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TheDwarfyOne

290620 - TheDwarfyOne - A Troll By Any Other Name - (2099 words)

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A short story about a girl and a troll.

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Thoughts As I Go:

Pg.1 – So, the MC can see the Fae because her father could, her father abandoned her presumably to keep her safe when it became too dangerous for him to be around, the mom is a muggle and no one told her anything. Okay. I can live with this backstory.

Pg. 2 – I don’t know how big this troll is, and I wish I did.

Pg. 3 – So the father left because the mother is a willfully ignorant muggle. Hmm.

Pg. 4 – Oh, horror of horrors. A little girl’s coat is dirty and/or torn. Clearly a sign of parental neglect, said people who have absolutely no knowledge of little girls.

Pg. 5 – A changeling?

 

Overall:

I’m not enamored with the title or with the name ‘troll’. True, the lore on fairies and fae and all that is muddled up in myth beyond the fact that its subject to heavy interpretation and re-interpretation. But I really like the stereotype of a ‘bridge-guarding troll’ and I love riddles. This isn’t anything functionally different than a goblin, really. Given its abilities actually, (including the fact that it has a human form which can be seen by other humans) I would have pegged this one as a changeling if you hadn’t specified it to be a troll.

That aside, the story is perfectly fine, it’s written a lot more clearly than your last submission. That said, I’m not really sure what the moral of the story was. It is a fairy tale, after all, but it doesn’t feel like there were any stakes involved (i.e. threatened dismemberment and/or consumption of humans) or that any characters went through development – S comes of as kind of a whimsical girl in the narrative who just took something, realized stealing was wrong, and gave it back.

If you added some stakes and fleshed out the character’s emotions, I think this story could go from decent to a very good fairy tale.

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Overall

This story is well written and engaging. I was very invested in the girl and the leaf from the beginning. However, I'm not sure what the arc of the story is. Was the girl supposed to learn a lesson? See things from another point of view? She clearly is very mad at her mother and idolizes her father, but how does this relate to the leaf and the troll? She stole from the troll which, in fairytale land, generally means consequences, but this seemed to fall sort of flat on that expectation. 

I think it will be a really strong piece with a bit of editing to clarify the arc. Is it a fairy tale with a moral? Is it a coming of age tale? Is it an emotional revelation tale? I think answering these questions would help a lot.

 

As I go

- pg1: the start of this story had good characterization. I immediately settled into S and her mother and the family situation. The dialogue with the troll, in contrast, sort of wanders and lacks a strong hook

- pg 3: Because mum wouldn’t listen <--- WOW there the kid is clearly Team Dad

 

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The characters' voices were really strong. I could guess S' age, more or less, and feel her frustration with adults and feel her mom's exhaustion. Everything flowed well. The only issue I had was with the ending, as it ended a bit abstractly and left me feeling like I didn't know what the meaning of the story was. I'm not sure if that's what you were aiming for. 

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Hi!

Uh...OK? I read it then felt like I'm missing something important. I thought most of the story that the troll was her polymorphed father. I'd say I liked it, but again, I'm missing something. Also, I feel like you jumped too much. Ignore me if you think that I'm nitpicking or blatantly wrong.

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Definitely with the others on this one. I thought the writing was really good, the voices engaging, and the characters well thought out. But...there was no story, except in the very minor sense that a girl takes a leaf from a troll and then...gives it back. I sort of got a sense that the troll was peaceful at first, but then wasn't really at the end? I think this could be an engaging short story with some thought behind what the meaning is, and fleshing out the arc a little more. I don't even think it needs much--the prose can hold a lot on its own--but just something to make the reader say "oh, ok, I get it," at the end, rather than. "and...?"

Notes while reading:

pg 3: "“He…he…” it began, face twisting."
--Not sure what it's doing here. Laughing? Crying?

pg 3: "then reached into a pouch. It drew a single leaf."
--drew out?

pg 4: "Your girl’s coat is dirty, you know. And torn. You ought to get her a new one.”
--Is this the woman talking or the mother? In any case, it's almost the same words as the top of the page.

pg 5: "Can I go back up the hill?” 
--okay, glad she's not stealing the story leaf...

pg 5: "We all act sometimes"
--act different? This sentence seems unfinished.

pg 6: Okay, I guess the woman was the troll? 

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A pleasant read but a bit confusing. 

I took this story as a 'big fish' or labyrinth type where the supernatural elements were stand ins for the issues and themes of real life. 'We can all bit a troll sometimes' seemed like the explaination for why her tantrum let her to a troll. 

It felt like there was something about the repeated elements of 'colors' and 'story' and particularly the story being a leaf. I felt like I was missing the pay off for them.

The line: "Smooth rock slipped between her fingers." Did not explain to me how she fell, I assumed after reading further that her land slipped on the rock when she tried to sit down. 

I did not understand why the Troll would present as a busybody who threatens with child services. It seems like an odd departure for a person/troll who wasn't using full sentences for most of the story.

Overall the story had a very nice dream like quality to it. I liked the warm visuals and your characters.

 

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Pg. 3 -- I don't understand why the troll is upset when she talks about why her dad left. Very confused.

Pg. 4 -- why is this woman so significant? Is she just being rude?

Overall, a fun and whimsical read. I really enjoyed it.

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Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, "A troll is a small creature." I usually think of trolls as massive hulking beasts, so I'm instantly curious on where you are taking this. 

