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  1. #1
    Colin Lalley
    Guest

    Children's story introduction

    Hi all! I'm finally getting around to using the great resources offered by this community, and would really appreciate some feedback on this piece. It wasn't supposed to start out as a children's tale but it seems to be headed in that direction. This is the opening scene. Any comments, criticism, etc you all could give me would be awesome! You can also take a look at it at the site listed below if you don't want to read it in this thread. Thank you all so much!

    ----------------------------

    The Mountain came towards the little straw boy. The straw boy was not quite sure what a mountain was, of course; he spent his days perched vigilantly on his post, frightening the birds, and had never left Missouri, or even this field. But he had heard the workers talk of mountains: sturdy, unmovable, rising as high as the eye could see. This man was certainly all of those things. His broad shoulders, covered in a red and black shirt, filled the entirety of the straw boy's vision; he walked with a sense of purpose but the straw boy knew he could not move the Mountain if the Mountain did not want to be moved; and he was tall, so tall, and the straw boy had to crane his head upwards just to barely see the dark bushy beard that hung from the Mountain's head.
    So large was the Mountain that at first the straw boy did not see the shiny boy that strode up alongside him. Only when the shiny boy talked did the straw boy take notice of him.
    “What's that thing?” the shiny boy asked the Mountain. The shiny boy was about the same height as the straw boy (when he wasn't on his pole) but dazzled a brilliant silver in the sunlight. He was completely smooth and sleek and had wide, engaging eyes, eyes that were now peering curiously at the straw boy.
    “I'm a scaredy crow,” the straw boy quoted what the men always called him, even though the question was not directed at him. He didn't know why he answered. He never spoke, because the farmer and the farmhands did not expect him to. Sometimes he'd talk to the birds; he was supposed to be keeping them away, but they were the only ones who seemed to want to listen. He never talked to other people, though, but something about the Mountain and the shiny boy, both of whom were unlike anyone the straw boy had ever seen, compelled him to speak, and so he did.
    “Whatcha doing on that stick, Scaredy Crow?” the shiny boy asked.
    This was certainly new. The straw boy knew that scaredy crows weren't supposed to talk, but the shiny boy didn't seem at all surprised by the conversation. They both looked up at the Mountain, who was grinning widely down at them.
    “I'm scaring the birds away,” the straw boy said. It was the only thing he could think of to say, because no one had ever asked him what he was doing before. He puffed out his chest a bit to look more frightful.
    The shiny boy looked around and said, “I don't see any birds around here.”
    “That's because young Crow is doing his job very well,” the Mountain said. His voice was deep and smooth and made the straw boy smile with his stitched-together mouth. Crow. He had never had a name, but he liked this one, especially when the Mountain said it.
    “Never seen a scaredy crow on a stick before,” the shiny boy said, crossing his arms and looking back at Crow.
    “That's because you're from the North, child,” the Mountain said. “Not very many like Crow up there. Likewise,” he continued, now lifting Crow from the pole and setting him on the ground, “I'm sure young Crow has not seen the things that you and I have, like the towering pines or blanketing snows.”
    Crow didn't know what those words meant, but, like his new name, he enjoyed it when the Mountain said them.
    “My name is Crow,” he said, for no other reason than he wanted others to know it. Crow stood on his feet unsteadily; never before had he used his legs, and he was counting on the straw, and the stiff burlap pants that covered it, to help keep him upright.
    “I'm Chrome,” the shiny boy said. He held out his hand and Crow shook it like he had seen the farmer do. Chrome's body felt as much like metal as it looked and crushed Crow's gloved hand. Crow quickly fluffed it back up.
    “What's chrome?” he asked.
    Chrome shrugged. “I don't know. It's me,” he said plainly.
    Crow admired the shiny boy's body, a far cry from his own limp-limbed straw self. Chrome clutched a cloth in his hand, which he used to constantly wipe away dust blown towards them by the gusty Kansas wind. Crow, conversely, liked the dirt; it snuck into his raggedy clothes and tickled through his straw insides.
    The Mountain rolled his sleeves up to his elbows; the Southern sun hung heavy in the sky and beat down endlessly on the trio. Even with the breeze the heat was intimidating, and the Mountain, with his thick clothes and bushy beard, did not look as though he was built for this weather, especially being so much closer to the sun than the others. He closed his eyes and leaned against something. It looked something like the pole Crow stood watch upon, but on its end was a wide, flat blade that gleamed as wonderfully as Chrome did in the sunlight.
    Crow finally gathered the courage to speak to the Mountain. “What's that?” he asked meekly, pointing to the cutting thing with a skinny gloved hand. Crow had seen the farmhands use something like it occasionally, but never out in the fields, and this one owned by the Mountain was far, far larger than any other.
    Opening his eyes, the Mountain smiled again at Crow. He lifted the cutting thing and Crow realized, recalling how the men used the tool, that the pole was actually a handle, and the blade was held towards the top. The Mountain gripped the handle so tightly that Crow feared he would splinter it right then and there.
    “This is a mighty ax,” the Mountain explained, looking proudly at the blade. He swung it back and forth a few times and Crow knew that a battle with such a thing was one he would lose. “I've felled trees whose tips scraped against the very sky itself,” the Mountain boasted. Crow tried to imagine this but the magnitude of it began to make his head hurt. He shook it to get the image out of his mind and a few stray pieces of straw fluttered to the ground.
    “They were the hugest things ever!” Chrome cried, spreading his arms as wide as he could to demonstrate their majesty. Crow looked on in awe as Chrome continued the tale.
    “The forest was so tall that you couldn't see the top of it! The fog eventually got in the way, but you could tell that the trees were touching the sky, because they scratched up against it a tiny little shavings floated down. It looked almost like snow, like the lightest, most beautiful snow ever, but it wasn't. It was pieces of the sky!”
    There was that word again, snow, and Crow was as amazed with it this time as he was the first.
    “And the bark!” Chrome called out. “It was hard as rock!” He made a fist with one hand and slammed it into the other, as if to imitate the material, and it made a clink clink sound. “Ten hundred men had come to these woods with their tools and their animals and their new, great machines, and they camped their for weeks beneath the falling skies. They would wake up early each morning and cut at the wood, and saw at it, and throw their coal into their machines so that they would do the work for them, but none of it worked! The bark was too strong! So they left the woods, every last one of them, with chipped tools and tired animals and broken down machines.
    “The men came back to town and they said, 'It can't be done! The bark is like stone. Those trees can never be moved!' But I knew they were wrong, because I had heard the stories. People at the inn, talking about the greatest man to ever live. The biggest man, the strongest. And I listened to these stories. That's the problem – plenty of people hear stories, but they don't very often listen to them, you know what I mean?” Chrome continued before Crow could tell him that no, he didn't know what he meant. “And so I knew that there was one man out there who could cut down those trees. I pushed my way through winter blizzards, and fought off whole packs of wolves, and rafted down rivers, following the stories 'til I finally tracked him down.”
    Crow's mouth was agape with amazement, his eyes not averting their gaze from Chrome despite the harsh reflection from his skin.
    “Who?” he wondered aloud.
    “Why, Paul Bunyan, of course!” Chrome said in disbelief, motioning to the Mountain.
    So, the Mountain, too had a name, and it was Paul Bunyan, which Crow like almost as much as his own name.

