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Reading Excuses - 2016.01.11 - smgorden - How Old Trahaearn Lost His Eye, part 02


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Last time on How Old Trahaearn Lost His Eye (part 01)

Our protagonist, a young farmer boy, follows his father on an errand (secretly, without permission) away from home to meet Old Trahaearn who lives on a hill. The boy is determined to satisfy his curiosity about Trahaearn, to ask about his one eye and what happened to the other one. The boy arrived at the hill and was stung by nettle after he hopped over Trahaearn's fence. Having continued up the hill, the boy overheard a story being told and was caught listening at the window (by Trahaearn himself, who called the boy 'trespasser'!) 


Chapters in part 02:


Woefun and the Gnome

The Feels of Endings


Feedback I'm most interested in for part 02:

How do you feel about the established characters (and their relationships) at this point?

Do you have suspicions about things the boy doesn't know yet?

What's the most memorable bit, for you, in this section?

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Pg2: Top. The first paragraph is sort of confusing.  He's afraid, but calm at the same time.


pg 2: "I sat up, wincing and rubbing my head where it had struck the floor. "

--I had a little problem with the blocking.  I imagined Trahaearn holding the boy upright, so he would land on his feet when dropped.  Did he fall backwards?  How did he bump his head?


These fairy tales remind me of the ones in Johnathon Strange and Mr. Norell.


pg 12: "Woefun slunk down into the hair on the back of the munching beast, "

- I thought he was in front of the hare?


pg 16: "It doesn’t feel like an ending."

--I'm glad the boy brings this up too.


pg 16: “That’s the way a person thinks, son. Not so for a fairy. The very idea of home would be strange to them.”

--good explanation.


I like the ending to this section.  That's probably the most memorable bit for me.   I'm still not completely sold on the stories, as they don't really tie into the main story, but they are easy to read, as is the rest of your writing.


The transition of the relationship between the boy and his father was very well written and helps build things along.  I'm still not sure what's going on with Trahaearn except that he's an old storyteller who's probably been to fairyland.  I guess that's something the boy doesn't know yet?  I don't have suspicions in particular at this point, but certainly willing to read more and find out.

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Mandamon- Thanks for the notes on blocking, both with Trahaearn and the boy, and with Woefun and the greyhare. I'll have to take a look and clarify my intent in those places. I don't remember the exact steps for Woefun, but as for Trahaearn, he's meant to be holding the boy by his shirt, suspended above the floor, leaning over him at that point. When Trahaearn steps away, he lets go and drops the boy, who then hits his head on the floor. I'll probably have to split up the sentences there to make sure nobody misses it.

I'm glad the boy-and-father section is working well. As it happens, that last chapter was split. It had a couple thousand more words in it, but I split it to fit within the suggested word limit. Tried out a couple spots for the break, but I think I'm good with where I put it. The relationship shift is kind of a natural beat, anyway. 

Thanks for the feedback!

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Pg1: “I wasn't standing and my shirt was still tight around me. I opened my eyes.”


There was the ceiling, and there was Old Trahaearn The ceiling was overlooking the angry face of Old Trahaearn;I think this is a more appropriate way of putting it.


“I said, wanting holding back my urge to scream and run.”


"You believe a man with one eye is an easy mark, that he wouldn't catch you thieving." I’m not sure about this but how about saying “thieving about/around”?


“He breathed heavily and there was a bitter smell about him. No. It was the room, full of bitter air. What was it?” I liked the transition here.


Pg2: “The scent floated in the air and it made me feel calm calmed my mind.”


“My whole insides wanted to bolt for the door and tear it down to get out of there.” Consider this instead: I felt an urgent/crying need to charge the door, break it apart, and escape this place.


That's it for now, i'll probably do more later.

I'll comment on how i feel about the story and characters when i complete reading.

I’d appreciate it if you also gave me some feedback here aswell.

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- I like the first exchange with the main character and Trahaern No matter what he says, he can't win. 


- Okay, at first Trahaern is convinced the main character is stealing . . . and then he's settling down for a polite conversation?


- That said, I do like what Tahaern says about stories, especially the untold parts. 


