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Author Topic: Small magics - Critique Thread  (Read 1506 times)

Offline ryanmcgowan

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Small magics - Critique Thread
« on: December 04, 2018, 08:22:40 PM »
Here is the possibility to get critiques for your stories entered in our writing contest - and to give critique as well.

So what we're doing is this:
1. Everybody who wants critique for his story posts in here.*
2. Everybody who wants to do a critique for a specific story (whose writer has asked for critique) posts it in here.

IF this thread is overrun fast, I'm splitting it so that every story has it's own one to avoid confusion.

* I know that critique isn't always easy to handle, especially if you are not used to it. So if you feel more comfortable receiving it in private, people can send it via pm. They can post here that they sent a critique via pm so that others know about it.

At the moment I don't think it necessary that we create a system balancing given/received critiques. However, if it turns out to be unfair and some people are giving critiques without receiving some (or the other way round) we have to add one.

Basic rules for critiquing:

This is just a small guideline for those that haven't done critiques before, stolen from this forum's writing section.
   
       
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Critiquing Other’s Work

            1. Please read what the poster is asking for before you post your critique.
            2. Critique the writing, not the writer.  Never, “You are...” or “You should...” but rather, “The writing is...” or “The story should...”
            3. We all have different levels of writing ability here, keep that in mind when critiquing.
            4. Find what is right in each piece as well as what is wrong.
            5. Remember that subject matter is personal. You don't have to like a story to give it a fair critique.
            6. Remember what your biases are and critique around them.
            7. Remember that real people wrote this stuff, and real people have real feelings. Things you may not say while critiquing: “That’s awful.” “That’s stupid.” “You couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag.”

« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 08:27:28 PM by ryanmcgowan »
It's the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears.

Offline ryanmcgowan

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2018, 08:25:08 PM »
Obviously i’m fishing for critique on my story this month, all opinions and feedback welcome
It's the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears.

Offline JMack

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2018, 10:51:20 PM »
@ryanmcgowan:

I voted for your story, so I hope that makes me the most qualified to tear it to shreds provide some useful feedback.  8)


0. (yes, "0") I responded to the imagination underlying your story, the intensity of the situation, and the 'feel' of it. And though sometimes your prose is a bit dense, other times it's incredibly evocative, such as in:

Quote
It is the mask we show the living when those we love are soon to be the dead.
Love that.

And this:
Quote
A small package swaddled in frayed blankets, the soft nature of which belied the hard truth within.  A child lay dying here.  A child in pain within blanket folds, atop a small cot in one corner of the room.
Really involved me. So specific, and great rhythm in the final sentence.

You made me curious as hell about Sentinels and Wildlings. That Frey is an "it" and not a "he" or a "she".

And I think this is the stuff that sealed it for me:
Quote
“Do not be afraid” I cautioned, “It is the sound the light makes as it touches the darkness.”
The boy crept towards me, suddenly emboldened “Where do you keep its heart?” He whispers.
“I keep it with my own-”
“It’s death magic.” Interrupts the father.
“Taking pain from a dying child is… Love magic if it is anything.” I counter.  Though so far as I have ever known, there is only one magic.

OK, enough with the praise.  ;)

1. Please, please, please separate all paragraphs with a carriage return.

Quote
cottage, phantom pains raced through the wooden veins within the density of my prosthetic toes and the bitter taste of dampness suffused deep into my lungs.
(carriage return!)
There was a tension in the faces turned to greet me, I knew it too well even then.  It is the mask we show the living when those we love are soon to be the dead.  Yet I

2. Work on your punctuation. I've added the right marks below. I decided quickly while reading your story to ignore the errors, and I'm glad I did. But don't count on it from readers.

Quote
A murder of crows rose from the thatch roof screaming their discontent.(period, not comma) T(capital)hey heralded our arrival as I collided with the door jamb,(comma) and a deep wooden thud foretold my presence.  As I limped into the dark cramped confines of the single-(dash)roomed serfs'(apostrophe, though you could argue need and placement) cottage, phantom pains raced through the wooden veins within the density of my prosthetic toes,(comma) and the bitter taste of dampness suffused deep into my lungs.

3. Proof read. Here is an example of tenses that don't agree. There are others. Pick present tense or past tense, and don't mix them.

Quote
I cautioned
Quote
He whispers

Enough with the grammar, right?

