Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo

MAGIC OF HAPPINESS--will critique back!

fantasy historical literary fiction upmarket

  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 smoskale

smoskale

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 78 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, published, unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:2 non-fiction books with a University Press are out, two more are scheduled for 2018 release.

Posted 18 June 2018 - 09:44 PM


 Lorraine, France, 1662.

A dead bird. A bad omen.

Beata felt a cord stretch taut inside her, its tremors spreading to her fingertips.

“What happened, baby?” She picked up the lark from the doorstep, and cradled it in her palms. “Were you fleeing a hawk?” The lark didn’t stir, toes curled.

A dead bird fell by the door once, five years ago, when Beata was eleven. Days later the door splintered under pummeling fists, and Beata’s life split forever into “before” and “after.”

Before, sunlit and spring-colored, smelled of Mama’s potions, fresh hay, and honey.
Before, specks of dust danced in the orange rays of sunsets framed by the window, as Mama tended to patients. Before, warmth—sour-smelling, cinder-smudged bread, Mama’s hands brushing Beata’s hair—filled their quaint world.   

Then flames engulfed Mama and Beata’s house, “the witch’s lair.” Smoldering coals, all that was left of Beata’s before, turned cold and grey. Grey were the stone walls of the village square. Listless grey dust covered the street leading to Aunt Symonne’s house. Grey figures shuffled by—Mama’s killers, Beata’s new neighbors.  

The grey had almost swallowed her. Until, out the darkness, she’d conjured the blue light—her own magic, a connection to Mama that had colored Beata’s after.

Blinking memories away, Beata carried the lark down to the creek. She ripped a curved
strip of bark from an uprooted willow, and set the makeshift raft with the tiny body afloat. A moment later, the babbling current swept it downstream. “Carry the bad luck away,” Beata begged the water.



#2 michaelblaine

michaelblaine

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 41 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Southeast
  • Publishing Experience:None

Posted 18 June 2018 - 10:42 PM

Wow!  This is honestly the first time I've had not a word of my humble advise to offer.  Your writing is beautiful - artful in every way!  I can only hope that you'll continue whatever it is you're creating and then share it!  If the rest of your novel is equally as intriguing, I'm sure you won't have any trouble finding someone to represent you.  Frankly, I'm jealous of your talent. No need to critique back ... just keep working on this one.   :smile:  :smile:



#3 smoskale

smoskale

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 78 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, published, unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:2 non-fiction books with a University Press are out, two more are scheduled for 2018 release.

Posted 18 June 2018 - 10:48 PM

Oh gosh, you've just made my very long day! Thank you for the kind words and encouragement. I'm teary-eyed. Thank you.



#4 Bkrasnik

Bkrasnik

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 91 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, unagented
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:My short stories have been published in Red Shoes Review, Calliope, and the Zodiac Review. I have also published writing advice articles in Black Fox literary magazine and EveryWriterResources.com.

Posted 19 June 2018 - 01:43 PM

 


 Lorraine, France, 1662.

A dead bird. A bad omen.

Beata felt a cord stretch taut inside her, its tremors spreading to her fingertips.

“What happened, baby?” She picked up the lark from the doorstep, and cradled it in her palms. “Were you fleeing a hawk?” The lark didn’t stir, toes curled.

A dead bird fell by the door once, five years ago, when Beata was eleven. Days later the door splintered under pummeling fists, and Beata’s life split forever into “before” and “after.”

Before, sunlit and spring-colored, smelled of Mama’s potions, fresh hay, and honey.
Before, specks of dust danced in the orange rays of sunsets framed by the window, as Mama tended to patients (I would provide a little more detail here to tell us what kind of patients). Before, warmth—sour-smelling, cinder-smudged bread, Mama’s hands brushing Beata’s hair—filled their quaint world.   

Then flames engulfed Mama and Beata’s house, “the witch’s lair.”(This is confusing. Why do you choose to call it by this name? If this was deleted, the sentence would flow better.) Smoldering coals, all that was left of Beata’s before, turned cold and grey. Grey were the stone walls of the village square. Listless grey dust covered the street leading to Aunt Symonne’s house. Grey figures shuffled by—Mama’s killers, Beata’s new neighbors.  

The grey had almost swallowed her. Until, out the darkness, she’d conjured the blue light—her own magic, a connection to Mama that had colored Beata’s after. (Why did you choose to say blue light? Perhaps white or yellow light will resonate with the readers better? And how is this light a connection to her mother exactly? You don't have to be explicit, but I think you should make the implication more clear.) 

Blinking memories away, Beata carried the lark down to the creek. She ripped a curved
strip of bark from an uprooted willow, and set the makeshift raft with the tiny body afloat. A moment later, the babbling current swept it downstream. “Carry the bad luck away,” Beata begged the water.

 

 

You have a very beautiful writing style, but sometimes I think you get a little too carried away on making every phrase an art form, that the message becomes a little lost. I would delete certain beautiful phrases or words that might confuse or distract the reader and provide a bit more context in certain areas. Besides a few tweaks, I think this is really great which is why my feedback is so minimal. 

