Critique Request // Chapter One, Scene One (~ 1000 words)

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 9 months ago.

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  • #346426

    Anonymous

    Muddy rainwater washed over Aron’s boots and flooded his already soggy stockings. He wiggled his toes miserably and glared over his shoulder at Maximus, his sorry excuse for a horse. He rolled his eyes as the horse stopped in its tracks and snorted at him. Ignoring Maximus, he turned around, took one step forward, and tripped over a root.

    “Perfect,” he muttered, spitting out filth, grit, and a few pine needles. Satisfied he’d rubbed all the mud out of his eyes, he bolted over to Maximus and swung into the saddle before the horse could slip out of reach again.

    “It’s about time you did some of the work. You know, considering you’re the horse and I’m the rider.”

    Aron stifled a chuckle as Maximus twitched his ears. Sometimes he could swear the horse understood him. The entire journey had been one misstep after another. He’d been delayed by unseasonably rainy weather, he’d lost his bedroll somewhere along the road, and now he’d fallen in the mud and fouled his best riding cloak. He patted his cloak a few times, feeling around for the scroll deep in its folds, and breathed a sigh of relief. It was still there, tucked securely away with his father’s wax seal intact. Not for the first time, Aron considered opening it to read whatever secret instructions were written inside. Don’t be foolish, he chided himself. Uncle Carrick would see the truth written plainly in his mind before he could think up a good excuse. He urged Maximus into a begrudging trot and the pair continued along the path, which he noted was finally widening into a proper road again.

    “Must be getting close, Max,” he said, stroking the animal behind the ears. “Soon enough you’ll have some good oats and a decent bed of hay to lie down on.”

    A worn marker post bearing a single tally was nestled amongst the dense undergrowth. The markers were the only evidence that the path they’d been on was anything more than a game trail. Thankfully, he thought, this was the last one he’d have to look for. His stomach growled a few minutes later as the faintest whiff of supper cooking in the city wafted down the road to them. The last meal he’d eaten consisted of a roasted fish a day ago, and he’d been daydreaming about meat pies ever since.

    The final approach to the gates was well-cleared, and a guard in the tower rang a bell acknowledging their presence. A young guardsman stepped out onto the catwalk above the doors.

    “Who goes there?” he shouted down to Aron. “Announce your name and your business here.”

    Aron glanced up at the guard peering down at him, one eyebrow raised. It was unusual enough to find the doors closed, let alone multiple guards manning them. “I am Aron Maglorn of Illaren, nephew of your Governor. And I’m famished, my good man, so let’s get these doors open.”

    The guard appeared to consider the consequences of disputing Aron’s identity for a moment and then the twin gates creaked inwards just enough for him to ride through. The guard from the catwalk was waiting just through them.

    “Apologies, young Master Maglorn, but we’ve been given orders to enforce a few extra security measures.” He titled his head politely.

    “I’ll be sure to tell him that his man at the gate is a good soldier,” Aron said, reaching out and pumping the man’s hand. “Now, would you kindly point me in the direction of the nearest meat pie?”

    The guard grinned and pointed into the town. “Go up the road and take a right at the first fork. You’ll want to ask around for Marjorie, she moves her cart around throughout the day.” He paused for a second and wagged a finger at Aron. “Now don’t you go telling her I sent you, though, or she’s likely to come straight down here and thump me. I may have nicked one of her pies this morning.” He winked at Aron and climbed back up to the catwalk, waving over his shoulder.

    The dirt road turned into stone pavers and the noise of bustling villagers haggling in the evening markets greeted him. Aron followed the guard’s directions and asked the first villager he ran into where he could find Marjorie and her pies. Finally, he arrived at the woman’s cart and secured Maximus to a hitching post.

    “Marjorie, right? I’ve heard wonderful things about your pies.”

    A short, stout woman glowered up at him for a moment. “Who said what about me?”

    “Oh, just a guard down at the gate,” he replied quickly. “Now I’d take one—”

    “That bastard,” she interrupted. “My dear husband steals pies from me. What do you think about that?”

    Aron held his hands up innocently. “I’ll stay out of that one, if it’s all the same to you.” He placed a gold coin down. “This ought to cover both our pies? You can tell him he owes Aron Maglorn a favor.”

    “Indeed I will. It’s lamb today.” She handed over the steaming meat pie without looking at him. “Now go away.”

    Aron walked away, laughing as he unhitched Maximus. A bit further up the road, he was waved through a second gate and finally stopped by a stable boy who promised to bring Maximus fresh hay, oats, and water. A chambermaid showed him to his rooms and pointed toward the adjoining room.

