Critique Group – The Treeman of Roses

I think I’ll pass, thanks.

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The Treeman of Roses – by Tamra

Goewyn Nic Mannan wandered deep into the forests of her homeland in the southwest of Avalon. Every inch of these forests were known to her… all except for this one. The forests were dark and deep, dangerous to those who didn’t know their way. Goewyn however knew the tricks of the forests, and wandered unafraid. The elf-maid, who was known as an experienced woodswoman and skilled in her talent of plant magic, was armed with her short sword and her harp over her shoulder.

Soon she came across a tall hedge of thorns. They grew almost to the tops of the trees.

“How strange, I don’t remember anyone mentioning this.” said Goewyn.

Goewyn found a small space in the hedge and crawled inside, pulling her harp in after her. Once she was through she looked in wonder. Around her was a garden unlike she had ever seen. Each bed was a work of art, a magnificent mix of companion plants in a rainbow of colors, a bower of Morning Glories sang their song answered by the trumpets of the nasturtiums.

Goewyn wandered through the garden listening in marvel to the voices of the flowers, all their languages she knew. Most beautiful of all were the roses. A thousand different kinds and colors, all breeds of the “king of the flowers” bloomed around the center of the garden. The air was heady with the scent of the roses and the drone of bees. A lane ran through the roses to a throne made of willow branches and roses. It was empty, but Goewyn walked around it, examining it from all sides.

“A kingdom of flowers. Whoever owns this place is quite good at what he does.”

Goewyn stopped to think. She had heard of such a garden before, sitting at her mother’s knee. The old song of Meridian floated through her mind, singing of a time long ago, and of a dryad of great power.

“Rhodon. The King of the Flowers. But that’s impossible!”

On the other side of the garden, a treeman listened to what the flowers were saying. He was an ancient creature, so old that he could remember King Finvarra the Second, had even fought by his side. His were eyes that had seen war, beauty, joy, and grief, and for them were wise. A tremble in his beloved flowers let him know that there was someone in his garden. He held up one hand and quieted the plants.

Long strides brought him to the place where the person his flowers sensed was. Kneeling by the stream that ran by his roses was a young Elf-girl. Her hair was golden and her skin milk white. Her eyes were blue as the sky. She looked just like his friend, so long gone, Lady Solana of Meridian. Perhaps she was from Meridian? Is that why his garden let her enter? If he was going to say hello to her he would need to be presentable.

Goewyn got up from her knees and decided to find her way out.

“You do realize that you’ve been trespassing.” said a resonant voice from somewhere.

“Oh! My, I’m sorry, it was just so beautiful, I had to investigate.” said Goewyn.

“I understand, that’s why I put up my fence.” said the voice, it’s owner gliding into view.

He was a tall creature, taller than an elf, with green and brown skin that was the texture of bark and green eyes shot through with amber. He wore moss on the upper portion of his body and a woolen kilt on his lower half, complete with sporran. Goewyn knew his species, he was a tree man, but she didn’t recognise his kind of tree.

“Your pardon sir, I meant no harm.” said Goewyn with a curtsey.

“I could see that, you came only to look, not to touch. You showed respect for me and my flowers, and therefore I granted you to visit my garden.” said the lordly tree man.

“What is your name, elf’s child?” he asked.

“Oh, prince of the trees, I am called Lady Goewyn Nic Mannan of House Meridian.” said Goewyn falling into the old fashioned speech that some tree men still used.

“Few of your kind have set eyes on me in these many long years. I am Rhodon.” That name Goewyn knew.

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10 replies

  1. I wrote a lengthy critique, and when I clicked on “Post Comment,” it disappeared. I will try again sometime, but it might be a while before I have the time.

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  2. Tamra,

    You have a good sense of well-constructed prose, and you did a good job on the descriptions.

    Since you changed point of view (POV) twice, I assume you were trying for an omniscient POV. I think you would be better of with a third-person limited POV and make it more intimate. Start with Goewyn, as you did, but stay with her. As a reader, I didn’t gain much insight when you switched to Rhodon’s POV. The small insight that I did gain could have been duplicated by his dialogue, facial expressions, and body language when perceived in Goewyn’s POV.

    In order to gain more intimacy, I think you shouldn’t start with her full name. She probably doesn’t think of herself that way. Just use Goewyn. You show her full name later when she introduces herself, so you won’t lose anything by switching.

    I would like to see Goewyn have some sort of goal or purpose. You have her just wandering through the forest. Why? What is she doing there? Having a goal throughout is helpful, even if it’s a minor goal to begin with.

    The following part seemed odd to me:

    Every inch of these forests were known to her… all except for this one. The forests were dark and deep, dangerous to those who didn’t know their way. Goewyn however knew the tricks of the forests, and wandered unafraid.

    Why would she be unafraid? You wrote that she didn’t know this part of the forest, so it must be dangerous.

    Next:
    “How strange, I don’t remember anyone mentioning this.” said Goewyn.

