Working on style--543 words of near-future scifi

CTRandall

I have my very own plant pot!
Supporter
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
1,010
Location
North-east England
Howdy folks. In recent months I've been trying to take on board past critiques, comparing my writing to published authors and working on developing my writing style. It's been a slow process and I've had to break through several prejudices, especially one relating to getting inside characters' heads. Anyway, what follows is a short excerpt that marks, I think, a change in how I write. I'd appreciate any comments. And don't worry about pointing out errors, I know I still have plenty to work on!

This is an introduction to two characters as well as the broad, underlying themes of the novel. It's so brief, I won't bother to explain anything else, as I'm not looking for critiques of the story itself. Here goes:


Seph pushed his legs to keep moving. He was out of breath, his cheeks were frozen, his feet were sore and he all he could think about was how stupid he’d been to agree to this. On top of his physical torment, half-an-hour ago his interface had pinged a warning that he was moving out of range of any signal, that his personal data system would have to record everything for later upload. That had shocked him. He couldn’t quite comprehend that, in this day and age, there was any place on Earth without a signal. He didn’t think his semiaut would believe it, either, and it definitely wouldn’t be pleased.

Morag’s shout broke through his brooding. Lifting his gaze from the path, he saw her standing atop the ridge ahead, silhouetted against a deep blue sky and waving back at him, urging him on. Her energy and eagerness seemed, in his mind, calculated to annoy him even more. Still, it wasn’t far and, one switchback later, he was nearing the top.

‘Why,’ Seph puffed, ‘oh, why did we have to come here?’

‘Stop complaining and take a look,’ Morag answered as she motioned behind her.

Seph took the final steps up to the ridgeline and half-glanced past her shoulder, not really interested in whatever bird or tree or bee she was enthusing about now.

He stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes went wide as, despite cold, weariness and worry, a smile grew on his face.

Beyond the ridge, a huge expanse of grey stone stretched out to the far horizon. Green moss and purple heather burst from every fold and fracture in the rock, painting it with colour and filling the air with the scent of honey. Scattered across the plateau, pools of bright water shone with a blue so intense they seemed not so much mirrors of the heavens above but, rather, windows into a second sky that lay hidden below.

Over all of this hung a summer sun, holding just above the rim of the world, refusing to set, and washing the land in rich red and gold. On the rocks at Seph’s feet, orange lichen soaked up the light until it burned like coals within the stone. And here and there, secreted in sheltered cracks and crevices, Seph thought he spied something else.

‘Is that snow?’ he asked in hushed wonder.

‘Yes,’ Morag replied. ‘Welcome to Hardangervidda, Seph. So, do you still think we should have met in a cafe in Oslo?’

‘You got me,’ Seph said with a laugh. ‘This is worth the pain, maybe even worth getting kicked out of yet another semiaut. How did you find this place?’

‘It’s not exactly a secret. The road from Bergen to Oslo runs across the southern end, but that’s a good thirty kilometres away. The plateau ties in with some of my research, too. Especially this part of it. Let’s go find a campsite before the light fades.’

Morag set off down the far side of the ridge, heading into the plateau. Rejuvenated by the immense beauty around him, Seph managed to keep pace with her. They spent several minutes walking in silence, too overwhelmed by the magnificence of nature to engage in anything so mundane as speech.
 

JS Wiig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2020
Messages
273
Location
SW WY
I’d say pretty darn close.

At this point I’d analyze each word and see what can be removed without losing anything.

In this example there are a couple “that”s to consider:
On top of his physical torment, half-an-hour ago his interface had pinged a warning that he was moving out of range of any signal, that his personal data system would have to record everything for later upload. That had shocked him.
 

ckatt

Unknown Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Messages
127
Location
Vancouver
Hi
It's tough to comment on style and not the story. Particularly because style must not only fit the story but reinforce it as well, I believe.
I don't know if you are looking at markets to publish your work but this, from the Clarkesworld submission guidelines, came to mind immediately.
There is no distinction between “style” and “substance” or “story” and “writing.”
Clarkesworld Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy


Anyway looking at style on the word level I think you could do with some trimming
Lifting his gaze from the path, he saw her standing atop the ridge ahead, silhouetted against a deep blue sky and waving back at him, urging him on.
Might be shorted to" Lifting his gaze revealed her standing atop the ridge ahead, silhouetted against a deep blue sky and waving back, urging him on.
I don't think what I have written here is better, it's just meant to illustrate where some words could be cut.
After a first draft, I like to cut as many words as I can to bring the story to a bare minimum. Then I add back words where the sparsity sounds funny or I think it's lost something. But most of the time it reads smoother.
I can't guaranty this is a good approach, however, as I've never sold a story.

