Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Critiquing Opportunity! Hazel West.

A number of the authors have volunteered to critique YOUR writing. This post is Hazel West's.

How this works -

You comment below with up to 500 words of your writing.
Sometime today, Tuesday, Hazel will come by and give you feedback.

Sound awesome? Awesome!


  1. Crumpling the paper in her fist, Raven stumbled her way down the steps like a drunkard and onto the sidewalk. There was no end to her bad luck, it would seem.
    The Aeriel was huge as far as airships went – twenty miles at least. And yet Raven had known the whole thing backwards and forwards before Princess Snow had been unceremoniously thrust onto the throne after her mother’s death.
    That’s when things started falling apart.
    Snow had let beloved buildings go neglected, and it hurt Raven to see the once-magnificent Aeriel now losing its sheen. Cracked sidewalks, shattered windows, neglected buildings, and broken people were all that marked the Aeriel now.
    But what hurt the most was the Library.
    Snow had banned it from use, and a huge padlocked chain and locked windows kept anyone from getting inside. Raven had worked there for just over a year under Queen Selini before being thrown out after Snow ascended the throne.
    In her opinion, Snow’s heart was as black as her mother’s had been white.

    1. It's definitely shorter than 500 words, but I thought I'd use it anyways ;).

      ~ Savannah

    2. Ooh, really like the set up here!

      Okay, so a few little things first: instead of this: "There was no end to her bad luck, it would seem." Maybe try "It would seem there was no end to her bad luck." It gives the sentence more impact to end on something like "bad luck" as opposed to "it would seem" which weakens the sentence a bit.

      Another part that you could tweak mildly is:"The Aeriel was huge as far as airships went – twenty miles at least" Instead of stopping the sentence there, maybe try "--twenty miles at least--and yet Raven had known…" and use it more as an aside while continuing the sentence.

      I like how you have "But what hurt the most was the Library" as it's own paragraph. That makes your readers know it has impact to your character.

      The only other thing I would add is a little more description of the place so your readers can get a picture in their head (and maybe you did later already). But you mention it's an airship, which to me, brings to mind the Hindenburg or like, something of that nature, and you also mention sidewalks, which doesn't go along with that, so some descriptions of what YOUR airship looks like so the readers can have the same picture in their heads would be good :)

      Overall, I like the feel of it, and it gives a good look into what the story and your character are like. Is this the first part of a story?

    3. Thank you so much for your critique, Hazel! It was wonderful, and I'll definitely be applying the changes you suggested <3. And yes, this is part of the first chapter in my story, Killing Snow. Thanks again for looking at it!

      ~ Savannah

  2. The city grew closer with every step. Gavin’s heart hummed in his ears, and he drew in a sharp breath.
    He bypassed one of the village’s altogether before riding along Bron’s wall until he reached the main gate, empty of soldiers or peasants. He and his horse slipped inside without incident, passing only some lads at their knife throwing practice near the entrance.
    Gavin shouldered his bow, swinging off to lead his mare down the main road lined with stands full of furs, meats and nuts that folks were hoping to sell. The further he walked the busier it became. A chicken scurried under his legs and he side-stepped the animal, almost running into a little lass who looked up at him with wide eyes.
    A soldier yelled at a lady who got in his way, and a man dodged Gavin on the way out of Bron. Gavin breathed in the heavy smell of dirt and sweat, hay from the stalls of goats beside him. This’d become his home in the past years. In an odd way he missed it.
    He pulled his hood over his head and headed up Main Street; now keeping his eyes lowered to the ground, hoping to find someone who looked trust-worthy or hear some news about Milosh and the pact.
    But he couldn’t ask directly. The folk would only know if he signed the pact but not about it unless the king made an announcement.
    Gavin shivered, stepping over a mud puddle and leaned against the butcher’s house. A shiver raked across his spine—eyes followed him as he stopped. Someone was watching him.
    He turned around, hoping to see that a peasant child simply stared on or maybe a man curious about the traveler. Nothing.
    His hand reached down to the hilt of his Messenger Sword as he began walking once more, forgetting about learning information but to see if eyes continued to follow. Fewer folk walked the streets the deeper in Bron he walked, leaving behind the crowded market place.
    Gavin suddenly swerved left as if to visit the apothecary, hoping to feel relief from the prying gaze. The eyes stayed upon his back, drilling through him.
    He turned swiftly, pulling his horse behind him and stooping under the eaves of a small house. He glanced over his shoulder. Still not a soul turned his way. His horse pawed nervously at the ground as Gavin mounted, urging her to ride down the alley, taking a back street.
    His cold fingers grasped the reins. The clatter of hooves pounded the hard earth. He turned her head right, down another short alleyway and back onto Main Street.
    There! He sucked in a breath and let it out before his lungs found time to ache. His legs tensed.
    A shadow weaved its way out from behind a house across the street, the hood of the cloak covering the figure’s face. Then Gavin caught a flash of dark skin—a foreigner. Why was a foreigner stalking the streets of Bron?
    He sucked in a breath while trying to swallow his growing fear. He allowed his horse to go full speed, racing down Main Street, the eyes of the stranger still burning his back, the clatter of hooves echoing in the still, matching the beating of his own racing heart.

