The beginning of my story

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by crystal haven, Mar 3, 2012.

  1.  
    crystal haven

    crystal haven Member

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    I've watched people post their work, and never dared post mine. So I'm being brave today, and posting before I change my mind. I have so many doubts about this opening, so I hope it works okay. Thank you in advance for any help I receive.


    “Good morning, Ma Tirrien,” Mama said. “How are you today?”

    I was busy stacking shelves, and didn’t take much notice, to be honest. Ma Tirrien came into our apothecary regularly, and always replied the same way. And I expected nothing different this morning.

    “Oh, not good! Not good,” she announced. “Blasted knee’s hurtin’ again. Real bad. So I need some more of that melrush ointment. And do you have that paste, for painting on door? That black stuff, smells ‘orrible.”

    My ears pricked up. Pitchblood? Why would she be wanting that? We had a jar somewhere, at the back of a shelf. Or maybe two . . . We hadn’t sold any of that for quite a while.

    “Do you mean pitchblood?” Mama said, quite casually I thought.

    “Aye, that’s it. That’s it. If that witch should come near 'ouse, I want to be . . .” She paused, her sentence hanging in the air. “It works don’t it?”

    “Of course it does, Ma – if you follow the instructions properly. I wouldn’t sell it otherwise. But tell me, what’s this you said . . . about a witch?”

    Mama never missed a trick. Anything about a witch was good for business. Occasionally we’d hear of things, usually many miles away, but frightened people spent money, so it was always good to pursue such lines of thought.

    “You’ve not heard then, Mrs Tervlei?” Ma Tirrien said. “Bad it is. Very bad. She’s terrorising Oakgreen Village. Two dead, so far. And she’s got a young un with her, an’ all, so I’ve ‘eard.”

    Oakgreen Village. Three miles away.

    I turned, rustling my skirts across the floor, just in time to see Mama’s startled expression. She looked genuinely shocked. Frightened. “Oh, mercy upon us all,” she gasped, lifting her hands to her mouth. “Does Barrent know? Has he been informed yet?”

    “Aye, he knows. Dressed in his official clothes, this morning. Real smart he looks too.”

    She lifted her basket to the counter. She leaned a bit nearer to Mama. “And rumour ‘as it, Mrs Tervlei, there’s ten men searching area, right now. Not local men, neither. Military men – come down from Speeling. Checking on all the villages, so I’ve heard. Not Spirit fact, mind. Just what I’ve heard. Got it from Daizie, and she heard it from . . .” She tapped her finger against her lip, then pulled her brown shawl straight, about her shoulders. “From butcher’s lass. And she heard from–”

    “Ten!” Mama interrupted, for Ma Tirrien could talk forever. “We need a Ranger, Ma. Last time a Ranger came here, must be . . . what, twelve years ago?”

    Mildred Tirrien nodded her head enthusiastically. “Quite right. Quite right. A local Constable can do their job well enough – keep order, and that, but when a witch . . . Aye . . . it needs a Ranger all right. But, if enough men . . . I’m sure they’ll sort it, one way or another.”

    They’ll have to, I thought. Because pitchblood – which I prepared myself – was just spittleweed from Marlow Lake, mixed with a few other things. It would probably keep Ma Tirrien’s husband away from the door – pitchblood smelled rancid – but witches? I hadn’t a clue really, if it would do that or not.

    Most likely not.

    But I would not be saying anything. And Mama could sell the dust, straight off the floor, if she tried hard enough.

    “Let’s hope so,” Mama said. “Now. What else can I get you this morning?” She waved her hand towards me. “We have some gorgeous candles just come in – beeswax. Anna’s just stacking them now. Very special, and selling half price, at the moment.”

    “Can’t afford them, Mrs Tervlei, even at that price.”

    “Well, now. Let me see what I can do. Seeing as you’re buying pitchblood as well, how about . . .”

    The conversation changed to quite mundane things and I turned back to my shelf stacking. My mind tumbled over everything that had been said. If gossip turned out to be fact . . . And Mama seemed to believe her . . . Spirits! I must go find Jason. Just in case. Warn him of what might come. His mother had been a witch, hung on the gallows, several years ago now. Jason was handsome and gorgeous and lived up at Applewood Farm.

    But Mama didn’t like him at all. In fact, no one did. The Dazres had witch blood running through their family line, and that was enough to blacken the name of Dazre for the whole of eternity.
     
  2.  
    alchemist

    alchemist I wonder how many characters I can fit in here

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    Hi CH. This is so written so well that I had to work to find anything I could use a red font on. And still I couldn't.

    Just one tiny thing; your ellipses. For instance,

    You've got spaces between each dot. I think the dots should be together, but you could leave a space after the third (others will correct me) e.g.
    It's very good, with a good voice, and I'm interested in the story.
     