    www.tarheelcolin.blogspot.com



  2. #2
    Colin Lalley
    Guest

    Re: Children's story introduction

    Sorry all! I didn't realize how that would turn out formatted until it was too late...hopefully this one will be a little easier on the eyes!

    -------------------

    The Mountain came towards the little straw boy. The straw boy was not quite sure what a mountain was, of course; he spent his days perched vigilantly on his post, frightening the birds, and had never left Missouri, or even this field. But he had heard the workers talk of mountains: sturdy, unmovable, rising as high as the eye could see. This man was certainly all of those things. His broad shoulders, covered in a red and black shirt, filled the entirety of the straw boy's vision; he walked with a sense of purpose but the straw boy knew he could not move the Mountain if the Mountain did not want to be moved; and he was tall, so tall, and the straw boy had to crane his head upwards just to barely see the dark bushy beard that hung from the Mountain's head.

    So large was the Mountain that at first the straw boy did not see the shiny boy that strode up alongside him. Only when the shiny boy talked did the straw boy take notice of him.

    “What's that thing?” the shiny boy asked the Mountain. The shiny boy was about the same height as the straw boy (when he wasn't on his pole) but dazzled a brilliant silver in the sunlight. He was completely smooth and sleek and had wide, engaging eyes, eyes that were now peering curiously at the straw boy.

    “I'm a scaredy crow,” the straw boy quoted what the men always called him, even though the question was not directed at him. He didn't know why he answered. He never spoke, because the farmer and the farmhands did not expect him to. Sometimes he'd talk to the birds; he was supposed to be keeping them away, but they were the only ones who seemed to want to listen. He never talked to other people, though, but something about the Mountain and the shiny boy, both of whom were unlike anyone the straw boy had ever seen, compelled him to speak, and so he did.

    “Whatcha doing on that stick, Scaredy Crow?” the shiny boy asked.

    This was certainly new. The straw boy knew that scaredy crows weren't supposed to talk, but the shiny boy didn't seem at all surprised by the conversation. They both looked up at the Mountain, who was grinning widely down at them.

    “I'm scaring the birds away,” the straw boy said. It was the only thing he could think of to say, because no one had ever asked him what he was doing before. He puffed out his chest a bit to look more frightful.

    The shiny boy looked around and said, “I don't see any birds around here.”

    “That's because young Crow is doing his job very well,” the Mountain said. His voice was deep and smooth and made the straw boy smile with his stitched-together mouth. Crow. He had never had a name, but he liked this one, especially when the Mountain said it.

    “Never seen a scaredy crow on a stick before,” the shiny boy said, crossing his arms and looking back at Crow.

