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Item Reviewed: "A Village With No Name / Chapter 20"
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️🌈
As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful , and that you will discard the rest with good cheer.
What I liked best
This is another great chapter. I like the added complexity of Mary Loo's appearance and her eerie similarities to Gideon's dead wife. I don't recall if you've previously mentioned that Gideon's wife was adopted, or perhaps a foundling, as groundwork for what is surely coming. If you have not, it would be an easy matter to add a sentence or two earlier on to help set this up. Otherwise, it'll wind up feeling like a deus ex machina.
I'm going to limit most of comments since this is well-written and, where I'd have suggestions, I'd mostly be covering ground I've gone over before.
Awesome plot advance.
You've ended with a decision, which is a good enough hook since it has tension built into it. I was a little unclear about the details, though--see the line-by-line remarks below. That's probably reviewer fatigue from not having read this in a while, but if not you might want to add a word or two to clarify.
Style and Voice
Third person limited in Gideon's head. There are places were it feels like the author intrudes to state a fact, especially at the start. Once the action starts, we're pretty firmly in Gideon's head. See the line-by-line remarks for an example.
Good job. We've been in all the spaces before, so we just need a touch to remind us, and you've done that.
Mary Loo is conflicted, but she's got her "save the cat" moment with her concern for the children. This establishes her and lets the reader cheer for her.
Even Scott seems to have his moments, but he's been such a swaggering, entitled creep that it's hard to believe he'll have a transformation to a "good guy" even under the influence of his sister. He's clearly got a cult-like worship of his father.
Beware of repeating words and phrases, which runs the risk of making your prose seem monotone. I found at least one example in the line-by-line remarks.
Just my personal opinion
This is an awesome story with a terrific twist with the addition of Mary Loo. We must be nearing the denouement, so I'm looking forward to future chapters to see how it all winds up!!!
Your text is in BLUE.
My comments are in GREEN.
If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
It was a little after mid-afternoon when they entered the main street, My Comment:Author intrudes to state a fact. Why not just have Gideon's eyes burn in the glare of the "mid-afternoon sun?" It conveys the same information, but because it describes Gideon's sensation, you've kept the reader inside his head instead of just stating a fact.
Gideon reined Hoss to a stop outside Watkins' office, dismounted, and tied Hoss to the hitching rail at the base of the steps. My Comment: "Hoss" used twice in close proximity.
“Only while you alive,”My Comment: typo
b}“Listen to him, Scott,” Watkins intreated.My Comment: "intreat" is an archaic form of "entreat." I'd use the latter.
he went quite My Comment: typo--"quiet," right?
for she was the spitting image of his wife Glenda; My Comment: foreshadowing, perhaps, of an actual relationship? I don't recall that there's been groundwork for this, but it's hard to recall when reading episodically like this.
“The best place for the children is in their own home. We could stay with them until some other arrangement can be made. My Comment: Again, I've lost the thread. Somehow I thought the farmhouse burned to the ground? Or is this the mayor's home in the village? But in the next speech, Gideon says he'll "bunk with hired help." What hired help? I don't recall there being any ranch hands at the Mayor's farm...
I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it.
Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!