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Graeme

Editing demo/example

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The following posts show the original version of a short story, and the edits as provided by four different editors.

Please make any comments in a seperate thread, so this thread can be reserved for the story and example edits.

The edits have have reformated for presentation in this forum, and any mistakes in that reformatting are mine and not the editors. The forum also imposes some restrictions on the presentation.

Aaron: These edits were supplied as tracked changes in a Word document. I have reformatted them here as colours -- Blue for additions, Red for deletions and Orange for formatting changes. Unfortunately, I have found that the forum software automatically adds a space in front of any colour changes, hence where some of the inserts/deletions look a little strange. The editted document supplied by Aaron does not have these additional spaces.

aj: These edits were supplied as a HTML document with the changes indicated in green.

Talonrider: These edits were supplied as a RTF document

WBMS: These edits were supplied as a Word document. I have reformatted, trying to preserve the supplied colours. The explanation for the colours is:

RED = Oops. Fix me.

BLUE = Suggestion (or if I have too many red things in one area and want to separate them).

GREEN = various comments

ORANGE = Die Author, Die. I've taken the step of rewriting a particularly offensive attrocity. Use my fix or use one of your own, but if you don't fix it, I will buy a gun, find you, and kill you. :)

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Happy Shells -- Original, uneditted story.

The young boy bit his lower lip in concentration as he carefully dug the moat around his sandcastle a little deeper. It needed to protect the people in it against the terrible creatures that were threatening.

?I don?t know why we?re here! There is nothing to do, and nowhere to go. I should?ve known better than to let you pick where we went for our holidays!?

?What do you mean, there is nothing to do? We have this great beach to relax on and enjoy. Can?t you go a few days without shopping??

The boy carefully ignored the constant bickering between the two grown-ups. Drawing attention to himself would not have been wise. Instead, he sat back on his haunches and viewed his work with a critical eye. Would the fortifications he?d carefully built be enough to defend against the monsters?

Slowly nodding his head, he clambered to his feet and, picking up his bucket, headed towards the water. It was time to fill the moat.

?We should?ve headed to Queensland so Adam could go to the amusement parks. This place you?ve booked us in is so primitive it doesn?t even have any sort of game machine for him to play with!?

?It?s not primitive! It?s quiet! After working my butt off for most of the year, I need somewhere to do nothing for a while. Look at him; he doesn?t need fancy toys. He?s happy playing in the sand!?

?He?s not happy! Because you?re never home, you don?t know how to read his moods! He?s so bored and depressed; he?s barely said a word since we got here!?

The boy was about to fill his bucket, when he noticed something moving below the surface of the water. Bending over so he could peer closely, he saw a school of small fish, darting back-and-forth through the water.

Forgetting about the moat, he carefully waded through the water, following the fish. Would they lead him to a magical new world? Trying not to frighten his new-found friends, the boy moved cautiously, cringing whenever a hasty movement caused waves that hid his tiny guides from view.

Convinced that they were leading him to hidden treasure, he was startled by a loud shout.

?ADAM! Get back here! You?re getting in too deep!?

Annoyed, he looked back to the shore where his parents were sitting. He was surprised to see how far away that was. Certain that the treasure was only a few steps away, he turned back to the water. Depression descended as he saw no sign of the fish that had led him here. Slowly, he trudged back to the beach, dragging his bucket along the top of the water behind him. Once again, he had been thwarted at the last minute. Halfway to the shore, he straightened up and threw his shoulders back. It was time to return to his sandcastle. The moat must be filled before the monsters crushed the defenders.

Taking his first bucket of water, he carefully tipped it into the trench he?d dug around his sandcastle. Running back, he quickly collected a second bucket and took it back, sloshing some water out along the way.

?You just don?t know how to appreciate the finer things in life. Why do we need to always go places? Why can?t we just have a relaxing holiday for once??

?Relaxing? With you? If you were more relaxed, I?d have to bury you! Anyway, it?s not about me, or you. Adam needs to be entertained. That?s something you don?t know anything about. If you spent more time with him, you?d understand.?

The boy peered intently as the water slowly seeped away into the surrounding sand. There must be a hidden dragon, gulping down all the water. Was it a good dragon, or a bad one? If it?s a good dragon, it?ll help protect the castle. How could he work out what sort it was?

While he was pondering this important question, he strolled slowly back to the water with his bucket. If it was good dragon, he should make sure it had enough water, as it was clearly thirsty. Sitting down at the edge, he stared into the water, hoping to see his fishy guides again.

Sighing softly, he saw no sign of them. As he watched, though, something caught his eye. Bending forward, he saw a shell slowly moving over the sand under the water. Wondering what it was, he sat motionlessly, not want to risk scaring it away.

?Look at him! He?s bored out of his mind! Get you lazy butt up and go play something with him.?