Pg 1, " setting her magazine near the birthday cake" Reading a magazine during a birthday? Waiting for guests, bored, or simply doesn't care? I don't get the feeling of not caring, just the distracted aura of parenting.

Pg 1, “He would have come,” Would have...so more likely Dad went out to buy some milk and never returned than went into the army. Either way, Dad is either dead or simply not around.

Pg 1, "voice shocked" Hmm, doesn't tell me if Dad is missing or dead. Maybe I'll find out later? I feel like I need an answer, since it seems so important to S.

Pg 1, "were big and held a green luminescence." I already love it.

Pg 1, "Colours are nice." Awwww!!!

Pg 2, "She ran and jumped." Initially pictured a flat, low boulder, now picturing a tall-ish boulder. 

Pg 2, "Yes. I see” So cuuuuuuute.

Pg 2, "She got rid of him." Hopefully not by murder.

Pg 3, "Because mum wouldn’t listen." Sounds like an official divorce rather than "I'm going to go buy milk" and never returning. Also, Mum should probably be capitalized, since S is referring to her as a proper noun.

Pg 3, "We... breathe them out.” Does...it involve blowing in people's faces? I mean, he did sniff her breath earlier. 

Pg 3, "I…have to go,” Thief!

Pg 4, "You never listen!” Echoes why Dad left. Nice.

Pg 4, "Might get people knocking on your door," Rude! I do not trust mystery woman. To quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "We have found a witch, may we burn her?"

Pg 5, "Give me the leaf." Troll hunter?

Pg 5, "a bright and virulent green" I think this is our ol' friend, and not a new troll.

Pg 6, "It was a good day for ice cream." Correction: all days are good for ice cream ;) 

I liked how you switched the gender of our leaf gatherer and our witch, because I did not foresee them being one in the same. A delightful story! I had fun reading this. The only problem is...I want more! 

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Hi, oh, Dwarfy One,

Apologies for the delay in commenting on this.

(page 1)

- I mean, I know it's just a critique sub, but I think there is value in following and practising accepted submission format, in particular in relation to this piece, double spacing of lines, but with no paragraph spacing. I know it's 'just' a sub to us, and not meaning to make a big thing about it. I don't mind reading this at all, it's just an observation.

- "nights hiding from thunder" - Nice line.

(page 2)

- "She ran and jumped. Smooth rock slipped between her fingers." - I did not understand the height of the boulder, that it was quite that tall and she needed to be hauled up. Also, I don't think stone slips *between* her fingers. That implies it's loose.

- "Mum made me some" - Where is the mother at this point? She seems to have disappeared.

- End of Section 3 (I suppose, counting the first couple of lines as a separate section). I like it so far. It has a gentle style, and the child's perspective comes over well, I think.

- Wait, why is there a section break there? There is no break in the narrative: we carry on from exactly where the previous section left off. That's disorienting, and unnecessary, as far as I can see.

(page 3)

- "He…he…" - This line and the few that follow, there are a lot of stutters and pauses and interruptions. It's confusing to me. I'm not sure who's speaking, or what they are getting at.

- How to you 'hold one half'? The lanugage is unclear to me here.

- "but her foot connected with a pile of leaves. They scattered everywhere." - Confused. Where did the pile of leaves come from? I'd like a more specific account of which pile we're talking about and how it got there, on top of the boulder.

- "The troll scowled at her" - Yes, she's a nasty piece of work! :o 

(part 4)

- "She was tall and thin, but stood in the centre of the path" - [See Craft Nook post :) - This line confused me no end.]

- "Might get people knocking on your door, know what I mean?”  “I do" - I don't.

(page 5)

- "It’s your birthday. But be quick, and don’t talk to that woman" - Oh, I'm quite surprised that Mum would let her do that on her own, after how creepy the woman was.

- "Susan’s eyes blinked open" - When did she close them? Is this because she's wishing for Mum to say yes? No entirely clear, IMO.

- "She scaled the boulder" - She wasn't able to do this unaided before.

- "The sun wasn't as high anymore" - Much more engaging to describe what is happening, and avoids describing was is not happening, IMO.

- "The eyes were normal" - What does this mean? Normal how? Not very compelling description.

OVERALL 

I really rather enjoyed this. It's a gentle story, but captures a nice natural tone, I think. I can picture the countryside settings, imagine the scene and the view. A little more glowing and evocative description would not go amiss, unless you are trying to keep for a word limit, but I sense you are not, so, a few more splashes of colour would be good, and smells, sounds too, to elevate the richness of the setting, which I think is a big part of the story.

So, what is my take away? Well, I got a decent sense of S's emotional upset at her parents' separation. There didn't seem to be much evidence of Mum being the baddie, but that doesn't mean that S cannot read the situation that way. It doesn't make S 'bad' or unfair either, it just makes her a confused kid. The message of the story seems to be pretty much in the background, to me. It's wrong to steal. Fair enough, not really rocket science. Don't judge by appearances? I dunno, the troll behaved pretty much as one would expect (apart from not turning to stone with the direct sunlight). Mum turned out not to be all bad, and S turned out to be basically descent, going back to return the stolen leaf.

If anything, I think maybe the story left me wanting a bit more. To understand the significance of the leaf, perhaps, and more about the troll, but I did not feel this in a strong way. I'm not sure that I had strong feelings about much in the story, but that's okay. Not every story needs to reinvent my world view for it to be enjoyable. Nice job, nice tone to the writing, nice characters. Well done.

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