Truth. Order. Moderation.
Join Date: Nov 2008
Re: 498 words
A useful first draft. However, I'm a nit-picker, so more pernickity than most (OK -- than anybody else... ) but for my taste you need to sharpen up your writing a good bit and think about word use. I've only time to look at a couple of paras in depth:
red = suggested addition/amendment
blue = suggested deletion
purple = comment
I can't help thinking that this whole second para is info-dump plain and simple -- you know what trees etc grew in medieval England and you are determined to shoe-horn them into the narrative, needed or not. If these things are familiar to him he's unlikely to be even thinking of them unless he's recently been in unfamiliar countryside -- in which case I'd suggest you make the contrast plain eg "They had left the tall poplars far behind and were riding through familiar beechmast again." In any event, I'd suggest avoid just saying the trees grew there, but bring them in obliquely eg "Through a clump of oaks he could see a river, willows edging its banks" or eg "Sycamore and ash wings floated on the wind around them." The description should come from him, not simply be a list of what he sees, if that makes sense.
Originally Posted by I, Brian
Ulric was [now][I'd try and avoid "now" as it's too much of the present] beginning to feel more at ease on [relaxed as he rode] ["relax" as meaning a person becoming less tense is actually from the 20th century so not a word he would think] the pony, probably [if you want to evoke ease, I'd suggest longer sentences here -- short and snappy = discomfort] because he was finally getting the hang of the movement, and wasn't [not being] caught out by [whatever] so much [anymore]. [suggest delete as you've already expressed this with "finally". And any more = two words, not one]And because the further [more] [avoids ungainly too-close repetition] they rode, the deeper they went into the countryside.[this sentence doesn't work in the middle like this. If we know he's a country boy, it needs to be tacked onto the countryside description. If we don't know that, then it's a WTF moment, I'm afraid, so needs explanation] Even though he was tired and a bit hungry, he [felt like he] [unnecessary and distancing] was finally starting to enjoy this ride. [this is effectively like repetition of the opening line. If he's the type to repeat himself, all well and good, but if you're looking to tighten up your writing this should go]
[I agree with Gary that the use of continuous past -- "was [verb]ing" -- is a little too much here and it would feel more active with simple past. I'd also question a paragraph with both "beginning" and "starting" in it]
Despite the fact that [the][or alternatively use "these" but that's a bit present tensey for my taste] wide meadows and farms weren’t so common where he [had] normally ranged around Del, the land had [there was] [always avoid "there was"] enough familiarity to make him feel at home [help him relax more.] [even if you wanted to keep "relax" despite the anachronism of it, this is too close repetition for comfort, and it's also a repetition of the idea from the countryside line above] [There were] [avoid] Sycamore and beech trees flourished, alder and ash, and sometimes a stumpy oak grew. The long succulent ["succulent" is hardly simple language (and dates from 1600 so may be too late for him, anyway) -- and who is it succulent for? He's hardly going to eat it] grasses were familiar, [repetition] as was the hogweed growing through it, and the patches of hawthorne ["hawthorne" with an "e" is the name, not the shrub/tree] and bramble [he saw][unnecessary and distancing] from the ruts [?why is he in the ruts??] of the road. And [there were] [avoid] hills in the close distance [er... I know what you mean but close distance sounds a bit odd -- and they'd have been in the far distance before so he'd have seen them already] [now], and he did so love [the] hills. ["the hills" is a bit odd -- he either loves "hills" in general without the article or "those hills" if these specific ones]
I don't have time to nit-pick the rest, you'll be relieved to hear, but I think much of what I've said holds good -- you have a tendency to repeat yourself, in the idea if not actual expression. To my mind, even a gentle bucolic piece like this would benefit from your writing being a good bit tighter.
NB 1: I'd have used capital "E" for "Emperor" since there is presumably only one of him, and it's "Emperor's" with a possessive apostrophe each time.
NB 2: I'm not sure what you mean by "hoary" -- that would apply to something covered in hoar frost, so by analogy came to be used to describe white hair or beards, and thus the old people who had such white hair and who had to be treated with veneration (and again, by analogy to ancient and venerable jokes with metaphorical white hair). I really don't think it can be used for a voice, even if it's an old man's voice, as the visual aspect of the whiteness is completely lost.