The Official Writing Challenge
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I assume this is based on a true story (well, I know the fire is true, but the events surrounding the reporting of it, I wasn't sure.) If so, this was a good retelling of history, placing it in the personal setting of J.D. Hammond. Good dialogue, giving a bit of back story, and description of the characters. However, I'm wondering if it would've been more original if you'd picked just one "thing" to zero in on that would give the reader a "take away" (besides the fire.) Not sure the church scene was relevant to the rest of the story. Good writing overall, though.
05/23/10
Good job putting this in a historical setting. I didn't even realize the significance of the name "O'Leary" until they mentioned the fire. Clever. ;)

Based on how you introduced the story, with J.D. "not getting excited about things since the death of his wife" it may have developed the character a little more to show his resentment/anger/bitterness throughout the story. But maybe that's not the sort of character you were aiming for.

At any rate, I think it has a good historical feel and a great ending. ;)