:) Keep up the good work.
 

msstice

200 words a day = 1 novel/year
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
185
It reads well and develops nicely. Some more rounds of revision should be able to cut down on repetition and condense sentences and vary them.
 

Wayne Mack

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2020
Messages
611
Location
Chantilly, Virginia, US
I was unclear whether the intent of the scene was to be the discovery of Hardangervidda or a description of semiauts. Depending upon the needs of the plot, I suggest doing one or the other but not both while also introducing the two main characters. Too many extraneous details interfere with my getting a foothold into your world.

I assume the main point was the discovery of Hardangervidda and suggest deferring the introduction to semiauts later. For example in the first paragraph,
Seph pushed his legs to keep moving. He was out of breath, his cheeks were frozen, his feet were sore and he all he could think about was how stupid he’d been to agree to this. On top of his physical torment, half-an-hour ago his interface had pinged a warning that he was moving out of range of any signal, that his personal data system would have to record everything for later upload. That had shocked him. He couldn’t quite comprehend that, in this day and age, there was any place on Earth without a signal. He didn’t think his semiaut would believe it, either, and it definitely wouldn’t be pleased.
Everything after the first sentence could be omitted.

Later,
‘Yes,’ Morag replied. ‘Welcome to Hardangervidda, Seph. So, do you still think we should have met in a cafe in Oslo?’

‘You got me,’ Seph said with a laugh. ‘This is worth the pain, maybe even worth getting kicked out of yet another semiaut. How did you find this place?’

‘It’s not exactly a secret. The road from Bergen to Oslo runs across the southern end, but that’s a good thirty kilometres away. The plateau ties in with some of my research, too. Especially this part of it. Let’s go find a campsite before the light fades.’
I feel everything between "Welcome to Hardangervidda" and " Let’s go find a campsite" could be omitted.

This would leave Seph and Morag discovering Hardangervidda. For me, that is quite enough information to throw at a reader in an opening sequence.
 

OHB

Crazed Writer
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
191
Location
somewhere in time and space
Seph pushed his legs to keep moving. (The word "pushed" sounds awkward here and can be read as literally pushing his hands against his legs. If you said he pushed *himself* to keep moving, it wouldn't sound awkward to me.) He was out of breath, his cheeks were frozen, his feet were sore (A lot of "were"/"was" used here. You can use stronger verbs. For example, "He panted like a dog, and each step stung his sore feet. The chill wind biting at his cheeks certainly didn't help.") and he all he could think about was how stupid he’d been to agree to this. On top of his physical torment, half-an-hour ago his interface had pinged a warning that he was moving out of range of any signal, that his personal data system would have to record everything for later upload. That had shocked him. (In the next sentence, you say that he's incredulous about losing a signal. That let's us know he's shocked, so you don't have to say it twice.) He couldn’t quite comprehend that, in this day and age, there was any place on Earth without a signal. He didn’t think his semiaut (I'd like some explanation of what this is in relation to Seph.) would believe it, either, and it definitely wouldn’t be pleased.

Morag’s shout broke through his brooding. Lifting his gaze from the path, he saw her standing atop the ridge ahead, silhouetted against a deep blue sky and waving back at him, urging him on. Her energy and eagerness seemed, in his mind, calculated to annoy him even more. Still, it wasn’t far and, one switchback later, he was nearing the top.

‘Why,’ Seph puffed, ‘oh, why did we have to come here?’

‘Stop complaining and take a look,’ Morag answered as she motioned behind her.

Seph took the final steps up to the ridgeline and half-glanced past her shoulder, not really interested in whatever bird or tree or bee she was enthusinged about now.

He stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes went wide as, despite cold, weariness and worry, (This part sounds awkward to me. Maybe try "despite being cold, weary, and worried" instead?) a smile grew on his face.

Beyond the ridge, a huge expanse of grey stone stretched out to the far horizon. Green moss and purple heather burst from every fold and fracture in the rock, painting it with colour and filling the air with the scent of honey. Scattered across the plateau, pools of bright water shone with a blue so intense they seemed not so much mirrors of the heavens above but, rather, windows into a second sky that lay hidden below.

