Checkpoint page
Your replies on this page can be graded by your teacher

Let's put everything together in a checkpoint piece. Here's the original snippet:

The speedo is like a clock gone mad. I don't know why, but I feel like I just swallowed a whole egg, shell and all. I can tell something bad's happened—I'm not stupid—but no one has told me yet. I don't know. If my Dad is dead, we just won't live anymore.

The moon sits over the road like a big fat thing. It looks useless as hell tonight. I never felt that about the moon before. As the road goes downhill I can see the pale lights of the city far away. Trees hang all over the road.

"Where's Tegwyn?" I ask.

"She's home looking after Grammar."

"I could've done that."

"I want you... with me," she says. I know she's crying. All the door handles glow in the dark. It's like I can see her face in them and she's crying in all of them. Tegwyn will hate looking after Grammar.

Here are the examples we've been building:

The traffic is clogged like roots in a drain. I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I feel like my heart is trying to gallop out of my chest, an impala jumping thorns. I can tell Emmanuel is afraid—he’s squeezing my hand—but I don't know what he is afraid of. Nothing feels real. There is no world in which Imani dies, because the world itself would vanish.

Billboards pass by like ugly jokes. Stupid people laughing at noodles. I’ve never noticed how much they laugh. We turn at a park and now on the left there’s nothing but weeds and black-leaf trees. Taller than the trees are the streetlights, glaring yellow.

"Did we lock the office?" I ask Emmanuel.

"I gave the keys to Rashid."

"You can’t rely on him."

"Jojo," he says, squeezing my hand harder, "leave it." His heart is racing too, I can feel it. The buses and bikes and taxis honk and squeal around us. Every time we rush forward—go driver, go—and then stop, blocked by traffic, I can feel Emmanuel squirm and fight his own skin. I hope Rashid locks the office properly.

Chestnut is like a bellows blowing hot. I don’t know why, but I feel like a needle being hammered on an anvil, sharp and hard. I know something terrible has happened—I could tell from the voices—but what or where, I don’t know. What I do know is If Grandma is dead, I will take the Woodsman’s axe and level every tree in the forest.

The path twists through the forest like a hare on the run. We will kill this path. The forest will not escape. It will not steal my grandmother. As we race through this barren tunnel, I look up and see the moon riding high beyond the black branches. Steam rises from Chestnut’s shoulders.

"Can we cut through?" I shout at the Woodsman.

"It’ll take longer," he calls back.

"We can go around the hill."

"They’re not ponies… they’ll break a leg," he says. His voice is calm. The snowy ground is blue in the moonlight. Even as the horses rocket along the path, he’s as calm as the snow. I wish we’d had a third horse for Mother.

And below is your version, joined together. You might need to delete some excess paragraph breaks.

Is there anything you want to edit? This is your last chance to make improvements before we conclude the lesson!

Remember, this snippet is about maintaining tension and being indirect. The characters know something bad has happened but they aren't talking about it. Instead they talk about banal logistics while their feelings leak out the sides.

Do you:

  • use simile and metaphor?
  • pay attention to the narrator's limited knowledge?
  • link environmental details to emotions?
Delete excess paragraph breaks and polish your scene.