?He?s been playing happily by himself. He?s probably just taking a break.?

?Shows what you know. I?ve been watching him, and he?s got nothing to do. He needs someone to play with. Of course, someone decided to take him to a place where there aren?t any other children his age. Some selfish person, who doesn?t know how to look after a child. Of course, that?s probably because they?ve had nothing to do with their own son for such a long time.?

?Some time alone is good for a boy his age. And I play with him at home!?

?Sticking in front of the computer and telling him to have fun, is not playing with him!?

As the boy watched, a small multi-legged creature emerged from the shell, and scampered quickly to another one nearby. After it disappeared inside, the second shell started to move slowly away.

Smiling, he remembered fondly the story his uncle had told him once about Hermit Crabs: how they used shells as homes, and when they became unhappy with one, they would look for another so they could be happy again.

Rising quickly to his feet, the boy looked around excitedly. Where could he find some new shells?

?Look! I told you he was just taking a break. He doesn?t need anyone to interfere. Just let him play.?

?You?re just too lazy to get up and take responsibility for your son. I look after him every day, but when it?s time for you to do something, all you can say is that he?s happier by himself. You just don?t care about him. It?s all about you.?

?Speak for yourself! You?ve done nothing except complain about how this place is not what you want. Nothing is good enough for you! You don?t really care about Adam. You just use him as something else to complain about!?

Searching around the base of some rocks, the boy stopped breathing for a second as he spotted what he wanted: a pair of matching shells, with a beautiful ripple of colour on their shiny surface. Reaching into the water, he reverently raised them up and checked them carefully. If they weren?t perfect, they wouldn?t be good enough.

Finding nothing wrong, he smiled. Washing them gently in the water, he made sure they were clean and gleaming.

Returning quickly to his bickering parents, he prayed that they would do the trick.

Standing silently, he held out the two shells, one in each hand, one for each parent. He knew he mustn?t interrupt the conversation of grown-ups. He schooled his expression into one of solemness. This was an important event.

Patiently he stood there, until he was noticed.

?What have you got there, Adam? How sweet! A beautiful little shell! I never get presents from anyone else.?

?One for me, too? Thanks, son. Now run along and play some more. You don?t want to spend too much time around here. You might catch some depressing disease.?

Skipping quietly, the young boy left with a hidden smile in his heart. His parents had taken the new happy shells.

Things were going to be alright, now.

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Happy Shells -- editted by Aaron

The young boy bit his lower lip as he concentrated in concentration as he on carefully dug deepening the moat around his sand castle a little deeper. It He needed wanted the moat to be deep enough to protect the people in it the castle against the terrible, threatening creatures that were threatening.

?I don?t know why we?re here! There is nothing to do, and nowhere to go. I should?ve known better than to let you pick where we went we?d go for our holidays!?

?What do you mean, there isthere?s nothing to do? We have can relax and enjoy this great beach. to relax on and enjoy. Can?t you go endure a few days without shopping??

The boy carefully characteristically ignored the constant bickering between the two grown-upshis mum and dad. Drawing He knew it wouldn?t be wise to draw attention to himself would not have been wise and his project, .so Instead, he sat back on his haunches and solitarily viewed his work with a critical eye. Would He wondered if the fortifications he?d carefully built would be provide enough to defenddefense against the monsters?.

Slowly noddingSeeming satisfied with his work, he nodded his head, he clambered jumped to his feet, and, picking up his bucket, and headed towards the water, carrying his small bucket. It was time to fill the moat.

?We should?ve headed to Queensland so Adam could go to the amusement parks. This place you?ve booked for us in is so primitive it doesn?t even have any sort of game machine for him to play with!.?

?It?s not primitive! It?s quiet!. After working my butt off for most of the year, I need somewhere to do nothing for a while. Look at him; he doesn?t need fancy toys. He?s happy playing in the sand!.?

?He?s not happy! Because you?re never home, youYou don?t know how to read his moods, because you?re never home!. He?s so bored and depressed;, and he?s barely said a word since we got here!.?

The boy was about to fill his bucket, when he noticed something moving below the surface of the water. Bending over so he couldto peer closely, he saw a school of small fish, darting back-and-forth back and forththrough the water.

Forgetting The boy instantly forgot about the his moat, and he carefully waded through the water, following the fish. Would, hoping they would lead him to a magical new world?. Trying not to frighten his new-foundnewfound friends, the boy moved cautiously, cringing whenever a hasty movement caused waves that hid his tiny guides from view. Convinced Just as he became convinced that they were leading himhe was being led to hidden treasure, he was startled by a loud shout.

?ADAM! Get back here! You?re getting in too deep!?

