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StephLondon
April 27th, 2015, 12:25 AM
Beauty and the Beast Retelling
Note: I'm just looking to see if I should keep going and what I should improve on. Any and all critiques would be helpful. Thank you so much.

Claudette tip-toed along the edge of the market, a hood draped low over her head and a scarf swept around the lower half of her face. Not a piece of her was uncovered save for her brilliant sapphire eyes that were wide with fear and worry. The length of her baggy black sleeping gown dragged across the dirty ground as she tilted her head down, afraid to make eye contact with anyone. She was out to collect the things that her mother had refused to get her.

“Go to the marketplace yourself, silly girl,” her mother had laughed, “there is nothing to be afraid of but the rabid rats that lurk near Wallace's cheese stand.”

Claudette rolled her eyes as the words echoed over and over in her head. Everything was so easy to her mother; there was never even an ounce of understanding extended to her daughter.

“ 'Scuse me miss,” a man chirped before plowing through her and to the fruit stand.

Claudette stumbled, grabbing the wall beside her. She cursed as her scarf drooped before scooping it back behind her ear once more. She glanced around before continuing on her path to the end of the market, to the end of the massive tents and gatherings of people. If she was adept at math, she might have been able to guess exactly how many steps stood between her and the wooden carriage. Instead, she let other ramblings and what-nots occupy her mind.

Eventually, as she had hoped she would, she reached her favorite shop. Claudette's eyes scanned the outside of the massive beast. How Francis had ridden it around all of Ivy Falls every day for nearly thirty years was a wonderment. The wheels were splintered and cracked, matching the rest of the dark exterior. The tiny window that allowed a peek into the store was blocked by a mock-velvet red curtain. When the wind blew just right, Claudette could swear it whimpered under the delicate pressure.

“Girl, you planning on taking me every last copper or you gonna spend yours?” Francis spat in his gruff tone from the window, the curtain now pulled aside roughly, showing the frayed ends.

“I- I'd like to come in, please,” Claudette answered.

Francis grunted and gestured for her to walk around to the other side of the carriage. The door was propped open, held in place by a large stone and Francis sat on a rocking chair inside. His gray hair stuck up at the ends, and his smock hardly fit around his middle. Forgetting that he couldn't see much of her, Claudette smiled timidly before taking two steps inside.

She had visited Francis's store four times in her nearly eighteen years, saving each trip until she was desperate to go again. It wasn't worth the risk otherwise. Claudette pushed the bottom of her gown behind her and bent down to fit better in the vehicle. Books were piled high in the corner, lamps sat beside them, unlit and unused. Trinkets and dolls lay on the bottom shelf. Anything she could think of, she found in front of her.

Claudette reached out hastily and gathered five books that looked unfamiliar, holding them to her stomach protectively.

“Is that all, girl?”

She didn't ask how he had known she was a girl, perhaps it was her smaller stature in the large gown or the way her eyes were set wide with anxiety, she merely nodded.

“That'll be fifteen coppers.”

Claudette eyed the books. She knew there was no way they were worth more than one copper a piece. The pages were smudged and wrinkled, and the covers had faded. But she was in no position to barter; that would go against her get-out-as-fast-as-possible method for shopping in the market.

She nodded once more and reached inside her sleeve, into the pocket she had sewn onto the inside, and pulled out fifteen small, bronze coins. She dropped them into Francis' hands and watched as he counted them with excitement.

“Very good. Very good. Will that be all, you certain?” he asked, waggling his scraggly eyebrows.

“It will.” Claudette nodded a farewell and walked backwards until her feet hit the cobbled stone of the street.

“Good day, miss,” Francis called as she spun around with relief.

“Goodbye,” she whispered, her voice naturally not rising above a quiet tone, lest she attract attention.

Her silk slippers moved quickly as she worked her way to the edge of the market, her shoulder finally making contact with the outside of the more structured buildings and pubs. She held the books closely under her right arm, using her left to glide along the textured walls. Claudette's breathing became more consistent with every step she took. She could see the forest edge that housed her family's castle. It wouldn't be long before she was back.

She smiled thinly under the makeshift veil before feeling her arm being tugged to her right. Her books fell to the floor with five loud thumps. She glanced down at them before at the old woman who was still tugging on her sleeve.

“Please, do you have spare change, miss? Just a few bronzes is alls I need. I won't trouble you no more.”

Claudette moved her body away from the woman frantically, but found herself backed into a corner instead.

“No, no, I can't.” She shook her head. “I'm sorry.”

