5,000th post critique

thaddeus6th

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Due to having a bit more on than I anticipated, I didn't, in fact, write this story ahead of time. So I'll just be making it up as I go. Given stories tend to take me eight redrafts and multiple brutalisation from beta readers, expect errors aplenty.


Sir Edric and the Wig


“This get up is ridiculous,” Sir Edric complained. He stared at himself in the mirror. A long wig hung down to his shoulders, a flowing robe covered his opulent doublet, and rather than manly trousers he found himself wearing tights. It was a novel experience to wear such things for public duty, rather than Corkwell’s private pleasure.

“Courtly dress has acquired its own unique style,” Dog, his manservant, agreed.

Sir Edric scowled. “This is nonsense. Can’t someone else do this?”

“I’m afraid, sir, that is the price of seniority and commanding the respect of the Privy Council.”

“You mean I’m the only man left who is neither peasant nor pestilent?” Sir Edric asked.

Dog cleared his throat. “The plague has sadly laid almost everyone low, sir.”

“Yes, I saw the black ribbons on Lord Chancellor Malthus’ house this morning and paid an impromptu visit.”

“How was he, sir?”

The knight stared into the mirror and tilted his wig very slightly. “Tragically, he survived. Anyway, I’m just about ready. Go announce me, would you?”

Dog bowed, opened the double doors to the courtroom, stepped inside and bellowed that Sir Edric Greenlock, the Hero of Hornska, was present.

Sir Edric strode in, the witnesses, clerks, soldiery and nosy buggers in the public gallery all rising before him. He occupied the judge’s chair, seized the disappointingly small hammer and smashed it down. “Sit down. And march the criminal scum in, would you?”

Everybody sat down, and a pair of guards stomped off and dragged in Jerome Tatterfinch, a tanned fellow with a ragged cap and dubious moustache.

Sir Edric shuffled his papers, hunting for what the miscreant had done. “Jerome Tatterfinch, you stand accused of… chicken smuggling. Apparently.” He turned from the court and whispered to Dog, “Is this a real case, or is Lawrence mocking me?”

“Andelic golden cocks are very rare, sir, and removing them from the Kingdom of Andelias is considered a crime against that state. As a friend of Andelias, Awyndel has pledged to consider it a crime as well.”

Whoever knew being a peddler of cocks could get one in trouble?

Jerome’s moustache wobbled with anxiety. “I didn’t know it was a crime! Be merciful, you honour.”

Sir Edric hammered the gavel, and enjoyed it so much he did it a second time for good measure. “Silence, criminal. If you’re confessing, this will be a rather short trial.”

Jerome swallowed, then started grinding his teeth noisily.

The knight sighed. “And stop bloody masticating!”

The defendant took his hands out of his pockets.

Poor people really should be educated.

Sir Edric glared the public gallery to silence the tittering onlookers, and stroked his beard thoughtfully. “Tell me the circumstances of your fowl crime. And I should warn you, stupidity is not considered a mitigating factor.”

“I was visiting my brother-in-law in Andelias, chatting about it in the pub, when a shady fellow asked if I could pick up a chicken for him in return for two solidi. So, I, er, said yes.”

Sir Edic’s stomach rumbled. “Describe this creature. And be aware that I grow less lenient the hungrier I get.”

“It was an Ursk. Said his name was Morf Low-Calljack.”

Orff No-Balsac, you clot. The nine foot lunatic will owe me one for this.

Sir Edric smashed down the hammer. “Clearly you are suffering from paranoid delusions which have impaired your memory and judgement,” the knight proclaimed. “The cock shall be returned to Andelias, and you are sentenced to magical therapy at the hands of the Lady High Sorceress. This trial is over.”
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
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Congrats on the 5,000!

This was a fun piece. I'm not sure quite how to critique it, since any anachronisms and unrealities are presumably for comic effect -- though the idea of a wholly unqualified judge sitting on his own, without assistance in the form of a clerk, was a little too much for my legal sensibilities, and reading out the indictment himself... *faints with shock* Actually, I wonder if giving him a clerk of the court might add another layer of humour, since you could then have more misunderstandings between the pair.


“This get up is ridiculous,” -- get-up with a hyphen when it's a noun

A long wig hung down to his shoulders, a flowing robe covered his opulent doublet, and rather than manly trousers he found himself wearing tights. -- I don't know how much detail you usually go into, but this seems a little perfunctory, when you could expand on the colour of the tights or the exact cut of the gown to comedic effect

“Courtly dress has acquired its own unique style,” -- court dress, surely, not courtly, or do they wear this rig in royal circles, too?

“I’m afraid, sir, that is the price of seniority and commanding the respect of the Privy Council.” -- this is, perhaps, rather than that is

Sir Edric asked. -- not sure we need this dialogue tag when there is only the two of them.

“Yes, I saw the black ribbons on Lord Chancellor Malthus’ house this morning and paid an impromptu visit.” -- I imagine he's an abject coward, so would he really visit a house where the plague is or has been?!

Dog bowed, opened the double doors to the courtroom, stepped inside and bellowed that Sir Edric Greenlock, the Hero of Hornska, was present. -- the legal niceties usually include "All rise" at this point (in the US, I think, it's "be upstanding") which you might be able to use for comic effect if he's expected something else as he walks in and is disappointed they're only standing. You could perhaps have him briefly endowed with other honorary titles by Dog to show his right to act as judge

Sir Edric strode in, the witnesses, clerks, soldiery and nosy buggers in the public gallery all rising before him. -- strictly, there should be no witnesses inside yet, but doubtless your legal system has its own idiosyncrasies. And the "all rising" rather gets lost as a joke here, I think, hence my thought of using it earlier. And clerks, but no lawyers?!

a pair of guards stomped off and dragged in Jerome Tatterfinch -- how does he know his name at this point?