Annoyed,The boy was annoyed by the interruption, but he turned and looked back totowards the shore where his parents were sitting. He was surprised to see how far away that was. Certain that the treasure was only a few steps away, he turned back again towards to the deeper water. Depression descended Disappointment engulfed him when as he saw no sign of the fish that had led him there. Slowly, heHe slowly trudged back towards the beach, dragging his bucket behind him along the top of the water behind him. Once again, he had been thwarted at the last minute. Halfway to the shore, he straightened up and threw his shoulders back. It was time to return to his sand castle. The moat must be filled, before or else the monsters crushed would crush the defenders.

Taking his first bucket of water, heAdam carefully tipped it his first bucketful of water into the trench he?d dug around his sand castle. Running back, heHe ran to the sea and quickly collected a second bucketful and took it back, sloshing some water out along the way.

?You just don?t know how to appreciate the finer things in life. Why do we need to always go places? Why can?t we just have a relaxing holiday, for once??

?Relaxing? With you? If you were more relaxed, I?d have to bury you! Anyway, it?s not about me, or you. Adam needs to be entertained. That?s something you don?t know anything about. If you spentyou?d spend more time with him, you?d understand.?

The boy peered watched intently as the water slowly seeped away into the sand surrounding sandhis moat. He just knew There must bethat a hidden dragon, was gulping down all the water. Was His inventive and inquisitive young mind wondered whether it was a good dragon, or a bad one?. If it?s a good dragon, it?llHe knew that a good dragon would help protect the castle, but he had to . How could he work out what which sort it was?of dragon had entered his world.

While he was pondering this that important question, he strolled slowly back to the water, with carrying his bucket. If Hoping that it was good dragon, he should wanted to make sure it had enough water, as it was clearly thirsty. Sitting down at the edge, he stared into the water, hoping to see his fishy guides again.

He sat down at the water?s edge and suddenly remembered his fishy guides. Sighing softly,He sighed softly when he saw no sign of them., but Aas he continued his hopeful watched, though, something caught his eye. Bending He bent forward, he saw and saw a shell slowly moving over the sand, under the water. Wondering what it was, he sat motionlessly, not wanting to risk scaring scare it away.

?Look at him! He?s bored out of his mind! Get your lazy butt up and go play something with him.?

?He?s been playing happily by himself. He?s probably just taking a break.?

?Shows what you know. I?ve been watching him, and he?s got nothing to do. He needs someone to play with. Of course, someone decided to take bring him to a place where there aren?t any other children his age. Some selfish person, who doesn?t know how to look after a child. Of course, that?s probably because they?ve he?s had nothing to do with their his own son for such a long time.?

?It?s good for a boy his age to spend Ssome time alone is good for a boy his age. And I play with him at home!.?

?Sticking him in front of the computer and telling him to have fun, is not playing with him!?

As the boy watched, the shell, a small, multi-legged creature emerged from the shellit, and scampered quickly to anothera nearby one shellnearby. After it the little creature had disappeared inside it, the second shell started to move away slowly away.

Smiling,Adam smiled as he remembered fondly the story his uncle had told him once about Hhermit C[color=blue]c[/color]rabs: how they used use shells as homes, and when they became become unhappy with one, they would look for another, so they could can be happy again.

Rising The boy rose quickly to his feet, the boy and looked around excitedly, forgetting about his bucket and the dragon?s need for water. Where could heHis new mission was to find some new shells?.

?Look! I told you he was just taking a break. He doesn?t need anyone to interfere. Just let him play.?

?You?re just too lazy to get up and take responsibility for your son. I look after him every day, but when it?s time for you to do something, all you can say is that he?s happier by himself. You just don?t care about him. It?s all about you.?

?Speak for yourself! You?ve done nothing except but complain about how this place is not what you want. Nothing is good enough for you! You don?t really care about Adam. You just use him as something else to complain about!.?

Searching As he searched around the base of some large rocks, the boy stopped breathing for a second as when he spotted what he wanted: a pair of matching shells, with a that had beautiful ripples of colour on their shiny surfaces. Reaching He reached into the water, he reverently raised picked them up, and checked them carefully. If they weren?t perfect, they wouldn?t be good enough.

Finding nothing wrongno flaws, he smiled broadly and. Washing them gently washed the shells in the water, he mademaking sure they were clean and gleaming.

Returning As Adam returned quickly to his bickering parents, he prayed that they the new shells would do the trick.

Standing silently, he held out the two shells, one in each hand, one for each parent. He knew he mustn?t interrupt the conversation of grown-ups. He schooled his expression into one of solemness. This was an important event.

Patiently he stood there, until he wasHe stood patiently, waiting to be noticed.

?What have you got there, Adam? How sweet! A beautiful little shell! I never get presents from anyone else.?

?One for me, too? Thanks, son. Now run along and play some more. You don?t want to spend too much time around here. You might catch some depressing disease.?

Skipping quietly, the young boy left with a hidden smile in his heart. His parents had taken the new happy shells.

