The rewritten version of my story, Onan's Apprentice, has now been posted. If anyone cares to read it for me and give me some input, I would be greatly obliged. I am more interested in feedback on my writing style than I am about the plot, as this isn't my favourite story to begin with.
I apologize to those who read the first version as well--this one is mostly the same until the ending, which is completely different. (I rewrote it with the idea that LeMort so kindly gave me).
I also apologize that it's 9 pages long. If you still want to read it, you can find the story right here. (http://www.sffworld.com/authors/b/bourque_jeanne/fiction/onansapprentice1.html)
Thank you very much. :)
August 16th, 2002, 03:41 PM
First of all, I hope your kind words in another thread do not tarnish the credibility of my comments but as long as you know I am being honest... Who cares?
That was a great story and other than a few little inconsequential spell checker blips I can only really tell you what I liked about it.
You have a wonderful warm, almost tender writing technique and this made your prose a joy to read. Your depiction of family life and in fact the interaction between all the characters was really good. I could smell the porridge and hear the sounds in my head when Cass woke up.
One thing that is a must for me as a reader, is excellent dialogue. Nothing makes me put a book down like bad dialogue. Yours was really believable and flowed very naturally.
Truly well done with the twist... I thought I had sussed out what was going to happen in the end pretty early on and was worried about how I was going to mention that in my response here. YOU COMPLETELY DUPED ME!!! First class. I felt a little foolish actually.
Also, your characterization was good and I couldn't believe what you had Onan do !!! I was just getting to like him.
The only character that could have done with some more personality to really curve-ball that twist, is Willard. In MHO.
I didn't read your earlier version of this so can't comment on, which is better, but this one is great.
Just to illustrate what I mean about a tender style, even the village had a wonderfully warm name that I just love - 'Crycketmoore'
Well done... Oh and I am surprised that you said 'this isn't my favourite story to begin with.'
It really is good and I would read more... I think it would make a great book, this wandering female mage that travels everywhere with this crow in a cage... Especially as we know the background.
August 16th, 2002, 04:19 PM
Thanks for your kind remarks, Juzzza. You just gave my self-confidence a boost. :)
I agree with you that the character of Willard could use a little work. This is probably because in the first version of the story, his role was not as great (i.e. he didn't have anything to do with Onan's behaviour, he just helped to do away with him), and therefore I didn't spend too much time thinking about him. The twist on him I just added in this version. But perhaps now I'll try to spice him up a bit.
Thanks again for taking the time to read my story. I'm glad you liked it.
August 16th, 2002, 04:28 PM
I am going crit this listing the things I like and don't like so much. I will throw a few ideas at you too, which you can take with a pinch of salt , it's your story after all.
I like the way you have drawn Cassies "normal" village life and set her difference against it.
She is a strongly drawn character and I like her.
The twist at the end is good and well done
This bit I espeically liked. Save for the bit in double brackets it seemed to restate what you had already said perviously and I think can be lost.
The place looked unkept. The bed sheets were sweat-stained, the table strewn with dirty bowls and old books, and the shelf in the corner overflowing with jars of diverse and mysterious contents. The odour of burning herbs stung Cassie's nostrils. As she made herself comfortable in one of the chairs he placed his hand on her head. "My, but look at you," he said softly. "Only fifteen, and yet such a beauty. You have grown so since first I saw you, Cassandra." His fingers caressed her hair and he sighed. Cassie stirred uncomfortably.
((Such comments from him were commonplace the last few weeks and she didn't quite know what to make of them.))
This bit was great, it caught the wizard's anger well
He stood, legs trembling, and stumbled over to his books on the table, still clutching the feathers. He began leafing fervently through the oldest and largest of the spell books he possessed. "There are a few spells I did not teach her. If she thinks she's going to tell about this, she's wrong. Wrong!" A string of spittle flung itself into the nest of his beard. "I will not be humiliated! I will not!" And he pounded his fist on the table like he was beating a great drum.
The section showing the wizard planning on page four was ideal.
But I thought Cassie's confusion at her mother not believing her could be made a bit stronger and more painful.
Also Willard's explanation of what he had done was a bit wordy. They had witnessed a death, one they both were responsible for and I think he was feeling a lot of remorse. So I felt his words should be halting like " I watched you, both of you... I learned when he was away I stole what I needed to keep you.... etc....."
Finally Cassie at the end, maybe increase the bleakness of what had happened to her.
All in all though, I enjoyed the story and found myself wondering what happened next....
August 16th, 2002, 09:06 PM
Thank you for your input Holbrook. You made some good points and I will be sure to think about them. :)
August 17th, 2002, 03:04 AM
Glad to know my ramblings might be helpful, I try to be honest in a crit, but would hate anyone to take offense. I have had some in my time that have blistered my soul and I wouldn't do that to anyone....
Keep writing Miriamele...
August 17th, 2002, 12:29 PM
Holbrook, blister someone's soul? Never! He is genetically incapable of uttering a single hurtful word. :)
Don't worry Holbrook, your comments were completely reasonable, kindly put, and also quite helpful. You do a great job of critiquing, and I hope you'll be so kind as to critique again for me in the future.
I will keep writing, thanks, and I hope you do the same! :)
August 17th, 2002, 12:38 PM
I wrote a review for this yesterday, but it looks like I forgot to post it.:( Serves me right for surfing at work I suppose.
Anyways, I was quite impressed. As I read my two major complaints were that 1) the character change in the old wizard from the first day to the second seemed a little abrupt, and 2) Willard agrees to the attack all too quickly. However I think the plot twist in the end resolved these concerns quite well - so cheers to that.
I have a pet peeve about stories with dream sequences. I felt that the story could have been stronger if you actually omitted the frist dream sequence. What's important here is the effect the dream is having on Cassie. If you focus on this and leave the actual dream content to the imagination of the reader it can actually seem even more distrubing - it's one of those less is more kind of things.
Sexual assault is a very deep subject to tackle and I thought you did this exceptionally well. Very often survivors experience a great deal of the same rejection that Cassie went through after the event itself. You did a good job at creating a sense of isolation which connected me as a reader to Cassie as a character.
You may want to consider adding a little more explanation of the magical system earlier on. For example I read about Cassie being taught "burn healing" spells, or in her second dream she tries a "wind spell." What is involved in these? I think it was only towards the end where you give a hint of how the magic is invoked when Cassie turns Willard into an eagle. The reason I bring this up is because a great deal of readers are drawn to the fanstasy genre specifically because of the magic. What is it about this mysterious language that speaking it has such power?
Overall, good job. Keep writing.
August 17th, 2002, 01:35 PM
Thanks for taking the time to review my story, Choppy--I will think about your points, especially the bit about explaining the magic a bit. I think when I wrote this story I was being influenced by the Earthsea books (which I had just read), in which "magic" occurs when the Language of the Making is used, which is the true language--the true names of all things--which existed at the creation of the world. I think that's what was on my mind at the time, but I suppose I could have explained this a bit better to the reader.