industrialistDragon

Reading Excuses - 20200106 - industrialistDragon - Untitled (horses) - 2350 words

24 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Stating the obvious – this is storytelling in omniscient.

Pg. 5 – It’s unclear how the prince is in love with the horse since the horse can’t speak. And is it a horse or a mare?

Pg. 6 – only paraphrasing here: ‘the sacrifice was great but mere friendship could not compare to love’ – but it was just said the prince loved the horse equally so this part is confusing.

Pg. 6 – The girl&horse's acceptance of everything is breaking suspension of disbelief.

It’s still not clear if the horse gained human-like behavior or not. I assume it did but am unsure since the prince's love isn't a reliable confirmation.

Fun ending.

I’d expect the 9 new horses to be less well-behaved and a lot angrier with their condition, but this reads like a children’s story or an Aesop so within this framework it makes sense to simplify character emotion/reactions.

 

-- Anything that you didn't understand or that I wasn't clear about.

The magic system, but it’s clear it’s not within scope of the story to explain it.

-- Anything I might have hinted that would happen but didn't (promises I made but didn't keep)

No.

-- Is the queen okay?

She’s fun but the first time she’s mentioned it’s out of the blue; by that point I had no idea there was a queen. Then I couldn’t tell right away if evil queen or simply the prince’s mother. The first instinct was to think she’s evil queen because of tropes. It's unclear how she's so accepting of her son marrying the stable girl and the horse instead of brining a sturdy political alliance but I can ignore that in the context.

-- How much do you hate those guys?

They seem to be vilified by simplifying them – but then all the characters are simplified. The 9 don’t seem to have a strong motivation to recommend the horse to be killed and so they’re reduced to single-trait villainy. But this stopped mattering to me because I liked the ending and simply accepted them as the bad guys.

-- Am I bashing around too much with the clue hammer at that one point?

What point is that?

Edited by Lightbearer
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I had a very similar reaction to @Lightbringer. I thought this was a good fairy tale/children's tale, where things are simplified to a general moral (which in this case I guess is: don't let pompous idiots get in your way?). I liked the ending, which wrapped everything up nicely. We get an interesting relationship, but simple enough for a kid's story (though me with an adult mind sees some, uh, exotic possibilities there...)

To your questions:
-- Anything that you didn't understand or that I wasn't clear about.
I was also unsure what cognitive ability the horse/girl had since she didn't speak. Then she began learning magic, so I assumed she was as capable as the girl.


-- Anything I might have hinted that would happen but didn't (promises I made but didn't keep)
Sort of random, but which was the one who was actually in the carriage with the prince? Whichever one did not didn't really get an equal share of the wedding, though everything else was shared.


-- Is the queen okay? 
She's fine. Moving in the shadows and setting up her son for success, which is pretty cool.


-- How much do you hate those guys?
Eh, they're villains, but not competent. I almost feel sorry for them because I knew they had no chance between the queen and the girl/horse. They were going to get tricked or defeated in some way.


-- Am I bashing around too much with the clue hammer at that one point? 
No idea what this is.

One comment while reading:
pg 5: "blackened copper instead of blackened bronze"
--I can't really visualize how different, if any, these would be. I think that's the point, but then I also don't know how anyone else would spot the difference to call it out.

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Posted (edited)

Antagonists: I can't really say I felt anything for them. There was so little mentioned about them and from the tone of the story it was apparent that they weren't going to win, so I found myself ignoring them.

Hang up on the ending: if the counsel was powerful enough that the Queen couldn't just overturn their decision, wouldn't their absence be a big deal?

Possible alternate ending;

Show some of the counsel being abusive to their horses earlier on. Then after the horse girls and prince come to terms, they turn one of the abused male horses into a human that looks like the prince. They then live happily ever after as horses/humans elsewhere and the horse turned prince becomes king and takes care of the counsel and protects the horses of the kingdom as well as the humans.

 

Thanks for sharing!

Edited by Sarah B
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@Lightbearer, @Mandamon, @Sarah B thank you for replying! 

 

On 1/6/2020 at 11:13 AM, Lightbearer said:

is it a horse or a mare

It is both. 'Horse' can mean specifically the male animal, but it can also be used in a gender-neutral sense to mean the animal of either gender. That is the sense it is being used here. The gender-neutral definition is common and well known. Much like "cow," which is both a term for the female animal and the gender-neutral term for the type of animal of either gender, "horse" has a gender-specific and gender-neutral meaning. The girls are consistently referred to as sisters throughout, and "horse" is used in the gender-neutral sense prior to the introduction of the character, so I feel like, even if the gender-neutral usage of the word is not known, the meaning can be gleaned from context.  "Mare" also comes with some connotations and implications I did not think fit with the tone I wanted for this story, so I did not use it until the end.

 

On 1/6/2020 at 11:13 AM, Lightbearer said:

It’s still not clear if the horse gained human-like behavior

 

On 1/6/2020 at 2:44 PM, Mandamon said:

I was also unsure what cognitive ability the horse/girl had since she didn't speak

 

On 1/6/2020 at 11:13 AM, Lightbearer said:

since the horse can’t speak

A gentle reminder here that one's ability to speak has nothing to do with one's ability to reason, and the conflation of the two is one of those ridiculous ableist ideas that perniciously sneaks into all kinds of places if one is not paying close attention to keeping it out. The horse can speak. The horse chooses not to speak to people who wouldn't listen to her anyway.  Also, in writing, on-screen dialogue is not the only way to show characters talking and interacting with each other.   The horse is referred to as being a good conversationalist in at least one early paragraph, possibly two, and later is shown interacting with the girl in an intelligent manner that requires conversation. Interacting on-screen with the male lead is not required to prove one's ability to reason. Thinking on it now, I might have deleted a second reference for rhythm in this version I sent. It might be worth putting back, given the confusion, even though it implied the horse was talking while a horse. That might be a better side on which for this to fall. 

