FRIDAY FEEDBACK – THE MAKING OF ALBY

Today’s piece for Friday Feedback is provided by Karen Ann Collins. The 150 words are taken from Chapter 3 of her children’s adventure novel for 9-12 year old readers. Karen’s novel, ‘The Making of Alby’ is set in an English village in 1939.

Chapter 3 – Old Arthur

Alby decided to take the laneway that led from the Old Rectory to St Mary Church. He was aware of the local legend of Arthur the headless gravedigger, who walked aimlessly around the church grounds with a shovel looking for children to bury, and the thought of cutting through the graveyard terrified him. But the lane was the quickest route, and he was eager to get to the manor and the older boys who would be waiting for him.

Half skipping and half running; Alby practised his dribbling by keeping a medium sized flint rock as near to his feet as he could.  Chalky had told him that he needed to work on his technique and that until he could control the ball while running at full speed, he couldn’t hope to win a place in the Eastling Under 11s.  Kip kept close hoping he’d soon be sent to retrieve the strange looking ball. . . 

This is an intriguing, well written piece that gives us a good sense of who Alby is and the setting of the story. My suggestions mainly relate to tightening the text.

Alby decided to take the laneway that led from the Old Rectory to St Mary Church. (With something like this, I would probably just say “Alby took the laneway…” I don’t think you need ‘decided to’ because the reader can see by his actions that this is a choice Alby has made. And also, would you say St Mary or St Mary’s church?

He was aware of the local legend of Arthur the headless gravedigger, who walked aimlessly around the church grounds with a shovel looking for children to bury, and the thought of cutting through the graveyard terrified him. But the lane was the quickest route, and he was eager to get to the manor and the older boys who would be waiting for him.

Just by reordering this paragraph, I think you can tighten it up a bit. Statements like ‘he was aware of …’ aren’t really necessary because we know you are in Alby’s point of view and if he wasn’t aware of the legend, he wouldn’t know to be scared by it.

So I would probably suggest something like this.

Cutting through the graveyard terrified Alby because according to local legend, a headless gravedigger named Arthur wandered the church grounds with his shovel, looking for children to bury. But the lane was the quickest route and Alby was eager to get to the manor where the older boys would be waiting.

Half skipping and half running; Alby practised his dribbling by keeping a medium sized flint rock as near to his feet as he could.  Chalky had told him that he needed to work on his technique and that until he could control the ball while running at full speed, he couldn’t hope to win a place in the Eastling Under 11s.  Kip kept close hoping he’d soon be sent to retrieve the strange looking ball. . . .

This paragraph works well. It gives us important information about Alby, his age and what he wants.

The only thing I would comment on here is that you have changed point of view in this paragraph from Alby’s to Kip’s. I’m assuming from what you have written that Kip is a dog. Unless Alby can read Kip’s mind he can only assume what might be going on in Kip’s head, he can’t know for sure. So it might make things clearer if you said something like. “Kip kept close as if he was hoping he’d soon….”

A couple of other things you might want to think about. If you start character’s names with the same letter, it can get confusing for the reader – eg Alby and Arthur. You can always list all the names of your characters on a separate piece of paper in their letter categories and this will help you identify if perhaps you might need to change a character’s name.

I quite like your title, The Making of Alby, but I’m wondering whether this title would appeal to today’s 9 to 12 year old readers and whether they would be familiar with the term, “The Making of” and what it means.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Karen. I really like the sound of Alby and his adventure.

If you’d like to submit your 150 words for Friday Feedback, please email to Dee*at*Deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Feel free to mention if you have a particular problem or question with the piece you have sent. Can you also please include age of intended readership and approximate word count of intended manuscript and put FRIDAY FEEDBACK in the subject line of your email.

Thanks.

Happy writing:)

Dee

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2 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEEDBACK – THE MAKING OF ALBY

  1. Back for my Friday feedback fix! Thanks for your astute insights, Dee. It helps all us writers learn so much. And great piece, Karen. I’d be hooked by the headless gravedigger.

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