“Pferd: A Short Story”*
I don’t normally accept editing requests from people who don’t bother to at least email me to ask before shoving their works-in-progress in my face, but your “story” (we can talk about format in future meetings) has a…rawness that I can appreciate. It’s a little rough around the edges, but I think it has some real promise. Thus, I write to you now with my critiques.
First and foremost: the “villain” of your story. Does it have to be a horse? If you’re aiming for horror, as I’m assuming you are (nice touch with the “blood stains” on the last pages, by the way; we’ll likely end up rearranging them so as not to obscure so much of the text), I’m not sure that would work for a modern audience. You know it’s mostly the kids who read this “spooky” stuff nowadays, and kids today aren’t afraid of horses. Maybe if the horse destroys the Wi-Fi of all those who encounter it, or deletes their Twitter or something. I remember when my niece came to visit and I told her we don’t get internet out in the sticks, her little eyes just about popped right out of her head. That was real fear.
However, if you’re stuck on the horse I’d recommend looking into the works of Jake Epstein to flesh out your mythology a bit. His anthology, Dark Hooves: Equine Monsters throughout History, would be a great place to start. A little dry, but he has some great material. If I remember correctly, there’s even a mention of a horse-like beast with no mane or tail, like the one in your story, although I believe it’s one of the shorter entries.
Next, we are going to have to discuss your protagonist. Are we really meant to believe that she is twenty years old, as specified in your “police record”? The activities she describes in her journals and the way the teacher talks to her implies that she is much younger. Does your character perhaps suffer some mental illness, maybe brought on by some past trauma that causes her to have a younger state of mind? Mental illness is a popular topic, but is rarely handled with the delicacy it warrants. If you decide to go that route, I suggest looking into Traumatic Irony: The Pain After the Pain by Pennie King; it’s a really interesting exploration of trauma theory and common psychological conditions that develop as a result. Vastly underrated. It’s a crime that so few authors get the recognition they deserve. Maybe when’s she’s dead, eh?
Any further notes I would prefer to discuss with you in person, over coffee maybe? I promise I won’t bite. If we’re going to continue a professional relationship I’d like to get to know you a little better; maybe that’s just the country in me.
Incidentally, you didn’t need to leave such a cryptic note in front of my office. My secretary would have been more than happy to take down your address. I realized when I saw it where the map you drew led, but had I not been from around these parts I might not have known. I pass by that clump of apple trees every day on the way to the office, so I shouldn’t have too much trouble figuring out where to send this letter if your house really is right nearby. Heck, if the postman can’t understand my directions, I may just drop by there myself.
Your future editor,