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You have power over your mind - not outside events.  Realise this and you will find strength.

Marcus Aurelius

Blakeney Discussions
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Is there a way of editing a post you have entered in Townhouse, after you've sent it?  Sometimes you…
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  •  · Thank you to Kate, D.M. Costa, and Holly.  I'll leap along and do the necessary right now.
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Last night's webinar was the third I've joined since becoming a member of Jericho Writers.  I was es…
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  •  · Please excuse the use of the word "doing" in my first sentence.  I don't know how that got in there.
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Doh!  I seem to have mis-posted my peer-to-peer review request.  It's available under Jericho Writer…
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Well, that's my Christmas up the spout, then.  Still, it will be worse for many people.  At least, w…
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  •  · I hope you all managed to have a good time, however you spent it.  I now have to work out a way of g…
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Has anyone in Jericho Writers used the above company to publish an e-book?  I'm thinking of doing th…
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  •  · Very helpful - thank you. I am also in the process of trying to work out if I should use KDP or IS. 
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After taking part in last night's webinar after all, I realise it might not be possible to achieve a…
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  •  · It’s good writing, a lot of perseverance and a little luck (about your submission landing on the rig…
Added a comment to Pen Name 

This is the only reply I've seen, Baz. I hope what I said has helped.

Thank you for letting us know about this.  I can only echo what the others have said.  I'd add a couple of slices of Swiss roll to the tea myself.  I  could paper the walls with my own rejections,(my last two novels each received 20 ) so I know how it feels but that's only one agent.  Carry on regardless.

Added a comment to Pen Name 

Baz, first of all, welcome to Townhouse.

 You're right: unless you're purely a comedy writer, your pseudonym would mean that you wouldn't be taken seriously (though it did make me chuckle).  I've been trying to make an anagram of your stage name, but with no viable success! 

Why not use your real name?  Baz is distinctive and, if I were you, I'd keep that, although it's a short form. If you feel you'd like a different surname for some reason, it would be a good idea to check the client list of the Society of Authors, so that you don't choose something too similar.  This is what I did.

I've had various pseudonyms over the years, male and female, but finally decided to keep my own first name because I'm more comfortable with it but changed my surname because there are several other writers with the same one.

A lot depends on what you are trying to achieve: greater distinctiveness, the appearance of being younger or older, the appearance of being the opposite sex - these are the usual reasons for a pseudonym - but who says you can't be successful with your real one?

Good luck with your writing, anyway.

Welcome, Allison!  I've never even  been to Scotland but would like to.  I'm currently writing a novel but it isn't my first. I note that you write short stories as well as longer fiction.  I wrote my first short story last year and posted it a couple of days ago in the Short Story Group - so that's one group for you to consider (and you might want to share one of your own, as well).

Added a comment to Dead Simple 

Janice, I missed your first posting of "Dead Simple", so I am approaching this as a new critiquer.  

Taking the first paragraph, the descriptive aspect of the scene needs to take a back seat, in order not to detract from the action.  It can be blended in.  "Treetops" should be deleted.  The penultimate sentence needs to be placed differently because it relates to the jogging figure.The paragraph could read something like this: (I don't quite agree with the over-use of adjectives).

A tall agile figure was jogging along the quiet country road, past a dense line of trees that stretched into the distance.  The screeching of crows fleeing from his approach filled the air as they flew into the bare branches and, as he moved, a white plume of breath puffed outward with every stride - .but the jogger's objective was now in sight.  It was time to take it more slowly.

2nd para:  "Standing alert next to a tree eyes were focused" - this is an example of a very common mistake; the hanging participle, What you are saying is that eyes were standing next to a tree.  You need to say "eventually, he stopped behind a tree  to conceal himself  and focus ahead."  Delete "tightly" as "clenched" conveys the tightness.  "Finger" is unnecessary with "knuckles" and you need to say "jogger's knuckles".  How can tension hang in the air when one person is outside?  You need to make a reference to the tension the jogger is feeling.  "Stepping forward" etc. is another  example of the participle thing.  The hands are not stepping forward.

3rd para: Insert "was" before "rolled".  The dress description is too detailed for this part of the story as it detracts from the mood.  At this point, it would be better to refer to his dress as being "businessman-like" or some such simple expression, which would be enough to enable the reader to picture him.

 ‘Thanks.  I appreciate this.  My ankle really hurts now.  I tripped up on a rabbit hole,’ words were strained while easing into the car.

Delete "words were strained etc" from this passage, as it's superfluous, and connect what's left with the next line.

A dash is needed between "sprain" and "nothing".

The speech beginning "Sure" should end with "you" and what follows should begin a new sentence.

The paragraph beginning "The car drive" includes description that takes the reader away from what is going on.  It would be  better incorporated into the action, something like this:

The car was driven slowly [a car can't be silent if it's moving] through deserted country roads as a grey mist crept over the nearby farmland, accompanying the increasing darkness that was slowly engulfing the road.  (Maybe the grey mist is unnecessary, as night is coming on).

