July 10, 2020, 10:06:29 AM

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Messages - ryanmcgowan

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@Magnus Hedén i’ve got Audible as I travel a lot for work, so an audio book is great in cars, airplanes, even when working so i’m hands free.

Recently I listened to the Nevernight trilogy by Jay Kristoff which I really enjoyed, also Brandon Sanderson’s ‘the storm light saga’ series I very well narrated.

I feel another Kian, Goldie and Grandad adventure coming on 🤔

Are serial stories allowed?

@JMack Thanks, this is great!

You definitely picked up on two parts of my story I struggled with - Transitioning from inside the house, to outside whilst maintaining action and interest, and by the time I got to writing an ending I was already well over the word count limit and trying to edit down.

I think I over edited and lost the ‘being rewoven’ details like you say.  I think this could easily have been a bigger story, and I may take the time to expand it.

Really appreciate the feedback, think I agree with everything, all good points.  I hadn’t considered narrative overwriting Kians “Voice” it’s a really good point I need to be aware and correct when this is happening.

Anything more you have to share would be appreciated if/when you have time, I’ve been really trying to work harder on the ‘craft’ aspects of my writing, so all advice/guidance is really appreciated.

Morning @JMack,

Thought I’d try to critique battlefield tour, though I enjoyed and voted for it. 
Any critique offered is based on personal preference though, I’m afraid my understanding of writing craft is still a work in progress.

Your first paragraph was the only one to really give me pause.  With the bards speech embedded in the main block of text it confused me.  At first read I thought the narrator was continuing to talk, and didn’t realise until Caramagh questions the singing armour that it wasn’t.  Perhaps this needs revision to better indicate someone is talking, or perhaps I need to pay more attention as I read.

The goddess snorted. “Tell me how it ends. I’m going over there to talk to the dark lord.”
I like this sentence, something about it’s phrasing and the thought of a God being surly tickles me.

It was a long, nettled walk through nettles to the rock.
This reads strangely with the repetition of nettles, maybe another adjective could be better used and give more tone to the character, or better tie to the rest of the paragraph. Maybe replacing nettled with laborious would add to the impression given by the next sentence that being constrained by her mortal shell makes everything more difficult.

Wouldn’t that shock everyone? Instead, she hauled herself along, almost losing a traitorous shoe to a sucking patch of bloodweed
Traitorous shoe is an excellent descriptive, it made me grin.

. Immortality was not the blessing mortals imagined if you left everyone that mattered behind.
I like the impression of this paragraph, and understand the point your making, but maybe it could be worded more darkly to give a stronger impression than just leaving people behind.  “Immortality was not the blessing mortals imagined.  Those she’d loved and left buried in the mud stood testament to that.” Or something along these lines.

You live
So I live….
Why “Nothing?”

Caramagh had been deaf to her father’s real meaning all along.
Again personal preference here, but maybe  “was deaf to the true meaning of her fathers words.” Would read less jarringly ?

Now she reached for power, and light blasted the battlefield like the touch of the very sun.
I think Very Sun might be a little redundant, And just “touch of the sun” delivers the same meaning.

Generally though I really enjoyed the story.  I  particularly liked the teenage surly-ness of the goddess, the embarrassment of having followers made me think of a teenagers embarrassment of her parents antics.  For me, (personal preference here again) I think you could have leaned a bit further into this and it would have added to your story’s sense of fun.

Congratulations again, another great story.

I’d really appreciate critique on my story “Grandad and Goldie”

Congratulations @JMack great story, and the one I voted for!

Thank you @ScarletBea for the kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed my story.

Will there be a critique post this month? I love the feedback here it’s always very constructive.

Think I’m going to give up on this one, struggled to motivate myself and none of my ideas have excited me enough I’m afraid

I’ve left it a little late this month, here’s hoping I can knock something out resembling a complete story in the next five days

Love it!
I’m heading to a hotel next week for some serious (can’t leave your room for two weeks) isolation for work, before heading out to sea, all of which will help me get into the mindset for this, so long as I don’t decent into madness in the meantime

Voted! Finally got time to sit down with a coffee and read through the entries, this whole apocalypse home-schooling is never ending haha. 

I did it! I don’t know how I did it, but it’s definitely done

Well turns out the Apocalypse isn’t the best month to try and get words down when I’ve two kids at home, but the deadline’s here and so is my story.  1,495 words, I guess having the kids at home has skewed the reader age I would normally write for (My own), so no swearing and only implied violence and death this time.

