March 17, 2017 at 12:29 pm #28079
I’ve been working on this short story I wrote a while back, and I thought it might be a good idea before I get started on the next draft to ask for your opinions and see if any of you have ideas for improving it. (I’d really appreciate them!) 🙂
I wrote draft 1 1/2 recently and looking over it afterward, it occurred to me that it’s lacking conflict in the middle. I have a couple ideas myself for fixing that, but I thought I’d let you see it first to see what you think before I write a whole nother draft. You might see more problems with it that I missed, or have some great ideas to add.
Suggestions on improving sentences and grammar are welcome too, but I’m looking mainly for feedback on the story itself so I know what big adjustments I will want to make in the following draft.
Is there anything I could enlarge upon in my story? Do you agree it lacks conflict in the middle? How could it be better? Is there anything you like/don’t like about the story? (Don’t spare my feelings. I know my story has problems.) 😉 🙂
Thanks, guys! 🙂 I’m going to tag a few of you, (get ready for some extreme tagging!!!) but you don’t have to respond if you don’t want to. (We writers are busy people) 🙂 @kate-flournoy @daeus @aratrea @theliterarycrusader @r-j-wordsmith @ethryndal @winter-rose @kina-lamb @perfectfifths @jane-maree @hope @mark-kamibaya @spradlin @nataliemarie @gretald @ingridrd @hannah-c @corissa-maiden-of-praise @belegteleri @emma-flournoy @rolena-hatfield @zoe-wingfeather @rebelutoinary @aella @dragon-snapper @graciegirl @anyone else I may have missed who wants to give me a hard time about it. 😉
Now, without further ado, (and much inward cringing) I introduce to you …
The Princess Who Couldn’t Dance (Title tentative)
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who couldn’t dance. Try with all of her might, she had two left feet and they wouldn’t go right, and disaster followed in their wake.
One of the most memorable disasters was the time she attempted to dance at her aunt’s wedding and upset the banquet table. One-third of the wedding cake went up the minister’s nose, one-third dropped in the punchbowl, and all the rest ended up on the ceiling.
Which was really quite a remarkable feat, and may have even been considered comical if the cake hadn’t been spoiled, and if the guests, bride and groom, hadn’t all been more sensible than a certain, little fair-haired serving lad, and knew better than to laugh at the princess. Fortunately for him, he managed to curb his snickering and hide beneath a table before he was noticed.
However, the issue had grown too great to be ignored, and already the royal family was beginning to be slighted (very discreetly, of course) in the giving of any invitations that were even remotely concerned with a ball.
The king and queen her parents, knew that they were in a pickle.
In their land, beautiful young princesses met handsome princes dancing at balls and parties. How would she meet her true love? She was their only child. If she couldn’t dance, then she wouldn’t fall in love, and if she didn’t fall in love, then she’d never marry, and if she never married, then they would never have any grandchildren! Alas, that their royal line must end!
So the king and queen did the best they could under the circumstances. (Which were very dire indeed!) They sent for the finest dancing masters in their kingdom, the kingdom beyond that, and the kingdom beyond that, to come and see if they could teach the princess to dance.
Promised rich rewards, they did their best. Each of the dancing masters in turn attempted to teach her, but in vain, and at the cost of a broken nose.
Not that she hit them, of course! What had happened was, each time she danced with one of the masters, somehow or other (quite unintentionally on her part,) she managed in some indescribable way to land him on his nose before he was done with her.
Next, they brought the inventors and specialists in. They tried everything on the poor princess: enchantments, exercises, supplements, magic slippers made of glass, and even a round skirt that was designed to improve her balance. The princess rolled around the ballroom in that last, and it was declared a failure like all the rest.
Things had reached this crisis, when a young lad traveled up the dusty highway that led to the castle. Short, but sturdy, wearing patched overall trousers and a dusty cap pulled low over one eye, he held his strong oaken staff in one hand, gingerly swinging it from time to time, and looked behind occasionally to assure himself that his wares were still firmly lodged upon the burdened cart, maintaining a solid grip on the donkey’s bridle the while.