Over all of this hung a summer sun, holding just above the rim of the world, refusing to set, and washing the land in rich red and gold. (Wouldn't the pools in the previous paragraph reflect this red/orange light instead of blue?) On the rocks at Seph’s feet, orange lichen soaked up the light until it burned like coals within the stone. And here and there, secreted in sheltered cracks and crevices, Seph thought he spied something else.

‘Is that snow?’ he asked in hushed wonder.

‘Yes,’ Morag replied. ‘Welcome to Hardangervidda, Seph. So, do you still think we should have met in a cafe in Oslo?’

‘You got me,’ Seph said with a laugh. ‘This is worth the pain, maybe even worth getting kicked out of yet another semiaut (I still don't know that is. Now it sounds like a class whereas before it sounded like an AI lifeform). How did you find this place?’

‘It’s not exactly a secret. The road from Bergen to Oslo runs across the southern end, but that’s a good thirty kilometres away. The plateau ties in with some of my research, too. Especially this part of it. Let’s go find a campsite before the light fades.’

Morag set off down the far side of the ridge, heading into the plateau. Rejuvenated by the immense beauty around him, Seph managed to keep pace with her. They spent several minutes walking in silence, too overwhelmed by the magnificence of nature to engage in anything so mundane as speech.
My comments are in the quote above. Style-wise, the first paragraph is rough, but it improves significantly after that.
I hope that helps!
 

CTRandall

I have my very own plant pot!
Supporter
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
1,010
Location
North-east England
@OHB Thanks for the detailed feedback. There are some really useful comments in there.

This is perhaps the first quarter of a chapter. A proper introduction to 'semiauts' is developed as the chapter continues. Overall, I think it will be helpful--and fit the characters--to have them mentioned regularly from the start. I'll be better able to deal with that issue when the chapter is complete (and probably a couple of other chapters, as well, as I'm not yet certain where the novel is going to start).
 

tinkerdan

∞<Q-Satis
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
5,094
Location
x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
This was interesting and I don't so much see any mechanical problems.
However I'm not sure what you mean by prejudice about getting into character's heads.
The statement leaves me with no defined notion of if you do it a lot or if you don't do it at all.

Then there is this.
Seph pushed his legs to keep moving. He was out of breath, his cheeks were frozen, his feet were sore and he all he could think about was how stupid he’d been to agree to this. On top of his physical torment, half-an-hour ago his interface had pinged a warning that he was moving out of range of any signal, that his personal data system would have to record everything for later upload. That had shocked him. He couldn’t quite comprehend that, in this day and age, there was any place on Earth without a signal. He didn’t think his semiaut would believe it, either, and it definitely wouldn’t be pleased.
It seems to be coming from the character's head so maybe you are striving to do more; however it flags as you go on farther into the narrative.

If you were avoiding getting into the heads then maybe.
From am Omni POV:
Seph's legs moved slow, in jerks, as though forced. His cheeks were red, his arms huddled against his chest, and the expression on his face made each step appear tentative and tortured.

Third distant.
Seph studied his legs, watching each slow step, his legs shook, his feet touched tentatively and with each landing he hesitated before leaning into the next step..

It's pretty difficult to not get into the persons head especially in third; because of the five senses and feeling cold, feeling stupid, and being out of breath.

Anyway I take it that you are trying to get more into the head of the characters and if this is the case you got it with the first sentence and then the rest kind of moves in and out but seems mostly distant.

A problem I had with the first paragraph is that it seems that you know what's happening and you are just assuming we also know what's happening. However, without context to why he feels breathless, tired, cold and stupid, the whole paragraph becomes passive,
I don't expect the whole story right away; however it might help to have some observations.
Such as: is he in the mountains? is there a lack of shelter from the wind? have they been out for a long time? is he normally in good shape or is he out of shape?

There are more questions I could ask; however more important to the writing would be anything that might help make us care a bit about the alleged torture Seph is undergoing so that as a reader I might care. It may be that there is something important at the destination that you don't want to draw attention to until they get there; however if I quit reading before that happens...

Is there a way to make his suffering appear real while keeping his reason for putting himself in that possition real, so that there is a compelling reason to follow him through his torture.