Grandad and Goldie

Spoiler for Hiden:
Grandad’s goldfish is a God, and she’s even older than he is.  He says Goldie is as old as the Yellow River, and before being Goldie the goldfish she was the Golden Dragon of WuJin. 
We moved in with Grandad when Daddy went to the war, everyone tells Mum he’ll come home a hero, but I just hope he comes home soon.
I love living at Grandads, and I love his stories about Goldie’s adventures as a Dragon most of all.  Sometimes I think he’s pretending, because Goldie’s so small now.  Mum says he tells too many stories, and gives him trouble for putting silly ideas in my head.  She says I spend too much time day-dreaming, but Grandad says ‘having a big imagination is important when you’re such a little person’. 

Mum says we shouldn’t worry about the war coming to WuJin because Grandad is a famous hero from the old war and can keep us safe.  But the old war was a long time ago when Mum was my size, and now Grandads very old.

Mum’s sad a lot since Daddy went, she doesn’t smile or laugh hardly at all anymore.  Sometimes at night when she cuddles me in close telling me stories about Daddy, the warm wetness of her tears drip drop on my hair.  Sometimes when I’m happy I remember about Daddy and it makes me sad, I worry I’m starting to forget him, but Grandad says that’s impossible.
Grandad couldn’t get out of bed this-morning so I bring him his favourite tea, but mum says he’s too sick for tea.  She wont let me see him so I have to sneak in when she’s talking to Mrs Niss from next door.
Mum’s muffled voice vibrates through the walls as she speaks, something important is happening, but I’m little so they won’t tell me.  My ears pick up but my tummy drops at the sound of sobs, and a worry too big for me starts to grow there.

“Morning Grandad, morning Goldie.”  Grandad always likes when I’m polite to Goldie.  Today she’s in the bowl on Grandads bed stand.  Grandad always moves her between different bowls around the house when I’m not looking.  He say’s Goldie moves herself, but I don’t believe him, I’m seven now and too old for tricks.

“Kian,” His eyes are still clear and clever, not foggy like old Mr Niss though they’re both as old as each other.  “I’ve a quest for you.” One of his sky blue eyes winks and excitement stirs my tummy in place of the big worry.  But his face makes me act serious, Grandads not smiling today.

“What’s my Quest Grandad?”

“Kian, I’m very old-”

“But not as old as Goldie.”

“Not as Old as Goldie,” Now there really is a smile on his face and one beginning on mine.  “However Goldie and I are very old.  Kian, you understand what happens when people grow old, don’t you.  They become ever more slow and tired until they reach the big sleep, where they are rewoven into the pattern.” I don’t like this story, it always makes me sad when Grandad tells me this one.  “Well it’s time for Goldie to sleep and be rewoven.”  I look at Goldie in her bowl and she stares back.

“Goldie is going to die?”

“Yes, Kian.  Everyones journey on the pattern ends, and when our thread runs out and our body reaches for the long sleep, we are rewoven again to begin a new thread in the pattern.”

“Goldie is going for the long sleep” I say numbly

“Kian, for Goldie to sleep she must return to her River.  Can you do this for me.  Can you do this for Goldie.” He ask’s

“Yes, Grandad,” He hands me Goldies smallest bowl.  I didn’t see him switch her, because my eyes are too bleary and I cuff away tears.  “Are you ok Grandad.” I ask

“Yes I’m ok,” He smiles again and the expression on his face fills me with love and now my eyes are bleary again “I’m just tired, Kian.”

Floorboards start creaking outside Grandads door and I’m ready to catch a cuff from Mums hand.  Grandad though wraps an arm around me, pulling me in close for a hug.  “Take her home, Kian.” He whispers in my ear.  “Goodbye old friend.”  He whispers to Goldie.  Mum appears as the door opens, he gives me a little shove and Goldie and me are out the room running for the Yellow River.

There is a crunch and the world starts spinning.  I didn’t see him coming and I don’t see him going.  One moment I’m hurrying out the door and the next I’m rolling on dusty cobbles fighting down panic and struggling to breathe.  The thuds from a soldiers boots against cobblestone paving the only clue as to what hits me.

This is a different world from the tranquil confines of Grandads house.  Out here the cobblestone roads are busy with frantic people running.  A shop keeper juggles expensive silk rolls as he barges past crowds of hurrying citizens, and soldiers march past in motley patchwork’s of old armour, hand-me-down relics from a forgotten war.

