lizbusby

191224 - lizbusby - Winter Fog

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Another newbie here, and a new fiction writer too. This is a random Christmas ghost story that popped into my head a few weeks ago, inspired by something my daughter said and some Victorian ghost stories. (Apparently, telling ghost stories at Christmas used to be a thing, and not just something Dickens made up.) Mainly looking for a few things:

 
1. Is it interesting to anyone beside me?
2. Did you guess what was going to happen too soon/too late? Is it too obvious or too non-obvious?
3. General thoughts on character and description - do they fit the scope of the story?
4. Anything else you notice
 
*5. Forgot to mention I could also use title ideas, as this title is more of a place holder. *
 
Thanks in advance,
Happy Christmas,
Liz Busby
Edited by lizbusby
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I haven't gotten anything, but we're having some problems with the email list.

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That was great. I like how it wasn't a true out of the blue horror, and still had the elements of a good Christmas story, while at the same time hinting at the ending that you don't really want to happen because of the obviousness. 

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1. Is it interesting to anyone beside me?
--Yep! It's interesting. The creepy atmosphere draws you in quickly and prepares the tone for the story.

2. Did you guess what was going to happen too soon/too late? Is it too obvious or too non-obvious?
--I got that it was connected with the grandmother somehow, but I was not expecting what actually happened. I was expecting the grandmother to say goodbye through the kid, but what happened was much creepier.

3. General thoughts on character and description - do they fit the scope of the story?
--I think the tone was very consistent throughout. The mother and daughter are sort of separated from everything else by fog. The boys are reduced to a single unit of fighting kids, which works because it doesn't distract from the story. Focusing on simple actions and movements by the mother keeps the reader in the story very well.

4. Anything else you notice
--I enjoyed it! Definitely made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when it ended.

5. Title Ideas

--I think this one works. "Winter Bird" would also work for me.

Looking forward to reading more of your stuff!


Notes while reading:
pg 1: "Fog" twice in the first paragraph. I'd use a different word.

pg 1: "picturing her as a little wounded bird as the nickname implied"
--probably not needed. We can gather this from the nickname itself. (Edit: reading through the rest of the story, I don't think "wounded" really needs to be in there. It doesn't add anything)

pg 2: "last of her older brothers left for school full day, leaving her afternoons long and lonely."
--As in they're gone until evening? I thought schools were usually done by early afternoon. Unless they're in college or something?

pg 2: "which would haunt me long after it happened."
--this is a bit obtuse. Nothing's happened yet, so I don't know whether something is going to happen to the kid, or someone else, or the landscape, or what. It's vaguely creepy, but not specific enough to really draw me in.

pg 3: "Placing the container of sugar"
--but she already had her hand in it from the sentence before?

pg 3: “I will miss the sugar,”
--This just struck me as funny, which I don't think is the intent for this passage...

pg 3: "Then the solemnness vanished again"
--so she's possessed by a strange and existential ghost?

pg 4: "I could swear that her eyes were lit with that same gray blue light"
--creepy.

pg 4: "Had we really left that gap in the middle of all the gingerbread men?"
--the ghost likes cookies?

pg 5: "grandmother’s death just before Christmas"
--ah. I feel this is important.

pg 6: "“Where’s my box?” she said."
--I assume this is the daughter. Probably need a tag here.

pg 6: “Because I’ll be gone.”
--okay, that's really creepy.

pg 6: "telltale high pitched glass and I spent"
--word missing

pg 7: "I seemed to notice"
--either she did or she didn't.

pg 7: "but now I wonder..."
--I don't know if this is necessary. The rest of this is told as if we're present in the story, and this pops me out, as if I'm being told the story as it happened in the past.

pg 8: "It had been so sudden, no warning that the next day she would be gone."
--This is hinting heavily that either the grandmother is saying goodbye properly through the kid, or that the kid will die the same way. The latter seems a little too much, even for a ghost story...

pg 9: Whoo! Well that is a creepy ending! My brain sort of goes into overdrive trying to figure out whether she was always a figment of the mother's imagination, or whether she simply stopped existing. There are some practical problems with either way, but it does still make for a captivating story. And ghost stories don't need to be practical--they're supposed to make your spine crawl, and this one did.
 

