Under the Microscope extra: Buttercups and Daisies

e7b5a33f-525c-44f9-8527-d4c781155184

Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's novel opening

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

Buttercups and Daisies, by Brian Walsh - original version

It had always been referred to by everyone as a farm; although the Dickinson place, which had now been derelict for almost thirty years, was a smallholding just a short walk from the primary school. The small wooden gate at the front of the fire-blackened house, which overlooked the main road to the village, now lay on the ground like a long-dead sentry halfway inside the overgrown garden - broken, rotting, and beyond repair. Most of the stable block had long since collapsed, and the corrugated metal sheets were now covered in grass and leaves, although several still swung precariously at the side of the cracked and moss-strewn driveway. Apple trees soared high above the house aping giant oaks, their roots having broken through the tarmacadam path leading to the porticoed front door; seeking dominance over the bracken and encroaching ivy. The ten feet high privet hedges shielded the lower half of the property from all sunlight throwing it into perpetual shadow. However, through the gloom could be seen the smoke-blackened windows - or what was left of them, after the intense heat of the flames had caused the glass to explode all around the building like Chinese firecrackers. Broken and jagged now, splinters of the moss-covered windowpanes stood out from their frames like sentinels, threatening anyone foolish enough to enter the old house.
 
I stood across the road facing the wreck of what had once been someone's home; physically and mentally unable to intrude further into what this sad monument now represented. Undoubtedly, I was partly responsible for the consequence of terrible events which had led ultimately to this awful decimation.

 

Buttercups and Daisies - McCredited rewrite

The fire-blackened Dickinson place on the main road to the village had been derelict for almost thirty years. The small garden gate now lay rotting on the root-riven and weed-infested path to the front door.

The corrugated metal stable block to the rear had now collapsed like a house of cards, it’s undulating sheets lying blanketed with dead leaves or hanging precariously from bolts. Indeed, nature seemed to be reclaiming its territory. Apple trees jostled the roof. Moss colonised the cracked concrete driveway to the left. Bracken choked the garden and ivy the walls. The ten-foot privet hedge around the property was ragged and protective, throwing all into shadow.

As for the house itself, it gaped numbly through burnt-out window frames, crying soot from lashes of fractured glass.

I stood across the road facing the wreck. The fire had been my fault.

 

 

For the full critique, see the January issue of Writing Magazine