 

Thank you for your in-depth feedback on my query, although you accidentally edited an older version. If you have some time, and can look at my query on post #60, I would appreciate it very much! 


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#5 sarahja

sarahja

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 110 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationEurope
  • Publishing Experience:Poetry in journals

Posted 21 June 2018 - 08:34 AM

 


 Lorraine, France, 1662.

A dead bird. A bad omen.

Beata felt a cord stretch taut inside her, its tremors spreading to her fingertips.

“What happened, baby?” She picked up the lark from the doorstep, and cradled it in her palms. “Were you fleeing a hawk?”

Think this might sit better alone.The lark didn’t stir, toes curled.

A dead bird fell by the door once., five years ago, when Beata was eleven. Days later the door splintered under pummeling fists, and Beata’s life split forever into “before” and “after.” I think a slightly different structure might make this flow a little better/help it feel less like backstory and more like a lead-in to her current panic. The next section with all the sensory writing, could be even stronger if you connect it really clearly to the tension she feels in the present moment. Something like:

Another dead bird fell by another door five years ago, when Beata was eleven. Days later that door had splintered under pummelling fists, splitting Beata's life into 'before' and 'after'.

Before,I don't think you need the italics here! When they aren't repeated in the repetition of before, it is maybe a bit awkward? sunlit and spring-colored, smelled of Mama’s potions, fresh hay, and honey. Don't know if this formatting was due to the forum or that's how it is, but I think having all the befores in one para works quite wellBefore, specks of dust danced in the orange rays of sunsets framed by the window, as Mama tended to patients. Before, warmth—sour-smelling, cinder-smudged bread, Mama’s hands brushing Beata’s hair—filled their quaint world. I think this last little part "filled their quaint world" weakens the line. 

Then flames engulfed Mama and Beata’s house, “the witch’s lair.” Maybe a new paragraph here? Also think maybe italics would work better for the witch's lair. Something about the comma right before the quote makes it read a bit awkward, I think.

Smoldering coals, all that was left of Beata’s before, turned cold and grey. Grey were the stone walls of the village square. Listless grey dust covered the street leading to Aunt Symonne’s house. Grey figures shuffled by—Mama’s killers, Beata’s new neighbors.  

The grey had almost swallowed her. Until, out the darkness, she’d conjured the blue light—her own magic, a connection to Mama that had colored Beata’s after.The fact that you don't describe the after is really enticing.

Blinking memories away, Beata carried the lark down to the creek. She ripped a curved
strip of bark from an uprooted willow, and set the makeshift raft with the tiny body afloat. A moment later, the babbling current swept it downstream. “Carry the bad luck away,” Beata begged the water.Very emotive after seeing that snapshot of what she lost. Really good opening page!

 

Your use of language and imagery is beautiful. You create a lot of feeling and sympathy for your character in just a few words. My only suggestion is maybe connecting the memories even more to her current feelings/adding a bit more tension to them so they don't seem too much like exposition/backstory. But really, most of this was nitpicking.

 

Thanks for looking at my query! Your advice was perfect.


If you have the time, please take a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...can-ya-fantasy/


#6 TheBest

TheBest

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 162 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:I've just finished my first young and new adult Sci-fi novel, which I'm very proud of, and eager to get published. I've written two plays and a novella, self-published online.

Posted 22 June 2018 - 01:50 PM

A dead bird. A bad omen.

Beata felt a cord stretch taut inside her, its tremors spreading to her fingertips. (Great imagery!)

“What happened, baby?” She picked up the lark from the doorstep, and cradled it in her palms. “Were you fleeing a hawk?” The lark didn’t stir, toes curled.

A dead bird fell by the door once, five years ago, when Beata was eleven. Days later the door splintered under pummeling fists, and Beata’s life split forever into “before” and “after.” (This is so important, you might want to move it down, or space it out a tad more. Add more action with the lark, or maybe add some actions in between this info,)

Before, sunlit and spring-colored, smelled of Mama’s potions, fresh hay, and honey. (More great imagery)
Before, specks of dust danced in the orange rays of sunsets framed by the window, as Mama tended to patients. Before, warmth—sour-smelling, cinder-smudged bread, Mama’s hands brushing Beata’s hair—filled their quaint world. (More fantastic imagery. It might help to ground some of these details with real world actions. Just like a sentence or two.)

Then flames engulfed Mama and Beata’s house, “the witch’s lair.” Smoldering coals, all that was left of Beata’s before, turned cold and grey. Grey were the stone walls of the village square. Listless grey dust covered the street leading to Aunt Symonne’s house. Grey figures shuffled by—Mama’s killers, Beata’s new neighbors.  

The grey had almost swallowed her. Until, out the darkness, she’d conjured the blue light—her own magic, a connection to Mama that had colored Beata’s after.

