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message 1: by Constance (new)

Constance Buchanan | 19 comments It was a bleak, cold November afternoon. The sky was like granite overhead and the wind threatened to tear apart anything it came up against. The weather had been this way for days; a savage, biting wind, a mottled, grey sky and rain like acid, that seemed to seep into your skin and chill you to the bone. It wasn’t yet three in the afternoon, but from the window of the train it was almost like night. There was a bleakness about the place, a chilling wind in the air that made one’s fingers and joints stiff and rickety, and even the youngest and healthiest man would soon be unable to move without complaint after no more than half an hour on that train ride. The windows, filthy as they were, had steamed up, and the condensation had trickled like ink down the windowpanes and dripped onto the dyed fabric of the seats.
The wind spat out the rain against the side of the moving carriages, bouncing against the dirty glass like bullets from machine gun fire. It was a miserable day, and it seemed unfit and even stupid for anyone to be venturing out in such horrid weather.
The few passengers that were bold enough to travel in such difficult conditions, had been silent for most of their journey. Occasionally, one might exclaim aloud when the wind blew so hard it seemed that the train would rock on the tracks, but most were mute and unmoving. They sat, their shoulders up against their chins, their bodies rigid, as if they wanted nothing more than to fold in on themselves and disappear completely. Perhaps, when they turned their grey faces to the even greyer landscape, they were picturing in their minds, something far more pleasant and rosy than the conditions they were enduring now. Conditions, which were warm and safe and welcoming and were not in any way like the conditions they were weathering at present.
In the carriage that was most full, the four passengers were sat apart from one another, as if they each thought themselves too good to be in the other’s company. The first passenger was a woman in her late forties. Her hair was red, though it was obvious from the cheap looking colour that it had been dyed in an effort to make herself look younger. She sat stiffly, nursing an uneaten apple in her grey hand and she had the maddening habit of turning her head to each side every few seconds, as if she was restless. As if she wanted to see and be aware of everything around her, though of course this countless, impatient fidgeting was infuriating to her fellow travellers. So much so, that her neighbour, a thin, wiry man with a long, hooked nose, broke the heavy silence and barked at her that if she didn’t stop that goddamn twitching, he would call the driver and have her thrown off the train before they even reached their destination. The woman, hearing this, gave a haughty sneer of contempt and muttered something under her breath, about the manners of so called gentlemen these days and began to eat her fruit.
Jeanne Colbert paid little attention to the shouting. She sat nearest the window, her shoulders leaning against the dirty panes, though the rainwater seeped through her winter coat and made her clothes damp. She supposed she would regret that later, when her senses came back to her body and she could feel more than the numb, stiff feeling in her fingers and toes. But it was too late to do anything about it now, and although she considered moving from the window into the spare seat across from her, she had no desire to sit beside the quick, sharp looking young soldier who sat facing her. She did her best to ignore him, and looked instead at the dingy ceiling above their heads. Occasionally, the wind, which had somehow managed to get through the small cracks in the roof, blew in small gusts down into the carriage and spat at her cheeks, turning them pink and distressed.
She prayed that the train would go faster, that her journey from the city into the countryside would be short and quick and that she wouldn’t have to stay here with the three other travellers in her carriage any longer than necessary. She would be home in a matter of hours, and she smiled when that sunny thought came into her mind. It was a pleasant feeling, to know that your family was awaiting you, that they would probably have a hot meal waiting for you on the table and that there would be lots of smiles and cheerful voices. She thought of her two sisters, who she hadn’t seen in three years, and she could almost imagine away the bleak, macabre landscape outside her window. Yes, it would be lovely to be home.

message 2: by John (new)

John Mitchell (goodreadscomjohnjmitchell) | 17 comments Hi Constance,

Your writing is very strong and interesting. I like it.

The suggestion I would make would be to shorten the beginning description of the fowl weather. Most of the first paragraph, which is long, over-describes the nasty weather. Just my novice opinion.

message 3: by Marco (new)

Marco Ocram | 56 comments Hi Constance,

Many thanks for an interesting editing task. I'm sent you a PM with my detailed commentary.

Best wishes


message 4: by Pat (new)

Pat | 105 comments John wrote: "Hi Constance,

Your writing is very strong and interesting. I like it.

The suggestion I would make would be to shorten the beginning description of the fowl weather. Most of the first paragraph, ..."

FOUL weather. Fowl is a chicken

message 5: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Hurley (fiona_hurley) | 33 comments There's some lovely description here ("condensation had trickled like ink down the windowpanes" was particularly nice), but honestly I'd kill most of the first 4 paragraphs or move them to a later section. The story, presumably, is about Jeanne (and not about the woman with the dyed red hair, as I first thought), but you take a long time to get to her. The story did get interesting once we were in her viewpoint.

I would suggest maybe a sentence or two about the weather and the carriage, and then cut straight to Jeanne's viewpoint. Maybe show us the red-haired woman and hook-nosed man through her eyes, rather than introduce them as characters who might be the protagonists. And then add some details about the carriage and its bleakness. That way, we're feeling the scene through Jeanne, rather than viewing it as a neutral outsider, and we have some more investment in finding out what happens.

There were some passages that I thought were a bit overwritten. For example, "though it was obvious from the cheap looking colour that it had been dyed in an effort to make herself look younger" could get the same amount of information in far less words, e.g. "though obviously dyed a cheap colour in an effort to look younger".

Best of luck.

message 6: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) I like the sets me up to expect a story that is full of deep descriptions, deep emotions that will set the tone for the story.

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