I'm tryiing to find something that might help explain what I mean.

excerpt from Walkabout by J Dobkins: [I actually have permission to quote] this said:
It started with a flake or two, heralded by the sweet susurration of soft and gentle wind. David’s gloved hands clenched the front collar of his hooded fleece lined jacket to stave the wind that strove to chill his bones. The sun, at first nearly blinding, was waning with the cover of cloud. A cacophony of crow’s derision from above broke into his rumination as it carried across the cool air. A deep cold almost as sharp and frigid as the look he’d gotten from Lenore before he stalked outside into the tundra like climate that bit at his heels like a playful dog. David had almost taken to counting white drops until the advancing glee from on high abruptly brought him to glacial reality. Sometimes Leni deliberately pushed his buttons, she knew him well and maybe she needed some time alone, because at some point she could be certain he’d take a walk in deference to response to her tirade. In his obdurate fuming he’d step out into clear air in search of a gait of joy and to avoid any meaningful communication while the iron was still hot. But maybe freezing wasn’t his best option today.

The wind whipped and danced in joyous circles like a carousel with each tiny horse a distinct piece of art making their march in circuitous route of David’s boots, at last to join the blanket below. Onward he trudged unaware of any changes. The clean air of suburban Freeport felt sticky and stung his lungs with each breath. He’d finished the novel, approved the edits and the manuscript had gone on its merry way to the interior design people; soon it would go to the printer. David should be celebrating. Instead he stood and watched at the corner and waited for slow moving traffic to clear the street before he trudged across. Long strides lengthened while he recalled the shop on the corner; he could stop there to warm himself. No one else was out walking in the rapidly filling trenches left by the last snowfalls clearing. A shovel scraped the cement somewhere in the distance but increasing horizontally driven white rain impaired his visibility. Somewhere farther away a snow blower’s motor growled. David looked back and down at the sliding prints he’d created; as his eyes tracked backwards the prints seemed to drift into obscurity. He could no longer see his house. He should turn back, but a vision of a disagreeable Lenore pushed his shoulders back around and drove him forward.

His anger kindled; a small flame striving to live until it grew to warm him, though he no longer was certain he understood what the issue had been. Snow made it through to his face and created indifferent tears, frozen into mock sorrow that streaked his cheeks.

At the next corner David succumbed to an impulse to turn right, thinking he’d go around the block and double back, it led him mostly to regret. Icy fingers of winter’s renewal clawed at his face and he’d forgotten his earmuffs; cold flakes started to nip at his ears and dripped icy water down his neck. Both his hands struggled to draw the hood’s strings tight for a moment; he rarely tied the strings. He released them. Two times he’d done this before they held and his ears warmed. David clenched his hands inside their gloves to warm his fingers. His arms shook and trembled, but he moved forward with great effort. He turned left at the next opportunity to avoid the direct onslaught. He’d decided on going around that way another left, with the wind to his back and one more and he’d head home.

The white wind seemed in agreement with him as it abated for a bit. The soft silence returned to sooth and lull David as he tried to stretch his troubled mind out and relax enough to let the tension go.

Long moments of private lonely solitude and the gentle push of wind to his back quietened his thoughts until he drifted like the white all around him. The wind changed its mind while David was in mid-step and brought him to full attention just as the sidewalk took a fork and he stopped. This is odd. He looked up into a leafless birch where snow clung haphazardly; the tree was planted right where the sidewalk should have gone. He wondered a moment why they’d leave a tree and run the sidewalk around it. To the left lining the street and taking up the knoll, the snow was trodden down upon the sidewalk. To the right the white was smoothly piled, untouched by hoof or foot. David chose the way less traveled and with less exposure to traffic, although the street was empty. His path brought him up next to the brick building with the neon lights flashing around the window. Something is not right.

Anyway, once again I'm not sure what you are trying to do with character's heads or maybe without. So if this doesn't help...
It's just my two cents.
 
Last edited:

AnyaKimlin

Confuddled
Joined
Sep 21, 2011
Messages
5,997
Location
North Scotland
Style wise - the interaction between the characters and the dialogue felt natural, easy to read and clear.

In the first paragraph, and only because it's sci-fi and maybe a cover would change my perception, I struggled a bit. I assumed he was riding a bike but was he? Do bikes still exist etc
 

CTRandall

I have my very own plant pot!
Supporter
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
1,010
Location
North-east England
@AnyaKimlin Sorry to laugh but your comment about riding a bike was hilarious. A million miles from what I intended but I can easily see how you got there. I've already changed the line about pushing his legs to clear things up (thanks @OHB for calling attention to that).

@tinkerdan I'm trying to get a balance of getting inside the characters' heads without spending too much time there. Much of my previous writing has been very distant. Your observation about the change from inside Seph's head at the start to more distant later on is great. I think that can work in a piece but I need to develop my skills before I can pull it off.
 