He was leading the donkey, who was pulling the cart, which was piled high with shoes. Not just any shoes, but every kind of shoe imaginable! In every color, there were big shoes, small shoes, short shoes, tall shoes, thin shoes, fat shoes, round shoes, flat shoes, boxy shoes, slippers, leather shoes, wooden shoes, clown shoes with bells on them, and even hiking boots with spikes!
The boy whistled merrily to himself as he made his way slowly along the road, until he spotted a rider in the distance, coming from the direction of the castle. As the rider approached nearer, the boy saw that it was a thin, wiry little man astride a grey mare. The quality of his horse and clothes suggested a gentleman of refinement, but the thin shoulders were slumped dejectedly, and his dark, curly head was hanging so low that it brushed his horse’s neck, and his horse’s neck too was hanging so low that it dragged the road, stirring up dirt that blew in the shoe peddler’s nose and eyes, causing him to pause and address the horseman in this manner.
“Hey neighbor!” he called to him. “Would you mind raisin’ your horse’s head a bit? The dirt is makin’ me hoarse.”
“Oh,” he sighed. “I beg your pardon, young man.” He sat up some and reined in his steed. “It’s just that I am so sad about the plight of the poor princess.”
Indeed, thought the boy, looking at the man and his mount. A sadder couple I’ve never seen.
“Why, what’s the matter with the princess?” he asked.
“What’s the matter?!” sputtered the rider in amazement. “You do not mean to tell me that you have not heard?”
The boy shook his head.
“I …” the rider got a little choked up and paused to collect himself. “I shall tell it to you then. I worked as one of the princess’ dancing masters in the castle, so I know it firsthand. The princess … can’t dance.”
The boy gazed at him expectantly for a minute, before a light spread over his expression. “You mean to say that’s the problem?”
“Of course it is, and I fail to see what is so very funny about it.” he frowned and sniffed with at the boy’s explosion of mirth with an offended air.
The boy managed to restrain his laughter in a moment, (not without difficulty) and inquired of the former Royal Dancing Master, his merry black eyes sparkling with curiosity, “Well, I get how disagreeable it must be for a princess to be lackin’ that particular skill, but how is that such a dire calamity? Besides,” he added, “she can’t be all that bad.”
“It is the severest misfortune for a princess, and she is all that bad! How else do you suppose this happened?” He lifted his head for the first time, and the boy saw his face. The dancing master had a kind, but pained, expression, and his rather large nose was covered in a puffy bandage.
“What happened to your nose?”
“The princess tripped over her own feet. Every time we danced she did this, and she caught herself by grabbing my nose.”
For a moment, the boy was at loss of what to say. “That’s … that is bad.”
“That is what I have been trying to tell you.” he sighed despairingly. “Well, the day grows short and I have kept you long enough with my tale of woe. Good day to you, young fellow, and may your business prosper.”
“A mighty fine day to you too, sir. Thanks for the news!”
So they passed on their separate ways, the (now slightly more cheerful) dancing master on to parts unknown, and the peddler on to the castle. He had been traveling there to see if he couldn’t sell some of his wares to the inmates. Perhaps, he thought, giving his donkey a light rap on the haunches with his staff to get him moving again, as people say I’m a clever chap, I might see if there isn’t somethin’ I can do to help the princess while I’m there.
After another hour of travel, he reached the castle and the portcullis was raised as soon as the guards recognized him, the peddler being a familiar face at the castle.
As soon as he had sold a dozen pairs or so of his shoes and finished up his business, the boy requested an interview with the princess. Her royal parents (being pretty desperate by this point) agreed to let him see her, even though they doubted that he could do any good.
The shoe peddler was shown into the princess’ royal chamber, and a richer, lovelier room he had never seen. It was a tower room. The ceiling was high and domed and painted over with star,s that sparkled like real ones, and the walls were painted with beautiful pictures and designs. There were windows with soft, fluttery drapes, and a rich, purple carpet so deep and thick that your feet could almost disappear in it covered a portion of the colorful, mosaic-tiled floor.