    “You’ll find hot water in the tub and soap on the counter, Master Maglorn. Get washed up if you please and get some rest. Knowing the governor, you’ll have an early start tomorrow morning.”

    Aron waited for her to leave and then retrieved the scroll from his cloak, stowing it safely out of sight under a pillow. A minute later he was lost in thought in the bathtub, hot water soaking away his troubles.

  • #654098

    Anonymous

    The writing and description was very good at the word level. But it did not hook me at the story level so I started skimming. If this is chapter 1 then it would be , for me, a fail, although others may enjoy it. If this were a chapter in the book then I might say it was very well done.

  • #654099

    Anonymous

    If you’re reading for a critique, you shouldn’t be skimming. One cannot give a true critique that way because the story hasn’t been properly read. If it doesn’t “hook you”, then at least explain why; giving some suggestions in relation to that why would actually be helpful.

  • #654100

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    If you’re reading for a critique, you shouldn’t be skimming. One cannot give a true critique that way because the story hasn’t been properly read. If it doesn’t “hook you”, then at least explain why; giving some suggestions in relation to that why would actually be helpful.

    Whatever doodette.
    I notice you didn’t even mention anything about the writing just made a personal attack .

    That was my critique. Too bad you didn’t like it.
    Why don’t you give it a critique and show others how it is done instead of your useless personal comment.

    It just didnt hook me. I have no idea how that could be made more compelling for me.

    My suggestion was to make the beginning interesting to compel us to want to read more. The writing was nice at the word level but not interesting at the story level. Now if this is just so called literary fiction then it was excellent and needs no changes to make it interesting.

    At least I gave the writer some feedback. You did not do that. Nobody else has done that.
    Kind of hard to see how you have any valid complaint or even an interest in this discussion.

  • #654101

    Anonymous

    I have given others critiques and I intend to do so for this as well – but some of us actually take some time to write a critique instead of slapping out a “didn’t hook me” and walking away. That’s not a critique. I suggest you read the guidelines: http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3468

  • #654102

    Anonymous

    It didn’t hook me either (but I did read it fully), although I think it was good enough to convince me to continue giving it a chance to try. You have good texture in your writing, I felt like I could feel everything, but I didn’t get a picture of it at all. What was the nature of this path he rode on in the very beginning? Aron trips over a root- should I assume it was a path through a forest? Perhaps through a narrow rocky chasm? There are a number of sorts of places it could be just based on it being muddy and overlain with roots, so it left me wondering where on earth this fellow may be.

    What is the gate to? I get that it is a village, but why was there a gate? Is it a walled or fenced village? Is it perhaps separated by a river or something like that? I couldn’t get a good picture of that place either, so at that point the scene became a maybe walled gate blocking a road through a maybe forest or rocky chasm. The people were all good though, I thought. You really didn’t put much into them, but they still seemed sensible, as though they belonged well.

    After reading it, I was left thinking about the horse. It made me want to know how significant this horse is to Aron. Is it just a ride, or something more akin to a pet/friend? The first couple paragraphs seem to imply that it is his own horse, or at least that he travels with it regularly, but the connection between them was ambiguous. I think it would have felt more complete if you described Aron’s sentiment toward the horse a more attached/less attached way. Animal companionship is heavily relied on for emotional exploitation, so it makes me just want a clearer image of the horse’s role. Even just a hint or a tease would be enough just for now, until you later develop it further.

    The writing has plenty of elements to encourage me to read more, so I hope to see you continue with it if you’re still inspired to!

  • #654103

    Anonymous
    dorck wrote:
    Muddy rainwater washed over Aron’s boots and flooded his already soggy stockings. He wiggled his toes miserably and glared over his shoulder at Maximus, his sorry excuse for a horse. He rolled his eyes as the horse stopped in its tracks and snorted at him. Ignoring Maximus, he turned around, took one step forward, and tripped over a root.

    I liked this, but there’s something slowing it down a bit too much – and I think it’s a combination of too much worrying about “passive voice” and over-use of adverbs. Try editing those first three sentences so they aren’t quite so step-by-step. You basically have “this happend AND then this happened”. The adverb thing is most evident in the last sentence – turned around, step forward.

    dorck wrote:
    “Perfect,” he muttered, spitting out filth, grit, and a few pine needles. Satisfied he’d rubbed all the mud out of his eyes, he bolted over to Maximus and swung into the saddle before the horse could slip out of reach again.