- I like the faerie story's abrupt ending - at least where the main character is concerned - and how Trahearn and main character discuss what an ending should and shouldn't be. Very meta :)


- A little confused about it raining after the sky opened. 


- I'm hoping this isn't everything, because I am interested where this story is going! 

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I'm going straight into the comments this time, and sum up at the end.


that he wouldn't catch you thieving?” – It’s a question, right?


Interrupting!” – Lol, what heinous sin!


I'm not sure why Trahaearn dashed across the room. I felt it out of tune with his behaviour to date.


disturbed me greatly” – repetition of this phrase.


It itched right up into my brain and gave me a chill down my back.” – Nice phrasing.


that had been whittled with a small knife” – how does he know a small knife was used? It doesn’t seem at all relevant. I’d prefer a description of the piece of wood – which I see we get. I think this bit could use an edit.


And you, being mannered and polite, are about to accept it graciously” – There are too many nice, characterful lines spoken by Trahaearn to highlight them all, but this is an especially effective one, I thought. His character comes through well in his dialogue, which is very entertaining.


like a dog than run off one day and come back the next” – this is a nice phrase, but I don’t understand what it’s intended to convey about his rumbling stomach.


the Truest stories” – why is truest capitalised? This is not a dig at you – and I know I’ve done it myself, but I'm starting to get fed up with such terms. The reader knows they’re significant and yet so many stories now have these portentous terms capitalised, many for no obvious reason. I can understand it is drawing a distinction between different senses or significances of the same word, but I didn’t get that sense here.


Did the boy suddenly go all Midwestern or is he just speaking more here and I'm noticing it now? It seems quite thick in his exchange with the ‘man’ about fairies.


what sort of People Stories the fairies tell to each other” – lol. Too busy laughing to be bothered much about the capitalisation.


If Whether fairies told each other stories or not, I wasn’t sure” – I know the kid’s grammar is off no doubt on account of his being short of schooling, but this seemed to cross a line. I think the issue is that it seems the sentence is going to say something different until you reach ‘or not’.


I do enjoy the way you have interspersed the stories with the narrative. I like the pacing of it.


He sunk sank in about an inch


which was enough for them to dismiss their assumption and return

eight hundred and sixty-three” – Some people think I had to work hard to earn the name Captain Pedant, but it was easy really.


greyhare” – I'm just picturing this creature as a big (relative to Woefun), grey hare.


Once fed, the little man tapped the greyhare on his foreleg,” – this phrasing implies that the little man has been fed. Also, you refer to the greyhare as ‘his’ here, but ‘it’ elsewhere. I think ‘it’ is better.


and he drunk drank all of it


I was a bit disoriented when we seemed to drop into the gnome’s pov when he goes up to the door. My impression is that Woefun is far enough away that he would not be able to see the finer details of what the gnome is doing. Then, I realise that we are listening to a story being told by Trahaearn, so it’s actually some kind of omnipotent pov.


He stopped there and his face seemed to stop on that moment, too” – I'm not sure what this means.


Oh, and by the way, was Woefun a fairy? I didn’t get that one way or another, but maybe I just forgot something near the start of the story.




We’ll that was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed your story. It has a lovely gentle voice and a kindly and positive message to it. Not that there isn’t conflict, which is supplied by the boy’s wariness of his father and of Trahaearn , but it shows very well how a story can be entertaining and thought-provoking without recourse to violence and gritty realism.


I’ve got no great experience of submitting let alone publication, but I would have thought that with some tidying up and tightening up you must be in with a shout with this story of getting some good positive feedback at least, if not finding a home for it. I certainly would be pleased to come across this story in an anthology and would feel thoroughly satisfied after reading it.


Well done, sir. Well done indeed.

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P2 - "rubbing my head" - If he hit something, it would be better to mention it earlier. It's not the sort of thing he wound have missed.

P3 - The two paragraphs starting with "Shush you." had a lot of problems for me. The phrasing felt out of character for the narrator (the pumping and thumping, the feet bound in whispers), the line "That's all I could feel now" felt like the wrong tense, wiping feet clean of some substance using the same rag used to put the substance on in the first place.

