Monday, March 20, 2017

Critiquing Opportunity - Savannah Jezowski

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

How this works -

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

Sound awesome? Awesome!

Savannah Jezowski


  1. Raven stumbled and crashed against the gate. Her torn hands and sliced foot burned as she scrambled up it – hot blood shone red on the silver gate links.
    “Raven, come on,” Elyse screamed, scrambling up the gate, red hair tangled around her face. “Come on!”
    Lunging forward to reach the top, Raven screamed as her foot caught on a sharp link.
    “Ray!” Elyse dangled in front of her on the other side of the gate. “Raven, are you alright?”
    Raven groaned, dragging her bleeding foot on top of the gate and gasping for breath against the pain. Hot tears spilled down her cheeks.
    “Fine,” she spat back at Elyse, her voice breaking. “I’m fine.”
    She started to shinny down the other side, quaking as the air was rent with assassin’s shouts.
    And then – she was falling.
    Elyse’s shriek matched her own as she tumbled to the ground from seven feet up and landed with a sickening crunch.
    Fire burned up and down her arm, her body, down to the soles of her feet.
    But her arm burned worst of all. Spikes of pain lanced across it, flaming.
    Raven gasped, mouth gaping like a fish. She could hear Elyse screaming, could feel hands on her face, but for a minute she couldn’t move. She could barely breath.
    And then an assassins shout pierced the air again – they were close. And getting closer.
    Raven fumbled, almost drunk with pain, and grabbed Elyse’s arm with the hand that was hurting the least. Hissing through her teeth, she pulled herself to her feet and leaned on her friend. Her head hung as she took ragged breaths and tried to think.
    Where would they go?
    And how would they get there fast enough?
    “Girls.” An unfamiliar voice whispered. “Girls!”
    Raven head jerked back up, and she shook her lank hair out of her face. A slight, blonde woman was gesturing to them.
    “My friend’s hurt!” Elyse called back. “Can you help us?”
    The woman glanced left and right, as if looking for trouble. Raven wanted to shout that ‘trouble’ was going to catch up to them in the form of six assassins if they didn’t hurry – but pain left her breathless.
    Seeming to deem it safe enough, the small woman – almost a girl, but definitely older than both of them – rushed over.
    “No, don’t!” She said, as Raven tried to walk. “You’ll leave bloody footprints, sweetheart.” She looked up at Elyse seriously. “I’m on your side, I promise. I know a safe place we can take your friend, but we’ll have to carry her. You take her legs, I’ll get her head.”
    Raven wanted to protest, but a flash of bright red pain swept over her as they lifted her up.
    And then red faded to black, and she knew no more.

    1. There's my 500-ish words ;). Not my best work, but I thought it would be nice to have it critiqued.

      ~ Savannah

    2. Very exciting excerpt. I will get back with you shortly with some comments (The baby wants to be fed LOL). Good job on the proper use of "shinny" rather than "shimmy" by the way. :)

    3. One thing I noticed right off is that you have a number of short sentences all together in this scene. In an action scene, this isn't necessarily bad, but VARIETY should be the motto of every author. Don't let yourself get stuck in a rut. Combine some short paragraphs into one. Use an occasional one sentence paragraph for emphasis. Pack punch with it so choose your favorite linea to do this. Someone once told me not to sacrifice the beauty of writing to the action of the scene. Findinf balance is key. :)

    4. Another idea: your first line. Concise is always best. You can just as easily say she "stumbled against the gate" rather than "stumbled and crashed."

    5. The plural possessive of assassins is assassins'

    6. One last comment: this is such a frightening scene (two girls being chased by SIX assassins). I woukd really like to FEEL more of their fear and thoughts. It's easy in an action sequence to forget that your characters are still thinking and feeling, not just reacting. Most of us dont just react without thought. Even if it is a quick thought, we still think in crisis. Imagine this was you. If you were being chased by SIX assassins and you were injured, what woikd you be thinking and feeling? You don't want to slow down your action too much with a second by second play of what you're characters are thinking and feeling, but sprinkling details throughout the scene will keep us riveted and feeling along with your characters. We never want to watch from a distance: keep us right there inside the head of your MC.

      This was a lively piece with lots of good descriptions. I was sorry when it ended. :) Keep up the good work!!

    7. Thank you for critiquing this, Savannah! Your notes were wonderful, and they're definitely going to help me edit this piece. I had fun reading through your thoughts on this! Thanks again for taking a look at my work ;).