“How do you do? asked the princess, who, wearing a dress of flowing silver, rose from a fur-draped divan to meet him. He couldn’t help but stare. She was far more beautiful than he had expected. The princess was a little older and taller than he, and she had a light olive skin tone, wavy, shiny black hair that fell to her waist, doe-like soft brown eyes with long, curling dark lashes, and a dazzling, bright smile.
Realizing suddenly that her hand was held out, he kissed it, and then bowed a trifle awkwardly and said in his best manner. “Very well, your Highness, and yourself?”
“Not so well, I am afraid.” she plopped (rather ungraciously) back down on the divan and patted the spot next to her. He could feel the Maid in Waiting scowling at his back from her place in the corner of the room, but he sat where the princess indicated, wishing he had spent a little more time combing his hair, which has grown rather unruly from being in a cap all day.
“You see, Mr. Shoe Peddler,” she continued, “I am getting very tired of people trying to fix me, but maybe you can help?” She smiled again, a friendly smile, and he instantly felt more at ease.
“I’ll certainly try my best, your Highness.” he bowed again. His confidence growing, he added, “Personally, I think a prince wouldn’t have to dance with you to fall in love. He would only have to catch a glimpse of you to see that you’re worth a dozen of those other princesses.”
The Maid in Waiting huffed, but the princess dimpled and blushed at his boyish compliment. “Thank you. You are very sweet.”
“Now,” he said. Let’s see what I can do here. Maybe you could walk around the room for me and dance a few steps, if you can do it safely, so I can get an idea of what the problem might be.”
If her beauty had led him to believe that perhaps the rumors had been exaggerated, he was grossly mistaken. The princess stumbled and fell and tumbled all over the place and was worse than in his wildest imaginations. He watched her feet closely during the entire performance.
“Hmm,” he said when she was finished, out of breath. “Might I have a look at your shoes, your Highness?”
“Certainly, by all means,” answered the princess. It was an unusual request, but after all she’d been through, nothing surprised her anymore. She took off her shoes right then and there and handed them to the boy.
He studied the shoes. They were dancing slippers, fine ones, the kind that has no right or left. After pondering them for a moment, he excused himself and went out to his shoe cart, returning with a pair of ordinary walking shoes, which he helped the princess to try on. Then he asked her to dance again. She was just as terrible, or more so than before. One of her arms narrowly missed hitting him in the head as she whirled by out of control before tumbling onto the thick carpet. (Causing him to recognize the practicality of it.)
He helped her up again, and pondered some more. The minutes ticked by as they sat there side by side. Then, all at once, the boy had an idea. He put a right shoe on her left foot and a left shoe on her right foot, and told the princess to give it a try.
She stepped across the room, “One two three, one two three …” and she danced. She really danced! She danced all around the tower (without bumping into any furniture or injuring the peddler or the Maid in Waiting who cowered fearfully in a corner,) just as graceful as you please. In fact, she danced so beautifully that all of her many dancing lessons did not appear to have been in vain after all.
“Oh, thank you dear Peddler!” she gushed warmly, shaking both of his hands in her delight. She rejoiced much like a prisoner might upon being released after prolonged captivity. “Now I shall never have to learn another dance lesson or try some dreadful contraption ever again!” She placed emphasis on her last words by planting a grateful kiss on his cheek.
She hurried off to show her royal parents who were overjoyed and could hardly believe their eyes at the miracle which had taken place. They (after consulting the boy’s feelings on the subject of a reward,) made him their own royal cobbler and knighted him personal attendant to the princess, and the boy brought his mother to live with him at the castle.
The Royal family celebrated with the grandest ball of the century and invited all of the princes from far and wide to attend. (Along with a few less significant guests.)