4. It is really hard to pack so many characters and so much world-building into a 1,500 word story. But we all know that, don't we? Anyway, there are points where this story suffers for it. I was just searching for a good example, and didn't find one quickly enough (limited time to write), so chalk this up to overall impression.

5. I suspect some folks may feel there was some "big" magic going on, rather than small magic. I'm not overly excited about sticking to the monthly prompt all that closely, but I could see it being part of someone's voting. The hints of the huge world-building behind this lends that sense of "large" to the story, maybe.

6. Your prose (and I praised it earlier, remember) can veer to the dense. I offer this carefully, because everyone has their own style. Here is an example I feel needs sharpening and simplifying.

Quote
I had felt the old anger begin to rise with his words.  Deep inside, in a place long forgotten.  Reacting as it felt the touch of a kindred spirit, as in this boy child a similarly deep pool had sprung.
Maybe not actually the best example (because I quite like some of it), but again, time.

But here is a tentative tweak.
Quote
I felt the old anger rise with his words, deep inside, in a place long forgotten - reacting to the touch of a kindred spirit, a deep pool of anger answering from the boy.
(The "-" there is a personal choice to link the first sentence to the sentence fragment. You have a lot of sentence fragments throughout the story, mixed with run-ons. Both can work, but too many can be distracting.)

Anyway, I'm out of time for things at the moment.
I hope some of these comments are useful to you. Aside from the grammar, which is just what it is, the rest is personal style and choice. Take what helps and ignore the rest.

But overall, simplify, simplify, without losing your own cool style.


P.s., I just ran your story through my www.autocrit.com account. It sucks at sentence fragments, grammar, and punctuation, but is excellent at tense agreement, passive voice, filler words, and more. If you’d like me to pull some details out it’s analysis, send me a p.m.

« Last Edit: December 05, 2018, 11:15:43 AM by JMack »
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You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline ryanmcgowan

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2018, 08:12:04 PM »
@JMack Wow thank you so much for taking the time, don’t think i’ve Felt so positive after My writings been torn to shreds hahaha.

But seriously this is some very helpful points which I will be actively trying to work on for this months entry.

I’ve some serious research to do on sentence fragments and run-on’s this week!

I’ll drop you a pm regards autocrit.

Again thank you.
It's the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears.

Offline Slaykomimi

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2018, 11:11:01 PM »
Everybody in this forum, please feel free to write critique about my entry.
I am glad and open for any form of critique.

Thanks in advance.
Truly, if there is evil in this world, it lies within the heart of mankind.

-Edward d. Morrison

Offline ryanmcgowan

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2018, 08:04:37 PM »
@Slaykomimi i’m Really just beginning writing myself, so please don’t take anything to heart as it’s only my opinion.

I liked your stories strong imagery, but it seemed that you had no defined POV.  Clearly Mui is your main character but the story jumps from head to head and then to the narrator, and as a reader I found it difficult to bond with her character.

Your story also has a lot of information dumping, i’m often guilty of this myself.  I try to remember the advice of ‘Show don’t tell’ maybe this could help you too.

Look forward to reading your next entry!
It's the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears.

Offline Jake Baelish

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2018, 09:55:42 AM »
Hi all, I'm pretty new at 'giving' critique, but it seems a great way to grow as writers. So I'll be more than happy to try my hand at it here.

@ryanmcgowan

I actually really enjoyed your story. If we'd had a 3rd option it would definitely have been one of those I considered. The thing I loved most was what I can only describe as a 'Poe-like' sentence structure. (As in Edgar Allen Poe). This is actually a double-edged sword in itself though. JMack mentioned above the density of your writing. Well, Poe is pretty dense too, and his use of long 'elaborate' sentences is not favoured by many. Sometimes it really works though. I particularly loved this sentence:

"The boy watched his elders from the shadows of the room for reactionary cues to my strange and abrupt appearance."

Long sentences, I feel, build tension. I felt plenty of tension here, which I think was the intention  :)

Sweet rhyme and alliteration at the end too, had a nice and chilling effect.

On the down side, I agree with JMack that the story was much grander than small magic would imply, though that had no bearing on my voting. At times I also felt myself losing track of what was going on, and only really 'got it' on a second read through (though I totally acknowledge this may just have been a problem for me alone). This may have been partly due to those frequently the elongated sentences. Sometimes long sentences are great, but sometimes it can make reading a chore.

