Courting Death - Chapter One
Hey Jo, it’s Ed. Critiquing through #SuperWritersHelp!
This seems familiar… but hey, I haven’t gone through it in detail before. I did get slightly confused with all the names of different people the first time I read it. You’ve got Stuart, Keegan and Brett who are similar. Keegan and Brett are only mentioned once. I know it’s hard to say who they are without begin horribly expositional, but it might be a good idea. To be honest, do you need to mention them at all? Father Harvey and Sarah are fine, though.
There’s very little description. It could be hard to justify, since it’s Sarah’s narrative at the moment. That said, she’s just buried her son, and thinks the whole town is looking at her. My favourite bit is when there’s laughter and she thinks it’s at her. You could build in more of her paranoia through a creative semantic field (about being watched, being alone etc). Could the weather be cold, because that’s how she feels? Could there be an angel guarding a graveside, could it stare at her? What would she think if it did? It could bring another element to the story. It would help to bring more techniques to the narrative, too.
-I think ‘tombstone’ is one word.
-“So do we all Seh, so do we all.” – I’m not sure what it is about this that means it doesn’t sound right to me. It might just be odd wording. I expect it to be: ‘We all do, Seh. We all do.’
-I don’t think you need to capitalize ‘WAS’. I think the repetition is enough.
-I think there should be a period, not a comma here (the tag doesn’t quite relate enough to be in the same sentence): “Maybe he placed his faith in the wrong things Sarah(period)” Father Harvey was trying to be kind.
-“Each and everyone stared at me…” – ‘everyone’ needs a space. It’s like saying ‘Each and everyperson stared at me…’
-“The only friends I had at the moment.” – ‘in the moment’ is present tense. It’s a strange one where ‘the’ becomes the present form of ‘that’. It jars with ‘had’ which is definitely past. I suggest: ‘At that moment (or At the time), they were the only friends I had.’
-I don’t think you need ‘it seems’ because, from her point of view, she definitely did. She could be certain with her words. ‘I buried my son that day. But I’d lost him long before.’
Stuart could be more direct. He doesn’t really achieve much in this scene. It would be good to see more of his character than just agreeing or stating the obvious. What does he want out of this? To get closer to Sarah? How could he do that? “Come back to my place for a while. You’re freezing.”
What does Father Harvey want? To keep Sarah and Stuart apart maybe (I’ve slightly forgotten the plot, doesn’t Father H want to bring Sarah back to God?) How could be do that? I know he wants to bring her back to the church, but he doesn’t try very hard.
By working through the wants of the character, it’s much easier to get their purpose across to the audience.
Overall, it’s a nice opening. We don’t quite get enough of character through, or a wider sense of where they are. But you use speech creatively, and don’t ramble. Economic speech is far more interesting to read, because it does several things at once (and it’s more real!) Plot is good though, we know Keegan is dead, but we’re not sure how yet. Lots of intrigue as why she feels like she’s being judged (with disgust) by the rest of the town.
If you’ve got any questions, just give me a shout