and keep writing.
 

Shemshari

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Porlock,

Thanks for the critiques. During the next couple of days, I will revise and repost.
 

Shemshari

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Here is the first revision with the suggestions. It is twice as long as the original, I apologize for the now mislabeled title.
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Vi chewed her lip as she tapped her fingers together in succession, thumb to index, then middle, ring, and finally pinky before repeating the motion several times. I'm not ready for this. I'm going to fail; they'll kill me if I fail. She scanned the street trying to disentangle her mind.

Waves of customers crowded the vendors as they attempted to keep up with each patron haggling for the best deal. Smells of bread and sweet meats fused with merchants touting their wares, composing the symphony that was the market. Finding her mark in this mob would be complicated, and The Order would accept nothing less than perfection.

A child in the street caught her eye, abandoned. The young girl sobbed into her dress as townsfolk passed without a second glance. Memories rushed to the surface at the sight of her. Vi fought back the tears that threatened to spill from her eyes. When this assignment was over, The Order would finally accept her as a member. No one would hurt her again.

Vi double-checked her disguise. Her vibrant red wig flowed down in waves to rest upon her shoulders. She wore an apple cap pulled tight to hide the wigs shoddy craftsmanship, accompanied with the motley of ragged clothes, she was indistinguishable between the other beggars who plagued the streets.

Satisfied, Vi twisted the ring on her finger; at the twist, a small needle protruded from a hidden groove underneath it. Carefully, she reversed the spin of the ring to conceal the weapon. She scanned the street for her target, ready to do what she needed.

A young man across the street caught her attention; he wore the red scarf embroidered with silver daggers to represent her target. Vi’s heart rate doubled as he stopped at the bread vendor directly in front of her. She took in a deep breath and tapped her fingers methodically one last time to steady herself.

This is it, Vi, if you do this, there is no going back. She thought about her life before The Order took her in. She barely survived the streets, begging and stealing what she could just to prolong her wretched life. There was no way she would go back to that now. Convinced, she scanned the exits, families, merchants, beggars, and guards flooded the streets creating a maze of sorts.

Content, she slid down the steps and weaved through the masses towards the young man, like a snake slithering towards its victim. Her hands shook as she approached him, doubt crept up with each step towards him. He was barely old enough to grow hair on his face, did this man deserve to die?

The memories of that night washed over her like a wave. Her father lay on the ground, a knife protruding from his chest, the shine erased by the dark blood that surrounded it. A man with jagged teeth knelt over her mother, he gradually turned to look at Vi.

He smiled at her with a crooked grin that would haunt her dreams for the rest of her life. "Don't worry child. I haven't forgotten about you." He chortled a rough, cracking laugh that turned into a cough.

She snapped back to reality. Tears welled in her eyes as all reservations she had shattered. She would go through with this no matter what the cost. She twisted the ring as she advanced, her eye's blank from emotion.

Vi feigned a trip and stumbled into the man stabbing him with the needle. "I'm sorry sir. I haven't eaten in a week, and I just got a bit dizzy." She lied as the needle dug into the man's arm.

He regained his balance and paused before he handed a piece of copper to the bread merchant. The man picked up a loaf and ripped a piece off for Vi. He smiled, "Here you go. No one should have to go so long without eating."

Her face wilted. What have I done? She spun without a word refusing to take the piece of bread; her eyes filled with tears as she walked away.

The sound of a thud reverberated as the young man's body hit the hard dirt. It was too much for Vi. Tears flowed down her face uncontrollably now as she ran. She didn't look back. She would never look back.
 
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CaesarNaples

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I think you did well. There should have been a stronger connection to her previous life and her new one. More details showing how desperate she was until The Order hired her. Perhaps you could emphasize how minor and meaningless her role ultimately is.

What's odd is that she's not voluntarily in The Order, which makes me question how she could convince herself to make the kill. Also, the title - Never Again, is never shown in the flash. I don't think an important story point should be isolated in the title with no reference in the text. From the story, she could have begun a long career of murdering.

Finally, I don't think the Order could be introduced and adequately understood in so few words. It's an entire organization that feels out of place in flash. I'm not sure how you could improve it - maybe use local gangs instead of an authoritarian sounding Order. It would definitely be relatable.

The writing is good but some of the figurative language to describe her going through the crowd is a little distracting. I personally think you could tighten it up and tell this story in the original 300 words. That might be a good goal to set for future edits.
 

