Kiwi kid wrote:This is from my new short story. I'm not entirely happy with it yet, and it hasn't been proof read, but I like the beginning because I think it sets the scene well.
'Batt stared blankly at the brick wall out the window and made the decision to go for it. It was a difficult decision to make, and she had already made it 6 times that morning alone. Flipping like a fish in shallow water she had gone from one side to the other searching for the right answer. If only she knew, could be sure, of what God wanted her to do. Maybe she should think about it some more.'
Kiwi kid, there's quite a bit of good content here. You introduce a character right away, and the conflict. You've got a great image with the flipping fish. I'd do a few edits for miscellaneous mechanics--something like this (reasons below):
Batt stared out the window and made the decision to go for it. It was a decision she had already made six times that morning, flipping like a fish in shallow water. If only she could be sure of what God wanted her to do. She sighed and thought about it some more.
Reasons for the changes:
1. Staring is usually 'blankly', so that adverb is unnecessary. I'm a big fan of trimming adverbs and using stronger verbs.
2. Unless the brick wall is necessary to the setting (hard to tell with such a short excerpt), it's not needed here, and the sentence is tighter without it.
3. Since she has already made the decision six times, it's obviously a difficult one. That can be trimmed (it's telling instead of showing). And since I chopped a lot of that sentence, I added the flipping fish to it, to make it a more interesting sentence. But I chopped the "going from side to side" and the "searching..." because the fish image has already taken care of that. Again--showing is preferable to telling.
4. I trimmed "she knew"--unnecessary
5. Since the paragraph is largely abstract, I added a little bit of action ("She sighed...") to bring The character back into the readers' minds.
As I said in a previous post, writing is an art, not a science, so none of these changes are engraved in stone. I'm just always a fan of trim, trim, trim--make each sentence say as much as possible in as few words as possible.
What do you think?