Tuesday, May 6, 2014

One more entry from the Go Teen Writers 1,000 word contest

Today's entry was written by The Russian Pianist:

Vsevolod. After an hour of trying to forget, his name still danced in the elfin shadows on the walls. It scraped Peter’s brain like cocoons of dried leaves on splintered wood. His face—amplified by the reverie-world between wakefulness and sleep in which Peter was suspended—glowered at Peter through the window.
Peter shifted restlessly in bed. With the pads of his fingers, he lightly pressed his left shoulder, wincing to the touch. He would have a bad bruise tomorrow. His eyes traversed the room beneath the loft, searching for reassurance in familiar figures. The icons hanging on the east wall. Elena’s painted rocking horse. The samovar rattling on the stove which gave way to a shrill whistle. Yet they rang hollow—unable to penetrate the perturbation that burdened his soul.
“Did Peter mention Vsevolod?” Even whispered, Vsevolod grated on his ears. What impelled him to draw closer to the word? Peter craned his neck, as if seeing his parents sitting at the table could help him make out the fragmented wisps of conversation that brushed his ears.
“He wouldn’t tell me anything.” Peter’s mother wasn’t embroidering tonight. Instead she turned an empty porcelain teacup in her hands. “I tried to ask the militsiya if Vsevolod—”
“The militsiya was there?” The flickering candlelight illumined deep creases lining Peter’s father brow.
“Yes—I already told you that.”
“No you didn’t. What did he tell you?”
“I tried to ask him if Vsevolod was the one who started it, but he didn’t let me speak.”
“What did he tell you?”
“He told me not to let my son engage in a fight. Peter’s not the kind of boy…”
“Was Igor Kolodov there?”
Shuddering, she set the teacup down. “Too many questions unnerve me.” Her hands began to twitch; she picked it up again. “He came out of nowhere, said something to the militsiya, grabbed Vsevolod, and hurried off.”
Not before the militsiya spoke to Mama. The image returned with chilling clarity—Igor Kolodov’s lynx-like eyes flashing with still and intent expectancy from the militsiya to Mama.
His father’s jaw tightened. “The militsiya didn’t stop him?”
“No, I don’t know why.” Her thin fingers nervously twisted the gold band on her ring finger. “Peter’s not the kind of boy…”
He looked her straight in the eye. “Peter wouldn’t start a fight, but he isn’t afraid to stand up for his beliefs.”
She sighed. “I wish Peter would talk to me about it.”
He leaned back in his chair. “Don’t press him. He will come to you in time. You want to protect him, but you must let him grapple with this.”
“He’s so young.” She fingered her long, thick braid pensively. “At least Vsevolod started it.” She nodded to herself in her simple manner.
“The fight, yes—the vandalism…it’s doubtful. He’s too young.”
“Nobody in Vidanovo supports Nikolai Lenin. Who could possibly…?”
“It disturbs me that the militsiya didn’t confront Igor Kolodov.”
“You don’t think…” Peter’s mother glanced warily around the room. What was she afraid to utter—and why?
“I don’t know.” He stared into the crackling flames. “The world is changing, Dunya. Peter will not be a child much longer.”
“Peter, wake up!” Garish light flooded Peter’s face.
“Why…?” Squinting, he rolled over. Dull pain shot through his shoulder. Vsevolod. The fight. Remembrance rushed upon him.
“Get up immediately.” Was it the candle’s spectral glow that made his mother look so pallid?
Peter propped himself up on his elbows to see the through the window. Inky black. “What time…?”
Her eyes darted distractedly through the room. “No questions! Get dressed.” Her vocal cords visibly pulsed under the skin. She shook her other son. Why was she waking Sergei up too? Rubbing his eyes, Sergei scrunched his face and mumbled unintelligibly.“It’s time to get up.”
Twisting in bed, he groaned, “I don’t want to.”
“Don’t argue!”
“Peter, help Sergei get dressed.”
“Yes, mama.”
“Sergei Dmitrievich!” The inflection of her voice heightened. “Obey your mother!”
Peter sucked in a short breath. She never argued with Sergei. Why now, in the dead of night?
Whimpering, Sergei stuck out his lower lip, but quieted. His mother put her hands on her head. “What was I doing?” She looked around the room, blinking vacantly. “Elena!” she recollected. Lifting her daughter from the crib, she stared wistfully at the sleeping figure cradled in her arms. Suddenly, she burst into a fit of violent tears.
“Mama…” Peter touched his mother’s arm.
“Keep moving!” she snapped.
“I’m sorry,” he mouthed and hastily pulled Sergei’s shirt over his head.
Breathing rapidly, she fumbled to button a coat over her daughter’s nightgown. The door creaked. His mother whirled around with a shallow gasp, then covered her watery eye with her free hand as her husband walked in. “Dmitri—” the word caught in her throat.
“Dunya.” Crossing the room, he clasped her hand in both of his. “Courage.”
“Courage,” she repeated through tearful sobs.
“Papa, what is happening?” Peter tugged his father’s coat sleeve.
“Dmitri—don’t!” The wild look of protest made his mother’s puffy eyes look delirious.
“He must know. Lenin’s secret police force is raiding Vidanovo.”
“The Cheka?”
“Yes. You know the way to Aunt Lana and Uncle Evgeny’s house. Don’t take the road; stay parallel to it—near the pond. Go as fast as possible. Make no noise. Hide if…”
Horses’ hooves clattered upon stone.
“Aren’t you and Mama…”
“Dmitri!” she gasped.
Rough voices.
“Go! There’s no time!”
“Hold onto Elena!”
The clicking of men’s boots.
“Don’t let go of Sergei!”
The snuff of a candle—darkness. Gripping his siblings’ fists, Peter stumbled out the back door. He never saw his father and mother again.

