Writing Course Week 3

I finished week 3 of the Start Fiction Writing at FutureLearn today, and I’m getting a head start on week 4.

In week 3, we did a lot of work on editing.  We got some editing practice, and I already posted the story I wrote for week 2.  That was edited.  Also for week 3, we had to write a story that was only 200 to 350 words long.  And here it is, unedited:


The fire raged all around him. Dan sprinted to the only opening he saw, through a pair of large cedars. It should be only a few minutes to the road, he thought.

The wildfire began as a campfire. Dan remembered with a lot of sorrow how Jeff poured propane into the dying fire. It exploded in flames all around him, catching him and the trees around their small campsite on fire. The blast knocked Dan into a rock and he lost consciousness for several minutes. No campfires, said the warning signs. But they didn’t listen. They had to be cocky and convinced themselves that nothing would happen. Now Jeff was dead. The winds blew the fire in the direction of the road.

Dan coughed as he ran. The heavy smoke choked all life in the immediate area. He couldn’t see more than ten metres. It was a blind run, and he realised he didn’t know if his dash from the fire was straight. He gasped for air, his throat burning. His eyes watered. He groped through the trees with beer bottle vision.

“Jeff,” he said, coughing. “What did we do?”

I have to get out, he thought. I will get out. I can’t die.

The crackle of the fire drowned out all other sounds but one. A faint thumping sound from above grew louder. A helicopter. I’m saved, thought Dan. But can it see me?

He emerged into a clearing and collapsed. The helicopter swooped overhead, and landed near him, creating a fierce wind toward the fire. Two men jumped from the open door. Dan’s vision darkened as one man shouted, “Did you start the fire? Answer, or you’ll be left here.”

Who were they? They didn’t sound like rescuers, thought Dan before he lost consciousness.

I was able to keep the passive voice out of the story, which I’m finding remarkably easy now.  I’m keeping most of the sentences fairly short, which conveys a feeling of urgency.  It’s more active.

In week 4, there will be a lot about keeping notebooks and developing plot.  It sounds pretty interesting.