This is topic THE BARD'S GIFT in forum Fragments and Feedback for Books at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
This one's just barely started:

Astrid leaned into the freezing wind, staggering down the beach hunting for driftwood to feed their meager fire or anything edible. The gale felt like needles of ice penetrating her threadbare woolen dress and even the thick white bear pelt she wore as a cloak. What she longed to do was lay down and curl up around her empty belly. In sleep, she might forget how hungry she was, but that wouldn't feed the fire to keep them warm through the night or put any food on her father's table.

She'd been hungry before. It wasn't even unusual at this time of year, but this had been the hardest and longest winter in her memory. The dried cod was all gone and there was still too much ice out in the fjord for the ships to go out to fish for more.

Posted by enigmaticuser (Member # 9398) on :
It gives a firm setting, I even imagine white and gray though you never used those words. The dress, the fire, and the empty belly tell me an immediate conflict, but some character strength as well. I'd read more.

Two minor things, Astrid sounds like Astride or maybe Asteroid, that's not a problem, I just read the name twice. And "had been the hardest winter..." sounds kind of removed.
Posted by RoxyL (Member # 9096) on :
Well done. I love the 'curl up around her empty belly'. One of the most evocative images I've read recently. I like how simply words such as 'fjord' and 'cod' put me firmly in a location I can visualize.

So, if you're looking for them, a few nits (very small, microscopic ones)...

'or anything edible' makes that sentence awkward for me to read. Maybe since you'd just been 'feeding the meager fire' but it made me pause and have to switch from fire to people being fed.

The use of their and them before we're intoduced to the father's table. How about 'the' instead and keep the focus on her? We'll figure out there are other's as soon as father's table is mentioned.

The use of 'feed the (meager) fire' twice w/i the first paragraph.

Like I said, itty bitty nits. This is very good.
Posted by D2 (Member # 8930) on :
Pretty solid! I feel like all I have to offer is repeat nitpicks -- the "or anything edible" feels awkward because it's dangling, and I'm not sure I really care about "but this had been the hardest and longest winter in her memory." In fact, I'd say that whole sentence doesn't really jive for me -- I already get that it's harsh times from this rest of this. Unless it's pretty important to the plot that winters are getting harder, I'd feel better if she were just focused on food and warmth and not sort-of-idle recollection.

That said, I too would want to read more!
Posted by Josephine Kait (Member # 8157) on :
Hi Meredith, I’m so glad that you are working on the Bard’s Gift again, it’s a great story. That said, this is also a very strong opening.

I find that I both agree and disagree about the “or anything edible”, it doesn’t quite fit the sentence right here, but I like how the emergency she is fighting is twofold, food and warmth. And I like that we learn that so quickly. I might recommend something like “Astrid leaned into the freezing wind, staggering down the beach hunting for driftwood to feed their meager fire and keeping one eye out for anything edible.” Or something like that.

I would love to read your latest version whenever you have it ready for critiques. Please keep me on your list of readers. [Wink]
Posted by GreatNovus (Member # 9671) on :
Meredith is just such a good writer. One thing that i'd nitpic would be the line "She'd been hungry before." It doesn't really match up with the rest of the feel of the story. Everyone has been hungry, so what? I'd probably switch or add a word to make it have more of an impact. I understand you want to show that her current situaution is worse than others that she has been in even though she hasn't always had it easy, but i don't think that sentence does it well.

Hope that made sense.

As for the edible line everyone is talking about, maybe a restructuring of that sentence would help. Maybe mention she was searching for food both for the fire and for herself? If you decide to not change it it is still pretty solid.
Posted by micmcd (Member # 7977) on :
The only part that made me trip was when you kept referring to "their" fire, but we haven't heard of anyone else. Presumably she's getting something for her family, but in that first sentence we don't know that yet. "The" fire might work better, because then you don't claim it's just "her" fire.

You call it "the" fire later, but then you mention how it would keep "them" warm. If it's her and her child, I think it would help to mention it where you use "them," and stick to "the" prior to that.

Other than that one nit, I liked it a lot. Good start.

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