    1. This is a really good set up, I think you did well describing the setting and the scene, and even the feeling of suspicion and anxiety Gavin is feeling. You can instantly recognize it as medieval-esque, which is always cool :)

      The only comments I really have are just about some of your sentence set ups. Some of them are just a little confusing like:"But he couldn’t ask directly. The folk would only know if he signed the pact but not about it unless the king made an announcement." Maybe you could change this to something like " The folk would only know whether he signed the pack if the king made an announcement"

      This also, has mixed tenses: "He turned around, hoping to see that a peasant child simply stared on or maybe a man curious about the traveler. Nothing." Maybe try something like "hoping to see a child simply staring on, or maybe a man curious about a traveler. But there was nothing."

      Just a couple other notes: instead of "fewer people walked the streets the deeper in Bron he walked" you could do "He saw fewer people on the streets the deeper in Bron he walked" (instead of using 'walked' twice)


      My tips for you are to maybe read your writing out loud to yourself. The little issues I found here are really easy to detect when you actually try to say them, or read them because it will be easier to detect when tenses are off, and also like the first couple things I pulled out, when sentences are kind of formed backwards. I do a lot of this on first drafts too, because my brain is thinking five steps ahead and I end up putting two ideas into one sentence sometimes, so I know how easy it is to do :) Overall this story seems very intriguing!

    2. Thanks - I really appreciate it!!

  3. Using all my strength, I shoved the heavy, wooden chair close to the wall and scrambled up onto it. Even then, standing on the chair seat, I had to stretch on tiptoes to see out the small, high, hall window. It didn’t matter that I was already fourteen years old—I was still inches shy of five feet.
    I would never have chosen this window on any other day, but right now I was afraid to open the curtains. For all I knew, the S.A. men might still be roaming the Jewish neighborhoods, and I wasn’t going to let them see me.
    But I wanted to see out.
    I strained even taller, gripping the window frame with my hands and pushing my face close to the glass. Finally, I was able to catch sight of the street and buildings far, far below.
    Then I just stared.
    Everywhere I looked—in houses and shops all up and down the street—were ugly, jagged, gaping black holes where smooth, gray, glass windows should’ve been. Almost like wide-open mouths with sharp teeth . . . waiting to swallow up anyone who came too near.
    Broken glass. It changed everything.
    A building’s windows are supposed to be its eyes. More than that—they’re its soul. They make it come alive. And the S.A. knew that.
    That’s why they’d smashed every last one of them.
    I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even look away. I just stood there—still balanced precariously on the chair seat—my eyes glued to the street and the shops and the horrible, horrible broken windows. My chest had begun to feel heavy and dark, like a leaden mantle had settled over my heart.
    It was my mother’s voice.
    I dropped down to my heels again, turning around as fast as I could without falling off the chair.
    The lines in my mother’s worn face seemed to have deepened overnight, and her dark eyes were grim and serious. “Tammi, come down from there.”
    Her tone wasn’t angry. Just flat and matter-of-fact. But I knew I still had to get down.
    I slid off the chair. “I wanted to see outside.”
    “Yes. I know.”
    “Mutti. They broke all the windows. Not just ours.”
    “Yes. I know.”

    1. This is a really good start to a story (if it is anyway haha) I think you did a great job setting it up, I can picture it perfectly and the visuals you gave with Tammi having to climb onto the chair, and the broken windows was really good. I think, especially with the windows, you were able to paint a picture of the situation without going into a lot of detail with gives it more impact in my opinion.

      I really only have a couple nit-picks here. One is when you write: "More than that--they're it's soul" maybe use "they are its soul" (and 'its' as an edit) splitting up a contraction can give words more impact.

      The only other thing I want to mention, and this may just be something that I noticed and other people might not, but you say Tammi is fourteen, but to me she sounds younger, and it's not just because she was too short to see out the window. To me she seems more like a ten-year-old here. (and this is a very short excerpt, so I know sometimes it's hard to get a good view on a story like that.) But maybe just keep that in mind and add some more nuances to mature her. Unless it's part of her character? that works too.

      But overall, I really enjoyed this, I actually had to read it twice because it sucked me in the first time, so that is a good thing :)

    2. Thank you so much, Hazel! I really appreciate the feedback!

      (Yes, it's the very beginning of the story--minus the Prologue, that is, which I didn't include because it's written in a slightly different and less "immediate" style than the rest of the book.)

