Artiget had started as a little sheep-rearing village in the crest of a sloping hill. Summer after summer, the families farming the lands would drive their stock of sheep to the town markets at the foot of the mountain and trade their lambs for cloth and coal. Many towns had long since forsaken trade in kind, but Artiget and its neighbouring towns continued in the long-established tradition of trading family goods. Artiget had always relied on its own autumn harvests to support the families living in the tricky mountainous area.


Over the past few decades, travellers had come and gone, and then more had come and gone, wandering into Artiget every now and again to see how the olden folk lived. Artiget was like that. Old. Old in the ways of its citizens, old in the stories on the lips of the elders, old in every shape and texture. Old in beliefs.


It was a magic place for travellers. A few farms nestled in the sloping hills, an ice blue lake shimmering in the piercing rays of the sun. The sky was somehow closer in Artiget. Clearer. With no hidden secrets. Just like Artiget was open to the world, so the sky was open to Artiget.


Wanderers would stay a few days, studying the beautiful landscape, sharing in the farmers’ meals and stories. Then they would move on to further destinations beyond the horizon, stick in hand, bag filled with the wins and gains of the recent harvests. Though frosty in climate, Artiget never disappointed at harvest time.


And so the village grew. It grew into a bigger village and then a town. And now there were two streets running the length of Artiget, one flatly traversing the curve of the hill, where old and new wooden houses and farms lined the landscape, and one street, small almost invisible if one wasn’t aware of where to look, wound into the cluster of trees on the west side of the hill and down, curving to the icy blue lake where the water was fetched daily for the population of Artiget.


Mako knew this story well. Every child learnt it from their parents, who in turn had learnt it from their parents, who in turn had witnessed the village grow into a bigger, more populated settlement. Now, as Mako walked down the main street towards Ari’s house at the end of town, he saw stores and yards and houses where women sat through the day, knitting woolens to sell at the next market. Now people came to Artiget for their markets, while the people of Artiget stayed where they were, designing and making their crafts, crafts of all types and shapes, sizes and colours. The abundance of crafts was unique to Artiget.


But the snow had turned off the oil lamp in the big room of beauty and wander that was Artiget, the centre of ornaments and wools, the best sheep in the vicinity and beyond, the place of culture and languages, and the clearest blue skies for star-gazing for miles.


Last night, there’d been another storm. A vicious one. It had picked up just after Ari had gone home. Today, the stillness seemed uncharacteristic. Mako still couldn’t figure out the pattern to these abrupt weather changes. But now the sky was blue. Blue and ready for stars. Once it got dark, Mako and Ari would sit on her roof and watch the sky shimmer and change as the hours passed by. And tomorrow there’d be another storm. Probably. Mako sighed. Eliza had been against the star-gazing idea. But he’d gone anyway. He’d placed more wool padding around the windows to keep the heat from escaping, and restocked the wood by the fireplace. It was time for the stars.


A smile emerged on his lips as Mako saw Ari’s ginger head bob up and down in the second-floor window of her parents’ old cottage. The snow weighed so heavily on the roof, the house almost looked entirely dominated by the white mass. The home’s grey walls blended with the snow on all sides, and it was only Ari’s flock of red hair that distinguished this place from all the other snow-covered mounds of wood where people sat at their fires, praying for a change of fortunes, a reversal of fates, for warmth and the hustle and bustle that had come to characterise Artiget.

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That second paragraph is beautifully crafted.

wander - wonder

You are developing your characters and the environment. I have yet to feel that moment where my stomach tightens out of anxiety for Ari and Mako. It needs to happen soon.

But the descriptive work is magic. You've left Eliza at home worrying maybe she has something to worry about ...but what I wonder? If you put this through the Style Guide the result is to the left of the grid so that is suggesting more action is needed.

I love your descriptions of the town and your characterisation of Ari. I agree with Suraya's comments about the story needing more action. You're dropping lots of hints, but I'd suggest picking up the pace of the story. I feel like things need to move faster now the snow storm is over and they are able to venture outdoors. Pacing is one of the hardest things to get right. You might find this article useful:

Keep the story coming!


Hi Anna

I like your story very much and want to read more.

I will comment as a reader. Although you create amazing descriptive writing, when there is too much of it all at once, I tend to jump paragraphs to get to the action. Try spacing action more regularly throughout your chapters to break the continuity of constant descriptions. You also tend to describe more than show. I feel as if there is more going on than what you are sharing. Adding more detail regarding the other characters will also make them more three dimensional.

As a writer I find it very useful when creating characters to give each character (even the peripheral ones) a background sheet. Start with the name, add physical and temperamental characteristics, add family/community connections, add motivation. This gives you a character that is real in your mind and that will help your writing to show this.

 I hope this helps.

Thank you so much for the comments and suggestions! They are immensely helpful and inspirational - I will keep working!