Both the new Royal Cobbler and his mother were the guests of honor on this occasion, of course, and to make it a very jolly party indeed, fairies and elves were invited too. (For, everyone knows that their skill as singers and musicians cannot be matched this side of the grave, and they love to dance.)
Everyone had a simply gorgeous time, but the princess (whose long gown easily covered her unusual footgear arrangement) had the best time of all, for she, after opening the ball on the arm of the Royal Cobbler, didn’t dance again but spent the rest of the night conversing with a handsome and highly eligible prince instead. This very charming prince is rumored to be her acknowledged suitor already, and they expect to hear wedding bells at the castle before long.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Here are some questions/ideas I thought of for my story.
What if “the middle man” at the castle gives the Shoe Peddler a hard time and refuses to admit him at first because he doesn’t want him to trouble their Majesties?
What if we go deeper into the Princess’ feeling throughout? Have I left anyone vital out, or is there something that could be enlarged upon?
Perhaps the peddlar’s visit to the king and queen would add to the story if it was described more vividly instead of in passing?
Do any of the characters learn anything? Does the Princess use her dancing knowledge to revolutionize her country? Does she become patient and a great ruler? Does she arrange “meet and greets” for princes and princesses at her court so that they don’t have to rely on balls anymore? Maybe she introduces new sports, or a book club, or there is something that she decided because of her experiences.
What do you guys think?
March 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm #28081March 17, 2017 at 12:39 pm #28086
- This topic was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by Mallory O'Bier.
Hey @daeus ,
It was a short story that disappeared when I tried to edit it … technical diffulties! *sigh* I’m trying to put it up again, but it doesn’t want to go up because it says it already exists …March 17, 2017 at 12:51 pm #28090March 17, 2017 at 12:53 pm #28091March 17, 2017 at 1:07 pm #28092
@Overcomer *grins* I like this. Muchly. The only thing I might say do differently than how you have it is make this the peddler’s story, not the princess’s. By which I mean, take out the intro about the princess who had trouble dancing (hilarious though it is) and just start with the peddler on the road meeting the dancing master. That will give the story a more vivid, present feel, as well as allow you more room for details and character development.
I think you could also improve on the characters learning, as you mentioned… at least the princess. The peddler’s great as he is, but the princess is a little flat, and I definitely think that could be improved by having her start a book-club or something. 😉
Or perhaps you could make it a sly little commentary on the vanities of the upper class as opposed to the hardships of the lower class by contrasting her situation (can’t dance— what hardship!) to the peddler’s hard circumstances, and having it end by her deciding to personally fund all peddlers in the kingdom happily ever after.
I love his solution. 😀March 17, 2017 at 1:36 pm #28093
@Overcomer I love this. I love the whimsical feel to the whole thing. It’s sooo fairytale-ish. 🙂
As far as changes, I second what Kate said, but otherwise, nice job. 😀March 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm #28098
R. J. WordsmithParticipant
Great story @Overcomer! I love the classical fairy tale style. As far as your questions go, I suggest you pick either the peddler or the princess and then tell the whole tale from their angle. You could do as Kate said, and give the peddler’s side of the matter. Or, you could tell more of the princess’ trials, and give her impression of the dusty peddler coming to help her, and her doubts as to his capability.
You could even do their scene together in the throne room, with royals and courtiers looking on and making comments all the while. This, of course, would make the peddler be under a lot more pressure, and emphasise the embarrassment of the princess at her own awkwardness.
In the end though, you’ll just have to see what works for you. How do you want the story to flow?March 17, 2017 at 3:42 pm #28099
I like this a lot! It has a very fairytale-ish feel (sorry for stealing your words, @ethryndal), which is what I’m sure you were going for. So nice job!
1. Try not to use parentheses as much as you do. Example:
She plopped (rather ungraciously) back down on the divan and patted the spot next to her.
2. It might just be me but using the parentheses makes me feel like the author is explaining something to me instead of me watching the scene take place. Does that make any sense whatsoever???
3. And one more thing. Try to avoid unnecessary words/sentences. Example:
The king and queen her parents, knew that they were in a pickle.
