Steve Holness

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I have posted the opening to my book before (under "Is this strong enough?") and received much encou…
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  •  · Hello Bella, thank you for reading and commenting, and my apologies as above for the late response.I…
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Hello everyone. My concern is that the opening chapter of my novel, The Sodality of Beauticians, is …
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  •  · No problem! Drip feeding backstory throughout does take longer to figure out and to edit but the res…
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Hello all. I'm going back many years, but when I was at school I was taught to omit the closing quot…
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  •  · Thanks, Blakeney. I did as you suggest when I rewrote the passages. Because it is less formal, the a…
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Hello everyone. Advice please.I have a German character, Wilhelm, who speaks "excellent English with…
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  •  · Thanks Sarita. I'll take a look.
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Hello everyone. I have read some of the posts and the critiques offered and have been impressed by t…
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  •  · Sure. I sent you a PM

Just a thought about your double space habit. If you are using Words, the search facility (control h) will quickly correct the problem. In "find" type in two spaces and in "replace" type in a single space. Click "replace all." Job done.

I use the free version of ProWritingAid as a grammar checker. It helps me by pointing out all the commas which I have omitted - my bad habit.

Beyond that, I don't think it is much help. The problem is that it wants to force you to write in the manner it thinks is right. So, if you comply, you will sacrifice individuality and voice, and end up with bland, anodyne prose. 

Just my thoughts.

Hello Jo, I enjoyed your story. For me, it works just as it is.

I have no experience of writing books for children of any age so please take my comments with a shovelful of salt. Julie mentions structure, a main character, and three tries before the MC succeeds. Wouldn't this jack up the word count too much? Presumably, the number of pages, and of words, is about right for the type of book you are writing.

Good luck with it!

Hello Bella, thank you for reading and commenting, and my apologies as above for the late response.

I am going to add the date (1937) to clarify the time of the action - see my reply to Jo above.

I think the passage about the suicide attempt needs more work, as you say. Now you point it out, the doctor not enquiring about the pills on his second visit is a glaring omission. Thanks.

Thank you for your encouragement, especially those last three words - "I'd read on."

Hello Georgina, thank you for your encouragement and my apologies for the late reply. My reply to Jo, above, gives the information about the date of the story. Thanks again.

Hello Jo, first I must apologise for taking so long to reply; I have been suffering computer/internet problems. Apologies also to Georgina and Bella. Still, all sorted now, I hope, he said with fingers crossed whilst clutching a rabbit's foot and a sprig of white heather.

You, Georgina, and Bella are quite right that the date needs to be established at or near the beginning of the story. This was done in the backstory that has been removed. The funeral is in November 1937 and the story continues on into the early years of WW2. I'm thinking of starting the second section of chapter 1 this way: 

November 12th 1937; a grey, cold, miserable morning, with an incessant drizzle blowing around on a stiff breeze. The parish priest and his curate...

 It's not subtle, but it does the job. Does it work for you?

Attitudes to divorce in the 1930's were very different to nowadays; particularly to divorced women - think Wallace Simpson and Edward VIII. Also, Gerald's Catholicism adds a further complication. For Cynthia to have simply left her husband would have been unthinkable, so asking him for a divorce was a brave step.

Your comments about the suicide attempt are interesting; I will have another look at that. I think I may have over-edited it and removed elements that were actually necessary.

Thank you for taking the time to read the chapters and posting your thoughts. 

Added a forum 

I have posted the opening to my book before (under "Is this strong enough?") and received much encouragement. I think I have addressed the various comments made; particularly about a large passage of back story which has been removed and now forms the basis of a conversation between Cynthia and another character, Vicki.

I have attached the first two chapters (4000 words) and would be really grateful for any feedback.

Thanks, Catherine. I've got my head around it now.

Thanks for the explanation, Jon. I was beginning to wonder if I was posting in my sleep!

Hi Catherine. Just found James Forinton's comment and your explanation. However, I'm none the wiser. How did I get involved? I've not added anything to this post though I have posted elsewhere on several occasions.

Hi Mir. Jon and Janet have given you some brilliant suggestions. I am not good at that forensic analysis so will only comment generally. Your opening chapter reads really well. It is intriguing and gripping, and I want to know more. The tension between Faye and David is well expressed and the antagonism in their attitudes, one to the other, works well.

So, now to the messy bit; and I am at risk of sounding like an old-fashioned axe murderer trying out new toys. I don't know what Faye does with the saw but there is a possible problem with how a disc saw as you call it, or Skil saw or circular saw in the UK, can be operated. At rest, the blade is covered by a guard. This retracts automatically as the saw is pushed against the solid surface of a piece of timber thus allowing the blade to cut the wood. I doubt flesh, especially if the flesh in question is desperately trying to get out of the way, would offer sufficient resistance to allow the guard to retract and the teeth to bite. The guard can be retracted manually, but would Faye know this?

My secondary concern is that, for a DIY machine, a disc saw has a maximum cutting depth of 70mm. Again, I don't know what Faye does, but that is sufficient to sever a wrist, possibly an ankle. It would not be enough to remove an arm or a leg, and certainly not a head; although it would certainly be capable of fatally wounding David.

Sorry to be so gruesome. Good luck with your writing


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