I recognise Ton from Lessons and grab his arm as he passes.   “What’s happening.” I yell.

Ton stares at me blankly before recognition dawns.  “Kian, where have you been.  There are soldiers outside the city.  Dad say’s they’re not ours and we have to be ready.  What are you doing?” He asks

“I’m…” Panic hits me as I realise Goldie and her bowl are missing.  I spin round and abandon Ton in search of Goldie.  I freeze in horror as I spy the shattered remains of her glass bowl, but no sign of Goldie anywhere.  Wallowing in my failure, I go to wash the street dust from my face and arms in Mrs Niss’ water trough only to find Goldie waiting for me.

“Goldie.” She flinches as I shout her name.  Grabbing an old pale from the side of the trough, I scoop her up.

“DO NOT, DO THAT AGAIN.”  I freeze in place for the second time, afraid to move and awaiting some form of unwarranted military retribution.  But after a long moment none arrives and I meekly turn full circle.  No one is paying me the slightest attention.  “STOP,” I stop.  “TOP ME UP, THIS ISN’T ENOUGH WATER.” I don’t move.
“Who said that?” I ask, garnering looks from the passing crowd.


I raise the small pale bringing us eye to eye. “Goldie, are you… speaking.”  She artfully portrays a look of exasperation, which is no mean feat for a fish.


I look at Goldie.

Goldie looks at me.

“Goldfish can’t speak.”




“I’m not a priest”


“That’s not new, it’s the hearing them that’s new.”


“I’m not any kind of priest.”

My ears pop at the whoosh from a large ball of fire streaking across the sky.  The boom of its landing shakes the stones beneath my slippers.  I dip Goldies pale in the trough filling it to the brim and start running for the river as fast as my little legs can go.




“Grandad is a priest? How will you tell him?” The fish doesn’t answer my questions.

“IF YOU WOULD’NT MIND.” Goldie nods towards the water, a foreign gesture for a fish but delivered perfectly.

More smoking balls of fire soar overhead and sink into the town nearby in fiery explosions of sparks and screams, as I lower the little fish in her little pale into the waiting currents.

“There is no hope.” The world of fire surrounding me blurs as tears fill my puffy eyes.


Maybe it’s something in her river.  Maybe it is prayers from those people trapped within WuJin’s walls as it burns.  Maybe it is the last embers of a dying gods power.
Whatever the source, Goldie grows.  Her tiny, fine, golden fish-scales become hard plated golden dragon-scales.  Little parchment thin fins become claw tipped wings and the little O of her mouth becomes a toothed maw.  She grows and she keeps growing until she stands knee deep in the Yellow River, until she towers over the walls of WuJin as her wings bloom open and burning rocks pillow against them.

And then she breaths a fire of her own.

After three false starts, I’ve now settled on an idea I can run with.  Excited to be writing again after so long, love this months subject looking forward to seeing how many interpretations come from it.

Monthly Writing Contest / Re: What to do about the writing contest?
« on: March 02, 2020, 12:39:23 PM »
Right! I will 100% have an entry completed for this months! *Sets mind to it*

Monthly Writing Contest / Re: What to do about the writing contest?
« on: February 08, 2020, 04:26:55 PM »
I’m a seafarer and have only a few close friends and not such a wide social circle.  What attracted me was the possibility of joining a writing community, feedback, critique and the chance to explore writing with with others on the same journey, all be it at different stages.
I love the writing contests though I’m not always inspired by the subjects, it’s already been suggested but I thought I’d help double down on the possibility of the writers voting for the monthly subject.

Otherwise I tend to miss submission dates quite often as I’m out at sea for 6 weeks at a time without internet access, it’s quite specific to me I know, but knowing more than a month ahead of time what the subjects will be would help me submit more often (more than the handful of times I’ve managed in the last six years 😂😂 )

I also agree with shortening the voting time, this would also mean we could give/receive critiques sooner without influencing votes, it can be a long wait from submission to feedback otherwise.

Lastly I’d just like to say that though I don’t post often and yes I’m also bad at remembering to vote, I have always enjoyed lurking and dropping in and out of the submissions page to have a read every month when we pass close enough to land to catch a few bars of reception.  I’d really like to see the competition continue.

A lot of good suggestions from everyone, maybe we could start a writers Facebook group to update and encourage people to write each month?

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