Friday Feedback – Leprechaun

I decided to do one last Friday Feedback before I take a break to work on my WIP.

Today’s Friday Feedback comes from Kristyn. It’s from a piece called Leprechaun for readers aged 14 to 18, and this excerpt is from Chapter 2.

Kristyn’s questions is, “I want to know if this is interesting and if I am repeating the same mistakes over and over.”

KRISTYN’S PIECE

“So if I am a leprechaun, what does this mean? Do I sit by a rainbow and guard gold, or what?” I asked Mom.

She laughed at me as if I said something funny, I don’t see any humor in this situation at all.

“What is so funny? I just found out my family has lied to me since birth and that I am some mythological creature, why are you laughing about me asking about the rainbow and a pot of gold. Is that not what you always hear about when dealing with leprechauns, rainbows and gold? I mean we studied leprechauns in school every March, they are little green, oh crap am I going to turn green too?” That is right I officially hit stage freak out.

MY FEEDBACK

Kristyn, I love the humour in this piece and your original idea for a story.

It seems to me also that you have good instincts as a writer as you have expressed concern that there may be some repetition with this piece.  I tend to agree with you. And I think you can tighten it up and avoid repetition just by doing something like this:

“So if I am a leprechaun, what does this mean? Do I sit by a rainbow and guard gold, or what?” I asked Mom.

She laughed. (Don’t think you need to say any more than this, Kristyn)

“What’s so funny?” (This shows that your main character doesn’t understand the humour in the situation). I just found out my family has lied to me since birth and that I am some green mythological creature. Oh crap does that mean I’m going to turn green too?”  I officially hit stage freak out.

I like the voice of your character, Kristyn, My only other concern was whether this book might actually be more mid-grade than YA. The character should usually be a bit older than the target readers. So if your character is 14 or 15, then this would generally be for an 11 to 13 or 14 year old readership.

I hope you find these comments helpful, Kristyn. Kristyn (And Zac who provided last week’s Friday Feedback( are both looking for writing buddies. You can find their details in the comments section of this post.

This is definitely the last Friday Feedback  for a couple of months.

I’m taking a break so that I can finish my work in progress.

But please feel free to keep sending your pieces for feedback and I will slot them into the queue.  You can email your 150 word pieces to me. Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Please include the word length, title, genre and target readership for your story. Also include where the piece comes in your story and any specific questions you have about writing it.

Happy writing:)

Dee

Friday Feedback

Today’s Friday Feedback is provided by Zac. It’s from the end of chapter three of his 24,000 word children’s fiction for 7 to 9 year olds, called The Kangaroo and The Night Rainbow. 

“Then, I had an idea, I took the pendant and snapped it in half, my Lady was surprised by my action. I had no time to explain to her and told her to keep the other half hidden.  I had to act fast because the bandits were edging closer.  I held up my half of the pendant and shouted. “Here’s the weapon!”           

“Digg, the leader growled at me and said, “Throw it over here.” But I refused and I told him, “Before I hand it over, you must let her go.” Digg shouted back, “Why should we, two prisoners are better than one” growling louder at me.  I told Digg that Lady’s badly injured and what good is a dead prisoner, and beside I have the weapon here.” 

“Digg thought for a moment then he agreed to let her go.  He called for his ‘boys” to let her go and motioned for one of his guard to back off. Then he said, “don’t worry boys we can track her anywhere”.

MY FEEDBACK

This is an intriguing piece, Zac. and I am interested to find out what’s happening here and why they are prisoners.

I have a few suggestions where you can tighten up the next a bit more. For example, in the first line, I don’t think you need the words, “Then I had an idea.” Seeing as your character is telling their story in first person, we know that they thought to do the action…unless you show someone out suggesting it. Also, seeing as this is written in first person point of view, you wouldn’t know that ‘my Lady’ was surprised unless she told you herself or showed it in some way. You can’t know what’s going on inside someone else’s head unless they show or tell you.

The story becomes more immediate when you show the dialogue and actions. Try to avoid things like “I told her…” Show this happening. It makes it more active for the reader. Dialogue and actions are also a great way to reveal character and increase tension.

When you use dialogue, you need to start each new speaker on a new line…otherwise it can become confusing. Also, if it’s clear that the person doing the action is speak, then you don’t need to say, “he said” etc. Here’s what I mean:

Digg, the leader growled at me “Throw it over here.”

I shook my head, “Before I hand it over, you must let her go.”

