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7/24/2013 c3 7Vladvonbounce
I was going to say I prefer pegasi for plural but then I read your note. :) Fair enough.

I really like the general conversation about Pegasus and unicorn husbandry. It's interesting, fun and somewhat adorable. I can definitely see how a unicorn birth would be hard. I assume when they are born their horns are very small.

While I am sure Phillip would enjoy it immensely, I don't know if I would let a 9 year old boy gallop around on a Pegasus. :)

Ending on a cliffhanger was good. Its very surprising, Phillip's father doesn't seem the type who would ever go anywhere so you know it must be pretty important.
7/24/2013 c2 Vladvonbounce
There is some really interesting philosophy going on in this chapter. I also really like how Phillip brings up the example of water, very clever. It still feels slightly though that not much is really happening...yet.
7/23/2013 c1 Vladvonbounce
Phillip reminds me of Garion from Pawn of prophecy. Young, inquisitive and full of questions but stuck on a farm where nothing much happens. I like the way there are unicorns grazing in the background and that's not particularly exciting. I felt like the first chapter didn't really amount to much . it sort of just ended a bit abruptly and that was a bit unfortunate as it was pretty interesting.

"What would she do with gold in the desert?" I loved this, very intuitive.

"shovel full" Should that be one word?

"who had said the same thing over and over." has instead of had?

I quite liked your eastern mountain tongue. Just barely understandable!
7/14/2013 c5 2Murphy Chapelwood
I haven't reviewed this many chapters of anything before. I usually can find enough things on my checklist right in the beginning. This is well written. I must say. A lot of what I am suggesting may come across as nitpicky, but in many places I'm having to get down to the littlest critical details I look for in my own writing.

Chapter 1

""A real sorceress?" the boy asked."

I don't think you need "the boy asked" here. I usually try to avoid writing asked after any question mark if I can help it. The rest of the chapter clearly identifies who's speaking.

"...but he was as clean as a stableboy could be after his morning chores, which implied someone cared for him."

This is somewhat odd. I'm not a big fan of telling the reader what something I write implies. I think something along the lines of, "...but the stableboy was well scrubbed after his morning chores." would convey your meaning.

"...of no small consequence..."

"...as far as the eye could see."

Beware of familiar phrasing in narration. Here is a direct quote from the first source I read this in, Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark, ""Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech you are used to seeing in print," writes George Orwell in "Politics and the English Language." Using cliches, he argues, is a substitute for thinking, a form of automatic writing: "Prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house." That last phrase is a fresh image, a model of originality."

""Maybe you have to earn your wish," Phillip mused and climbed up to balance on the fence post."

Another thing I usual harp on is separating action from dialogue. This is a good example. It gives the reader a moments breathe before continuing on. You could finish the dialogue with an ellipses, and then continue with "Phillip climbed up to..."

"Phillip asked curiously."

Elmore Leonard, who hates using any verb beyond "said" to carry dialogue, has this to say: "Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" ... he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange."

"...who has answered the same question over and over with the same answer."

I am always leery of repetition. I think you could period after the second "over" and it would have the same effect, and better mirror his father later on.

"He liked information he could fit together with other information."

This is just the same as before. I think a period after together would convey the same message more succinctly.

Chapter 2

"Rot of the barley, becomes rot of the mind, becomes rotten behavior."

This is a really great piece of oratory.

"He had an active imagination, and every word painted a picture for him."

I am concerned by this line, as I believe it could border on Telling. I think the proceeding and preceding sentence carry this entire meaning without it having to be directly stated.

Chapter 3

"After he was on her back, Burris fit the bridle on, while the stablemaster..."

This is another of those repetition things. I figure you could say "After he was mounted, Burris fit..."

Also, I wanted to touch on this group of paragraphs. I feel this could be more exciting. This is a pretty big deal for Phillip, but it is told with the same steady tone the rest of the story is in. I think it could be spiced up a bit more. Where you often describe how Phillip is feeling, you omit that for the most part during the description, and mention afterward that he is giddy. I think some insight into Phillip's mindset during the events would be good. Like the sudden fear, uncertainty, then exhilaration, etc.

