Critique Group – Poor Girl, Rich Talent

Icy Points Critique

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Poor Girl, Rich Talent  – by Megan

“Latroy, wake up. It is time.”

“Time for what?” Latroy sat up, rubbing her eyes. “And at this unholy hour! The sun has not even risen yet. I am not in the mood for playing around. Get back to sleep.

“Dearest, I would never joke with you. The trip? Do you remember? We are going to visit Cosh.”

Latroy sat puzzled for a moment. She looked at her husband, Vonroy, and nodded. “Aaaahhhh. I remember now. But why do we have to leave? I never wanted to go on this trek in the first place.”

Vonroy’s voice remained low and firm. “We must go now. This has been discussed. Your traveling gear has been laid out as well. It would be a shame to see such an expensive outfit go unused.”

Latroy, being a very frugal woman, couldn’t bear to see anything go to waste. “Oh, alright then. Have it your way.”

“I will make sure we have the proper provisions for our journey while you get dressed. Remember, this is not one of your tea parties. You do not need to look glamorous.”

Vonroy walked into the kitchen. He occupied himself by filling their canteens with water and their knapsacks with nourishment and camping supplies. Just as he was rolling up the map, his wife emerged from their bedchambers. Latroy looked very much ready for adventure head to toe. Everywhere but her face. She wore a scowl fowl enough to scare away any creature who was looking for an easy snack.

Latroy let out a long sigh. “Are we going or not? I want to get this over with.”

Minutes later, the young couple stood on the border of their majestic city. “Goodbye, Shasrave. I hope we meet again.” Latroy waved goodbye as they slowly made their way farther and farther away from home.

Vonroy and Latroy Hweebar spent one whole month just trying to get out of the woods. They spent many long days hiking through the forest. At times it seemed that they would never find their way to the house of Cosh, but then they saw the desert. This desert stretched for miles and miles as far as the eye could see. A vast expanse of sand with shrubs dotting the landscape was all this wilderness appeared to be. Vonroy never stopped. With his complaining wife tagging along, he marched straight into the wasteland.

For two months the Hweebars travelled through the dry landscape. This new biome was even worse than the first. The next was no better. A noxious swamp rudely greeted their eyes – and noses. Vonroy still didn’t stop, though. He wouldn’t stop until he was able to fly.

During the final two months of their expedition, Vonroy and Latroy climbed cliff faces and scaled mounains. The area was prone to storms, and the Hweebars had to take shelter very often. On the morning of the seventh month in their journey, they spotted it: Cosh’s estate.

The rustic mansion was neatly nestled in the crook of two mountain peaks. A long, winding staircase made its way up from the path to the front door. Latroy pulled her greasy black hair away from her face. “At last, we’ve arrived.”

Vonroy and Latroy made their way up the staircase hand-in-hand. When they reached the top, Vonroy pounded on the door with his fist. The twenty-foot-tall doors swung open on their hinges as if controlled by magic. The couple carfully stepped through the threshhold.

What they found when they entered was not quite what they expected. Being a wizard, Cosh should have had a cauldron sitting in the middle of the room surrounded by potions. Instead, his mansion contained a massive parlor with two equally massive staircases in the corners leading to a second floor. Vonroy started up one of the staircases and beckoned for his wife to follow. Once they reached the top, the Hweebars entered a long, winding corridor.

The walls were uniquely decorated throughout the hallway. Early on, potion recipes and spell incantations were plastered on these walls. Farther down the corridor, portraits of Cosh’s ancestors were hung at precarious angles. It seemed as though the works of art were observing their every step.

A bone-chilling voice drifted down the hall. “Who goes there?”

The color drained from Latroy’s face. What was this new discovery? Who could the voice possibly belong to?

“I said who goes there? Who dares to enter the house of the mighty Cosh without invitation?”

Vonroy could tell by the look on his wife’s face that she wasn’t saying anything. Well, he thought. I am the man of the house, and Latroy is not helping me at all, so I suppose I will have to take care of this myself.

“U-u-um…” Vonroy’s tongue stumbled. “We were never informed of the need for an invitation. We simply wanted to ask a favor of you!”

This time, a different voice rang through the halls. “Ha! I was just joking with you!” A pale, wrinkled old man with a long, white beard emerged from the shadows and walked toward them. “Come this way, and then tell me what you want,” the wizard motioned for them to follow.

Vonroy focused on the sway of Cosh’s robe against the hardwood floor as he and his wife were lead through the manor. The trio entered a room, and Cosh motioned for them to sit down.

“So…,” Cosh said. “Mr. – what did you say your name was?”

“I never did,” Vonroy replied. “But my name is Vonroy. Vonroy Hweebar.” He pointed at his wife. “This is my wife, Latroy.”

“Oh, I see,” Cosh replied with the nod of his head. “So, Mr. Hweebar, what favor have you come to ask of me?”