Things were going to be alrightall right, now.

Graeme, I don?t know where to begin. When I read the first paragraph of the story, I almost regretted volunteering for this demo. You had the people in the moat. LOL. I think you must have written this story long ago, since it?s not exactly typical of your more recent work. I?ve made so many changes that it might be easier for you to first save this to a new file, accept all changes, and then read the black text that remains, so that you can see how smoothly (or not) the revised edition flows. Then, you can go back to this original and examine the changes I?ve made.

I haven?t added any editorial comments within your text, and, as usual, all my strike-throughs and additions are red. If I explained each edit, I?d end up writing a book. You?re used to that, though, and I know you always understand why I make most of the changes I make. We always discuss anything you question. This might not be helpful as an editing demo, but our method has worked well for us so far, right? I will note that you were a bit too free with the exclamation points. In several places I converted narrative questions to narrative statements. I tried in several places to make the narration less passive.

I wondered about a number of things as I worked through this. How old is Adam? I?d guess about four and one-half. He?s old enough to play on a computer and old enough to pray. What type of body of water is involved? I assume it?s an ocean, since the story is set on a beach, but how can the boy hear his parents? discussions over the sound of the waves crashing against the shore? Are they really yelling that loudly at each other? How is the water?s surface smooth enough that Adam is concerned about making small waves as he follows the school of fish? Is the water so safe (no rip currents, sharks, drop-offs, etc.) that the parents would allow Adam to be alone in the water?

Near the end of the first page there?s a sentence that seems out of place, or that needs some explanation: ?Once again, he had been thwarted at the last minute.? Does this imply that his parents? actions often disrupt his play?

The ending of the story seems too simplistic and weak. Does this resourceful and imaginative kid really believe that finding new ?shell homes? for his parents will make everything all right? Doesn?t he realize that they basically brushed him off when he presented his gifts? Are the parents really so insensitive that they don?t see how important Adam?s gift giving is to Adam?

I think this could be a strong story if it were in written in first person, present tense, with Adam as the narrator. As it is, we just see a bickering couple and a silently hurting child. Adam could be a strong voice as a narrator, really showing us his feelings and giving us insight into his imagination.

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Happy Shells -- editted by aj

The young boy bit his lower lip in concentration as he carefully dug the moat around his sandcastle a little deeper. It <needed to> must protect <the> his people <in it> against the terrible creatures <that were> threatening to destroy them.

?I don?t know why we?re here! There is nothing to do, and nowhere to go. I should know better than to let you pick where we <went> go for our holidays!?

?What do you mean there's nothing to do? We have this great beach, <to> so relax <on> and enjoy it for once. Can?t you go a few days without shopping??

The boy carefully ignored the constant bickering between the two grown-ups. He knew from painful experience that drawing attention to himself would not <have been> be wise. Instead, he sat back on his haunches and viewed his work with a critical eye. Would the fortifications he?d carefully built be enough to defend against the monsters?

Slowly nodding his head, he clambered to his feet and, picking up his yellow bucket, headed towards the water. It was time to fill the moat.

?We should?ve <headed> gone to Queensland so Adam could go to the amusement parks. This place you?ve booked us in is so primitive, it doesn?t even have any sort of game machine for him to play with!?

?It?s not primitive! It?s quiet! After working my butt off for most of the year, I need somewhere to do nothing for a while. Look at him; he doesn?t need fancy toys. He?s happy playing in the sand!?

?He?s not happy! <Because you?re never home>If you were ever home, you'd <don?t> know how to read his moods! He?s so bored and depressed, he?s barely said <a> one word since we got here!?

The boy was about to fill his bucket, when he noticed something moving <below the surface of>in the water. <Bending over>Crouching so he could peer closely, he saw a school of small fish, darting back-and-forth, moving <through the water> as though with one mind.

<Forgetting about the moat>Distracted, and momentarily leaving the castlefolk to their fates, he carefully waded through the water, following the fish. Would they lead him to a magical new world? Trying not to frighten his new-found friends, the boy moved cautiously, cringing whenever a hasty movement caused waves that hid his tiny guides from view.

Convinced that they were leading him to hidden treasure, he followed single-mindedly until he was startled by a loud shout.

?ADAM! Get back here! You?re getting in too deep!?

Annoyed, he looked back to the shore where his parents were sitting. He was surprised to see how far away <that>it was. Certain that the treasure was only a few steps away, he turned back to the water. <Depression descended as>Though he stood very still and concentrated hard, he saw no sign of the fish that had led him here. Slowly, he trudged back to the beach, dragging his bucket along the top of the water behind him. Once again, <he had been> thwarted at the last minute. Halfway to the shore, he straightened up and threw his shoulders back. It was time to return to his sandcastle. The moat must be filled before the monsters crushed the defenders!