Chapter 4

"...of his steady as a rock father..."

Like before I think this might border on Telling. If you have painted the portrait of the father as you want to so far, then we really already know this about him. I think we do.

"Bonanooti, or Northward if you please, laughed."

This is a departure from the usual narration, and seems far more conversational than normal. I had to double-take to make sure it wasn't dialogue.

Chapter 5

I have nothing to quote for this chapter. The only thing I could mention is that I think you should consider ending it with Northward's dialogue about heroes with wits over weapons. It has more Oomph than just where they settle down to rest the night, and I believe it is a nice note of foreshadowing to end a chapter on.

I notice that you're not heavy with descriptions of characters for the most part, which I approve of wholeheartedly, but when you do describe someone you nearly always mention what kind of eyes they have. Eyes being the windows to the soul and all, they are important. But I think you should consider changing it up a bit from time to time, perhaps a leathery face is the most prominent feature of a person, or huge, wrestler's forearms, or perpetual red ears, etc.

Also, I find that you focus very heavily on visual descriptions. I think it would be beneficial to review some of this and tally up how many times you describe something based on smell, or touch, hearing, taste. It is a fruitful exercise, and makes you aware of places where you could become more immersive in the story.
7/7/2013 c1 1Hauviette
Greetings from the Roadhouse.

I liked how you started with the introduction, by describing Phillip and having him ask a question. Those type of beginnings are usually my favourite. The ratio of dialogue to narration was balanced as well. I roughly got an idea of Phillip's personality at the end of this chapter and it ended off quite smoothly as compared to other stories I've read.

Ill be looking forward to more of your work :)
6/28/2013 c14 2Richy The Raconteur
Amazing story. A bit slow at the start, but now I can't wait for new chapters. Update soon!

Also, could you please R&R my story?
Thanks!
6/28/2013 c14 Sir Scott
The video sounds interesting. The thieves turned out to be a little nicer than I thought.
6/28/2013 c13 Sir Scott
Good way to end the chapter with suspense. It was good to read an update, I don't really have any more input then that.
6/23/2013 c4 4lookingwest
from The Roadhouse

Check your third paragraph for "had"s, many could be excluded for a more active voice.

"I finished mine," Phillip said lamely and got no further answer... [Would put a comma after "lamely"]

...to which his father replied. "You ask too many questions. Now go get your flute." [Perhaps use a colon after "replied" or use a comma, though I think a colon would work much better and still merge the two sentences together in a way that flows better.]

he flute intrigues me and seems to the the bridge of their relationship. I remember his father also mentions the magic of music in the first chapter, so this pairs well with that when Phillip is playing. It's unique he can play and I like his idea of exploiting it for money. I'm interested to see if this will ever come about, especially because it doesn't sound like they have concrete job opportunities wherever they are going (which also is curious to me given motivation for the father character - shouldn't he be more anti-change and/or desire job and lifestyle security when he has a son to raise?). The conditions of their current work just don't seem bad enough to warrant leaving for the possibility of something better - but then again, I suppose I'm not a father or a mother just yet. Maybe I would desire to up and leave somewhere if it meant a chance for my child to do greater things, even if it meant the risk of not having security in job prospects. The inclusion of the "southern road" teaser is good too, I wonder what that might mean, and why his father seems to be resolute on risking all for it.

I like the emphasis of change and new-ness that both Phillip and his father are putting on Tivin. They both have high hopes for it, and I think that says something about their desire for better times and their relationship. It's also kind of sad because they seem so hopeful and the journey seems long - I can see conflict happening and I feel it foreshadowed.

stories rather than just listening to them. [Right now, this line is all by itself at the end of one of your scenes. I would go in to Doc Manager and bump it back up with the proceeding paragraph.]