Digg shouted back, “Why should we, two prisoners are better than one”

“Lady’s badly injured and what good is a dead prisoner?” I held up the half-pendant. “Besides, I have the weapon here.”

Read your work aloud to yourself and this will help you pick up any word repetition. For example, in the last paragraph you have used the words, “let her go”, twice.

Zac’s specific question was… Issue: When writing this part I am not sure how to write  conversation between two characters as told by a third person from within the story, does this makes sense? You see, one of the main character is telling his story and how do I write about his spoken conversation for the readers?

Zac, you just need to write the conversation as it’s happening. The reader will know that it is being seen through the eyes of your main character so you don’t have to say things like “I saw, I said”.  Show your characters doing things while they are speaking and this will help set the scene for the reader and help them understand who is saying what.

I hope you have found this helpful.

Friday Feedback is taking a break for a couple of months so that I can finish my work in progress.

But please feel free to keep sending your pieces for feedback and I will slot them into the queue.  You can email your 150 word pieces to me. Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Please include the word length, title, genre and target readership for your story. Also include where the piece comes in your story and any specific questions you have about writing it.

Happy writing:)

Dee

FRIDAY FEEDBACK

Thanks to Joanna Holland for providing today’s piece for Friday Feedback from her young adult suspense novel,  ‘Beware of the Valentine.’

The finished novel will be about 70,000 words and this extract comes towards the beginning of the book.

The main female character has fallen down some stairs and the main male character is helping her get to the hospital.

Joanna has some concerns about the flow of this piece and welcomes suggestions.

Beware of the Valentine Extract

Great, can’t one day go by which I am not a major school headline. Jason quietly chuckled to himself.

“ Wonder what they would do if I kissed you?” he asked in a low tone.

“ Do so and I won’t be the only one needing medical attention.” I retorted.

He snorted.“ Yeah right. With the condition you’re in. You couldn’t hurt a fly.”

I sniffed. “Well, you certainly resemble one.”

“ Wrong answer,” he said quietly.  Bending his head he gave me a quick peck on the cheek. My eyes slammed open, ignoring the fresh wave of nausea. I stared at him incredulously as the whispers around us sudden took on a whole new pitch. “ Ah, that’s better. Looks like it be around the whole school before the hour’s up,” He said smugly.

“ I… Hate…You.”

My feedback 

Joanna, 

You have created sexual tension between these two characters and the reader will want to know where it leads. In a short space you give us some idea of who these people are, but some of their dialogue and actions sounded quite adult.

Do you have a teen reader you can run your work by? If there isn’t one living in your house, you can sometimes find one at the local high school or through someone in a writing group.

If you’re writing for a teen readership, it’s really important to get the ‘teen voice’ right. This includes not just the words and phrases your teen characters use, but also their actions.

Great, can’t one day go by which I am not a major school headline? Jason quietly chuckled to himself. 

I’d reword this to clarify meaning and also make it more of a teen voice. eg Can’t let a day go by where I’m not major school news. Jason grinned to himself. 

“ Wonder what they would do if I kissed you?” he asked in a low tone.

To me, this line sounded more like something from an adult romance. I just can’t imagine a teen saying it. He’s more likely to just go ahead and kiss her if he’s the confident type. And if he wants to kiss her, isn’t he more likely to kiss her on the lips…unless they were injured in the fall.

“Do so” didn’t sound quite teen to me either. Perhaps she’d be more likely to say, “You do that and I…”

I liked the image of her eyes slamming open. Be wary of using too many adverbs (words ending in ‘ly’) they tend to weaken the writing. You don’t even really need to have her staring at him. You could just say something like, “My eyes slammed open and I fought against a fresh wave of nausea. Around us, the whispers took on a whole new pitch.

You could also show more rather than telling. For example, instead of ‘he said smugly’, show by his actions that he is smug. What do people do when they are smug? How do they stand? How does their face look? What is their body language like? If you show this instead of writing, ‘he said smugly’, the reader will get a stronger sense of your character.

Also, another thing that would smooth the flow of this piece would be to expand the actions and setting in between the lines of dialogue. Where are your characters when this is taking place? What are they doing? Is your girl character lying down? Is he crouched next to her or standing over her? How does she feel about his close proximity? How does he feel about seeing her lying there?

Thanks for sharing this piece, Joanna. You have created an interesting situation between these two characters and I think readers will want to know what happens next.

I hope you find my suggestions helpful.

Any other feedback or tips for Joanna are welcome. Feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)

Dee

If you’d like to submit your 150 words for the Friday Feedback segment, click on this link to find out how.

