Sunday, July 30, 2006

New Beginning 20


The sign on Highway 89 for his miniscule town was instructional: Pray, followed by a large arrow that pointed the way to his crumbling house. Hollis Dixon passed this sign twice a day on the twenty mile bus ride to and from his high school in Livingston, Montana. He imagined that years ago all the surrounding towns got together, picked out the worst of their lot, and transported them to this nothing place. He envisioned a black clad preacher hammering this sign into the ground: Pray, hoping that those passing by on their way to or from Yellowstone would ask God for guidance for the poor souls residing the three and a half miles to the east of Highway 89. Hollis assumed, given the present conditions of things, that no one bothered.


Hollis, home for his father's funeral. He wondered if anything had changed, if anybody had said a prayer for this God-forsaken place. He certainly hadn't.

The dilapidated road sign to Pray leaned toward the east. And someone had altered the sign, replacing its "a" with a crudely written "e." Prey. How fitting, thought Hollis. His house, his family, his very life had been consumed by the Montana wilderness.

Sighing, he turned up the dirt road that led to Livingston. When a shadow fell across his path, Hollis barely had time to scream.

Continuation: Nancy Conner


Anonymous said...

I think this is a clever opening (I like the name of the town and the comment about it).

Story sounds like it might be depressing, though, and so, right now, I would not likely keep reading. (Sorry, that's me, not the story.)

Anonymous said...

This opening worked for me. A sense of place and a sense of gloom. There was enough of both that I would keep reading.

I liked the town's name, and I can easily see how the setting would be a character in this book.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting opening. I would keep reading. Although, two colons in one paragraph is pretty distracting. Colons should be used sparingly. The first colon was acceptable, the second was not.

Otherwise, I thought this was a strong and well written paragraph.

Anonymous said...

I like the voice in this. It has REAL promise!

Anonymous said...

Strong opening, IMHO. Good sense of foreboding.


Macuquinas d' Oro said...

Minuscule ( with an u ) does not work with the noun "town", unless you want me visualizing buildings a 1/4" high. You mean instructive, not instructional, but I would find a better word. The ( crucial )first sentence is grammatically awkward and needs to be rewritten. Get rid of the semi-colon. The geography is also confusing. The signpost pointing to HIS house ( rather than the town? ) suggested to me that the house was close to Rt 89, not x miles away.
You have an interesting story but I am having a hard time getting into it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, ello, you get that distracted by a couple of colons? You should have my job. On second thought, maybe not--some of the stuff I have to work with would probably kill you.

mac d'oro: There's not a single semicolon in the paragraph. And, unfortunate as it may be, several dictionaries (e.g., American Heritage) now accept miniscule as a variant spelling of minuscule. I don't think the author did mean "instructive" (enlightening), but I agree there's probably a better word. "Imperative" maybe.

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for your feedback, the praise and suggestions. And thanks to EE for doing this in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I still like instructional:

An authoritative direction to be obeyed; an order.

And I'm unclear as to why miniscule, or minuscule for that matter, doesn't work to describe a town.

Very small; tiny. See Synonyms at small.

Being below the average in size or magnitude.

Limited in importance or significance; trivial

Anonymous said...


They sound alike. Have similarities in meaning. Maybe miniature is the connotation of minuscule and why some wouldn't use minuscule with town. (It conjures up a liliputian village image?)

Sometimes phrases that are technically correct should be avoided because of colloquial usage/meaning. (Does that make sense? Sorry if not.)

Anonymous said...

I see what you mean. Thanks again for the great feedback.

Macuquinas d' Oro said...

Dear Rebecca,

The first paragraph of your story is a risky place to be using words you've pulled out of the dictionary and aren't familiar with. As Kungl was explaining, meaning follows usage, and if your use of a word strikes your reader as odd, this is not a good thing.
If you want to tell us Prey was just a few houses along road to nowhere, look for a striking picture or metaphor to convey this. Don't hunt for synonyms in the dictionary.
For the same reason, pander to the conservatism of people ( many of them editors ) who will react to "miniscule" as careless mis-spelling, even if some contemporary dictionaries apparently tolerate it. If you aren't familiar with the word, don't use it, especially in conspicuous places.

Anonymous said...

Wow. D'oro, I am truly blown away by you pompous assumptions. Having said that, and having visited your blogs, I think I have a better understanding of just what I'm looking at here [Backs slowly towards the door] so, uh, thanks again. Best wishes. We will now return you to your regularly scheduled misinterpretations. Amazingly enough, I wrote this whole paragraph without consulting a single dictionary or thesaurus, will wonders never cease.

magz said...

WTG Rebecca! A very intriguing start, and a genuine 'voice' that will keep me reading. Have you more writing publically available?

(I'd be honored to have you follow me home and drop by the farm for howdies and schmoozes anytime, regards and kudos, Maggie)

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God. A story set in Pray??? Please pass the tumbleweeds.

I grew up in Bozeman, just over the hill from Livingston.