75 comments

Drama Historical Fiction Western

(Excerpt from Chapter One of my unpublished novel 'A Brilliantly Scathing Life'. The plot thickens...)


Head hung downward, Kendra stared unseeingly as the dry earth passed beneath the massive hooves of the oxen team pulling her heavy Conestoga wagon. Then the freshly turned earth came into view just under her high bench seat. Already it had been flattened by the wagons streaming ahead of her and was fading to blend with the surrounding clay. The wagon master had insisted that was the way it had to be to keep wild animals from ravaging the remains. No marker. No one would ever lay fresh flowers and shed a few tears thinking about the soul passed away or the full life lived. No one would ever know a grave was there.

As the newlywed widow of said tortured soul Kendra should be the one mourning that loss life. Yet she was numb, felt nothing unless it was a shameful sense of relief. No tears would come unless they were for her treasured grandfather who had mysteriously died in the middle of the night mere days ago, just before her small party, still trying to fulfill the dream of the aging Georgian gentleman, had joined forces with this train setting out across the wilderness.

But no tears of hers would ever fall for the swarthy dandy who had weaseled his way into her grandpa's good graces and convinced the ever-protective provider that a riverboat swindler would be the perfect husband for his innocent seventeen-year-old southern bred granddaughter.

What had Grandfather been thinking? Had the scallywag blackmailed or cheated Pappy in some fashion to make him believe it was advantageous to give her hand to such a gad-about? Was it as simple as the man had shared their somewhat common last name, Potter, so she carry it to posterity?

To her the courtship had been a whirlwind nightmare. Vows were stiffly spoken lies in front of her spouse-to-be's steamboat captain friend. Leroy had been all polite and charming up until then but quickly became a demented beast. No tender romance or loving touch as she had always imagined a marriage commitment should be. She shuddered.

Kendra wore the only black frock she owned due to her grandpa's sudden passing but she would never grieve for that fool of a man who had gotten himself thrown from her papa's spirited steed showing off to sod busters and justifiably breaking his cravatted neck. She had the sense to have all his finery stripped off him before the rushed burial just in case she needed to sell some of it. Lord only knew where any provisions would be coming from henceforth. (Please, Lord, what am I to do now?)

It had been Grandfather's dream to head into the great unknown West in an effort to save his family's legacy that had been getting ripped apart by the civil struggle back east. He'd been taking extreme measures to plan for the arduous trip starting just after his son, Kendra's father, had been killed in the blood bath at Donelson. Months were spent designing, building and packing this unique travel wagon. Already it had been serving the remnant family well for weeks trudging across the war-torn South, then north and westerly, carrying them far away from the decimated plain-plantation in central Georgia. Thankfully, the war had been declared over but, as Granddad had suspected, the reconstruction of the rebellious South started out just as destructive. Time to go.

The morning mist was burning off as she raised her eyes to peer at faithful Theo urging the plodding oxen forward with a soft reed in his left hand and holding a long rein on his right leading the fearsome bay now meekly following his commands. It wasn't the good horse, Charger's, fault LeRoy was no sensible horseman. She hoped she would never have to sell the powerful equine. Strong Theo could surely keep him in control just as Grandpa Potter had done since Kendra's father had gone off to war leaving Charger in his dad's trusted care. That had been accomplished by hiding the horse and all the wagon preparations away from the ever increasing neediness of the Confederates and the greediness of the Union. None of that was easy. Randolf Potter's cunning had gotten them as far as the riverboat disaster but then...

She sighed knowing she still had Theo's broad shoulders to lean on but she also recognized she was now the decision maker of their sojourning foursome.

Theo had been Grandpa's devoted servant all their lives. Master Potter had freed Theo long before the secession along with the other servants and their families on the Potter's small prosperous operation a few miles north of Macon. All the former slaves had stayed on sharecropping right up to Sherman's march then accepted Potter's offer of forty acres each owned free and clear.