  3.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    We've all been there, Crystal, and know how terrifying it is; well done for putting it up.


    “Good morning, Ma Tirrien,” Mama said. “How are you today?”

    I was busy stacking shelves, and didn’t take much notice, to be honest. Ma Tirrien came into our apothecary regularly, and always replied the same way. And I expected nothing different this morning.

    “Oh, not good! Not good,” she announced. “Blasted knee’s hurtin’ again. Real bad. So I need some more of that melrush ointment. And do you have that paste, for painting on door? That black stuff, smells ‘orrible.”a nice distinct voice.

    My ears pricked up. Pitchblood? Why would she be wanting that? We had a jar somewhere, at the back of a shelf. Or maybe two . . . We hadn’t sold any of that for quite a while.i think it reads slightly tighter without the of that.

    “Do you mean pitchblood?” Mama said, quite casually I thought.

    “Aye, that’s it. That’s it. If that witch should come near 'ouse, I want to be . . .” She paused, her sentence hanging in the air. “It works don’t it?”

    “Of course it does, Ma – if you follow the instructions properly. I wouldn’t sell it otherwise. But tell me, what’s this you said . . . about a witch?”i'm not entirely sure the pause works for me. it makes the query seem laid back, and I don't think it is.

    Mama never missed a trick. Anything about a witch was good for business. Occasionally we’d hear of things, usually many miles away, but frightened people spent money, so it was always good to pursue such lines of thought. i think you'd got the point across without the need for this line.

    “You’ve not heard then, Mrs Tervlei?” Ma Tirrien said. “Bad it is. Very bad. She’s terrorising Oakgreen Village. Two dead, so far. And she’s got a young un with her, an’ all, so I’ve ‘eard.”

    Oakgreen Village. Three miles away.like this.

    I turned, rustling my skirts across the floor, just in time to see Mama’s startled expression. She looked genuinely shocked. Frightened. “Oh, mercy upon us all,” she gasped, lifting her hands to her mouth. “Does Barrent know? Has he been informed yet?”this seems at odds with her so far, she's seemed like she's more than used to the idea of a witch, in fact welcomes it. and whilst it might be she didn't ever believe they'd come, I'm still a bit surprised she's so easily frightened. That might just be me, though.

    “Aye, he knows. Dressed in his official clothes, this morning. Real smart he looks too.”

    She lifted her basket to the counter. She leaned a bit nearer to Mama. “And rumour ‘as it, Mrs Tervlei, there’s ten men searching area, right now. Not local men, neither. Military men – come down from Speeling. Checking on all the villages, so I’ve heard. Not Spirit fact, mind. Just what I’ve heard. Got it from Daizie, and she heard it from . . .” She tapped her finger against her lip, then pulled her brown shawl straight, about her shoulders. “From butcher’s lass. And she heard from–”

    “Ten!” Mama interrupted, for Ma Tirrien could talk forever. “We need a Ranger, Ma. Last time a Ranger came here, must be . . . what, twelve years ago?”

    Mildred Tirrien nodded her head enthusiastically. “Quite right. Quite right. A local Constable can do their job well enough – keep order, and that, but when a witch . . . Aye . . . it needs a Ranger all right. But, if enough men . . . I’m sure they’ll sort it, one way or another.”

    They’ll have to, I thought. Because pitchblood – which I prepared myself – was just spittleweed from Marlow Lake, mixed with a few other things. It would probably keep Ma Tirrien’s husband away from the door – pitchblood smelled rancid – but witches? I hadn’t a clue really, if it would do that or not.

    Most likely not.

    But I would not be saying anything. And Mama could sell the dust, straight off the floor, if she tried hard enough.

    “Let’s hope so,” Mama said. “Now. What else can I get you this morning?” She waved her hand towards me. “We have some gorgeous candles just come in – beeswax. Anna’s just stacking them now. Very special, and selling half price, at the moment.”I'm surprised it's a female; I'd imagined a male for some reason. You might want to put the name a bit earlier, just so people have the right picture.

    “Can’t afford them, Mrs Tervlei, even at that price.”

    “Well, now. Let me see what I can do. Seeing as you’re buying pitchblood as well, how about . . .”

    The conversation changed to quite mundane things and I turned back to my shelf stacking. My mind tumbled over everything that had been said. If gossip turned out to be fact . . . And Mama seemed to believe her . . . Spirits! I must go find Jason. Just in case. Warn him of what might come. His mother had been a witch, hung on the gallows, several years ago now. Jason was handsome and gorgeous and lived up at Applewood Farm. I like the line, but I'm not sure it quite goes here.