FRIDAY FEEDBACK – CITY OF MONSTERS

Today’s piece is provided by DC Green from his fantasy novel for readers 10+ called City of Monsters.

The extract comes from early in Chapter 3 and the manuscript will be around 44,000 words when completed.

A blast of voices slapped me back. Alien smells muscled down my sinus passages. My eyes watered. My face scrunched.

‘Ah, the new student.’ The stumpy Franken teacher waved his tentacles in my direction. ‘Don’t stand there like a dump of troll dung. Ha, ha. Come in, come in.’

The classroom was fifty times larger than any other room I’d seen. I shuffled in, trailing slime and peering with growing dread around the semi-circular amphitheatre of monsters squatting behind various-sized desks. Goblins clustered on either side of the room, with rarer species gathered in the middle.

The Franken teacher flicked through his notes. ‘Let’s see… You plainly aren’t Greta the forest goblin. Ha, ha.’ The teacher wrinkled his noses. ‘Judging by your fishy breath, which could well be smelt on Fire Mountain – ha, ha –  I’d say you must be the swamp creature, Prg… yll Tl… xz… pkl… yp… nrg. Did I pronounce your name correctly?’

‘Close enough,’ I bubbled. ‘You can call me PT if that’s easier.’

‘Infinitely easier. And you can call me Doctor Combo. That’s my name. Ha, ha. Welcome to my Biology class! Take a seat.’

DC wondered if he was introducing too much new information here.

As this isn’t the start of the book, I don’t think it’s an issue. I did think that perhaps you gave us too many images in the first sentence.

I think it might be stronger if you used fewer physical reactions and expanded on one or two of them. For example, what was your character slapped back against? (This will give the reader some idea of setting.) Why did these voices slap him back? What was it about them or how they affected your character?

In this first piece, I think you could be more specific and give the reader a clearer picture. What are the smells and why are they alien? Give the reader something to compare them to.

DC, as usual you have great humour in your writing and plenty of action. There was just one other part that pulled me up.

‘Close enough,’ I bubbled.

I wasn’t sure about this DC. How can you bubble and talk at the same time. I can’t quite get a picture in my head of what your character is actually doing here.

I hope this helps.

Happy writing:)

Dee


FRIDAY FEEDBACK

Sorry that Friday Feedback is late today. I’ve been having some ‘technical’ issues so if you comment and your comment doesn’t appear for a while, please be patient. (Thanks:)

Today’s excerpt is from Taryn Bashford’s 32,000 word adventure novel for readers aged 9 to 12.

Thanks Taryn for sharing your work here. If you have suggestions for Taryn, please leave them in the ‘comments’ section of this post.

‘Don’t bite your nails,’ says Mum. She peels the potatoes and throws me a prickly stare. I yank the pinkie nail from between my teeth and unload the dishwasher.

Am I an omnivore or an herbivore?

‘Did you hear me Leigh? Or did you get struck with complete deafness?’

Puzzled, I check my hands. My thumb is now in my mouth, under attack from my teeth, whilst the other hand stacks cups.

At least I’m not picking my nose.

‘Yes, Mum.’ Wish she wouldn’t freak out so much.

‘Do I detect sarcasm in your voice young lady?’ Her raised eyebrows set off an alarm in my head. Bad day at the office?

Then I drop the cup.

MY FEEDBACK

Taryn, I love the voice in this piece. I get a real sense of your character and her relationship with her mother. I love the way you show her actions and internal responses.

I50 words is only a small space to try and give a lot of information to the reader, but I thought you could have set the scene and perhaps the tone of the book a bit more.

I didn’t get a sense of what kind of story this is going to be or what it might be about. Sometimes just a line can provide these clues. You need to get across to the reader that something is about to change for this character.

For example, if this were a story where the daughter runs away, you could foreshadow this for the reader with something simple like. “I open the dishwasher door, clatter plates onto the bench, wish I was anywhere else but here.”

The line “Then I drop the cup” indicates that something important might be about to happen, but you could have a more dramatic build up and rising tension.

Here’s what I mean: This might not work for your characters and it’s just an example of how to up the tension. What if the mother slapped the daughter’s hand away from her face to stop her biting her nails? That would give us more of a sense of the mother’s annoyance through her actions and would make the reader more sympathetic to the daughter. It would lead to a whole new series of events.

Be careful of using lines like ‘throws me a prickly stare’. This can create strange impressions in a reader’s mind and take them out of a story because a stare isn’t something you can actually throw.