  4. (This is only 375 words. Sorry)

    I've learned to be silent and obedient when my father is around. If I cry out in pain, or even try to reason with him, the punishments are always worse.
    But today, I can't do what he says.
    “Pull the trigger, you freak of nature,” he growls, so that only I can hear. The prisoner in front of me is a little girl in a ragged blue dress. She looks terrified. I know that expression too well; I see it every day in the mirror.
    “What did she ever do to deserve this?” I demand, not looking at the King.
    “Just get on with it,” he says, a little louder. I know I shouldn't push him like this, but she's just a little girl. A cunning gleam appears in his eyes. “If you pull the trigger, if you do what I say for once, then maybe I'll have reason to treat you better. Just imagine it.”
    I think of what a decent childhood, the kind I've only read about in books, would be like. I wouldn't be cold and hungry all the time. I'd be happy.
    And this girl wouldn't have that chance.
    “No,” I say quietly.
    What happens next is a blur. He motions to my brother, who snatches the gun from me. An enormous guard grabs my arm roughly and drags me out of the hall. I don't fight until I hear the gun go off. Something falls to the floor; the girl.
    I didn't save her.
    My father strolls into the hall, smiling. Like he just got back from a jaunt in the countryside, instead of a murder.
    “YOU KILLED HER!” I scream, trying to escape the guard’s grip. Tears pour down my face. I hate him more than I ever have before. She did nothing to anyone. He didn't even know her.
    “Actually,” he replies calmly, “your brother did the honors. Come with me.”
    I notice Samuel, blond, athletic, the opposite of me, standing behind my father, and my heart freezes. A thousand memories play in my head.
    “Sam…” I begin, looking into his eyes. But there's nothing else to say. He's just like our father after all.
    He smirks, turning to the guard. “Remove this pitiful creature from my presence.”

    1. Yikes, he's up for Father of the Year Award lol. If this is the beginning of a story, this is really intense and that's a good thing because it draws the reader in (at least that's the kind of thing I like.) You have a good grasp of your characters too, because I totally got what all of them are like just in this little bit. The king is obviously a despicable, controlling man and your MC already makes me feel sorry for them (though I wasn't sure whether your MC was a girl or boy, you may want to put some indication of that in, but that's kind of a thing of mine that I like to be clear on).

      So, starting with an action scene like this, it's okay to forgo a little description, but after this scene is over, adding a little description of the place and setting would be good. I like the emotion you put into this, but I also have questions that I hope are answered later like: does this take place in our world, or another? What's the time period/situation? Why is the king randomly ordering people to be shot?

      You could even had a few more place descriptions in this section if you wanted, but obviously not so many it bogs down the scene. Just like, are they in a palace or something? A little bit of what it looks like wouldn't be too much to distract from the story. Just no lavish description of every flagstone :P

      But overall, this was a really intriguing piece, and I genuinely want to read more to see what happens. This is one dysfunctional family haha :P

    2. Thanks. :D I'll consider your advice as I continue this story.

  5. The forest was thick with underbrush that rustled as the man and his daughter waded through it. Neither spoke as the trees parted and the white walls of the commune showed sparkling in the sunlit clearing. The girl’s hand stole up to the back of her neck as she studied the building uncertainly.
    Her father turned to look at her, and she knew immediately this was the place. Singing rose up from the clearing, filling the woods with a peaceful echo that tried to penetrate her heart and smooth her features; but nothing could ease the pain of saying goodbye.
    “Is this it?” she asked.
    He nodded and took a deep breath. “You’ll go by way of the Dorcas Gate. The abbess is expecting you, but I will wait here to see that you enter safely.”
    “When will you come back for me?” She asked the question they were both dreading.
    A shadow passed over his weathered features, and he placed a strong but gentle hand on her shoulder. “Ryla, this war is long and none but the Father knows it end. Many things must happen before we are all together again. Promise me that you will never leave the sisters’ care unless I come for you or send Sir Wystan. You must trust him and follow his instructions to the letter.”
    “Yes, Father.” Her pointed chin shook slightly.
    “One more thing. I have a gift for you.” He reached into his cloak and withdrew a long, thin parcel. “Open it inside once you are alone. It is neither a plaything nor a mere decoration, but the best I can give you now for your protection. Keep it always by your side and never let it be taken from you, but do not be afraid to use it in time of need.”
    Tears began to cloud her eyes, but she brushed them aside as she took the package from him and tucked it into the pocket of her skirt. She wanted to ask him where Drewin was. If Mother had made it to safety. If he would have to be in the fighting.
    The words stuck in her throat, so she hugged him instead.
    Then she was walking across the sunny clearing. The parcel slapped against her leg with each step, and she slipped her hand into her pocket to feel the comfortingly smooth leather. Each step brought her closer to the Dorcas Gate, and each step brought her farther from her father. She was tempted to turn and look. To see if he was still there watching her. But she knew that she was going alone for a reason. She had to look just like every other orphan that sought refuge in those walls.
    The tears were coming fast and spilling over onto her cheeks as she stood on tiptoe to reach the bell rope.

    1. I like the scene you set here. It gives a good visual for the setting and a little about what is going on too. I really like how you give subtle little hints that Ryla isn't quite what she's meant to be seen as, (I assumed she was not *just* an orphan as she was pretending to be).

      Overall, this is really good. There were a couple things like: "none but the Father knows *its* end" and just to add context "unless I come for you or send Sir Wystan. *If he comes*, you must trust him…"

      I think your prose and characters are both very good and you have an intriguing premise that makes me want to read more :)

  6. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to read some snippets from all of your stories today! All of these were very intriguing and made me want to read more. I hope I was able to offer something useful. Best of luck with all your future and current writing endeavors! =D


Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!

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