We start one of the parts with the statement that "it rained", which I liked, because we finally get a sense of weather/setting/surroundings. That being said, again, senses senses senses! ;D Grass plains after a good rain smell so wonderful :3 The caravan that he hops onto at the end scene was very sudden. I thought for a moment he was just jumping into a wagon with a stranger and was leaving his father behind - perhaps establish more where his father is during this act of introduction with the driver, and describe what they did with their possessions. I know they have possessions - I'm positive they couldn't have left the flute behind. For loving the flute so much, Phillip doesn't seem to think on it or even narrate that it was packed and taken with them. That gives the object less value, I think. So maybe give thought to that. I'd at least like to know if his father saw him jump onto the wagon or not, or what's going on there.

I did appreciate the description we got of the caravan. Very good, we can always use more, but if they're not on the caravan for very long, I think you can get away with being brief in this instance. Regarding your author's note, I actually thought these past four chapters have gone pretty fast in the scheme of things. I feel like at this point, I'm supposed to have a very good established sense of Phillip as a character and yes, I've been told the things that he likes, the horses, his flute - but we don't get shown these things very much. We have one flute scene and only one scene where he actually rides a horse. The flute scene was great and did involve good narrative showing, but I do urge you to go back and try to give us more show on the unicorn ride. That would help round him out more too, I think. It was also dropped and never remembered again. I don't feel like he's as excited about one day getting to ride a true pegasus as the summary and his initial narrative indicates. He doesn't linger or daydream about it - I'd like more of that to prove he's that interested in these things he says he's passionate about, I think.
6/23/2013 c3 lookingwest
from The Roadhouse

Phillip cooked the eggs outside over an open fire the next morning while his father supervised. [This feels very cumbersome and perhaps might need a comma. Maybe slim it like: "The next morning, Phillip cooked eggs over an open fire while his father supervised." And then in the next sentence, take the opportunity to describe "outside" and don't be afraid to engage the senses. "The next morning, Phillip cooked eggs over an open fire while his father supervised. Outside, the morning air was crisp and the sun was just rising over the grazing pastures." Something like that maybe? I'm assuming since they work in the stables they've got to be up with the sun or even beforehand to begin their work - but you don't mention that. I think there's a big difference between "morning" and morning so early it's still dark, so don't be afraid to give us more elaboration and clear images up for those who do not work in stables and live the life of a stableboy. For your reader, "morning" might mean 11am unless you clarify with description. I know this might seem like nitpicking one sentence, but honestly - your opening for this chapter is largely engaged with summarizing/telling what happened in the last chapter to Phillip's father, and I think it could really benefit the opening paragraphs to have some richness of clear crisp imagery while also breaking up the rhythm that kind of started as "This happened. Then this happened. Then they did this. Then this." until the pegasus conversation.]

The conversation about the pegasus' made sense, except the lord's intentions and motivations did not. I'm not sure what is implied at the end of their conversation - that the two conclude that he bought them to breed them with regular unicorns, even though the father says that probably won't work very well? And he's doing this to "turn a profit"? I'm unclear what a unicorn/pegasus-that-isn't-a-real-pegasus mix would be? So...I wasn't sure I was following what the result of the implied plan would be, and how it would actually turn a "quick profit", if I'm making sense.

They were kept in a barn and had grazing fields beyond the horses'. [I'm a bit fuzzy on this implication too. Does this world have horses, unicorns, and pegasus'? Or just unicorns and pegasus' and not any normal ordinary horses? Because I know the title of the novel is "Horse Feathers", yet for the first two chapters they seem to only really call them unicorns? Unsure. But I'm leaning towards them just calling unicorns horses, which is interesting. Kind of reminds me of the movie Legend with Tom Cruise, haha, and how calling them 'horses' was supposed to be really insulting. Clearly it isn't the case in this world-building.]

Okay, again - I have absolutely no idea *where* the lunch scene took place. It was only maybe like, four paragraphs, but it was all Phillip wondering things introspectively and we get zero real description on the setting other than the fact the estate provides the food. Which doesn't mean that he's eating it in the estate, in my opinion, but I think that's what you were implying? Where is "the soapy tub"? Do they just let the stablehands in the manor - or is he actually in the servants quarters in the back of the kitchens eating? Or is he in the stables eating? There's a lot of possibilities. And again, you describe the food very directly, but we get no sense of the world with it. Is the cook any good, aka, does it taste good? Does Phillip even like the food, or do they just feed them the leftover not-as-good mutton?

