A Real Critique

Well, today I received my first critique of some of my paragraphs about setting. It was from Eliza Knight, an author I appreciate and admire. Her insights were wonderful and I believe that I can make some changes and improve my writing a lot. Here is my writing followed by Ms. Knight’s comments:

Lesson One – Part One


The crip air rustled the bright red, yellow, and orange leaves that were still hanging onto the trees; hanging onto life before they dropped limply into the cool rushing stream and floated into nothingness. In the distance the birds were chirping to each other in a greeting for the new day. There was still hope and life to cling to in this part of the woods. Although no one knew for how long that hope and life would linger. 

Lesson One – Part Two

First Paragraph

Scotland 1316

“It is time,” Morgana announced as she hobbled into the laird’s solar banging her staff on the stone floor as she moved.

Alasdair glanced at his brother and cousin, both men meeting his look, then back at Morgana. “Are ye sure?” he asked.

“Ye dare question me?” Morgana straightened to her full height of five feet, three inches. She squinted her black eyes at the laird of the keep and waited for his reply.

“Course not. I just wanted to be sure, ye ken.” He gave her a grin and then winked a steel gray eye at her.

Morgana huffed and looked at the other two men in the room and noticed Lachlan trying to hide a grin. It was difficult for him since he was almost always seen with a smile on his face and a laugh in his heart. 

Lesson One – Part Three


Sight -Alasdair squinted through the blowing rain. There on the alter stone stood a lass with, indeed, a strange light in her hands. Although silhouetted against the dark as a darker shadow, he could clearly make out a woman in strange clothing. She appeared to be wearing trews instead of a skirt and some type of jacket. With the rain slicing down he was not certain exactly what he was seeing, but he knew she was not like any woman he had ever met. Her face was profiled and turned upward looking into the light as if summoning the Gods themselves in this storm. He noticed a streak of mud that was slowing running down her cheek with the slashing rain.

Sound – Her scream of shock was drowned out by the clap of thunder and the sound of the alter stone being shattered by the lightning. The stone that the lass was just standing on crumbled to the ground in broken pieces. 

Smell – She could smell the burning wood and hear the crackle and popping as the wood began to catch and burn brighter. 

Taste -She could feel the panic begin to bubble up inside her. It was like tasting garlic bread for the second time. Her stomach never really accepted garlic bread and she would usually feel it the rest of the night and sometimes into the next day. McKenna did not remember eating garlic bread recently, so she knew this was real panic.

Touch -Wet. McKenna felt wet. And cold. Her head was pounding with a dull ache behind her eyes. She was afraid to open them. Tentatively she moved her fingers to open her hands so she could push herself up. Her fingers scraped against a hard surface snagging the white glove she was wearing on her right hand. It was too rough to be the floor of the museum and it was uneven under her palms. Her body was achy and her cheek felt numb where she lay face down on a wet surface. Slowly she squinted her eyes to see what was beneath her. 

Eliza Knight:

Hi! Thank you for sending in your assignments!

Part One: Great job! I like how you brought hope and yet some despair! Something to think about — instead of using “were” try to see if you can use a more active voice. For example: “were chirping” becomes “chirped” 

Part Two: Great opening! Puts us right into the action. We also get a good sense of where she is, the stone floor, the solar. But maybe give us just a touch more. What are they wearing? Are there any weapons present? What is the temperature? Just some things to think about.

Part Three: GREAT use of the senses!!!! Very well done! Only suggestion is instead of “felt wet”, simply show us she is wet. 

These are suggestions that I will take to heart and try to improve my writing to a level equal to Ms. Knight’s.

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