Under the Microscope extra: The Lakes Lost

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Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's story opening

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

The Lakes Lost, by Sarah Hunter - original version

Rachel’s boyfriend, Daniel, crouched beside her. Hidden behind spikey pines, they’d finally found the perfect place to view the moose as it waded through the lake. She breathed in the moment of stillness, broken only by the animal’s heavy snorts, and the creak of the trees, grumbling in the faint breeze.

Rachel smiled, getting ever so slightly lost had been worth it. After hours of stumbling through dense forest, only sighting glimpses of birds hopping between leaves, they’d made the decision to wander away from the well-worn trails.

It was the final day of their holiday. Despite the abundance of luscious scenery, they’d so far been unlucky in their quest to find wildlife in the mountains. But this… this was the icing on top of the cake. Rachel knew next week when she was back staring at a computer screen in a magnolia office, she’d be pining for this moment.

The ice snapped as the moose’s hoof ploughed into the cool, autumn waters. Groaning, he lowered his snout, so that delicate bubbles rippled around his nostrils. His long knees flexed as he searched amongst the dead wood that floated at the edge of the bank.

 “Shall we move closer?” Daniel whispered. They slid themselves off the collapsed branch and tiptoed through the mud, streaked with slices of shimmering white.

The moose was climbing away from the lake’s edge, his humped back disappearing into the web of trees. Rachel slipped off her rucksack, pushing aside spare jumpers until she found her phone. Before the animal was swallowed, she jabbed the photo button; the image was blurry.

“Did you get one?” mouthed Daniel, eyes pinched as he flicked through the images on his camera.

Rachel shook her head, disappointed.

“Let’s walk around the loop,” he said, “see if we can catch any more.” 

 

The Lakes Lost - McCredited version

Rachel and her boyfriend Daniel crouched hidden behind spikey pines. They’d finally found the perfect place to observe the moose as it waded through the ice-crusted lake. She inhaled a moment of stillness broken only by the animal’s heavy snorts and the trees creaking in the faint breeze.

Rachel smiled. Getting ever so slightly lost had been worth it. After hours of hiking through dense forest, glimpsing only birds hopping between leaves, they’d made the decision to wander away from the well-worn trails.

It was the final day of their holiday. Despite the abundance of verdant scenery, they’d so far been unlucky in their quest to find anything other than rooting birds in the mountains. But this . . . this was the icing on the cake.

The ice cracked further as the moose passed through the chill autumn waters. Groaning, he lowered his nose so that bubbles rose from his nostrils. His haunches dipped as he searched amongst the dead wood that floated at the edge of the bank.

“Shall we move closer?” Daniel whispered. They slid themselves off the collapsed branch and tiptoed through mud glazed white with crystalline puddles.

The moose was climbing away from the lake’s edge, his humped back disappearing into the maze of trees. Rachel slipped off her rucksack, pushing aside spare jumpers until she found her phone. Before the animal vanished, she jabbed the photo button; the image was blurry.

“Did you get one?” mouthed Daniel, squinting as he flicked through the images on his camera.

Rachel shook her head, disappointed.

“Let’s walk around the loop,” he said, “and see if we can catch any more.”

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