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The Sleek Dog : Your Story • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

The Sleek Dog

Read the top five entries and vote for your favorite in the current Writer's Digest Your Story competition. (You must be a registered member of the WD Forum to view and vote.)
Scott Francis
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The Sleek Dog

Postby Scott Francis » Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:11 pm

I looked quickly behind myself again, nervous habit took over and I struggled to decide weather my hair belonged behind my ear or not. Night coated the roads, like a dark bed sheet. My weary tiers chugged across the breakdown line. My gas light blinked on, and slowly I rolled down the window.

“Night, Officer.”

“Are you aware that you exceeded fifty miles over the speed limit?”

“Really,” I said removing my hair from my face, “That fast…” there was a dull moment of silence.

The police man gazed into my widow, his eyes dancing along the windows edge. He raised his flashlight it illumined his ample chin. His pale skin and a tattoo; a strange sleek dog. He wore a mask of disdain and pulled helplessly on the sides of his pants. He grappled with the problem, his gun clicking against his metal belt design endlessly. Both of us suddenly met within reality again.

“I’ll need your license and registration, Mam.”

“Oh…of course…it’s been a long night. Please excuse my slight confusion; you seem to be feeling it yourself.” I said stifling a yawn.

“Me? No, I’m used to the nightshift.”

I glanced out the side mirror…my car sat much lower to the ground then I recalled most likely it was the exhaustion.

“What day is it?” I asked with a slight smudge of hysteria.

“Mam?”

“What day is it?”

“September sixteenth. Twenty Eleven.”

The mist curled up at the edges of the field. It was devoid of color swallowed up by a sepia tone, it was akin to a primordial canopy though which the sun had to exercise to push its way through. As thick as the sky it lay with a goal to smother the field. In the distance a shutter would fire, and a boy would scream my name.

I frowned at the out of place memory.

“I need your license…”

Over here! I cried in response. But everywhere my voice drifted on the eves of nightfall and it was this factor that prevented the boy from finding me.

Now I began to sweat, “What day is this?”

“Alright mam, step out of the car please,” He wheezed.

Stumbling from the reeds of a swamp I fell to my cracked knees, crying for deliverance. My shirt torn, and bloodied I knelt by the first sign of civilization. A train hurdled by, too quick have posed any rejoice. Tendrils of mist leapt from the iron tracks, hot as a torrid fever. I whipped my brow, knowing that I couldn’t last much longer.

I found myself out on the road now, staring down at my feet. I had no shoes on. They were red and crusted. Underfoot the pavement was cool and relaxing. The thick foot falls of a thick police man staggered slowly, like heavy rocks.

“How long have you been awake for?”

“I don’t know.” I said softly.

“I just think you’ve been awake a little too long, I’m gonna take you to the station where you can get some rest. But first I need to get your registration.”

I reeled before writing myself, and then slowly I made my way back to the car. I fumbled across the long ark of a steering wheel and into the confinement of the glove box. But my fingers toyed with a new shape. I small camera, I yanked it free and yelped in fear as I reviewed the pictures.

A train deep within the haunting forests, and a man, the same man shot it almost all the photographs. And a sleek dog inscribed on the inside of his neck, teeth barred in defense. Chaos; a train derailed. Strange misfires. A boy, a swamp, and the perusing of us both; I fought to back my tears as the man behind me reached for his gun.

Jonayla
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Re: The Sleek Dog

Postby Jonayla » Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:56 pm

"An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations" ~ Charles de Montesquieu

Grammarian
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Re: The Sleek Dog

Postby Grammarian » Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:55 am

I'll be blunt. I can not believe that a magazine would allow such a poorly edited piece to make its way not only onto its site but into a contest. If based on the merits of the writing it's deemed a story worth voting for, at least clean up the OBVIOUS spelling and punctuation mistakes. As a teacher I often have to overlook such mistakes to assess the intent of some work; unless, of course, the point is to assess the spelling and grammar. However, errors of this type greatly distract from the potential of the story. This is very disappointing.
As for the plot of the story, I must admit that I don't get it either. I want to reread it to see if I missed something.

wikedlmnts
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Re: The Sleek Dog

Postby wikedlmnts » Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:55 am

Agreed. This example of a finalist piece is not encouraging. To elaborate on the above posts, below are edits to one very small section of text riddled with errors:

"My shirt torn, and bloodied I knelt by the first sign of civilization."
Should Read: My shirt torn and bloodied, I knelt by the first sign of civilization.
Comma's do not belong between two descriptive words of one item where "and" is present.

