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Author Topic: Ida and the Dragon
MrsBrown
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Ida wondered what possessed her to visit the highlands in fire season. Relentless winds stung her eyes and wrapped her dress around her legs, threatening to trip her. She was entirely too old for this sort of foolishness.

The thin bleat of goats rode the hot, dry wind. Ida looked up the slope to the bright sky and the distant snow-capped peak--the land’s shape hid the pasture from view. Surrounding brush choked the narrow track. She stepped over a tussock of coarse grass, favoring her weak knee.

Fifteen feet ahead, two goats crested the top of a rise and barreled straight toward her. Ida shouted and waved her hands, and the animals veered past, continuing down the hill at a gallop. She turned back in time to see another goat dash away

------
I don't post often, so have at it. All comments welcome.
If you're willing to read more, these lines start a 1K section on which I'd appreciate feedback.

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited September 04, 2009).]


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Andrew_McGown
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The Good:

First: I found myself liking Ida.
Second: I like the setting and the idea that it is dodgy being in the highlands in fire season and that she should have known better.
Third, I like that she is frail.
Fourth, I like the goats (they are not mutant uber-goats, but regular run-of-the-hill goats.

The Neutral:

It seems informational rather than illustrative right now.We are not seeing much of her thoughts. Not bad, but not necessarily good either, will have to read more to know. For instance: Fifteen feet ahead, two goats crested the top of a rise and barreled straight toward her. Ida shouted and waved her hands, and the animals veered past, continuing down the hill at a gallop. Fiteen feet seems very close (and precise), was she surprised? Frightened they would hurt her? Did she shout 'shoo, shoo," or "Hi-ya!" did she wave her hands or her arms? It may be more engaging with some dialogue (Same with She was entirely too old for this sort of foolishness. versus "I am entirely too old for this sort of foolishness."

The Bad:

There are what appears to be a couple of tired phrases in this section such as:

relentless winds
rode the wind
distant snow-capped peak
barreled straight toward her


The general feeling:

I like the old woman, the setting and the hot wind in the fire-season threat. Would have enjoyed it more if we heard her speak or think. And I think the over-used phrases detracted from it.

Hope that helps and I am happy to read, if you want me too.
I have assignments due this week though, so it would be next week before I could get back to you.

[This message has been edited by Andrew_McGown (edited September 04, 2009).]


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Meredith
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I'll give it a read.
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WBSchmidt
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I have a good feel of the scene in this small segment. Having lived in a desert I am reminded the "hot, dry wind" and how it felt. A fond memory it is not.

I don't find that I am hooked by this segment. That's not to say I wouldn't read on though. You seem to be hinting that Ida has put herself into some situation in the first paragraph. I have a curiosity about that. However, since I do not know why she is there I hope that I learn this very soon. I have a sense that the goats are running away from something and I'm curious to find out what that may be. On the other hand, if the goats dashing away turns out to be nothing I may be disappointed as a reader.

Overall I like your writing style. I felt comfortable with the way the you wrote the scene in this segment.

I hope this was in some way helpful. I'd be willing to read the 1,000 word portion you mentioned if you would like.

--William


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jezzahardin
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First and foremost, I like the voice. I feel a confidence in the author that the unofficial (though written ) agreement will be kept between storyteller and listener. In short, I, the reader, believe you. Probably because you tell the truth about goats, and weather, and that dresses trip you up. And because you have a consistent voice throughout.

A wavering of my author-faith occurred initially, though. The very first sentence...

quote:
Ida wondered what possessed her...

...makes me think, or worry, that the author doesn't know what possessed her either. This smacks of contrivance. Now, I would abandon this doubt if motivations are explained down the line or we get information that tells us that Ida is impulsive, or forgetful, or wanders off, or anything that would allow her to end up in a place of foolishness so arbitrarily.

quote:
Relentless winds stung her eyes and wrapped her dress around her legs, threatening to trip her

The subject of this sentence is Relentless winds. The modifying phrase at the end is not referring to the subject. This is not necessarily wrong, I don't think, but it could be worded more clearly or phrased differently. The action is good though.

quote:
Surrounding brush choked the narrow track.

Is track the best choice of word here? It makes me think of rail tracks, personally. I would consider a word more suited to a rural setting, like path. Or more words to explain what the track looks like. But track is not very picturesque as a word in this setting.

quote:
She stepped over a tussock of coarse grass, favoring her weak knee.