    Just a nit, but I’m wondering if someone covered in mud, in an obviously muddy and wet area, could physically actually “bolt” and swing into the saddle.

    dorck wrote:
    Aron stifled a chuckle as Maximus twitched his ears. Sometimes he could swear the horse understood him. The entire journey had been one misstep after another. He’d been delayed by unseasonably rainy weather, he’d lost his bedroll somewhere along the road, and now he’d fallen in the mud and fouled his best riding cloak. He patted his cloak a few times, feeling around for the scroll deep in its folds, and breathed a sigh of relief. It was still there, tucked securely away with his father’s wax seal intact. Not for the first time, Aron considered opening it to read whatever secret instructions were written inside. Don’t be foolish, he chided himself. Uncle Carrick would see the truth written plainly in his mind before he could think up a good excuse. He urged Maximus into a begrudging trot and the pair continued along the path, which he noted was finally widening into a proper road again.

    The first two sentences seem out of place; they don’t seem to fit with what just happened, or with his thoughts in the rest of the paragraph. And again, because it’s slowing down some, I’d combine the third and fourth sentences. I’d also consider making this into two paragraph, the second starting with “Not for the first time…” – and possibly move that second paragraph either by or combined with the last paragraph.

    dorck wrote:
    “I’ll be sure to tell him that his man at the gate is a good soldier,” Aron said, reaching out and pumping the man’s hand. “Now, would you kindly point me in the direction of the nearest meat pie?”

    This whole section about the meat pie confuses me, in that I don’t understand why it’s included. He’s evidently expected, is undoubtedly still wet and muddy, his horse tired, and yet he takes time to search out a vendor instead of going to his uncle’s to clean up, get a real meal, and turn over this scroll. It seems to be more filler than substance.

    dorck wrote:
    Aron waited for her to leave and then retrieved the scroll from his cloak, stowing it safely out of sight under a pillow. A minute later he was lost in thought in the bathtub, hot water soaking away his troubles.

    It’s an interesting start, but a bit slow. Stories don’t have to start out with a bang, of course, but I think some judicious editing/revising could speed things up just enough without going the “Bang” route. 😉 And maybe instead of the whole meat pie thing, focus on this scroll he has and build up the curiosity about his actual mission.

  • #654104

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    I have given others critiques and I intend to do so for this as well – but some of us actually take some time to write a critique instead of slapping out a “didn’t hook me” and walking away. That’s not a critique. I suggest you read the guidelines: http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3468%5B/quote%5D

    T. A. Rodgers said my comments qualified and were not a problem.
    You still don’t get it do you. You are not the one who gets to tell others what/how they can post.

    Read the admins comments elsewhere or risk getting banned.

    Sorry you don’t like what I did provide to borck. If you want to have some approval method to say who can post comments on samples of writing then this place would come to a dead stop.

    One person complained that I responded to every noobie. Huh?? What is wrong with responding to them. Is there some quota about number of posts we can make or what??

    Maybe if more of us did that, and welcomed them in their intro, there would be more people hanging around and the forum would be a lot more active.

  • #654105

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    dorck wrote:

    It’s an interesting start, but a bit slow. Stories don’t have to start out with a bang, of course, but I think some judicious editing/revising could speed things up just enough without going the “Bang” route. 😉 And maybe instead of the whole meat pie thing, focus on this scroll he has and build up the curiosity about his actual mission.

    ====================

    You don’t have to start with a bang but it should be compelling enough to want us to keep reading.
    Who is this guy , why is he there, what is he doing, anything, but give us something more than beautiful description.

    As I noted, the word level is good, it is the higher story level that did not work for me.

    If this is just literary fiction then it was good. If it is a story that is going to be marketed then imho it needs improvement.

  • #654106

    Anonymous
    plughmann wrote:
    T. A. Rodgers said my comments qualified and were not a problem.

    Where?

    Because if Terry did say that, somewhere, I would have to disagree with him on both counts. On no forum I have been on would that be considered a critique, only a passing comment. And those kinds of comments are a problem because not only are they of no help to the author, they give a false impression that there’s little if anything good about the post. They’re short, vague, and negative. That is not a critique, let alone a good one.

    If you want to take that as a personal attack, that’s your choice. But bear in mind, as I noted before, that if you can’t separate yourself from your words, you’re going to have one big problem when and if you start posting your own work for critique. And again, I suggest you read the guidelines and see how far from a critique those posts are.