What our judges thought:

I like the chosen period here. I think it's a great time to revisit this through fiction. Great use of foreshadowing and tension! Well done!

I loved this. Loved it, loved it. It's just the kind of story I want to read.


  1. Great, amazing, wonderful!!! I really liked the tension and all. And it's a great time period and place, too. Are you going to publish it? That would be cool!

    1. The Russian PianistMay 15, 2014 at 8:18 PM

      Thanks Sofia Marie! I adore Russian history--it's so broken and so beautiful at the same time. I hope to publish this novel someday; right now, though, planning for a new idea has taken precedence.

      -The Russian Pianist

  2. Ooooh. Poor Peter! Great job making me care about the characters and raising all kinds of questions in my mind. Congratulations :)

  3. I have a bunch of questions that have been bouncing around my head for while... so I'll unleash them on you! lol
    1 - About the starting paragraph... Is it bad that i started my WIP novel with dialogue?
    2 - About chapters... I know everyone says to end chapters whenever you want, or what feels right but, I'm still having troubles... Should i just go with the flow and just stop chapters and start them while they're being made, or should I plan them out on a seperate sheet, or should i write the entire thing, then seperate it into chapters?
    3 - About finishing it... I'm sure plenty of other people have this problem as well, but i need advice about how to finish it, i tried multiple times before to start novels... and failed every time :(... But this time I got my mom to let me write for 45 min a day instead of normal writing class... (I'm homeschooled)
    Help would be much appreciated... :) Thanks!

    1. Starting with dialogue isn't ideal...but it can work. It's up to you to decide if it does or not :)

      For chapters, I like going with the flow as I write and ending where it feels like a break. A rule I like to follow is to arrive late and leave early: http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/2011/04/arrive-late-then-leave-early.html

      In edits, I usually move a handful of my chapter breaks, but not many of them.

      Regarding finishing, that's a very common battle for writers, so don't despair. I'm due to write another "yes, you can finish your manuscript" type post, but in the meantime here are a few links that might be helpful:


    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Sorry about ^ that, I thought I would delete it then replace it with this, since I cant edit it... anyways, I still have more! XD
      1 - Do you recommend any novel writing programs for the pc? Paid or free. (Right now, im uing microsoft office lol)
      2 - Are there requirements and how can i enter something i have in the Go Teen 1,00 word contest? I dont have one right now, just for future reference.

    4. Also, thanks for answering my first few! :)

    5. You could try Scrivener. It's what I've been using ever since I got it as a birthday present last year. You do have to pay, but not an exorbitant amount for the sheer amount of awesome features. Before you go interrogating the poor staff at Office Depot, I'll save you the hassle and tell you that it's only available online. There's even a free trial period to see if it works well with your writing process.

    6. Ok, I'll check it out, thanks!

    7. I just use Microsoft Word. It's the industry standard and it works well for me, so I haven't messed with it. I hear lots of good buzz about Scrivener, but I don't want to invest time in learning something new when what I have works.

      The 1,000 word contest took place back in April (or maybe March - it's been a blur!) and it's closed. We'll do more contests, but Jill and I are still recovering from this one :)

    8. Thanks for all of the replies! :)

    9. Also, I got scrivener, and it really helps! It helps you organize your book into, chapters, parts, ideas, research, or even pictures/movies! I'm just really excited about it i guess, but you should try it out Stephanie. Trust me, it's ALOT better than microsoft word. ;0

  4. This was an amazing entry! I really want to read more. How much of the book have you written so far? Are you planning to publish it soon? :)

    1. The Russian PianistMay 16, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      Thank you Kelsey! I wrote this in novella form several years ago, so technically, I have an entire story based on the premise. When I pulled it out for this contest, however, I cringed at the writing level (I've learned so much about craft since then, thank goodness!), scrapped it, and started from scratch for everything but the basic concept. I hope to make it into a full novel, but it needs a lot of development, reworking, and lengthening. So at this point, publishing is pretty distant--I have to deal with my stubborn characters before I attempt tackling query letters! :-)

      -The Russian Pianist

  5. Wow! That's totally awesome! I want to read more! :D

  6. Wow! That's AWESOME!! :)

  7. This is amazing! I want to

  8. Can I still enter this competition?

  9. Love this story!!! You're good at making it feel real :)