Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Sunday Snippets – 14 April 2013…

April 14, 2013

Today I am sharing a scene from my speculative fiction novel, Life in Slake Patch. Young men of the resistant group, known as the Tribe have been captured and secured in a grain store.

LifeinSlakePatch 001sunday_snippets2

Woken by sudden shouting, horse’s hooves and cries of help, I knew something was terribly wrong. Pulling on a pair of britches quickly, I raced out of the long house to see huge flames leaping into the early morning sky. The grain store was on fire and the young men were still locked inside. The heat hit me as I rushed toward the store. Men were lined up between the large water troughs and the burning building, passing buckets of water back and forth as quickly as they could.

Suddenly there was a deafening crash as the store roof collapsed. Screams pierced the air then all at once there was silence. Shocked faces were bathed in the gold of the flames, no one moved for several moments then hectically the bucket line restarted. It took over an hour before the flames were quenched sufficiently for the chard logs to be pulled away, exposing the blackened bodies of the seven members of the Tribe. One by one they are laid out then wrapped in hessian and taken by wagon to the spirit garden out to the east. Each wagon accompanied by the father of the young man within, riding on horseback with black cloths shrouding them, as was the custom.

The Tollst residents watched the procession leave in stunned silence. Death was usually through old age and occasionally an accident but this was an unprecedented event, something that would make its mark on everyone there that day. Merchant Folke stood at the gate and as we watched the last wagon past through he asked us all to say the death chant together.

Please enjoy everyone’s snippets – here is the list.

Today’s word for those who would like to know is Promontory – definition: a high point of land sticking out into the sea or over a lowland. I could have found a scene where Evan travelled to a similar place but chose not to. However, I am sharing a wonderful scenic view instead.



  1. ‘pulling on a pair of britches quickly’ feels a little clunky on the tongue. Looking at the word ‘pulling’ in favour of a stronger verb may save you from the need to include the quickly at all, which will make the sentence smoother to read.

    ‘to see huge flames leaping’ is a passive way of saying what you mean. Why not consider ‘and saw huge flames leaping.’ A small change that could change the punch of the discovery of the fire.

    You’ve got ‘the grain store was one fire’ followed closely by ‘rushed towards the store.’ Is there another word you can use to avoid the repetition?

    This is just a personal gripe of mine, but I still want to mention it; starting a sentence with ‘suddenly’ can, in some cases, rob it of the tension you’re trying to introduce. The collapse of it’s roof, by it’s nature would be sudden, so I’m not convinced you need to mention it.

    Is ‘hectically’ a word? I’m not sure, though it’s another of those -ly words that can probably be replaced elsewhere to keep the sentence strong and lively.

    Your last paragraph feels a little like a summary. The previous ones were so lively and packed with action, then this account of people’s feelings takes me out of the story slightly. If this reveal is important, is there another way to include it?


  2. when you say “Woken by sudden shouting, horse’s hooves and cries of help,” I know what you mean, but “Woken by […] horse’s hooves” doesn’t make much sense, really.
    Everyone mentions the be-verbs I miss because they’re so easy to read right over, and you’ve got the same. Take some out and make it stronger! 😉
    You’ve got a typo here “chard [charred] logs to be pulled away.”
    You have good emotion descriptions of the fire and after, but not in the arrangement and moving of the bodies, where I would expect it most.
    Lots of nice little world-building hints here–raises a bunch of questions about how the fire started and why the men were locked up!


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