I appreciated your helpful review of my chapter, so I thought I’d return the favor. This one caught my eye, and I had some thoughts. They are my humblest opinions, of course. Do with them what you will.
- Not sure about “throwing” in this sentence. He’s not technically throwing anything, rather pushing it hard. Maybe shoving? I’d also drop “small”—it does nothing for you, except raise unneeded questions about what you mean by “small.”
- Drop the “very”
- “He was more suited…” combine this with the prior sentence to ease the flow, as in: “Tay was tall and skinny, more suited to manual (drop the “doing”) work…”
- “given his nervous twitch when left to his own” I don’t get this. If he gets a twitch when he’s left alone, wouldn’t he be better off not being alone?
- In how you use it, “second in command” should all be hyphenated, as these are words acting together as an adjective AND they precede what they modify (second-in-command duty)
- “fit his enormous height” is awkward, since “enormous” denotes girth more than height, and fitting one’s height…just doesn’t really read right. Maybe “enormous frame.”
- There is way too much telling here in these opening few paragraphs. These details can be better sprinkled in throughout the story, I think. For now, focus on the action and the characters—on what’s happening now in the scene.
- “once shiny” same rule as before, meaning this needs to be hyphenated.
- Here’s where commas are essential. “He gave up in desperation and with a polite hold manhandled Tay outside.” There is a parenthetical aside going on here, and it needs to be distinguished: “He gave up in desperation and, with a polite hold, manhandled Tay outside.” Also, I’m confused at what’s going on. It reads as though they are already outside and he’s manhandling him there, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think what you mean is that he grabbed him and forced him to go outside, but that isn’t clear in how it’s written. Slight rework/polish should help.
- You use “calm” twice in close proximity
- Add a comma after “again” and before “Captain”
- “captains cabin” possessive—captains needs an apostrophe
- “deep dramatic breath” you’re pandering to the reader. Delete “dramatic.” It should be obvious anyway in how you show it.
- “Blackbeard simplified it for him.” Again, you’re pandering to the reader by telling them what’s obvious in the show. It’s the equivalent of writing something like: Jim was mad. “I’m mad,” Jim said. Something to be mindful of.
- Typo. “It’s not bother, Captain.” Not should be no. Also, “What is bother…” there should be an “a” in there
- “some wooden carvings of items most of them sea related like whales” This is a mouthful—clunky. First, drop “some” and be weary of using it like this. It’s the same as “very.” It is not your friend. Second, you don’t need “of items.” The carvings themselves are the items you’re talking about, so just say carvings. Third, I’d write this last part differently, with a bit more elaboration and clarity. Something like: “…wooden carvings, most of them sea-related: whales, albatrosses, and a half-finished toy row boat.” (never heard it referred to as a “rowing boat”)
- Delete the comma after “he had been working on the net”
- “and grabbed his neck” Not bad, but I’d suggest considering a bit of finesse here so the reader is clearer about whose neck is being grabbed. The way it reads, he could be grabbing his own neck. Maybe, “Captain Blackbeard closed the distance between them in two strides and grabbed the rounder man’s neck.”
- If Blackbeard is more fit around the middle, do they really have the same build? Maybe they do, it just brings it into question a bit.
- You say “duties” twice in the same sentence. Redundancy, in this case, is not your friend.
- “Blackbeard growled out loud” Of course it’s out loud. The reader would not assume that this was said only in his mind. Nix that part.
- “movement feet” should be “moving,” but really not even that. You don’t need to say the feet are moving. Just say the sound of feet on the deck. It’s clear what you’re talking about.
- “no doubt more food for conversation…” Drop this. It takes the reader’s attention away from the situation, which you don’t want since the stakes are rising a little here.
- Why is Blackbeard lost in a moment of musing? Didn’t his crew just give him a defiant smirk?
- Add comma after “or something”
- It seems odd to me that, on a ship full of see-dwellers, Rory is the only one who knows how to catch fish. Maybe he’s the best at it, but the ONLY one? Hmmm.
- I stopped reading for line-by-line edits, because I was running out of time. Instead, I focused mainly on the story progression from here on out.
There’s a lot of good stuff here. At times, the imagery is excellent. Other times, it’s on the right track, but misses the mark a little because it needs tightening. My biggest concern, however, is that there isn’t really a story here. Is this a contest submission? Short story? Start of a novel? Also, I didn’t catch that this was a ship in a bottle until I read the description. Yet, ships in bottles don’t typically have water.
Regardless, there are no stakes here, or at least they’re not great enough. Basically, a crew member is caught making etches to track time and the Captain is against this because he thinks it will lead to a mutiny. He scolds him and the crew member says he’s sorry. End of story. Yet, what are the stakes? Nothing happens to him when he gets caught, and it’s inferred that nothing will happen the next time. You need to up the ante, raise the stakes to make the reader care. The writing is solid, but needs tightening/trimming, but those stakes…the conflict…that’s really where the focus ought to be, imo. Good stuff so far. I hope this helps.
Best of luck.