And yes, spelling and grammar checks help.

Not much else to say. I really did enjoy it, and look forward to what you got this month  :)


@Slaykomimi

First of all, I enjoyed your story quite a bit, despite everything I might say after this. A major improvement on the previous month.

The positives:

The opening paragraph was lovely and descriptive, the use of the simile 'like ant' into 'watched upon by' showed quality phrasing which builds a picture nicely. I also really felt the hopelessness of the situation which I think you were trying to achieve. Finally, the idea was great - I especially liked how you spent some time building up the impressiveness of this ancient bridge to add to the tragedy of the story when it too is destroyed at the end.

That said, the bridge could certainly have been more detailed. I'm a sucker for grand set pieces and this had the potential to be very grand indeed.

The tense also shifts into present at start of paragraph 2, after setting the story in the past in paragraph 1, something to be aware of.

Show don't tell, as Ryan says, is a great mantra. To give an example, we are told the chain is mounted so no one can escape. Mui might have shown discomfort at the chain around her (wrist/ankle) and lamented on it leaving her no way out.

Some redundancy: "killed in front of her eyes" - if it was in front of her, we can assume she saw it with her eyes.

That said, I still enjoyed this story, and am in absolute awe of your ability to write like this in a second language. I'm currently learning to read and write in Thai and doing anything so immense is something I can never imagine doing  :o


OK, hope that was helpful. If anything isn't clear let me know, this is new to me  :)
Also, any feedback on Better with Bread would be much appreciated!
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 10:00:33 AM by Jake Baelish »
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Follow Prince Leon Atlantus as he forms a dangerous friendship with his captors, while held hostage across a world headed for war...

Offline Nora

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2018, 02:48:23 AM »
Keen for critics as always, but won't be able to retaliate until Friday when I have the day off! I'll take an hour to do the rounds of people who've logged interest by then.
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Offline JMack

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2018, 12:33:20 PM »
Hi, @Nora:

I really love the premise and promise of this piece. I think there’s also work to be done. Since I don’t need to worry about ruffling your feathers, here go my opinions:

> Problem: Between the initial stakeout and the discussion with the partner, there’s too much “tell” infodump without conflict or action. This gets dull and it also turns the partner into an NPC instead of a real person with his own agenda.
> Possibility: Turn the stakeout into something that matters. For example, he’s sketching the Artist’s latest foray in his notebook, revealing the difference between normal sight and magical sight. (If you want, put a normal human partner with him to argue about what is seen.) End with him noticing that she’s inserted a message to him. In fact, it’s so fresh and recent, he knows she must be watching, but he’s a total failure seeing her; he gets lost in her work, instead.

> Problem/Possibility: Back to the partner, turn this into conflict. You say he’s a cold shoulder to cry on, but he immediately offers a donut and patiently walks through the case with our hero. Instead, make him a jerk who would like nothing better than for Iain to fall the rest of the way from his formerly high perch. The realization that Iain should take another road can come more as something Tom didn’t know he was saying, but Iain makes a connection.

> Problem: The “wiped” concept comes late and lame.
> Possibility: If it’s there from the start, then Iain has a moral quandary all the way through, caught between personal ambition, commitment to order, and a grudging, guilty, admission that he values the Artist’s graffiti and her personal freedom more than he’d like to admit. What will he do?

> Problem/Possibility: The present tense approach feels very tell this time, rather than show. That’s not,always the case when you (Nora) write in present tense, but it feels that way to me here. Either make the present tense more visceral, with far less explanation of what’s happening, or shift to past tense. Keep Iain’s final plan more of a mystery. Give us surprise when he pulls out the paint brush and starts in on his own art.

> Problem: The story ends abruptly, rushing to the end after all the build up. Problem with 1,500 words, of. Course, but...
> Possibility: Gives us a circular structure for a sense of satisfying closure. Go back to the same wall where we started. Back then, make clear that there is a still open space the Artist hasn’t decorated and that Iain’s interference means her work was incomplete. Now, here at the end, Iain sets about to complete it. And to add mystery, perhaps the response -the smile - appears almost immediately. This is magic, after all. And again, he looks around and can’t find her. But his feelings have changed. I’m not sure of the capstone line for it, but I think it’s there.

