We give you our nineteenth installment of KP Critiques! We greatly appreciate the willingness of our subscribers to subject their work underneath our editor’s scrutiny. While critiques are necessary and greatly beneficial, it’s never easy to put your work out there for all to see, and for it to be publicly critiqued. Thank you for having the courage to partake of this daring endeavor! KP Critiques Post 3
(Our editors really aren’t that scary.)

The Submission! 

The trailer stood behind the rusty and semi-abandoned gas station, a red station wagon straight out of three generations ago pulled into a parking space beneath a flickering and dim streetlamp. The remainder of the strip mall remained as the gas station – lonely, empty, and overly-staffed considering the town.

Over yonder was, across the crumbling asphalt, a pumpkin patch and a corn field, and further than that was a line of houses with chipped white fences and little plots of red poppies in their yards.

It truly was a quaint town and deserved nothing as devastating as this to happen to it. But, things don’t always work out fairly, do they? That’s why we’re here, that’s why you’re reading this. Because the things in this small New York town did not work out fair and square.

She stole across the lonesome and empty street, something clutched to her heavily rising and falling chest. A strand of her white-blonde hair poked out from beneath her hood, but in that moment she was too determined to notice. She dodged behind the gas station and pressed her back against the slimy cinderblock walls. Then, she evaluated the object in her hand, the object that looked threateningly like a knife, before slipping it under her belt and pulling a cotton ski mask over her face. 

Headlights swung around the building and she ducked beside a choking and sputtering rusty vending machine, the sides filled with dents from previous adolescents who wanted a free soda. The car pulled under the dimly lit bay and she breathed a sigh of relief as three men, all looking as if they were one, clamored out of the vehicle. Each had on a black sweatshirt with the hood pulled over their dark hair.

She hissed from her hiding spot, “you idiots are too obvious.”

The men spun around, clearly on guard, their fists poised in the air and ready to attack. Each, in turn, breathed a sigh of relief at seeing the small, wiry woman hunched under the flickering neon lights.

“What are you doing?” She seethed through closed teeth. “You’re going to blow our cover. Do something not so obvious for once in your life. You get the trailer, I’ll get the shop.”

Taking a deep breath, partly to push the adrenaline rushing through her veins back, she stood and readjusted the mask. Then she dashed along the side of the building and rattled at the glass door.

The bells chime, a sickeningly sweet sound, and the young hipster woman behind the counter looks up from a magazine and the big bubble that she was blowing popped on her lips. Something rustled from a few shelves over, and the owner of the store, a burly man with a waist as wide as he is tall and a white mustache that was eternally speckled with tomato sauce and portions of his previous meals, appeared.

He pointed to a sign in the window. “We don’t serve people with masks and hoods.”

She snickered and pulled the knife out of her belt. “I’m not here to be served.”

Our Critique! 

The trailer stood behind the rusty and semi-abandoned gas station, a red station wagon straight out of three generations ago pulled into a parking space beneath a flickering and dim streetlamp. The remainder of the strip mall remained as the gas station – lonely, empty, and overly-staffed considering the town.

I like the ‘straight out of three generations ago’. You might consider finding another word for remained. It’s already been used once before in that sentence. People will notice that and definitely be pulled out of the story.
A better way to write, ‘beneath a flickering and dim streetlamp’ would be ‘beneath a dim, flickering streetlamp.’ It’s not as disjointed and jolting, it runs smoothly and the image flows through our head more evenly.
Over yonder was, across the crumbling asphalt, a pumpkin patch and a corn field, and further than that was a line of houses with chipped white fences and little plots of red poppies in their yards.

You might consider rephrasing the beginning of this sentence to, ‘Over yonder, across the crumbling asphalt lay a pumpkin…’ That comma doesn’t belong after the ‘was.’ 🙂 
I would suggest splitting this sentence. It is way too long and my brain is running out of oxygen just reading it. 🙂
It truly was a quaint town and deserved nothing as devastating as this to happen to it. But, things don’t always work out fairly, do they? That’s why we’re here, that’s why you’re reading this. Because the things in this small New York town did not work out fair and square.

Interesting.
She stole across the lonesome and empty street, something clutched to her heavily rising and falling chest. A strand of her white-blonde hair poked out from beneath her hood, but in that moment she was too determined to notice. She dodged behind the gas station and pressed her back against the slimy cinderblock walls. Then, she evaluated the object in her hand, the object that looked threateningly like a knife, before slipping it under her belt and pulling a cotton ski mask over her face.

The word ‘then’ at the beginning of this sentence really doesn’t belong here. It’s awkward. You might shorten this sentence by reworking it something to this effect: ‘She evaluated the long, sharp object in her hand before slipping it under belt.’ You get the gist, I think.
Headlights swung around the building and she ducked beside a choking and sputtering rusty vending machine, the sides filled with dents from previous adolescents who wanted a free soda. The car pulled under the dimly lit bay and she breathed a sigh of relief as three men, all looking as if they were one, clamored out of the vehicle. Each had on a black sweatshirt with the hood pulled over their dark hair.

In my brain, the picture that erected there after reading that three men, all looking as if they were one, was of one body with three heads…or them somehow attached. I don’t think that’s the intended mental picture you were trying for.
She hissed from her hiding spot, “you idiots are too obvious.”

The men spun around, clearly on guard, their fists poised in the air and ready to attack. Each, in turn, breathed a sigh of relief at seeing the small, wiry woman hunched under the flickering neon lights.

Why would their fists be poised in the air? I’m thinking straight above their heads, but that’s probably not right.

“What are you doing?” She seethed through closed teeth. “You’re going to blow our cover. Do something not so obvious for once in your life. You get the trailer, I’ll get the shop.”

Taking a deep breath, partly to push the adrenaline rushing through her veins back, she stood and readjusted the mask. Then she dashed along the side of the building and rattled at the glass door.

The beginning sentence will flow better if you put the word back after the word push.
The bells chime, a sickeningly sweet sound, and the young hipster woman behind the counter looks up from a magazine and the big bubble that she was blowing popped on her lips. Something rustled from a few shelves over, and the owner of the store, a burly man with a waist as wide as he is tall and a white mustache that was eternally speckled with tomato sauce and portions of his previous meals, appeared.

Whoa, you just switched from passive writing to present in the beginning of this paragraph. Again, the ending sentence of this paragraph is way too long and cluttered.

He pointed to a sign in the window. “We don’t serve people with masks and hoods.”

She snickered and pulled the knife out of her belt. “I’m not here to be served.”

 

Hmm. Interesting. You have a good story going so far.
Be careful to put your verbs in the correct place in your sentences. Otherwise they will be disjointed and be read over again jerking the reader from the story.

Word choice matters. The words used to describe things must communicate correctly what you want us to see. The town doesn’t sound quaint, it sounds rundown and dilapidated. You used the word quaint so that’s obviously what you were going for, but that’s now what came across. Word choice is key.

Also with the lengthy sentences, they have their place, but they aren’t meant to be used every other paragraph. Strung out sentences will leave readers gasping for breath and bored. Drawing things out like that is not a good idea in story. Think of it as a camera lingering on the movie scene , drawing it all out. We’d turn it off.

Good work and keep writing!!!
~Haley Long