P4 - "feeling out of my knowing" - This reads oddly to me.

P6 - "not many come calling" - not that many come calling?

P7 - "In the Truest stories" - I don't think truest should be capitalized

P10 - Same with "People Stories", if you aren't going to do it for "fairy tales". Maybe italics if you want emphasis.

P12 - "Why do you fed" - feed

P17 - Did the boy leave while still wearing the socks?


I'm glad the narrator immediately noted Trahaearn's odd change in behaviour after pulling him through the window, because I noticed it and it would have bothered me to see it go unremarked. Although, bu the end of this chapter, I don't feel like there was ever an explanation as to why the behaviour shifted in the first place

The ending of the tale of Woefun and the Gnome didn't feel satisfactory at all, and again I'm glad to see the narrator remarking on that fact. It makes me feel like there's more to each story than is contained within them, and hopefully we'll get to see how some of them tie together. (Hopefully there will be something tying all these loose tales together).

I liked the ending to this chapter. It's obvious that things are changing, and not just in the relationship between the son and his father. I'm definitely hooked and looking forward to seeing where this story goes. I'm also still very much enjoying the writing style of this.


For your questions:

I like the established characters well enough. The boy is a curious boy, the father is a stern man but clearly cares for his son as well. Trahaearn... You built him up to be such a terrifying figure that I was a bit disappointed to see it melt away so quickly, but this new Trahaearn doesn't seem like such a bad bloke at the moment.

Suspicions. Obviously there's a lot more to Trahaearn than meets the eye, and his asking how well the boy knows his father means that there's more to the father as well, though that could be anything from storytelling to magic to something fae.

I wasn't a fan of the action, so the most memorable bit for me was the discussion about the nature of a story, or of an ending to a story, and  how faeries differ in that regard (and in their nature) from people.

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Robinski- It figures that the fellow with the grumpy-looking profile image would turn out to be notably generous. Excellent notes, sir. And the praise is welcome, too! Thank you on all accounts. You'll be pleased to know that my manuscript-in-progress is around 2/3 complete, and I continue to toil away upon it during my late night Denny's vigils. I've submitted about eight chapters here so far and have another fifteen completed and waiting the generous attention of this group. Probably less than a dozen more to get it complete. I've been studying up on the agent-getting and sale-making processes, and I have at least one friend going through that process right now. I aim to create something memorable. Hopefully enough to warrant the attention of a fine publisher. In the mean time.... 


the notes!

Regarding the Capitalization of Words to Make them Seem particularly Relevant- That was an experiment which hasn't been repeated. I don't think its works or helps anything at this point. Easily removed. It is a funny phenomenon, though. I think Sanderson was the first author I read that made regular use of such terms. And with his complex magic systems, it helps to clarify terms. Basically a hint system for the reader to draw associations between important things that go together. But the more I see it in other works, the more it seems an empty signifier. Funny ol' world, ain't it?

eight hundred and sixty-three” I'll chalk that up to lack of experience writing numeral value names on my part. The hyphen looks so good, though. You can be assured I will make a habit of this in the future.

Is Woefun a fairy? Yes, of an older sort. It's probably not mentioned, but the plot doesn't hinge on it. 

Regarding Midwestern-ness: Yes. You're picking up on the point at which I realized I could only write a believable regional influence in the dialog if it was my own. I'm from Illinois, land of corn and soy. There is also that, as you supposed, the boy just didn't talk as much before. But I might have to revise the earlier stuff anyway, to make sure my authorial decisions aren't showing through the fabric of the narrative overmuch.


that had been whittled with a small knife” I might need to cut that object entirely. I've forgotten whatever I had in mind for it, and there a number of other specific things I could put in its place now, which could serve the story. It's on the chopping block now.


All good stuff. Can't wait to submit again :)

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Okay, as others have said, the broad strokes of this are great.  My major note here is that the tone of the opening part, before Trahearn tells the little nonsense story, is all over the place.  I think you'd be better served to pick between the youthful fear or the pleasant recollection of the older narrator and make the scene about one or the other.


Also why is greyhare one word?  It's pretty clearly just a grey hare.

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