While he was still able-bodied the fifty-seven year-old felt it was time to take his granddaughter in search of a new world. With all the young men lost in the war where would he find a suitable mate for her?

Theo and his beautiful, common-law wife, Carolena, along with her eleven-year-old son, Tobias, had remained loyal to Rand Potter. Theo's blacksmith and carpentry skills had facilitated the conception and production of this one of a kind house on wheels complete with two satellite vehicles being piloted toward the western plains.

Kendra signaled to Theo when he glanced back to check on her that she would climb down to trade places with 'Lena who was advancing the lighter weight ox drawn box wagon. Once the reins were secured she jumped down the back of the huge prairie schooner.

"You doing okay?" Trying to assure him she was fine, the new widow gave Toby, who led the the mule pulling the goat cart, a side hug and patted his dog's shaggy head as she passed their little herd of goats and sheep they goaded forward.

"Who's gonna be telling me what I needs to do?" From his quick, shy grin she sensed Toby would not be missing bossy Leroy.

Gentle Theo thought Leroy was the chosen one by Rand for his cherished little girl. The days since escaping the riverboat and Rand's passing had been nearly unbearable under Leroy's rule. When they joined the train Leroy morphed into a benevolent leader looking after all of their best interests.

"Sorry, I didn't do anything to get the nooning meal started while I was up there. Just couldn't stop mooning, I guess." Kendra confessed to 'Lena as she accepted a hug from her.

"Aw, Honey Chil', after da shock ya had a couple o' hours ago a body has ta understand. Can't say ya needs be out here now. Ya curl up in bed and have a good ol' tear jerk if need be. Lordy be, Chil', you uns jut lost ya newly pledged such as he was! On top o' losin' Masta Rand! Only so much a heart can lose wit'out crackin' a bit. Theo got da wagon. We got it out here and don't worry none 'bout wha' we be eat'n. I get it up fast 'nough."

"Thanks, but I best walk off the worry. Think about what comes next. Glad to see you are bearing up. Maybe easier without Leroy's demands, huh?"

"Huh, uh. Jut remember as Masta Rand always taught us da Goo' Lor' has us in His hand. Me and Theo be stayin' right beside ya, too."

"I am so bless to have caring friends like you."

"Nah, we is family an' dat's wha' family do. Can no get out o' it."

"Go take a rest up there, now. You'll get a fine view of your man. You both are so lucky to have each other. Knowing me like you do, you have to be aware as fast as that whole deranged ceremony took place that Mister Leroy was no where near my dream boat. I went along 'cause I thought I was making Pappy happy. But I have to confess I don't understand what was his rush. And then his all too sudden demise...", Kendra blinked back gathering tears.

"Careful now, ya be creatin' 'nother trail o' tears." 'Lena laid her hand on Kendra's shoulder, made sure she was grounded again then tossed back her thick braid of black hair and headed toward the laboring Conestoga.

"How Missy doin'?" Theo asked as she neared.

"She pull thru fine. Still more upset 'bout Masta Rand's passin' dan she ever be 'bout dat no account 'cuse fer a husbn'. Still can't figure wha' next. Too much burden on tiny shoulders! Dat all." 'Lena tsked.

"Tink we could steal away ta talk some? Been long time no 'Lena. "

"Yeah, I understand ya kinda talkin', Mista Big Man! Long as we keep dese beasts a trackin', umm..."

He guided her toward the the front of the wagon and lifted her up to the high seat. After tying Charger along side the wagon, he climbed up beside her and picked up the oxen reins. Theo maintained the steady pace as he steered the team but at the same time started to nuzzle his charming wife until she was blushing under her silky caramel-like skin tone. The two slipped into the shadows beneath the overhang canopy. The animals never even suspected an interruption in their slow journey.