However, this is also a fairy tale. Animals in fairytales, if they are not intended for consumption (and sometimes when they are) almost always talk and behave in ways that are different from the ways animals behave in real life. Foxes and frogs turn into princesses; horses, deer, and birds of all sort advise and aid protagonists in their quests. It is assumed, in a fairy tale, that if the fox or selkie or fish or dragon or hind becomes a woman, she knows how to operate her new body; likewise, when the brothers are turned into a bear or a raven or a swan or a deer that they know how to survive in their new bodies without it appearing specifically on the page. Falada doesn't speak until he is dead and his head nailed to the bridge, yet there is nothing in that story justifying this other than a line in the beginning saying the (then living) horse talks. This is a fairy tale and effortless transformations are a well-established part of this kind of tale. If this was a much longer work written in a much different style, I might put in a scene addressing this issue. However, this is a fairytale, and it is short.

 

On 1/6/2020 at 11:13 AM, Lightbearer said:

The girl&horse's acceptance of everything is breaking suspension of disbelief.

This is a fairy tale, using Western European fairy tale stereotypes, which I believe is very clear from they way I have structured the opening. It has castles and princes and wizards. As such, there are the class issues inherent in any highly stratified society such as this. When one is a commoner or a piece of chattel property (which can be a little bit like saying the same thing twice, depending on how dark you want your interpretation of the class system to be), and a noble or high academic or prince says a thing will happen, one's recourse is severely limited. In fairy tales, when the king says to catch and skin one of every animal in the kingdom and to make a dress out of starlight so that he can marry his own daughter, that is what happens. When the father says he must chop off his daughter's hands, she puts them on the chopping block. The weavers and the hunters don't get to say no. He is the king. The miller's daughter doesn't run away. He is her father. If this were a much longer work written in a much different style, I would bring the class differences and issues to the forefront as a subplot, because this is something I am interested in.  If you are interested in such things, T Kingfisher's novel The Seventh Bride does deal with the class issue within a fairytale-like scaffold, and I highly recommend it. 

On 1/6/2020 at 11:13 AM, Lightbearer said:

but it was just said the prince loved the horse equally so this part is confusing.

This is fair. The price is something of a rube, and is here quoting the wizards in an attempt to convince both himself and the girl that this is the way it has to be, despite knowing that it is both a cruel decision and not what his heart desires. That's a lot to get out of one contradictory paragraph, and one I need to rework. Thank you. 

On 1/6/2020 at 2:44 PM, Mandamon said:

No idea what this is.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, then it's obviously not the problem I was worried about it being, and that is very much of a relief. Thank you! :) 

 

On 1/6/2020 at 2:44 PM, Mandamon said:

but which was the one who was actually in the carriage with the prince?

The girl should be, as "a fairy tale wedding with white horses and a carriage" is something many girls fantasize about, but that horses (i would imagine) are somewhat indifferent to. The horse is more often at the balls, because she enjoys the artifice and intrigue, and the girl has had to work too many events like them  in her prior life to really enjoy attending them from the other side. 

 

On 1/6/2020 at 2:44 PM, Mandamon said:

-I can't really visualize how different, if any, these would be.

That is the point, yes. But also, copper, bronze, and brass are all related. Copper is the pure metal, bronze is copper plus tin (and/or zinc, nickel, aluminium, arsenic etc), and brass is copper plus zinc.  Realistically, bronze and brass are usually much closer in color tone to each other than copper and bronze. Copper looks like copper looks like certain rosy shades of rose gold (which makes sense because rose gold is just copper and gold). Brass is occasionally called "poor man's gold" because it closely resembles certain formulations of gold and is very yellow. Bronze is usually somewhere between the two, not as warm as copper, but not as harsh as brass. And of course, throw some asphaltum and charcoal and shellac, or black oxides over something and it gets darn hard to tell anything apart!  I was fairly worried someone would call me on the unrealistic idea that copper and bronze were that closely related tonally. However, the girl is where the story starts, and the prince is blond because of the tropes I am playing with, so that left bronze for the horse. And again, it is a fairytale. If a pea or a pebble can be detected through fifty or a hundred mattresses, and everyone accepts that is reasonable and a reasonable way to judge the merit of a person, then I don't feel like the differences between red highlights and taupe highlights are that unreasonable to be detected, within the strictures of a fairy tale either. If this was a much longer work written in a much different style, I would go into detail about this and the other differences between the girls to address this issue. However, this is a fairy tale, and it is short. 

 

11 hours ago, Sarah B said:

wouldn't their absence be a big deal?

if this were a much longer work written in a much different style, it would be a big deal definitely! However, this is a fairy tale, and short. And much the way in fairy tales no one worries when the king uses feathers to decide his kingdom's fate, I am not going to worry about the things that happen after the wedding. "They ruled justly and well" is a common ending in the tales that end in marriage, even when the kingdom has gone to the son named Simpleton, or entire wedding party has just witnessed incredible acts of brutality and decisions so mercurial as to be disastrous in a ruler. This is a fairy tale, and what happens after "they ruled justly and well" is a different sort of story. 