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1. Is it interesting to anyone beside me?

I found it interesting.

2. Did you guess what was going to happen too soon/too late? Is it too obvious or too non-obvious?

I guessed it too late (completely missed it), so I found it too non-obvious but afterwards it made sense and I could see the clues. (Then again I am horrible with foreshadowing)

3. General thoughts on character and description - do they fit the scope of the story?

I liked the character of Winter Bird and I felt that she fit the story (and the ending), The mother reacted realistically, though I didn't feel invested in her character, more so in Winter Bird. In the beginning you used a little too much description for the colors of objects, but other than that it was good.

4. Anything else you notice

Are the trees covered in Red and Orange leaves or are they leafless skeletons, or both?

Is the other ghost the Grandmother? She recognizes it so I think so, but we are never told.

*5. Forgot to mention I could also use title ideas, as this title is more of a place holder. *

I think the title fits, and if you are looking for a different one Winter Bird, or possibly something along the idea of Shadows in the Fog

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Hello fellow PNW winter survivor!

I loved the fog and tree descriptions. They set the tone well and prepared me to take my time and drink the story in. 

My impression of the ending is that the daughter, who I beleive is never given a name besides her nicknames, is some sort of Spector or projection from the Grandmother who wasn't done living yet. This would explain why she only interacts with the mother and leaves no evidence besides an item that the mother bought for her. 

Another possible explanation is that your VC is schizophrenic. 

The ending in general was telegraphed a bit early, but part of that could be that I knew when I started it that it was a Christmas ghost story so I was expecting the daughter to die or disapear on Christmas. Without the introduction, I think it would have been more suprising. The details were still a suprise though. 

"Somehow reminiscent of a victorian gas lamp" I would skip 'somehow' as it weakens a great sentence.

"I'm tired of being myself" this seems like a very advanced spontaneous sentence for a preschooler. Given the circumstances though, I would buy this as an early hint.

"The old fashioned" I'm used to seeing as "the old fashioned way" not necessarily wrong but attention grabbing.

Thanks for sharing! This isn't a genre I typically read but it was well written and very enjoyable.

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Hey Liz, looking forward to reading your first submission! Warning, apologies if my comments are rather low level. I will answer your questions, but I might tend a bit more toward the functional language side of things than the overarching themes (although I will not ignore those, I trust).

(page 1)

- I like the first sentence. Straight away, I'm asking who is she, and what is it, so that's good, I think.

- I get a strong sense of the season, leaves rotting, sucking life. All good!

- Fog and mist are different things, however, my understanding is they are defined (in the UK at least) by distance of visibility, so I guess conditions could vary between mist and fog. It just jumped out at me in the text.

- "eyes glanced up involuntarily" - why would it be involuntary when it's a kid in the back seat?

- "approaching traffic" - approaching from the back though. To me, approaching traffic is still the traffic coming towards the car, i.e. going in the opposite direction. Some of the traffic in the rear view is not approaching, because it's going slower. Okay, they're stopped at the lights, but some of the traffic behind might be stationary already. I'm just saying the word 'approaching' threw me a little.

- "as the nickname implied" - Sorry, I'm in super nitpick mode for some reason, but how does the nickname 'winter' imply wounded? I didn't get that.

- "the drama of girls" - I struggled with this phrase, because it sounded to me less like something that comes habitually, but something associated with very specific girls. For example, if the word had been 'girlhood', I think I would have got the sense straight away.

(page 2)

-  "After a usual lunch" - This clunked for me as reading. 'a usual' sounds like there are various different lunches, all usual. Whereas 'the usual' would make me feel like it was more like the mundane repetition that I thought was intended. Or 'a typical lunch', maybe.

- "in her tiny kitchen with a worn laminate counter" - I feel like 'the worn laminate counter' would ground me more int this being a familiar and treasured memory. Making it a particular counter makes it more personal, I think, not just any old counter.

(page 3)

- "the old fashioned way was a luxury" - missing word, I think.

- "next to the stack" - I imagine the eggs, flour, sugar all in one big pile, which does not seem likely.

