The Official Writing Challenge
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This is a very interesting article. I wasn't expecting so many people to use the train at night, but then you didn't specify what time of night.

The people she sees aboard the train are certainly diverse. I liked the description of the "two happy soul brothers".

In places this needed some smoothing out. There were sentences I didn't understand. For instance the thought, "This place is a living fire." The part involving the elderly woman could be tightened up a little. Is she grumpy or two-faced? She seemed to switch moods in her dialogue. There were a few commas missing that would clarify some of your sentences. For example, your ex-pickpocket would say, "'What are you looking at, my sister?'"

I wonder if your story would hang together even tighter if the grandmother was mentioned at least one or two more times toward the middle. Maybe you could have the MC think, "Grandma would be terrified" or "I wish Grandma were here. She'd set that woman straight." or "Maybe Grandma was right." That would make the last two sentences seem less abrupt.

Over all, I liked this story and could see it developed even further with more description of the sights outside the window as well as the characters inside the coach. Good job!
Enjoyed the train ride!
Great job!
Your descriptions really captured my imagination. I could almost be there.

But in terms of style I would remove one or two of the passengers and flesh out the others. Also the very paragraph lacks punch. I would be inclined to end with the impromptu music recital
Facinating character sketches, A little editing to polish it (minor puncuation type things) would improve the flow. I loved the comparison to the -church family -the "one foundation", "for years I've had this seat" (or pew lol). Very nice!
This is a pretty good story overall, but as said above, in need of editing. Here's a thought - have another set of eyes (family member) read it - Not for edits, but give you a sense of what isn't working. Often times we can find this ourselves by simply reading out loud. Keep working, this is a good beginning.
I kept looking for the purpose, which is the topic, and upon finding no real purpose I decided that perhaps I should just sit back and enjoy the train ride. I did! Thank you, it's been a long, long, time since I had a train ride and it brought back good memories.
I loved reading your story, it kept my interest to the end. I could picture seeing every person that you discribed. It brought back memories of myself as a child when my family and I would ride the train every summer when school was out to go and visit my Grandmother. We would ride the 9:45 p.m. Union Pacific, I remember that it would always be dark and hard to see out of the windows at night with the lights on inside the train. We would always eat ritz crackers as a snack.