“If… Could you perhaps?”

“Spit it out boy!” Cosh exclaimed.

“I want to fly.”

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13 replies

  1. Hi Megan!

    This story feels like a fairytale: a grumpy wife, a journey, a wizard… so many aspects that reminded me of an Andrew Lang fairy book. But you put your own twists on it, like by making the wizard be playful (I think playful wizards are so funny). I love how you described the pictures in Cosh’s house. I could see the serious faces of the portraits, as if trying to appear dignified and scary, but unable to completely acomplish it because they are hanging sideways!

    Now, here are some suggestions:

    You switched POVs quite a bit. The beginning seemed to be from Latroy’s POV, but then it switched to Vonroy’s. I didn’t know who to connect with. Here’s an example: “Latroy, being a very frugal woman, couldn’t bear to see anything go to waste.” Besides it being a “telling” bit (which is something else that I caught a few times — careful of that), it was also showing life from Latroy’s perspective, because she was thinking about how she didn’t want to be wasteful.

    The beginning dragged on a bit, but at the same time, it went too fast. Let me explain: you established the normal life of these characters (a good thing to do), but you gave us details that didn’t seem important. Unless Latroy’s dress plays a bigger part later in the story, it really doesn’t need to be talked about. On the other hand, the journey flew by.

    Can I make a rather big suggestion? Start us with the Hweebars on their journey, rather than their house. We could then be shown that Latroy is grumpy and misses her house (thus establishing the normal life they had and the new normal they are in, which is this really long journey). We would see that Vonroy is driven by the way he walks. We could find out earlier that Cosh is a wizard (because we do need to know that before we get to his house, otherwise, we are confused). We would lose that sense of dragging because the Hweebars are physically moving toward their goal. Maybe you could give us a tiny hint as to why Vonroy wants to fly (it came out of nowhere and I wanted a little set-up). It would be more showing and less telling. This is what I would try if I were you, but others may say differently. 🙂

    Overall, good story! I want to keep reading and find out why flight is worth so much to Vonroy!

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    • This is actually an excerpt from the prologue, which explains the history of the actual story. Later on in the prologue we find out that once Vonroy and Latroy are able to fly and go home, they separate the people by moral class. The right are able to fly and the poor are not. The real main character is poor, but she can fly because her mother is rich. The rest of the story (after the prologue) is about the girl’s trials with keeping her trait secret and dealing with those who find out the truth.

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    • Concerning the flying aspect, I think she gave a minor foreshadowing at the end of the 12th paragraph. It did seem a touch out of place at the time, but the end pointed back to it.

      Great job, Megan! I am quite intrigued about the whole matter of nobility being able to fly while others can’t. An interesting concept. Keep up the good work! 😉

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  2. Megan:
    You have some good characters overall, particularly the wizard and his humorous introduction. You also use a nice expansive vocabulary which manages to be complex and interesting while not sounding truncated, so nice job on that front.

    Couple suggestions:

    The prologue felt kind of split and uneven between the part at home and the part at Cosh’s house. For me, it was rather disruptive to go from a more intimate action-by-action POV, to a quick summary of a two month’s travel, and then another more intimate action-by-action point. Like Cadi suggested, I think it would work better if you started it right before they find Cosh’s house, or perhaps right as they begin entering it, and just use flashback-ish material to clue the reader in on what they need to know. There didn’t seem to be any essential information in the first part of the prologue, and I think starting it as they enter the house would create a better continuity and unity for the prologue.

    There were also a couple lines that were kind of info-dump-ish and could use some revision:

    “Dearest, I would never joke with you. The trip? Do you remember? We are going to visit Cosh.”
    Latroy sat puzzled for a moment. She looked at her husband, Vonroy, and nodded. “Aaaahhhh. I remember now. But why do we have to leave? I never wanted to go on this trek in the first place.”
    Vonroy’s voice remained low and firm. “We must go now. This has been discussed. Your traveling gear has been laid out as well. It would be a shame to see such an expensive outfit go unused.”
    ^^This whole part seems to really be only played to the reader, so if you end up leaving the first part of the prologue in, if this info could be worked into the story in a more subtle way, that would really help the dialogue here.

    “Latroy, being a very frugal woman, couldn’t bear to see anything go to waste.”
    ^^This is probably an instance where the adage “show, don’t tell” should be applied.

    Overall, I enjoyed the characters in the story and like the more light-hearted imagination and creativity that seems to set the tone of this world. And, like Cadi said, the wizard is great. Nice work!

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  3. Megan,

    I like this idea, a fantastical world with a grand journey.

    You received some good comments in the previous posts. I might repeat some of their points as I make comments of my own.

    At the beginning, I noticed some subtle point-of-view problems. At first, it seemed that we were in Latroy’s point of view, as if we were perceiving the scene through Latroy’s senses, because all we are aware of is Vonroy’s voice – “Latroy, wake up. It is time.”