- "granular like the pristine snow" - really not sure about snow being granular. By definition, it's crystalline, but also homogenous, surely?

- "blending them together with the butter" - is this in reference to the scoops of sugar? It rings odd to me for sugar to be attributed 'them' instead of 'it'.

(page 4)

- "sneaking the traditional snitches" - I don't know what a snitch is (without looking it up). I've heard of snitching on someone.

- "After I put them into the oven" - this is still referring to the cookie-cutters, which were the last objects identified.

- "When I turned off the light, the pale foggy light shown in through" - close repetition of 'light' is awkward, maybe one could be swapped out. Also, 'shone' not 'shown'.

- "that same gray blue light as when they stared up at me" - missing word, I think.

- "I girded on my oven mitts" - I've never heard this word used in this context. Seems very archaic, perhaps because I don't know what it adds. Her putting the gloves on is not important, surely, and yet this word draws particular attention to it. Maybe the gloves will prove central to the story. I shall find out!

- "emitted from the oven" - The emitter is the course of the 'thing' not the function of the emission itself, I believe. The scent could 'emanate' from the oven, or the oven could emit the scent.

- "Only hadn’t we had cut out four of them and not just three?" - extra word, I think.

(page 5)

- "bit into the crackers" - they were making cookies, surely?

- "I thought how grateful I was to have this last peaceful presence in our family" - There is an extra layer of separation here between the reader and the emotion, I feel. I believe it unnecessary to say 'I thought'. All of the narrative is in the main character's thoughts, so including that is kind of redundant. Also, I don't understand who the 'last peaceful presence' is. Is it the daughter? In what we is she the last? Is it the memory of the mother/grandmother?

(page 6)

- "though we were still a few days left until" - still had a few days left, surely. Or, were still a few days out from Christmas. Something unnatural about this phrasing, to me.

- "ferrying ornaments between the boxes and the tree" - Confused: why not have the boxes next to the tree?

- "Where’s my box?” she said. She had been too young last time to even remember decorating the tree" - It was almost a page ago that the daughter was mentioned, so I did not immediately identify 'she' as the daughter, although it cannot be anyone else. Also, if she was too young to remember decorating the tree, how does she know she has a box?

- "hooks to ornaments who had mysteriously lost theirs" - which.

- "in a quiet amid the rush" - A quiet what? Seems like a missing word.

- "She had carefully held in her hands" - the tense change seems out of place.

- 'greyish; is a word. Not sure what the hyphen is for.

And I have apologies in a few lines for my nitpickery. I think I actually do it more when the writing is as good as yours, because these little niggles (for me) stand out much more starkly against the nicely flowing and involving prose.

- "there was a telltale high pitched glass..." - seems to be a word missing here.

- "picking red and green shards of metallic glass out of the carpet" - That's a recipe for a sticking plaster, surely that's a job for the DustBuster?

- "when it was too late" - Okay, I see that this is a pretty big clue that something (bad) is about to happen, but I don't buy that the mom would forget that her daughter said she would not be there next Christmas. That is nightmare scenario for a parent; terrifying. And she just forgets? This is the first bit of the story that I've found rather unconvincing.

(page 7)

- I don't think 'snow globe' is one word.

- "we bundled the kids into the car" - Who is we? The husband? And yet he's never mentioned specifically. 

(page 9)

- "I realized that I had never checked her room" - 'not checked', IMO. Clearly, the mom has checked her room in the past, just not on this occasion before bolting out of the door.

Overall

Well, it's quite a gut punch at the end, and yet the story has led us to that point so gently, that it is not so much a painful wrench, but a melancholic 'twang'. I prefer that to some kind of grandiose heartbreak, which we be a bit heavy for such a short piece. I found that the story read really smoothly in general, and evoked convincing images of the season, and the setting very effectively.