    Put speaker tags as early as possible, like this: “How strange,” said Goewyn. “I don’t remember anyone mentioning this.” You have several instances of leaving the tag until the end. You should move all of them earlier. In this case, since she is the only person present, you don’t need a speaker tag at all.

    Next:
    Once she was through she looked in wonder.

    You reported her reaction before the motivation for the reaction. In an intimate POV, when following the experiences of your focal character, you should report her motivation before showing her reaction to it.

    Next:
    “Goewyn wandered through the garden listening in marvel to the voices of the flowers, all their languages she knew.”

    Watch for repeated words. This is your third use of “wandered.” Also, you use “roses” four times in this paragraph.

    Next:
    Goewyn stopped to think.

    This is a throwaway phrase. It provides no visual. What was her body language? Since you show her later getting up from her knees, this would be a good place to show her getting down on her knees.

    Next:
    Goewyn got up from her knees and decided to find her way out.

    Why did she decide to find her way out? What motivated her action?

    Next:
    “Oh! My, I’m sorry, it was just so beautiful, I had to investigate.” said Goewyn.

    When people react, they usually don’t start with spoken words. The first reaction is usually physical. See more about motivation and reaction in this post – http://www.theauthorschair.com/2015/07/13/writing-point-of-view-part-6-motivationreaction-units-part-1/

    And this one – http://www.theauthorschair.com/2015/07/20/writing-point-of-view-part-9-motivationreaction-units-part-2/

    Next:
    You showed respect for me and my flowers, and therefore I granted you to visit my garden.

    It might be a good idea to show Goewyn thinking about her decision to avoid touching anything. When she kneels would be a good time to do that.

    Also, it seems odd that he would say this. She was already in the garden, and he learned of her entry after the fact. How can he grant a visit that has already taken place?

    Next:
    That name Goewyn knew.

    You already reported that she knew about his name. It might be better to have her react in another way.

    Overall, well done. Keep writing!

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    • Mr. Davis,
      This is such a huge complement to me to have you look at my work. Thank you for your words about all the issues, and I will be immediately implementing the changes you recommend. I’m really excited about this!

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  3. Tamara, this story concept is amazing! 😀
    Your descriptions were captivating and sucked me in immediately.
    Great job & keep up the good work! 🙂

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  4. This is just a note… do with it what you will.

    First of all, I agree with Mr. Davis. Your descriptions are spot-on, and they really allow me to visualize the setting and characters. You do a great job of appealing to the senses, especially sight and smell.

    When I read the story, the characters seemed to be very elegant, formal beings. However, their speech is casual… almost too casual for their displayed personalities. Informal words, such as contractions and phrases like “Whoever owns this place,” “you do realize,” and “My, I’m sorry” might not be appropriate for them to say. If they do have the type of personality I’m thinking of, then phrases like “This garden’s caretaker,” “Are you aware that,” and “I apologize” may be better choices. Who knows, though? Maybe these creatures are just informal by nature. It’s your story, after all.

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    • Hi Tyler! Yeah, I see your point. Rhodon in particular needs a little tightening up in the vocabulary department, Goewyn could also use a bit of help, as well. She spends a lot of time around humans, but she would returned to her more formal way of speaking when addressing a person of importance like Rhodon. Nice catch!

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  5. I’m getting a sense of a “Beauty and the Beast” twist. Was this your intention? If so, I can’t wait to see how you work through it.

    There were a few instances where you had characters speak, when I would probably have seen them thinking. When Goewyn says, “how strange, I don’t remember anyone mentioning this” would almost fit better as thought because there is no one around to talk to.

    Another thing to note is that when you introduce Rhodon, you automatically say “a treeman listened”, but I, as the reader, don’t know what a tree man is. Once you described him from Goewyn’s perspective (green and brown skin the texture of bark, etc.) then I understood what you were getting at. Maybe just introduce him as a man, or something of that nature (not anything that will give away what he is too soon).

    Can’t wait to read the finished product!!!!

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    • Hey A.J.! Yes, this story will have shades of Beauty and the Beast, only they’re just friends by the end. When I’m finished with the edits I’ll resubmit it to the critique group so you can see! Also great catch on Rhodon’s introduction, I’m going to take that bit out completely and work it differently, from Goewyn’s perspective the whole way. I’m so happy that everyone likes it!!

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  6. Interesting tale, Tamra. I like the characters you introduced.

    I suggest that you brush up on dialogue punctuation. There’s also tons of articles out there about writing good dialogue, would help with the ‘she said’ tags at the end of lines and help story flow.

    Clarify the opening paragraph a bit more adding emotion. How does she feel about the forests. Also, does she live somewhere surrounded by several different forests or just one large one and she was exploring a new part?

    I liked the description of the tree man. Liked that he wore moss for clothes.

    Also maybe add more about what she’s thinking. Let us get a look into her head instead of showing us what she sees.

    Keep writing. I want to read more.

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