09/09/2018
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Under the Microscope extra: Divine Embers

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Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's first 300 words and for the full critique, see the October issue of Writing Magazine.

 

Divine Embers - original

Baudry of Saint-Marcel leaned over the rampart to scan the landscape of crumbling houses spattered outside the village wall, wondering what his father might do for disobeying him. His father could find any excuse to beat him, but he wasn’t going to miss the abbot’s visit on All Saints Day.

He squinted and held up his forearm to shield his eyes from the orange late-afternoon sun. The pungent warmth rising from the dried grass below comforted him but disappeared as dusk settled in over the craggy mountains.

He gasped when he saw a horse laden with gold-embroidered heraldry struggle up the rut-filled road to the main gate. The flimsy drawbridge squeaked dryly and the massive wooden doors of the entrance gate screeched open on this special occasion. When the procession entered the fortification, Baudry’s eyes widened as the abbot straightened up in his saddle and hoisted the papal banner on high. Why did his mother want to see this man, he thought, and why did his father threaten anyone with a beating who tried?

Baudry pointed at the growing line of soldiers on horses adorned with coats of arms. “There he is! There’s the abbot.” He turned to Jaquet to see the reaction on his ruddy face.

“You sure it’s not the king?” said Jaquet.

They scurried down the ramp to join the villagers and Baudry stopped occasionally to wait on Jaquet, when forgetting to slow his pace. He was always amazed how Jaquet never let his bad leg keep him from working or playing. That was all there was to do in Saint-Marcel.

The village was well-fortified with the Count of Foix’s banners on the towers overlooking the countryside below, but many villagers had moved into the small hamlets that dotted the meadows, woodlands, and vineyards below the ramparts.

 

McCredited version

Baudry of Saint-Marcel leaned over the rampart to scan the landscape of stone houses scattered outside the village wall. He wondered how his father might react for disobeying him. His father could find any excuse to beat him, but Baudry and his friend Jaquet weren’t going to miss the abbot’s visit on All Saints Day. T

hey squinted and shielded their eyes with forearms against the late-afternoon orange sun. The sweet warmth rising from the hay below comforted Baudry but it faded as dusk settled over the mountains.

He gasped when he first saw the horse laden with gold-embroidered heraldry struggling up the rutted road, a snaking procession of soldiers in its wake. The drawbridge squeaked dryly and the massive wooden doors screeched open. 

Baudry’s eyes widened as the throng entered the fortification and as the abbot straightened up in his saddle to hoist the papal banner. Why did his mother so want to see this man, and why had his father threatened them both with a beating if they tried?

Baudry pointed at the growing line of soldiers on horses adorned with coats of arms. “Look! Look at all the colours!” He turned to Jaquet to see the reaction on his ruddy face.

“You sure it’s not the king?” said Jaquet.

‘I’m sure. Come on!”

They scurried down the ramp to join the villagers, Baudry stopping occasionally to wait for Jaquet. On any other day, he would have accounted for his friend’s twisted leg, but impatience gnawed at him on this special day.

• For the full critique, see the October issue of Writing Magazine.

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