 

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

A gentle reminder here that one's ability to speak has nothing to do with one's ability to reason, and the conflation of the two is one of those ridiculous ableist ideas that perniciously sneaks into all kinds of places if one is not paying close attention to keeping it out. The horse can speak. The horse chooses not to speak to people who wouldn't listen to her anyway. 

“They shared secrets, yet..." to "disturb the air around them.” -- Every time the horse is mentioned, she is suggested to be unable to speak. The “needed no voice” seems to say that it’s no problem for communication that the horse can’t speak, which is like saying she strictly can’t speak.

“The girl-who-had-been-a-horse the nine" to "gathered would have noticed?” -- Because of omniscient, this para doesn’t indicate that it’s the POV of the 9 advisors that the horse can’t speak.

Then this seems to be confirmed by “her dark eyes spoke volumes”, which suggests she doesn’t have the ability to produce sound. This wouldn't be unique as the Little Mermaid remained mute after she transformed in the original Andersen fairytale.

Then later on there’s another departure from omniscient and a cross into the POV of the 9 “The horse-who-" to "scholasticism alike”. Readers who see omniscient would assume the narrator is giving them the real story, unfiltered through POV.

Then “It was a shame that the girl [...] and her sister could no longer speak” added confusion. This reads like they literally can’t speak and furthermore, adds on top of every other suggestion that the horse can’t speak.

I don’t know how the horse can tell who wouldn’t listen to her anyway without giving them a chance first. Moreover, she doesn’t seem to speak to anyone and the breaks in omniscient suggest she doesn’t have a full level of human cognition. As a pet owner and a parent, I will say preemptively that not having full human cognition is not a reason for discrimination when it comes to loving that being – just in case my words might be misconstrued.

I hope it’s clear what causes confusion re the horse’s ability to speak.

Now about the ableism point. Much like horse and mare get conflated in normal language to generalize and streamline, the human species is the only one we know of to be endowed with high abstract cognition. The hallmarks of this ability are behavioral and a major behavioral clue is the ability to speak given all the necessary equipment. On the other hand, the word ableism refers to disability discrimination, i.e considering people with disabilities inferior. It’s rather harsh to make an ableism claim based on a comment about a horse in a fairytale and as a disabled person I’m surprised to be confronted to it.

Sadly I see the word “ableism” flung around lately by people who aren’t disabled themselves and don’t know what it means to have your life made harder by some deficiency. Some of these people even claim they would keep their disability if they had one – if you hear of any willing, I can give them mine.

Edited by Lightbearer
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11 minutes ago, Lightbearer said:

if you hear of any willing, I can give them mine.

They can take mine, too. I am not in fact talking about things I don't know about. I do not feel that a public forum is the place to discuss my private medical history, nor do I owe that to you in order for my statement to be valid.

 I would appreciate it if you did not quote whole sentences out of my work. I do not agree with your interpretation of what does and does not count as omniscient POV, but the explanation of where and how you became confused is a helpful critique.  

 

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Interesting stoy. I'm not going to critique much, as I'm not fluent enough in fairy tale to do so, but I liked it. Did your dream come from a rather literal take on Animal-Groom (Whatever the actual term is)? 

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Thoughts As I Go:

Pg. 1 – Well, that’s certainly an opening sentence.

Pg. 1 – ‘Heart was a stone’ - I have no idea what’s going on, and I’m now wondering how literally I should be taking any of this. Is this a stereotypical fairytale fantasy, or…

Pg .2 – Animals to people, check. We’re in a fairytale. And we’re now going the siblings route, instead of true love. That’s a change of pace.

Pg. 4 – I’m now wondering what this ‘wizard’s oath’ is.

Pg. 4 – What make a horse uniquely unsuited for wizardy? I mean, obviously on the scale of animals they’re no cats or lizards, that’s for sure, but I’m not sure they’d take the bottom.

Pg. 5 – They could swap places with no one noticing – but they have different haircolors. I know fairytale princes are thick, but come on.

Pg. 8 – Ah. Just desserts on the mages. Very fairytale indeed. Reminds me of some of the older versions of Cinderella.

 

Overall:

Well, let’s deal with the your question barrage first:

-I think I got everything, but I caught a small smattering of grammar mistakes.
-I didn’t spot any unfired Chekov’s Guns
-Queen seems to be the only one with a head firmly screwed on her shoulders. If I had to guess, I’d say she’s been in a fairytale herself given how savvy she seems to be.
-The mages? Eh. They didn’t know the horse was intelligent (although to be fair, they didn’t try to hard in the first place to figure out if she was), and animal-to-human transformation seems like kind of a big deal, so I wouldn’t fault them if the setting was bit different for wanting to perform a bit of horse dissection. As it happens, this is a fairytale, so we get to be a bit more black and white and call them evil
-I mean, it’s a fairytale. Yes, I saw the ending coming half the story away, but I never felt like I was being hit over the head with it.

My personal comments:

This is an old-fashioned fairytale, the kind that you might read if you cracked opened a Brothers Grimm or a Hans Christian Anderson. It runs on as little of an explanation as possible and all the magic requires jumps in logic to follow, but the character’s motivations are all relatable, if not necessarily sympathetic. (There are fairytale princes, and then there are fairytale princes which don't remember the hair color of the woman they're courting.) The writing could be a bit clearer, though, but unfortunately, I’m not well versed enough to give better advice. (And besides, you didn’t want LBLs anyways.)

I’m going to keep my mouth shut in terms of suggestions to the ending, because I prefer my fairytales like I prefer my Shakespeare, so I suspect all my advice isn’t going to be helpful.