    If we were in Vonroy’s POV, we would probably see through his eyes and see Latroy sleeping. As it stands, there is very little scene setting. Is she in a bedroom? On a sofa? We need some kind of foundation so we can imagine the scene. I felt blinded.

    Latroy’s dialogue jarred me a bit. She says a lot for someone who is tired and just waking up.

    Watch for telling phrases, like “Latroy sat puzzled for a moment.” What does that look like? Is she scratching her head? Is her brow furrowed? At this point, the only visual you have provided is her rubbing her eyes, though we are clueless as to what she looks like? We don’t even know if she’s human.

    Next: She looked at her husband, Vonroy, and nodded.

    In either POV, you shouldn’t include both “husband” and “Vonroy.” The both know he is her husband, so I would go with Vonroy.

    Next: “Aaaahhhh. I remember now. But why do we have to leave? I never wanted to go on this trek in the first place.”

    In the next paragraph Vonroy reminds her that this has been discussed, but it still feels contrived. She says she remembers now, but why doesn’t she remember that it has been discussed?

    Next: Vonroy’s voice remained low and firm. “We must go now. This has been discussed. Your traveling gear has been laid out as well. It would be a shame to see such an expensive outfit go unused.”

    If this is Vonroy’s POV, you should change it to “Vonroy kept his voice low and firm.” If it is Latroy’s POV, then it’s fine. Also, why is he speaking in passive voice? Did he lay the gear out? If so, he should say, “I laid your traveling gear out as well.”

    Next: Latroy, being a very frugal woman, couldn’t bear to see anything go to waste. “Oh, alright then. Have it your way.”

    This is an opportunity to show that she is frugal. Instead, you are telling. Also, “all right” is two words, not one.

    Next: Vonroy walked into the kitchen. He occupied himself by filling their canteens with water and their knapsacks with nourishment and camping supplies.

    Now we are in Vonroy’s POV, which is fine if you begin and stay there. Also, it would help to add specifics to promote visuals. How does he fill the canteens? From a modern sink? From a hand pump? Show a couple of specific items and supplies he puts in the knapsacks along with what kind of material the knapsacks are made of.

    Next: Just as he was rolling up the map, his wife emerged from their bedchambers. Latroy looked very much ready for adventure head to toe.

    What did this readiness look like? I feel blinded.

    Next: Everywhere but her face. She wore a scowl fowl enough to scare away any creature who was looking for an easy snack.

    What creatures? You have not mentioned that lurking creatures might be a possibility.

    At this point, I have no idea where they are going or why? The character’s goal should be established. I read ahead and discovered that Cosh is a wizard, and Vonroy wants to learn to fly, so those issues should be established by now.

    Next: Minutes later, the young couple stood on the border of their majestic city. “Goodbye, Shasrave. I hope we meet again.” Latroy waved goodbye as they slowly made their way farther and farther away from home.

    Again, there are no visuals. What does majestic look like? Is it a skyscraper city? A quaint adobe village? Is it crowded? Wide streets? We need a few clues to paint the mental picture.

    What does “made their way” mean? Were they walking on a clear path? Wading through high grass? Dodging trees in a forest? You mention the woods later, but we need that knowledge now.

    Next: Vonroy and Latroy Hweebar spent one whole month just trying to get out of the woods. They spent many long days hiking through the forest.

    Why the last name now? I would save it for when they introduce themselves to Cosh. Also, these two sentences seem repetitive to me.

    Next: At times it seemed that they would never find their way to the house of Cosh, but then they saw the desert.

    The “but” should indicate a contrast. In other words, the words after the “but” should say why the feeling that they would never find their way is now relieved. Instead, you bring up a reason for the feeling to continue.

    The next few paragraphs give a summary of their journey. As the other critiques mentioned, I think it would be better if you would skip all of this and begin the story with these two approaching the house’s stairway. Show how tired and thirsty they are, with bug bites, bruises, and bleeding cuts. Then we will know they have suffered through a long journey.

    Next: Vonroy and Latroy made their way up the staircase hand-in-hand.

    Actually, climbing winding stairs hand in hand is pretty hard to do.

    Next: When they reached the top, Vonroy pounded on the door with his fist. The twenty-foot-tall doors swung open on their hinges as if controlled by magic. The couple carfully stepped through the threshhold.

    “The” door indicates one door. Then you say there are “doors.” Also, it would help to tell us if they are made of wood or something else.

    Change spelling to “carefully” and “threshold.”

    Next: What they found when they entered was not quite what they expected.

    Show what they see first, then show their surprise.

    Next: The walls were uniquely decorated throughout the hallway. Early on, potion recipes and spell incantations were plastered on these walls. Farther down the corridor, portraits of Cosh’s ancestors were hung at precarious angles. It seemed as though the works of art were observing their every step.