Kendra had to smile as she witnessed their tender interaction. Theirs was a love that had endured much cracking of the heart. In her own naivety she was sure she didn't understand all the dynamics of their unconventional relationship but they seemed to enjoy mutual satisfaction and happiness. The lives of slaves in the South had never been ideal. Even under sympathetic and lenient owners they needed to find their own normal so they took pleasure where ever they could.

Only a couple of years younger than Rand, Theo was with the family forever. Carolena was a pregnant young adolescent when she was rescued from an abusive owner. Although Theo was older than her by at least twenty years, she was given to him. He had raised her child as his own. But Tommy had gone off to join the Union soldiers when the Emancipation Proclamation was announced and had not been heard from since.

Kendra needed to learn what was trustworthy. Being women she and 'Lena were never going to feel completely free. Her brief and cruel marriage had already taught her that reality. But right now she faced the hard reality that even though she was momentarily free to do whatever, she had no way of knowing what that whatever should be or what means she had available to do it. All plans had died with Rand Potter.

Grandpa had thought it would be a brand new start on the wild west coast. But that was the extent of what she knew. Did he have a place in mind all set up for them to arrive and start this new life? What about finances? Nothing was ever discussed with her, a mere girl child. Would Theo know anything?

Pappy and Theo had built this ingenious rolling fortress that was seemingly well equipped for all their immediate and new world needs. But even if they stopped right here, where ever 'Here' was, how long would they survive and what are the dangers 'Here' is hiding? Boy, did she need help!

Someone was watching from afar. She got the sense he had been there following on his horse for a while studying their trek. He skirted around the small herd and Dex, the dog, barked out a couple of sharp warnings he better not mess with their progress. He raised a hand in hello to the boy.

When he pulled up close to her he fingered his Stetson in typical cowboy fashion and offered her a polite, "Howdy, Ma'am. Mind if I walk with you a ways?"

His deep Texas drawl pulled her eyes up and up so she could see from under her bonnet. It was the all-business wagon master.

"It's your cemetery," she Georgian-drawled back to him.

"Oo...Ouch." He swung his leg over the hind quarters of his quarter horse and was soon beside her.

"Don't mean to be hard on you. Know it's been a rough day. But your band is falling a bit behind. Wouldn't want the livestock herd to pass you by."

Yep, all-business. She wielded the reed toward the plodding ox's rump and softly called out another "Yup, now". It was clear the bored beast wasn't gonna go any faster than he already was.

"Uh-mm, I really just wanted to say again how sorry I am about your loss." He muttered, surprised at his loss for words.

She peeked up again at him from beneath her dark bonnet taking measure. She measured him as tall and lean, maybe not legendary tall Texan but tall enough and lean enough. Perhaps he was not as old as she would have expected for the position he held but old enough with broad enough shoulders for taking on the responsibilities he must burden.

Around his eyes were the beginning crows feet that told he smiled a lot or squinted into the sun a lot. They just added to his good-looking character. Well, extremely good-looking if she wanted to be honest or as if she cared.

Yes, he was man enough to make any other young girl feel her heart aflutter the way he looked her over. But she wasn't so foolish anymore. She had been burned by a good-looking rogue and had no intention or desire to ignite another conflagration.

Her silky pleated black bonnet seemed out of place here but his breath caught as it framed honey colored tendrils sparkling in the sun. And soulful hazel eyes under long lashes. What looked like tear streaks were etched in the morning dust covering her creamy complexion.

He had never been this close to her. Never taken note of how attractive she was. How incredibly young. Or innocent. Or vulnerable. Or... What was he thinking? She's deeply grieving!

" I, I didn't get a chance to get to know your husband very well, what with you just joining up. I'm sure you must have been very excited to start your new life together. He had told me you had only gotten married at the riverboat a few days before. He felt like he was the luckiest man alive. Well, er, so sorry it worked out like it did this morning."

"Thank you very much. Sorry, I was disappointed in the funeral proceedings." She quipped what he expected.

