Quote Originally Posted by Imriaylde View Post
Here's the first three lines of a short story I'm working on, it's mild urban fantasy/horror. I really need to come up with a title for it. Currently sitting at ~7800 words though I do want to trim that down.

Claire dragged her feet along the crumbled curb of Elmer’s Lane, scuffing the rubber toes of her sneakers against the dirty concrete. Cars whizzed past just often enough to be dangerous, one misstep coulda landed her sprawled out in the traffic, but Mama always told her to be careful and she couldn’t let Mama down, not now. Mama expected her to be having fun with her Papa and Claire wanted that to be true, wanted to pretend that they were walking hand in hand and chattering on about the acrobats or the clowns instead of just her, walking all alone in the fading October light.
If this is indicative of your story as a whole, I think you can trim it down quite easily - there's a lot of repetition and overwriting in just these three sentences.

For example, you tell us at the very start that Claire is dragging her feet as she walks. Then you expand on that by describing her scuffing her toes. Then at the end of the third sentence, you repeat that she's walking. You do the same thing with the curb - describing it as "crumbled" and then adding more detail with "dirty concrete." Ask yourself which is the more effective descriptor, and go with that. Clarity and crispness of prose is even more important in a short story than in a novel, because you have fewer words to convey what's happening.

Other nitpicks: your second sentence is actually two sentences - you've got a run-on happening at "...dangerous, one misstep coulda..." You either need to replace that comma with a period and start a fresh sentence with "One misstep," or replace the comma with a semicolon. Personally, I'd opt for the semicolon.

Now, about that "coulda." I don't know if you've chosen deliberately to use a colloquialism instead of "could have" to establish voice, or if this is just a mistake. I think it could work except that it's the one and only colloquialism in this opener. If you're going to use that distinctive a POV voice, you should be consistent with it - it needs to be present from the very beginning. The way your story currently begins, it's in omni, then moves into Claire's POV in the next sentence.

(I hope I'm making sense because I just got in from a nine-hour drive and my brain's fried.)