Millwright Review

Hi Steve,This is a good set-up to the story. You already have some of the elements in place, but you will need to add some, and you will need to order the elements to build the tension in the story.The first paragraph is your normal world. This lets your reader get to know your characters. So, you need to fill in some parts of your story here. You need to create clear images in the reader’s mind of what your protagonist looks like, and you have to create some bond of empathy with the character. So, describe Mikayla and describe the rest of the troop and show them doing something that will let the reader identify with them. Who are these Girl Guides? Build their character on what they will do in the story.Aristotle said that the senses are the key to the emotions. So, when you write the descriptions use sensory language to release the emotions of your reader.You have also established the crucible for the story. You have set them out hiking, isolating them so that everything needs to happen in this setting. This means that they have to solve the problem themselves, they cannot be saved by the police swooping in. So, when Mikayla tries to call the police in paragraph ten, she should find that she does not have cell phone coverage. At this point, you need to establish Mikayla’s special skill that will save them or her lack of skill that will doom them.In the second paragraph, you set up the story question. “Will the Millwright scare all the girls to death before they release him from his earthly bounds?” Right now, the consequences are ambiguous. Will the Millwright just scare the girls, will he drive them to insanity or will he scare them to death? You can tailor the story to your reader and make the consequences less scary. However, the consequences need to be clear. The ghost must be feed, or he will scare the girls, drive them insane or scare them to death. These are the stakes of your story.You have combined the Antagonist with the Oracle in the character of the Millwright. This will lead to story problems later in the story. So, I think that you need to separate these characters. One making the warning and the other one does the scaring.In paragraph three you have the refusal of the call to action. Mikayla does not believe the Oracle. So, there must be consequences that will propel her into the story. This is your inciting incident. This brings us to the first major hole in your story. How does the Millwright scare the girls to death? What does that look like? This is a major turning point because the girls know that they must feed the ghost or they will all be driven crazy or scared to death.This set-up now leads you to your rising action. This is a series of logical events that stem from the death of one of your campers and leads to the climax. So ask yourself, because the death of one of the campers what happens? This is the part of the story where you pour on the problems. Your characters struggle to find the solution. So, pile on at least three problems, which leads up the “All is Lost Moment” when Mikayla and the campers have exhausted themselves.After the All is Lost Moment is the time when you introduce Mikayla’s special skill, that will solve the story question. How will she feed the ghost and release him from his earthly bonds? That is your climax.Then you have your falling action and your denouement. This is where you tie up any loose ends and give the story meaning by retelling the story.So, I think that you have a good story here. You just need to answer the story question in your climax. It could be that Mikayla knows how to make a dutch oven and bakes the Millwright bread and lures him in to eat it before he can kill another camper. In the falling action, you can have the girls release from the Millwright’s curse so that it is not so scary and the consequences are not so high. The important part is that you have the set-up that will propel the story forward.

David Larkin