30/10/2018
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Under the Microscope extra: Witness Tree

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Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's first 300 words and for the full critique, see the December issue of Writing Magazine.

 

Witness Tree - original

Bessie couldn’t wait to get out of the warm airless confines of the school classroom. On a beautiful sunny day, like today, she longed to be outside in the fresh air, sitting under the shade of the old Oak tree on the village green chatting to her friends, or teasing her sweetheart William as he made several awkward attempts to kiss her.

“Bessie can you please stop looking out of the window, you haven’t been listening to a word I’ve been saying have you?”

Bessie went to look away but as she did she saw a boy, probably about the same age, staring back at her. She had seen him a few times over the last week or so, but from a distance. He was always smartly dressed as well, not scruffy with worn out shoes and unkempt hair like most of the boys she knew.

She looked towards the front of the classroom at Miss Rainer who was standing by the blackboard and holding a piece of chalk in her hand.

Bessie sighed quietly to herself “Sorry Miss” she said, smiling an apology.

“Well I expect better from you Bessie”, she said putting down the chalk and picking up the board rubber. “Stay behind and you can help me pack everything away. The rest of you can go, but remember it’s the test in the morning, so I don’t want anyone to be late”.

Before she could finish the sentence, the sound of screeching chairs pierced the classroom as one after the other, hot sticky bodies grabbed their belongings and raced each other to the door.

William brushed by Bessie’s shoulder and muttered the old Oak in fifteen minutes before pushing past some of the smaller boys and swiping one of them behind the ear. He looked over his shoulder and smiled across at Bessie as he headed outside and into the heat of the afternoon.

 

McCredited version

Bessie couldn’t wait to get out of the warm, airless confines of the classroom. She longed to be outside in the fresh air on this beautiful sunny day, chatting to her friends in the shade of the old oak on the village green. Or teasing her sweetheart William as he made several awkward attempts to kiss her.

“Bessie, can you please stop looking out of the window. You haven’t listened to a word I’ve been saying, have you.”

Bessie was about to look away from the window when she saw the boy staring back at her. She had seen him a few times over the last week or so, but from a distance. He was about the same age as her and always smartly dressed – not scruffy with worn out shoes and unkempt hair like most of the boys she knew.

She looked at Miss Rainer, who was standing by the blackboard and holding a piece of chalk in her hand. 

Bessie sighed quietly to herself. “Sorry Miss,” she said, smiling an apology. 

“Well, I expect better from you, Bessie”, said Miss Rainer, putting down the chalk and picking up the board rubber. “Stay behind and you can help me pack everything away. The rest of you can go, but remember it’s the test in the morning so I don’t want anyone to be—.

Screeching chairs erased the end of her sentence as hot, sticky hands grabbed belongings and the pupils raced each other to the door.

William brushed by Bessie’s shoulder and muttered, “The old oak in fifteen minutes,” before pushing past some of the smaller boys and swiping one of them behind the ear. He looked over his shoulder and smiled at Bessie before bursting outside and into the heat of the afternoon. 

• For the full critique, see the December issue of Writing Magazine.

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