This is (debateably) telling, not showing. Have her step over the grass, and grimace, or swear, or exclaim something.
"Stupid knee, she thought. It hadn't been the same since the accident with the pull-tractor."

Also, I agree with Andrew_McGown that fifteen feet is very close for someone to respond quickly to charging animals.

Finally...

quote:
Ida shouted and waved her hands,

This is telling more than showing. I suggest using this opportunity to let me hear how she speaks, or what type of person she is to animals. (Kind shouting? "'Go on you old billy goats!' she shouted with a smile." Or would she curse them in the words of her culture? Or would it be wordless, with a grimace? Or is it raspy from her smoking, or maybe from her working among the kilns all day?)

Hope this helps.

Best,
Jez


[This message has been edited by jezzahardin (edited September 05, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by jezzahardin (edited September 05, 2009).]


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jezzahardin
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Forgot to add. I would read on.
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SavantIdiot
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Dragons! The goats are running for their lives! And even at a fast clip, there isn't much funnier than running goats. I was hooked by the title alone; sorry. I have dragons on the brain these days. Something about the 'threatening to trip her' bothered me. I think maybe while we know what is happening WHAT is threatening to trip her isn't clear. The wind, the dress? (Her trick knee...)

Oh, I got the book in the mail the other day, OSC's Characters and Viewpoint - the man can write anything.


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SavantIdiot
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Oh, Mrs. Brown, I would like to read your thousand words. Not just yet, though; if you dohn't mind. I have a streaming head cold.
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MrsBrown
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Thanks for your comments and offers to read! I'm letting it stew for a bit, but do plan to get back to it later.
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Corky
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quote:
And even at a fast clip, there isn't much funnier than running goats.

Have you ever seen fainting goats?


As for the 13 lines, I'm with jezzahardin on that first line. If Ida is wondering, then I'm not hooked. I'm much rather you had her think something, anything, about what did possess her to visit the highlands in fire season.


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SavantIdiot
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We have had all kinds, including one fainter. I had to find another home for him because my husband and children found it hilarious to make him faint at parties. (Okay, I laughed every time. But to faint, they have to be scared.)

But they'd run up to me every morning when I brought out the feed and that always made me laugh, too. They run like a table would if it had movement and could.

I actually don't see a problem with the first sentence. So she was ambivalent about being where she is or there when she is. We'll find out the reason shortly, I am sure. It may explain something interesting. Like, what is fire season in Scotland? If this is Scotland.


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Lou
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Hello MrsBrown,
Anything with "Dragon" in the title get's my attention. I like what I have read so far, and I would be glad to read more.
I like the character Ida so far. The fact that she is not young and sprite as well as being frail makes her more endearing and seems far less tiring than a typical main character. (Also, she sounds more my age. Does that make me biased?)
The voice of your narrative sounds uncluttered and shows your natural style, keep it up.
If you don't mind, I have a couple of suggestions that might help.
For your first line:
Ida wondered what possessed her to visit the highlands in fire season. Relentless winds stung her eyes and wrapped her dress around her legs, threatening to trip her. She was entirely too old for this sort of foolishness. (1)Perhaps, if you moved the first sentence to the second position and maybe swap nouns it might flow a little smoother. See what you think. (2)Please do identify just what (the wind or the dress) is almost tripping her. (3) You might consider identifying who's opinion the last sentence is stated in.

In the next paragraphs you establish that Ida is following the goat(?) track and that the brush is choking the track. In the last pargraph you state that the goats "veered past" - this seems ripe for extrapolation. Did the goats have to squeeze by on the track (on which side) or did they swing way wide to clear the close-in brush?
The thin bleat of goats rode the hot, dry wind. Ida looked up the slope to the bright sky and the distant snow-capped peak--the land’s shape hid the pasture from view. Surrounding brush choked the narrow track. She stepped over a tussock of coarse grass, favoring her weak knee. Also, instead of the (--) you might consider a ( ;).

And as for the last paragraph I have to agree that 15 feet is quite close, unless the grade is very steep and then it quickly drops or levels off to hide the view. And for the charging goats arm flailing sounds in order and a bit of dialogue might help.
Fifteen feet ahead, two goats crested the top of a rise and barreled straight toward her. Ida shouted and waved her hands, and the animals veered past, continuing down the hill at a gallop. She turned back in time to see another goat dash away

Well, I hope I was helpful, it was all meant that way. If I could be of help with the other 1K, let me know.
Lou

[This message has been edited by Lou (edited September 15, 2009).]


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