Watch your passive voice in your writing. Example: "The old teacher had never shown much interest..." should become more active as: "The old teacher never showed much interest..." To improve this and give a boost to your writing, I'd suggest cntrl plus F and go through and look at every place where you use the word "had", as that seems to be your passive-voice word of choice. Look at the sentence and see if you can eliminate "had" to make the sentence more active.

I liked the description of the unicorns eating food with various copper and gold dusts in it. That's a really cool and pretty visual detail, in my opinion. It makes me wonder if those who work in the stable get their skin covered with that stuff, like dirt. It would make for a very poetic way to describe being dirty, for sure! Also, it makes me wonder about the natural resources of this world and if these minerals are in huge abundance and not associated with being "rich" like gold is in our Western culture.

The "gallop" and "jump" paragraph where Phillip is riding Valley was disappointing. It was over as soon as it began, and again, could've been enhanced with the feel of the wind through his hair, etc. It lacked descriptive interest to engage the reader or even hype up the excitement. Instead, it just feels like something that happens like it's no big deal. Engage with it more, get into Phillip's head more - don't be afraid of him. I feel like you keep him distant as a narrator, but here's an opportunity to capture his boyish wonder and love for adventure. Talk about the feel of the unicorn underneath him, the stretching of her muscle, the sweat she might work up galloping. I get the sense it was a rather short gallop, however - but was it really? Galloping is really fast and only for advanced riders. There should be an amount of tension, fear, and a little anxiety in Phillip too, I should imagine - because he's never ridden a winged unicorn before, has he? And even if he has - he said he almost fell off the saddle when she jumped into the air! That's terrifying - or is it to him? Instead, is it exhilarating? You're just telling us and there's so many wonderful possibilities here. Take the time, slow things down, and show us.

This ending is good, I like that you end it on the cliff and the idea of them leaving. It feels a little out of context since it seems to come out of nowhere - as there were not foreshadow hints from his father that they might be leaving, but I think we then feel the way Phillip does at the end - very surprised, perhaps. It will be interesting to gauge his reaction in the next chapter.
6/23/2013 c2 lookingwest
from The Roadhouse

This chapter feels more whole in matters of pacing, and I appreciated that, though still keep in mind matters of the senses too. This time we do get a sight-description of the animal droppings, but I think you missed out on opportunity to show the sense of smell, as that one would particularly pop from others.

Overall though, the center of this chapter seems to be the intellectual teachings of the teacher, and I like that Phillip lingered after the lecture to ask his questions, as I thought that showed much of his characterization and allowed for his development in a clever way.

At first the teacher came across as a bit of a buzzkill, but I think what was most interesting to me was this introduction of a type of theology in a story that has hints of magic and seems to take place in a fantasy realm. I'm interested to see how these concepts develop, but for now, I liked that we got the big emphasis on morality and I wouldn't be surprised if that foreshadows something that might happen in the future. The teacher also went from being a buzzkill to demonstrating some open-mindless when he admitted that he hasn't been outside of Gourlin, and I liked that he did have a sense of self-awareness about him. It was very practical and personally made me like him more as a character. The conflict of whether or not Phillip will go to school was also well placed within the second chapter, and develops a lot of possibilities for the furthering of Phillip's relationship with his father.

One thing I'm wondering is time period though. Though I know most fantasy stories just kind of take a general medieval approach, this honestly does not feel very medieval to me because of the actual schoolhouse. It actually feels like it takes place far later, perhaps even in seventeenth century setting judging by the progression of intellectualism and the establishment of "learning" for the lower classes. Or at least - that's what I sensed. Unless the school that Phillip wants to attend is actually for those in the upper echelons, as we do get mention that the teacher might have a connection with a Duke. At any rate, I think this gives this fantasy story edge because it's drawing upon a later time period as a influenced setting and that makes it more intriguing to me. Interested to see what might happen to Phillip next!
6/23/2013 c1 lookingwest
from The Roadhouse

As I read:

His hair was dirty blonde in color... [You know, I've always heard that "blonde" with an "e" can only refer to females, and "blond" is for males, which stems from a French background. In American English, I've heard that you are grammatically supposed to refer to both males and females with "blond", leaving the "e" out. In both grammars, the "e" for a male should always be left out. Now - I heard this from someone who writes in UK English, and I've always stuck with this rule, but I dunno, maybe it's a regional English thing too. At any rate, I would double-check this if I were you, even if you think it's right, just to be sure.]