    Notice that you use “were” four times. These indicate weak or passive verb forms. It would be better to activate them, e.g. “Potion recipes and spell incantations decorated the walls.”

    Next: The color drained from Latroy’s face. What was this new discovery? Who could the voice possibly belong to?

    Since her face is in view, it seems as if we are looking from Vonroy’s POV, but then it seems like we are reading Latroy’s thoughts. Who is thinking these questions?

    Next: Vonroy could tell by the look on his wife’s face that she wasn’t saying anything. Well, he thought. I am theman of the house, and Latroy is not helping me at all, so I suppose I will have to take care of this myself.

    Now we are clearly in Vonroy’s POV. Since you are using italics, you don’t need “he thought.” Also, these quoted thoughts are a bit long. You could show all of this without the thoughts by simply showing him stepping in front of Latory.

    Next: “Come this way, and then tell me what you want,” the wizard motioned for them to follow.

    This is not a speaker tag. Change the comma after “want” to a period and capitalize “The.”

    Next: Vonroy focused on the sway of Cosh’s robe against the hardwood floor as he and his wife were lead through the manor.

    If you want to use this phrasing, change spelling from “lead” to “led.” “Were led” is passive. I suggest “As Cosh led the way through the manor, Vonroy focused on the sway of Cosh’s robe against the hardwood floor.”

    Next: The trio entered a room, and Cosh motioned for them to sit down.

    What did the room look like? Did they sit down as instructed? On what? We need some visuals.

    Next: “I want to fly.”

    We should have known of his desire long ago. If you want to keep it a secret, at least foreshadow the reason. Is he crippled? Show it. Or show him admiring the birds. Readers should know the early story goal as soon as possible.

    That’s all I have. If you have questions or comments, please post them.

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  4. Megan,

    I like the way that you capture Latroy. You can picture right away what type of characteristics she has.

    Two suggestions I have:
    1) In paragraph 6, maybe instead of say that Latroy is a frugal woman, you could say she stiffened at the comment or something? I think it might flow a little nicer with different wording.

    2) You refer to Latroy and Vanroy a lot as the Hweebars. Though it is their name, I found it to be a bit repetitive. Maybe change it up once in a while with the pair, the couple?

    It sounds like a very interesting piece, keep writing!

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  5. A question for Mr. Davis:
    I have already previously sent in a work, but could I possibly submit another?

    Either way, thank you. The experience has bee wonderful.

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  6. The idea of a couple traveling across the landscape for a quest is the makings of an epic story. The main problem is: I don’t care for this couple very much. One of the first things to establish in a story is to make the reader care for your characters and in this story I really didn’t. I don’t know them at all. Your main goal I believe to show more about these characters. Why is this question important to them? What should we like about them?

    Some other things to work on description: I have little to no idea what this world or these characters looks like. You need to establish the setting when a character goes to a different location and when a character sees another character for the first time. The first description we receive of the main characters is near the end of this piece: “greasy black hair.”

    At the beginning I had no idea who was speaking in the first line. This needed to be said immediately. The opening lines are a decent hook and it gave the piece an ominous feel, but then it fast became comical. What sort of tone are you trying to set for this story? Comedy or Action Adventure?

    How does the wife know the sun hasn’t risen? She had just woken up? Having her look at the window and see would be a wiser course of action. Also watch out for typos like the lack of quotations on the second line and “mounains” a few lines down. Also how old is this couple? 20’s? 40’s? 60’s? I have no idea. Can you show the wife being frugal as opposed to telling it?

    Also what is the point of view of this book? Is it omniscient, because the book started with the wife’s POV and abruptly jumped to the husbands. How far is the kitchen from the bedchambers? The husband seemed to be just stepping into the next room. How big is their house? Also can you describe the wife’s outfit as she comes out? This would give an idea of a rough time period. Is it medieval? 1800s? Modern?

    The time passing during the next sequence seemed choppy. All this time passes as they move from place to place and I feel like you could have used some of this time for the benefit of the tale. I also would like to know more about this journey they’re going on. Honestly it seems a bit pointless because I have no idea how important it is to the characters. Also why did they get lost if they had a map? What is this world with so many biomes? Is it fictional? Why don’t they have horses? It would make travel faster.

    Watch your action and reaction when they walk into the mansion. They have to see what it is first before reaction. “Massive” and “massive” are two big words used too close together. I am confused with “early on” concerning the potion recipes. Is this early on as in time or place?

    The “I want to fly” line at the end definitely caught me, but it seemed to come out of nowhere. Could have foreshadowed this desire earlier?

    I think you have the makings of an interesting story, but it needs some work first. I commend you for your bravery to let this be critiqued though. Happy writing!

    Stori Tori’s Blog

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