Master Apprentice by Paul J P Slater

Each time Martha finished a manuscript, she laid out Dad’s writing materials the same way

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del richards
Member
1 month ago

This is very impressive for a first draft and I doubt that I can add anything that you have not already clocked by now. I was relieved to understand that Martha and ‘I’ were not the same person as I would have put a million pound bet on such novice errors appearing in your work.
I like the fact that he now calls his mother by her middle name but I think a little hint of this early on would provide more clarity.
This is a deep story with no un-needed drama – and all the more poignant for it.
You had the prompt in the palm of your hand and I loved the title too.

del richards
Member
1 month ago
Reply to  del richards

sorry – ‘such novice errors NOT appearing in your work’ I meant!

Jan
Member
Jan
1 month ago

Hi Paul,

A very engaging read with a steady and compelling narrative. A lot of feeling is engendered for the MC as they care for Martha and also as they have to step up in the end to become the big writer!

And fantastic that they get their break!

The descriptions were so wonderfully rich, I found myself thinking of getting a whisky but I haven’t got any – so I will bank it for sometime soon, to toast your apprentice’s succes.

Thank you for sharing.

SM Prasad
Member
1 month ago

Hi Paul,
I see I’m a little late to this party. The others have described the same issues I had about the characters in the story. I really like Peggy’s suggestion of changing the order in the particular sequence she describes–I find that changing the sequence of a story or even sentences leading up to an action can amp up the power significantly. The paragraph which starts with, “On reflection..” has a lot of telling and delivers the message succinctly but perhaps too neatly. I would prefer to figure some of it out on my own.
You can afford more showing, if you choose to omit certain details, but each one costs, I know when you are really tied to them.
I enjoyed the very detailed sensory descriptions of the fermented mash and the barley, rye and wheat.
As an alternative to Peggy’s suggestion of where to start, another idea would be the paragraph right before learning about Martha’s cancer, which starts, “The only item Martha used in this day of technology and gadgets…”
If you change the tense on the part about Dad, it would be clear that he was no longer around.
I enjoyed the story and its reflection on the writing process-that was well done!

Mark
Member
1 month ago

Paul, a different story from you this month. Well done I enjoyed it.
I did need to think a little before making the connection that Martha is Mum but making the connection is easy.
Loved the description of Dad typing. When I grew up in St. Helens, the sports reporter for the local paper Tom Ashcroft, used to set at his dining table with a typewriter and pounded out his report on the previous day’s Saints match. Your description took me immediately back to that image in my mind.
Great use of the prompt

Ismael
Member
1 month ago

Hi Paul. I love the voice in this piece!

Amy Trakos
Member
1 month ago

Hi Paul. I found it a little confusing as to who was speaking but as this unfolded and became clear I felt it flowed much better. The way you have managed to produce such a powerful tone and mood is excellent, especially for a relatively short piece. Well done and thabks for sharing and enjoy creating the next draft, always my favourite part of writing!

Elaine Dodge
Member
1 month ago

Hey, Paul. A great first draft. Would love to read it again when it’s polished up. Well done. I loved the depth the story had straight off the bat. Like others I found I was confused with the characters and who the MC was, but you have everything you need and a gentle massaging will sort things into their right place. Marta somehow feels like the right name, rather than Martha, but Martha is more gentle and also feels right for the tone of the story. There’s a lovely feeling of ‘settling’ somehow in the story, even with delicious and energetic lines like ‘ it would tremble and slide across the table as if trying to elude his grasp while infusing some liveliness into his prose.’

Jessica
Member
1 month ago

Hello.
I have to agree with others about the MC was confusing, but after reading comments, I get ya. I really liked this line you wrote, ” It hung on her as if she had donned father’s clothes, although the hat sat well on her especially when she pushed it back allowing her smile to radiate from under the trim. ”
It gives some personal through the smile and the sickness growing worse. I thought it was really powerful. 🙂

Beth Stillman Blaha
Member
1 month ago

hey Paul, such a cool story with the family being drawn together through Dad’s legacy. I like that it’s not fast, but slower, maybe deeper. I agree with other comments about clarity over Martha and Mum being the same person. It probably wouldn’t take a lot of words to clear that up. I’m close to my father and I get the writing bug from him, and it’s always something we have bonded over, so this story is special to me in that aspect. Thanks for sharing this.

Catherine Garden
Member
1 month ago

An absorbing read with good tone, moving with a steady pace and flow. I had similar issue as others have mentioned about with confusion about the narrator. ‘I breathed a sigh of relief and Marta’s’ a typo with Martha although I did think that there was another character for a bit and waited for them to reappear.
I enjoyed the detailing about the whisky and cigars, and it seems the father was central to the family with everything geared towards his likes and career. This does not seem to bother Martha and her son but makes it all the harder on his passing.
Although its wonderful to carry on a legacy there is also part of me that hopes he gains the confidence to create something completely of his own.
Much to think about, well done.

