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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Description - a critique



I looked straight down onto a small barn and its yard, snugged between the castle and its wall. The pigs in the sty were mere lumps in their mud. Beyond the wall, the western side of Wodenberg clung to the steeper part of the mountain’s slope in a jumble of thatched roofs. It wasn’t far to the city wall, on this side of the castle. 
I don't think you need that last bit - but note my opinion is based on just this short excerpt. You know best.

On my left, southward, the city spread out. North and ward, to the right, a saddle of rock connected the castle’s promontory to Mount Woden. That saddle was called the Rückenstein, and it was full of barracks for the city garrison. The city wall looped around it, studded with towers, guarding to guard Castle Kaltkern’s back., and oOutside the wall the terrain ran rough and bare. Too thin for trees or farming. Some sheep dotted what grass there was.
Here's where I'd try to throw in some action, something to break up the description - unless this work is intended for an adult audience in which case they will probably have more patience. And since we have a first person narrator, it might be interesting to her his/her thoughts about what is being described. As it is the description sounds like a distant third.

Mount Woden, outside the city and its foulburg, was a wild thing under a deep pine blanket. The forest gave way to fields where the slope gentled out to the north and west, and tThose muddy brown fields were covered now with a layer of dingy white tents and a haze of campfire smoke. The tents seemed to run for miles.


This is a good descriptive passage. I got a picture in my mind of this place; a little rugged, poor, but with a substantial castle, a garrison, and all these white tents on a muddy field (hmm). The only thing I'll reiterate is that I'd like more voice associated with the description, especially since this is first person pov. Is this the first time the narrator has come to Wodenberg? What does he/ she think about the place? Adding more voice could easily turn good into great. 

What do you guys think? 

And thank you L. Blankenship for this submission!

4 comments:

Alicia C. said...

I agree. Knowing the age group would help, but even still this isn't That slow to me. I didn't lose interest. I too would like a bit more voice, simply to pull me in just a bit quicker. Has this person been Traveling? Or are they surveying Their land and just giving a "lay of the land" overview. Which, on re-read, is basically what msH said. :)
This sounds like my kind of story! Historical fiction? Fantasy? Keep it coming!

tfwalsh said...

I quite enjoy your critiques... I need to visit more:)

Huntress said...

'That saddle called the Rückenstein was full of barracks for the city garrison.'

I had to check my notes on this submission *evil grin @inside joke*

“…and a layer of dingy white tents covered the muddy fields. A haze of campfire smoke drifted (or whatever) among them.”
'muddy' and 'brown' are nearly the same thing, btw.

Charity Bradford said...

Take this with a grain of salt because I don't read a lot of high fantasy.

I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the strange names (see above, may not be a problem), but once I got past that I loved a lot of the little details you have.

lumps in their mud
jumble of thatched roofs
wall looped around, studded with towers
dingy white tents and a haze of campfire smoke

Those all created images for me, but my favorite was:
a wild thing under a deep pine blanket

Very nice descriptions!