|Hi RJ! Let me first welcome you to WDC. It's wonderful to have you join our community!
Reviewing is an integral part of growth for a writer. And it is in the spirit of writers helping each other hone their craft that I offer the following comments for "The Kid" .
[The comments following purple check marks are based on my observations and opinions. Please use only what you find helpful and disregard the rest .]
Initial Reaction: What a fun read! As someone who grew up during that same time, and along with your engaging descriptions, I felt like I could "see" this story in my mind's eye as it unfolded.
What I liked:
Your voice lends itself perfectly to the genres of nonfiction and creative nonfiction. It has a conversational, slice-of-life quality that made me feel like we could be across from one another, sharing a drink, me listening to you reminisce about days gone by.
The descriptive qualities of this piece heightened my reading experience. It wasn't just the way you described the bikes, or the ramp, or the boys from the neighborhood. It was in your specific word choices: high impact verbs and colorful adjectives. This story came to life as I read.
The easiest way to help readers keep track of who is saying what is to put each speaker's line of dialogue in its own paragraph. This could mean a paragraph contains only one sentence. For example: The Kid was taller than any of us, and skinny, but he didn’t look much older than we were. None of us knew who he was, or where he came from, but that didn’t stop him from riding right up and asking that question, “Can I jump?” “On that bike?” I asked. “Sure, why not?” he answered. Matt walked back from the ramp. “It’s ready” he said. The ramp consisted of a plywood board leaned up against an assortment of bricks and cinder blocks collected from a nearby alley.
Try it this way:
The Kid was taller than any of us and skinny, but he didn't look much older than we were. None of us knew who he was or where he came from, but that didn't stop him from riding right up and asking that question, “Can I jump?”
“On that bike?” I asked.
“Sure, why not?” he answered.
Matt walked back from the ramp. “It’s ready,” he said. The ramp consisted of a plywood board leaned up against an assortment of bricks and cinder blocks collected from a nearby alley.
A typical technique for expressing a direct, internal thought is to use italics. For example: He’ll swerve around the ramp I thought. He’ll swerve around the ramp, I thought.
Although I really enjoyed the flashback moments in this piece, when Kenny jumped into the telephone pole hole and when you rolled down the hill in the pipe, I thought they slowed the pace of the story. I was reading faster and faster as the Kid began racing down the hill toward the ramp, and then that momentum was interrupted with each back story. I think both serve purposes in the tale: to show how you alerted parents of accidents and how you understood making a decision that could get you hurt. But maybe shorten each to just a sentence or two, recapping or mentioning the important stuff without launching into detailed memories, would solve the pacing problem.
Remember with punctuation in dialogue, you use a comma, exclamation point or question mark, and never a period, inside the closing quotation marks when a dialogue tag follows. For example: “It’s ready” he said. “It’s ready,” he said.
And, when a line of dialogue appears in the middle of a sentence, the last word before the opening quotation marks must end with a comma. For example: Matt ran into the middle of the street and yelled “No cars!” to let the Kid know that the coast was clear. Matt ran into the middle of the street and yelled, “No cars!” to let the Kid know that the coast was clear.
I really enjoyed reading your piece today! Thanks so much for sharing your work with us. And if you have any questions while navigating the great halls of WDC, please don't hesitate to ask!