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Morgen’s Email Critique Group

Hello. I know that writers, myself included, need – and appreciate – feedback on our work. By that I don’t mean “Oh yes, that’s great” – although that would be good too. We need to be told where we’re going wrong. I am a freelance editor so it’s my day job to do that but I thought I’d start this critique group so that you could also get feedback from other writers.

The idea is that you submit your writing (max. 2,000 words per submission*) – whenever you like – and I will collate them and send them on to others in the group for them to return to me within two weeks, although the sooner the better) so that I can return it to the original author.

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Posted by on November 3, 2017 in critique, ideas, novels, short stories, writing

 

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Red pen session 009 – critique of The Desolate Garden, a novel extract by Danny Kemp

The ninth red pen podcast was released on 28th December 2011 and was part of a series of episodes dedicated to reading a short story or self-contained novel extract (with synopsis) and then talking about it afterwards. I am now running these on this blog.  For writers / readers willing to give free feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.

I run a fortnightly critique group as well as critiquing other authors writing which I really enjoy so I thought I’d create podcast episodes doing this, and will now be running future ones on the blog, initially with the already-recorded episodes at 5pm daily (this is the last one) then every Sunday evening (UK times) from Sunday 16th December.

Please remember that it’s only one person’s (my) opinion and you, and the author concerned, are welcome to disagree with my interpretation – I will never be mean for the sake of it, but hope you find that I’m firm but fair. I type my comments for the recording as I read through the story as a reader would think as they read the story, although they would most likely be reading, not analysing, unless they’re writers too!

Regardless of what genre you write I hope that this helps you think about the way fiction is constructed and that you have enjoyed reading another author’s work, the copyright of which remains with them, then my suggestions for any improvement.

Today’s is a novel extract which was kindly emailed to me by Danny Kemp of London, England. The novel is called ‘The Desolate Garden’.

If you have any feedback on this or aspects of my website or blog, I’m always delighted to hear from you – my email address is morgen@morgenbailey.com.

And if you’re feeling brave enough to send me a short story or novel extract (with a brief synopsis please) – 3,000-words maximum – for these red pen blog sessions then feel free.

So without further ado, the synopsis and extract, then my feedback…

Synopsis

Only months before the murder of Lord Elliot Paterson, and his youngest son Edward, an address in Leningrad, is discovered hidden in the ledgers of the families private bank in Westminster, dating back to the1930’s. There is a spy in the family, but on whose side?

His eldest son, Harry, is recruited into the British Secret Service to uncover the traitor. The desolate garden is a twisting tale of deciet and intrigue with Harry, and an attractive girl from the Foreign Office, desperately trying to unravel the mystery, before anyone else mets the same fate.

I love the name Elliot (and often use it) so there’s brownie points before we’ve even got to the story. This synopsis tells us that it’s of the murder mystery genre with, I’m guessing, given the ‘attractive girl from the Foreign Office’, some romance. OK, now the novel extract.

Extract

I’ve never been one to reminisce, to rediscover memories locked away in parts of the mind only psychologists know about; but in those last few days that I had with my mother, I found myself swept away in her nostalgia. I had not thought of my father as being a handsome man – but there, in the photographs of their wedding, stood a person I could not recognise as him. As to her beauty, the wedding memorabilia only testified more strongly in confirmation of what I already knew. As to the man beside her…it was a stranger that I stared at. He looked taller than I remembered, with jet-black hair combed back from his forehead, sharp clean features in a strong commanding face, more mature than the 26 years of age that he was then. There was a dashing, debonair look about him, a nonchalant character whom I could believe had swept my mother off her feet, as she had told me. He was not the person I had always remembered him as.

“He was impetuous then, Harry, romantic and audacious – a lot like you are today, I suspect. He was dangerous around women. Are you the same?” I didn’t answer that question of hers, but understood entirely what she meant.

To me, he had always been an eccentric old man with no hidden charms or fascination. I searched those photographs and more, to find some of us together, but could find none. No snaps of us two kicking a ball or hitting one, riding ponies and whirling mallets in unfinished chukkas, leaning over the side of the boat and landing fish. In fact, none of us being father and son. Perhaps there were no secret memories, none there to find, even had I have looked closer. No shared happiness, no fun, no laughter, no hugs, no affection. Perhaps he had entered my life as he had left it; a disillusioned, self-obsessed man.

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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in critique, ebooks, ideas, novels, review, tips, writing

 

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Red pen session 007 – critique of On The Edge, a short story by Aaron

I originally recorded red pen critique as part of a series of podcast episodes dedicated to reading a short story or self-contained novel extract (with synopsis) and then talking about it afterwards. I am now running these on this blog. For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.

I run a fortnightly critique group as well as critiquing other authors writing which I really enjoy so I thought I’d create podcast episodes doing this, and will now be running future ones on the blog, initially with the already-recorded episodes at 5pm daily then every Sunday evening (UK times).

Please remember that it’s only one person’s (my) opinion and you, and the author concerned, are welcome to disagree with my interpretation – I will never be mean for the sake of it, but hope you find that I’m firm but fair. I type my comments for the recording as I read through the story as a reader would think as they read the story, although they would most likely be reading, not analysing, unless they’re writers too!

Regardless of what genre you write I hope that this helps you think about the way fiction is constructed and that you have enjoyed reading another author’s work, the copyright of which remains with them, then my suggestions for any improvement.

***

The story in this post was kindly emailed to me by Aaron and this story is called ‘On the edge’.

If you have any feedback on this or aspects of my website or blog, I’m always delighted to hear from you – my email address is morgen@morgenbailey.com.

And if you’re feeling brave enough to send me a short story or novel extract (with a brief synopsis please) – 3,000-words maximum – for these red pen blog sessions then feel free.

So without further ado, the story, then my feedback…

On The Edge

It’s no use you trying to see me.  No use you squinting towards where you know I am.  You won’t see me, even though you know that I’m there.  I’m downwind of you – which means even if you had the sense of smell of a Doberman, you still wouldn’t sniff me out – but upsun of you.  If you even look in my direction, you’ll have your pupils shrunk so small that you won’t seeanything properly for five minutes afterwards.  And then to kill time while you get your sight back, you’ll try to swipe sweat from your forehead every few seconds.  Except that you can’t even touch your forehead, can you?  It’s encased in that big helmet.  That helmet’s the best – the lightest and the strongest – that money can buy.  But it won’t get in my way.  It’s alright for stopping stones, beer cans, and the other stuff thrown at you, but no helmet in the world can stop what I’m firing.

But all the same, after wearing it for all this time, it must be feeling heavy.  Oh, I see that you agree, because you’ve just taken it off, and mopped your brow.  One of your trademark gestures, that.  Every half hour or so, off comes the helmet, out comes the hanky.  You’ve got the time, after all.  You’ve just reached the end of your line, that twenty yards that you’ve defended for the last day and a half.  Dab, dab, dab on your forehead, and the serious ‘keep it tight’ look towards your mate at the other end of your post.  He’s not really your mate, though, is he?  Just a colleague, or at best a comrade.  And anyway, he isn’t the same man as was there yesterday, or even this morning.  There’s always been someone there at the other end of the line, but six other men have been and gone, and you’re still there.

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Posted by on December 8, 2012 in critique, ideas, review, short stories, tips, writing

 

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