The sentence beginning "The brightness ahead" should appear before "Wow!" etc.

"It's not the first phone I've lost" should be followed by a new line.  Delete "he stared...kerbside" and clarify with the following, or something similar.  (I presume the "jogger" is acting surreptitiously here).

Unnoticed by Brocklehurst, he glanced through the window at the kerbside.".

In the next line, replace "forward" by "on its journey".  

 "A hand shot" makes it sound as if it did this of its own accord.  Try replacing it with "he said, pointing a hand in front of Jonathan's chest".

"Startled by the unexpected reaction" should have a comma before and after it, as it's in parenthesis.  I think "squashed" would be better replaced with "stamped".

"Give me a minute" - it isn't immediately clear which of the two men is speaking and the last sentence would be more grammatical as "By turning on the spot, it was easier for him to get back to the car".

"There was hesitation" has a distancing effect.  It would be better to say"A moment's hesitation followed" then the dialogue BUT his last sentence is what is known as information dumping.  It comes over as trying to educate the reader.  Don't let your research show.

Moving on, "A firm look" can't cross a person's face.  You could say "Firmness appeared on his face"  or something similar.

In the next paragraph, "A cold object was thrust under his chin" should come first, and "what happened" needs to be replaced by "What was happening".  It's occurring now.

Replace "Jonathan's voice shrilled" with "Jonathan gasped".

There is an under-use of the comma.  For instance, in the sentence beginning "something colder", one is needed after "stomach" and "body".

"Jonathan's head eased forward and his dry lips closed around the rigid plastic" .  Just "dry lips" is too detached.

You sometimes use the term "out" instead of "out of", as with "he tried to focus out the window".  This is all right in speech because some people talk like that - but not in narrative.

In the paragraph beginning "Jonathan was beginning", I would delete the third sentence, which is unnecessary.

In the following paragraph, it would be better just to say "he couldn't move his head" and "spoke to himself" would sound better as "he asked himself".

In the paragraph beginning "Terror screamed", "a raging torrent" is purple prose.  You could say "humiliation overwhelmed him".

The metal clip of the buckle clanked like a chain as it was forced open.   Jonathan’s leather brown belt was pulled harshly through his waistband.  Fear froze him as he felt his trousers being roughly pulled down. - Delete "metal" and Insert the word "belt" before "buckle".  Delete "Jonathan's leather brown belt" and insert "...then "tugged"  through his waistband.

The simile of a tornado is unnecessary decoration at this key moment.  "Frantic" would be a good word to use somewhere here.

In the paragraph beginning "A spray" "heavily onto" can be deleted, as "clamped" conveys the same meaning.

The next sentence after ""Hey Jonathan" needs to follow it on the same line.

"Lead" is misspelt in the final paragraph.

In the next chapter, there is similar scope for change but, in particular, I'll mention "Why shouldn't I be?" and "why wouldn't I be?".  This is standard soap opera dialogue which no-one uses in real life. (A pet peeve of mine).

I'm sorry if there seems to be a lot of negativity in my amateur assessment and, of course, you might disagree with some of it.  I hope you'll find it helpful too,though.

On a positive note, I find your description of Jonathan's torture fearlessly realistic.  A good start to your novel.

Added a comment to hello 

Welcome to Townhouse, Adam.  Enjoy!

Terrific!  Your first ever submission - what a milestone! Do let us know how it goes, if you want to - and good luck. 

P.S. I hope you're trying several agents at once.

Thank you for sending the article. Plot twists don't have to be startling.  I personally never write a twist thinking "I need a good twist here".  It's something that should arise naturally from the story, with subtle heralding, otherwise it leaves the reader feeling cheated and gives a rabbit-out-of-a-hat impression, as if the writer was getting him/herself out of a plot problem or the dreaded block.  Ashley Pharoah has the right idea.  

Hello, Deborah.

As L. suggests, your synopsis needs to be more concise, but I'd like to confine my comments to your letter.

In the first paragraph, you do right to acknowledge that you've consulted the profile but you need to express an interest in what will draw in the reader, rather than the agent.  You could say something like "and I believe that the compelling voice of Maggie will draw in the reader".

The second paragraph is too long.  I would delete it up to "self-discovery" and include an "elevator pitch" that reads something like "Maggie abandons life in Dublin to find fulfillment in Paris but is soon disillusioned.  She begins her return journey, only to receive a message that could have kept her there".  Condense the rest of the paragraph, if you feel you really need to put it in, or create another (short) paragraph for it.

It's best not to mention your own age if you're well on from forty because some agents are said to be against taking on older writers as clients.

As for the third paragraph, although this is also a bit long, I would keep it in because it seems to be just the sort of information that will recommend you personally to an agent.  Congratulations on achieving all that!

Just wanted to add I didn't start writing in retirement.  I've been doing it since long before that!

Actually, I'm retired, too but making slow progress.  (I hope no agents are reading this as it's said that some don't like to take on the older writer).  I'm certainly going to keep at it.  Good luck with your writing.

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