Taking his first bucket of water, he carefully tipped it into the trench he'd dug around his sandcastle. Running back, he quickly collected a second bucket and took it back, sloshing some water out along the way.

?You just don?t know how to appreciate the finer things in life. Why do we need to always go places? Why can?t we just have a relaxing holiday for once??

?Relaxing? With you? If you were more relaxed, I?d have to bury you! Anyway, it?s not about me, or you. Adam needs to be entertained. That?s something you don?t know anything about. If you spent more time with him, you?d understand.?

The boy peered intently as the water slowly seeped away into the surrounding sand. There must be a hidden dragon, gulping down all the water. Was it a good dragon, or a bad one? If <it?s> a good dragon, it?d help protect the castle. How could he work out what sort it was?

While he was pondering this important question, he strolled slowly back to the water with his bucket. If it was good dragon, he should make sure it had enough water, as it was clearly thirsty. Sitting down at the water's edge, he stared <into the water>at the small waves rolling up the sand, then rolling back out. <hoping to> He wished he could see his fishy guides again.

He sighed softly; there was no sign of them. As he watched, though, something caught his eye. Bending forward, he saw a shell slowly moving over the sand under the water. Wondering what it was, he sat motionlessly, not want to risk scaring it away.

?Look at him! He?s bored out of his mind! Get your lazy butt up and go play <something> with him.?

?He?s <been> playing happily by himself. He?s probably just taking a break.?

?Shows what you know. I?ve been watching him, and he?s got nothing to do. He needs someone to play with. Of course, someone decided to take him to a place where there aren?t any other children his age--some selfish person, who doesn?t know how to look after a child. Of course, that?s probably because <they?ve>he's had nothing to do with <their>his own son for such a long time.?

?Some time alone is good for a boy his age. And I do play with him at home!?

?Sticking him in front of the computer and telling him to have fun is not playing with him!?

As the boy watched, a small multi-legged creature emerged from the shell, and scampered quickly to another one nearby. After it disappeared inside, the second shell started to move slowly away.

Smiling, he remembered fondly the story his uncle had told him once about Hermit Crabs: how they used shells as homes, and when they became unhappy with one, they would look for another so they could be happy again.

Rising quickly to his feet, the boy looked around excitedly. Where could he find some new shells?

?Look! I told you he was just taking a break. He doesn?t need anyone to interfere. Just let him play.?

?You?re just too lazy to get up and take responsibility for your son. I look after him every day, but when it?s time for you to do something, all you can say is that he?s happier by himself. You just don?t care about him. It?s all about you.?

?Speak for yourself! You?ve done nothing except complain about how this place is not what you want. Nothing is good enough for you! You don?t really care about Adam. You just use him as something else to complain about!?

Searching around the base of some rocks, the boy stopped breathing for a second as he spotted what he wanted: a pair of matching shells, with a beautiful ripple of colour on their shiny surfaces. Reaching into the water, he reverently raised them up and checked them carefully. If they weren?t perfect, they wouldn?t be good enough.

Finding nothing wrong, he smiled. <Washing>Swishing them gently in the water, he made sure they were clean and gleaming.

<Returning>Running quickly back to his bickering parents, he prayed that their new shells would do the trick.

Standing silently, he held out the two shells, one in each hand, one for each parent. He knew he mustn?t interrupt the conversation of grown-ups. He schooled his expression into one of <solemness> solemnity. This was an important event.

Patiently he stood there, until he was noticed.

?What have you got there, Adam? How sweet! A beautiful little shell! I never get presents from anyone else.?

?One for me, too? Thanks, son. Now run along and play some more. You don?t want to spend too much time around here. You might catch some depressing disease.?

Skipping quietly, the young boy left with a hidden smile in his heart. His parents had taken the new happy shells.

Things were going to be all right, now.

Yup, just another day in the life. Lovely little snapshot...I'd like to smack both of those parents right onto their asses. They deserve each other, but the kid doesn't deserve to be subjected to either one of 'em. The amazing thing is, I remember thinking like this kid does.

Which brings up the strongest point of the story--You've captured the way children think very, very well. Nicely done!

Most of my edits (as you've probably noticed--duh!) are simplifications of the language and the replacement of generic verbs with more specific ones..."Swishing them gently..." vs. "Washing them gently...". I've tried to leave the original language as intact as possible within brackets--green is new stuff. I did take the liberty of changing punctuation without greening it out in most cases.

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Happy Shells -- editted by talonrider

The young boy bit his lower lip in concentration as he carefully dug the moat around his sandcastle a little deeper. It needed to protect the people in it against the terrible creatures that were threatening.

?I don?t know why we?re here! There is nothing to do, and nowhere to go. I should?ve known better than to let you pick where we went for our holidays!?

?What do you mean, there is nothing to do? We have this great beach to relax on and enjoy. Can?t you go a few days without shopping??

