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Friday, April 16, 2010

Crit Friday: Sing Softly

She thumped the nag with her feet. It protested, swishing its tail but lumbered forward in an easy, rolling lope. She relished in the feeling of riding again, not paying attention to Quinn behind her.

It was all the warning Zoe had before a near collision.

A blur of red and black horseflesh crashed into view. Zoe hauled back on the reins as the other horse wheeled, shying away from horse and rider. Her placid nag came to a stop, ears swinging forward to show at least mild interest in the new horse and rider. Zoe's heart raced from the near impact and stared up at the lively animal's rider.

"What are you thinking?" The young man snapped at her. "You could have hurt something."

"I - I'm sorry," Zoe stammered out as the rider came closer. "I didn't know that - that there was - I'm sorry." The blood rushed in her ears, not so much because she had done something incredibly stupid, but because the young man sitting on the bay horse was the sort of incredibly handsome type that causes a girl's heart to go pitter-patter. He had strong, chiseled features and she could see wisps of dark colored hair curling out from under his helmet.

"Did no one tell you that the park ended over there?"

"Um," Zoe tore her eyes from him and glanced back to see Quinn not too far back.

"Mr. Nasmyth." Quinn looked upset. "I'm sorry."

"It was my fault," Zoe blurted out. She could not look at either of them, so she looked at the bay horse who stood chomping at its bit. "That is an amazing horse you have, sir."

"You have an eye for horseflesh?" That seemed to amuse him.

"I wouldn't call myself an expert or anything. I just rode a lot when I was younger." Zoe decided that this was another one of the downfalls of having never attended a co-ed high school. Maybe then she wouldn’t be so self conscious talking to a man this handsome.

Mr. Nasmyth kicked his feet out of his stirrups and in one graceful movement vaulted off of the horse and led it towards Zoe. When he was almost at her knee he stopped and smiled mischievously. "Would you like to try him, then?" It was like asking if she wanted to drive the latest, fastest sports car; of course she did!

"He handles quite well," Mr. Nasmyth continued, "though he does tend to shy at sudden things."


SAMANTHA: I like that the hero offers to let Zoe ride his horse. It provides a glimpse into his personality. Although he comes off as gruff at first, a part of him is permissive and accepting. I have a couple of suggestions that I hope will be helpful. The first has to do with word choice in the first paragraph. I might say "She reveled in the feel of riding" or "She relished riding". I think that will give it better flow. And secondly, you might want to indicate that someone else shouts "Whoah!" Maybe something like a commanding male voice called out. I'm sure you can come up with something better. Thanks for sharing your writing with us. :)

GAIL: I agree with Samantha. His offering to let her ride the horse makes him an instant hero in my eyes. I'm sure once she gets up on that horse, your heroine will show us some spunk. I really don't have any suggestions, other than to make sure your heroine is a strong character. It's hard to tell from a short excerpt. Thanks for sharing your writing with us.

AMY: At first I didn't see how she did anything wrong. He is the one that came out of nowhere. This confused me until you explained they had left the park and I assume they are now on his land. He may have started out terse, but I liked his softening when he offered to let her ride his horse. It would be interesting to see how this develops.

LYDIA: I was really surprised Mr. Nasmyth offered to let her ride the horse after such a short time, but it was cute. And I liked that she tried to take the blame for whatever had happened before the scene started. I saw a couple places where there were grammatical errors, but nothing huge. My main suggestion would be to "show" a little bit more. For example... Quinn looked upset. How so? Did his eyes narrow or his nostrils flare or his brow furrow? Describe what the heroine sees so we can see how she knows Quinn is upset. Does that make sense?

MELISSA: The only thing I'm going to add is bringing his description up to where her eyes collide with him. We don't know he's handsome until a few sentences later. It kind of slows the pacing. As readers we're eager to see the heroine's reaction to the hero and vice versa so when she see's him - then you add dialogue and we don't get to "see" him until a bit later it's frustrating. Her eyes should come up to see him and bam we get his description. This will also put you in deeper pov as well. Get into her head and show us what she sees. I liked the action and the blur of red and black. I think you can expand on that, increase the pacing a little and it'll be quite an exciting scene. Great characterization though, I can clearly see what kind of a person they both are. So I think getting deeper into pov will just bring that out better than ever. Great job and excellent scene.

JULIE: Thanks so much for sharing this lovely escerpt. I really like the visual of the horse flesh colliding. I also like how you descrivbe the hero as the kind of guy that makes a girl's heart go pitter patter. I completely related to that line. There are instances where I think you could character's gestures to give the reader more of a clue. For example when you say "that this seemed to amuse him." Why? Show the reader what she sees. Did his lips curl, his eyes twinkle? Thanks again.

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