  • #654107

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    plughmann wrote:
    T. A. Rodgers said my comments qualified and were not a problem.

    Where?

    Because if Terry did say that, somewhere, I would have to disagree with him on both counts. On no forum I have been on would that be considered a critique, only a passing comment. And those kinds of comments are a problem because not only are they of no help to the author, they give a false impression that there’s little if anything good about the post. They’re short, vague, and negative. That is not a critique, let alone a good one.

    If you want to take that as a personal attack, that’s your choice. But bear in mind, as I noted before, that if you can’t separate yourself from your words, you’re going to have one big problem when and if you start posting your own work for critique. And again, I suggest you read the guidelines and see how far from a critique those posts are.

    In a PM to me.

    Go for it. Tell him he is wrong. I double dog dare you to try that.

    And since when are passing comments not allowed. All comments on the sample are useful.
    Snide comments about them not meeting your criteria are not useful to anyone.

    All comments help the author. I noted it was great description by borck but no motivation.

    I do not make personal attacks. But when attacked by bullies I will defend myself.

    You need to read the guidelines. I did nothing wrong. Live with it. Or get yourself banned for being a troublemaker.

  • #654108

    Anonymous
    plughmann wrote:
    Go for it. Tell him he is wrong. I double dog dare you to try that.

    “double dog dare”? Seriously.

    But if you actually read my previous post, you would have read “if Terry did say that, somewhere, I would have to disagree with him on both counts”. Then again, I’d want to see his actual words and not your interpretation of them.

  • #654109

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    plughmann wrote:
    Go for it. Tell him he is wrong. I double dog dare you to try that.

    “double dog dare”? Seriously.

    But if you actually read my previous post, you would have read “if Terry did say that, somewhere, I would have to disagree with him on both counts”. Then again, I’d want to see his actual words and not your interpretation of them.

    Then PM him. He shoudl have PMed you by now and told you to put a lid on it.

  • #654110

    Anonymous

    Hi. Your writing is good, as far as spelling and grammar, easy to follow, mostly clean. I believe ostarella already mentioned a congested paragraph.

    I did fully read this, although, i too had trouble getting into this. It’s hard for me to say why, because, it is or should be an interesting situation, bringing up questions, like why is he sloshing through muddy rainwater to deliver a scroll, why is the scroll so secret?

    despite what should be a very intriguing situation, it seems to be missing something. I am sorry i wil try to explain, im new to all this as well. perhaps, it is the opening paragraph, dealing with weather, it just makes it hard to instantly connect to the character and the story. maybe?

    there’s some maybe character inconsistencies, it starts out rather dreary, and he is a bit grumpy with the horse, at the same time there is a lack of hurry at first, then when he sees he is near the destination, he picks it up a bit, making the horse trot, but why did he suddenly want to move faster? and how well does a horse trot through muddy watery conditions?

    if he is very curious about the secret contents of the scroll, he doesn’t really show it, so I as the reader, don’t feel it, i should, i think, and want to. thats one thing that bothers me. and the meat pie lady is very unwelcoming and grumpy to somebody that not only is a paying customer but sought her out specifically, and paid extra money to help her recoup her losses caused by her husband. i thought that odd. and then he laughs about it, a quick change around, considering the soggy and grumpy beginning. maybe he is just happy his soggy journey is over and he finally has food, having not eaten in a day?

    an issue i have is with the horse, i don’t know much about horses, but i’ve read a lot and usually owners/riders take better care of the horse than they do themselves, especially when the horse is your only transportation and valuable. he would have taken the horse to be cared for before he got his food? then by all means, despite being wet and muddy, food, he hasn’t eaten in a day, after all.

    why is there no hurry to deliver the message? it seems like it should be important, important enough for him to hide it under the pillow, but why no rush to get it delivered? and it seems that it was too easy for him to get into the gate, there is more security, so why did the guard just let him in without confirming his identity? i just didn’t understand that, and the mc mentions how odd the security was, but how did he know that, and how does he feel about it? is this a town he knows well, and cares about? wouldn’t he really wonder whats wrong that they had to tighten security and close the gate? i just feel like things are missing here. I think you have a good story to tell here, but I don’t feel like I’m dying to know what happens next, not caught up in the action and his thoughts and feelings, so im crazy to know what is coming next. make me feel that, so I come back for more.

  • #654111

    Anonymous

    Well, not going to get into the discussion on how to make a comment. I liked this start. I got my curiosity about the scroll, the rider, even the horse. I could see the scene. I’d like to see more.

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