1. Is it interesting to anyone beside me? - Yes, it's interesting to me. I didn't get any strong sense of why, but that's okay. As a mood piece, I thought it was very good.
2. Did you guess what was going to happen too soon/too late? Is it too obvious or too non-obvious? - I thought it was pretty clear what was going to happen. When the kid said she would not be there, I believe her. So, whatever page that was on.
3. General thoughts on character and description - do they fit the scope of the story? - As noted above, description very good. Character was not strongly evident, but I think that's okay in a story this short. Mom feels fairly generic to be honest, the boys are totally typical, behave as expected, and therefore do not stand out. The little girl has a fay quality, which came through well, but I'm not sure that constitutes character. I'm not sure that the story is lacking because of this feeling though.
4. Anything else you notice - Umm, just in my comments. There was really only one thing that I didn't believe, and that was the mom forgetting the girl saying she would not be there next Christmas. As a father (my daughter is 24, but darn it, still my little girl!!), I found this very hard to accept.
*5. Forgot to mention I could also use title ideas, as this title is more of a place holder. * - Yeah, Winter Fog is rather bland. Even 'Winter Bird' would be better, although very on the nose. I tend to enjoy more obscure titles, perhaps more portentous. Some quick-fire ideas: (1) Last Christmas (I'd guess there are other stories out there with this title); (2) Into the Fog (meh, not sure I like that myself); (3) Her Name (aiming to play with something that I began to feel was absent from the story when 'she' / 'her' pronouns popped up without prior reference to the girl, and this alludes, I think, to the very emotive thoughts of the mother at the end when she begins to doubt that her daughter existed at all.
 
All in all, great job. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading that. :) 
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Welcome to RE! So glad to have some new members!

Overall

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed that! The only part I stuck on was the very last paragraph, and I have some thoughts below. As a parent, I was deeply engrossed from the first part and though I knew the ending, it was still a delightful and melancholy ride. Nicely done! And very chilling!

On 12/24/2019 at 11:00 AM, lizbusby said:
1. Is it interesting to anyone beside me?
2. Did you guess what was going to happen too soon/too late? Is it too obvious or too non-obvious?
3. General thoughts on character and description - do they fit the scope of the story?
4. Anything else you notice

1. Definitely interesting to me!

2. I guessed early enough that I enjoyed the slightly creepy imagery. I think the hints were well placed

3. I liked the mom and the girl quite a bit! I thought they fit well

4. I think the current title is actually quite nice. Thank you for a great holiday read!

 

As I go

Orange and brown leaves rotted on the branches <- living in the PNW as well, I feel this so hard

revealing still green lawns in need of mowing all through the winter.  <--- UGHHHH right!?

- pg 5: bit into the crackers <-- I thought the mom pulled out cookies and milk?

- that last paragraph I think needs some tweaking. Did we get much reference to the doll earlier? I don't remember it enough for there to be a connection. I'd also like just a bit on her disappearance from the photos. Maybe just one more sentence or more clarity on the current sentence 

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On 12/28/2019 at 6:20 AM, Sarah B said:

"I'm tired of being myself" this seems like a very advanced spontaneous sentence for a preschooler. Given the circumstances though, I would buy this as an early hint.

This opening scene actually happened to me and was the inspiration for this story, but I do admit that my kids are advanced speakers. Haha. 

Edited by lizbusby
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4 hours ago, lizbusby said:

This opening scene actually happened to me

:blink:

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As I read:

I don’t think that a slow start is necessarily a bad thing, but it is worth noting that the piece gets off to a slow start. By design in this case, I suspect, and I wouldn’t change too much about it – the initial description is lovely- but there is a little repetition in terms of describing the fog that could probably be trimmed down just a bit. That being said, I really liked the description of the world “made small by fog.”

I would like to see a little more build between the first scene in the car and the second scene, doing the baking, where the narrator senses that something is obviously not quite right with her daughter. In the first scene, I found it odd that the narrator so easily dismissed the daughter’s comment without really asking any questions at all, even if she knows (“knows”) that the answer is just pre-school drama.

I also think there is an opportunity here to start building up the sense of “something’s not quite right”-ness by having the narrator question the daughter even a little bit more and being rebuffed, or by having the daughter say something else strange. It’s a minor point, but this sort of slow build is, I think, really important in the type of atmospheric horror that you seem to be going for. Especially since both the first and last lines of the scene seem to indicate that scene signals a pivotal moment or turning point that the narrator’s just not aware of yet.