AnyaKimlin

Confuddled
Joined
Sep 21, 2011
Messages
5,997
Location
North Scotland
@AnyaKimlin Sorry to laugh but your comment about riding a bike was hilarious. A million miles from what I intended but I can easily see how you got there. I've already changed the line about pushing his legs to clear things up (thanks @OHB for calling attention to that).

It's one of those things a cover or a blurb might solve but if it hadn't been sci-fi I'd have assumed a bike but because it was I was confused lol
 

Michael Bickford

Lost Coast Writers, Redwood Coast
Supporter
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
69
Location
Humboldt County, FarNorCal
Seph pushed his legs to keep moving. He was out of breath, his cheeks were frozen, his feet were sore and he all he could think about was how stupid he’d been to agree to this. On top of his physical torment, half-an-hour ago his interface had pinged a warning that he was moving out of range of any signal, that his personal data system would have to record everything for later upload. That had shocked him. He couldn’t quite comprehend that, in this day and age, there was any place on Earth without a signal. He didn’t think his semiaut would believe it, either, and it definitely wouldn’t be pleased.
I agree with others that “pushed“ is awkward and doesn’t let us see what he’s doing.
”frozen” is a bit strong, especially when we know he is working hard and probably sweating. Is he frost bitten? Is it that cold? Later it’s clearly not.
”... in this day and age,...” is intrusive on the flow and unneeded. When else would he be talking about?
Last sentence seems confused: who ever ”his semiaut” is wouldn’t believe what? That there was such an unconnected place or that he was so far afield that he would be entering such a sector? And what about either of those would be unpleasing? Can’t know without knowI get what a semiaut is.


Morag’s shout broke through his brooding. Lifting his gaze from the path, he saw her standing atop the ridge ahead, silhouetted against a deep blue sky and waving back at him, urging him on. Her energy and eagerness seemed, in his mind, calculated to annoy him even more. Still, it wasn’t far and, one switchback later, he was nearing the top.
Now the sky is deep blue, but moments later it is red and gold with a sunset.
how is her energy and eagerness annoying? And how could it seem calculated to Steph from what seems like a hundred meters or more, down one switchback at least, and looking at her in silhouette?


‘Why,’ Seph puffed, ‘oh, why did we have to come here?’
This seems stilted, both “Why, oh why “ (awkwardly broken up) and the fact that clearly they are traveling (hiking) together and he hasn’t asked why they are going where they are now arriving? Hard to swallow.

‘Stop complaining and take a look,’ Morag answered as she motioned behind her.

Seph took the final steps up to the ridgeline and half-glanced past her shoulder, not really interested in whatever bird or tree or bee she was enthusing about now.
So this guys never been in nature? Doesn’t know that you get a view at the top of a climb? Again, hard to accept, but, OK.

He stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes went wide as, despite cold, weariness and worry, a smile grew on his face.
He just took his “final steps” in previous paragraph, so he’s already stopped. Also “dead in his tracks” is a bit of a cliche.

Beyond the ridge, a huge expanse of grey stone stretched out to the far horizon. Green moss and purple heather burst from every fold and fracture in the rock, painting it with colour and filling the air with the scent of honey. Scattered across the plateau, pools of bright water shone with a blue so intense they seemed not so much mirrors of the heavens above but, rather, windows into a second sky that lay hidden below.
great descriptive passage but there is a sense problem again with the colors. The lakes are blue, (and very well-described as such) but in the next paragraph the sky is so sunset reddened that even the lichen are reflecting it. This is a contradiction.

Over all of this hung a summer sun, holding just above the rim of the world, refusing to set, and washing the land in rich red and gold. On the rocks at Seph’s feet, orange lichen soaked up the light until it burned like coals within the stone. And here and there, secreted in sheltered cracks and crevices, Seph thought he spied something else.
Again, nicely descriptive. I wonder what it means that the sun refuses to set. Is this another world in which such a thing could be true, or is this descriptive hyperbole? Could be good either way, but leaves me wondering. Then when I find out they are in a Norway... if it’s because it’s winter near the Arctic circle, the cold would really be a big factor and would need description, and there would be snow everywhere. Is this a post-global warming world where snow doesn’t fall? Maybe, but still confusing at this point.

‘Is that snow?’ he asked in hushed wonder.
So shocked that there would be snow when he’s been freezing from the first sentence? Maybe it is extremely rare are in this world?