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5 minutes ago, aeromancer said:

(There are fairytale princes, and then there are fairytale princes which don't remember the hair color of the woman they're courting.)

I could have misread it, but I got the impression that the Prince knew what was going on.

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1 minute ago, Turin Turambar said:

I could have misread it, but I got the impression that the Prince knew what was going on.

Pg. 5 - "so entwined their hearts, that even the prince could not discover their deception."

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Posted (edited)

Pg.5 - He spent many long nights ... in equal measure

Pg. 7 - The prince looked at his loves, (plural)

Pg. 8 - And if, occasionally, the prince’s favorite horse ... the way he doted on it?

Pg. 8 - two mares... with a stallion

None of this is hard proof, but it does seem an indication.

Edited by Silk
Silk here: just editing to remove thie middle parts of the quotes and make them less searchable.
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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I am not in fact talking about things I don't know about. I do not feel that a public forum is the place to discuss my private medical history, nor do I owe that to you in order for my statement to be valid.

 I would appreciate it if you did not quote whole sentences out of my work. I do not agree with your interpretation of what does and does not count as omniscient POV, but the explanation of where and how you became confused is a helpful critique.  

I was not suggesting you are and am not asking to know about your medical history. Mine's a sensitive subject for me as well. I did in fact hear people without anything as much as a broken nail claiming they wouldn't give away their condition and found it unbelievable from my perspective. You can imagine it was jarring to hear it - I guess I was complaining.

i am happy to edit my original post if you could indicate how to edit the sentences such that it's still clear which sections I'm referring to. I have temporarily removed the quotes' middle sections until you reply.

Edited by Lightbearer
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Firstly, thank you for submitting, ID. I'm so sorry it's taken me such a long time to get to this. I hope that these comments are of some use. I'll have a read through the thread afterwards, but right now, I'm looking forward to reading this!

(page 1)

- I thought 'studded' was a rather hard word for copses of trees, but I get the image, so maybe just me.

- The fact that the prince was searching in pastures and rolling hills struck me slightly odd, but didn't affect my reading. I suspect it's there for a reason.

- I'd think his duty might take him to different places. Thought maybe 'went about his duty' would be a bit smoother, BUT, fair warning, you said it was rough / early draft, so I'll stop  noting small drafting stuff like this. Sorry :) 

- I have a clear image of the setting, and it's pleasing, very bucolic.

- I can see the threes cause the light to freckle (interesting word choice I thought), but did not think it would be the light of the trees.

- Okay, one paragraph in, we seem pretty strongly in the POV of the prince. I'm convinced by the character, not sure I'm entirely sympathetic, but I get a sense of privilege and authority.

- Speckled and freckled on the same page kind of clashed a bit for me.

- Oh, I'm doing it again, but there are some lovely turns of phrase, and when I trip on one, I don't want to miss the chance to have my tuppence worth. I thought 'siren call' (singular) would be a cleaner evocation of that wandering spirit. I know there are two elements invoking the siren call, but I see them as components of one thing.

 - For me, there's a bit of a jump between the horse coming towards her, and her turning to follow it. The scene is playing out in a delightfully, summery, golden hour slow motion, then there's a skip, and it kind of jarred me. There's also a kind of subtle tension in the horse approaching her, and the skip takes us past the moment when they 'meet'. I'd enjoy just a handle of words to describe the moment they are closest, and the horse passes her, before she turns.

- The word 'dreamlike' trips me. While the scene is dreamlike (no argument), the adjective is used to describe the girl or the act of her following. I'm not sure how a person can be 'dreamlike' or how they can follow 'like a dream'. Thinking out loud, 'dreamily' would be more of a directly descriptor for the girl, or her movement, but perhaps that's not really the intention. <ramble ends>

(page 2)

- It's such a strong reaction in her that I almost suspect a kind of hypnosis or emotional control from the creature.

- I enjoy the poetical tone of the piece. I like this sort of magic realism in a shorter piece like this. I'm definitely curious about where this is going.

- "nothing if not persistent" - COL (chortle out loud).

- "took her arms from" - I know, drafting, drafting, but this is clunky for me. I'd like a stronger, more descriptive image here, since it's the first description (okay second, but same paragraph) of physical contact between them.

- "were never much for subtlety" - While I enjoy this type of line here, I think the message could be a bit clearer, tighter, so I have no doubt over the intention. It didn't seem to me that the subtlety was part of the discussion in the previous paragraph, so I'm not quite sure of the target the line is aimed at.

(page 3)

- 'prince had cared more'? - I feel like he's already witnessed it.

- 'folded into' - I'm not sure what to take from this phrase. Not arrested then? Not detained? It's just a bit vague, IMO. I do like them being 'taken for study' though, which just underlines the uncaring, impersonal attitude of these royal types, which seems appropriate if not sympathetic, of course.

- 'lack of knowledge' - Not sure about this. She must have knowledge about some things, just not the sort of things that would interest a prince. I wonder of it's lack of experience, lack of worldliness?

- I really enjoyed the depth of the last paragraph on this page.

(page 4)

- "wizards' oath" - I don't think this is mentioned before now, and I don't quite see how it applies in this instance. This last part left me puzzling.

- "horses in particular are unsuited..." - COL

- I've never encountered the word 'horn book'.

- "lost more obligations to linger" - Is this in the sense 'in order to linger'? I think that would be much clearer.

- "and quietly added..." - Oh, nicely done.

- "figured out" - for me this is a clunky modern phrase. I think there must be a more elegant and in-tone alternative.

- "an ineptitude..." lovely phrase.