OK, that was really rude of me to not just crit what you’ve written. Instead, I guess I went and got some alchemical paints and started in myself. Do I get a hidden smile?  ;)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2018, 12:35:07 PM by JMack »
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Offline JMack

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2018, 12:50:45 PM »
Meanwhile, comments on my story “Inheritance” would be welcome.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline Nora

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2018, 06:59:44 PM »
Sorry Jmack, the weekend hit me like a 20 ton truck. I was exhausted on Saturday, and crippled further by a bout of insomnia brought on by the coffees I drank to stay awake, like a total dolt.

Anyway, I'm barely alive rn, so I'll do a quick answer to your review, but keep my own critics for tomorrow, after when I've had 12h of sleep. T_T

Quote
Possibility: Turn the stakeout into something that matters. For example, he’s sketching the Artist’s latest foray in his notebook, revealing the difference between normal sight and magical sight. (If you want, put a normal human partner with him to argue about what is seen.) End with him noticing that she’s inserted a message to him. In fact, it’s so fresh and recent, he knows she must be watching, but he’s a total failure seeing her; he gets lost in her work, instead.

That's a fantastic solution and gave me one of those "oh shit" moments, when you see the solution to a problem that seemed stuck.
I don't agree with any instances of the Artist being around, because it entirely defeats the point of leaving messages painted on walls. Same with the magic idea at the end: though it's a lovely idea, it means the Artist anticipated him, not that she's come by, seen his work, and replied. It also must mean something that he leaves the spot alone, and doesn't stalk it.
But yes, the idea of him and his partner discussing outside, and seeing the art instead of referring to it, is excellent.

Quote
> Problem/Possibility: Back to the partner, turn this into conflict. You say he’s a cold shoulder to cry on, but he immediately offers a donut and patiently walks through the case with our hero. Instead, make him a jerk who would like nothing better than for Iain to fall the rest of the way from his formerly high perch. The realization that Iain should take another road can come more as something Tom didn’t know he was saying, but Iain makes a connection.

On this I disagree. He's meant to not pity Iain, but he's not meant to be disparaging. He also doesn't need a life or agency... I'm surprised you even mention this. He's such a minor character, I never try to give life or agency to side characters. In a 1500 short story, they're all only ever around to paint in decor or add flavour or enable the hero/story.
But that doesn't excuse how weak the partner character was, and a scene where the two of them discuss actively in front of a painting would have been infinitely better.
It almost makes me want to re-write it!

So no, don't worry, I'm not bothered that you gave stark examples, because even if I wouldn't follow them entirely (or it'd be a jmack story), most of your suggestions open clear and very good avenues. It makes my mistakes painfully clear.
I knew the story was clunky, and you've helped me pinpoint exactly why!

Now I'll pay you back with a review tomorrow!!!
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2018, 10:12:11 PM »
Meanwhile, comments on my story “Inheritance” would be welcome.

I don't have much to say @JMack other than that your story was very magical :)

The worldbuilding was sweet, folksy and fairytale like.  A lot of that had to do with things just *being*, not explaining things that just are because it feels like of course they are.  Wonderment made mundane so to speak.

“Well, maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t, but what’s done is done, and what’s done isn’t always what we think it is." 

I fell in love with the story with this line. The tone and voice are pitch-perfect. The message itself is intriguing, and as you read on it turns out that it encapsulates the story perfectly and plays a key role in bringing it around full circle (someone important said stories return to the beginning but changed, which this line does perfectly).

I also loved the theme-- the guilt and second guessing over a simple wish.  Its far more profound than your typical conflict-driven stories.

The arc sort of meanders, which fits very well with the folksy tone of the piece (even tho it's not a standard construction I have to say I liked it).

The ending though, felt a little incomplete, or perhaps off in a direction that was too new. If I were to change anything (and really this is sort of an arbitrary "if it were my piece" sort of thing).  I would have had the errant brother return having stolen both wishes but used his (maybe to get away, maybe to come back) but feeling like his wish didn't give him what he really wanted.  When he guiltily returns the stolen wish, his brother realizes he has everything he wants gives him back the magic he stole, and then the estranged brother makes that sweet wish you refer to in the end.  That would have kept the focus at the end a bit more tightly on the magic and delivered a bit more strongly on "it isn't always what we think it is". As it is, the breaking of the magic didn't quite feel earned because we didn't really experience the full extent of the inner catharsis of realizing he *hadn't* killed his father and solidly transfer that into the breaking.  (though that could certainly be done with an inner monologue instead of the plot changes I suggested).
« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 10:16:14 PM by J.R. Darewood »