"Understandable. It is always a shock to the bereaved to have to leave a loved one that way. Didn't relish being so crass about it. Try to understand we have other wagon parties waiting to join on expecting us to be at a certain place at a certain time to keep any hope of arriving safely on the west coast before next winter's freeze. We gotta keep moving. There will be plenty of unexpected delays along the way."

"Duly noted. Tell me, please, what makes you sure I was very excited to start a new life with him?" She quipped the unexpected.

"What? Well, um, newlyweds are always, that is they should always be... " He stammered.

"Don't fret. We didn't get off on the right foot." Just then her right foot stumbled on a rock and she flayed about to keep from falling. "Oh-oh...!" Strong arms encircled her slender form and steadied her. She pushed away from the muscular chest. "So sorry. Thank you."

"Are you alright? Those shoes are all wrong for this terrain." He thought he had detected a flinch of pain that had nothing to do with a minor stumble.

But he hadn't mistaken his own reaction to that brief touch. The black shawl she had been clutching around her shoulders had dislodged exposing soft curves bulging above a too tight bodice. He had been on numerous wagon treks and thought he was immune to any womanly charms. That was no fake ploy to get his attention. This one had him shaken.

"Uh, nothing a little noontime respite won't cure and these are the only footwear I have unless you think my ballroom slippers would work better?" She deadpanned knowing full well those slippers had been lost at the riverboat fiasco.

She regathered the shawl about her and lifted her petticoat above ankle height to consider her tightly laced high-top, so-so high-heeled boots as she turned her foot back and forth. Again, not a ploy directed at him. But he enjoyed the view.

"No, uh, no. Guess they'll do okay 'til we get to a supply station. Then maybe I can make some suggestions."

"If you are done being helpful isn't it about time to stop for lunch?" She granted him a first brief smile.

Oh, Wow! The sun just came out a little brighter! That was all he could think. What was wrong with him that he couldn't seem to speak intelligently?

"Oh, oh right you are. I best go circle the wagons. However, I would like to talk to you some more about your plans. I, I have lots of questions."

"I have lots of questions, too. Would you like to take your noon meal with us?" She glanced over to the main wagon as it was slightly drifting off course and knew lunch was not what was on 'Lena's mind right now.

"Wait. Today's been weird so not sure what I am offering but 'Lena is an excellent cook. Of course, she does much better on the supper meal. Would that work out for you instead?"

"I'd be much obliged." He mounted his horse, " 'Til then, Ma'am." With a polite smile he tipped his hat again and rode toward the front of the line shouting, "Circle 'em up."

April 15, 2023 06:46

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

75 comments

Robin Owens
14:28 Apr 28, 2023

Thanks for sharing this, Mary! I felt so much from the first paragraph about the graves not being marked. Kind of a cynicism in my gut to set us up for Kendra's grieving of her grandfather. We already miss Pappy and we've never met him!

Reply

Mary Bendickson
14:56 Apr 28, 2023

Warms my heart you were so touched by it. Thanks for liking it.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Russell Mickler
03:15 Apr 27, 2023

Hi Mary! Ok this is an excerpt? Kewl .. Period piece, very dense, lots of places and characters - very rich, clear, thorough, and the facts seem on target. Epic, really. I mean, at 3,000 words, it was a powerful read. I think you’ve definitely got a great start here! Great work! R

Reply

Show 0 replies
Zanna T Laws
03:14 Apr 27, 2023

Obviously a lot of research has gone into this story. However, it does need a bit of editing in terms of consistency/typos etc. I found the character 'Leroy' a bit confusing. Was he a beast or a benevolent leader? Also Theo does not need a different adjective each time his name is mentioned. Maybe I am being a bit overly critical here!! Sorry! I look forward to hearing news of your publication date.