(page 5)

- "but very happy" - Apologies for commenting on style, however 'but always happy' would scan really nicely with 'often tired' as both are reference to frequency, where 'very' is a reference to degree.

(page 7)

- "would cost more dear" - I don't follow: is this a typo? Oh, 'dear' in the sense of expensive. I see, but I think the grammar is off here, or at least is difficult to exact the sense of at a glance.

- "that day" - I took this to mean the present, day, but then realised it was a reference to that original day. Not entirely clear, IMO.

- "but saw no other way" - Oh, now. This does not seem especially character to me, since the prince's love of horses is well trailed. He has seemed a bit cold and aloof at times, but I'm not connived by this, in terms of his character. I can see you need some high stakes here at the end, and the fairytale nature of the story points towards there being some element of tragedy in it, but I wasn't quite ready for this. I see two alternatives, but not a happy way out.

- "and neither the one begrudged the other..." - for me, this is extraneous and trips up the rhythm of the phase.

- "to those thus so gathered" - I feel that 'thus' and 'so' are doing the same thing here, and one can be cut.

(page 8)

- "her professional smile' - not connived about the word 'professional'. Her position is more than paid employment. Institutional smile, public smile? I feel that there is another word that would fit better here.

- "The price had wondered..." - typo, obvs.

Overall 

I enjoyed this a good deal. I enjoyed the fairytale style, and the frequently poetic language, and the intriguing premise. I was caught, hook line and sinker by the threat of someone getting sliced up. The story finding a way around that was satisfying (more on that below), but I still feel the prince was a little out of character in his apparent acceptance of the cost. As to the ending, I think the story would benefit from it being clearer. Was the prince a horse at the end? No, because he could take, and I don't remember any of the other horses talking. There are clues like 'brass' and 'senses' (plural), but I'm just not smart enough to decode the ending, which is a bit frustrating, if I'm honest.

Really glad you submitted thank, thanks ID. I had a good deal of fun with it. I'd just love to know what happened in the end :) 

EDIT

Okay, having now read the end of the story, please disregard all my misguided comments about the 'ending' above.

I thought the ending was very satisfying and nicely delivered. It was completely clear, and any misgivings and misconceptions I had on Page 7, are now addressed. (And my latter page references above as incorrect.

Edited by Robinski
I am a dunder-heid!
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On 06/01/2020 at 5:13 PM, Lightbearer said:

I’d expect the 9 new horses to be less well-behaved and a lot angrier with their condition

On 06/01/2020 at 8:44 PM, Mandamon said:

I liked the ending, which wrapped everything up nicely.

Huh. I just don't see that.

On 06/01/2020 at 8:44 PM, Mandamon said:

-- Is the queen okay? 
She's fine. Moving in the shadows and setting up her son for success, which is pretty cool.

Yup. Agree. I thought she was well done, operating above it all, but keenly aware of her son's desires, and the obstacle represented by her advisors.

On 06/01/2020 at 8:44 PM, Mandamon said:

-- How much do you hate those guys?
Eh, they're villains, but not competent. I almost feel sorry for them because I knew they had no chance between the queen and the girl/horse. They were going to get tricked or defeated in some way.

I was convinced by their authority as custodians of the law. I was fully expecting some tragedy, because that is often present in classic fairytales. As I note above, I could not work out the ending. I may have to ask more questions.

On 06/01/2020 at 8:44 PM, Mandamon said:

-- Am I bashing around too much with the clue hammer at that one point? 
No idea what this is.

There were some obvious tags like the mother being onside, but I didn't follow the ending, as I said, so no, I guess.

On 08/01/2020 at 0:52 AM, industrialistDragon said:

It might be worth putting back

I think that would be useful. I didn't get a clear sense of the horse talking, but I did get a clear sense of the sisters communicating.

On 08/01/2020 at 0:52 AM, industrialistDragon said:

quoting the wizards in an attempt to convince both himself and the girl that this is the way it has to be

I did trip over this too, as you'll see from my comments, although I also felt that the prince's behaviour was consistent with his position, his environment, and his upbringing. I think it's fair for me to react against it on the basis that I don't like it, because of how I want the story to turn out. I wonder if he had just made a slight, regretful 'whimper' or considered (then instantly abandoned) the notion of resisting, I would have read on without commenting.

...

Okay, DISASTER. I thought I was finished at the foot of Page 7 "It was a lovely wedding." I was fooled by the big paragraph space :( I will now go back a read the actual end of the story!! (Sorry about this. I am such a doh-head.)

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For what it's worth, I don't see that "could not speak..." and "as animals cannot perform...  alike" imply that the 'horse' cannot speak, only that 'it' cannot speak as scholars and men do, and that it may (or may not) have any aptitude for learning (although this is proven wrong, as 'it' can read the magic texts). Having said that, I did not see any overt mention of the horse speaking, which would dispel any doubt. I could see it being a horse of few words, and perhaps only speak couple of words here and there, which would have a big impact. I did not have a particular issue with it though, for whatever that's worth.

On 08/01/2020 at 2:59 AM, aeromancer said:

I’d say she’s been in a fairytale herself given how savvy she seems to be.

:lol: 

On 08/01/2020 at 3:08 AM, aeromancer said:
On 08/01/2020 at 3:06 AM, Turin Turambar said:

I could have misread it, but I got the impression that the Prince knew what was going on.

Pg. 5 - "so entwined their hearts, that even the prince could not discover their deception."

Me too, but Aero makes a fair point in reference to this line. But I was putting more weight on the passage Turin quotes. The deception line does seem a might contradictory.