Apparently.” -- needed?

Whoever knew being a peddler of cocks could get one in trouble? -- peddler as in a seller, isn't strictly right in this context, I don't think, but anyhow might "handler of" be a better joke?

Be merciful, you honour.” -- your honour. But wouldn't he call Edric something grander and/or less applicable, like milord, or your majesty?

The knight sighed. -- I'm not one for using periphrasis instead of a name, but this may well be your style, so ignore this

“And stop bloody masticating!” -- strictly, masticating is chewing, not just grinding teeth, so can't Jerome be eating something?

Sir Edric glared the public gallery to silence the tittering onlookers, -- glared at

“I was visiting my brother-in-law in Andelias, chatting about it in the pub,
-- chatting about what? Or was he talking of going onto Andelias when in the pub in Awyndel? Got a bit confused by this and when he was asked to get the bird.


Anyhow, as I say, a fun piece. Good luck with it.
 

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
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Congrats on the 5000! An enjoyable piece, and I think TJ has picked up everything I would have thought of and a few more besides... :)

“Yes, I saw the black ribbons on Lord Chancellor Malthus’ house this morning and paid an impromptu visit.” -- I imagine he's an abject coward, so would he really visit a house where the plague is or has been?!
Here, knowing Sir Edric, I imagine he went with the intent of consoling the widow (or something along those lines), which would overcome any fear of the plague? If so, perhaps a mention of something Sir Edric-like as motivation?
 

ctg

weaver of the unseen
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Very nice. Congratulations on big Five Thousand posts. Well done. The only thing I will say is that the piece only needs an editor to battle you with the details. Edric has a wonderful voice and you, eye for the detail. I personally loved seeing the golden ***** in the picture.
 

thaddeus6th

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Lower case S for 'sir' [when without the name] is just the style I've adopted. Sir Edric's keen eye can readily identify the cause of moustache-wobbling a mile away :p

Your Honour, my own lack of knowledge of how courts current and past work precluded greater accuracy (plus I really wanted to get this out of the way so it wasn't hanging over my head). I do apologise for any horrendous wrongness.

'Courtly' is plain incorrect, as you say.

Hmm, sound point on Sir Edric's aversion to fatal diseases (not sure that's necessarily cowardice, though).

'Handler of' does sound better.

Some daft technical mistakes too. I'll correct those for when it's up on my website.

Juliana, splendid suggestions, and fits perfectly with Malthus' wife [she's introduced in the essentially finished but unreleased Sir Edric's Kingdom].

Thanks for the many useful suggestions and kind comments :)
 

Phyrebrat

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Congratulations on 5k. How do you do it?

I like it. A lot. It was fast - perhaps too fast for Court(?) - but the characters were all immediately accessible and likeable. It's very different from Forget Me Not, though, isn't it! ;)

I see you've had a few responses, one of which is TJ's so I'm guessing some, or all, of what I'm about to say may be redundant, but not having read their comments yet...

  • At times it comes across as a bit dialogue tag-y. In the opening, I would consider limiting yourself to either 'he complained' or 'he scowled.' I know the scowl is not a tag as such, but it seems somehow unnecessary to have both.
  • I think get up should be get-up
  • 'very slightly' adjusting his wig also seems redundant. Could it be changed to something like 'fractionally' without losing your style?
  • Probably this is intended, but aren't we innocent until proven guilty? Would a Judge call a defendant 'criminal scum'?
  • Double ands. When the guards stomped off and..., it might flow better if you lost the second and. Perhaps: the guards stomped off to drag in...
  • This is an unspeakably egrrrrrreeeeegious suggestion, but if Corkwell is not an already-established character in your other works, I beg you change his name to Cockwell. :D
  • you honour - typo.
So, all these are very small observations and it reads great for a first draft. I love the dubious moustache and all the cockerel gags really made me chuckle despite myself.
 

thaddeus6th

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Phyrebrat, I just ramble a lot :p

The speed is due to both Sir Edric usually being faster than everything else I write, and me just wanting to finish it quickly.

And, yes, it is rather different to Forget Me Not. Like an octopus of writing, I cunningly change my form to fit the genre :D

I do sometimes overdo the dialogue tags, it's true. Sir Edric's unorthodox approach to the impartiality of a court is entirely intentional. And Corkwell is very well-established (well, she has a role in The Adventures of Sir Edric, and a significantly larger presence in the as-yet-unpublished Sir Edric's Kingdom).

Cock-fighting was the most popular sport in England until a couple of centuries ago. Even villages would have their own cockpits. I use it a bit in my 'serious' writing, which obviously means double entendres, intended or not, can happen quite a bit.

Thanks, everyone, for the helpful comments. I will put it up on my website's free stories section: Free Stories once I've finished the chapter I'm writing currently, and make the various changes.
 

Droflet

I don't teach chickens how to dance.
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Everyone has beat me to the punch. Very funny. Congrats on the 5,000, Thad.
 

thaddeus6th

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Thanks, Droflet.

Although I can't help notice how suspiciously defensive the description underneath your name is...
 

thaddeus6th

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Droflet: "I don't teach chickens how to dance."

You can't hide your deviant dancing chicken ways protesting so much.
 

Droflet

I don't teach chickens how to dance.
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Huh? Well, I DON'T teach chickens how to dance. Although I must mention that when I went looking for my avatar I simply typed chicken images into google. My lord, there are some sickos out there.
 

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