Georgian Fantasy Opening Chapter -- 1400 words

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Apr 9, 2016
I really liked the opening part. I thought it was very evocative, read beautifully, and captured a lot about the character. I like the conceit of the character walking through a crowd whispering through her, reacting in silence. Having some of the criticisms I suppose I see some of them, but I didn't really find it unrealistic reading it the first time. To me, it seemed obvious that social proprieties allowing the whisperers to feel safe are at play. I like that it is up front about clashes of race and gender playing a part.

There's a couple too many repetitions for me - a lot of fire imagery, slivers of pine used twice.

I also think the conversations could be compressed while still retaining the same overall effect i.e. the bit where someone says they hear stories, someone goes "Stories?" and the first person goes on doesn't really need the middle bit.

And I also would have liked to hear more about her feelings re being a Vestal.

But other than that, that really hit my sweet spot.

The change of voice and PoV didn't throw me but I did find the repetition of events a little uninteresting. I like the concept of seeing events from multiple points of view but for whatever reason - too early in the plot, too right next to each other, not enough difference, not enough information about the first narrator - it didn't work.


Feb 13, 2011
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Yes, I liked it, and I think I'd've understood it even without your preface.

Although I'm not usually one for the fragmented present-tense style of your opening paragraph, I think it works well and serves as a deep POV inasmuch as a fragmented thought-reaction to what is going on for RoseOak. (And I rather like the name RoseOak, actually, and would just take off the capitalisation of the O, or perhaps, add a consonant between them, e.g. Rosenoak.)

The repetition is not really repetition as far as I'm concerned; it didn't bother me but I wonder if you could play with it more in the sense of using the Rashomon Effect. Thing is, that would probably mean changing the character for the sake of it, so it's probably be a no-no but it's just a thought. I was reminded of an other-worldy Les Liaisions Dangereuse meets Jane Austen.

I rather agree that maybe the amount of species of trees that are referred to could be shortened; the Nature geek in me likes the thought of all those different trees having different powers as I'm used to Tables of Correspondences in magic, but for a story it might be a bit unnecessary. Having said that the way she looks at them is a nice counterpoint to the standing gossips. In my mind I had an image of factions which would be lost if you reduced the number of woods.

“I’ve heard the colour won’t come off no matter how hard you scrub them.”
I'd remove the 'I've heard' simply because it reads like something the gossip wouldn't know, which of course they would, and besides, it would be snarkier without.

As for the second pov, I have no real comments except to say that I think you could err more on the side of your dark humour skills. This piece could be transformed if it was made funnier in that regard. Not that I'm suggesting you make it into a comedy, but;

The Admiral had been found. His body, that is.
could be tweaked into one of your great punchlines that frequent your 75 and 300 word challenge entries.



Senior Member
Jan 2, 2008
Tiny comment - Rosenoak - sounds an awful like Roanoke to me, which could cause confusion.
List of trees - it didn't jar me in any way - but I am a tree lover and can visually identify a lot of UK trees by shape, bark, leaf positioning and leaf colour - so summer or winter recognition.....:)


New Member
Jan 18, 2018
This is my favorite part "The slivers of pine tremble under the touch of her mind, releasing their long-forgotten memories of life – cold wind blowing sleet from the mountains, the cry of eagles, the howl of wolf and skitter of deer, the companionship of resin-scented brothers stretching mile after mile over the Scottish uplands. Majesty reduced to a painted, lying trinket in a fat woman’s hand."
I can practically FEEL this memory!
I love the idea that a prop or trinket made of a specific material (in this case Pine) could be sentient-- possessing not just memories of life but also a desire to do Roseoak's bidding. It is refreshing and interesting. That idea alone makes me want to read on! It might be nice to be introduced to this "magic" in a more concrete way, so that the reader knows exactly what is at stake if Roseoak loses her grip on her emotions. The first mention of Amici is a great moment for a quick line of explanation. It is not boring to have the Amici explained before the next sentence-if we know what the Amici are, it's more exciting to learn they are responding to her emotions in the next couple of sentences. I understand that you might not want to give away all the info right away-and that there is a style to uphold, creating suspense etc. That said, as a reader I prefer to be told definitively what or who the magic/magic is-THEN read on for the action, so I don't have to figure it out as we go along. I really like the two female perspectives-two very different characters telling the same story, it really helps to "see" the situation from both characters. I have no idea if the second narrator is going to be a big part of the story or not-but maybe Roseoak could notice her during her POV, perhaps she is worth noting, as being different from the rest of the homogenous crowd?


Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2014
This caught my interest right from the start. The writing is of high quality, immediately plunging the reader into an imagined world that is partly familiar and partly very strange. There was the right emphasis on showing not telling. I liked the inventive use of language "fire in her soul crackles and spits like green pine," "companionship of resin", etc. The dialogue, and the first-person narrative in the second part, sounds authentically Georgian, and I liked very much the way the same incident was interpreted differently in the two sections, i.e. the fan was assumed to have been thrown by accident somehow, people who are familiar with it will tell you that's what magic looks like.

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