The boy carefully ignored the constant bickering between the two grown-ups. Drawing attention to himself would not have been wise. Instead, he sat back on his haunches and viewed his work with a critical eye. Would the fortifications he?d carefully built be enough to defend against the monsters?

Slowly nodding his head, he clambered to his feet and, picking up his bucket, headed towards the water. It was time to fill the moat.

?We should?ve headed to Queensland so Adam could go to the amusement parks. This place you?ve booked us in is so primitive it doesn?t even have any sort of game machine for him to play with!?

?It?s not primitive! It?s quiet! After working my butt off for most of the year, I need somewhere to do nothing for a while. Look at him; he doesn?t need fancy toys. He?s happy playing in the sand!?

?He?s not happy! Because you?re never home, you don?t know how to read his moods! He?s so bored and depressed; he?s barely said a word since we got here!?

The boy was about to fill his bucket, when he noticed something moving below the surface of the water. Bending over so he could peer closely, he saw a school of small fish, darting back-and-forth through the water.

Forgetting about the moat, he carefully waded through the water, following the fish. Would they lead him to a magical new world? Trying not to frighten his new-found <compound words, try newfound instead> friends, the boy moved cautiously, cringing whenever a hasty movement caused waves that hid his tiny guides from view.

Convinced that they were leading him to hidden treasure, he was startled by a loud shout.

?ADAM! Get back here! You?re getting in too deep!?

Annoyed, he looked back to the shore where his parents were sitting. He was surprised to see how far away that was. Certain that the treasure was only a few steps away, he turned back to the water. Depression descended as he saw no sign of the fish that had led him here. Slowly, he trudged back to the beach, dragging his bucket along the top of the water behind him. Once again, he had been thwarted at the last minute. Halfway to the shore, he straightened up and threw his shoulders back. It was time to return to his sandcastle. The moat must be filled before the monsters crushed the defenders.

Taking his first bucket of water, he carefully tipped it into the trench he?d dug around his sandcastle. Running back, he quickly collected a second bucket and took it back, sloshing some water out along the way.

?You just don?t know how to appreciate the finer things in life. Why do we need to always go places? <Split-Infinitive, try rewriting to this, Why do we always need to go places.> Why can?t we just have a relaxing holiday for once??

?Relaxing? With you? If you were more relaxed, I?d have to bury you! Anyway, it?s not about me, or you. Adam needs to be entertained. That?s something you don?t know anything about. If you spent more time with him, you?d understand.?

The boy peered intently as the water slowly seeped away into the surrounding sand. There must be a hidden dragon, gulping down all the water. Was it a good dragon, or a bad one? If it?s a good dragon, it?ll help protect the castle. How could he work out what sort it was?

While he was pondering this important question, he strolled slowly back to the water with his bucket. If it was good dragon, he should make sure it had enough water, as it was clearly thirsty. Sitting down at the edge, he stared into the water, hoping to see his fishy guides again.

Sighing softly, he saw no sign of them. As he watched, though, something caught his eye. Bending forward, he saw a shell slowly moving over the sand under the water. Wondering what it was, he sat motionlessly, not want <Missing letters, wanting> to risk scaring it away.

?Look at him! He?s bored out of his mind! Get you <Missing letter, your> lazy butt up and go play something with him.?

?He?s been playing happily by himself. He?s probably just taking a break.?

?Shows what you know. I?ve been watching him, and he?s got nothing to do. He needs someone to play with. Of course, someone decided to take him to a place where there aren?t any other children his age. Some selfish person, who doesn?t know how to look after a child. Of course, that?s probably because they?ve had nothing to do with their own son for such a long time.?

?Some time alone is good for a boy his age. And I play with him at home!?

?Sticking in front of the computer and telling him to have fun, is not playing with him!?

As the boy watched, a small multi-legged creature emerged from the shell, and scampered quickly to another one nearby. After it disappeared inside, the second shell started to move slowly away.

Smiling, he remembered fondly the story his uncle had told him once about Hermit Crabs: how they used shells as homes, and when they became unhappy with one, they would look for another so they could be happy again.

Rising quickly to his feet, the boy looked around excitedly. Where could he find some new shells?

?Look! I told you he was just taking a break. He doesn?t need anyone to interfere. Just let him play.?

?You?re just too lazy to get up and take responsibility for your son. I look after him every day, but when it?s time for you to do something, all you can say is that he?s happier by himself. You just don?t care about him. It?s all about you.?

?Speak for yourself! You?ve done nothing except complain about how this place is not what you want. Nothing is good enough for you! You don?t really care about Adam. You just use him as something else to complain about!?

Searching around the base of some rocks, the boy stopped breathing for a second as he spotted what he wanted: a pair of matching shells, with a beautiful ripple of colour on their shiny surface. Reaching into the water, he reverently raised them up and checked them carefully. If they weren?t perfect, they wouldn?t be good enough.