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I’m pretty sure this is a reader problem and not a writer problem, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t read that first sentence as “corpse-studded pastures.”

Middle of p2 “wonderlingly” should be “wonderingly”

Bottom of p2 refers to the prince as a spellcaster. This was a minor stumbling block for me but a stumbling block nonetheless, since “spellcaster” is a word I associate much more with D&D and similar narratives than fairy tales. Might be worthwhile to swap it out for something like “magician.”

I like the clear twist on our expectations here, with love at first sight not actually referring to the prince.

I didn’t initially assume that the horse could speak either, but there were a couple of points early on where, in my experience of the story, it became reasonably clear that the horse’s choice to not speak was indeed a choice; specifically, where it was noted that the horse had a unique perspective on the prince’s passion and where it was noted that the horse did not disabuse the mages of their misconception. Both on page 3. The way the paragraph last paragraph of p3 seems to be leaning fairly heavily on the dramatic irony also helped clue me in. Then again, it’s certainly not what I would call explicit, and I seem to be very much in the minority in this regard.

P5 repeats the line that the queen didn’t intervene – this time it seems to be in reference to the sisters’ deception. I don’t understand how the queen discovered it (which I don’t think matters much) or why it’s important to her (which feels a little more important).

Bottom of p5 notes that the prince loves the girl and her sister, which was wording I found slightly confusing since we’ve just been told the prince doesn’t know of the deception. The POV is what I might consider limited omniscient—knows more than a strictly third person limited would, but less than a fully omniscient narrator—but since we’re more or less in the prince’s head here I would expect to refer to the girls how the prince knows them at this particular moment, which is as girl and horse.

Middle of p7 “the price had wondered” should be prince

As for your questions:

-- Anything that you didn't understand or that I wasn't clear about.

The relationship between the sisters; I wasn't sure how literally to take "sisters;" that is, is their relationship a really close friendship that resembles a familial bond, or is it a more intimate relationship that's framed as sisterhood because we Don't Do That in fairy tales and we're supposed to read between the lines? If the latter, it's probably worthwhile to be a bit more explicit because it's going against the same tropes that other aspects of the story are leaning heavily on, especially given that the way the prince figures into this would be another subversion of the prince-and-princess trope.

I'll also note that I didn't immediately get the transformation of the mages--I had to go back and reread a couple of paragraphs for it to fully sink in--but I seem to be in the minority there.

-- Anything I might have hinted that would happen but didn't (promises I made but didn't keep)

I touched in my comments above on the one thing I wondered about: the way the narrative implies that the queen does not approve of the sisters' deception. It's never explained why or, perhaps more importantly, what she does about it. She seems to be a puppet master who is nudging the prince towards marriage, but this particular implication doesn't seem to have any impact on the story in the end.

-- Is the queen okay? 

Pretty much covered what I wanted to say about the Queen above. As a character, she's fine.

-- How much do you hate those guys?

Not a lot, to be honest? They clearly got what they deserved, and I certainly winced at/disapproved of their plan to sacrifice the horse in pursuit of knowledge and/or power. It seems fairly clear that the story is presenting their single-minded pursuit of either ore at any cost as a Bad Thing. But for me the story worked almost entirely on an intellectual level, rather than a visceral or emotional one, so I don't feel particularly strongly about them. I hope that distinction makes sense. For the record, I didn't experience the lack as a problem, just as a function of how the story works.

-- Am I bashing around too much with the clue hammer at that one point? 

I could guess at I think two different points that this question might be referring to, but that's because you asked. There isn't a whole lot that's explicit in this story, so it's fine to emphasize the most important points. Repetition tends to to function as a stylistic feature in fairy tales and it's certainly doing so here, so I think it's fine.

20 hours ago, Robinski said:

 - For me, there's a bit of a jump between the horse coming towards her, and her turning to follow it.

Me too.

20 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "her professional smile' - not connived about the word 'professional'.

This worked for me. I felt like I knew exactly what was being conveyed.

Also, @Turin Turambar, FYI I just edited your post to remove the middle sections of each of the bits you quoted so that somebody reading the thread can't just plunk them into a Google search. Same principle as with the unique names - protects intellectual property by making it less Google-able should a story be published down the line. And which, come to think of it, is probably not actually in our guidelines at the moment, so I'll amend them when I get the chance.

Edited by Silk
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On 1/12/2020 at 4:46 AM, Robinski said:

I was fooled by the big paragraph space

that's probably me. I slapped a footer on at the last minute and that probably skewed the formatting. Teach me to format anything, lol. plaintxt only next time! DIY punctuation! ;) 

 

On 1/13/2020 at 0:28 AM, Silk said:

As a character, she's fine

An early reader told me the queen was plotting against the prince and was evil. I'm glad that's not where the bell curve landed here. Likewise, the question about the wizards was because an early reader told me they were the good guys and they should have won.  

 

On 1/12/2020 at 4:24 AM, Robinski said:

 I'd enjoy just a handle of words to describe the moment they are closest, and the horse passes her, before she turns.

Once I have two brain cells to rub together again and the energy to do it, that is very doable. 

 

On 1/12/2020 at 4:24 AM, Robinski said:

- I feel that 'thus' and 'so' are doing the same thing here, and one can be cut.