    But Mama didn’t like him at all. In fact, no one did. The Dazres had witch blood running through their family line, and that was enough to blacken the name of Dazre for the whole of eternity.[/QUOTE]
    I liked it Crystal, nice fresh writing, just enough description for me, good narrative voices. Good stuff. I think sometimes the ... are slowing things and maybe I'd have preferred not to be slowed, but good stuff.
     
  4.  
    crystal haven

    crystal haven Member

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    Alchemist, and Springs - that you so much. And I'm so pleased you like it.

    Alchemist - I hadn't realised about the ellipses. I'm glad it's been pointed out to me.

    Springs - that is a great help, and gives me a lot to think about.
     
  5.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

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    I'd say you were worrying over nothing. It's written well :)

    I liked it. There were a few things I picked up on that might need some looking into though.

    Blue = Words I'd cut out.


    EDIT:

    You are correct, Alchemist. 3 dots, no spaces. Also, I've recently learnt that if it is at the end of a sentence you add a fourth dot apparently. News to me... I'd like confirmation on that though, myself.


    I got the impression the PoV character was a girl from the start.
     
  6.  
    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

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    I enjoyed this, crystal. A good narrative voice, as springs says. There's also strong characterisation. A couple of ideas I liked, as well, particularly the phrase 'Spirit truth', perhaps hinting at the local religion.

    Alchemist covered the only thing I thought might need looking at: the ellipses.
    These, I thought, might benefit from being em-dashes*.

    Well done and thank you for having the nerve to posting this.

    *Curious, I only learnt of em-dashes due to another Chrons member explaining them to me (thanks, you know who you are:)). Now, I'm suggesting their use to someone else.
     
  7.  
    crystal haven

    crystal haven Member

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    Thank you, Warren, for all the help.

    I'm glad you got the impression it was a girl. It is interesting as well, that you didn't feel the 'skirts' was quite right, as that was added in, to get across the fact it was a girl, rather than a boy.

     
  8.  
    David Evil Overlord

    David Evil Overlord Censored Member

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    I liked it. I wanted to write more than that, but it looks like I got here after everyone else covered everything I wanted to say. Not that very many red pixels would have been spilled across the screen. It's good.

    I like Spirit truth. A hint that there is more than one kind of truth?
     
  9.  
    Interference

    Interference Destroyer of Words

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    A late entry (one has to be quick around here :D) and I wish I could be controversial, but I can't.

    You have set both the scene and the characters very well, though carrying scenes with dialogue alone can quickly become quite stagnant.

    For example:

    “Oh, not good! Not good,” she announced. “Blasted knee’s hurtin’ again. Real bad. So I need some more of that melrush ointment.

    [There's a break in train-of-thought, here, to take us to the main thrust of the scene, although it must be the main reason for her coming to the shop in the first place. I should imagine that someone would be looking for the ointment and not, as we are otherwise left with, just standing around waiting for the woman to finish her complaining. This action, whatever you choose, will help us in setting the time period, the veracity of the customer (I keep wondering about a walking stick and how she might be using it if she has one) and the working relationship between the perspective character and her mother]

    And do you have that paste, for painting on door? That black stuff, smells ‘orrible.”


    "...'ouse, I want to be . . .” She paused, her sentence hanging in the air. “It works don’t it?”

    Elipses tend to suggest that something particular has occurred to change a line of thought. At this point, but you don't say what it is. Has suspicion crept into her demeanour? Has she adopted a challenging stance? Is there a flash of sudden fear in her eye?

    It took me a few paragraphs to decide whether the absence of a couple of definite articles was dialect or accident ("for painting on door", "If that witch should come near 'ouse"). Since it's only in dialogue, I reckon it's dialect.

    “ Aye, he knows. Dressed in his official clothes, this morning. Real smart he looks too.”

    I'd expect an action here, a knowing exchange of winks, perhaps, or a sly look at the young, unmarried, narrator or something else shared.

    Not Spirit fact, mind. Just what I’ve heard. Got it from Daizie, and she heard it from . . .” She tapped her finger against her lip, then pulled her brown shawl straight, about her shoulders. “From butcher’s lass. And she heard from–”

    I'm not sure why this action is slotted in here or what significance it has. Is she remembering, dissembling, feeling cold?

    Jason was handsome and gorgeous and lived up at Applewood Farm.

    Handsome and gorgeous, eh? :)

    I have one or two stylistic niggles...

    ....always replied the same way. And I expected nothing different this morning.

    ...which are, ultimately, unimportant. If you wanna go starting sentences with a conjunction, who am I to argue? :)

    The whole piece is pleasantly atmospheric and I look forward to reading more.


    All comments are made with respect for the work you have already done and the talent you have employed to get it this far :)
     
  10.  
    crystal haven

    crystal haven Member

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    Thank you, David Evil Overlord and Interference.