‘Yes,’ Morag replied. ‘Welcome to Hardangervidda, Seph. So, do you still think we should have met in a cafe in Oslo?’
Looked this place up on Goog maps. They really are out there! Very cool name in its English allusions—hard + anger + “life”! I am hard-pressed to imagine him ending up being in such a place without any foreknowledge. Interested to know the backstory.

‘You got me,’ Seph said with a laugh. ‘This is worth the pain, maybe even worth getting kicked out of yet another semiaut. How did you find this place?’
This has clearly been a long, hard journey, yet “You got me” sounds like she just pulled a prank on him. Again, I’m incredulous.

‘It’s not exactly a secret. The road from Bergen to Oslo runs across the southern end, but that’s a good thirty kilometres away. The plateau ties in with some of my research, too. Especially this part of it. Let’s go find a campsite before the light fades.’
The first three sentences lack logical connection because of the “but” leading to a “too” explaining that it’s not a secret. Doesn’t explain much. Why are they there? How did they get there if the road is 30 k away?
And now they’re looking for a campsite? Are they carrying camping gear? That would be something to include in your description of his big effort that caused him so much pain.

Morag set off down the far side of the ridge, heading into the plateau. Rejuvenated by the immense beauty around him, Seph managed to keep pace with her. They spent several minutes walking in silence, too overwhelmed by the magnificence of nature to engage in anything so mundane as speech.
Does one go “into” or “onto” a plateau from a ridge above it?
Many questions come up when reading this: Why are these two together? Why, if they are together so far out into a wilderness, are they walking so separately? How are they going to survive the cold and why aren’t they worried about it? And what is a “semiaut”?
It is intriguing enough to make me want to read more for now to find out some answers, but I’m not relying on much and need to be clued in on some stuff soon, or have Morag’s character develop (Steph has already been presented as kind of an outta shape whiner) or I’m gonna give up on it. Gimme info! An interesting character, or some danger to be overcome!

[/QUOTE]
 

Cosmic Geoff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2012
Messages
441
Overall this is not bad, but:
Seph pushed his legs to keep moving. He was out of breath, his cheeks were frozen, his feet were sore and he all he could think about was how stupid he’d been to agree to this. On top of his physical torment, half-an-hour ago his interface had pinged a warning that he was moving out of range of any signal, that his personal data system would have to record everything for later upload. That had shocked him. He couldn’t quite comprehend that, in this day and age, there was any place on Earth without a signal. He didn’t think his semiaut would believe it, either, and it definitely wouldn’t be pleased.
'Pushed his legs' is unclear. Maybe instead of the sentences about interface and semiaut (whatever that is) you could explain what he is doing there (meeting a friend?) and why. You could cut down the sentences about interface and semiaut as this information does not seem essential to the opening scene beyond suggesting its remoteness.
Morag’s shout broke through his brooding. Lifting his gaze from the path, he saw her standing atop the ridge ahead, silhouetted against a deep blue sky and waving back at him, urging him on. Her energy and eagerness seemed, in his mind, calculated to annoy him even more. Still, it wasn’t far and, one switchback later, he was nearing the top.
The second sentence seems a little wordy. It would be good to get rid of the 'he saw' as this has a distancing effect (if you eliminate it (e.g. above him, she stood) readers may feel closer to your main character. 'One switchback' is not giving me a clear picture of the scene.

In the dialogue, it seems you have a fondness for 'said-isms' like 'puffed' instead of just using the word 'said'. The said-isms irritate readers who are sensitive to them, while 'said' does not. Since there are only two speakers here, you can eliminate most of the dialog tags altogether once you have synced the reader with who speaks first.
Beyond the ridge, a huge expanse of grey stone stretched out to the far horizon. Green moss and purple heather burst from every fold and fracture in the rock, painting it with colour and filling the air with the scent of honey. Scattered across the plateau, pools of bright water shone with a blue so intense they seemed not so much mirrors of the heavens above but, rather, windows into a second sky that lay hidden below.
It is a nice image, but how does this new scene differ from where he has been walking? If the reader does not know, how is one to assess your M/C's reaction?
‘It’s not exactly a secret. The road from Bergen to Oslo runs across the southern end, but that’s a good thirty kilometres away. The plateau ties in with some of my research, too. Especially this part of it.
It is not clear what the road has to do with it.
 

thisreidwrites

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2021
Messages
31
Okay, listen to me: you have NAILED inside-the-characters'-heads.

This is perfect narrator voice. I got a sense of these folks, their personalities, AND the world they're in. Whatever work you did is really paying off.
 

Top