Ach, but it makes my judiciary-inclined heart so happy! You and everyone else has told me that and I know it needs to go. It's going to be the verymost last thing I edit, however. ;) 

 

On 1/12/2020 at 4:24 AM, Robinski said:

I've never encountered the word 'horn book

Hornbooks are cool! So, the specific item was a sort of paddle with the alphabet painted on or attached to it, often with a thin sheet of horn over top, that was used to help teach young children their letters. They look really super neato and I really like them. "Hornbook," as the generic noun, refers to any primer on a subject, and implies a primer that's contained in a single volume (so, like, technically, those "Idiot's Guide" and "For Dummies" books would count as hornbooks. Hm. Also those "in a nutshell" and "a very short introduction" books). It's not in general use anymore, though I've definitely seen it in fantasy novels, and I think the main place it pops up in modern times is in legal terminology. lol, not that you'd ever want to pick up a legal hornbook one-handed. 

 

On 1/12/2020 at 4:24 AM, Robinski said:

not connived about the word 'professional'

I'm willing to entertain something with less modern associations, but I was stumped. "Professional smile" is a phrase I've seen to mean a very specific thing, which is what I was looking for. The closest analogue is "poker face" but that comes with "stern" or "blank" associations and this is the look of someone who spends the majority of their time interacting with the public and who has to appear friendly and attentive and nonthreatening even when they want to flip tables and rage quit. 

 

On 1/13/2020 at 0:28 AM, Silk said:

Then again, it’s certainly not what I would call explicit, and I seem to be very much in the minority in this regard.

This is exactly what I was going for and given the weight of the rest of the responses something I need to address. I think I've figured out where I can make it more apparent on the face of things.  Hopefully I remember it when I get back to editing. 

 

On 1/13/2020 at 0:28 AM, Silk said:

why it’s important to her (which feels a little more important)

Basically the same thing the girl is worried about: wizards. Wizards would not react well to the discovery because it would prove the girl was lying to them (and they are Too Important To Be Lied To), it shows the girl has been faking the whole time, it ALSO shows they've been teaching a horse (quelle horreur!), and that they were not smart enough to figure any of it out. Commoners, girls and horses doing magic (at all but also) better than them upends everything they hold important about themselves.  Since they pretty much think the horse/girl phenomenon is a WMD and terrorist organization combined (and also something they really, really want to use to fuel their own magical WMDs), the queen sees the deception of the wizards as a very risky move. A lot of that is extra stuff that I didn't think fit in this story, since really all the wizards need to be is willing to dabble in a little bit of wanton animal cruelty to accomplish what they're needed for here.   

 

On 1/13/2020 at 0:28 AM, Silk said:

I would expect to refer to the girls how the prince knows them at this particular moment, which is as girl and horse.

fair catch, thank you. 

 

On 1/13/2020 at 0:28 AM, Silk said:

I wasn't sure how literally to take "sisters;"

That second thing. My fairytale polycule gets to have a happy equal-partners-playing-to-their-strengths ending, but I couldn't quite figure out how to make an outright statement of it fit beyond the "love at first sight" gag. It needs more thinking. 

 

On 1/13/2020 at 0:28 AM, Silk said:

but this particular implication doesn't seem to have any impact on the story in the end.

The queen is letting the girls have enough rope to hang themselves with. Also, I thought I needed it for repetition purposes, and to put a lampshade on why she didn't just step in. It's my least favorite repetition of the phrase and one I've debated removing (but then I'd need a third somewhere else and argh.). 

 

On 1/13/2020 at 0:28 AM, Silk said:

I didn't experience the lack as a problem, just as a function of how the story works

Pretty much this, exactly. it's not the right framework for emotional gut-punches.

 

On 1/13/2020 at 0:28 AM, Silk said:

but that's because you asked

Yep. This is me worrying not just that i'm being too obvious, but that I'm being condescendingly obvious. I'm very glad that wasn't the case. 

 

Hey all, sorry I got a little prickly there. I subbed when I did because I thought I was on an upswing, but like the fool on the card, didn't notice the cliff at my feet.  Real life punched me in the face. I have like 4 different doctor appointments next week, lol. Anyway, thanks for putting up with me. I have a lot of stuff to work on here, thank you! 

 

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3 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

An early reader told me the queen was plotting against the prince and was evil. I'm glad that's not where the bell curve landed here.

Yeah, I got pretty much what @Mandamon said, that she was setting her son up for success. Possibly/probably with her own agenda in mind, but certainly not in any way evil.

3 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I'm willing to entertain something with less modern associations, but I was stumped

Hm, yeah. The only alternative I could think of was "game face" which is a whole lot more modern.

3 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

Basically the same thing the girl is worried about: wizards.

Hmm, okay. This definitely didn't quite come through in the moment. I think it might be because I at least didn't see the wizards as a threat; they came across as self-important and pompous but not really terribly competent, which is definitely an archetype when it comes to politicians in stories. I wonder if amping up the sense of menace we get from them, just a little, might make this come through clearer without getting into a lot of worldbuilding stuff that, you're right, there doesn't seem to be a lot of room for.

3 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

My fairytale polycule gets to have a happy equal-partners-playing-to-their-strengths ending, but I couldn't quite figure out how to make an outright statement of it fit beyond the "love at first sight" gag.

This is the way I was leaning, but wasn't quite clear. I think it might have been the persistent repetition of the word "sisters" more than anything that through me off.

3 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

The queen is letting the girls have enough rope to hang themselves with.

I think the thing that threw me here was that she seemed pleased when the first girl came into the picture that the prince finally had a suitor, so I didn't know why she would change her opinion when there were two. This maybe comes back to the discussion about the wizards.