Reply

Mary Bendickson
04:26 Apr 27, 2023

In chapter two it becomes evident why Kendra considered Leroy a beast. When there were witnesses around (once they hooked up with the train) he became hypocritical trying to show he was benevolent. We all make typos so I'm sure I missed some (will try grammar help when can figure out how to). The speech of 'Lena, Toby and Theo was purposefully misspelled/pronounced. Still trying to make introductions in first chapter so maybe got carried away with attributes? Thanks for pointing out short falls. That's why I risked it here.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Joe Smallwood
02:36 Apr 27, 2023

Hello Mary, I like historical novels, especially medieval ones so yours was interesting even though I have never read a Western before. I read ALL of the comments too! That was even more interesting. Wow, such work to do a novel and so much collaboration is needed! I just started using Grammarly and it is amazing. Just get the free version, you will never ever not use it again. Guaranteed. Grammarly would have found these typos for you: Kendra should be the one mourning that loss <of> life. Toby, who led the the mule It is seriously better...

Reply

Mary Bendickson
13:28 Apr 27, 2023

I purposefully write 'Lena, Theo and Toby the way they would possibly speak. Wouldn't Grammarly try to edit those colloquialisms out?

Reply

Joe Smallwood
15:18 Apr 27, 2023

Yes, Grammarly would be a royal pain in those situations. But you control the corrections. Your writing is full of colloquialisms, so what you would see is a great deal of red underlining. If I were you I would disable Grammarly and only run it when I was finished a story because I would hate all the completely unnecessary red underlining. All this can be done in the settings.

Reply

Mary Bendickson
16:40 Apr 27, 2023

Thanks for tutorial.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
John Rutherford
06:20 Apr 26, 2023

A good read Mary, I can't wait for the book.

Reply

Mary Bendickson
14:38 Apr 26, 2023

Thank you. And thanks for liking and commenting. This week think I'll do a part two.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
V. S. Rose
23:32 Apr 25, 2023

You've got a lot going here Mary. Many intricate relationships and quite a large cast of characters. I think you plant the seed well for the beginning of your novel with some intriguing bits. I haven't read much historical fiction, nor written anything in the category but I imagine the research involved to pull out language and details from the time period can be quite the process. And considering how you've nicely laid out the details (clothing, language, etc.) of your story I think it was a success.

Reply

Mary Bendickson
23:34 Apr 25, 2023

Thanks for the encouragement. And the like.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lily Finch
00:40 Apr 25, 2023

Mary, I love the descriptive element to your writing. Your story line is excellent. The SS Sultana Explosion in 1865. Such talent to work those details into a story line and come out with a great result. Great work Mary. LF6

Reply

Mary Bendickson
00:57 Apr 25, 2023

Thank you, Lily.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rita Kimak
22:28 Apr 24, 2023

Wow, Mary!! You paint such a great picture and are weaving together such an interesting story!! You’ve won me as a follower!! This can’t be your first novel??? So when can I order it!! 😊

Reply

Mary Bendickson
22:35 Apr 24, 2023

Oh, my! What praise! Thank you. It is not in print yet. My husband was asking me last night 'What's the hold up?' (A private joke my Mom left with us.) Considering entering last part of this chapter in this week's contest so watch for it. Thanks for the like and the follow.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Martin Ross
20:49 Apr 23, 2023

A vivid view of the turbulence and hopes of the 19th century — all the conflicting lives and dreams! A terrifically adventurous feel — I think it will be a great novel (I could almost see it playing out as a film). Thanks!

Reply

Mary Bendickson
21:53 Apr 23, 2023

What nice comments. Great coming from a mystery man! Want to read more of your 'dude cozies' soon.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
David Anderson
11:00 Apr 23, 2023

This was really nice I loved it!

Reply

Mary Bendickson
12:41 Apr 23, 2023

Why, thank you kindly. Welcome to Reedsy! I'll tag you as a follow so maybe I can catch your first submittal.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Roxane Llanque
08:02 Apr 23, 2023

Oh I felt the dust around me and could smell the oxen when I was reading this! Excellent world-building. I love it when a story can really pull my senses into it and not many writers can do that.

