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Frost Lesson 6 Homework

I picked HiDee’s, and Ana Morgan’s.

(1)  What specifics are used that cemented your trust in the prose, and drew you into the story?

For HiDee, it was the first part…

Dana Taylor pressed a hand to her chest and forced herself not to hyperventilate.

For God’s sake, what was she thinking? She’d seen the unfamiliar car hanging around her neighborhood the past few days. She should have called the cops when her neighbors’ dog started barking, but Monty barked at everything. Instead she’d gone out the back door, snuck around the corner, and there was a man, crouching below her window.

She stared down at the shadowy figure on the ground. Her fingers ached from the death grip she had on the long-handled flashlight, but she wasn’t about to let go of it.

Ignoring the comments that were already made about backstory, hyperventilating is a very real reaction to finding a burglar. The unfamiliar car around the neighborhood is a telltale sign that someone’s up to no good. That and the long-handled flashlight show the modern era. Calling it a flashlight instead of a torch shows she’s probably in America, and clinging to it lends credibility to her nerves.

For Ana,

At five minutes before eleven, Ammi Folkright downshifted into her regular parking spot at the Minnesota State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. The aging engine of her old F-150 pickup coughed as she tucked her wallet and cell phone in the glove compartment, and she patted the dash until it stilled.

Carrying an innocent-looking, brown-paper lunch bag, she marched across the snow-slick asphalt toward the imposing granite-block building and waved at the dark eye of the overhead security camera.

The lock buzzed, granting her admittance. She opened the thick steel door and approached the check-in bay.

Downshifting, F-150 coughing and shaking, the paper lunch bag. These give an immediate, sort of run-down feel to the scene. The truck is old, it’s a paper bag instead of a tote, or lunchbox, which would cost more. Pointing out that the lunch bag is “innocent looking” rather than just leaving it as a lunch bag, shows she probably knows she isn’t supposed to bring those things in.

There are a lot of credible details, actually. It’s winter with the snow-slick asphalt, urban feeling with the lack of greenery, having to be buzzed into a mental health facility, etc. The way her father’s expression changes at an interruption that lets her know he’s lost his train of thought. The fact that it took a bloody nose to teach the MC that the door opens outward, and fast. Even the imposition of the building is credible, since it shows this is not a welcoming, soothing exterior.

(I agree with some of the comments that I’d like to see how the MC feels about that big, imposing building. In Skyrim, one of the NPC’s remarks on how the big, stone, Imperial walls used to lend a feeling of safety, with the implication that now they definitely don’t, and I always loved that detail of how his perspective changed over time.)

(1B) What specifics are missing, or incorrect?

For HiDee’s, The cowboy boots later are a specific detail, but they don’t show anything beyond what shoes the MC likes to wear. It could be for any reason from living on an actual ranch (which is doubt-able due to it being a neighborhood) or that she actually rides horses, to a club thing in Texas or some other western state.

I’d say if the boots are a needed detail that early in the story, show us what they look like. Rough and beat up? Probably a real rider. Clean and neat, probably not. Bejeweled and bright pink? Definitely a clubber or dancing shoes.

What shoes someone wears says a lot about the character and the character’s purpose, and it does show a lot about her inexperience with these situations that she’s wearing something that clacks when you step.

For Ana’s, it’s odd that she’d still try to push her herbal remedies through the guards, even though she’s been going there for so long. To make that detail more credible, though, you could explain why she’s trying to get the guard to fudge the rules she already knows are non-negotiable. Does she believe they’re giving her father the wrong medicine? Does she not believe in modern medicine? Has something happened outside concerning her herbalist activities and she desperately needs reassurance?

The “missing” details are mostly about the MC. Yes it’s in third person, but we don’t get thoughts, reactions, or much of the MC’s opinion. That makes it kind of hard to relate until the scene with her father, and even then it seems kind of distant, like we’re viewing from the outside instead of riding along.

(2)  What made the opening feel credible? Was there anything that jarred you out of the story because it seemed “out of place” (not credible to the story)?

For HiDee’s, What made the opening feel credible was those first three paragraphs. After that… well it’s already been touched on that the MC’s reaction is a bit iffy. The fact that she’s reminiscing over her parents’ advice might lend credibility to the fact that the burglar has already konked himself out cold (something we don’t learn until after the reminiscing), but loses a lot of the tension.

The reminiscing could be left for after the MC gets the immediate situation taken care of. Not only does it show agency on behalf of the MC to act in that situation instead of stand there staring, it would keep the tension up. “Oh no! Burglar! Wait, he’s konked himself out. Wait! I know him! *first-aid* … What the hell was I thinking going out there like this?” That might be a potential comedy/eyeroll moment, too.

For Ana’s, I wasn’t jarred, really. There were a couple of moments in the beginning where I wondered and I’ve already mentioned those, but the rest, especially the interaction with her father and memory issues, were great!

I especially love this line: “she jabbed the button like a hungry pileated woodpecker in search of a tree ant.” Great visual, and it also shows her irritation with being “late”

Adding details about emotions, opinions, etc, would help mitigate some of that “camera over the head” distance and move it towards “camera in the eyeball, or in the mind.” How’s the MC’s body reacting? Does her neck feel tight? Does she slouch at the building? Seeing her physical reaction to the emotions she has to be feeling would make it a lot easier to get into the story.

Author of Renn and The Springfield Chronicles


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