I just finished reading
I would like to offer you the following review. Please keep in mind that I am not a professional editor or publisher. Everything that I know about writing I have learned from WDC members through their honest and helpful reviews.
The suggestions that I offer in my review are intended only to assist in improving the piece, not as a blatant criticism of your skills. It is my hope that you take each of my comments in the spirit in which they were intended.
This was a well thought out story with an actual ending that wrapped things up nicely.
Things that I thought worked particularly well:
I enjoyed the twist and could feel Hanks surprise when he found out what that Ruth was Maggie.
Opportunities for improvement:
I'll cover some of this in the line-by-line (below) but for the most part there are some things that I think would improve upon an already good story. I'll share what I've learned and you decide if it's worth applying t this piece. My suggestions will have a pencil next to them.
Line by line suggestions:
Finished with the count, he stood there to wait on his wife, Eve, coming out of the sanctuary.
This would flow better if he wasn't waiting on something that was already happening. You might think about something like this: Finished with the count, he waited on his wife, Eve to come out of the sanctuary.
Ms. Schwartz, a slight, white haired lady of 82 years, stood patiently in line when she broke away and toddled toward Hank.
Again, the character is sort of doing two contradictory things--she's standing patiently when she broke away. You may want to consider breaking this thought up a bit so that it has more continuity. Something like: Ms. Schwartz, a slight, white haired lady of 82 years, stood patiently in line. When she saw Frank, she broke away and toddled toward him.
“Hello, Hank.” Ruth stated in her usual elderly stutter. She had a slight speech impediment from a stroke a few years ago. Except for the stutter, she was not hard to understand.
I didn't hear her stutter. She clearly says, “Hello, Hank.” "H" is a hard letter to stutter. I had the same problem with a piece I wrote called "Liar" and had to change the dialog so that the stutter worked. This could be easily resolved by calling it a slur instead of a stutter.
Hank shook his head, and started back inside to meet up with his wife of twenty seven years.
I thought he was going to wait for her outside? No?
Hank truly enjoyed his job, and always treated the customers as people.
Hmmm...I think "treated people with respect" might work better here.
Knowing that the customer barrage was likely over...
barrage of customers would be more seamless (just an opinion)
Always showed up on time, and worked from the moment he clocked in until the job was complete.
Unless his name is Always, this sentence has no subject. Just add "He" at the beginning and you're set!
I hope you don't think I'm trying to rewrite the whole story! I just think those suggestions would help round off some of the rough edges.
I'm going to share with you something that I have learned from the good people here at WDC. If you apply it to this story, or any story, you will take many strokes off your game. It's the "Show, don't tell" rule that you've probably heard about. You have a great voice so I wouldn't change a thing with respect to the way you tell a story. You're just really good at it. Where you can improve your writing is in the details. I'll give you one example from your piece and maybe invent one for you to ponder about.
He unlocked the back door with his old skeleton key, and carefully pulled the door open.
This is great imagery! But I bet you could do better! Instead of telling the readers that he opened the door, try showing them. Something like:
The deadbolt clicked as he twisted the old skeleton key. Hank pulled at the knob. The hinges creaked in protest.
Okay, so that might not be the best example but you get my point. By letting the reader assume what's happening through descriptions, the sentence plays more like a movie in the readers head and less like a grocery list of events.
If someone in one of my stories was cleaning a window, let's say, I could say:
Joanne cleaned the window.
Or I could say:
The window squeaked under the rag as Joanne's hand moved in small circles against the glass.
Again, not the best example but you get what I mean.
One last thing--and this is something I am currently struggling with:
Kill the adverbs! You should try to eliminate every adverb that you can. If you need an adverb, then you probably didn't do a good enough job "showing."
Frank walked laboriously to the den.
In this example, I've gotten lazy by using the adverb laboriously. It's a colorful word but by using it, I basically admit that I don't feel like taking the time to describe what's happening so I'm just going to tell you instead. Any time you see an adverb, take a second look and see if you can find a way to show, not tell.
Frank dragged himself to the den.
Simple, but much more effective.
Whew! This is a long review huh? I'll stop here before I bore you to tears but please know this...
I wouldn't have spent this much time reviewing the story if I didn't think you were worth it.
I hope that you find at least some of this useful! Good job with this story! Please keep writing!
Get there. Write away! ___