P4 “But then the timer began going off downstairs distracted me” either delete “began” or “began going off downstairs and distracted me” - probably the former because this sentence there’s another “and” already in the sentence.

P5 – I’m glad we’re finally getting an explanation of the daughter’s nickname. I did and do find it odd that we go throughout the whole story without ever mentioning the daughter's name, but I did sort of suspect even early on that it was deliberate, and having read the end this makes sense to me as a conceit.

The last line is fantastic.

Overall:

One of the things that I think the piece did really well was balancing the domestic against the surreal and frightening – oh, my daughter said something weird, but maybe it was just a weird turn of phrase, or shoot, the boys broke an ornament.

Stylistically, I noticed that the prose was often written in a way that somewhat obfuscates who (almost always the narrator, when this sentence construction crops up) is taking the action, i.e. “the car glided” rather than “I drove the car” or “we glided” etc – there were a few of these re: the car even in the first few paragraphs – or “my hand flipped the rearview mirror up.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, certainly not all the time, but it has the effect of making the text seem passive even though it’s not written in passive voice. Worth being aware of, and maybe using to specific effect.

There’s also a lot of atmospheric description in the piece. Individually all of these descriptive lines are quite nice, but they do add up to a lot, and you could probably trim them a bit throughout.

The biggest thing I found was that I wanted to feel a little more prepared for the ending. We get the foreshadowing that the daughter is going to be “gone,” but not really the hows, the whos, or the whysin this case that something or someone has taken her. This definitely a balancing act, because this kind of horror relies very heavily on what the reader doesn’t know, but I do think this story could give us just a little more information: right now we know something is off with the narrator’s daughter, but not, until the very end, that something or someone is coming for her. Could we get some hints of that presence or that outcome earlier on? The absence of the gingerbread cookie might have been pointing in this direction, potentially, but all of our other clues that something is amiss relate specifically to the daughter herself. It could potentially increase the emotional impact of the ending, too, by giving the narrator (and the readers) that there is definitely something that the narrator is working against. Right now, the ending has a sense of inevitability about it—but it might actually be more horrifying if the narrator feels that maybe this is something that could have been stopped, and she failed to do it.

And I think I’ve answered your questions above, but in case it wasn’t already clear, yes, it definitely was interesting to me! I quite enjoyed the overall vibe and line-by-line writing, even though I picked on the latter a bit.

Seconding @Mandamon's suggestion of "Winter Bird" for a title.

 

On 12/25/2019 at 7:03 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 1: "picturing her as a little wounded bird as the nickname implied"

I sort of talked myself into "wounded" as being related to the pre-schooler drama comments, but I stumbled on this line too.

On 12/25/2019 at 7:03 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 2: "which would haunt me long after it happened."
--this is a bit obtuse. Nothing's happened yet, so I don't know whether something is going to happen to the kid, or someone else, or the landscape, or what. It's vaguely creepy, but not specific enough to really draw me in.

I figured I could live with it when I read it the first time, and more so knowing how the story ends, but it does seem a little overwrought for the information we have at that point in the story. Incidentally, I assumed throughout that whatever happened was going to be centered on the daughter in some way.

On 12/25/2019 at 7:03 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 4: "Had we really left that gap in the middle of all the gingerbread men?"
--the ghost likes cookies?

I kind of wondered about this too! This particular event stood out as being more of a device to say 'hey, something's wrong' than any of the other happenings did. Why is the ghost or whomever eating cookies?

Also, maybe a bit too nitpicky but I'd be more likely to focus on the missing gingerbread cookie rather than "the gap" on the baking sheet as that seems to be rather more portentous. In fact, I am actually going to take back everything I just said about the ghost eating cookies because I just got the symbolism/foreshadowing of one missing cookie = one missing child (can't believe I didn't see it before) and I love it and it's creepy as hell. I did notice notice, with the excellently-placed scene transition that tells us about the three boys coming home, that she made one for each of her kids; if we could highlight that fact just a little bit more, rather than the fact that the cookies are placed funny on the baking sheet, that could make this really effective.

On 12/25/2019 at 7:03 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 5: "grandmother’s death just before Christmas"
--ah. I feel this is important.

