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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Risk (05/17/12)

TITLE: The Dark Side of the Sun
By Ada Nett


Thunder growled menacingly across the sky drowning out the cries she was ripping from her soul with the dull edge of a scream. Lightening zigzagged from a pregnant cloud splitting open the tender membrane and releasing a torrent of rain that fell like cold, hard pellets across the open field. She didn't hear the thunder or feel the rain. She'd lost all sensation of danger as the lightening continued to slash through the air surrounding her. The angry wind whipped Helsa's rough woven skirt into the air and left her legs unprotected as the tall grasses whipped red stripes upon her flesh. Falling in a heap, Helsa buried her face into the wet, scratchy weeds and wept torrents of tears as prolific and as hard as the rain. Already the letter she gripped in her hand had absorbed the water, streaking ink like small black veins along the edges of the sodden page.

The morning she met Frederik had dawned soft and sweet, the light breaking through the night sky with a pale rose glow that illuminated the farm like a glorious outdoor cathedral. The first notes of the mourning dove were drifting across the field when she heard the approaching hoof beats. Helsa was milking the soft gray Vosges cow, she could hear her papa already at work in his forge beside the barn. The sharp ring of his hammer striking the hot malleable metal was like the singing of birds at dawn, an intrinsic part of her life, as natural to her as was the daily breathing in of the warm, musky smell rising from the cow's flank in the dawn's early light and she took a quiet comfort in the rhythm of the hammer blows as she filled the milk pail in harmony with papa's hot iron song. Delicate as a wild rose petal and as strong as the iron in papa's shop love grew naturally and unbidden when Frederik had ridden the limping,old mule into the barnyard. The mule favored his right front leg, where the wrought iron horse shoe hung loosely from the hoof. Helsa stepped from the barn as Frederik reigned the mule in. Their first words were simple and unremembered, lost in the beauty of a moment that was destined to change their lives forever.

They were wed on the farm in the outdoor cathedral. Helsa's dress was the customary black with buttons of cherry red. Her mama smiled as she lovingly tied the heirloom crown around Helsa's chin, the long tie ribbons unruly and gay as they danced laughingly in the summer wind. Helsa's pale blonde hair was woven into intricate braids laced together with an array of wild flowers gathered in the morning mist across the fields surrounding the farm. Frederik felt his heart die and rebirth anew as the reverend spoke the holy words that reconstructed two hearts into one . The merriment lasted three days and the farm rang with music as the village folk took a holiday from their care-worn lives and celebrated the happy event.

On their wedding night Frederik shared with Helsa his daring plans for their future. “We will build a new life in a new world, Helsa, here I am poor and have no chance to prosper. I will go ahead and prepare a home for us. When the time is right I will send for you.” Helsa wept as he spoke, yet she knew the words were true and as one were their hearts, so became their dreams. Two weeks later Frederik boarded the ship.

The storm was ending, sporadic drops of rain fell on Helsa's back as she slowly unclenched her fist leaving the death drenched letter and their broken dreams in the grass. Tears spent, heart and belly heavy, Helsa rose unsteadily from the ground just as the sun burst forth with a light that shattered the wet sky into a crescent curve of color. Helsa touched her stomach a look of pure wonder on her face as the first kick of the new life deeply hidden in her womb made its presence known and in the distance Helsa could hear the steady ring of papa's hammer calling her home.

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This article has been read 354 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dannie Hawley 05/24/12
Wow what a terrific piece of writing... very descriptive, colorful, evoking a range of emotions, for sure! Pass the Kleenex, please, sniff, sniff. Magnificent job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/24/12
You have a lot of descriptions in this piece. My heart hurt for the MC and the pain she was going through. I liked how the dark sky mirrored her thoughts.

Personally for me there is a bit too much purple prose. Though some of the descriptions paint a lovely picture others distract me a bit and make it hard to figure out what the story is really about.

I did really enjoy the ending and appreciated the rainbow and storm metaphors. When one has life growing inside, there is a glimmer of hope and you showed that quite nicely. Good job.
Theresa Santy 05/24/12
Love the title.

Also loved the passion and depth of emotion in this piece. I also enjoyed the intense sensation of all the senses.

However, I agree with Shann, that it was a little over the top. Sometimes, when you remove some of the adjectives and adverbes, the remaining sentence increases in strength.

I would love to show you the edits I would make, if I were critiquing it. You can PM me if you're interested, but I must warn you, I am a lot like William Hung from AI in that 'I've had no professional training!'

In any case, this is a fantastic piece and, with the removal of several descriptors, it would be super-fantastic.
C D Swanson 05/26/12
I found this magical and so beautiful in your detailed imagery. I loved the entire piece, and was mesmerized by the whole piece. Thank you so much. Great job!

God Bless~
Sandra Renee Hicks 05/26/12
Hi -

You weave words superbly. Your descriptive content is delightfully engaging.

I love the story, too.
Laura Manley05/28/12
Wow, you certainly got a lot in this story in the allotted word count. Although I appreciate your descriptive writing, I felt in parts it was overdone. It was just too much in my opinion. What I'm trying to say is this...your descriptions were very, very good; however, I would no sooner absorb one of them and would be presented with yet another and I felt this didn't give me the chance to really appreciate what had just been said. Because of this, the read was broken for me. If you have any questions regarding what I'm trying to say, please contact me by PM. I hope this is taken in the spirit in which it is intended. You are an excellent writer and to get from point A to point B in only 750 words was brilliantly done by you.
Leah Nichols 05/29/12
I agree with the comments already written - overly descriptive in several places with too much imagery. Not that the imagery is negative at all; it is beautiful, and your words are well chosen. Just too many all at once. Comma usage is sparse, and the piece could use a few more to break up your long sentences. Other than that, the content is excellent and you have a talent of writing emotion well. I think you could emphasize the topic a little more - focus on the risk he'd taken and maybe even included dialogue between them regarding her worries for his safety. Great entry! Keep writing. :)
Edmond Ng 05/29/12
A very descriptive piece that blended in with the mood of the story very well. I like the way you ended the story on a positive note with a glimpse of hope and the beginning of a new life. Nicely written.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/31/12
Congratulations for placing 10th in level three!