Finding nothing wrong, he smiled. Washing them gently in the water, he made sure they were clean and gleaming.

Returning quickly to his bickering parents, he prayed that they would do the trick.

Standing silently, he held out the two shells, one in each hand, one <comma use, suggest this, one in each hand and one> for each parent. He knew he mustn?t interrupt the conversation of grown-ups. He schooled his expression into one of solemness. This was an important event.

Patiently he stood there, until he was noticed.

?What have you got there, Adam? How sweet! A beautiful little shell! I never get presents from anyone else.?

?One for me, too? Thanks, son. Now run along and play some more. You don?t want to spend too much time around here. You might catch some depressing disease.?

Skipping quietly, the young boy left with a hidden smile in his heart. His parents had taken the new happy shells <Personal preference, shells happily would sound better.>.

Things were going to be alright,<non standard word, all right works better> now.

From a readers point of view, this is a cute story. I liked it. It would seem to me, that Dad knew Adam better than Mom did. If left alone long enough, a child can entertain themselves without getting into trouble. Thats why we have imaginations to use.

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Happy Shells -- editted by writebymyself

The young boy bit his lower lip in concentration as he carefully dug the moat around his sandcastle a little deeper. It [Referent error: is IT the moat or the sandcastle?] needed to protect the people in it against the terrible creatures that were threatening.

?I don?t know why we?re here! There is nothing to do, and nowhere to go. I should?ve known better than to let you pick where we went for our holidays!? [* down below we find out this is an adult. This just sounds like a whiney kid. Re-construct it.] [Also this is a bit stilted in the sentence construction.]

?What do you mean, there is nothing to do? We have this great beach to relax on and enjoy. Can?t you go a few days without shopping??

The [#] boy carefully ignored the constant bickering between the two grown-ups[* see above]. Drawing attention to himself would not have been wise. Instead, he sat back on his haunches and viewed his work with a critical eye. Would the fortifications he?d carefully built be enough to defend against the monsters? [by now you should have started to describe the boy. For example inserting the word tow-headed at the # mark]

Slowly nodding his head, he clambered to his feet and, picking[picked*] up his bucket, [and] headed towards the water. It was time to fill the moat. [*tense error]

?We should?ve headed to Queensland so Adam could go to the amusement parks. This place you?ve booked us in is so primitive[,] it doesn?t even have any sort of game machine for him to play with!? [if you don?t like the comma, you can replace it with the word ?that?]

?It?s not primitive! It?s quiet! After working my butt off for most of the year, I need somewhere to do nothing for a while. Look at him; he doesn?t need fancy toys. He?s happy playing in the sand!? [The dialogue just isn?t adult enough. The sentences are too short and lack detail and the word ?butt? should be ?arse? or ?ass? as appropriate. It just doesn?t ring true.]

?He?s not happy! Because you?re never home, you don?t know how to read his moods! He?s so bored and depressed;[delete and replace with ?that?] he?s barely said a word since we got here!?

The boy was about to fill his bucket, when he noticed something moving below the surface of the water. Bending over so he could peer closely, he saw a school of small fish, darting back-and-forth through the water.

Forgetting about the moat, he carefully waded through the water, following the fish. Would they lead him to a magical new world? Trying not to frighten his new-found friends, the boy moved cautiously, cringing whenever a hasty movement caused waves that hid his tiny guides from view.

Convinced that they were leading him to hidden treasure, he was startled by a loud shout.

?ADAM! Get back here! You?re getting in too deep!?

Annoyed, he looked back to the shore where his parents were sitting. He was surprised to see how far away that was. Certain that the treasure was only a few steps away, he turned back to the water. [... He turned his back to the shore and resumed his search.]

[Ok, here?s the bit where we see the parents react when their wishes are not followed. Or if that doesn?t happen you need to clearly say that they return to whatever it was they?re doing. You let your readers down here.]

Depression descended[,] as he saw no sign of the fish that had led him here. Slowly, he trudged back to the beach, dragging his bucket along the top of the water behind him. Once again, he had been thwarted at the last minute. Halfway to the shore, he straightened up and threw his shoulders back. It was time to return to his sandcastle. The moat must be filled before the monsters crushed the defenders. [Also, depression doesn?t descend. I don?t think that word choice is best]

[so far this story reads technically well, but is devoid of almost any emotion or description. We don?t know what anyone looks like. We don?t know what they?re feeling except that the adults are annoyed and whine piteously. I know it?s a short story but throwing in some extra words could clean that up in a hurry.]

Taking his first bucket of water, he carefully tipped it into the trench he?d dug around his sandcastle. Running back, he quickly collected a second bucket and took it back, sloshing some water out along the way.

