Author Topic: rewritten  (Read 1852 times)

MrsButler

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rewritten
« on: January 02, 2010, 02:15:25 PM »
 rewritten
« Last Edit: May 07, 2010, 02:00:42 PM by MrsButler »

Offline Linda Aitchison

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Re: Prologue of "The Hanging Of Margaret Dickson"
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2010, 02:41:10 PM »
Hello. I found the switching of tenses confusing and for me, there isn't enough exact detail to set the scene - so I only read the first paragraph. Where is she? Where is she slipping away from? Can you describe the tiny bundle better and avoid repetition of 'bundle'? What is she wearing that is plaid? I don't think permeate reads well, you just mean she can hear people shouting and laughing downstairs. You don't need to say "idly"....what does the cook sing? In my opinion you aren't showing the reader anywhere near enough to help them make sense of this.

This is just my opinion and I wish you all the luck in the world. Can you find out more about creative writing? Are there some exercises you can find online to help you along rather than diving straight in with a novel? or could you do this alongside it?

Also AJB has reiterated some brilliant advice that I am taking her up on - read as much as you can of the genre you have set your heart on and be influenced by it. I've often seen it said that the best advice for aspiring writers is to read, read and read some more.

All the very best to you.



<a href="http://www.freelancewritingtips.com">"Currently updating and adding to my book on freelance writing</a>

Offline Plain_Jane

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Re: Prologue of "The Hanging Of Margaret Dickson"
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2010, 03:00:54 PM »
Hi MrsButler. I've seen your synopsis on the boards, and I'm glad that you've decided to share some of the story with us. I'm definitely not an expert in writing or reviewing, so I'll just let you know what I noticed as a reader.

First, I'll admit my bias. I tend to not like prologues. For some reason, I find prologues are often written in a vague, overly stylized fashion. I don't like it. While I don't think this was necessarily the case for your prologue, it did seem a little vague in places that it didn't need to be. However, that may be my own bias picking up on things that aren't there. So, take that comment with a grain of salt.

The first thing I notice about the prologue (or any opening to a story) is the first sentence. There needs to be some sort of hook. I think your hook needs a little tweaking to be as effective as possible. You start out by saying it wasn't difficult to slip away, which means there is a need for secrecy. This is exciting. However, the sentence just doesn't quite work for me. You may want to play around with it a little bit and see what other options you can come up with.

On a related note, the next sentence completely switches verb tense. This may be part of the problem with your hook. Would it be better in a different tense? Maybe. Either way, verb tense should be consistent throughout.

As for the rest, I think if you fix up the verb tense, you will be well on your way. The other big thing I noticed is that you do a lot of telling (vs. showing). Instead of showing the reader what it is like to be secretly carrying a newborn down to the river, you tell us what happens as protag takes the mysterious bundle out.

I think you may be trying too hard for the mystery. Is it really necessary to keep the newborn a secret until later? I actually think it might be more exciting to know the protag is hiding a baby. Also, when writing up this review, I realized I don't know the protag's name. I don't think it is ever mentioned. Is this necessary or just to amp the mystery? If it's just for the mystery, I'd suggest including the name as it will help me relate to the character. I like to know what's going on. Not enough details detract from my ability to connect with the situation.

Anyway, I think that's all I have to say. I liked this, but I think I would like it better if the verbs were fixed and some of the vague/mystery stuff was cleared up a bit. However, that is just my opinion, and you already know I'm biased.  :) Considered my bias for prologues, I still would have continued on to reading chapter 1 if I found this in a book. Especially a book with such a catchy title!

Good luck!

PJ

Offline Plain_Jane

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Re: Prologue of "The Hanging Of Margaret Dickson"
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2010, 03:18:09 PM »
I'm so glad you found the critique helpful. I am newer to writing as well, currently working on rewriting my first novel.

I'm glad you found MWC. I've been around here for about a year now, and am much more knowledgeable and a better writer because of it. Enjoy your time here!

PJ

Offline ma100

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Re: Prologue of "The Hanging Of Margaret Dickson"
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2010, 05:24:04 PM »
Hi Alison.

I'm not a fan of prologues either and to be honest after reading your first synopsis I was quite surprised you started here. The tense issues and the telling and showing have been touched upon, but maybe if you post the start to your story we could possibly help you more.

Ma. :)

Offline webtrained

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Re: Prologue of "The Hanging Of Margaret Dickson"
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2010, 05:28:10 PM »
Wow.  I'm gripped by your story of Margaret Dickson.  It must be told and youíre the one to tell it.

I experienced butterflies in my stomach as I read the first paragraph of the prologue.  I sensed the urgency of the situation.  Your imagery is sharp.  I feel the rough floor, hear the noise of the rickety stairway, and see all the rosy faces.  Then you bring the reader to the dreary outside.  I canít wait to read more.  I also think many women will identify with the decision Margaret had to make.  Thank you.

webtrained

What we canít do alone we can do together.

Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: Prologue of "The Hanging Of Margaret Dickson"
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2010, 07:33:35 PM »
If I bought a book and came to this prologue, I'd be wanting to get it over with so I could start with the story. I felt the same way here. OK, it's an important bit of information - but I don't care. Not now. Not when I don't know anything about the characters, the world, the circumstances.
So, my suggestion is emit this prologue - start with the story, start with a good hook, then later, gradually, refer to (either through memories, dialogue, etc) what has happened.

Also, apart from changing verb tenses, most of this is in present tense -which I loathe.
It gives me the heeby-jeebies, especially when you have so many verbs close together. That's my personal opinion, so keep that in mind, but I thought I'd mention it because I HAVE read a book or two in present tense where I have actually forgotten the tense after the first page, because it was so absorbing and well crafted.
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Offline Ashleigh

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Re: Prologue of "The Hanging Of Margaret Dickson"
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2010, 07:56:32 PM »
I love prologues, when they are done correctly. In this circumstance I think you did a good job. If I saw this in a bookstore, I would buy it after reading the prologue. My curiosity is spiked, I want to know who this character is, what happened to her kids, who this baby is, who he belongs to, why she's giving him to the fairies. I'm the type of reader who is willing to sit down and take the time for the author to tell me these things, I like to try and give him/her a decent chance.
 ;)

Offline webtrained

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Re: Prologue of "The Hanging Of Margaret Dickson"
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2010, 04:29:37 PM »
Thanks for sharing more info on Miss Margaret.  This story becomes more and more incredible.  Have you thought about breaking down the story of her life into little stories.  I say so because if I was writing about a person as interesting as Miss Margaret, I'd be here there and everywhere. 

Decisions.  Decisions.  Decisions.

Whether dis nobler to slow down or put things on hold? 

I become inspired and rush to put down the words.  Then later I become overwhelmed with all sorts of thoughts, ideas, doubts and inner critigue comments.  This whole writing thing is a learning experience for me. I'm also learning that it's OK to slow down.  That planning is just as valuable as writing.

With that being said, let me practice what I preach.  I'm going to take an inventory of my various stories, journal entries, blurbs, so I won't feel so overwhelmed.

Back to the keyboard go I.

 ;)
What we canít do alone we can do together.