03/08/2017
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Under the Microscope extra: Fallible Justice

2ebe2b2a-4b15-4326-b0ed-0a91153fce01

Read James McCreet's analysis of this novel opening in the September issue of Writing Magazine, and scroll down for his suggested rewrite.

Fallible Justice, by Laura Laakso

I am running. The foot that touches the ground is a deer’s hoof, the foot that propels me forward a wolf’s paw. With each stride, the wings of a seagull hold me aloft. Running along the sandy hill, the wide paws of a lynx ensure my passing is silent. The wind is against me, whipping through a horse’s mane that is my hair. With the wind comes the smells of the land and the sea and I sift through them with the nose of a badger. In the distance, a magpie takes flight and the ears of a dormouse pinpoint the source of the sound with ease. My foot hits a depression on the ground, but with the balance of a squirrel I change the direction of my momentum and keep going.
I am running through the wilderness and the wilderness runs through me.
The hills follow the curves of the coast and from a sheltered cove, I catch a whiff of decay. My stomach growls and it is the hunger of a vixen sneaking towards a chicken coop, a pine marten tossing a shrew in the air, a striped dolphin chasing a school of cod. As soon as the thought registers, the smell is gone.
A hound bays in the distance. It is downwind from me and has recognised my scent. I bay back. Kin recognises kin.
Although I run with the strength of a red deer, the speed of a swift and the grace of a pond skater, there comes a point when I have to stop. I brace my hands against my knees, breath coming in gulps. In that moment, I am all human, only human. There is no sorrow in the change; the wilderness hovers on the edge of my consciousness, ready to immerse me with its power.

James McCreet's suggested rewrite

I am running. I am running with deer’s hoof and wolf’s paw. The wings of a seagull hold me aloft. The wide paws of a lynx ensure my silent passing along the sandy hill.
The wind is against me, whipping through my horse’s mane. With it come the smells of the land and the sea and I sift through their complexities like the air through my hair. I see a magpie take flight. I sense the ears of a dormouse pinpoint the source with ease.
My foot enters a rushy depression, but with a squirrel’s balance I tip my equilibrium and lose no pace.
I am the wilderness.
The hills follow the lines of the coast and I catch a whiff of decay from a sheltered cove. My stomach growls – the hunger of a vixen stalking a chicken coop, mouth open, sensing the night.
A dog bays in the distance. It is downwind from me and has registered my scent. I feel him. Kin recognises kin.
Although I run with the strength of the fleeing, the speed of the swooping, the aim of the striking, there comes a point when I have to stop. I brace my hands against my knees, breath coming in gulps. In that moment, I am all human – only human. There is no sorrow in the change; the wilderness hovers on the edge of my consciousness, its power ever-present in me, around me.

Read the full analysis in the September issue of Writing Magazine.

Back to "How to write fiction" Category

03/08/2017 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Coffee break exercise: Camera

Picture this – a new piece of writing that starts with a camera prompt in this week's creative writing ...


How to use creative writing techniques in other writing

Use transferable creative writing techniques to bring other forms of writing to life ...


Read more, write better! Writing Magazine bonus content, January 2019

Background reading, exclusive audio extracts and more to complement your latest Writing Magazine ...


Coffee break exercise: Clocks

Can you spare a few minutes? It's time for a new creative writing exercise ...


Other Articles

The 22 most thoughtful gift ideas for aspiring writers

Writers are seen to be at their happiest with just a piece of paper and a pen. So, when it comes to gift ...


Under the Microscope extra: The Man Who Would Do Nothing Twice

Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's novel opening ...


Why do authors use pen names?

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? There are many reasons why a writer decides to change ...


How to write a self-help book

Leading publishing editor Kelly Notaras offers her top ten tips for writing a self-help book ...