?You just don?t know how to appreciate the finer things in life. Why do we need to always go places? Why can?t we just have a relaxing holiday for once??

?Relaxing? With you? If you were more relaxed, I?d have to bury you! Anyway, it?s not about me, or you. Adam needs to be entertained. That?s something you don?t know anything about. If you spent more time with him, you?d understand.?

The boy peered intently as the water slowly seeped away into the surrounding sand. There must be a hidden dragon, gulping down all the water. Was it a good dragon, or a bad one? If it?s a good dragon, it?ll help protect the castle. How could he work out what sort it was? [Multiple tense errors: WAS IT and then IT IS and then IT WILL. You have to pick one and stick to it.]

While he was pondering this important question, he strolled slowly back to the water with his bucket. If it was good dragon, he should make sure it had enough water, as it was clearly thirsty. Sitting down at the edge, he stared into the water, hoping to see his fishy guides again. [i?m sorry but the conjures up the wrong image. I believe you need to drop the ?y? after fish.]

Sighing softly, he saw no sign of them. As he watched, though, something caught his eye. Bending forward, he saw a shell slowly moving over the sand under the water. Wondering what it was, he sat motionlessly, not want[ing] to risk scaring it away.

?Look at him! He?s bored out of his mind! Get you[r] lazy butt up and go play something with him.? [i think George Lucas wrote this dialogue. People don?t talk in short, choppy sentences.]

?He?s been playing happily by himself. He?s probably just taking a break.?

?Shows what you know. I?ve been watching him, and he?s got nothing to do. He needs someone to play with. Of course, someone* decided to take him to a place where there aren?t any other children his age. Some selfish person, who doesn?t know how to look after a child. Of course, that?s probably because they?ve had nothing to do with their own son for such a long time.? [* Now you use italics. There were several places earlier you could have used it. I use italics sometimes. It?s been said by many, though, that a good writer doesn?t need italics. I disagree. But use them consistently and sparingly.]

?Some time alone is good for a boy his age. And[,] I play with him at home!? [if you must start a sentence with a conjunction, it is generally followed by a comma. A more perverse editor would ask if this was Michael Jackson speaking about a young boy.]

?Sticking* in front of the computer and telling him to have fun, is not playing with him!? [* What do you mean? I suspect you mean standing or towering or hovering. ?Sticking in? is not a valid phrase in this context.]

As the boy watched, a small multi-legged creature emerged from the shell, and scampered quickly to another one nearby. After it disappeared inside, the second shell started to move slowly away.

Smiling, he remembered fondly the story his uncle had told him once about Hermit Crabs*: how they used shells as homes, and when they became unhappy** with one, they would look for another so they could be happy again. [* not capitalized] [**Fact error. When they outgrow one.]

[From here down your writing gets a bit better and your dialogue more realistic. Were they written at the same time?]

Rising quickly to his feet, the boy looked around excitedly. Where could he find some new shells?

?Look! I told you he was just taking a break. He doesn?t need anyone to interfere. Just let him play.?

?You?re just too lazy to get up and take responsibility for your son. I look after him every day, but when it?s time for you to do something, all you can say is that he?s happier by himself. You just don?t care about him. It?s all about you.?

?Speak for yourself! You?ve done nothing except complain about how this place is not what you want. Nothing is good enough for you! You don?t really care about Adam. You just use him as something else to complain about!?

Searching around the base of some rocks, the boy stopped breathing for a second as he spotted what he wanted: a pair of matching shells, with a beautiful ripple of colour on their shiny surface. Reaching into the water, he reverently raised them up and checked them carefully. If they weren?t perfect, they wouldn?t be good enough.

Finding nothing wrong, he smiled. Washing them gently in the water, he made sure they were clean and gleaming.

Returning quickly to his bickering parents, he prayed that they would do the trick.

Standing silently, he held out the two shells, one in each hand, one for each parent. He knew he mustn?t interrupt the conversation of grown-ups. He schooled his expression into one of solemness. This was an important event.

Patiently he stood there, until he was noticed.

?What have you got there, Adam? How sweet! A beautiful little shell! I never get presents from anyone else.?

?One for me, too? Thanks, son. Now run along and play some more. You don?t want to spend too much time around here. You might catch some depressing disease.?

Skipping quietly, the young boy left with a hidden smile in his heart. His parents had taken the new happy shells.

Things were going to be alright[all right], now.

[OK, first I really like the actual story. The big problem is the construct. Dialogue is, admittedly, hard to write. But, I am confident you can do it because I?ve seen your writing. Even a short story needs emotional hooks. You have them, but they don?t start appearing soon enough. I get that the parents don?t need to be described, but the boy does. We don?t know his age, hair colour, or much about him. He?s a little kid. Although it doesn?t matter what he looks like, the reader wants to know. If you let down your reader, your reader is disappointed.]

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