pablogcc (pablogcc) wrote,

Critique - Soulsong ch4 pt 2


I like the twist you've given Professor Alexander a lot! The last section was also excellent; a smooth transition back into Jane's POV and the idea about him finding Jane's diary was very neat.

My main conern her lies with the little information you've given us regarding the Professor's intentions. Since I've no idea whatsoever what he's looking for, I got lost in the sea of detail you've written. As I suggested, maybe connecting the scene with the Professor's thoughts could make it flow better and add more relevance all the way from the beginning, since I could not feel a strong connection to his search, so part of the mystery/drama was lost for me. 

“I suppose I can start in there,” he mumbled as he hoisted himself up off the low couch. 

The little hallway led to a library.  It was not a large room, considering the size of the house, but books lined every wall from floor to ceiling, except for the small fireplace and mantle.  The hardwood floor was protected by a large Persian rug whose tassels fanned out to meet the bookshelves on all four sides.  The room held an antique desk, several padded chairs, and a small couch.  Overhead hung a huge basin-like light fixture that almost spanned the entire ceiling.  The Professor looked for a light switch, but didn’t find one.  He walked to a small table and turned on a lamp. He tried to inspect the basin more closely in the dim light and noticed a fracture running approximately eighteen inches from the edge toward the center.  Why would they keep a broken fixture?  He continued turning on lamps, one in the middle of the room, one sitting on the desk, and another at the far side of the room. 

He went first to the desk and opened its drawers.  It was mostly empty but for a few pencils and sheets of paper with the Picardy letterhead.  In a corner near the fireplace was a heavy stone globe of the earth sitting in an iron stand.  He ran his hand over its polished surface, feeling the lines etched into the stone outlining the countries and continents.  The entire sphere was a light beige color, except for a dark splotch over Mexico.  He didn’t remember this from the last time he was here.  He admired its craftsmanship and approved of the Picardy’s sense of taste. (So far the imagery has been great, but I’m having a bit of trouble following him around. There are a lot of details here. Maybe adding some thoughts could help give this section some solid ground to anchor ourselves to; give it more focus.)

Next, he went to a shelf of books nearest him and scanned the titles.  These were books a person would expect to find in a family library; works of Shakespeare, Homer, Dickens and Hemingway.  Professor Alexander peered around the room again.  Hmm, what’s that?  On the far wall, on the three lower shelves, was a collection of books of all sizes and thickness.  Compared to the other books in the room, they looked like broken and uneven teeth.  (Given the musical nature of your novel, I found this section odd. I’d expect the Professor’s attention to be centred on musical objects. Maybe you could hint somewhere at what he is looking for so we don’t get a sense of ‘aimless’ nosing around.)

The Professor pulled out a tall, thin volume.  He opened it and was surprised by its contents; very old hand-printed music manuscript.

 “This is well over a hundred years old,” he said to himself.  He carefully turned a few of its brittle pages to see if he recognized the melodies, however, they were unfamiliar to him.  He pulled out several more aged books, each like the first, filled with unfamiliar melodies on brittle and yellowed paper.  Then, on the bottom shelf, way back in the corner, was a short, thick, leather bound book with the words PERSONAL DIARY printed in dark blue ink along the spine. 

“Probably some dead relative,” he said as he pulled the book off the shelf and opened to the first page.  There was no name to identify whose diary it was.  He began reading the first page. 

I’ve been here for a month now and so much has happened.  But, I should start at the beginning of my adventures.  It all began with a lightning strike that hit a tree. I went to investigate and found a baton that whisked me away – to where you might ask, but you would be wrong.  It’s not where, but when.  I came from the year 2012 and ended up in the year 1710. The first few people I met were Fiona Filpott, William Tuner, Pulsiver Thrumming, and Jean Emil Troubere.   At first they were unsure about me, but when I told them my name was Melody Jane Picardy, they accepted me and took me in as if they had known me always... (Very nice!)

Professor Alexander turned the journal over in his hand.  What is this book?  Maybe it was going to be a novel or something.  He took the book to the little couch and began to read. (These last sentences didn’t work for me. Since the words ‘PERSONAL DIARY’ are printed along the spine and Jane mentions her name in the writing, the ‘What is this book?’ question felt out of place for me. Also, since the Professor was clearly searching for something, the last sentence makes it look like his search was not that important –since he could suspend it in order to read. I think a quick edit hinting at what he’s looking for and developing his interest in the diary a bit more would sort it out nicely.)


Jane opened her eyes.  They felt gritty, and her mouth was parched.  She sat up and looked around.  Someone had been in while she slept because there was a tray of food on the desk. 

“How long have I been out?” she wondered aloud.  She lost all sense of time in the caverns.  She slung her feet out, padded to the tray of cold food and inspected the beverage; the dark liquid smelled tangy.  She took a tiny taste.  Huh, apple cider, then she gulped it down.  She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand then began investigating the room.  There was music manuscript paper for composing and arranging stacked in a neat pile on the desk, along with an old fashioned inkwell and quill.  She picked up the small glass jar containing black ink. 

“I’ll need to go back to school just to learn how to use this,” she mumbled, shaking her head.  She replaced the inkwell and went to the keyboard.  What she earlier thought was a clavichord, on closer inspection, turned out to be a virginal.  When she pressed a key, rather than a small hammer striking a string, a quill plucked the string to make a small tinny sound.  This diminutive forerunner of the modern piano was ideal for such a small room. 

Jane traced her finger along the ornate scrollwork decorating the outer casing and marveled at its craftsmanship.  The only other she had ever seen was in a museum.  She sat down, flexed her fingers a few times, and started in on an intricate Bach fugue in B minor.  The touch and action were not at all like a piano.  It didn’t matter how hard or soft the keys were pressed, they always sounded the same whereas on a piano, if a key is pressed lightly, it will produce a soft sound, and if it is pressed with some force, will sound loud.  This ability to be loud or soft is how it got the name ‘pianoforte,’ which literally means ‘soft-loud.’  The virginal played more like a harpsichord, and sounded very similar as well. 

It gave Jane a sense of satisfaction to play the piece.  It had been a week and a half since she’d had an opportunity to practice and it felt good to do so.  A soft knock on the door gave her a start.  She whirled around to face the unknown caller.  Before she could gather her wits to ask who it was, the door opened to reveal Fiona, with Gale close behind.

Tags: soulsong
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