Yeah, I felt the same thing, and was a bit surprised when it didn't seem to be.

On 12/25/2019 at 7:03 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 7: "but now I wonder..."
--I don't know if this is necessary. The rest of this is told as if we're present in the story, and this pops me out, as if I'm being told the story as it happened in the past.

I'm okay with the frame tale, especially since we end up building to such a weighty ending. I did notice the framing references more and more as we went along, but in light of the ending not sure any of these framing references need to be actually removed.

On 12/28/2019 at 6:20 AM, Sarah B said:

"I'm tired of being myself" this seems like a very advanced spontaneous sentence for a preschooler. Given the circumstances though, I would buy this as an early hint.

Agree on both counts.

On 12/28/2019 at 4:08 PM, Robinski said:

- "granular like the pristine snow" - really not sure about snow being granular. By definition, it's crystalline, but also homogenous, surely?

But every snowflake is unique! *ahem* Okay, silly responses aside, just noting that I didn't have a problem with this description. One of those YMMV things.

On 12/28/2019 at 4:08 PM, Robinski said:

but I don't buy that the mom would forget that her daughter said she would not be there next Christmas. That is nightmare scenario for a parent; terrifying. And she just forgets?

Yeah, this was the only one of these "back to normal" moments that I stumbled over. I totally bought "glass breaking, let's come back to this later" but not "and then I forgot all about it."

On 12/28/2019 at 4:08 PM, Robinski said:

Mom feels fairly generic to be honest, the boys are totally typical, behave as expected, and therefore do not stand out. The little girl has a fay quality, which came through well, but I'm not sure that constitutes character. I'm not sure that the story is lacking because of this feeling though.

Don't disagree with any of this but as Robin says, I really don't think it's a strike against this story in particular.

8 hours ago, kais said:

Did we get much reference to the doll earlier?

Hmm, I didn't note/mind its absence, personally. I think because of course we can assume that the mother is buying her kids gifts, and also its importance is emotional (to the mother) rather than narrative. We could maybe have a quick reference to her buying it earlier, but I think that may be a bit misleading.

Edited by Silk
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7 hours ago, Silk said:
On 29/12/2019 at 0:08 AM, Robinski said:

- "granular like the pristine snow" - really not sure about snow being granular. By definition, it's crystalline, but also homogenous, surely?

But every snowflake is unique! *ahem* Okay, silly responses aside, just noting that I didn't have a problem with this description. One of those YMMV things.

Okay, I'll give you that, but granular, to me, implies hard like sand, or coffee, or sugar - something that acts like a granular substance, which snow I would say does not, not in the same way as sand, or coffee, or sugar.

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Hello and welcome! This was a very well done story!

 

To get right to your questions: 

1. Is it interesting to anyone beside me?

Yes i was interested

 

2. Did you guess what was going to happen too soon/too late? Is it too obvious or too non-obvious?

I pegged it from the beginning. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as I remained interested throughout, for the most part. Cozy slice-of-life stories aren't really my thing (I feel like they wander too much), but this was tightly plotted and kept me interested throughout. I certainly don't think the twist needs to be more obvious! I think it's at just the right amount of non-obvious. Tropes aren't necessarily bad, and knowing how one will end isn't bad, either. It's a winter ghost story and it plays out like a winter ghost story. That's very satisfying. 

 

3. General thoughts on character and description - do they fit the scope of the story?

There are some nitpicks I have with a couple word choices and other things for flow and rhythm reasons, but those are things that can be fixed easily and are usually evident in all drafts. Others up thread have covered a lot of them already so I won't belabor the point. Over all, nothing jumped out at me as unusual or odd, and all the comparisons seemed like they fit with the scope and theme of the story. This is a very well done draft!

 

5. I am notoriously terrible at naming anything, to the point where a lot of my early drafts just use wingdings or symbols in place of character names, so I'm going to bow out on this one. ^^;

 

As I go:

Why are winter birds wounded? I think maybe my confusion over the line isn't so much the name, as the way the phrases interact with each other. Right now, it sort of seems to me that the mother thinks of the daughter as a wounded (winter) bird like sort of as a neutral pet name/image, which seems odd to me. I think it is more that the daughter's pet name/image is a bird, and her unhappiness is what the mother is calling the bird's wounds? If so, then to me it wouldn't so much need changing as just some rejiggering for clarity. 

