The Official Writing Challenge
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09/14/06
A very touching story. Thank you for sharing.
Could just be personal preference, but usually I see names kept the same throughout a piece - it was a little odd reading 'Barrett' one line, then 'Green' the next.
I liked the line, “You talkin’ about the dude up there?” :) You captured the sincere tone of someone who doesn't know.
Good job!
09/15/06
I really liked your "as we go" testimony. Everything we do each day should be like that -- relate it all to Jesus.
09/16/06
Very heart-warming story. A couple things that made me stop and go back to reread -- the change in the names threw me off and stopped the flow of the story. Another thing (personal pet-peeve) is any reference to the Lord should be capitalized. Although I cringe when someone refers to Him as "the Man upstairs" or "the Dude", I feel it should be capitalized as it is a direct reference to the Lord. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed your story! Great job! :)
09/16/06
A couple of suggestions here; I had to go back to see what Barrett's name was when you used "Green eyed"...took time away from reading. Then, even though I don't exactly like God being referred to as a Dude..I believe it should be capatalized; in respect. But otherwise the story was a very delightful read. Great ending. Nicely done.
09/16/06
I liked the fact that the pastor was a hard working guy who earned the respect of the criminal before sharing Christ. Very effective. Good story.
Well done. Excellent dialogue, which leads us through the conviction of a professional criminal as though it is a normal and natural occurrence. And to James it probably is!

I've never been fond of gardening myself. I enjoy the harvesting and picking but have never taken to the hard labour involved beforehand. In reading your article, my back was aching and I could feel the sweat dripping, that's how realistic it was!

I'm sure it's a difference between the English and American approach to spirituality that makes me say that I wouldn't have gone all the way with Green, not to such a blatant outpouring of self awareness and repentance. 'The stuff I've done, it's a weed that's killing me ain't it?' is perhaps explaining the parable rather than letting it speak for itself, which is what Jesus tended to do.
It might therefore have been effective to have Green make those grunts and other non-committal expressions which you include to show that he's heard what James said, that the seeds have been sown. And then maybe for him simply to offer to help keep the garden free of weeds, 'since I've put all this work in!'
James uses the garden's weeds as a metaphor for sin, and I think it would be a better STORY for Green to stay within the metaphor.
Whether it would be as powerful evangelistically would probably depend on the target audience.
As I said earlier, it would be less consistent, probably, with your own experience of how God works. You possibly have someone repenting in tears in your church every Sunday, and I do concede that that is bound to affect how one would approach such a story as this. However, I hope you don't mind me offering an alternative approach.

The line 'It's hard to see...' needs a speech tag. At first I thought it was Green speaking, and such confusion spoils the flow.

The two men could still go into church under the shadow of the cross, which is such a striking finish. The whole piece is strikingly written and will probably score well.