    “That's because you're from the North, child,” the Mountain said. “Not very many like Crow up there. Likewise,” he continued, now lifting Crow from the pole and setting him on the ground, “I'm sure young Crow has not seen the things that you and I have, like the towering pines or blanketing snows.”

    Crow didn't know what those words meant, but, like his new name, he enjoyed it when the Mountain said them.

    “My name is Crow,” he said, for no other reason than he wanted others to know it. Crow stood on his feet unsteadily; never before had he used his legs, and he was counting on the straw, and the stiff burlap pants that covered it, to help keep him upright.

    “I'm Chrome,” the shiny boy said. He held out his hand and Crow shook it like he had seen the farmer do. Chrome's body felt as much like metal as it looked and crushed Crow's gloved hand. Crow quickly fluffed it back up.

    “What's a chrome?” he asked.

    Chrome shrugged. “I don't know. It's me,” he said plainly.

    Crow admired the shiny boy's body, a far cry from his own limp-limbed straw self. Chrome clutched a cloth in his hand, which he used to constantly wipe away dust blown towards them by the gusty Missouri wind. Crow, conversely, liked the dirt; it snuck into his raggedy clothes and tickled through his straw insides.

    The Mountain rolled his sleeves up to his elbows; the Southern sun hung heavy in the sky and beat down endlessly on the trio. Even with the breeze the heat was intimidating, and the Mountain, with his thick clothes and bushy beard, did not look as though he was built for this weather, especially being so much closer to the sun than the others. He closed his eyes and leaned against something. It looked something like the pole Crow stood watch upon, but on its end was a wide, flat blade that gleamed as wonderfully as Chrome did in the sunlight.

    Crow finally gathered the courage to speak to the Mountain. “What's that?” he asked meekly, pointing to the cutting thing with a skinny gloved hand. Crow had seen the farmhands use something like it occasionally, but never out in the fields, and this one owned by the Mountain was far, far larger than any other.

    Opening his eyes, the Mountain smiled again at Crow. He lifted the cutting thing and Crow realized, recalling how the men used the tool, that the pole was actually a handle, and the blade was held towards the top. The Mountain gripped the handle so tightly that Crow feared he would splinter it right then and there.

    “This is a mighty ax,” the Mountain explained, looking proudly at the blade. He swung it back and forth a few times and Crow knew that a battle with such a thing was one he would lose. “I've felled trees whose tips scraped against the very sky itself,” the Mountain boasted. Crow tried to imagine this but the magnitude of it began to make his head hurt. He shook it to get the image out of his mind and a few stray pieces of straw fluttered to the ground.

    “They were the hugest things ever!” Chrome cried, spreading his arms as wide as he could to demonstrate their majesty. Crow looked on in awe as Chrome continued the tale.

    “The forest was so tall that you couldn't see the top of it! The fog eventually got in the way, but you could tell that the trees were touching the sky, because they scratched up against it a tiny little shavings floated down. It looked almost like snow, like the lightest, most beautiful snow ever, but it wasn't. It was pieces of the sky!”

    There was that word again, snow, and Crow was as amazed with it this time as he was the first.

    “And the bark!” Chrome called out. “It was hard as rock!” He made a fist with one hand and slammed it into the other, as if to imitate the material, and it made a clink clink sound. “Ten hundred men had come to these woods with their tools and their animals and their new, great machines, and they camped their for weeks beneath the falling skies. They would wake up early each morning and cut at the wood, and saw at it, and throw their coal into their machines so that they would do the work for them, but none of it worked! The bark was too strong! So they left the woods, every last one of them, with chipped tools and tired animals and broken down machines.

    “The men came back to town and they said, 'It can't be done! The bark is like stone. Those trees can never be moved!' But I knew they were wrong, because I had heard the stories. People at the inn, talking about the greatest man to ever live. The biggest man, the strongest. And I listened to these stories. That's the problem – plenty of people hear stories, but they don't very often listen to them, you know what I mean?” Chrome continued before Crow could tell him that no, he didn't know what he meant. “And so I knew that there was one man out there who could cut down those trees. I pushed my way through winter blizzards, and fought off whole packs of wolves, and rafted down rivers, following the stories 'til I finally tracked him down.”

    Crow's mouth was agape with amazement, his eyes not averting their gaze from Chrome despite the harsh reflection from his skin.

    “Who?” he wondered aloud.

    “Why, Paul Bunyan, of course!” Chrome said in disbelief, motioning to the Mountain.

    So, the Mountain, too had a name, and it was Paul Bunyan, which Crow like almost as much as his own name.

  3. #3
    Debra Storky
    Guest

    Re: Children's story introduction

    It's a lot of description. Not much happens, except that the "mountain" turns out to be Paul Bunyan. I didn't see much conflict. I just don't see this captivating children. Children, like adults, want to read a story with an engrossing conflict. I think you need to work on story and conflict.

    The writing is fine, but it's kind of dull, in my opinion. Your phrasing, etc., is good. It's just that you need to have things happening and things at stake instead of characters just talking to each other and observing and learning things.

    Minor things: "Mighty ax" is a cliche and you don't need "with amazement" after "Crow's mouth was agape."

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