Friday, June 12, 2009


Blogger rachel.capps said...

This is something different to my first offering ... only two sentences, albeit long. BTW, the explanations you have posted already are really useful - looking forward to seeing a few more!

The young woman stood alone at the window casement; her deep green cloak wrapped over her shoulders and pulled tight, the hood hiding her long and wavy, extraordinary, golden red hair.

Okay, I like how you very quickly show where we are and hint that it's historical (casement, cloak). The semicolon isn't correct (unless "wrapped" is used as a verb and not a past participle/modifier, and I think it's a modifier). Go with a comma (or a dash, but a dash might be too modern). The editor and/or copy editor will change that because that's not what semicolons are for, so you might as well change it yourself.
Too many adjectives for hair. What's important? I'd get rid of "extraordinary" because it sounds like bragging or gushing, and it's too big a contrast to the restrained formality of the voice so far. You are trying to create a sense of mystery (withholding her name), and staying out of her POV and in an omniscient, so you don't want to gush. And really, long wavy golden red hair is extraordinary-- you don't need to advertise it. :)

Also I would probably eliminate the comma before "golden red hair." That's a unit, so you don't need a comma before it. But that's not a big deal.

Her breath kept fogging up the window, and she had to keep wiping it clear with her fingertips so she could see the black and gold gilded state carriage, drawn by six fine bay mares bearing thick brown manes, as it rumbled through the Gate House and into the courtyard.

Notice you have kept/keep-- that's a bit clunky. How about "she had to wipe it clear".

The sentence is too long, probably. I'm not sure where to break it, but notice that you have "as" there, which makes it seem like the carriage is only drawn by bay mares with brown manes at the moment it rumbles through the gate. First off, the main action of the sentence probably shouldn't be relegated to a subordinate clause. And also, it's just too much going on for one sentence. Let's see-- well, I'm not sure how to get that action into the main clause.

Her breath kept fogging up the window, so she wiped it clear with her fingertips. Then she could see the black and gold gilded state carriage, drawn by six fine bay mares bearing thick brown manes, rumbling through the Gate House and into the courtyard.
or (this is formalish syntax, so it can probably handle a bit of inversion):
Her breath kept fogging up the window, so she wiped it clear with her fingertips. Then she could see, rumbling through the Gate House and into the courtyard, the black and gold gilded state carriage, drawn by six fine bay mares bearing thick brown manes.

"Bearing" is a bit clumsy-- they don't CARRY their manes, do they? With thick brown manes, maybe?

I think the next line or sentence should be something important, something that gives us more info about her or why the carriage is important or something. The description is good and vivid-- but it's time for something to happen now. :)


Weronika Janczuk said...

Oh, great comments--I agreed with all of them. :)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

My first thought about the opening, with the cloak and the hair is that it seems so ... sanitary. There's nothing for me to grab onto, emotionally. The bit about the breath on the window breaks the ice a bit (no pun intended), but we're back to the very formal voice with the beefy descriptions of the horses and carriage.

I like omniscient; that's not the issue. I just want something to connect with emotionally, some sign of what I should be feeling. Anticipation? Fear? Excitement?

This is a reader preference thing, entirely. But I want the adjectives to set the mood more than I want the cold reporting of hair color and horses.

Jordan said...

Maybe this *is* right for the voice, but it's something that jumped out at me (after all the adjectives in the first sentence, maybe?):

"Gilded" implies "gold." So maybe reduce the description to "gilded black state carriage"?

Of course, you do have to balance the carriage and the horses.

Oh, just a note, since I had to go looking this up: by definition, bays have black manes.

Edittorrent said...

Jordan, yeah, I was wondering about the manes, but I don't know much about horses. So they have black manes, and that's required to be a bay?


Jordan said...

I don't know much about horses, either, so Wikipedia is my friend. Here's what they say about bays:

Bay is a hair coat color of horses, characterized by a reddish brown body color with a black mane, tail, ear edges, and lower legs. . . . The black areas of a bay horse's hair coat are called "black points," and without them, a horse cannot be a bay.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Alicia, for all your comments :) I really appreciate the advice (and the comments you've given to everyone else) and your time. I realise the hair description was overbaked, so your reasoning on what should go and why is enlightening. And your last comment 'it's time for something to happen now' is motivating. Thanks again!

And Susan and Jordan - thank you too!! Susan - I hear you about the need to connect (I'm on to it). Jordan - *gulp* better to hear my need for better research from a writer than my mother! it's easier to swallow my inadequacies!

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the party, but as a horse person, if I'd come across "brown manes" on bay horses in a book, I'd have laughed and thrown the book against the wall. The black mane and tail contrasting with a brown coat is what makes a horse a bay.