FRIDAY FEEDBACK – UNDER THE BRIDGE

Thank you to Jeannie Meakins for providing today’s piece for Friday Feedback. This is an excerpt from Jeannie’s novel for children aged 8+. It’s called, Under The Bridge.

Kyle walked across the bridge over the creek.  As his foot reached the creaking board, he smiled.  Exactly thirty-eight steps.  Beneath the bridge he could hear the moving water.  The gentle breeze in his face barely disturbed the trees.

Over the sounds of the creek, he thought he could hear crying.  He stood still for a few seconds.  Yes, there were definitely sobs.

He walked to the end of the bridge and turned down the embankment.  Then he squatted down beside his dog and took the harness off.

“Off you go, Bonnie.  Go for a run.”  He patted her head and scratched behind her ears.  As soon as he lifted his hands from her, the dog took off.

Kyle put his hands on the ground behind him and carefully made his way down the embankment feet first.

The crying came from beside him.  From under the bridge where the afternoon sun cast cold shadows.

This is a lovely gentle piece of writing with some great evocative description… and the person crying creates curiosity for the reader and gives the impression that something is about to happen.

I found myself wanting to know about Kyle and how old he was and what sort of boy he was? I have made some suggestions where I think you could create a stronger picture of him for the reader. I think by creating a stronger character in Kyle you would also hook the reader into the story more.

Kyle walked across the bridge over the creek...

(Can you use a stronger verb than ‘walked’ to give us more of an idea of Kyle’s mood and perhaps his age? For example, if you said something like, ‘skipped’, we would know that he was happy and probably quite young.)

Exactly thirty eight steps. 

Is there some reason Kyle is counting the steps? Boredom? To stop himself getting to the other end so fast? Curiosity?  This is the kind of information that gives the reader extra insight into the character and their motivations.

Beneath the bridge he could hear the moving water.  The gentle breeze in his face barely disturbed the trees.

This has a lovely tone of gentleness, but I’m trying to picture the setting. If he is walking across a bridge over water, where are the trees? How far away are they?  Are they so close that you would expect a gentle breeze on his face to affect the trees as well? Which side of the bridge are they on? You need to make these images clear for the reader.

Over the sounds of the creek, he thought he could hear crying.  He stood still for a few seconds.  Yes, there were definitely sobs.

It might be more evocative for the reader if you gave some indication of the sound of the sobs – and perhaps, how they affected him. What do they sound like to him?

He walked to the end of the bridge and turned down the embankment.  Then he squatted down beside his dog and took the harness off.

Would he react more strongly to the sobs? Would he wonder who it was? Are the sobs familiar? Would he seek out the person in trouble to find out what’s wrong? Here again, these are the kinds of actions that will give the reader insight into Kyle’s character.

I was also wondering about the dog. Would he let her off when he knows that there is someone in trouble? Wouldn’t the dog go towards the sound of the crying?

Thanks for sharing, Jeannie. This is a lovely evocative piece and you have made me wonder who is under the bridge and what is going to happen next.

Good luck with the rewrites.

If you would like to have your 150 words on Friday Feedback, please email them to Dee@DeeScribe.com.au

Please include “Friday Feedback” in the subject line and the genre, target readership and word count or estimated word count for the finished story or novel.

Happy writing:)

Dee

If you have any comments or suggestions for Jeannie, please feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post.

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8 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEEDBACK – UNDER THE BRIDGE

  1. I always enjoy reading snippets and other people’s comments about the writing.

    I have a question that Dee didn’t ask, so I’ve taken the liberty of posting. Since you describe the sounds and the sensation of the breeze, plus the fact that his dog wore a harness (not a collar), I couldn’t help wondering if you were showing us that Kyle was blind or visually impaired?

  2. Good point, Jo-ann,

    That’s exactly what I mean about giving more information about Kyle’s character. From the way he moved, I didn’t get the impression that he was visually impaired, but if he is, then this has to be shown in his actions and he probably wouldn’t let his dog off the harness if he was about to climb down the embankment – he would need her to guide him. These are all the kinds of things we need to think about as a writer. How will the reader interpret what we have written? Do we need to make our meaning clearer?

    Thanks for your input, Jo.

    Dee:)

  3. I was wondering whether this was the beginning of the novel. Do we already have a character set up? Even so, I agree that stronger verbs will give clues to the nature of your character and make us feel him more as a person.
    There is much sensory info in your writing, apart from visual and I was wondering whether Kyle could see. So you are making your reader do some thinking work – cool!
    Yes we need more of an emotional response to someone sobbing. This will make us love Kyle. And what kind of sobs are they- heart tugging? desperate? loud? uninhibited? soft?
    Lots of dogs wear a harness on walkies, especially strong breeds. Can you describe the harness, so we know it’s a seeing eye dog harness, if it is one. I also wouldn’t want to be sending that dog off for a run at this important time, although the description of the dog was good.
    Must say though, I love your writing voice. It is really inviting.

  4. If Kyle has walked the bridge many times and perhaps scrambled down an embankment he might not need the dog( if he can’t see), but you need to make it clear that it’s familiar territory.

  5. Thanks for the feedback. It’s always good to get feedback from people who are not familiar with your work.
    Well done, Jo-ann. Yes, Kyle is blind. The story is from the point of view of Kyle, so there are no direct visuals.
    For me, the story works best when you don’t overthink it.
    Yes, Tracey, it is the opening of the novel. I thought that was the requirement.
    Kyle is in familiar territory as he knows exactly where that creaking board is in the bridge.
    Dee, all those questions you posed are answered in the next few hundred words.

    Once again, thanks, and I’m glad you liked the writing
    Jeannie

  6. Hi Jeannie,

    You make a good point about overthinking things. I find that I’m better off getting the story down first. Overthinking can definitely hamper the flow.

    Good luck with your story.

    Dee:)

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