“No? No?! Fifteen bronzes for some piss-on books and I get nothing?” the woman spat on the ground near Claudette's foot.

“I'm sorry, really.” Claudette flinched as the beggar stood on tip-toes to peer into her eyes.

Claudette could feel something bad about to happen. It was a brick in the middle of her stomach, much like the way she had used to feel after eating some of her late grandmother's fruit cake. The old woman backed up, a small step, before raising a hand. Claudette turned, waiting to feel the sharp sting of the palm connecting with her cheek, but instead, there was nothing. She looked back to find the woman's hand being held mid-air by a boy.

He looked Claudette's age, with wavy black hair and warm brown eyes. He stood outside of the blacksmith's, and she guessed he was either an apprentice or the son or, maybe, both. At the moment, he reminded her of the heroes she read about in her books.

“Go away, Hilda. Go torture some of the old alley cats,” he commanded, watching as she scurried away. Suddenly, he was focused on Claudette. “I have to apologize for her. You must not be from around here. She's the town wretch, a filthy old hag who loves nothing more than to abuse the foreigners and travelers.”

“Oh,” she replied lamely.

“Don't let her have you thinking she's some sort of poor beggar either. She's had quite the life of wealth from running a brothel in her youth.”
Claudette grimaced. This was why she didn't go into town.

“Thank you,” she mentioned with a small bow of her head.

The boy moved his hands to his pockets and rocked on his heels. “It was no trouble. But your books,” he nodded to the ground. “Let me get them for you.”
“Uh, thanks.” Claudette's smiled brightened under the midnight colored scarf as the sinking feeling in her gut turned into a fluttering.

“Anything for a beautiful lady,” he replied coyly.

Claudette bit her lip. He stood back up and held the books out to her. She took them carefully, her hands shaking from the new interaction.

“May I have your name?” he asked earnestly, the paleness of his cheeks turning a light pink.

She opened her mouth to speak, but the wind picked up. Ordinarily, she would've welcomed the breeze, would've closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. But now, standing in front of a boy in the middle of the busy village, she froze.

The scarf wasn't fastened behind her ear tightly enough; the hood on her head was flimsy. Claudette's covering blew away from her face, the wind taking everything from her in a single, minuscule gust.

The boy backed away slowly, and Claudette wasn't quick enough to replace the scarf and hood. He stuttered, pointing a finger before lowering and raising it twice.

“You're... you're...you...”

Claudette's head drooped. He began shouting for help, for someone else to look, to see what he was seeing. She tightened the books against her chest, spun around, and ran, not stopping to hide her face. She heard the crowd begin to form behind her, heard them shouting and muttering amongst themselves. “Hideous,” they said. “Monstrous,” said the others. “A terror,” they all agreed, “maybe even a demon.”

Claudette felt tears drip down her face, splotching her sleeping gown and staining the cover of one of the books. She flew past the last bit of town, skidding to the soft grass of the forest. Her knees burned as she did so, but she ignored the pain.

Her sobs echoed in the trees, her palms clutching at the earth with grief and angst.

“Go to the marketplace yourself, silly girl,” her mother had laughed, “there's nothing to be afraid of...”

Claudette's raised a fist and hit the soil with a guttural scream. Her hands tugged at her black curls, pulling them roughly as though the added pain could erase the emotional distress she felt.

Perhaps her mother was right, though. There was nothing for her to be afraid of when she went to town. It was the people who had to be afraid. She was ugly incarnate. She was a beast.

Carousel
April 28th, 2015, 05:12 PM
You have the skill to compose an interesting plot and run with it and that’s no mean fete, many amateur writers struggle to construct an interesting story. So I’m just going to give you a few ideas to play around with.


Claudette tip-toed along the edge of the market, a hood draped low over her head and a scarf swept around the lower half of her face. Not a piece of her was uncovered save for her brilliant sapphire eyes that were wide with fear and worry. The length of her baggy black sleeping gown dragged across the dirty ground as she tilted her head down, afraid to make eye contact with anyone. She was out to collect the things that her mother had refused to get her.

“Go to the marketplace yourself, silly girl,” her mother had laughed, “there is nothing to be afraid of but the rabid rats that lurk near Wallace's cheese stand.”

It may be better to change the opening to a more detailed description of the fair, the noise, bustle, the cries of the stallholder’s etc. just a paragraph would do. Think about setting the fair in medieval times because it connects with the story line. All the info you need is readily available on the web, just Google Medieval Fairs.
Then you introduce the girl, which strikes a contrast to the lively buzz of the market. That encourages the reader to ask themselves questions—‘Why is she covering her face? Why is she afraid?
In those days it would be very easy to associate gross facial disfigurement with evil because pagan beliefs were still held alongside the Christian religion.