He hopped down off the fence and ran back inside the stables. [This would be a good point, I think, where you could elaborate a little more on the setting to slow down the transition. I know you give a wider landscape setting description a few sentences before this one, but the transition from Phillip speaking to the traveler to him speaking with the man in the stables is very quick in pace and sudden, only really divided by this line. I would've liked to slow things down a little with perhaps descriptions of the unicorns grazing, the grass in the fields (is it healthy and green, short, long like prairie grass? etc.) I don't know a lot about unicorns in this world yet, so getting a more sensory description of something as simple as the grass itself could pop this transition into a more useful one.]

...was a dark blonde and fell stiff and straight. [Another instance of the "blonde" description you might want to check out.]

After I read:

Overall, I think the biggest thing that I felt was off about this opening chapter was its pacing. It seemed to go pretty fast once Phillip was on the road to the inn, and after that it just felt like a lot of summarizing without very much detail on setting or imagery. I didn't get a full sense of the taste of the lettuces he was eating, the smell of the inn itself, if there was a breeze on the open road, if the tea he drank burnt his tongue - just really small details that I think could brighten your world-building. Right now it seems very regimented and though descriptive at times, has a lack of the five senses. It could be much richer. He also works in the stables - it has to smell kind of bad in there, right? Or do the unicorns not have smelly crap? I mean that seriously though - it lacked some grittiness of the stable little-boy lifestyle and things were perhaps too tidy in that regard.

Those things out of the way, though, I thought you did a good job integrating details about Phillip in the opening by putting it into the narrative in a matter-of-fact manner. You mention his age and his description right off the bat, and while I'm normally adverse to that (and also adverse to stories starting with dialogue) I think for the purposes of your genre, which I'm assuming are YA or even younger than that, it works and it gets the point across. The concept of unicorns made me think back to the Unicorns of Balinor series I used to read when I was a kid, so I liked the sense of nostalgia, even if it was personal only to me, haha.

Plot-wise, I'm unsure where this might lead, but I don't think that's very important for a first chapter, and I think you give leads with the fact Phillip likes to listen to different travelers. I'm also interested in this meeting that his father trusts his very young son to attend all by himself and what that might entail. The fact he allows his pre-teen son to go into a town on his own two hours away and go to a town hall meeting says something about the way this world treats maturity levels, I think, and so that was a good cultural detail that I thought worked itself into the narrative really well. The world itself seems very vast, as demonstrated by the different peoples that populated the inn, and I thought the bit with the men speaking with the strange accents/language offered a good exchange between them and Phillip.

Overall, I could see this chapter being slowed down into two fuller chapters, one with just the traveler conversation and father conversation, the other just the walk to the inn and the inn observations, but sometimes it's also fun to just 'get to the good parts'. If I were to leave you with any message though, it would be to work with your senses and don't short taste, touch, or smell, as they can really bring a narrative to life.
6/21/2013 c12 Sir Scott
At first I thought he had fallen into the river. Usually, I would just say something like the river was wide and not give too many details, but I mainly write short stories, which rely on action, dialogue, and a plot twist. I'm happy to see that his flute playing is coming in handy.
6/13/2013 c11 Sir Scott
Good update. For a moment I thought that Philip was going to stuck at the cabin.
6/7/2013 c3 Gorilla0132
i havent gotten a chance to read "the girl with no name" but i keep finding myself coming back here to read about phillips journey. you say that its a story within a four story set, and it reminds me of the way "the chronicles of narnia" are in that each story is independent but also tied together. i love stories like that and i can't wait to see how you use that concept (if that was what you were going for)
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