      ~ Savannah

  2. Maeve tugged the silver mask lower over her too-feminine features and opened the tavern door. They had come to the Singing Sprite before, but she hadn’t been a boy then.
    Candlelight assailed her eyes, despite the sunshine outside. Overturned barrels crowned with wooden boards made up the benches of the tavern, occupied by at least thirty men. Wonderful. She would be up half the night singing before these drunken men at last collapsed into their beds, and even then their vomiting would wake her come morn. Some people couldn’t hold their alcohol.
    Ealar rested his hand on her shoulder. “You’re forgetting to stride as a lad, Maeve. Remember, you are no lass.”
    Maeve rolled her eyes, pulled her shoulders back and pressed past the man up to the bar. “A pint of your strongest ale, bartender, and make it quick. My brother and I must have voices to sing.”
    “Maeve! Ealar!” The long-haired daughter of the bartender whirled about, three glasses in her hand. Her large gown slipped down over her slender shoulder. “Many a year has passed. Where are your parents?”
    Ealar shook his head. “Gone.”
    “I see.” Senga sat two of the mugs before them, her eyes darting over Maeve’s shoulder to the lute on her back. “You are minstrels now?”
    “My brother and I have songs to sing, if you will give us a room.” Ealar once again spoke for the two of them.
    “Your brother?” The lass’s blue eyes met Ealar’s and Maeve’s in turn, and she leaned forward. “I have a room for you, no doubt, but a tavern is no place for a woman like Maeve.”
    Maeve opened her mouth to agree with Senga, but her brother spoke first.
    “For Maeve and I? There is no danger.”
    “I will ask my father.” Taking the hint, she nodded over her shoulder, in direction of the kitchen. “Until then, do sing for a copper or two.”
    Maeve downed the mug of ale before slipping her lute from its strap on her back and preparing to sing. ‘Twas too easy to sing in a man’s voice. Her voice was deep and scratchy from overuse, like a lad when his voice was changing.
    Ealar lifted his pipe high. “Has any man a song to sing? Speak up, good friend, speak up.”
    Maeve ran her fingers along the tight strings of her lute. Chapped fingers caught on the strings. Six months ago, she played the lute with smooth women’s fingers. She played much better then. Still, she struck up a tentative cord.
    “Sing Bonny Liadan’s sorrow song!” A too-broad, bronzed man on the far side of the tavern called out, raising his mug. Ale sloshed out upon the head of another, who instantly attacked the first. Fists raised, they squared off.
    “Shall we sing or not, man?” Ealar shouted over the racket. “Bonny Liadan will not wait forever for you.”
    When neither man answered, Maeve’s brother nodded to her and they struck up the song. Contrary to the title, the song contained no sorrow, but rather a wild ballad of love and passion in the sunset. At least the man chose a decent song.
    Men all around the tavern, already deep in their cups, clapped along. They shouted bawdy remarks that brought blushes to Maeve’s cheeks.

    1. I love the names in your story!! I will get back with you shortly with some critiques. :)

    2. One thing I noticed I noticed is that you never you use dialogue tags (he said, she said). How you framed your dialogue was very well done, bit you will need to be careful not to confuse your readers about who is talking. An occasional "he said" is necessary. Dialogue tags are practically invisible: people don't really notice them, but they could notice the lack of them and become confused. I just recommend slipping them in occasionally to keep your dialogue clear. :)

    3. Another thought: since Maeve is clearly pretending to be a boy, when the bar maid recognizes her, I should think there would be a moment of alarm, or at the very least a quick shhh and please lower your voice etc. Some kind of reaction. Did she feel any alarm at being recognized as a woman? Did her brother? Clearly I don't know WHY she is hiding her gender without reading the rest of your story, but I do think some kind of reaction would happen here. :)

    4. I was a tad confused when the barmaid and her brother are discussing accommodations and whether there was any danger to Maeve. Why would he say there was no danger? There probably would be if someone realized she was a comely lass and not a minstrel boy. And what "hint" did senga understand? Since I am reading this out of context this might all be easily explained in prior chapters so ignore this if that is the case. Otherwise, you might want to make their conversation a little clearer.

    5. Honestly that is all I can think of. You have a lovely way with words and I was pulled in right from the beginning. Very well done!!

    6. You are more than welcome! I hope this is helpful! What is the name of this story? I am most intrigued. :)

    7. Ah, this story is called "When the Music Fades," about a minstrel girl who, when her hearing abandons her, must choose between contentment in silence and taking her own life.
      Incidentally, I've submitted this story to the writing contest here on the blog. Results will be announced Saturday! (*squeal*)

    8. Oh what a marvelous premise. I love character driven stories like this. The title is perfect for it as well.

    9. Thank you for your kind comments. Very encouraging. :)


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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