I’m not too sure of the roll the mother plays in the piece as she would have certainly known the very real dangers that her daughter faced and would have probably isolated her from any contact from outside.

You could make the unveiling of Claudette a touch more dramatic by having the guy snatching the scarf from her face. That needs a change in his approach into more of a pick up opportunity.

Jut one other point. As I read it Claudette has the body of an eighteen year old girl with the deformity being restricted to her face. So you must make that be obvious to the readers, i.e. that Claudette has the figure of a young girl in spite of her face covering, otherwise why would the young guy be attracted to a shapeless bundle of clothes which could be sixteen or sixty.?

The dialogue--- No one expects you to write Middle English but using American slang sticks out like sore thumb i.e. ‘gonna’ for example. That’s the downside of setting a story in the past; you have to do quite a bit of research to make it plausible.

Yes you do have trouble with descriptive writing but I don’t have time to discuss that with you now.

Regards Cari.

StephLondon
April 28th, 2015, 06:19 PM
Carousel ;
Thank you for your honesty. You make some great suggestions and I will try to implement them into future projects or if I decide to continue this one. I appreciate the time you did take to discuss everything else. Unfortunately, I wonder if the things I lack in the descriptive writing area can be taught or learned. Hopefully so.

Thanks,
Stephanie

Carousel
April 28th, 2015, 07:48 PM
Oh yes you can, you’re a reader which helps a lot. Take a good book you really enjoyed then look at the structure of the storyline. The way that the dialogue seemed so natural to the characters, a few phrases which made your eyes pop.
Keep writing short stories; practise may not lead to perfection but it certainly leads to improvement.

Regards Cari.

StephLondon
April 28th, 2015, 08:02 PM
I will definitely do that. Thanks again!

Riptide
April 29th, 2015, 04:54 AM
Nice story, I say go with it! I'm interested in her looks because here, little ol' rosy seeing me, thought the girl to be beautiful in all regards. Guess I was wrong, huh? Yeah, one thing I noticed was the way you described her in the shawl. How she wondered how the shop owner knew she was a girl, but she didn't wonder that when the guy said 'scuse me miss, and brushed passed her? And the boy knowing she's a beaut? Then again, eyes can be alluring.

Well, description wise, you do use a lot of ly words.


“Anything for a beautiful lady,” he replied coyly.

Claudette bit her lip. He stood back up and held the books out to her. She took them carefully, her hands shaking from the new interaction.

“May I have your name?” he asked earnestly, the paleness of his cheeks turning a light pink.


You can sprinkle them in here and there, but it's better not to use them so free spirited. Like, you can keep the coyly, but for the others:


She took back her books, being careful not to damage them anymore.

"May I have your name?" he asked... well, you could as well drop the word without a replacement, but you could do: he asked with his gaze locked on hers. To me that gets across earnest, or something similar.

Nayway, I say continue. What do you have to lose?

StephLondon
April 29th, 2015, 12:46 PM
Nice story, I say go with it! I'm interested in her looks because here, little ol' rosy seeing me, thought the girl to be beautiful in all regards. Guess I was wrong, huh? Yeah, one thing I noticed was the way you described her in the shawl. How she wondered how the shop owner knew she was a girl, but she didn't wonder that when the guy said 'scuse me miss, and brushed passed her? And the boy knowing she's a beaut? Then again, eyes can be alluring.

Well, description wise, you do use a lot of ly words.


“Anything for a beautiful lady,” he replied coyly.

Claudette bit her lip. He stood back up and held the books out to her. She took them carefully, her hands shaking from the new interaction.

“May I have your name?” he asked earnestly, the paleness of his cheeks turning a light pink.


You can sprinkle them in here and there, but it's better not to use them so free spirited. Like, you can keep the coyly, but for the others:


She took back her books, being careful not to damage them anymore.

"May I have your name?" he asked... well, you could as well drop the word without a replacement, but you could do: he asked with his gaze locked on hers. To me that gets across earnest, or something similar.

Nayway, I say continue. What do you have to lose?

Ah! Another weakness of mine, the cursed adverb. Thank you for your thoughts, I definitely like your reworked sentence better. I need to show more instead of telling. I was trying to get across that her movements were graceful and feminine and, yes, her eyes were meant to be very alluring. I'll have to rework it though, somehow, make it more obvious.

Thank you again!