    So much help and advice; it is going to be very useful.
     
  11.  
    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    I think this works well. The feel is perhaps a bit more leisurely than it needs to be, but this can be fixed with a bit of tightening; I've given some suggestions (and that's all they are) below, in blue, but bear in mind I'm going through my WIP trying to find words to snip out at the moment, so I'm in that kind of mood.

    Someone else has mentioned ellipses, but one other presentation thing: when you leave out a letter, as in "smells ‘orrible", the punctuation at the start of 'orrible is an apostrophe, not a quote-mark. So if you use sloping marks, it should slope the other way, thus -- "smells ’orrible" -- even if the missing letter is at the start of the word. (Unfortunately, MS Word will always try to put a left-land quote at the start of a word, so you have to do CTRL+apostrophe, followed by apostrophe, to get it to work, or use a dummy letter in front and delete it.)


     
  12.  
    crystal haven

    crystal haven Member

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    HareBrain, thank you for all the help; it is very much appreciated. :)

    So many things I didn't know; so much to learn.

    Thanks again, everyone. Posting my work here has been very nerve-wracking, but the comments are invaluable.
     
  13.  
    Bowler1

    Bowler1 Senile Member

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    I'm Paddie last here, but here it is.

    OMG!

    Post, post, post away all you like.
     
  14.  
    Belador

    Belador New Member

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    Hi - not much to critique here I would say, thought it was very well written - one of the best I've read here. One minor thing was that I got a bit caught up on having 'Mama' and 'Ma' so close together - bit tricky to avoid, but could perhaps consider having 'Mrs' instead of 'Ma'?

    The other thing was that in the first half for some reason I began to get the impression that the narrator was the witch's companion, but then obviously realised that's not the case. Just thought worth mentioning.
     
  15.  
    crystal haven

    crystal haven Member

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    Thank you for the kind comments :). Belador - I did wonder myself about Mama and Ma, but was trying to avoid using Mrs. Regarding the 'witch's companion', I'll see if that can be made clearer. I'm glad you mentioned these things.
     
  16.  
    Glen

    Glen Who are you people?

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    I thought that was very well written. I loved the pace, and the quickly drawn characters, and the village gossipyness of it all. There's a lot of the world painted in there with no hardship on the reader: witches, rangers, local history. There's a lovely, quirky humour in there too. Well observed and drawn characters.

    Specific points:
    Loved the well heard dialogue. It's right that the "the" is missing - it makes it ring true. I disagree with some of the other replies about tightening up the language if its in dialogue - people do not speak perfectly edited English. You've captured it really well.

    Sounded like a deliberate act of skirt rustling, not just that they rustled as she moved.

    You've caught the tone of village gossip very well.

    I didn't get this. The girl's name?

    I'm looking forward to your next post in the critiques section.
     
  17.  
    crystal haven

    crystal haven Member

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    Thank you, Glen. Your comments are very much appreciated. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    And I can assure you, Anna's skirt rustling days are definitely numbered!

    for painting on door... I wondered if this would cause problems, so I am pleased you feel it works. I did consider about using t' door, but wanted to avoid obvious dialect.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  18.  
    Urum Rekhesh

    Urum Rekhesh New Member

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    I like what you've got. Interesting characters, good dialogue and original dialect. I'd read more.


    “Good morning, Ma Tirrien,” Mama said. “How are you today?”

    I was busy stacking shelves, and didn’t take much notice, to be honest. I don't think this is necessary Ma Tirrien came into our apothecary regularly, and always replied the same way. And I expected nothing different this morning.



    The conversation changed to quite mundane things and I turned back to my shelf stacking. My mind tumbled over everything that had been said. If gossip turned out to be fact . . . And Mama seemed to believe her . . . Spirits! I must go find Jason. Just in case. Warn him of what might come. His mother had been a witch--hung on at the gallows--several years ago now. Personally, I'd use an em dash here rather than a comma, but it doesn't really matter Jason was handsome and gorgeous and lived up at Applewood Farm.
     
  19.  
    michael_mn

    michael_mn New Member

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    I don't really have anything to add other than my compliments on an interesting introduction to a world that I'm already populating with witches and warlocks In the dark and twisted corners of my imagination. I feel that it comes over very Grimm'sey, not the TV series but the original stuff. Its got that dark fairy tale vibe. I like.

    Oh there was one small thing:

    Shouldn't it be 'spend'? I get that she's describing something in the past but unless people have changed in the meantime the statement still holds true in the (her) present. Just a thought. A small thought
     
  20.  
    crystal haven

    crystal haven Member

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    Thank you both for reading my story, and I appreciate your comments.
     

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