Seyi
Member
1 month ago

Hey Paul, and how goes it? I read this piece a couple of days ago, and took a while to digest and read again before sending comments. I also had a bit of confusion, mainly with the ‘Dad’ character being described in the present tense for so long. I did like many of your descriptions, particularly the very visual ‘…it would tremble and slide across the table as if trying to elude his grasp while infusing some liveliness into his prose.’ I liked the concept of the baton being passed and the rough edges you alluded to with the ‘Dad’ character, being lost with the generational changes.The challenge your narrator has at the end is an interesting one. I wonder what his / her age is, there could be plenty of scope for changing the style the novels would take going forward. All the very best, and regards. Seyi
PS What’s an Edinburgh whisky decanter? Google comes up pretty blank

Seyi
Member
1 month ago

Hey again Paul, and thanks for the update about the decanter name. I liked the whisky-flavored bits of the writing, although I am still working on getting a taste for Lagavullin (and other whiskies from the peaty side of the street). All the best and regards, Seyi

Peggy
Member
1 month ago

Hi Paul, I enjoyed the reflective tone of your story, the memories and the feelings of loss that you portray, along with the need/desire to emulate the father and carry on the baton of the mother.

I did struggle with who was who, and who the real MC of the story was. I wonder if you might have more cohesion if you rearrange the story to start at the point where the MC brings home Mum/Martha from the hospital, then have the MC watch (or remember) Martha lying out Dad’s writing utensils as she emulates his style. We can learn that Dad has died, Mum/Martha has had a successful writing career since he passed. Add a moment to capture the MCs feelings about this, to tug at the readers heart, then, move on to Mum’s passing, and finish with the MC faced with the decision and taking up the challenge.

It’s just a suggestion, but I just think, since you have all the pieces already in place, you have the makings of a great story that could solicit tons of emotion and deep thought from the reader. Well done on this draft – I so enjoy your stories, and this one did not disappoint.

HoneyMustard
Member
1 month ago

Hi Paul – a lovely reflective piece about the passing of the baton and the task of making a legacy one’s own. I agree with other comments that simplifying the references to the characters and up front saying who’s who would make it easier for the reader to commit to the story. I also thought that putting the spotlight on both “dad” and “Martha” at the same time made for a bit of overwhelm. As a reader, I want to follow one character’s story. It seems that here, it is really the story of Martha – she ultimately gets most of the airtime. However, since this is a passing-the-baton story, one might consider beginning where you end – with the bit about not liking the cigars and the booze. So that the narrative is about what Martha’s legacy really was, by contrast. Not sure if I’m making sense – I guess what I’m really asking for is to bring a single thread into sharp focus.

Astrid
Member
1 month ago

Hi Paul, It took me a bit to get into the story, not sure why, though as I kept reading, your words wrapped me up through the complexity of the characters and the rather uncanny way the narrator tells the story. In fact, I appreciate the mystery embedded in the plot as little details were revealed as your storyline progressed. Having said that, I perceived the narrator as someone who bottles up his emotions, was this your intention? I truly enjoyed this story and thank you for sharing it ~ Astrid

Jane
Member
1 month ago

Hi Paul.
This is definitely a slower paced story than what I used to from you:) I enjoyed it though as it was different to any other story I have read:) I particularly liked the emphasis on writing and how the passion seemed to flow through the entire (small) family.
Like June, I did struggle working out who was who and had to backtrack here and there to work it all out. But you do answer this as the story progresses, it is just a bit confusing at the beginning.

I found one tiny editing suggestion. I feel this sentence needs one extra comma:
My mother spoke calmly and outlined it was I who had cajoled Father, her husband, to impart his writing wisdom on me and that she had only written after he had passed.
I think it needs a comma after outlined and before it.
Ignore if you don’t agree:)

Thanks for sharing.

Jane
Member
1 month ago

Yep they are a law unto themselves. Only really heard about the Oxford Comma – with Patty putting lots into my story submissions for the book:)

June Hunter
Member
1 month ago

Hi Paul. This is an interesting story. However, I found it very difficult to work out who was who. You start the story with Martha, then Dad, then ‘I’. By this time I was very confused as to who the protagonist was. Not until much later do you mention Mum, who turns out to be Martha, then I realised ‘I’ was referring to his/her mother all the time. Phew! As you say, this is your first draft, and I do feel that some of the information in the story needs to be re-ordered into a more cohesive form for better understanding. It’s definitely one of those stories that needs writing, and expanding. Thank you for sharing.

maria delaney
1 month ago

Hi Paul,

I finally found my way to you.

This piece is different than what I’m used to reading from you. I enjoyed the story and sympathized with the narrator with her big decision at the end. The way you introduced Martha’s demise brought your readers to moarning along with her daughter. If you can pull emotion out of your reader you’ve done your job!

Great story Paul. I miss exchanging stories for those early critiques. Stay well.

maria delaney
1 month ago

definitely!