3 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

Hey all, sorry I got a little prickly there. I subbed when I did because I thought I was on an upswing, but like the fool on the card, didn't notice the cliff at my feet.  Real life punched me in the face. I have like 4 different doctor appointments next week, lol. Anyway, thanks for putting up with me. I have a lot of stuff to work on here, thank you! 

Oof, sorry to hear that. hope things are indeed on the upswing soon!

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6 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:
On 12/01/2020 at 10:24 AM, Robinski said:

I've never encountered the word 'horn book

Hornbooks are cool! So, the specific item was a sort of paddle with the alphabet painted on or attached to it, often with a thin sheet of horn over top, that was used to help teach young children their letters. They look really super neato and I really like them. "Hornbook," as the generic noun, refers to any primer on a subject, and implies a primer that's contained in a single volume (so, like, technically, those "Idiot's Guide" and "For Dummies" books would count as hornbooks. Hm. Also those "in a nutshell" and "a very short introduction" books). It's not in general use anymore, though I've definitely seen it in fantasy novels, and I think the main place it pops up in modern times is in legal terminology. lol, not that you'd ever want to pick up a legal hornbook one-handed. 

OMG!! The circle is complete! Do you happen to remember in the early chapter in TCC when Q, M and 80 are in the diner and they discuss Shakespeare in references to M's language, and 80 quotes Love Labours Lost which turns out to have a character called M? Well, the wiki page you linked has an excerpt from LLL in which M appears with Don Armado and makes reference to a hornbook!!! Unbelievable :o Thanks for this, very interesting. That's my learning for the day :) 

6 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I'm willing to entertain something with less modern associations, but I was stumped. "Professional smile" is a phrase I've seen to mean a very specific thing, which is what I was looking for. The closest analogue is "poker face" but that comes with "stern" or "blank" associations and this is the look of someone who spends the majority of their time interacting with the public and who has to appear friendly and attentive and nonthreatening even when they want to flip tables and rage quit. 

Good point. I'm going to spitball a few here, just for fun (baring in mind I have not gone back and checked the context): polished smile; practised smile; adept smile; well worn smile; seasoned smile. None is quite as on the mark as pro smile, I accept, but I think maybe one or two fit the setting better.

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On 1/13/2020 at 1:28 AM, Silk said:

Also, @Turin Turambar, FYI I just edited your post to remove the middle sections of each of the bits you quoted so that somebody reading the thread can't just plunk them into a Google search. Same principle as with the unique names - protects intellectual property by making it less Google-able should a story be published down the line. And which, come to think of it, is probably not actually in our guidelines at the moment, so I'll amend them when I get the chance.

Sorry about that! I didn't realize it would be a problem.

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I agree with earlier notes about the villains being pretty boring. I barely felt mad at them. You could ramp up either their logic or their cruelty to make the story have more tension.

I agree with Mandamon that I couldn't visualize the difference between the two colors of hair. Maybe a more solid comparison or description could be found. But it wasn't a huge barrier. 

I did expect a little more from the queen character. I did not think she was evil by any means, but I did definitely think she had some mysterious past of her own, which would be appropriate to refer to in the course of the story in a subtle way. Maybe this could be used to solve the problem with the "professional" face: perhaps a sphinx-like face or some other enigmatic animal. Clothing descriptions might also be a way to throw in a hint to the reader. 

I also found myself wondering if there was a king and where he was. And exactly what the power dynamic was between the throne and the wizards. When they are called in to examine horse and girl, I got the impression it was from far away, but it becomes apparent as the story moves forward that they are a part of the court. Obsv, this is not the story for complex worldbuilding of politics but making that relationship more clear would ratchet up the tension.

Notes while reading:

p 1 - "horse ambled towards her" - It seemed like a short sentence for the horse to get all the way to her and then have her follow it back into the woods. I imagine this to take quite a while and so it seemed abrupt to be covered in one sentence.

p 2 - "yet no word passed between them" - It's all well and good to assert this, yet it's still telling. Telling fits with this style of storytelling, but I still think it would be better to have some of the secrets stated for the reader. ie She could see in its glistening eyes that it understood the long hours of drudgery serving at the whim of another. And it could tell from her bare feet that she likewise longed to run through green pastures, etc. etc.

p 3 - He becomes friends with both of them? This can't turn out happily. And what happened to the fact that she needed to get back to work? That point is kind of dropped.

Wait, they didn't question the horse girl at all? So no one talked to her before the other girl told them she used to be a horse? I don't buy it.

p 4 - What about her previous master who made her so sad? I feel like this loose end needs tying up.

"could no longer speak" - But no one knew she could speak in the first place and we haven't heard her say anything. This seems off even for an omniscient narrator.

p 6 - "carved out of its flesh" - Uh, what now? Just a paragraph before he loved them both and now he readily agrees to this because his love is more important than friendship. Seems inconsistent. But this is also a fable/myth style, and I'll acknowledge stranger things happen in Greek myths.

p 8 - Well okay then. That was an interesting twist to the ending. I'l have to admit that I found the girl to be rather placid and boring, kind of like a tame horse, so maybe appropriate and why they are good with this situation.

 

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On 22/01/2020 at 6:11 PM, lizbusby said:

I agree with @Mandamon

Hashtag!!!!

(Sorry, @lizbusby. Could not miss the chance to flag the old running aphorism here on RE.)

Edited by Robinski
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On 1/20/2020 at 4:21 PM, Turin Turambar said:

Sorry about that! I didn't realize it would be a problem.

No worries! A few of us have fallen into the habit of, essentially, quoting as little as possible to get  the point across, but it wasn't actually in the guidelines, and that's on me. I've updated the guidelines now.

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