October Special: Cut It Out

The second assignment for the Craft of Style course was a short-short narrative. The goal was to “add movements to still objects,” to tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It wasn’t supposed to be longer than 2 pages, 600 words, give or take. The word count was stressed in the assignment for reasons that would become clear later on. I decided to take my first Galactic Empire story/scene and pare it down from about 800 words to closer to 600 words.

Well the next assignment was to take our short-short narrative assignment and cut it in half. I only managed to cut another 200 words, but I figured that brought it down to about half of the original story. Here is the “short” version of Turning Point:

Todd shook Jack awake in the dark. “Get dressed and meet me in the kitchen,” he whispered.

“Five more minutes,” Jack groaned, pulling his blanket tight.

“No, we gotta go now,” Todd insisted. He hurried out of the bedroom. The stairs creaked as Todd descended them.

The clock glared red. 4:30. Jack scowled as he slipped from the warmth of his bed. He trudged down the stairs, rubbing his eyes.

“What are you doing?” Todd hissed when Jack entered. “I thought I told you to get dressed!”

Jack shrugged and slipped on his shoes. “Wuzgoinon?” he mumbled, sleep clinging to his head.

Todd glanced at his watch. “Never mind, we have to get moving.” He grabbed Jack’s wrist and pulled him out to the woods.

Jack followed as Todd cut a new path towards the ridge. Twenty minutes into their trek he noticed the large pack on his big brother’s back. “Todd? Where are we going?”

Todd waved Jack to silence. “We’re not safe yet,” he said in a low voice.

Fear clawed at Jack’s chest. “What are you talking about?”

Firm hands gripped Jack’s shoulders as Todd spun around. In the twilight, his widened eyes appeared manic.  “I promise I will tell you, but not yet. Something is coming. We have to go.”

Jack froze. “Todd I don’t understand,” he started. But Todd was already walking away from him again. Jack pushed himself to keep up. He was wide awake.

Todd slid into a gulley and disappeared. “Todd?” Jack cried out. Todd would never abandon him. The woods were no place for a 12 year old boy alone.

A flash of light disoriented him and a deafening cacophony of voices swallowed him. He threw his hands up over his head. Soldiers surrounded the gulley, shouting unintelligibly and waving their weapons.

A scream threatened to rip from Jack’s throat. “Please, I want to go home,” he choked. More unintelligible shouting came, but the frantic waving of weapons ceased.

A small soldier approached him. Thick armor and a clouded helmet obscured the face but Jack felt sure it was a woman. She lifted her arm and mechanically tapped her wrist before speaking.

Her lilting voice mesmerized him, but it was not as surreal as the smooth robotic voice that translated her words to perfect English. “Please repeat your last statement.”

Jack trembled. “I want to go home,” he whimpered.

The robotic voice echoed him, translating his plea back to her. A nod came from the woman. She spoke back to him and his body turned to ice. The robotic voice relayed her message. “Home is gone. You are now a servant of the Mosari Empress.”

Notes: So obviously, it’s much crisper now. There are some things from the original piece that I didn’t like cutting, a few details I would like to expand on, but at the end of the day I learned a lot about how to cut extraneous words and phrases from my writing. Maybe when I finish the prompt book I will do this exercise again on some of my other posts.

Well that does it for me tonight. I hope your week is going well! See you Friday with an assignment I found really cool, if not a little frustrating. Until then!

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