Shemshari

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CaesarNaples,

Thank you for the advice. You have given me some items to think about that could improve my writing.
 

willfs

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Here is the first revision with the suggestions. It is twice as long as the original, I apologize for the now mislabeled title.
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Vi chewed her lip as she tapped her fingers together in succession, thumb to index, then middle, ring, and finally pinky before repeating the motion several times. I thought this sentence was too long, especially for flash fiction. We don't need to know about her tapping each finger. I'd think the first phrase of this first sentence tells us what we need to hear - she's nervous. I'm not ready for this. I'm going to fail; they'll kill me if I fail. She scanned the street trying to disentangle her mind.

Waves of customers crowded the vendors as they attempted to keep up with each patron haggling for the best deal. Smells of bread and sweet meats fused with merchants touting their wares, composing the symphony that was the market. Finding her mark in this mob would be complicated, and The Order would accept nothing less than perfection.

A child in the street caught her eye, abandoned. The young girl sobbed into her dress as townsfolk passed without a second glance. Memories rushed to the surface at the sight of her. Vi fought back the tears that threatened to spill from her eyes. When this assignment was over, The Order would finally accept her as a member. No one would hurt her again. I think too much of the backstory is told to us instead of shown. I actually liked the first part of your first version better because it gave more action instead of just telling. But I understand you feel the need to give us some context. Could you do so through something like a note or letter that she is reading and then puts into her pocket. Maybe it tells her the assignment and promises to accept her in the order if she completes the mission. Or some dialogue could give us the info.

Vi double-checked her disguise. Her vibrant red wig flowed down in waves to rest upon her shoulders. She wore an apple cap pulled tight to hide the wigs shoddy craftsmanship, accompanied with the motley of ragged clothes, she was indistinguishable between the other beggars who plagued the streets.

Satisfied, Vi twisted the ring on her finger; at the twist, a small needle protruded from a hidden groove underneath it. Carefully, she reversed the spin of the ring to conceal the weapon. She scanned the street for her target, ready to do what she needed. I'm intrigued by the disguise, weapon and mission.

A young man across the street caught her attention; he wore the red scarf embroidered with silver daggers to represent her target. By "represent her target" I take that to mean that he isn't really her target. Like this is some sort of training exercise. If he's the real target then "represent" isn't the right word Vi’s heart rate doubled as he stopped at the bread vendor directly in front of her. She took in a deep breath and tapped her fingers methodically one last time to steady herself.

This is it, Vi, if you do this, there is no going back. She thought about her life before The Order took her in. She barely survived the streets, begging and stealing what she could just to prolong her wretched life. There was no way she would go back to that now. Convinced, she scanned the exits, families, merchants, beggars, and guards flooded the streets creating a maze of sorts. Guards? Where is this? I am having trouble picturing the setting. Is it a different time period, planet...etc...

Content, she slid down the steps and weaved through the masses towards the young man, like a snake slithering towards its victim. Her hands shook as she approached him, doubt crept up with each step towards him. He was barely old enough to grow hair on his face, did this man deserve to die?

The memories of that night washed over her like a wave. Seems cliche Her father lay on the ground, a knife protruding from his chest, the shine erased by the dark blood that surrounded it. A man with jagged teeth knelt over her mother, he gradually turned to look at Vi.

He smiled at her with a crooked grin that would haunt her dreams for the rest of her life. "Don't worry child. I haven't forgotten about you." He chortled a rough, cracking laugh that turned into a cough.

She snapped back to reality. Tears welled in her eyes as all reservations she had shattered. She would go through with this no matter what the cost. She twisted the ring as she advanced, her eye's blank from emotion.

Vi feigned a trip and stumbled into the man stabbing him with the needle. "I'm sorry sir. I haven't eaten in a week, and I just got a bit dizzy." She lied as the needle dug into the man's arm. This sentence seems awkward. You might take out "She lied." It might be obvious and I think I tripped over that part of the sentence.

He regained his balance and paused before he handed a piece of copper to the bread merchant. The man picked up a loaf and ripped a piece off for Vi. He smiled, "Here you go. No one should have to go so long without eating."

Her face wilted. What have I done? She spun without a word refusing to take the piece of bread; her eyes filled with tears as she walked away.

The sound of a thud reverberated as the young man's body hit the hard dirt. It was too much for Vi. Tears flowed down her face uncontrollably now as she ran. She didn't look back. She would never look back.
Wow. Great ending. I also didn't see any grammar mistakes. Just what i wrote above.
 

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