Reply

Mary Bendickson
12:35 Apr 23, 2023

Ah, you make me blush. Thanks for the encouragement. And for liking it!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Susan Catucci
21:03 Apr 22, 2023

Transcendent tale, Mary. Packed a lot into a short story but skillfully so - multi-layered and interesting as all get-out. There were several (too many to mention) quotable passages that I found so charming and persuasive, I was happy to be part of this journey, even with all its challenges and injustice. It really needed some hope and the ending delivered. I was thinking this could be epic and then realize, ah, it is already - brilliant! This is a nice little tip of the iceberg then and I applaud you for something really enticing. Y...

Reply

Mary Bendickson
21:24 Apr 22, 2023

Whew, Susan! You'll make my head swell with such compliments! Epic? Is 82000+ words epic? Am just testing the waters here. Thinking of adding more this week (See note to Zack Powell in comments section below story.) Thank you for the confidence booster:)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sarah Martyn
18:45 Apr 22, 2023

Leaves me wanting more! Balance of dialogue and narration. To elaborate: stylistically some of my favorite reading. "Vows were stiffly spoken lies in front of her spouse-to-be's steamboat captain friend." I can envision the scene and feelings. Love also how you gave characters different voices you can practically hear. If you have some time, I'd love if you read (and gave feedback to) my short story, "Dreaming of Burgers on the Moon". https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/177u86/

Reply

Show 0 replies
Zack Powell
18:00 Apr 22, 2023

I'm glad you mentioned this being an excerpt from a novel, Mary, because I think this definitely should be longer. Not that it can't work in short story form, but because there are so many characters here and so many moving pieces that a longer story is definitely needed to give things room to breathe. And, not for nothing, that's one cliffhanger of an ending which leaves the reader wanting more. I appreciate most the attention to detail in the language. The dialect is what I'm mainly talking about, but even the non-dialogue prose itself ha...

Reply

Mary Bendickson
18:57 Apr 22, 2023

Oh, Zack. Thanks for your input. I was hoping some top writers, like you, would take a look and comment. I understand the difficulty reading and commenting on genres that are not your personal faves. I am considering putting the second half of this chapter in for this week's contest but may have to add 'Rome wasn't built in a day' to fit a prompt. It may be a modern idiom but it has been around since at least 1500-something so Kendra, as an educated young lady, may have used it. Hope it doesn't sound too forced. Then again, Theo plays a muc...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Darya Silman
17:53 Apr 21, 2023

I don't know if you have already edited the story or not, but for me, it looks very engaging, no visible typos, no unclear sentences. I like to read historical fiction too, as one of your previous reviewers does, and I have the opposite opinion: long paragraphs are great. I am tired of lots of dialogues just taking space and the writers' desire to shorten descriptions to please readers. You pay such attention to the slightest details, and that's why I have a feeling you know what you are writing about; not writing after quickly googling a th...

Reply

Mary Bendickson
18:29 Apr 21, 2023

Wow! Such nice words from a master of words! I am in awe of your works. Thank you.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
01:24 Apr 20, 2023

"Today's been weird" - quite an understatement! The setup for this story is great. She loses not just her beloved grandfather, but also her not-so-beloved new husband. That maybe doesn’t even out, but there seems to be some good along with the bad. But holy, that's quite a mind job, and a superstitious person might wonder about curses :) Very suddenly and very roughly, she's become independent. A leader, even. That's a lot of weight to carry. Thankfully she's got family with her, and the arrival of the Texan promises that the future might b...

Reply

Mary Bendickson
01:32 Apr 20, 2023

Oh, thank you, Michal. This is the kind of feedback I was hoping for. I know I have a long journey ahead.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
23:36 Apr 19, 2023

I love this - and I think you could find a niche' in the romance world. It enjoyed the 'show don't tell' bits, the feel of movement, the sight of the dirt, her problem with shoes (a very realistic situation I didn't think about) and her hat, all of it. If I may, consider using grammarly.com - there is a free version and your writing and story-telli is excellent but there is a lot of passive voice, etc. that if fixed will make your story sound more professional.