Offline JMack

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2018, 10:36:39 PM »
@J.R. Darewood:
I agree with what you're saying about the ending. In fact, I kept going back-end forth about whether the brother had used his magic or not. I think this is worth a re-visit before I post it on my blog (whenever that might be).
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You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline Jake Baelish

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2018, 09:16:51 AM »
I wanted to get to these sooner, but busy week and all that  :o

@Nora

Hi. Firstly, your story was quite fun and intriguing. The things I loved most were how you slipped in words here and there to give a feeling of something in this world that was 'mystical' but also immediately understandable (wiped, normals). I also liked how the use of present tense gave it the feeling of a film noir narration, which I guess was intended considered the type of story this is  :)

Since this is fairly well-written, in my opinion, I'm going to struggle to be particularly helpful with critique, but I'll try. I do agree with much of what JMack says, with the exception of the wiped being lame, I felt it came in at a decent (if late) time to shock the MC into realising what could happen if he is successful.

That said, I never really felt any sense of wanting to know how it all turned out. Of course there is a crime to be solved, but I never really anticipated a meeting with The Artist nor was I interested in knowing how the case was solved. But then on the flip side that might by why I liked the reveal of 'being wiped', since it made the ending more satisfying than what could've happened. But still, that came late, leaving me wanting for the most part.

Lastly, Iain is moaning a lot to begin with about his job, he doesn't seem to care so much, and maybe that rubbed off. I don't mean that to sound 'mean', it's honestly just how I felt reading their discussion. This isn't helped by this not being a genre I really enjoy much, so there are certainly people who will absolutely love the mood and set up. Again though, I recognise the decent story here, and liked the writing.


@JMack

When I first read this I thought for sure it'd get my vote. I really, really liked it. As a side note, I think the name change was for the better  :)

I enjoyed the message here (even while being unable to articulate it). It does feel like a fairy tale as JR says. And the second guessing is sweet and fun and actually gave me a sense of dread, especially at this point:

"Aulie stared, sickened. His world spun. A man could trip. A man could get killed just from falling. All it took was a little magic. But he hadn’t used it. He knew he hadn’t! But he’d wished it. Maybe that was enough."

Nice choppy short sentences, really capturing his doubt and panic.

I figured quickly though that he probably hadn't used his magic but the reveal was still sweet. One way the predictability might be curtailed is if a sentence or two absolutely confirmed, to himself, that he was responsible. I'm not sure what exactly but anything to make the 'unexpected' surprise more of a surprise than it is.

Also, the story does run a little longer than it probably needs to, but at the same time I'm not sure what I'd cut since it all adds to the atmosphere and drama of the story. Wow, I'm really being clear here, aren't I  ???

Much of that's really nit picking though. In terms of why I suppose I voted for other stories instead then this perhaps comes to the theme in itself and how it was interpreted. Since those I chose in the end actually did focus on a magic in use, while this one, ultimately, didn't.

I still absolutely loved this story, felt like something from the Brothers Grimm (one of the less gruesome tales!).


OK, not much else to add. Critique of Better with Bread would be welcome!
Check out my book 'Prince of Fiends' here: http://amzn.eu/4l5M7OO
Follow Prince Leon Atlantus as he forms a dangerous friendship with his captors, while held hostage across a world headed for war...

Offline JMack

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Re: Small magics - Critique Thread
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2018, 12:24:06 PM »
@Jake Baelish, “Better with Bread” is a lovely piece and deserved the votes we gave it. But a little polishing might bring out even more luster.

Quote
Granny had been baking bread for decades even before Pom came along. She’d been doing it another decade since. She’d grown increasingly fragile and withered in that time. It pained Pom to see her so.

“It really did work wonders,” said the spritely man across the counter in awe. “I mean, I’d heard stories of the famed Granny Curie and ‘Better With Bread’ Bakery, but hadn’t thought it possible until today.”

“You enjoyed the bread then?” Granny said.

“Oh, we all did! The whole family. It was only when I woke up this morning with no aches that I realised my back pain was finally gone! Astonishing!”

“We are glad to have been of service.” Granny winced, a hand pressed to her spine. She quickly recovered her smile. “You won’t be needing another. Though can we interest you in any of our more ordinary wares?” She gestured around the earthy space of the bakery and its rows of wooden shelves adorned with loaves of wheat, rye and even barley bread.