You could strengthen your opening line by making Mum show her anger through the action of peeling the potato. For example: “Don’t bite your nails.” Mum scraped viciously with peeler until there was hardly anything left of the potato.

I liked the action of Leigh yanking the pinkie nail from between her teeth, but then I wanted to know what she did with the nail while she was unloading the dishwasher or did she drop the nail onto the ground or toss it in the bin first? When you put two separate pieces of action like this together in the one sentence, it can create conflicting images for the reader.

I wasn’t sure about the line, am I an omnivore or an herbivore? Is this how a kid this age would think and is this important to the story? And I wasn’t quite sure why Leigh was puzzled.

You’ve really done a good job with the character’s voice. I just think you could increase the tension and give the reader a few more clues to hook them into the story and want to follow Leigh’s journey.

I hope you find this helpful.

Happy writing:)

Dee

SEND YOUR PIECE TO FRIDAY FEEDBACK

If you wish to submit a piece for Friday Feedback, please email 150 words of your story to Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Please also provide the word count (or estimated word count) for the completed work, genre, age of target readership and information about where this 150 words appears in your novel.

You’re also welcome to ask specific questions if there’s something you’re having trouble with.

FRIDAY FEEDBACK – A Question About Dialect

Ben Marshall has provided this week’s Friday Feedback

The question I have is related to dialect, and what level is comfortable to read. On a scale of plain English at one end, and Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting at the other, does the following sample scan well or pose too many stumbling blocks for people.

The title of the MS is: The Pricking of Thumbs

Final word-count: 100,000.  Genre: YA spec fic

This sample is from about half-way through.

SAMPLE PIECE

Tog started hitching Jumbo and El Grande to the wagons as we hitched

mine to the back of a tractor.  I noticed Sparrow was looking at me

funny.

            “What’s up?”

            “You’re a mad bugger, in’t yer.  Runnin’ off inter the teeth o’ battle.”

            “My life isn’t worth nuffink.  I’m goin’ ter die anyway, Sparrow.

That’s the truth of it.  But I couldn’t have bullets whizzin’ around

‘urtin’ you or the elephants or the freaks if I could stop it, could

I?”

            She give me another funny look. “Yer not goin’ ter die.  Not if I got

anyfink to do wiv it.”

            “So, do you want ter ‘ear my plan then?”

            “Go on.”

            “I got certain chemicals what I can put inter the Patronne’s food

what’ll put ‘im asleep fer a good long while.  That’s when you and me

do a runner.”

            “To where?”

            “Anywhere you fancy.  I ‘eard New Aberdeen’s gettin’ big and they

need workers.  We could earn some scratch, buy some forest and build

ourselves a little ‘ouse.”

MY FEEDBACK

Ben, I didn’t have any trouble understanding the dialect but to be honest I found myself focussing on making sure I got the meaning right and this took me out of the actual story.

I also wonder if the dialect is necessary. Your dialogue without the dialect would be quite strong and If your story is set in a world you are creating then you can give your characters any distinguishing features you want.

One of the problems with dialect is keeping it all consistent and sustaining it for an entire story. For example if your character is a letter dropper would they say ‘you an me’ instead of ‘you and me’. This is the kind of thing you will have to grapple with through the entire manuscript.

This is completely your choice but if it were me I would try and show the character’s personalities and motives etc through the words they choose instead of dialect. You can also strengthen the dialogue with actions and body language.

I hope this helps. If anyone has thoughts or suggestions for Ben, please feel free to leave them in the ‘comments’ section of this post.

Happy writing:)

Dee

If you’d like to submit a 150 word piece for Friday Feedback please email it to  Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Please include the genre of the work, the word count for the entire piece, an indication of where the piece comes in your story and any specific questions you have.

FRIDAY FEEDBACK

My internet has been very uncooperative this week and now I’m way behind with my research and writing.

So unfortunately, there will be no Friday Feedback today.

Next week is school holidays and I’ll be spending it with my family so FRIDAY FEEDBACK will return on 6th July.

There are currently three pieces in the queue and this will take us to the end of July.

If you have a piece you’d like to get feedback on for August, I’d love you to be involved in the FRIDAY FEEDBACK.

Email me 150 words of your piece to Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Please tell me the genre of the piece, word count for the completed work and the age of the target readership. If you have a specific question about or problem with your piece, feel free to include this in your submission.

I look forward to reading your work.

Happy writing:)

Dee