In my opinion, you should just take out “her parents”. We already know she is a princess and can figure out that her parents would be the king and queen. 🙂
4. I also echo what @kate-flournoy said above.
5. I love the part about the princess grabbing the dance master’s nose. Hilarious. 😛
Great work!March 17, 2017 at 3:59 pm #28100
@Ingridrd Ah, well, we have nothing, if it ain’t stolen. (To completely butcher a Reepicheep quote. 😛 )March 17, 2017 at 4:15 pm #28102
I must admit the end is disappointing — he solves the problem and he doesn’t get her hand in marriage for it? This is entirely against all fairy-tale protocol!
I’d love for her to start a book club, or arrange some way for royalty to get to know each other before marriage without the inconvenience of a ball.March 17, 2017 at 4:33 pm #28103
Those are some good ideas, @kate-flournoy . I was thinking that I needed to either make the story more about the princess, or the peddler, and I started to go with the princess, which is why I cut out some at the end that talked about his life after the whole affair. However, what you wrote made me think about it some more, and I think the peddler is the stronger character, (plus I really like writing about him) so I might do what you suggested.
Your idea for contrasting the characters’ situations I like too. That would add a little depth. That’s definitely something I’ll want to consider when writing my next draft.
I’m glad you like the solution. I wrote this story “seat of the pants” style, and I didn’t know what the solution was until I got to that part, and it just came to me that that was what I would try. 😉 🙂
Thanks, @ethryndal . That’s what I was going for. I love fairy tales too. 🙂
Good thoughts, @r-j-wordsmith . Based on Kate’s and your feedback, I’m considering doing a more thorough rewrite more from one character’s perspective. I’m not a hundred percent decided yet, but I’ll probably go with the peddler. I think it would make for a better story. Either that or I might try contrasting them both in the beginning somehow and tell how their stories come together from there …
Thanks, Ingridrd . I’ve been wondering about the parentheses, whether to take them out entirely or not. I used them for anything the author/narrator voice was saying that seemed too shocking not to be an aside, almost like secrets. I have wondered though if the story wouldn’t be stronger without them. Another good thing to keep in mind when I’m writing the next draft. 🙂
I have lots of ideas now! 🙂
I’m so glad you all like my story, but see plenty of room for improvement. Your comments are so helpful, and now I’m excited to get to work on it again. 🙂 Let me know if any of you think of something else you would like to add.
Thanks so much! 😀March 17, 2017 at 4:43 pm #28104
I know, @northerner , I did break fairy tale protocol. (When I did, it felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall.) There was a lot of age difference, though. Sorry. 😉
Thanks for your opinion, I agree with you. I think her experiences should make her want to do something to help other princesses who may suffer from similar complaints. 🙂 *tries not to giggle and fails* 😉 It’s good when your own story can crack you up. 🙂March 17, 2017 at 5:03 pm #28109
This. is. fantabulous. I love it. I enjoyed your narrator’s voice and all the quirky drama. I think the title is good too. 🙂
Some stuff: Depending on how you want the story to go, I would echo previous comments about making the story about a the boy. I you did this I think you could get away with the introduction if you made it shorter, then introduced the boy as the main character, perhaps going more into detail of who he is, what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. That sort of thing. I also think having the princess organize a meet and greet or something at the end would be a good addition to the story. 🙂
Oh and this part,
The quality of his horse and clothes suggested a gentleman of refinement
bothered me because you didn’t describe the clothes or horse, so you were telling the reader instead of showing. That might just be me, so you can get away with it if you don’t want to change it. 🙂
That’s about it. 🙂 Bravo Mallory. Bravo.
March 17, 2017 at 7:38 pm #28126
- This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by Gabrielle.
@overcomer Alrighty I managed to grab enough time to read and give it an edit over. I did it in a google doc, so hopefully it works. I’ll link to it, and you should be able to see what I’ve suggested and accept/reject said edit suggestions.
*hopes it works*
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