Testing the waters

Remember Jenny Mac Tuesdays? Well I thought that I would try something out with you guys. I’m hoping for a little insight.

Some of you know that throughout the past few months I have been in the middle of a re-write for Jenny Mac, so I thought that I might toss you a section from the re-write and get your opinion.

Well here it goes.


Jenny’s softball game was just beginning when sirens wailed on Main Street. Everyone in attendance for the ballgame watched as the emergency response vehicles quickly went by.

Jenny stood on the mound, trying to bring back her concentration for the game ahead; she ignored the sirens going by and centered herself before her first pitch. She wound up and threw a strike, and the crowd cheered as the catcher threw the ball back to Jenny. Jenny gave her second offering and threw another strike. She was going to have a great game; she could feel it as her adrenaline kicked in.

As the game continued, Jenny was playing a fantastic game; she had back-to-back strikeouts and even managed to catch a couple of wild hits. However, around the second half of her game, her mind began to wander. She looked into the stands. Her parents were nowhere in sight. It was not like them ever be late, or miss a game.

As Jenny sat in the dugout waiting for her turn at bat, an ambulance went by. Only this time it was coming back toward the hospital. Jenny began to get nervous; she looked in the stands once again hoping to find her parents sitting there, she tried to keep herself calm and not think the worst, but after the interruption at the beginning of the game and now seeing that same ambulance go by, it was hard for her not to think the worst.

As Jenny got on deck and began to take her practice swings, a couple of people in the stands pointed at her. There were now whispers throughout the dugout. She didn’t notice this, because she was trying to concentrate on her at-bat.

A teammate’s mother had received a phone call from her husband. He was a paramedic who had responded to the accident. He called his wife to tell her the tragic news. Mr. and Mrs. Mac were dead at the scene; from what the police could gather, it was a hit and run in the middle of an intersection.

There was even more pointing at Jenny from people in the stands as she hit the ball and ran to first base.

As she stood on first base she noticed the pointing for the first time, but dismissed it, thinking that it had something to do with her hit.

The next batter struck out, and the teams switched.

As Jenny jogged back to the dugout to get her mitt her teammate Kelsey took one look at her and ran away crying. That made Jenny suspicious, and she once again looked in the stands for her parents. As Jenny looked through the stands everyone she made eye contact with either began to cry, or wore a look of sorrow on their face. Something had happened; Jenny knew it, and as she took her eyes off of the stands something caught her eye.

A bald man in a suit and a police officer were walking toward the softball field. Jenny was worried as they approached her.

Jason, the bald man spoke first.

“Are you Jenny Mac?”

Jenny’s heart began to pound. “That’s me. Can you tell me what’s going on?”

“Would you please come with us?”

“Yes sir.”

Jenny walked to the police car with the men; once inside, she was told the terrible news.

“Jenny, I’m Officer Williams and this is Jason Simpson; I’m afraid we have some bad news.”

“What is it?” Jenny asked nervously, feeling as though she was about to be sick.

“Jenny I’m so sorry to inform you that your parents have just passed away in a car accident,” said Jason.

Jenny burst into tears. “No, no, no, they can’t be.”

“I’m sorry, Jenny,” said Jason, as he handed her a few tissues.

Officer Williams drove Jenny to her grandparents’ house where she would stay temporarily, until everything was sorted out with her parents will.


4 thoughts on “Testing the waters

  1. Sure why not.

    First paragraph, do you really need the adverb “quickly”? Adverbs can bog down writing.

    Second paragraph, this is not super serious but don’t end sentences and begin new ones with the same word. Feels clunky.

    Third paragraph, first sentence uses the word “game” twice, sounds clunky; this phrase doesn’t really sound great. Last sentence, correct your grammar. Grammar issues are a huge turn-off when reading, they take you out of the story (you are missing a “to”).

    Fourth paragraph, second sentence is not a sentence. I don’t buy this paragraph. She heard emergency vehicles at the beginning and now too, and she’s already thinking the worst. I think more build-up is required.

    I think you need some dialogue in here somewhere; it would break up the paragraphs and ground the story somewhat. Why wouldn’t she talk to someone in the dugout about the emergency vehicles? If they’ve captured her attention, why wouldn’t she speak about them to someone? She’s in the dug-out after all.

    That sixth paragraph (a teammates’s mother…) takes you right out of the story. You jump from Jenny’s perspective to someone else’s (impersonal narrator voice). You start explaining what is happening rather than letting us find out. Why is this even important to say? Why do you give away what happened right here rather than building up the tension? How much coincidence can you accept when having the attending paramedic’s wife in the stands to relay the news?

    Why are the next two paragraphs disjointed in that way? There was even more pointing… she noticed the pointing… this is very point a to point b writing.

    The run away crying paragraph… seems overly melodramatic and serves no real purpose. We already know her parents are dead, so this has little impact. And why isn’t someone going up and talking to her if everyone knows that her parents are dead? How does it make sense for people to continue letting her play baseball in that situation? It makes no sense. Why are you telling us that Jenny is suspicious when someone looks at her and runs off crying, after all her other observations? Wasn’t she already suspicious? Something had happened… why would you write that down when it’s obvious that something had happened?

    Next paragraph (bald man), Jenny was worried as they approached her. Why do you need to say this? How is that remotely effective writing that shows us what is happening? Why are you telling us what is happening like this?

    How do we know Jason’s name if we’re telling the story from Jenny’s perspective?

    The terrible news line; you indicate that she’s told the terrible news and then you describe the dialogue where she is told the terrible news. Why? Why don’t you just use the dialogue? Why wouldn’t this be the first place where Jenny learns what happened to her parents? Why not trust your readers to be intelligent rather than hitting them over the head with “hey her parents are dead” repeatedly through the narrative? I think people can figure out and follow the dread and tension of understanding that something is wrong without it having been spelled out for them already – I think you are sabotaging your own story and the build-up and it becomes a chore to read through the ending because we already know what happened on account of the novel plot device of having the paramedic’s wife in attendance. Sorry, that was harsh, but this would have been so much better if you’d just treated the readers like intelligent humans.

    That last paragraph is like a forced ending just to wrap things up. After that news, why do you have to conveniently wrap things up such that she’s staying with her grandparents? You don’t have to neatly and tidily wrap everything up!

    I understand what you’re going for here, but the writing repeatedly takes you out of the story and is very clunky. I don’t know how to describe it. I think you know what you want to write, but your writing is just bad at this point. Sorry, trying to be honest. You need to practice. You need to read.


    1. I guess the new approach hadn’t turned out as I thought it would.
      Too much of trying to add tension, and not nearly enough of actually thinking the whole scene, dialogue, and Jenny’s viewpoint through.
      Practice makes perfect so it’s back to the drawing board.
      I appreciate your honesty.


      1. No problem. Show don’t tell. I keep saying that, but it’s so true. It’s the heart of so many issues with writing. Trust your readers, they will figure it out.

        You were adding tension, but then you gave it away by spoiling the truth. I would have much preferred to have seen Jenny be curious about the emergency response vehicles and have them distract her from her game, without trying to foreshadow imminent tragedy. The reader will figure out the truth when the cops show up; and then you can give the reveal.

        From functional standpoint, if you’re telling a story from Jenny’s viewpoint, stick with that. It’s very difficult and takes a great deal of skill to effectively jump between viewpoints. For an example of a sloppy instance of point of view change, check my latest post. It’s a shorty story that was written to play with point of view.


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