Blinking memories away, Beata carried the lark down to the creek. She ripped a curved
strip of bark from an uprooted willow, and set the makeshift raft with the tiny body afloat. A moment later, the babbling current swept it downstream. “Carry the bad luck away,” Beata begged the water. (Very beautiful imagery, again! It might be nice to include more of these actions, so we get a sense of the physical space.)

 

Wow! Great opening, with some wonderful imagery, and pretty language. My biggest piece of advice is to add more concrete, physical actions, to space out the exposition/backstory. But all in all, a very fun passage. Great work!

 

You can find my first 250 here: http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=357793



#7 Quillaby

Quillaby

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 43 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationAustralia/New Zealand

Posted 25 June 2018 - 08:31 PM

 


 Lorraine, France, 1662.

A dead bird. A bad omen.

Beata felt a cord stretch taut inside her, its tremors spreading to her fingertips.

“What happened, baby?” She picked up the lark from the doorstep, and cradled it in her palms. “Were you fleeing a hawk?” The lark didn’t stir, toes curled.

A dead bird fell by the door once, five years ago, when Beata was eleven. Days later the door splintered under pummeling fists, and Beata’s life split forever into “before” and “after.”

Before, sunlit and spring-colored, smelled of Mama’s potions, fresh hay, and honey.
Before, specks of dust danced in the orange rays of sunsets framed by the window, as Mama tended to patients. Before, warmth—sour-smelling, cinder-smudged bread, Mama’s hands brushing Beata’s hair—filled their quaint world.   I find it stronger without this.

Then flames engulfed Mama and Beata’s house, “the witch’s lair.” Smoldering coals, all that was left of Beata’s before, turned cold and grey. Grey were the stone walls of the village square. Listless grey dust covered the street leading to Aunt Symonne’s house. Grey figures shuffled by—Mama’s killers, Beata’s new neighbors. This last phrase confused me at first. I had to re-read it to understand what you meant.

The grey had almost swallowed her. Until, out the darkness, she’d conjured the blue light—her own magic, a connection to Mama that had colored Beata’s after.

Blinking memories away, Beata carried the lark down to the creek. She ripped a curved
strip of bark from an uprooted willow, and set the makeshift raft with the tiny body afloat. A moment later, the babbling current swept it downstream. “Carry the bad luck away,” Beata begged the water. Love this part. Very intriguing.

 

 

This is a pretty strong opening, so don't fuss over it too much. It's very different to my personal writing style and preferences, but I've tried to remain objective and not let that muddy my critique! Re: the phrases/words I've struck out, I personally feel they slow or confuse the scene too much.

 

Good work and good luck!



#8 Kjcloutier19

Kjcloutier19

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 72 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, emerging, unagented
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:I have had a short story published in a school anthology, but my goal now is to publish the novel I have been working on for the past couple of years.

Posted 07 August 2018 - 03:28 AM

 

 

 


 Lorraine, France, 1662.

A dead bird. A bad omen.

Beata felt a cord stretch taut inside her, its tremors spreading to her fingertips.

“What happened, baby?” She picked up the lark from the doorstep, and cradled it in her palms. “Were you fleeing a hawk?”
The lark didn’t stir, toes curled. (Having this alone is stronger. Also, not sure what the toes curled part means. Is the injury in it's feet?)

A dead bird fell by the door once, five years ago, when Beata was eleven. Days later the door splintered under pummeling fists, and Beata’s life split forever into “before” and “after.” (Love this passage!)

Before, sunlit and spring-colored, smelled of Mama’s potions, fresh hay, and honey.
Before, specks of dust danced in the orange rays of sunsets framed by the window, as Mama tended to patients. Before, warmth—sour-smelling, cinder-smudged bread, Mama’s hands brushing Beata’s hair—filled their quaint world.   

Then flames engulfed Mama and Beata’s house, “the witch’s lair.” Smoldering coals, all that was left of Beata’s before, turned cold and grey. Grey were the stone walls of the village square. Listless grey dust covered the street leading to Aunt Symonne’s house. Grey figures shuffled by—Mama’s killers, Beata’s new neighbors.  

The grey had almost swallowed her. Until, out the darkness, she’d conjured the blue light—her own magic, a connection to Mama that had colored Beata’s after.

Blinking memories away, Beata carried the lark down to the creek. She ripped a curved
strip of bark from an uprooted willow, and set the makeshift raft with the tiny body afloat. A moment later, the babbling current swept it downstream. “Carry the bad luck away,” Beata begged the water.

 

Wow, your writing is beautiful. It almost reads like a poem. But with that being said, there were a few sentences that I had to read more then once in order to understand them because I think the purple prose is almost too strong in some areas. Dialing it back just a tad might be helpful. I hope you keep working on this and that one day I'll be able to read more! You style is so unique. Best of luck!  If you have the time to check out my post, I'd really appreciate that :) 

 

http://agentquerycon...words-of-novel/

 







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: fantasy, historical, literary fiction, upmarket

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users