Reply

Mary Bendickson
00:15 Apr 20, 2023

Thank you for the tips. Later in the manuscript I use much more dialogue. This was first part of first chapter so a lot of intro. Thanks for the like and follow. Hope I don't disappoint.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RJ Holmquist
22:27 Apr 17, 2023

Great job creating the wagon train setting and the character's predicament. I would keep reading!

Reply

Mary Bendickson
23:20 Apr 17, 2023

Thank you. You are such a winning gifted author your praise gives me a lift. Maybe I should create a site where you could keep reading.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Viga Boland
16:18 Apr 17, 2023

Holy moley Mary…you sure can turn out a very full short story! I got so caught up in all of it, I thought it was one of the historical fiction novels I sometimes review. Ever thought of turning something like this into a full-blown novel? There’s so much to absorb in a primarily narrative not-so-short story LOL. BTW, great handling of Lens’s dialect in her long dialogue.

Reply

Mary Bendickson
16:31 Apr 17, 2023

This is the first half of the first chapter of my 82000+ word novel I wrote last year. Not sure if it is ready for prime time so thought I might get a few reviews from the helpful writers here before I see if it will fly when I try to launch it. Makes me so humbled that you like it. Thanks. If you review historical fictions then maybe you are someone I should talk to about it. I value your opinion so much.

Reply

Viga Boland
16:46 Apr 17, 2023

Thanks for the trust Mary. This story definitely has great bones for a historical novel. But my first reaction, as a reviewer, would be “too many long narrative paragraphs one after another.” If all 82,000 words are written this way, reading could prove difficult for those with shorter attention spans. Our eyes need breaks from long descriptive or narrative paragraphs. And all dialogue should be separate, not part of the long paragraph. You do that well. 👏👏Again, it’s about giving readers’ eyes a break. Use dialogue as often as possible. If...

Reply

Mary Bendickson
16:55 Apr 17, 2023

Thanks for all the helpful tips. Not all chapters are this long but because I was trying to be cute with rhyming chapter titles I ran out of rhymes and...got long chapters:) I am open to change. Anyone starting to read a novel would be in for a little longer attention span, no?

Reply

Viga Boland
17:04 Apr 17, 2023

Yes, definitely. It takes me from 3 days to 3 weeks to read the novels I review. But both as a reader and a reviewer, when I see 300 plus pages, I think twice when selecting a book. And in general, historical fiction takes greater concentration because of the history being described…as opposed, let’s say, to a fast-paced thriller. Both might be 300 plus pages, but the pace is almost always much slower in HF. That said, yes, fans of HF do enjoy nestling down with that cuppa in front of a fireplace, don’t they,

Reply

Show 0 replies
Viga Boland
17:14 Apr 17, 2023

Bear one thing in mind Mary about my response above: we all have different reading and writing style preferences. So take whatever I suggest to you with that in mind. After all, what do I know, right? A 1000 others on here might disagree with me.

Reply

Mary Bendickson
17:36 Apr 17, 2023

I appreciate your time spent here. I went in and made more paragraphs. Still wasn't sure how to split 'Lena's long speech. Overall, I think I do use more dialogue later whenever possible. I surprised myself when I found myself doing that because I didn't know I could:)

Reply

Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Everly Lockhart
10:29 Apr 17, 2023

Absolutely enjoyed your vivid descriptions!

Reply

Mary Bendickson
13:50 Apr 17, 2023

Thank you. I see you ,too, are writing a book. Best wishes. Wow, you have been busy reading all my stories! Thank you for liking them. As you can see by my bio I never considered myself to be a writer. So if you have been enjoying them that means so much to me!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.