Absolutely know what you're talking about with granular snow. That's a good image. I usually associate that texture with very dry snow... I've never been to Seattle, does it get dry snow? That question is purely my own curiosity. The description is fine as-is. :)

 "girded on my oven mitt" -- Grammar nitpick, sorry. You don't really "gird on" a thing.  To gird is to encircle or to fasten (like with a belt) or surround/encompass, so you could gird your hands with oven mitts though. Gird also has the meaning of "to prepare oneself for a difficult task," so you could gird yourself with oven mitts.

There are some places that could be reworded for clarity and to reduce repetition, but overall this is very good. Some of the phrasing got a little awkward trying to work around never giving the daughter a proper name, but all that stuff can be fixed in an a round of editing.

I did not find it particularly spooky, more cozy than anything, and maybe a little melancholy. I think I'm getting the "cozy" feeling from what @Silk was talking about regarding the obfuscated action - it's all just a little insulated from us, a little blurry. I feel like that works for the piece, though, since fog is such a central motif. 

 

On 12/30/2019 at 3:29 AM, Robinski said:

Okay, I'll give you that, but granular, to me, implies hard like sand, or coffee, or sugar - something that acts like a granular substance, which snow I would say does not, not in the same way as sand, or coffee, or sugar.

Granular snow is totes a thing, though. ;) I usually associate it with a very dry, lightweight, powdery snow, but the dictionary calls it a precipitation consisting of small ice crystals or pellets that resembles snow. Wiki's got a little blurb on it under "types of snow" and the phrase has its own meaning for skiers. Totes a thing!  

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Late due to the holidays but here are my comments.

The story seems a memoir in that it’s telling rather than showing. In this case, the telling is atmospheric but with the trade-off that it feels like one emotional note, nostalgia. To this feeling contributes the relatively unvarying sentence length around 30+ words. This structural invariance makes sentences hard to follow and focus hard to keep.

There’s a lot of foreshadowing of something ominous, the fog, the eyes, the vanishing ginger cake, but some of the other background detail could be removed, e.g. parts of the cooking, preparing, moving things etc. They make the story feel long although not much is happening. On the other hand, there seem to be things happening in the present, like decorating the tree, but they aren’t dramatized – again memoir-like.

The sugar and bird ornament remarks telegraph the girl will die.

In page 7 more atmospheric description which could be shortened. The atmosphere is already set and we’re curious to see where it’s all going and see the payoff.

I didn’t understand the ending, why would the grandmother come and take the girl, where would they go, why no one remembers her, why there’s a frost ring in the bed. I don’t understand if this is magic realism or some magic system. There’s also a great amount of foreshadowing that seems to supply the mechanism of the magic system, like the light, but I didn’t understand how it all comes together. The story read like a dream.  

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On 1/6/2020 at 8:32 AM, Lightbearer said:

The story seems a memoir in that it’s telling rather than showing. In this case, the telling is atmospheric but with the trade-off that it feels like one emotional note, nostalgia. To this feeling contributes the relatively unvarying sentence length around 30+ words. This structural invariance makes sentences hard to follow and focus hard to keep.

There’s a lot of foreshadowing of something ominous, the fog, the eyes, the vanishing ginger cake, but some of the other background detail could be removed, e.g. parts of the cooking, preparing, moving things etc. They make the story feel long although not much is happening. On the other hand, there seem to be things happening in the present, like decorating the tree, but they aren’t dramatized – again memoir-like.

[...]

I didn’t understand the ending, why would the grandmother come and take the girl, where would they go, why no one remembers her, why there’s a frost ring in the bed. I don’t understand if this is magic realism or some magic system. There’s also a great amount of foreshadowing that seems to supply the mechanism of the magic system, like the light, but I didn’t understand how it all comes together. The story read like a dream.  

Interesting that you say memoir-like. My writing background is definitely in memoir, and I leaned heavily on that here. It's definitely more of a dreamy, magical realism type of feel I'm going for. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

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