"A train hurdled by, too quick have posed any rejoice."
Should Read: A train hurtled by too quick for me to have posed any rejoice.
The way it is originally written implies the train itself was moving too fast to pose rejoice which makes no sense and also leaves out the second "to".

"Tendrils of mist leapt from the iron tracks, hot as a torrid fever. I whipped my brow, knowing that I couldn’t last much longer."
Should Read: Tendrils of steam leapt from the iron tracks, hot as a torrid fever. I wiped my brow, knowing that I couldn't last much longer.
The way it is originally written implies that mist, which is cool by nature and does not settle on objects but rather hangs in the air, is somehow steam which is water evaporating from objects when heated. Creative license is one thing, using the wrong word is not creative. Secondly - you don't "whip" a brow and therefore certainly do not "whipped" one either. "Whipped" is the past tense of Whip - the process of flogging, beating, or briskly ... whipping something. I imagine the character would much rather practice the past tense of Wipe - the act of cleaning.

gregwendland
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Re: The Sleek Dog

Postby gregwendland » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:31 pm

I have to agree with the other critiques. I don't wish to be rude, but I do have to take commentary one step further. It is disconcerting that a story so riddled with basic grammatical and spelling errors can make it to a finalist vote situation. Furthermore, as a newly registered member of Writers Digest seeking to better my writing and find inspiration, reading something like that makes me question the credibility of Writers Digest as a viable resource for me.

Cyntax
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Re: The Sleek Dog

Postby Cyntax » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:58 pm

I read the misspellings as intentional - meant to be confused, just like the protagonist appears to be confused. But...I don't really get the story either.

Detrout
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Re: The Sleek Dog

Postby Detrout » Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:56 pm

One should master the form before attempting to manipulate it for stylistic purposes. I don’t get that sense here.

Clay MacTarnaghan
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Re: The Sleek Dog

Postby Clay MacTarnaghan » Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:50 pm

A reading of this entry leads me to believe I should be a finalist every time I enter a contest. I do not think of myself so unrealistically that I consider myself that brilliant a writer. On the other hand, assuming a credible level of ability by the judges, I cannot imagine what criteria would allow an entry such as this to be selected, unless all entries were as poorly written, or more so.

While I have found minor errors in several submissions, despite my short tenure as a forum member, this entry was egregious. I immediately noticed many spelling errors, including ones not mentioned by others. I had not read long, when the grammatical and vocabulary errors were also rife. This was no attempt at stylistic manipulation.

The story line was equally confusing, regardless the gross mechanical failure of the writing. I can conjecture several rape scenarios occurring, both past and present, though as to what the actual plot is, I would hope at least the author knows.

In any event, I agree this reflects poorly on Writer's Digest.

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Shh_Im_writing
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Re: The Sleek Dog

Postby Shh_Im_writing » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:46 pm

I read through the comments before looking at the story. Thinking some of the criticism might be on the tough side, I read the story. First let me say, there is definitely potential here. The writer is using words in a poetic fashion, that I appreciate. However, the punctuation and grammatical errors along with troublesome sentence structure made it difficult to understand what the story is trying to convey. On a lighter note there may be hope for my own writing. I am new at this and just starting the writing journey.

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JeffSwitt
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Re: The Sleek Dog

Postby JeffSwitt » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:14 pm

Hello all, I am new here. How do I tell that this is a contest finalist? Jeff

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