“Indeed,” the spritely man said. “I think I shall, anything to help.”

Pom, from his seat in the corner, grinned when the man’s gaze came to him, then went back to kneading his own dough in silence.

> Why “anything to help”? We’ve seen nothing to indicate Granny needs help. “Indeed, everything looks delicious!” might make more logical sense? But if you want to get across the relative poverty of the shop, then you need something else before this or attached to this.
> I’m big into rhythm and emphasis. In JMack’s peabrain, “The spritely man said” should be “Said the spritely man.” This puts “man” at the end not “said”, which emphasizes the man. It’s also iambic rhythm (Shakespeare’s rhythm):Said the sprite-ly man instead of “the sprite-ly man said” which puts all the emphasis of placement and sound on the uninteresting word “said”.
See also one that works now: the bread then, Grann-y said, which also gives a pleasing internal near-rhyme with “then” and “said”.
> “Grinned when” is an interesting point. I’m over-analyzing (as usual). I infer from “when” that Pom was definitely not smiling before, maybe he was even frowning. If this is your intention (which I like), maybe “Pom pasted on a smile”, though that’s pretty aggressive for this part of the story.

Quote
Pom could make bread rise the old fashioned way, with yeast, and the taste would be all the same for it. When Granny Curie made it rise though, it performed miracles even ordinary bread couldn’t achieve. Something about the kneading, Pom knew that much. And seeing her now, hobbling back to the kitchen, he also knew it took something from her, each and every time.

Pom, slumped over the counter with the midday heat, juddered upright on hearing a clattering of footsteps.

Three men entered. Flanking the leader were two overly armoured guards, such as would bring a fright to any humble baker boy. Between them stood an elderly, imposing gent with a big bushy beard and pointed red hat. His girth suggested a wealth befitting one sent from the upper echelons of palace life.

“Granny,” Pom yelled without greeting. “There’s people from the castle here.”

The boy retreated to his corner and gingerly kneaded his dough.

The elderly man winked at him. “No need to be coy, lad. No one’s in any trouble. We just have urgent business with your Granny, is all.”

> I love repetition with progression.  “He knew that much “ to “knew it took.” Simple and maybe obvious as you’re writing it, but so effective and pleasing to read.
> “Pom could” make bread normally implies he could do it in another way, too. Not what you mean. Simplify to “Pom made bread rise” the normal way. You still set up the comparison to Granny.
> “On hearing a clattering” might be streamlined to “at a clattering.” Since clattering is a word about sound that is jarring, the hearing part will be understood by the reader.
> ‘Between them stood” is unnecessary repetition and confusing. You already said the leader was flanked by two guards. So here, simply say “The leader was”. Or restructure things for the interest you’re after. “The elderly gent standing between them was graced with a huge bushy beard and preened under a wide red hat.” Or some such. Or, “Flanking an imposing, elderly gent, were two overly...etc. The old fellow was graced with... etc.”
> “sent from the upper echelons of place life”. I think you can be used to the upper echelons of palace life, or belong to them. I don’t think you can be sent by life. So, “sent by the upper echelons of the palace.”
> “elderly man”. It’s fine. Remember, we’re polishing, so I’m going all in for nits and opportunities. Look for something more tied to his persona. The beard, the hat, and the whiff of the palace are far more interesting as tags than “elderly.” Choose a good tag and stay with it throughout.
> “Gingerly” is an awkward word. I don’t think it communicates the emotion you’re trying to convey. “Anxiously?” Or better yet, drop the adverb and go for an emotional action. “Retreated to,his corner and pounded at his dough.” That may not be exactly right either because it was to fit “coy” in the next sentence. Anyway, I’d look formso,Ethan get better than “gingerly.” Unless he’s making gingerbread.  ;D

I’m stopping here for the moment. Is this useful? If so, i’ll Add more soon.

P.s. All this above is line edits. Here’s something more structural to consider. Again, you’re already doing it. Might you make it even stronger... This is, that there is a comparison and opposition between Granny and the wizard. Can you enhance the contrast through visual parallels and differences in their appearance? Can you show them equal in some way? He’s pretty accommodating and jovial. Do you want any negatives in him that enhance Granny? Like I said, the comparison is already there and works well. I’m looking for one or two small opportunities to strengthen it without being too obvious. Just a thought.

« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 12:38:39 PM by JMack »
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